26 Jan, 2009
Posted by: Michael In: Truffles
I’m not a big coffee drinker, though I do like the taste of coffee when it’s sweetened or mixed in with other things, like chocolate. I also like Starbucks, though I’m still somewhat bitter over the discontinuation of the Chantico, a chocolate drink which – if you weren’t fortunate enough to try it – was essentially just liquefied dark chocolate. It was pretty great.
So I had somewhat high hopes for this Starbucks-branded chocolate, despite the fact that it is a Hershey product (which isn’t mentioned anywhere on the box). Not that I have anything against Hershey, but the last Hershey-made chocolate truffle I had was pretty mediocre.
The first thing you notice when you eat one of these is the fairly strong coffee flavour. I guess that shouldn’t be surprising, given that this has been released by a coffee shop, but I was expecting the coffee taste to be a bit milder. So that was a pleasant surprise. The next thing you notice is how crazy sweet it is; I just reviewed the Cadbury Creme Egg, and I think this might just be equally sweet, which is ridiculous. It also has the same fake-truffle, peanut butter-like consistency as the Cacao Reserve truffles, which is unfortunate.
These Starbucks Caramel Macchiato Truffles are probably slightly better than the Cacao Reserve ones, thanks to the coffee taste – but it definitely seems to me that Hershey should leave truffle-making to other chocolate makers, as they just can’t seem to get it right.
Manufactured by: Hershey
Calories (2 truffles, 23 g): 130
Easter is actually still a while off – it’s not until April 19th this year – but I guess that’s close enough for Cadbury, as the seasonal Creme Eggs are starting to hit the shelves.
Cadbury Creme Eggs are sweet; extremely sweet. As a kid, despite my love for all things sugary, Creme Eggs’ overwhelming sweetness was just a bit too much for me. I’ve since come to appreciate the Creme Egg, though its status as a once-a-year seasonal item is probably for the best, as it’s really not the kind of thing you want to eat on a regular basis (or at least I don’t).
As you can see from the picture above, Cadbury Creme Eggs can be a bit tricky to eat; the very soft centre combined with the relatively hard chocolate makes these things prone to crumble and fall apart, creating a bit of a mess. The filling is quite sticky, so you really need to be careful when you’re eating one. As for the taste: the chocolate is typical Cadbury milk chocolate – sweet, and fairly creamy. The fondant filling is essentially just soft, creamy sugar. It is what it is; you probably already have an opinion on whether you like these things, or if they’re just too sweet for you. I like them, but now that I’ve had one, I think I can wait until Easter 2010 to have another.
Manufactured by: Cadbury
Calories (39 g egg): 170
Not to be confused with the far superior Belgian chocolate truffle bar, Hershey’s Zero consists of nougat studded with tiny pieces of almonds and peanuts, topped with chewy caramel and enrobed in white chocolate. Only, it’s not really white chocolate – Hershey calls it “white fudge,” presumably because it doesn’t contain the requisite amount of cocoa butter to legally be allowed to be called chocolate (vegetable oil is one of the first ingredients).
Zero sort of resembles a nuttier Mars Bar (or Milky Way in the States). Unlike a Mars Bar, the nougat contains really small chunks of peanuts and almonds. I think the pieces are probably a bit too small, as they give the bar an off-puttingly gritty texture. They do, however, lend the bar a pleasantly nutty flavour, which gives the nougat an almost marzipan-like taste. The caramel adds some additional chewiness, though it doesn’t really contribute any real flavour to the bar. As for the “white fudge,” it’s basically just superfluous.
For the first couple of bites, I was definitely ready to give this a negative review. But it grew on me. It’s not as sweet as you might expect, and it has a much nuttier flavour than you’ll find in most mainstream candy bars. It’s certainly not great, but it’s not bad either.
Manufactured by: Hershey
Calories (52 g bar): 230
Though Hershey has seen fit to cheapen many of its bars by replacing milk chocolate with mockolate in an effort to cut costs, it’s nice to see that you can still find real milk chocolate in at least a few Hershey products.
