Emily’s Chocolate Covered Berries and Cherries

June 25, 2008

I don’t often seek fruit flavors with my chocolate, but I do love chocolate-covered fruit. Give me a pot of melted chocolate and an assortment of fresh fruit, and I’m one happy blogger.

I received these samples of Emily’s dark-chocolate-covered fruit, and I was intrigued. The only dried fruit I’ve had covered in chocolate are raisins. It’s the only thing (that I know of) that’s widely available. The addition of chocolate covered strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, and cherries is certainly a welcome one, especially for the summer.

I like Emily’s packaging. It’s simple and clean, but still attractive and practical. The bags are resealable, which I really appreciate.

The berries themselves are lovely, shiny little things, thanks in part to a coating of confectioner’s glaze. They’re all covered in the same rich dark chocolate, which is quite good, if a tad sweet.

Strawberry, Cherry, Blueberry, Cranberry

Strawberries: You may expect the strawberry to be lost in that thick coat of chocolate, but trust me, that berry packs a lot of flavor. The strawberry is a perfect compliment to the dark chocolate, and the balance is great. Even though it’s a dried strawberry, it still tastes fresh and juicy to me. What can I say? I really loved these. Rating: 9/10

Blueberries: These are good, but inconsistent. The larger berries are great, right up there with the strawberries. They pack a great blueberry flavor that balances nicely with the chocolate. This balance is lost with the smaller berries, which are overwhelmed by the thick chocolate coating. The result is more like a mild blueberry-flavored chocolate. It’s still tasty, but they aren’t reaching their potential. Rating: 7/10

Cranberries: Like some of the blueberries, all of the cranberries were overwhelmed by their chocolate coating. These reminded me a lot of Raisinets, just with more (and better) chocolate. Again, they were tasty, I just wanted more cranberry out of these. Rating: 6/10

Chocolate Covered CherriesCherries: While the berries are sweet, the cherries are very tart, making for an excellent contrast with the chocolate. If you like sour cherries, these are a real treat. They’re a little overwhelming if you eat too many at once, but two or three after dinner makes for a nice dessert. Rating: 8/10

Bottom Line: I liked all of these, but I thought the Strawberries and Cherries were the standouts — I would buy those again.

Name: Dark Chocolate Covered Berries
Brand: Emily’s
Price: Samples, but they retail for 3.99 each.
Store: Samples, but retail partners are listed here.
Weight: 6-7 oz each.

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Chuao Chinita Nibs

April 28, 2008

It took a few bites over a few days, but Chuao’s Chinita Nibs and I have developed a respectful relationship. It’s a 4×6 tablet wrapped in gorgeous purple foil. In fact, that purple color is what roped me into buying the bar in the first place.

At first bite, I really disliked it. The nutmeg flavor is quite potent, and it reminded me, honestly, of crab boil seasoning. Now, Chuao’s tagline is “unusual, unexpected, and delicious.” This was the unexpected part I guess, but it wasn‘t delicious. Crab boil is not a flavor that I really want mixed with my chocolate.

I pulled the bar out again the next day with little enthusiasm, but I wanted to write this review. I was quite surprised to find myself appreciating the bar’s earthy flavor. Now that I knew what to expect, I found the bar to be quite pleasant, and the unfortunate crab boil comparisons faded. The bar is grassy and spicy, but not hot.

The bar is full of nibs; they’re quite visible along the bottom of the bar. They’re crunchy and not fibrous at all. The chocolate is 60% cacao, not too dark but still substantial. However, it definitely plays second-string to the nutmeg’s start. It seems lovely and makes me want to get my hands on more of Chuao’s stuff.

Nutmeg is a spice that is easy to overdo, and I think Chuao crossed the line here. That didn’t stop me from enjoying the bar in small doses, but I don’t have any desire to buy another one. Still, I think a lot of people will love this bar, even if I didn’t.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 1/2 a bar. There are 200 calories, 15g of fat (6g saturated), 16g of sugar, and 2g of protein per serving.

