Hi-Chew Pineapple and Grape

June 30, 2008

When we were kids, my brother and I were allowed to pick out a candy whenever we went to the grocery store. I always chose something chocolate — M&Ms, a Milky Way, or maybe a Hershey Bar. I never quite understood my brother, who always went for something sour or fruit-flavored, like Starburst. Who in their right mind would choose Starburst over chocolate? I just chalked it up to further evidence that he was an alien.

I do appreciate some fruit-flavored candy. I like hard candy and gummies. It’s just not something I eat a lot of, as I vastly prefer chocolate. I’ve never liked fruit chews though. I’ll always pass on Starburst.

However, when I ordered some things from Ichiban Kan, I thought I’d get a few Japanese candies too, as I was already paying for shipping. So I bought a bunch of Hi-Chew flavors, figuring that if I didn’t like them I could always pass them off to the alien my brother.

Get to the point… did you like the Hi-Chews or not? I did like the Hi-Chews. A lot, in fact. They have a nice, springy texture and weren’t at all sticky or grainy, two things I associate with fruit chews. Instead, they just sort of melted away as the chew went along, like a nice caramel would.

Now, for the flavors..

Golden Pineapple: This started out tart and tangy, which threw me off a little because I’m used to very sweet pineapple. It became sweeter through the chew, and I was surprised at the complexity. It was very juicy and refreshing. I really enjoyed these, though I should probably mention that pineapple is my favorite fruit. Rating: 9/10

HI-CHEW Grape

(Red) Grape: This is the most realistic grape flavor that I’ve ever had. Most grape things remind me of Dimetapp, but these tasted more like juicy concord grapes. Again, the flavor was surprisingly complex and develops as you chew along. Rating: 8/10

For those of you that are bored, you may want to compare the Japanese and English language websites. Personally, I’m fond of Japanese Hi-Chew mascot. The English site seems boring in comparison.

Nutrition Breakdown: Um, sorry, but I don’t read Japanese. The best I can figure is that they average about 230 calories per package.

Name: HI-CHEW Golden Pineapple and Grape
Brand: Morinaga
Store: Ichiban Kan
Price: $1.00 each

Advertisements

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.


Ben & Jerry’s Cake Batter

June 20, 2008

I like cake. I like ice cream. I like cake and ice cream together. In the unholy event that I had to choose between the two, I would pick…

…well, that depends.

I would probably pick ice cream. I like ice cream more than I like cake. The thing is, I’m pickier about ice cream than I am about cake. I’d rather eat substandard cake than substandard ice cream. So maybe I would choose cake to avoid possible disappointment.

What does this hypothetical situation have to do with this post? Well, Ben & Jerry have given us an out — we can choose ice cream and have our cake too with their Cake Batter ice cream. It’s “yellow cake batter ice cream with a chocolate frosting swirl,” and wow, they really nailed this one.

I’ve baked my fair share of cakes, but the flavor I’ve baked most happens to be yellow cake with chocolate icing. While I’ve graduated to cakes-from-scratch, I used to use cake mix, and let me tell you — this ice cream tastes just like Betty Crocker’s Butter Recipe Yellow topped with Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge icing. I’ve used that combination enough times to know.

It’s tasty. It’s rich. It’s creamy. It’s freakishly accurate. Heck, I think it’s great. It’s also a bit different from other cake batter ice creams that I’ve tried. I think it’s the use of chocolate icing rather than vanilla buttercream that sets it apart.

Why don’t you just eat yellow cake with chocolate icing, then? Well, because… because… okay, I’ll give you that one. I really liked this flavor, but I doubt I’ll buy it again. If I’m going to have ice cream, I do prefer a more traditional flavor. Plus, there are too many other flavors to try. Cake Batter, I think, is a flavor more for the kids. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 1/2 cup. There are 280 calories, 17g of fat (11g saturated), 24g of sugar, and 4g of protein per serving.

Rating: 8/10

Name: Cake Batter
Brand: Ben & Jerry’s
Store: Walmart
Price: about $3.00
Weight: 16 oz.


Godiva Easter Eggs

April 8, 2008

Ah, more post-holiday fare. I just found these last Friday — almost two weeks after Easter! Cost Plus World Market still had a decent amount of Easter fare left over, at 75% off. I picked up a couple boxes of Lindt Chocolate Carrots and these Godiva Eggs.

I usually steer clear of Godiva. I find their products to be good, but overpriced. This box of 16 eggs was regular $16, but I got it for $4 — good deal. The net weight is 6.75 ounces, so I figure that each egg must weight about 0.4 ounces. It’s the perfect little two-bite size.

The box contains four varieties — solid milk chocolate (gold), solid dark chocolate (green), dark chocolate with coconut (pink), and milk chocolate with almond butter (blue).

Milk Chocolate: This is a good, if standard, rich milk chocolate. I don’t have much more to say, but I liked them.

Dark Chocolate: I love dark chocolate, but I can be picky about it. This is good, a little fruity, but not too complex overall. It’s nothing spectacular, but I like it.

Coconut: I love coconut flavor but not always coconut texture. Luckily, the texture here is fine. There are pieces of coconut in the filling, but they don’t stick in my teeth. The filling is sweet, but not cloying, and the coconut and dark chocolate compliment each other well.