Hershey’s Symphony is actually quite similar to a Heath bar, only with the proportions of chocolate and toffee reversed; where Heath is mostly toffee with a chocolate coating, Symphony is mostly chocolate with little bits of almonds and toffee. The bar proudly proclaims that it features “50% more toffee,” and they’re definitely not kidding around. Though Symphony is mainly milk chocolate, there’s enough toffee in there to give each mouthful a good crunch, and to give the whole bar a surprisingly pronounced toffee taste. That’s why it’s so easy to compare this to a Heath bar, because it really is basically like a Heath with a milder toffee taste.
I generally like Hershey’s milk chocolate, though it’s not my favourite. The chocolate here is fairly creamy, and is complemented nicely by the toffee. It’s not bad at all.
An addendum – I would like to point out something that I thought was amusing, if a bit sad: There are instructions on how to open the wrapper for this candy bar. On the outside corner of the wrapper’s flap, it says “lift & pull here.” On the other side of the flap, Hershey has helpfully advised you to “hold here.”
I’m not sure what’s more sad: the fact that Hershey thought that people would need instructions to open a candy bar wrapper, or the fact that someone actually does need instructions to open a candy bar wrapper.
Manufactured by: Hershey
Calories (42 g bar): 220
14 Jan, 2009
Posted by: Michael In: Chocolate
This is a British import, and I don’t know if it’s some kind of limited edition (I’ve never seen it before) or just a new part of the Dairy Milk line in the U.K., but it’s quite good. You might even say it’s… berry good (well, there goes my credibility).
Dairy Milk – Cranberry and Granola is fairly similar to another Cadbury product, Fruit and Nut. Only instead of raisins, there are sweetened, dried cranberries, and instead of nuts, there are crispy/crunchy bits of granola. It’s good for much of the reason that Fruit and Nut is good; the foremost being that the combination of chewy and crunchy is a classic one.
There is actually a pretty generous amount of granola in this bar, which is satisfyingly crunchy as well as flavourful enough to add its own distinctive taste to the chocolate. The cranberries give the bar a slightly sour punch, along with a chewy counterpoint to the crunchy granola. The tartness from the cranberry makes this candy unique, and really allows it to stand apart from something like Fruit and Nut. As for the milk chocolate, it is the usual Cadbury chocolate, and it is pretty good.
I’ll admit that I wasn’t too optimistic about this bar being very tasty; it seemed like a strange concept to me, however I’m happy to have been proven wrong.
Manufactured by: Cadbury
Calories (49 g bar): 245
I’ve already reviewed the Cinnabon Cinnamon Caramel Pecan Cluster, which is made by the Standard Candy Company, the same people who make the Goo Goo Cluster. I kind of liked that one, though it wasn’t really something I’d ever want to eat again. The Goo Goo Cluster is the candy that’s allowed Standard to stick around for so many years (since 1912), so I was definitely curious to try it even if I had some misgivings about their Cinnabon-branded confection.
The Goo Goo Cluster consists of chewy marshmallow, topped with caramel and roasted peanuts and covered in milk chocolate. The marshmallow is quite dense and chewy; it’s sweet, but without the vanilla taste that you expect from marshmallow. I liked it, but if I had eaten this blind I probably would have pegged it as nougat rather than marshmallow. The caramel adds more chewiness and is definitely less sweet than the norm.
As for the peanuts, there are a lot of them, which gives the cluster a satisfying crunch as well as a nutty taste. They’re unsalted, which is good because the Goo Goo Cluster isn’t overly sweet (salted peanuts would have overwhelmed the other tastes of this candy). The whole thing is covered in decent milk chocolate. It’s quite good, and unlike the Cinnabon one, I can definitely see myself buying this again.
Manufactured by: Standard Candy Company
Calories (50 g cluster): 230
This is the second coconut confection that I purchased from the Cracker Barrel, and it’s pretty much the complete opposite of the 3 Color Coconut, at least in terms of quality. Where 3 Color Coconut features the worst qualities of coconut candy (unpleasant chewiness combined with a lack of flavour), Coconut Patties features the best. It’s definitely one of my favourite coconut candies, alongside Bounty (which is still the king, as far as I’m concerned)
A package of Coconut Patties consists of two chewy, sweet patties of coconut, each one partially dipped in “chocolate.” The package does seem to claim that it’s real chocolate, though as far as I’m aware it is illegal to call something chocolate if it doesn’t contain cocoa butter, which is suspiciously absent on the list of ingredients. I’m not sure what the story is there, but it’s pretty much redundant anyway – the “chocolate” here only adds a subtle chocolatey flavour, so I doubt it would make much of a difference if it were real or if it were fake.