Rating: 6/10

Name: Chinita Nibs
Brand: Chuao Chocolatier
Store: World Market
Price: $3.99 (sale)
Weight: 2.82 oz. / 80g


Strawberry Milkshake Whoppers

April 23, 2008

Weirdly, I love Robin’s Eggs but don’t care for Whoppers. The candy shell makes the difference I guess, but please, don’t ask me how so.

I’ve never been a strawberry milkshake person either. I prefer vanilla or peanut butter. (No, not chocolate — I don’t care much for chocolate ice cream, surprisingly.) I only started eating strawberry ice cream a couple years ago.

So, Strawberry Milkshake Whoppers aren’t exactly my ideal candy, as much as I may love malted milk. Hershey’s introduced the flavor to the Whoppers line about two years ago. I glanced at them, wrinkled my nose, and waited for them to go away. They never did. I don’t know if that was always the intention or if these just sold very well, but they’re still here. Staring at me. Demanding that I try them

Obviously, I finally broke down and did so.

They’re pretty, pale pink little gems, not the pepto-pink color you might expect. The strawberry confection is greasy to the touch but is not unpleasant in my mouth. Of course, it would be nice to have a real white chocolate coating, but we can’t expect much seeing as regular Whoppers have a chocolate-ty versus a chocolate coating.

The flavor is surprisingly pleasant. I suppose they taste a bit like strawberry ice cream, but a little more mellow. They remind me very much of summer, cotton candy, and bubble gum. The malt-ness of the center isn’t very strong, but the salty kick provides a nice contrast.

I think I prefer these to regular Whoppers. I shared with a friend, and she absolutely loved them. So much, in fact, that she went out and bought a big box a couple days later. I wouldn’t buy these for myself, but I’ll munch on a couple if my friend is sharing.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 18 pieces. There are 190 calories, 8g of fat (8g saturated), 26g of sugar, and less than 1g of protein per serving.

Rating: 6/10

Name: Whoppers Strawberry Milkshake
Brand: Hershey
Store: Wal-mart
Price: $0.99
Weight: 3.5 oz.


Hershey’s Nut Lovers Miniatures

March 31, 2008

A few weeks ago, I admitted to not liking nuts as a kids. These days, however, I am a certified nut lover. I like the simple combination of nuts and chocolate. The Nut Lovers Miniatures have been trying to get my attention for a while now, so I finally gave in and bought them.

Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate with Cashews:
While I love to eat cashews out of hand, I think they have a hard time standing up to chocolate. That’s certainly the case here. There are just a few pieces of chopped cashews strewn throughout the chocolate. It’s just enough to lend a mild nutty flavor and a slight salty bite, nothing more. It needs more cashews.

I always find the extra creamy milk chocolate to be off-putting. It’s just not Hershey’s chocolate. It’s less chocolate-ty, and it trades the classic tangy yogurt notes for something more akin to sweet whipped cream. It’s not bad, per se, but come on Hershey, don’t be afraid to be yourself! (To their credit, the cashews would definitely be lost in traditional Hershey’s chocolate.)

Made with Chocolate and Peanuts: Mr. Goodbar, what have they done to you? It makes sense that this would be included in the mix, but not redressed as “made with chocolate and peanuts.” I guess the name Mr. Goodbar doesn’t fit in with the rest of the mix, but they could have kept it as a simple Hershey’s with Peanuts. *sigh* I think I let these things get to me too much.

Despite the name change, this is the same Mr. Goodbar that you find with the traditional Miniatures. It’s only bar in the mix with a sufficient amount of nuts, I think. I love ‘em. The simple combination of peanuts and chocolate is great.

Milk Chocolate with Almonds: Here’s another familiar face, but in name more than composition, opposite our dear Mr. Goodbar. The full-sized Hershey’s with Almonds employs full-sized almonds, but we’ve got crushed almonds here. It’s a disadvantage; there aren’t enough almonds to get a satisfying crunch or flavor.

