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

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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.


Choxie Key Lime Bar

June 3, 2008

I crave fruit year-round, but with the heat comes the craving for citrus. My favorite citrus flavor is lime. Of course, the fruit itself is a bit tart to eat alone, so I’m constantly looking for recipes that utilize limes, as well as lime-flavored things.

Enter Choxie’s key lime bar. I was wary, partly because Choxie products have been hit or miss with me, but also because fruit and chocolate combos aren’t usually my favorite.

This is a dark chocolate bar filled with key lime flavored white chocolate and studded with graham cracker pieces. The aroma is a mix of dark chocolate and citrus-scented cleaning product… not exactly appealing, but I soldiered on.

The dark chocolate was ashy, but still decent on it’s own, but it doesn’t work well with the filling. However, to be fair, I don’t think anything would work well with this filling. Keeping with the scent, it tastes like a cleaning product — bitter and artificial. The graham bits are more like crumbs, and are fairly evenly distributed throughout the bar. They don’t add any flavor, but they give the bar a grainy/crunchy texture, depending if you let it melt or bite right in.

Bottom Line: Ick.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 1/2 bar. There are 200 calories, 13g of fat (9g saturated), 17g of sugar, and 2g of protein per serving.

Rating: 2/10

Name: Dark Chocolate Key Lime Truffle Bar
Brand: Choxie
Store: Target
Price: $2.00
Weight: 2.5 oz.


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.


Choxie Dark Chocolate Truffle Collection

April 7, 2008

As you might guess by the heart shaped box, this is Valentine’s Day candy. I picked it up a few days after the holiday — at 75% off I couldn’t really resist. I’ve only just gotten around to reviewing it, but I think it’s sold year-round in a non-heart-shaped box. That’s how I’ll justify this being about two months late, anyway.

I was disappointed to find that the chocolate were slightly ashy. I guess they weren’t stored properly. Aside from that, they’re attractive pieces. That flavors include, caramel, honey, lemon, tea, chocolate, and coffee. Each piece is surrounded by the same bitter dark chocolate shell. It’s rather bland, so the chocolates really rely on their fillings, which also turned out to be rather bland, unfortunately.

Dark Chocolate Caramel: I didn’t eat this one — I shared!

Dark Chocolate Honey: This one is filled with a milk chocolate ganache with a small reservoir of honey at the top. The ganache is very light — almost mousse-like — but it’s really lacking in flavor. However, the sweet honey offsets the bitter chocolate shell nicely, so it works in the end.

Dark Chocolate Lemon: The one is filled with a white chocolate lemon ganache, which is light and refreshing. It tends toward sweet lemonade more than zesty lemon, which contrasts well with the bitter dark chocolate. I liked this one.

Dark Chocolate Tea: Yikes. It’s acidic and medicinal. I might expect something bitter and slightly acidic, but the medicinal edge is more reminiscent of cough syrup than tea. This one went into the trash.

Double Dark Chocolate: While the other pieces in this box tend toward a light, almost mousse-like ganache, the dark chocolate ganache is very thick. The filling is actually rather tasteless — it’s slightly sweet but not really chocolate-ty at all. Another bust.

Dark Chocolate Coffee: When I bit into this, I was surprised to find that it was crunchy. Then I checked the description — there are cacao nibs in here. It’s a nice touch. The filling is light in both texture in flavor. It has a mild mocha flavor, which is fine, but isn’t the “full-bodied coffee” flavor promised.

Overall, you can see that I found most of the chocolates to be pretty bland. Even the pieces that I liked were uninteresting. If I had paid the full $7 for this, I’d feel ripped off. It’s more than overpriced. But it was under $2, so it’s okay — worth the try anyway. I’ve been pleased with some of Choxie’s other products, but I’ll definitely steer clear of their boxed chocolates from now on.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 4 pieces. There are 210 calories, 14g of fat (9g saturated), 12g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Overall Rating: 4/10

Name: Belgian Dark Chocolate Truffle Collection
Brand: Choxie
Store: Target
Price: $1.75 (regular $7.00)
Weight: 1.9 oz.


Frey Cinnamon and Blood Orange

February 19, 2008

The first thing I notice when I open a product to review is the smell. That was definitely the case with this bar. No, there was no horrific odor or sublime aroma. It just smelled strange, and rather familiar at that. I stared at it for a minute before I realized what it was – this bar smells like a mix of Juicy Fruit and Big Red gum.

I know. Odd, right? I wasn’t too keen on tasting chocolate that smelled like chewing gum, but I sucked it up and tried it anyway.

This is a white chocolate bar with “a fruity touch of blood orange and cinnamon flavor.” I found the white chocolate to be slightly waxy, but not unpleasantly so. The sweetness isn’t too overwhelming, and the other flavors certainly stand out.

The cinnamon flavor is definitely of the fake Big Red variety. It more akin to Red Hots than the actual spice. However, it’s not spicy at all, as Big Red can sometimes be.

Now, I haven’t actually had a blood orange, so I can’t tell you if the fruit flavor is authentic. My assumption is that it isn’t. It’s citrusy, and yes, a little too reminiscent of Juicy Fruit. The little orange bits throughout the bar (blood orange granules, according to the ingredients) are rather tart and acidic.

I didn’t like this very much. I’m not a huge fan of fruit and chocolate to begin with, and the chewing gum comparisons were very off-putting.

Nutrition Breakdown: There are 2.5 servings per bar. Each serving contains 240 calories, 16g of fat (10g saturated), 19g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Rating: 4/10

Name: Cinnamon and Blood Orange
Brand: Frey
Store: Target
Price: 1.66 (reg 1.99)
Size: 3.5 oz.


Cadbury Fruit and Nut

January 30, 2008

I eat a lot of fruit and nuts. All that healthy goodness – it’s how I rebound from all the candy. But I’m not delusional; I don’t think that adding fruit and nuts to candy suddenly makes it healthy. Still, nuts are some of the best compliments to chocolate. I generally don’t do chocolate with fruit, with a few exceptions. I like fresh fruit dipped in chocolate (strawberries, bananas). I also like Raisinets, but those are more about the raisins than the chocolate.

This is my first fruit and nut bar. Apparently, in the Cadbury-Hershey world, fruit and nuts are limited to raisins and almonds. Somehow, I feel cheated. Isn’t that nuts in the plural? I guess I should have read the fine print.

The almonds are great. They are fresh, crunchy, and abundant enough to add a rich nuttiness to the classic dairy-heavy Cadbury chocolate.

The raisins, on the other hand, aren’t really working for me. They add an unpleasant chew and, if you get a big enough piece, an unpalatable burst of searing sweetness. I have a high tolerance for sweetness, but it applies mostly to sweet chocolate, not the super-sugary sweetness of sugar-coated dried fruit.

So, fruit and nut bars probably aren’t for me. However, trying this made me realize how much I would love to try a mixed nut bar. I’m not sure what the best mix would be… almonds, peanuts, and cashews would probably go well together, but I would love to find a way to work in pistachios and hazelnuts. Mr. Goodbar Extreme, anyone?

Ingredient Watch: PGPR alert.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 10 pieces, or about one-third of the bar. Each serving contains 200 calories, 10g of fat, 22g of sugar, and 4g of protein. It also has 8% of the RDV of calcium.

Rating: 5/10

Name: Cadbury Fruit and Nut
Brand: Cadbury (by Hershey’s)
Store: Walgreens
Price: $1.50