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


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.


Ritter White Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts

April 16, 2008

My confession? I enjoy — maybe even love — white chocolate. Well, it’s not much of a confession — I’m not ashamed! It just seems that many people have a distaste for the stuff. That’s fine; everyone has their personal tastes. However, I wonder if more people would like white chocolate if they tried good (or heck, even real) white chocolate. I liken it to dark chocolate. A lot of people try Hershey’s Special Dark and avoid dark chocolate thereafter. But a nice Endangered Species bar or even a piece of Dove might turn them over to the dark side.

White chocolate is similar, but a good white chocolate is even more elusive than a good dark. The white confection that Hershey’s puts out doesn’t even qualify as white chocolate. A bit of the cocoa butter is replaced by other fats, such as tropical or hydrogenated oils. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t guiltily indulge in these things sometimes, but it really ruins the texture and flavor profile of the white chocolate.

I’ve looked around, but a good, readily-available white chocolate bar is hard to come by. I’ve tried and loved Green and Black’s, but the store no longer stocks that variety. Curses.

Enter the Ritter White Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts. It delivers real white chocolate, bits of crisped rice, and a nice chunk of hazelnut in every bite. I love the texture of this bar. The chocolate is creamy, the hazelnuts are crunchy, and the rice bits are crispy. The rice brings a hint of malt to the party, but the major flavors are the chocolate and hazelnuts, which balance each other nicely. The hazelnuts never let the chocolate become too cloying.

This may not be the epitome of white chocolate, but I love the combination with the hazelnuts, it’s inexpensive, and it’s easy for me to come by. Ritter and I are forming a nice relationship, and this could become my go-to white chocolate bar.

Show some white chocolate a little love. If he still doesn’t capture you’re heart, he’ll understand. He just wants a chance!

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 6 squares. There are 210 calories, 14g of fat (7g saturated), 17g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Rating: 9/10

Name: White Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts
Brand: Ritter
Store: World Market
Price: $1.99
Weight: 3.5 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


Ritter Whole Hazelnuts

February 7, 2008

I’m not crazy about hazelnuts alone, but I love hazelnuts and chocolate – I can eat Nutella by the spoonful. American candy doesn’t often utilize the combination, but thankfully, European hazelnut confections are pretty easy to come by.

This is a perfectly simple combination: milk chocolate and whole hazelnuts. The chocolate is rich with diary notes. But more important is that this bar is seriously chock full of hazelnuts. Every bite contains a fresh, crunchy hazelnut; there are no gaps between them. Looking at the list of ingredients, I see that hazelnuts are actually the second ingredient, after sugar.

I think of this as a hazelnut Mr. Goodbar, only better. It’s simple, inexpensive, and made with quality ingredients. Sometimes I think that candy-makers should stick with this formula instead or running away with wacky flavor combos (not that I don’t love those too).

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is six squares, or about one-third of the bar. Each serving contains 210 calories, 14g of fat, 17g of sugar, and 3g of protein. It also contains 8% of the RDV of both calcium and iron.

Rating: 9/10

Name: Milk Chocolate with Whole Hazelnuts
Brand: Ritter Sport
Store: Target
Price: $1.66


Frey Gingerbread

January 2, 2008

I know I said the Mint M&Ms were the last of the my holiday items, but I lied. I have two gingerbread bars to review, and I suppose they’re considered seasonal. Today we have the Frey Gingerbread, and tomorrow, a Choxie bar.

I love ginger in all it’s forms: fresh, crystallized, or ground spice. I especially love gingerbread cookies around the holidays. To my delight, Gingerbread was one of the three limited edition holiday flavors released by Frey this year. (The others are Fruit & Nut and Cinnamon & Coriander.)

I opened the package expecting to see chunks of gingerbread cookie in the chocolate. I didn’t. In fact, the top of the bar was perfectly smooth. The bottom revealed tiny indentations, and indeed, the cookie bits in this bar are very tiny. They are hardly visible, even after biting into the bar.

The cookie pieces may be tiny, but they are abundant! The bar is crunchy and full of gingerbread flavor. I find the spicy ginger and nutmeg to be the perfect compliment to the sweet milk chocolate. The balance is spot on. The chocolate could have easily overwhelmed the gingerbread, and vice versa, but they aren’t competing here.

I’m not sure if Target still has these out. But I do hope they have them again next year!

Ingredient Watch: Nothing suspect here. Kudos to Frey!

Nutrition Breakdown: Each bar contains 2.5 servings. Each serving contains 210 calories, 11g of fat, 24g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Bottom Line: Yummy!

Rating: 9/10

Name: Gingerbread
Brand: Frey
Store: Target
Price: $1.50


KitKat Holiday Assortment

December 18, 2007

I’ve always underappreciated the KitKat. It’s never been a go-to candy for me, but every time I have one I remember how good they are. After eating my way through this assortment I’m a bit more interested in the KitKat and the wacky flavors you can find across the world. This assortment is pretty classic though: milk, dark, and white KitKats.


Milk Chocolate (red): This is your classic KitKat, but the smaller size throws off the proportions a little. There is more chocolate to wafer here, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. It’s sweet and perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Scrumptious! Rating: 9/10

Mildly Sweet Dark Chocolate (dark brown): I’ve never had a Dark KitKat, but I’ve heard people rave about it. I have to admit that I was a little under-whelmed by this. It was good, but I wasn’t blown away. The initial flavor reminded me strongly of coffee, but that morphed into a semi-sweet chocolate chip flavor, which overtook the wafer. I think this would be very nice in a regular size, with more wafer to chocolate. Rating: 7/10

White Candy (white): Note that this is white confection, not white chocolate. That’s because it’s made with various vegetable oils, not pure cocoa butter. I’ve come to expect that with most mass-produced white products. Still, I did enjoy these. It has a strong vanilla flavor that works well with the wafers. Rating: 7/10

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 5 pieces. Each serving contains 210 calories, 12g of fat, 20g of sugar, and 3g of protein.

Name: KitKat Assorted Minis
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Target
Price: $1.66 (11oz)