Meiji Meltykiss – Coffee and Black Sesame

These Meiji Meltykiss were picked up on my trip to China. They came in lots of different flavors, but I only picked up two varieties because they were pretty expensive for China (~$5-6 box). I went with coffee and black sesame because they sounded the most delicious and intriguing.

The Meltykisses came in impressive packaging. The outer cardboard box had a perforated flap that opened to turn the box into a serving piece. Conveniently, that flap that could be easily, repeatedly resealed with just a slight touch. Why can’t my cereal boxes do that?

Inside, the Meltykiss cubes were individually wrapped in pretty checkered foil wrappers. Coffee’s wrapper was blue. A strong coffee scent flooded out as soon as I tore the wrapper open.

The coffee Meltykiss was like a little cube-shaped truffle: a tan center with a thin milk chocolate coating. The texture wasn’t as smooth and melty as the name had me imagine. Instead, it had a bit of a grainy crumble when I bit into it before then melting in my mouth.

It tasted mostly of cappuccino/frappuccino – a sweeter, milder take that bypassed the deeper roasted flavors of unadulterated coffee. Still, it was quite tasty, if a bit sweet, with an appropriately bitter finish. An OM.

Black sesame came in a sea green and brown checked wrapper. Its composition was similar to that of the coffee version, only the inside filling was a purply-grey studded with black flecks (below right).

I was initially surprised at how well the milk chocolate went with the nutty, roasty, slightly bitter sesame. Then I remembered Hedonist’s delicious sesame bark, and it all clicked.

I loved how the savory black sesame mingled nuttily with the sweet cocoa. Sesame and chocolate are a stellar combination that should really be featured more often. It gets an OMG.

On the one hand, I regret not buying more boxes and more varieties of Meltykiss. On the other hand, it’s probably good that I don’t have too many of these addictively delicious fatty truffles hanging out in the house.

Kit Kat Milk Coffee

This Kit Kat Milk Coffee came courtesy of my roommate’s boyfriend, Steve. I’m not sure how Steve got his hands on it, but I’m so thankful that he thought of sharing it with me!

I can’t read any of the Japanese text on the packaging – if any readers know, feel free to leave a translation in the comments! I think the cherry blossom in the bottom left corner means that it’s a Limited Edition/seasonal flavor.

Like all the Japanese Kit Kats that I’ve had, these came in two individually wrapped sets of two fingers each. More packaging makes it less environmentally friendly, but it does help with portion control.

I probably would’ve eaten my way through all four fingers if they hadn’t come separately packaged (tangent: what a weird sentence out of context). That would’ve been bad, as it would have meant no sharing.

This Kit Kat was made from white chocolate. I’m usually not that big on white chocolate, but this was a pretty tasty white chocolate. It tasted fresh, creamy, and milky.

From the looks and taste of it, the coffee flavor was stashed in the cream that sat within the wafers. It tasted deep and crazy roasty, like a fresh brewed pot of coffee.

There was a light bitterness to coffee, but that only added to the genuine flavor. The coffee taste lingered in the finish, long after the chocolate had melted and the airy, crisp wafers had been crunched away.

I loved this bar, with its great mix of textures and solid coffee flavor. An OMG from me. If you want other takes on it, check out what Jim and Jen had to say!

Twix Java

I got this Twix Java in my Sweets and Snacks Expo press pack. It’s not a new bar; instead, it’s been on and off the market as a limited edition since at least 2007.

I, unfortunately, had never been lucky enough to catch it in the wild in any of its previous incarnations, so this was my first time trying it. My packaging made no mention of limited-edition-ness. Perhaps that means it’s here to stay?

The wrapper describes it as “chocolate cookies bars; coffee caramel; milk chocolate.” The back of the wrapper proudly proclaims it to be made with Mars’s real chocolate.

It’s like a regular Twix bar, only the cookie is chocolate and the caramel is coffee tinged. If you’re not familiar with Twix, they come in “fingers”, with a bottom layer of cookie and a top layer of caramel, with the whole thing covered in milk chocolate.

