Monday, October 20, 2014

Theo Fig Fennel & Almond

Fig Fennel & Almond

I love when people bring me chocolate! This bar came from my Aunt on a trip to a cute shopping district in northern Michigan, though the company is located in Seattle. I've tried a few Theo bars in the past and remembered their flair for unique combinations.

This bar is no exception; fig and fennel are not your typical candy bar ingredients. Along with using unique ingredients, Theo's website also notes their commitment to organic, Fair Trade, and Fair for Life products. "Fair for Life" was a new moniker for me, but it's a certification that appears to encompass fair trade standards and "social accountability."

Fig Fennel & Almond

I could smell and taste the fennel immediately, and it gave the bar a rather savory flavor. The fig came in later as the chocolate melted, and it complemented the fruitiness of the chocolate. The almonds added a nice, roasty flavor, but it didn't come through in every bite.

The bar was a complex mix of flavors and textures. The fig pieces were chewy, almost like raisins. The almonds, and maybe even the fennel added a bit of crunch. The cocoa content (70%) was just about perfect for me, and it broke well and melted cleanly. Definitely unique, but not a bar I'd reach for again.

B+

Theo Chocolate website

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate (filled with) Speculoos Cookie Spread

Cookie Butter Bar

People make such a big deal about Trader Joe's Cookie Spread. I bought a jar myself and I was pretty underwhelmed. It was extremely sweet and didn't really work in the same applications as peanut butter. Maybe it wasn't supposed to. In any case, that jar is still sitting on my shelf a year later. It's probably time to throw it away.

The last time I was at Trader Joe's, I saw these cookie butter filled chocolate bars by the checkouts and thought I might give Cookie Butter another try. In a dark chocolate bar, it seemed like it could work.

Cookie Butter Bar

The dark chocolate didn't have a strong scent, but it was rich and smooth. It wasn't very bitter, but thankfully it wasn't very sweet, either. The cookie butter inside was soft and creamy, with a slight crunch from the cookie bits. The two textures went together very well.

The gingersnap flavor from the cookies came through, though the bar was very mild on the whole. Still, it was very tasty, and I had a hard time stopping after just 2 sections. I was impressed with the level of sweetness, because this bar could have easily gone cloying. It did change my mind about Cookie Butter, though I think I'll stick to the chocolate bar rather than the jar!

A-

Trader Joe's Website

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Hammond's Caramel Mocha

Hammond's Caramel Mocha

One of the best things about having this candy blog is that people in my life are sweet enough to bring me candy when they travel! This Hammond's Caramel Mocha bar came from my boss after her trip to Denver. It had a friend, called Pigs n' Taters (bacon and potato chips) but my husband finished that one before I could blog it. For the record, it was good.

Hammond's is a Denver company that has been around for quite a while. There are some other fun-sounding flavors on the Hammond's website: Whoopie Pie, Cookie Dough, Malted Milkshake - I was impressed! As flavors go, Caramel Mocha isn't too out there, but I appreciate a well-executed classic as much as funky innovation.

Hammond's Caramel Mocha

The chocolate had a rich, glossy look to it, and it smelled like coffee and very dark chocolate. Surprisingly, the coffee flavor wasn't that strong - good news for me. The chocolate had a big, crisp snap, but it didn't break along the perforations at all. This is a pet peeve of mine, especially in a caramel bar, because it makes a big sticky mess.

The caramel was extremely sticky and creamy (not at all runny). The caramel also didn't have much of a burnt sugar flavor, maybe because it seemed to carry the mocha aspect of this bar. The flavor conveyed the richness of a mocha, but the actual coffee flavor reminded me more of coffee grounds than liquid. Still, it went well with the bitter flavor of the cocoa. The bar was good, but not my favorite, and it was sticky as all get out.

B

Hammond's website

Monday, September 1, 2014

Universal Studios Minion Taffy

Minion Taffy

Who doesn't love the Minions from Despicable Me? I'm a huge fan, so when I was browsing around a candy store at Universal Studios Florida, I couldn't resist these bags of adorable Minion Taffy. The Banana flavor came highly recommended by the cashier, but Sour Grape is more my style, so both bags came home with me.

A bag of Minion Taffy ran about $8 or $9, but that's an amusement park for you. Besides, I'm willing to pay a premium for cute. Look at their goggles, and check out the little teeth on the Purple Minion! I loved how the variations in the taffy meant that each Minion was a little different, just like in the movies. I was ready to give these an A+ without even tasting them!

Minion Taffy

Banana is a tricky flavor for me, but luckily, these were some of the best banana-flavored candies I've had. The banana flavor was mild and authentic: a little tart and a little sweet, like a banana at that perfect stage of ripeness. The taffy was firm but softened quickly, and as the taffy got stickier, the tart flavors gave way to just a slightly sweet banana, with almost no aftertaste. My husband (who loves banana candy and salt water taffy) said this was some of the best taffy he'd ever had. A+

Sour Grape wasn't super sour. The grape flavor was tart and slightly floral, and it did remind me of muscat grapes. It was sweeter than the banana, and was quicker to become soft and sticky. Normally, sour flavors are my thing, but this one was just a little too sweet to really hit the spot. The banana was superior, though I can see kids liking the Sour Grape flavor better. That's not to say it was bad - it was still quite good and quite adorable! B+

Despicable Me Minion Mayhem at Universal Studios

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wrigley's Juicy Fruit Bubble Gum

Juicy Fruit Bubble Gum

Blowing bubbles with gum is just as fun for me now as it was when I was a kid - maybe even more fun now that I know to take my glasses off first. These days, I stick to small, safe bubble blowing using boring regular gum, but every now and then it's fun to tackle the real stuff.

This Juicy Fruit bubble gum called to me in the gas station. The size and shape of the package made me think that this was a Bubble Yum or Bubblicious product, but it's actually from Wrigley, who also makes the regular Juicy Fruit gum. That does make more sense.

Juicy Fruit Bubble Gum

Man, this was a large piece of gum. It was soft and very chewy, but I felt like a chipmunk. How is it that I chewed this stuff all the time when I was a kid and had a smaller mouth? But the real issue was that the gum tasted nothing like Juicy Fruit. Juicy Fruit may not have any distinguishing fruit flavors, but it does have its own unique flavor, and this was not it.

The gum was vaguely fruity and a bit floral, but mostly it just tasted like sugar. I suppose "vaguely fruity" also describes regular Juicy Fruit, but they just didn't taste the same. I kept waiting for the Juicy Fruit flavor to kick in and move me, but it never did. At least I got some good bubbles in during the wait.

C-

Wrigley website