Almond Butter: I really liked this one. I love almond butter, so it’s nice to see it used instead of the more classic peanut butter. The almond butter is very thick and slightly gritty, so that it has a more ‘natural’ feel. It’s very nutty and not at all too sweet, so the milk chocolate makes a nice compliment. The outside is a bit greasy, and the whole thing is quite soft. However, that’s partly my fault because they sat in my hot car for a few minutes.

Overall, I liked this mix very much. I wouldn’t shell out $16 dollars for it, but I’ll try to find them on sale again.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 3 pieces. There are 210 calories, 13g of fat (7g saturated), 19g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Rating: 8/10

Name: Easter Eggs
Brand: Godiva
Store: World Market
Price: $4.00 (regular $16.00)
Weight: 6.75 oz.


Lindt Carrots, Bugs, and Bees, Oh My!

March 20, 2008

Lindt has several cute foil-wrapped chocolate products out for Easter. There are bunnies, chicks, and lambs, but I went for the slightly less conventional carrots and insects. Why? Well, these are the hazelnut products, and I’m a sucker for anything hazelnut.

Let’s start with the bugs and bees. There are two ladybugs, two bees, and one unidentifiable bug. Unwrapped, they all look the same. They’re adorable, but a little pricey at $3.00 for less than two ounces.

Like the Lindor truffles, which many are familiar with, these have a slightly greasy outside. The center is filled with a thick, slick hazelnut paste and crisped rice. It’s not too sweet, but nice and nutty. Nutella fans will approve. The crisp rice brings a fun texture, but no additional flavor.

I liked these; they were quite tasty. They’re on the expensive side, so I won’t be filling any Easter baskets with these, but I will look for them on clearance.

Nutrition Facts: Serving size is four pieces. There are 210 calories, 13g of fat (6g saturated), 21g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Rating: 8/10

The carrots are equally adorable. I was surprised to find that these are served on stick, so that they resemble chocolate umbrellas. Unlike the bugs, they aren’t filled. Instead we’re treated to a solid blend of chocolate and hazelnut paste. Think gianduja/Nutella on a stick. Seriously, does life get much better? It’s sticky, nutty, and quite satisfying, even though each piece weighs less than a half an ounce.

I’ll certainly be looking for these on clearance, though they’re already a great price at $1.33.

Nutrition Facts: Serving size is three carrots. There are 210 calories, 14g of fat (8g saturated), 18g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving. Oh, and 10% of your RDA of calcium.

Rating: 9/10

Name: Lindt Bugs and Bees / Chocolate Carrots
Brand: Lindt
Store: Target
Price: $2.99 / $1.33
Weight: 1.76 oz. / 1.8 oz


Reese’s Pieces Pastel Eggs

March 19, 2008

I love milk carton packaging. It makes sharing and saving for later very easy. It also makes an excellent noise maker musical instrument, much to some parent’s annoyance.

The Reese’s Pieces Eggs are quite pleasing to the eye. They are very uniform in size and the pastel colors fit the season. The shell is very smooth on cool on the tongue. It’s a thick shell, so it’s hard to peel off with my teeth.

Not so long ago I said that problem with Reese’s Pieces is that they don’t taste like much unless you eat a handful at once. The Pastel Eggs solve that problem. The larger size lends a much bigger peanut butter punch. These are Reese’s Pieces of course, so the filling is sweet and smooth, unlike the salty, crumbly interior of a Reese’s Cup.

This is a nice way to get your Reese’s Pieces fix, if you require that for nostalgic reasons like me. I can see myself picking up a container of these each Easter. I think it would be great to mix these with some Hershey’s Eggs.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 12 pieces. There are 180 calories, 8g of fat (7g saturated), 22g of sugar, and 4g of protein per serving.

Rating: 8/10

Name: Reese’s Pieces Pastel Eggs
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Target
Price: $0.99
Weight: 3.5 oz.


Dove Milk Chocolate Truffle Egg

March 3, 2008

Easter brings my favorite holiday candy selection. In general, holiday candy is the standard fare wrapped in festive colors, but Easter has a little more variety. Of course, Easter-specific candies have begun to spill over to other holidays — Ghost Peeps, Cadbury Ornament Eggs — but I’ll always appreciate the holiday that brings my Cadbury Mini Eggs.

This week I have a slew of egg-shaped candies to review. I have a few roundups planned for later this week, but let’s start off small with the Dove Truffle Egg.

This is actually half an egg. It’s a molded piece with a flat bottom and a cutesy design on top. I associate Dove with smooth chocolate, and this fits the bill. It just melts away, due in part to the coconut oil in the truffled center. It’s sweet, but not sugary, and is quite creamy and dense. It’s so rich that I only ate half, but I quite enjoyed it and gobbled the rest down later in the day. It’s a nice little indulgence, and I’d pick up more if I found them on clearance.

I think a dark version of this exists, but does anyone know for sure?

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is one piece. Each serving contains 150 calories.

Rating: 8/10

Name: Dove Smooth Milk Chocolate Truffle Egg
Brand: Mars
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.59
Weight: 0.9 oz.