The caramel was sticky yet smooth with a candied coffee flavor. It had a beautiful pull.

The coffee flavor was dry and roasty, with burnt caramel and cocoa notes. As the flavor progressed, it got darker. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the coffee flavor.

The chocolate cookie was soft and dry, and it crumbled rather than crunched. The milk chocolate coating was just so-so, sweet without any distinction.

I give this an OM. I wish the cookie were just a tad crunchier, but otherwise, I thought it was a great mix of flavors and textures. In fact, I like it better than regular Twix, as it’s less sweet and more interesting.

Mini Ritter Sport Round-up – Part II

Here’s the continuation of Monday’s review of Ritter Sport’s Schokowurfel. Monday, I reviewed the Creme Coco, the Mandel Split, and the Caramel Crisp.

Today, I’ll review the rest of the set: Crocant, Cappuccino, and Edelnugat.

I’m not exactly sure what Crocant means in German, but the onomatopoeia made me think of crunchiness. And I was right!

Crocant turned out to be a solid milk chocolate square with toasted rice crisps. It was basically like an uber Nestle Crunch bar, but it distinguished itself with a bit of extra sweetness to the crisps’ finish, like the crisps had been candied or caramelized. So it gets an OM.

Cappuccino was pretty self-explanatory. I appreciated that its outer wrapper was a beautiful cafe au lait color.

It was a milk chocolate bar with a creamy, lighter brown ganache inside. The square was very, very soft and very, very thick when melting in the mouth.

The cappuccino flavor did capture the essence of coffee, but I found it far too sweet, more Starbucks Frappuccino than Italian espresso. It could’ve been a great bite of chocolate had it not been so cloying. An O.

Edelnougat is the last of the set. I know what nougat is, and I know what edelweiss is, but I didn’t know what Edelnougat could mean.

It turned out to be a thick hazelnut ganache inside a milk chocolate shell. Like a good praline, this was mouth-coatingly thick and wonderfully nutty – a classic done well. An OM.

All in all, I was pretty impressed by the quality of this set. When I taste candy for reviews, I often limit my tasting to just a few bites, so this set was perfect for my needs. And I had enough leftover to share with friends, making this a highly recommended souvenir.

Trader Joe’s The Art of Chocolate truffles

I have awesome timing – I just recycled my empty box of Trader Joe’s “The Art of Chocolate” truffles last weekend, and I’m noticing now, as I write this review, that I forgot to photograph the box. Oops. Photos of the box can be found on other sites here and here.

At least I nabbed photos of all the truffles! They come 9 to a box, and though they’re small, the whole box is just $1.99.

Three of the nine were filled with “praline, nougat”. One was covered in all milk (above); the other two had shells that were part milk and part white. The praline was slightly dry and gritty and tasted of sweet chocolate with a light undertone of nuttiness. It worked well with the milk chocolate, which had a nice cocoa finish, but it was too sweet when paired with the white.

Another two had a mocha praline truffle filling. One was coated in dark chocolate while the other had a dark chocolate base and a white chocolate top (above). The mocha praline had a pleasantly bitter coffee undertone that was lovely with the dark chocolate but again, too sweet with the white.

A milk chocolate covered cream and vanilla truffle (above; looks far lighter in this shot) had a thick milk chocolate shell with an overly sweet vanilla cream filling. The cloying sweetness made my throat itch.

Crisp hazelnutpaste (sic) had my favorite molding, a pretty little triangle of a hazelnut, complete with veiny leaves. Its filling had a light, fine grit of ground up hazelnuts that I could hear against my teeth more than I could actually feel on my tongue. It was thick and nutty. It was also super sweet, but I could handle the sweetness here because it was tempered by the nuttiness.

Cream and pistachio was an interesting and unexpected flavor combination for such a generic box. The dark chocolate shell was nice, and its filling was a dry white ganache flecked with light green. Despite the pistachio colors, I didn’t get any pistachio nut flavors. It did at least have a nice dusky caramel finish.

