Russell Stover – Mint

Here’s the second in my series of assorted Russell Stover chocolate reviews. On Monday, I covered the coconut, and caramel will come on Friday. Today, we’ve got mint.

The mint came in a flat fondant filled dark-chocolate disk. They seem to be trying to emulate York Peppermint Patties, perhaps with good reason – this particular shape creates a higher ratio of chocolate to mint.

Some of my mint filling had oozed out of cracks in the chocolate by the time I opened it. The ooze was a sticky, clear liquid, which makes me think some of the invert sugar had re-liquified a tad too soon, for the remaining center filling was an opaque white fondant with the consistency of runny frosting.

That fondant was peppermint-y rather than herbaceous minty. It had a slightly bitter finish when tasted on its own and left behind a menthol cooling sensation. I found it just a bit too sweet and cloying.

The dark chocolate wasn’t as thick as it was on the coconut, but it was thicker than that of York Peppermint Patties. It had a thick melt that played off the mint while also concealing the mint’s bitter finish.

I enjoyed this, but it was a little too sweet and messy, so it gets an O.



Hedonist Candy Cane Bark

When I left Rochester, NY, I was sad to leave behind a great local chocolatier in Hedonist Artisan Chocolates. Fortunately, when you’re a candy blogger, candy can follow you around in the form of free samples!

Hedonist sent me a bag of their holiday Candy Cane Bark, along with some holiday truffles (previously reviewed here),¬†salted caramels (review to come on Friday), and drinking chocolate (review TBA; it’s still too warm in North Carolina for hot chocolate).

The Candy Cane Bark was made of “shards of semi-sweet chocolate (55%) swirled with white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy canes.” It was festively pretty to behold, with the swirl of semi-sweet and white chocolate evoking the candy cane’s red and white twist.

The bark was thin, no more than a centimeter at its thickest and thinner in some slabs. That made it easy to break apart with a sharp snap.

I didn’t find the candy cane’s mintiness apparent in the scent, but its flavor was lightly present in the finish of the bar. The crushed candy cane bits added just the right hint of airy mintiness to meld perfectly with the smooth, dusky pure cocoa flavor of the chocolate.

The white chocolate swirl added just a hint of vanilla and a slight fatty overtone. The cool melt of the chocolate mixed with the slight grittiness of the candy cane bits, which dissolved quickly.

Hedonist excels in its ability to find a great balance in its flavors. It would have been easy for the peppermint to get heavy handed in a treat like this, but Hedonist treated the mint with restraint and really used it to bring out the best of the chocolate and the mint. An OM.


Tic Tacs and Canadian Giveaway

Tic Tac Canada sent me a bunch of Tic Tacs to help promote their Fun Fresh Talent Search, a contest that asks Canadians to upload videos of themselves showing off their talents for a chance to star in a Tic Tac commercial and win $5k.

I used to love Tic Tacs when I was a kid. They were marketed as mints, so they made me feel grown-up, but they tasted like candy, so they pleased my kiddie palate. When I hit middle school, Altoids were the “in” mint, and I left Tic Tacs behind… until now!

Orange Tic Tacs were my favorite when I was a kid. Either they’ve changed since then, or Orange Tic Tacs are different in Canada – they were white, not orange! But they did taste like I remembered.

All of the Tic Tacs that I received were shaped like tiny pellets. The orange ones had a smooth, glossy shell that tasted mildly sweet.

Once the shell was gone, the Tic Tac took on a more granular texture, and the orange flavor came through – sweet with a slightly sour tinge and a round, mellow orange ctirus flavor. While the shell was hard, the center was slightly softer and chewable.

Green Apple was a fruity flavor that didn’t exist when I was a kid. The shell of these had a bit of candied green apple flavor, which I enjoyed, but the flavor of the center was way over the top – sweet and sour but with way too much artificial sweetener aftertaste.

The Tic Tacs were as I remembered – fun little pellets that are really more candy than mint (neither of these fruity flavors made much lasting impact on my breath). I preferred the orange to the green apple, but I’ll give both O‘s because they’re both pretty innocuous.

If you’d like a chance to try an assortment of Tic Tacs for yourself, and you live in Canada, you’re in luck! Thanks to Tic Tac Canada’s PR people, I get to give away one set of Tic Tac swag to a randomly selected commenter. To enter, leave a comment about what your talent is by 11:59 PM, EST on Friday, May 13th. Be sure to leave a valid email address in the email field. Canadian readers only. Good luck!

Fearless Chocolate – Dark as Midnight and Matcha Green Tea Peppermynt

I got an assortment of free sample bars from Fearless Chocolate Co., a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. They’re about as health food faddy as it gets. Their chocolate is raw, organic, kosher, gluten/soy/dairy-free, and stocked with superfoods.

