I buy so much chocolate that it’s sometimes hard to keep track of where I get everything. I’m 80% sure I bought this Kallari Sacha chocolate bar in Roberto’s Recipe at Cocoa Cinnamon, an awesome coffee shop that serves excellent drinking chocolate in Durham.
The 75% cacao bar was described as “extra rich dark chocolate with vanilla.” It was scored into 15 rectangles that broke with a sharp snap, but when I chewed it, it crumbled and thinly melted.
It started off sweet, then became earthy with mild coffee notes. Its flavor profile was a little muddy in a wholesome, natural way. Its slight sweetness developed into a mellow vanilla roundness to the finish.
I thought this was a nice dark chocolate bar, but its flavor profile wasn’t my thing. An O.
Hello Panda is Meiji‘s answer to Lotte’s Koala’s March: cream-filled cookies imprinted with cute animal cartoons. I got a couple of boxes to try in my free MunchPak samples, first in Strawberry and the following month in Double Choco.
The Hello Panda biscuits were either round or round with ears, like teddy bear heads. The Strawberry version was vanilla biscuits with strawberry cream, while Double Chocos were chocolate biscuits with “choco” cream.
Compared to the Koala’s March, the Hello Pandas had a more substantial crunch and a greater cookie to filling ratio. Strawberry’s biscuit was lightly sweet, while the center strawberry cream had the texture of a solid frosting and a floral sweetness to its artificial strawberry flavor.
The chocolate cookie of the Double Choco was darker in both appearance and flavor. It had a slight cocoa bittersweetness, like a mild Oreo cookie, and its chocolate filling was creamy with a slightly greasy feel.
I liked the Double Choco better than the Strawberry, which was too artificially floral for my taste. I did wish, however, that the Double Choco had more intensity of chocolate flavor and wasn’t quite so greasy. An O for both.
I think it’s safe to state that Jelly Belly is tops in their field of creatively flavorful jelly beans. Instead of resting on their laurels, they never stop innovating! Their newest product are Draft Beer flavored jelly beans.
I was quite excited to be surprised with free samples to review. I was more excited that they came with an adorably tiny beer mug, which made for a fun photoshoot.
The beans were striking right out of the package in two ways. One, they had Jelly Belly’s new jeweled look in a beautiful gold tone, and two, they had a strong, distinctive scent (regular Jelly Bellies don’t smell).
These amber nuggets smelled boozy and yeasty, like beer does, but also sweet and floral, which made it smell more like beer that had gone a little funky. Or, I guess, like beer that hadn’t finished fermenting and turning its sugar into alcohol.
The Draft Beer beans tasted like a sweetened blonde beer. It started off sweet and honeyed, and then took on a little fermented yeastiness. There was no bitter bite to the end, which I appreciated since it is candy, after all.
I’m a cocktail person, not a beer person (surprise, surprise, I have a sweet tooth), so I wouldn’t buy these for myself. They do, however, win points for novelty, and I can think they’d be a fun gift for beer aficionados. An O, just as a matter of personal preference.
My boyfriend’s gym is located right next door to A Southern Season, a gourmet food mecca that’s proven to be a great candy source. It’s also quite the temptation whenever I drop-in for a workout, as the gym exit is right by the chocolate truffles.
That’s how I wound up with a couple of impulse buys: a Tosca truffle from 20 Degrees Chocolates (left), and a Pure Passion (passionfruit) truffle from Red Light Chocolates (right). I chose them from A Southern Season’s multitude of chocolates because they sounded tasty and looked pretty.
Yelp told me that 20 Degrees’s Tosca truffle was pomegranate flavored. Before I found that out, I’d assumed I’d misremembered which truffle was which, as the Tosca was so brightly flavored and the Pure Passion so dull that I thought each had to be the other.
The Tosca had a soft, almost fluffy ganache with a cool, fatty melt. It tasted sweet and fruity with tangy citrus notes that brought a bright finish, while the dark chocolate was dusky with its cocoa flavors. An OM for its boldness.
As previously alluded to, I was disappointed that the Passionfruit from Red Light Chocolate did not have bright, fruity flavors. Instead, its mostly tasted of deep cocoa with just a hint of sweetness.
If I squinted my tastebuds, maybe I could find a barely perceptible fruity note in there, but I can’t be sure that it wasn’t due to the power of suggestion. It may have been that my truffle was no longer fresh and all the original flavor had faded by the time I got it.
The rich, stiff ganache melted smoothly into a nice finish. The chocolate was nice – I just wanted more passionfruit. An O.
I got these two Chuao Chocopods, Maple Bacon and Orange-A-Go-Go at last year’s Sweets and Snacks Expo from Chef Michael himself, along with a Popcorn Pop ChocoPod that I previously reviewed.
Orange-A-Go-Go was described as “candied orange harmoniz[ing] with the essence of bergamot orange in dark chocolate”. The individually wrapped pod had a dry sharp snap that reviewed a few little bits of candied orange peel.
Those bits of peel added just a bit of texture and chew. The chocolate itself had a strong and bright orange oil flavor, making the chocolate bar a sweet mix of citrus zestiness and dark chocolate. An OM.
Maple Bacon was “crisp bacon, delicate maple sweetness and bonfire smoked sea salt, bathed in milk chocolate”. It, too, had a sharp snap and little exposed bits of real, meaty bacon.
The chocolate was smoky, salty, and sweet, with brown sugar notes. The bacon bits added crunch and some subtly meaty undertones to the mild cocoa.
I don’t think I would have immediately identified the bacon-ness as meat. Had I not been told there was bacon in this bar, I likely would have just chalked it up to smokiness.