And finally, the crisp chocolate truffle cream was a pyramid of deliciousness – a caramel colored upper layer topping a crisp chocolate truffle bottom that tasted like milk chocolate buttery toffee notes.

The Art of Chocolate was all about permutations: three types of chocolate (milk, dark, and white) and six different fillings, mixed and matched. Sounds like a candy math problem for Carl at Candy Dish Blog!

While not all of the combinations were stellar, this little box was a fantastic deal at just $1.99 (nice truffles can cost that much for just a single one!). The truffles are one bite indulgences that, at 3 truffles per 100 calories, are reasonable for the wallet and the waistline.

They get an OM, not because they were especially tasty in general but because they were especially tasty at the price point of 33 cents each. I’d buy them again to satisfy a sweet tooth craving or for just-because gifts.

Trader Joe’s Espresso Pillows

These Espresso Pillows are yet another purchase from Trader Joe’s arsenal of candy, this time from the candy display near the checkout counter. I nearly missed them, despite their classy looking tins, and I’m glad I didn’t.

Trader Joe's Espresso Pillows

They’re billed as “crunchy toffeed espresso bits covered in dark chocolate”. I’m not sure where the pillow part fits in, exactly, as they’re neither pillow soft nor pillow shaped. Each “pillow” is somewhere between the size of a Tic Tac and a jelly bean.

So how are Trader Joe’s Espresso Pillows?

The dark chocolate is sweet, though unremarkable. It does its job just fine, though, paring well with the toffee centers.

Espresso Pillows - Trader Joes

The espresso toffee has a great texture. It cleaves with a clean crunch, which gives way to a bitter coffee edge on buttery toffee sweetness.

These things are AWESOME to crunch on. They have the flavor profile of chocolate-covered espresso beans, but they lack the grit of actual beans. They’re addictively tasty, warranting a ZOMG! and a stop to pick up more next time I’m near a Trader Joe’s.

Trader Joe's Espresso Pillows

If you want a second opinion, check out Cybele’s Candy Blog take.

SunDomes assorted chocolates

My favorite part about Whole Foods is their bulk food bins. I can pick out as much or as little as I want! Instead of buying a whole jar of a spice when I only need a pinch, I can buy just a pinch. Instead of buying a whole tub full of chocolate-covered almonds when I have a craving, I can buy just a handful.

And instead of buying a whole box or bag or whatever these usually come in, I can pick out just the SunDome flavors that I want to try: Chip ‘N Mint, Cashew Coconut Crunch, Mocha Jolt, and Chocolate Almond Toffee.

I’m currently having a hard time finding out more about these, as the SunRidge Farms website is under construction as of the time I’m writing this post. Best I can tell, they fit into Whole Foods’ image of crunchy-granola (literally) save-the-earth ethos pretty well. I can’t tell you, unfortunately, how many different kinds of SunDomes there are. I do remember the bin having at least twice as many different kinds as I bought – I wanted to get one of each, but that got heavy and too expensive.

The SunDomes are, expectedly, dome-shaped blocks of chocolate flavored in accordance with their names. The chocolate blocks are solid and thick, so not that easy to bite through and also not that easy to share. Each dome is sizeable, about half the size of a hockey puck.

Chip ‘N Mint had a strong, pepperminty scent with little bits of cookie or rice crisp that gave it a hint of crunch. The peppermint was nicely balanced – noticeable, but not too strong.

Mocha Jolt had a strong, genuine coffee taste that was quite enjoyable. There was a slight grit to the texture, which I’m pretty sure was ground up bits of coffee beans. Both of these were solid and thick, with a hefty, dull snap.

Cashew Coconut Crunch turned out to be a surprise. Its chocolate was a bit softer and milkier. It smelled strongly of coconut and had a hint of toasted dry coconut flavor that mingled with the slight nuttiness imparted by tiny bits of cashews sprinkled throughout. The surprise? Raisins! They added a fruity-raisin taste that sort of worked and sort of didn’t. For me, at least, that’s also how I feel about raisins. They sort of work as a snack, but they sort of don’t.