These Fearless bars are my first foray into raw chocolate. Should be interesting!

I love the rustic cardboard look of their packaging – quite the wholesome and eco-friendly feel.

My assortment contained a 75% Dark as Midnight plain bar, and three 70% bars: Matcha Green Tea Peppermynt, Super Seeds Hemp Chia Flax, and Sweet & Hot Hibiscus Ginger. I’ll review the first two today and hit the other two on Wednesday.

Each bar has a little corner bite missing from it, representing the 1% of their profits that’s donated to charity. I’d say that the bar is the size of about 2 of the full bar’s 18 segments, which makes it more like 11% – that would be a nicely hefty charitable contribution!

The 75% Dark as Midnight bar was about as pure as dark chocolate gets. The only two ingredients were organic raw cacao and organic unrefined cane sugar.

It smelled like cacao beans with a bit of chalkiness. The break was sharp and snappy, with a velvety, matte melt.

It tasted sweet and deep, starting with hints of spice before yielding to a light fruitiness and a cocoa finish. There’s a light astringency to the finish that I normally associate with bars of a much higher cacao content, perhaps due to the rawness of the chocolate. An OM.

Matcha Green Tea Peppermynt sounded like a dubious flavor combination. It smelled minty and sweet.

It first tasted like a peppermint candy with an undertone of bright sweetness. Then the grassy, herbal, slightly bitter flavors of tea came through, before giving way to sweetly fruity notes. It finally ended on a tea-ful, slightly astringent finish that lingered.

While I found it nicely complex, it wasn’t for me. An O.

Stay tuned til Wednesday, when I cover the Super Seeds and Sweet & Hot bars. In the meantime, if you want to pick some up for yourself, they’re available online.

Holiday Hershey Kisses

These holiday Hershey Kisses, Mint Truffle and Candy Cane, have been around for a while, but I’ve never reviewed them before. They were out at an event that I attended, so I slipped a few into my pockets to write about later.

The Mint Truffle Kisses came wrapped in green foil with little snowflakes. The center was an unnaturally bright sea green, while the outer shell was chocolate.

It tasted similar to an Andes mint. The mint flavor was strong, fresh, and effervescent while the milk chocolate had a sour finish. Ahh, Hershey’s signature flavor profile… An OM.

The Candy Cane Kiss’s wrapper was silver with little red canes. The Kiss itself had a red and white striped outside. The inside was solid white chocolate flecked with little dots of red nonpareil.

The white chocolate was quite sweet with a milky sourness that was especially strong in the finish. There was a light milky dairy flavor to it, but it mostly tasted of meh quality white chocolate with a hint of peppermintiness.

I enjoyed the textural contrast of the nonpareils – they brought a great crunch – but I was not a fan of the white chocolate, so this gets an O.

All in all, not bad for holiday-specific treats and definitely tastier and more interesting than the originals!

J. Emanuel Classic Truffles

This box of J. Emanuel Classic Truffles also came as free samples from J. Emanuel via

From left to right, the top row is Marzipan, Mocha, Peppermint, and Gianduja. The bottom row is Paris, Raspberry, Amaretto, and Champagne (which was identical to that of Monday’s wine truffle collection).

Marizpan was dark chocolate contrasted against a dry and crumbly marzipan center. I could feel the bits of almond in it, which makes me think it could have been homemade.

The marzipan was sweet and grainy. It wasn’t as sweet as marzipan can get, but it was still on the sweet side for me. And it had a light residual mintiness from the Peppermint truffle.

Mocha was made of milk chocolate and topped with a little roasted coffee bean. Most of the coffee flavor came from the bean, though if you look closely, you can see little black flecks of bean in the ganache.

The ganache was sweet and tasted of fruit and caramel. As one of my friends put it, it would be great if coffee could taste like this truffle!

Peppermint was a dark chocolate shell cut with a white chocolate slash and filled with a dark chocolate ganache. The filling was mild and understated, sweet with a light freshness. It was like a quietly sophisticated and much-weakened York Peppermint Patty.

Gianduja (below) had a milk chocolate shell with a nutty gianduja (chocolate and hazelnut) filling. The filling was amazingly genuine – I could tell that it was made with real hazelnuts, as it had that hint-of-astringency edge to it. It was definitely a cut above Nutella!

Paris was the ambiguously named one of the lot. Its center was a smooth, fatty, buttery caramel-flavored ganache with a savory finish. Think sophisticated butterscotch.

Raspberry was sprinkled with the red dust of crushed, dehydrated berries. Its ganache had a thick and sticky texture.