Pecans and Crème: I was wary of this one. I wasn’t sure how pecans would go with white chocolate confection. After tasting this, I think it could be a decent combination, but there aren’t enough pecans here to make a fair assessment. The white confection is overly sweet and tastes strongly of vanilla. The occasional pecan is pleasing, but these were mostly a miss for me.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 5 pieces. There are 220 calories, 14g of fat (7g saturated), 21g of sugar, and 4g of protein per serving.

Rating: 6/10 (because Mr. Goodbar rules)

Name: Nut Lovers Miniatures
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Target
Price: $2.00
Weight: 11 oz.


Elmer’s Easter Eggs I

March 6, 2008

(Part II of the Elmer’s roundup will be up tomorrow — there is only so much candy that I can eat at once!)

Elmer’s is a candy company located in Ponchatoula, LA, which is only about 75 miles from me. I’ve always been aware of their products, but didn’t realize they were a local company until a few months ago.

Elmer’s makes a lot of boxed Valentine’s chocolate. I’ve haven’t tried these — they’ve never appealed to me — but I think they’re pretty widely distributed. I’m much more familiar with their Easter products, which include Gold Brick Eggs, Pecan Eggs, and several other products. I think distribution of the Easter fare may be limited to the South.

When I was a kid, I would inevitably get several Elmer’s products in my Easter baskets. This was always a disappointment. I had nothing against Elmer’s, but most of their products featured nuts — and I didn’t like nuts. I know, I know… I was young and naïve, give me a break.

While I devoured Robin’s Eggs, chocolate rabbits, and Peeps, Elmer’s candy sat behind. (Well, not really, I think my parents ate it.) I figured it was about time I gave Elmer’s a chance.

Eggceptionals: This product looks familiar to me, but I don’t remember receiving these. I probably would have eaten them. It’s peanuts and caramel enrobed in milk chocolate The idea is comparable to the Snickers Crème products, which have no nougat. However, unlike the Snickers products, which have a fairly soft caramel, the caramel here is firm. I mean seriously firm; I think it could pull a filling out. I can appreciate a firm caramel on its own, but in a candy bar… not so much.

I like a buttery or salty caramel, but this here is pretty bland. It’s not even super sweet, which could be a good thing. The chocolate is pleasant, and the peanuts are fresh. They give the whole thing a nice, nutty flavor, but the caramel kind of kills this one for me. It’s not bad, but I’ll stick to the Snickers Crème Eggs.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is one piece. There are 130 calories, 5g of fat (2g saturated), 14g of sugar, and 2g of protein per serving.

Rating: 5/10

Pecan Egg: My mom would always eat these. I always thought the Pecan Egg was a lump of pecans. It’s actually nougat covered with caramel and chopped pecans.

How does it taste? Think butter pecan ice cream, and you’re pretty much there. The nougat is soft, but firm enough to hold it’s shape. It’s very sweet and tastes strongly of vanilla. The caramel is very buttery, lending to that somewhat fake butter flavor that I associate with butter pecan ice cream. The pecans could be crunchier, but they are adhered with sticky caramel, so they’re going to absorb some of that moisture.

In all, the flavors blend well together, and this is pretty good. I’d like to give it a try frozen.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is one piece. There are 130 calories, 6g of fat (0.5g saturated), 14g of sugar, and 1g of protein per serving.

Rating: 6 /10

Name: Eggceptionals/Pecan Egg
Brand: Elmer’s
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.34/$0.50
Weight: 1 oz. each


Nestle Easter Eggs

March 5, 2008

Here are more molded, filled eggs, this time by Nestle. I know that the Wonka Egg has been around the past couple seasons, but I’m not sure about the other two.