Finally, the Chocolate Almond Toffee, which also had a bit more give when bitten into. It starts with a slight nuttiness, thanks to the tiny bits of almond embedded throughout, that’s more roasty than that of the Cashew Coconut Crunch. That nuttiness then gives way to a burnt sugar note from the toffee aspect. I appreciated its complexity and flavor development.

I wish these came in smaller portions. I ate them across several sessions because they were just so big, and one bite of each was plenty satisfying. If they came in little tasting disks or something, I’d buy all of them again. As is, I think the Mocha Jolt and the Chocolate Almond Toffee are worth buying again, so they get OMs, while the Cashew Coconut Crunch and the Chip ‘N Mint are too big for their own good and get Os.

Starbucks Caramel Macchiato and Caffe Mocha Truffles

Today brings us reviews of two more chocolates from Starbucks, their Caramel Macchiato and Caffe Mocha truffles. I gave the Chai Truffles a meh review last time, but I had coupons, so I went ahead and bought more to try.

The truffles are billed as “marvelous milk chocolate [enveloping] caramel centers infused with our Espresso Roast coffee.” Out of the box, they smelled overwhelmingly sweet and looked perfectly molded. A cross section reveals a fairly thick milk chocolate coating covering a smooth truffle center.

The smooth truffle center was cloyingly sweet, and I didn’t get any caramel notes because the sweetness was so overwhelming. The milk chocolate coating also overwhelmed the truffle filling. There was a slight bitterness to the finish – I guess that was the coffee part? An O.

I liked the Caffe Mocha truffles, “lucious milk chocolate [embracing] creamy mocha centers infused with our rich Espresso Roast coffee”, much more. The molding was prettier here, with two coffee beans stamped on the top. I thought they covered an actual espresso bean, but alas, they were made of chocolate. Boo. I guess it would’ve been too expensive to make the effort of putting real beans on the truffles.

The center, like that of the caramel macchiato truffle, was smooth and creamy. It had a strong, deep roasty coffee flavor that went well with the chocolate coating. The chocolate shell was thinner in this truffle, so it was far better balanced. It was like eating a smooth chocolate-covered espresso bean. Highly enjoyable and worth an OMG.

See’s Assorted Chocolates Week – Day 2

Today we have the next batch of chocolates out of the free sample box of See’s Assorted Chocolates that I started reviewing on Monday.

First up, their vanilla nut cream, a vanilla buttercream with English walnuts. What makes English walnuts better than walnuts unaffiliated with a specific nation? I suppose that’s a moot point. Anyway, this is a nicely creamy buttercream with tiny bits of walnut sprinkled throughout. The milk chocolate coating is nice, but the filling is just too much sugary overload for me. An O.

See’s marzipan fared much better. I really enjoyed this one. Their guide just describes it as “honey almond paste,” which I suppose just makes it regular marzipan with a touch of honey. It’s enrobed in their bittersweet dark chocolate, which balances nicely with the nutty almond filling, and the whole thing has just a touch of fruity sweetness to the finish. I found it especially refreshing because it was barely sweet, in contrast to the rest of See’s filled chocolates. An OMG, and quite a coup from See’s, as it was far more enjoyable than Charles Chocolate’s much more expensive version, if not as pretty to look at.

The mocha was easily identifiable, as it was covered in chocolate sprinkles, or jimmies, as some like to call them. This is a coffee milk chocolate buttercream, and it definitely packs a punch of coffee flavor. It also packs a punch of sugar sweetness, which was too much for me. I did enjoy the textural contrast provided by the jimmies, at least. An O.

The rum nougat is one of See’s stranger concoctions: English walnuts, rum, cherries, and raisins in nougat. That’s an awful lot to be going on in one piece of candy. The cherries and raisins aren’t really distinguishable in the mix, though they do give the whole thing a noticeable fruitiness. I can definitely taste the rum as an overarching hint of liquor. Between the chewy nougat, the gummy dried fruits, and the softly toothy walnuts, this chocolate was texturally… interesting. Another O.

