When I saw The Impulsive Buy‘s “Spotted On Shelves” feature on these Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Speculoos Cookie Butter Cups, I had to zip out to Trader Joe’s and get some to try for myself. I had previously loved the chocolate bar version of these, so I was excited to try them in cup form.
The cookie butter cups came in a plastic tub of about 27 cups (I only have an approximate count because I’m not sure how many cups my boyfriend snuck after I opened the tub). Each was individually wrapped in gold foil, which was good. I needed something to slow me down so I wouldn’t plow through them all at once.
The dark chocolate shell was stiff and of an uneven thickness around the edges. It melted smoothly and fattily in my mouth, with a barely sweet dark chocolate duskiness to the flavor.
The speculoos cookie butter paste in the center was dry and lightly cinnamony. It took, had just a hint of sweetness with a strong oat-y cookie flavor. It tasted more like the imported speculoos cookies I bought once, rather than like Biscoff’s or Trader Joe’s sweeter, more crumbly version.
I loved these. They weren’t too sweet and had lots of flavor complexity, with the cinnamon oatiness playing off the dark chocolate. I’d take them over a traditional peanut butter cup any day. An OMG.
Today and Friday, I’ll review some Haribo gummies that I bought while in Switzerland. First up is Orangina P!k. I know Orangina is a fizzy orange drink that’s available in Europe. No idea what the P!k means (and why it’s not a Pik).
At any rate, it’s pretty clear that these are supposed to be gummified soda bottles, though I think they also look like chicken drumsticks when turned to the side. They came in yellow, pink, and red (no orange, despite the name!).
The gummies were covered in sour sugar and had a wonderfully firm, sproingy chew. Red was tart to start from the sour sugar, then sweetly fruity. If I had to guess, I’d say it was a mild cherry or fruit punch flavor.
Pink was strawberry, maybe? Again, sweetly fruity, but with more floral notes that played off the tartness.
Yellow was citrusy. The color suggested yellow, but the flavor was mellow with no acidity or pithiness, so I think it was the classic orange flavor of Orangina.
I loved the strong fruity flavors and bouncy texture of these guys. They were just the right amount of tart. I wish I’d bought an additional bag, or three. OMG.
I’m lucky enough to have recently returned from a trip to Switzerland. We were mostly hiking the Alps, but I made sure to make some time to buy Swiss candies, including lots of chocolate.
First up, this fancy Lindt Passion Chocolat – Caramel & Fleur de Sel. It was described as “accord parfait du chocolat noir et du pur caramel,” which my rusty high school French translates as, “a perfect agreement between dark chocolate and pure caramel.”
The chocolate had a prettily artisanal look about it, with a little cellophane windowpane through which to view the bar. The top side was generously sprinkled with caramel and fat grains of sea salt, while the bottom was imprinted with the scripted Lindt logo.
The dark chocolate was creamy with a smooth and thick melt. It had a nice cocoa depth with a slight fruitiness that was highlighted by the occasional flash of salt.
The caramel bits were plentiful and brought a nice, clean crunchiness to the texture of the bar. They tasted sweet, with buttery toffee flavors that took on a slight toasted scorchiness as they melted away.
I found this to be a well-balanced treat that was surprisingly well-made for a mass-produced bar. An OMG.
Last week, I covered Alcove Chocolates‘ mimosa, red velvet, fleur de sel, and fleur de pretzel chocolate bars. Today, I’ve got a rundown of their Brownie bar, another free sample from Alcove Chocolates.
My boyfriend loves brownies – he can easily pack away half a pan in one sitting – so he was super excited to try the Brownie bar. Alcove Chocolates describes it as, “dark milk chocolate blended with traditional fudge brownie,” which I took to mean that it would chocolate blended with chewy brownie bits.
Instead, the bits of brownie in the bar were dry and crunchy, so more like cookies or brownie brittle. You can see them in the pebbled back of the bar above.
The texture of the brownie bits made me think of that airy crunch you get from freeze dried fruit, or the little chocolate cookie balls you can get at some Fro-Yo places. They added a soft crunch to the texture of the bar, which snapped sharply but crunched softly.
I’m not sure how something can be both dark and milk chocolate. This guy definitely looked dark – and glossy and well-tempered.
At any rate, the chocolate had amazing depth of flavor. The dark chocolate tasted deep, with rich, fudgey notes, like the best hot fudge I’ve ever had (from The Parlour, of course).
The crunchy brownie bits only served to amplify the intensely rich chocolate wallop of this bar. I loved it, and my brownie connoisseur boyfriend did too. An OMG.
On Monday, I covered 3 flavors of Alcove Chocolates that I had received as free samples. Today, it’s time to write about another Alcove treat, their Fleur de Pretzel bar.
They described it as “rich milk chocolate paired with crunchy new york [sic. They seem to be allergic to the shift key on their website.] pretzels and enrobed in swirls of fleur de sel sea salt.” I didn’t know that crunchy New York pretzels were a thing – I always thought they were soft – but whatever. This bar was awesome.
Unlike the tiles from Monday, I am reviewing the full-sized, 3 oz. version of this beauty. It was segmented into 4 x 5 rectangles and broke easily along the divisions.
The milk chocolate base of this bar was sweet and dusky, with a nice complexity to it. Its matte melty texture was frequently interrupted by crunchy bits of pretzel and sea salt.
The pretzel nicely balanced out the sweet milk chocolate by adding a darker toastiness that kept it from being cloying. The occasional flashes of salt also helped offset that sweetness while adding flavor and texture interest.