Butterfinger Crème Egg: I almost passed this up because I thought it was a solid chocolate egg studded with Butterfinger pieces, ala the Nestle Christmas fare. But no, it’s filled with “Butterfinger pieces and peanut butter crème.” The filling is grainy and, well, a bit too solid to be called a crème, I think. The peanut butter crisps add a nice touch.

For as much peanut butter filling as there is, this didn’t have a super-strong peanut butter taste. I think my taste buds may have been whacked, as I did eat this just after recovering from a bug. In the end, I don’t care for Nestle chocolate, and I’d rather have a Reese’s Egg. Rating: 5/10

Nestle Crunch Crème Egg: This one contains chocolate crème, caramel, and of course, crisped rice — that’s what makes it a Nestle Crunch! Again, I think the crème is too solid to be called so. It’s like a light, maybe aerated, chocolate that doesn’t differentiate itself much from the shell. It‘s quite sweet, and the pocket of caramel adds to that. The caramel is salty and buttery, and I quite like it. However, it’s not enough to save this for me, I’m just not a fan of Nestle chocolate. Rating: 6/10

Wonka Golden Crème Egg: This piece has a little more novelty. It’s a tie in with Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, in which Veruca Salt demands the goose that lays the golden eggs… and subsequently takes a trip down the garbage chute.

It contains chocolate crème, caramel, and graham cracker bits. Hmm. Wait a minute. It’s the Nestle Crunch Egg all over again! Disappointing chocolate shell? Check. Not-so-crème-like chocolate crème? Check. Butter, salty caramel? Check. The only difference is that the crisped rice is replaced by graham cracker bits, and to be fair, there is a noticeable graham flavor. I love graham crackers, so I like this change, but it’s not enough to really change my opinion. (Though I do wish more candy would use graham..) Rating: 6/10

Name: … more eggs!
Brand: Nestle
Store: Walgreens and Target
Price: $0.50 each
Weight: about 1.1 oz each


Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter and Chocolate

February 22, 2008

When I bought this, I hardly registered what it was. It was robotic. I thought ‘candy… new…’ and my arm automatically reached for the box. Such is the fate of a candy blogger… we’re like machines, except we run on sugar instead of fossil fuels.

Imagine my disappointment (just disappointment, not surprise) when I got home and noticed that this utilized no chocolate, but “chocolate candy” instead. Yeah, you know, “mockolate.” The fake stuff. It’s the pyrite of the candy world.

It’s particularly disappointing because this is a pretty good idea: candy-coated peanut butter candies mixed with candy-coated chocolate candies. It should be the Reese’s Cup that melts in your mouth, not in your hand… but it’s not. The chocolate candy just doesn’t taste very chocolate-ty. It’s sweet with a mild cocoa flavor, but just isn’t very good. The Reese’s Pieces are their classic selves, a sweet peanut butter candy, which has always reminded me a bit of peanut butter fudge.

Reese’s Pieces were a favorite of mine when I was younger, even more so than Reese’s Cups. It’s odd really, considering that I’ve always been a huge chocolate-lover. These days, Reese’s Pieces disappoint me. They’re not bad — not by far — but they don’t taste like much unless you pop a bunch at once. That’s just not my style. I’m a sorter — each color gets it’s own pile, and then I methodically eat them one by one. Still, I’ll always have a soft spot for them.

The Reese’s Pieces are in their traditional colors of orange, yellow, and brown. The chocolate pieces are dressed in red, green, and blue. I found this disappointing as well; I hoped it would be like roulette — you don’t know if it’s chocolate or peanut butter until you bite into it. They should have just mixed up some Reese’s Pieces and Kissables. Then we could have gotten some real chocolate, at least.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 46 pieces. There are 2.5 servings per box. There are 190 calories, 9g of fat (6g saturated), 25g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Rating: 4/10 for the mix, but 6/10 for Reese‘s Pieces alone.

Name: Reese’s Pieces Peanut Butter and Chocolate
Brand: Reese’s (Hershey) (USA)
Store: Wal-mart
Price: $0.99
Weight: 3.5 oz