This truffle packed a powerfully bright punch of genuine raspberry fruit flavor, like a whole flat of berries concentrated into just one bite. It also had a great tanginess to it, and just a hint of manageable astringency to the finish.

Finally, Amaretto, easily identifiable by its topping of crushed almonds.

I love the taste of Amaretto, especially drizzled over vanilla ice cream. I loved the smell of this – just like uncorking a bottle of the actual liqueur.

Its ganache and flavor was smooth and buttery and tasted of sweet, almond extract. The liqueur was nicely highlighted with the crushed almond bits.

The Amaretto, Raspberry, and Gianduja were the standouts of this bunch. They get OMGs, while the box as a whole is OM-worthy. I really enjoyed it, but not as much as I enjoyed the wine truffles.

York Peppermint Patty Pieces

After I tried and loved Almond Joy Pieces, I thought it was worth giving the rest of the line-up a try, so I picked up this bag of York Peppermint Patty Pieces.

York Peppermint Patty Pieces

They’re described as peppermint flavored dark chocolate candy in a crunchy shell. They are sugar-shelled lentil candies, approximately M&M sized.

The York Pieces have a jaunty color scheme of pure white and bright navy blue. Like the Almond Joy Pieces, the sugar shell on these is thicker than that of M&Ms.

York Peppermint Patty Pieces

The chocolate within is solid, with a cool and fatty melt – emphasis on the fatty. It feels almost slippery as it melts but lingers as a matte finish on the tongue when it’s gone.

The chocolate has the airy essence of peppermint oil, but the flavor isn’t too heavy-handed, allowing the dark cocoa powder notes of the chocolate to come through.

York Peppermint Patty Pieces

The Conclusion?

I enjoyed them, but they weren’t nearly as tasty or as exciting as the Almond Joy version. When I eat Almond Joy Pieces, I don’t want to stop snacking on them. The York Pieces weren’t so addictive that I couldn’t make my bag last for weeks.

I think they could be fun to bake with. In some homemade take on a Thin Mint, perhaps? I feel these deserve an OM. Since that was the rating that I gave the Almond Joy Pieces, they’re getting upgraded to an OMG.

Foosh Energy Mints

I’ve been off caffeine for several years. Nowadays, if I have a glass of caffeinated soda in the afternoon, it’ll keep me up all night! Thus, I’m probably not Foosh Energy Mints’s target consumer. But when their maker, Vroom Foods, offered to send me free samples, I decided to try them for your sakes, readers.

Each mint contains 100 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of a cup of coffee. They wanted me to keep in mind that such a high caffeine content gives them a unique texture.

The texture definitely stood out as being different. The mints melted with little bumpy grains all over them. It was unusual but not off-putting. What was off-putting, however, was the taste. Or rather, the aftertaste.

They tasted strongly of strong peppermint, which was great and breath-freshening. But they also had a horrid under/aftertaste of artificial sweetener.

Such an aftertaste is bearable when it lasts just a few seconds after you swallow your Diet Coke. In the mints, unfortunately, it lasted the entire time the mint was melting in my mouth. About halfway through, I just couldn’t stand that undertone of fake saccharine-ness and had to spit the thing out.

I didn’t like the taste of these, and I have no need for its caffeine content, so they weren’t for me and get a solely based on taste. But my caffeine addict friend loved them. To each his or her own, I suppose.

Q.bel Mint and Double Dark Wafer Bars

When Q.bel debuted, I got a chance to review their line-up of wafer bars and wafer rolls. They’ve recently added a Double Dark Chocolate and a Dark Chocolate Mint to their selection of wafer bars, and I got free samples to try!

Like all of their line, these new wafer bars are all natural. The Double Dark Chocolate wafer bars are made with 70% dark chocolate, and they’re vegan to boot.

They’re dark chocolate cream sandwiched between airy, crispy, and crunchy wafer cookies, all covered in dark chocolate. Each pack has two bars.

The wafers have a nice toasty note, and the texture is just awesome. The dark chocolate is on the sweet and fruity side. It was a tad sweeter than what I prefer, but the wafers helped mediate that sweetness.

The Mint wafer bars came in a brightly cheery green wrapper. They smelled nicely pepperminty, and they tasted that way too. The mintiness was mild rather than assertive, but the dark chocolate and mint flavors melded well, with the mint mostly coming through in the finish.

The wafers in this bar lacked the burnt, toasty notes of the double dark wafer bars, but they still brought a wonderful light crunch. The wafer-chocolate-cream combination was another win in both texture and flavor.

These guys were great, and I’m sorry to admit that I polished off my samples within a few days. An OM, and a plea for Q.bel to come out with mint wafer rolls, please?

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.