This was a nice mix of salty and sweet, though I think it’s definitely an acquired taste. Not everyone likes their chocolate with a does of smoky meat! An O.
I got this bag of Sour Smog Balls in my free MunchPak box of assorted snacks. The bag promised “crunchy candy with a sour chewy center” in six different flavors.
Each Sour Smog Ball was a marbled sphere with a bracingly sour hard, crunchy sugar shell around a chewy center. It took a little jaw strength to crunch through that shell, but when the stars aligned, a clean cleave through the Sour Smog Ball revealed a pretty cross section.
Yellow was lemon and extremely sour. Its flavor was super bright and tart with zesty lemon overtones.
Blue was blue raspberry and tasted as artificial as a blue raspberry is. It was sugary sweet and mellow with a sour undertone.
Dark pink was cherry. It had medicinal undertones and a cotton candy-esque flavor before finishing with sweetly tart and fruity notes.
Light pink was strawberry. It had a candied floral flavor that struck me as quite artificial. Purple was grape, and it, too, tasted artificial.
Finally, green was lime. It started off mild, then became quite tart and citrusy with an almost fizzy note.
I appreciated that the Sour Smog Balls lived up to their sour moniker and actually were quite tart. I did not appreciate, however, how artificial the majority of their flavors were.
The only ones that really worked for me was the citrus lemon and lime ones. An O.
I first tried Jer’s Peanut Butter Bars over a year ago when I bought and reviewed the Cara Mella version. I loved it so much that I kept my eyes peeled for additional flavors every time I visited Cost Plus World Market, but I wasn’t able to find them again until just a few weeks ago.
This time, I bought the Pretzo Change-o, which was described as “all natural premium peanut butter center mixed with sweet and salty pretzel bits covered in milk chocolate.” Each box contained two individually wrapped long, skinny, flat chocolate bars.
The peanut butter filling was dry and crumbling. It tasted quite salty and strongly nutty, like the center of a Reese’s peanut butter cup, only extra amped up and with higher quality ingredients.
Little pretzel bits were mixed into that filling that added some crunch and starch – and maybe even more saltiness? The milk chocolate coating added sweetness and some cocoa flavors that tried to balance out the peanut butter center.
I liked that it was like a flavorful, crunchy peanut butter cup in a different shape, but I found it too salty. I think a little more sweet chocolate to balance out the salty peanut butter would have helped. An O.
I love gingerbread and gingerbread cookies. When The Impulsive Buy posted photos of Gingerbread M&M’s and Gingerbread Twix, I went hunting for them both at my local Walmart. Alas, I was only able to find the M&M’s; no Twix.
Though the Gingerbread M&M’s were not explicitly packaged with a “limited edition” tag, Red is wearing a Santa hat, so I’m pretty sure they’re a seasonal thing. They came in classic Christmas colors – red and green – plus brown, for some reason.
The Gingerbread M&M’s were irregularly sized. Most were larger and more rotund than regular M&M’s, so they had a slightly higher chocolate to shell ratio.
I found these to be… interesting… tasting. They tasted of chocolate and spice, but not any identifiable gingerbread spice that I’m used to – no cinnamon or ginger or cloves.
Instead, they tasted kind of muddy and dirty. After I had a few and really let the flavor build, I realized that it tasted like dark molasses. Its muddiness lingered in the finish.
These weren’t horrible, but they fell far from the mark of what I think gingerbread chocolate should taste like. An O.
I’ve raved before about how Cost Plus World Market is a fantastic resource for new and unusual candies. I recently visited and found two Winter Edition Ritter Sports by accident – they were shelved far away from the regular Ritter Sports and other chocolates.
In fact, they weren’t really shelved at all; I found them in some sort of remaking displays purgatory.
I got the last Winter Edition Caramelised Almonds (which I’ll cover next week) and one of many Caramel-Orange that were left. Alas, they were out of Coconut Macaroon.
The Caramel-Orange had 16 squares of a milk chocolate sandwiching a golden brown caramel-orange ganache. The filling was thick and grainy and tasted of orange oil with a brown sugary finish. The citrus flavor was intensely fruity and orangey but without any tartness.
I found it a bit too sweet, and its finish took on a bit of a sour tinge. The milk chocolate was sweet as well, which only added to the sweetness of the overall treat.
I’m glad that I tried this, but the orange oil wasn’t enough to bring down the sweetness factor. An O.
I’ve done two Mentos reviews in the past (one of which was for a flavor sold in Asia), so it’s about time I covered them again. This round, I’m reviewing the Mentos Rainbow.
Mentos are oblate spheroid candies with a crunchy candy shell and a chewy center. There were 11 to my roll: 2 each of cherry, orange, pineapple, and watermelon, and 3 of strawberry. Sort of weird to have a prime number of candies per unit, but whatever.
Strawberry, the most plentiful of the pack, was light pink. It tasted sweet with candied berry flavors and reminded me of that syrupy strawberry topping that you get at ice cream parlors.
Cherry was a darker reddish pink. I didn’t think there was much intensity to its deeper red fruit flavor, and it struck me as a little fake/medicinal.
Orange tasted of tangerine citrus flavors. It was mellow, yet zesty, and was probably my favorite of my bunch because I like citrus fruits.
Pineapple was yellow and tasted just like canned pineapple. Mentos did a nice job of capturing the sweet flavor of pineapple core here.
Finally, watermelon was green. It started off tasting like real watermelon, only far too sweet, then developed a candied tart finish. I hated the start of this candy but loved the end, so I guess it balances out to a neutral rating.
There was nothing about these candies that was super stellar or super terrible. I wouldn’t buy them again because there are more intensely flavored chewy fruity candies out there that I like better, but I also wouldn’t turn one down if a friend offered me one. An O.