I thought this bar was an excellent bar for snacking. After all, it included a snack food right in the bar. I found it it interesting, well-balanced, and tasty. An OMG.
As previously mentioned, I’m way overdue for a review of Nestle FruTips from China. When I was in Shanghai this March, I bought of couple of fresh tubes to cover today and Friday. I’ll start with the Mango, Grapefruit, and Lychee tube.
The FruTips were thumbnail-sized flat disks that were covered in gritty sugar sand. The chew started off mostly soft with a bit of tension, then became softer and stickier as I chewed. The texture was smooth and felt like limpid jelly on my tongue.
Grapefruit was a white with a greenish tinge. It was tart with a slight pithiness that highlighted its bright citrusy grapefruit flavors.
Mango was a pale orange. It was round and floral with nice flash of tartness at the end, and it tasted of the tropical seediness of ripe mangos.
Finally, Lychee was white and tasted just like real lychees, though more like canned lychees than fresh ones. These were sweetly floral and addictively tasty.
I wish these were available in the U.S. They’re a great combination of flavors that we usually don’t get in American candies, and I enjoyed their intense fruit flavors and chewy texture. An OMG.
According to Wikipedia, these guys may be available in Canada. They may be the same thing as Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, which I had reviewed before in a different flavor arrangement but didn’t care for at the time.
I bought these Bissinger’s boozy salted caramels at a post-holiday sale at Southern Season. Merlot Salt Caramel was described as “red wine paired with a vintage merlot sea salt”, while Chardonnay Salt Caramel was, “Bissinger’s 300 year old caramel recipe, topped with barrel smoked chardonnay fleur de sel.”
The chocolate caramels came in sets of five in a stiff plastic sleeve. Merlot had a dark chocolate shell, while chardonnay’s was milk chocolate. Both were generously topped with salt sprinkles.
The caramels were stiffly chewy and sticky. Merlot’s caramel had an amazingly bright fruitiness, while the dark chocolate had the taste of cherries to its finish.
Chardonnay’s milk chocolate was sweeter with dusky caramel notes to it. Its caramel was butterscotch-y, without the great fruitiness of the merlot.
I liked Merlot (OMG) much more than the Chardonnay (OM) because of its fruity complexity. I didn’t really get any actual wine flavors, but these were still solid chocolate-covered salted caramels.
I should note, however, that these were not cheap. At full price, they were $12.25 for the 5. I got them at half price ($6.12), which made them more worth it.
I first saw Haribo‘s Ginger-Lemon Gummis at the Sweets and Snacks Expo back in 2012. I got to taste a sample then, but they didn’t have any that I could take with me, so I wasn’t able to review them then.
Since then, I’d been keeping an eye out for them in the wild. A few weeks ago, I finally found them at Cost Plus World Market for only $1.89!
The yellow, vaguely egg-shaped gummies were sugar sand covered and had the sproingy, bouncy Haribo chew that I love. On first bite, they were slightly tart, I think because there was sour powder mixed in with that sugar sand.
The gummis began with a tart yet sweet lemon flavor before taking on the bite of ginger root. I liked that the ginger flavor was noticeably sharp but not painful.
Its flavor lingered in the finish, eased by the sweetness of the gummi. I found these gummis to be pleasantly addictive, with their well-balanced flavors and enjoyable texture. An OMG.
If my review isn’t enough for you, Cybele gave these her highest rating over on Candy Blog.
Last year at the Sweets and Snacks Expo, I picked up two chocolate bars from Jelina Chocolatier, a Canadian chocolate company that was looking for a U.S. distributor. I loved those two bars and gave them high marks and kept hoping they’d make their way to the U.S. market. Unfortunately, they’re still looking for a U.S. distributor, so I’ll just have to keep hoping.
I saw Jelina again at this year’s Expo and was lavished with a few more free samples. I’ll cover the Espresso bar today and their Fleur de Sel on Friday.
Like all of their bars, the Espresso was organic and came rustically packaged in a simple cardboard box. I liked the little line drawing of the stovetop coffeepot that decorated it.
Inside, the chocolate bar came sealed in a separate silver package and was segmented into 15 striated rectangles. The bar’s texture was dry and thickly gritty, like Taza Chocolate or Mexican-style chocolate. You can see the grit in the photo below.
The chocolate tasted incredibly intensely of roasted coffee beans. Somehow, they managed to capture all the flavor of coffee while minimizing its bitterness. The bitterness was there but barely noticeable.
This was a perfectly balanced bar with just the right mix of sweet chocolate and robust coffee. An OMG.
Last Friday, I reviewed some truffles that I had received as free samples from Zoë’s Chocolate Co. They also sent along a free sample of “The Sports Bar”, which was described as “crispy puffed caramelized popcorn-like rice crisps mixed into luscious dark chocolate and topped with carefully roasted honeyed peanuts.”
The peanut studded bar was lightly scored into 24 rectangles that easily snapped apart. The puffed rice crisps brought a light crunch but otherwise weren’t really noticeable.
The peanuts were the main attraction here. They came in all sizes, from whole peanuts to halves to itty bitty bits (probably the little center peanut nibs, which is technically a peanut embryo).
They were honey roasted and coated in sugar, making them lightly sweet with just the slightest hint of salt. When paired with the chocolate, they made for the classic combination of cocoa and peanuts.
The chocolate base of this bar was a dream. Its melt was smooth and soft and left behind a slightly cool, fatty feel on my tongue as it disappeared. The flavor was sweet and purely cocoa, while the finish was a little dry and a little sweet.
I loved this bar mostly for the deliciousness of the chocolate base, and the honey roasted peanuts were a nice addition as well. An OMG.