As for the coconut, it has a really rich flavour and is sweet without being too sweet. It’s chewy, but without that unpleasant “the flavour is gone, why am I still chewing this??” sensation. It’s definitely coconut done right.
Manufactured by: Anastasia Confections
Calories (2 patties, 75 g): 300
Kit Kat Senses is clearly Nestle’s take on the Kinder Bueno: it looks pretty similar, and is made up of essentially the same elements (creamy hazelnut filling, crispy wafer and milk chocolate). I like Bueno and I like Kit Kat, so combining the two seemed like a sure thing.
The first thing I noticed was that this bar has a very pleasant, hazelnutty aroma. So, score one for Kit Kat Senses. Actually eating the bar, however, it became less of a clear winner. It’s quite different from a Kinder Bueno, though obviously you can’t really hold that against it. The hazelnut filling is much more dense, and much less smooth and creamy. It’s kind of peanut buttery in consistency, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. However, it’s really sweet and doesn’t really have the strong hazelnut taste that you might expect. That, combined with the very sweet milk chocolate and the sweet wafer, results in a bar which is kind of overwhelmed by sweetness.
It’s not bad. I guess I might buy it again if I have a craving for that sort of thing and Kinder Bueno isn’t available. But between those two candy bars, Bueno is the definite winner.
Manufactured by: Nestle
Calories (31 g bar): 170
This is another British bar, and I’m really not sure if there’s anything else quite like it. I’m starting to get somewhat bitter eating all these imported products; it’s giving me a bunch of new candy bars to crave, most of which are almost impossible to find. Oh well; such is the life of a candy blogger, I suppose.
At first glance Drifter looks kind of like Twix – two smaller bars sitting side-by-side. But it tastes almost nothing like Twix, with each bar consisting of a piece of wafer covered in chewy caramel and enrobed in milk chocolate.
Sometimes the caramel in a candy bar has the problem of being sweet without having much of a flavour at all. Drifter doesn’t particularly have that problem, with caramel that is sweet without being too sweet, with an appealing almost Golden Syrup-like flavour. It’s really chewy and slightly grainy. The wafer is crispy and has a particularly pronounced wheaty/wafery taste, which works quite well with the chewy caramel.
So basically, Drifter is definitely another addition to the “candy bars I like but can’t really buy” list.
Manufactured by: Nestle
Calories (2 bars, 52 g): 264
Zagnut surprised me. It’s one of those “classic” bars, and it’s always struck me as being somewhat ho-hum. That, combined with its limited availability (it’s not sold at all in Canada, at least outside of specialty stores), has led this to being one of the few major candy bars that I’ve never actually tried.
The bulk of Zagnut consists of crispy, crunchy peanut butter which is fairly similar (if not identical) to the stuff found within a 5th Avenue or a Butterfinger. Both 5th Avenue and Zagnut are made by Hershey, so it’s possible that both bars have the same base. Where Zagnut differs from the two other bars is its coating: Zagnut is covered in a layer of toasted coconut, as opposed to the chocolate (or mockolate, to be more accurate) found on 5th Avenue and Butterfinger.
It’s surprisingly good. The toasted coconut gives Zagnut a pleasant coconutty taste, and proves to be a much better accompaniment to the crunchy peanut butter than mockolate (or even real chocolate). In fact I’m kind of surprised that Zagnut isn’t more popular than it is, as the toasted coconut works perfectly, and definitely makes this superior to both 5th Avenue and Butterfinger. I guess the fact that it isn’t covered in chocolate probably works against it, as does the general ho-humness of the name and the packaging. Regardless, it is delicious, and definitely something I’ll be buying more often, at least when I can find it.
Manufactured by: Hershey
Calories (49 g bar): 230