I adored the caramel with almonds. This chocolate featured whole or sizeable chunks of almonds embedded in caramel, all covered in milk chocolate. The almonds had lovely roasted notes that nicely mitigated the sweetness of the creamy milk chocolate and the buttery caramel. The caramel with almonds had just the right amount of chew to get your jaw going without taking out fillings. An OMG.

The almond square has nearly identical ingredients to the caramel with almonds. Its description, “roasted almonds with caramel,” leaves out the dark chocolate base that the square is dipped into. In the almond square, however, the combination of roasted almonds, caramel, and chocolate doesn’t achieve the same levels of candy nirvana as the caramel with almonds because there’s much less chocolate. In the almond square, the nuts are the focus, and the whole thing gets a bit overly dry. It’s still good, but the caramel with almonds is better. An OM.

Last for today, the walnut square. It was like the almond square, only with English walnuts instead of roasted almonds. Walnuts rank pretty low in my hierarchy of nuts, definitely below almonds, so you can guess what I thought of this – similar to the almond square, but not as good. An O.

Phew. That’s a lot of chocolates for one day. Onward to Friday, where Rosa finishes the box, pretty much.

Charles Chocolates – Part II

Here’s the review of the rest of the box of Charles Chocolates that was introduced on Wednesday. We did the top row then, so today we’re going over the bottom row.

First up, bottom right, the bittersweet chocolate fleur de sel caramel. It was goooood. You can buy a box of 10 or 20 of just these, and I can see why. It’s a “a fleur de sel caramel with bittersweet chocolate and enrobed in 65% bittersweet chocolate.” The caramel was chewy and just slightly sticky with wonderous burnt notes, making it dark and salty and delectable, with the whole thing mellowed a bit by the chocolate coating. I could eat a whole box of these.

Next are the two square ones, the blood orange Yankee (why Yankee? I have no idea), which contains a blood orange marmalade ganache in a dark shell, and the meyer lemon Yankee, with a Meyer lemon marmalade in a dark and milk shell. If it’s made with lemons, does it still count as marmalade?

Orange and chocolate are a pretty common combination, but lemon, and chocolate, not so much. The Meyer lemon Yankee was good – it had a slight citrus finish with just a hint of zest, so its lemon-y-ness was not at all overpowering. The blood orange was similarly lightly citrusy, but with a sweeter, rounder flavor profile. In both, the ganache was smooth, silky, and lightly greasy, but not unpleasantly so.

The scalloped oval one in the middle is the espresso caramel, “rich caramel with real espresso and Kahlua in a  65% bittersweet oval.” The filling inside was soft and creamy, which surprised me, as I expected a stickiness due to the caramel moniker. I got a slight hint of the Kahlua flavor but didn’t pick up any espresso notes in the filling.

And last, and in this case least, the bottom left lemon marzipan: “Marzipan made with fresh, organic Meyer lemons and organic California almonds are coated in our rich 65% bittersweet chocolate.” I think one should always become a bit suspicious when one is being sold to with so many enthusiastic adjectives. Why is the same chocolate enrobing “rich” here, and the Meyer lemons “fresh, organic”? I didn’t taste any lemon in my marzipan, and I was just not a fan of the taste or the texture. I didn’t even finish my first one, and the second one is still sitting alone in the box, the only one left (I didn’t eat the entire box myself, by the way; I did share some with friends).

The marzipan alone gets an O, the espresso caramel and the Yankees get an OM, and the bittersweet fleur de sel gets a ZOMG! At around $2 a truffle, these are not exactly cheap indulgences. I wouldn’t buy the assorted box for myself (though I would happily accept one), but I would buy them by weight if I got to pick and choose which ones I wanted. I think that’s an option at their store/cafe. And I would buy these for gift-giving for special occasions.