Friday, April 30, 2010

Nestle Raspberry & Passion Fruit KitKat

KitKat Raspberry and Passion Fruit

Even if a Japanese KitKat flavor sounds good, you never really know how it's going to turn out until you try it. I suppose this is true for just about everything, but personally, I'm not particularly good at knowing which flavors I will enjoy.

For example, I love a good caramel macchiato, but the KitKat was pretty gross. Ume soda sounded like a stinker, but it actually wasn't bad. And I never expected to like Raspberry & Passion Fruit as much as I did.

Nestle KitKat Raspberry & Passion Fruit

The bar was a gorgeous shade of matte brown and smelled like bittersweet cocoa with hints of fruitiness. While chewing my first bite, I was pleased with the stick texture and rich flavor of the chocolate. Raspberry and dark chocolate is a fantastic pairing, as the fruit really enhances the tanginess of the chocolate.

The fruit flavors in this KitKat were surprisingly authentic and delightful. The raspberry tasted just like jam, and though I couldn't specifically pick out passion fruit, there were some lovely tropical notes that helped to mellow the tartness of the raspberry. The combination of bittersweet chocolate and tart fruit was just perfect here. It was absolutely delicious and one of the best, most memorable KitKats I've had in a long time.

There are many other reviews of this KitKat, so have a look at Chocablog, Pocky Watch, and Jen's KitKat Blog for a start.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Nestle Royal Milk Tea KitKat

Royal Milk Tea KitKat

After my KitKat withdrawal, I went on a bit of a buying spree. Along with the Sakura Matcha and the KitKat in this review, Royal Milk Tea, I also have Raspberry & Passion Fruit, Calpis, and Maple ready to go.

The box had an adorable, if stereotypical, British motif. However, the milk tea enjoyed in Japan is more like Hong Kong-style - a blend of black teas with condensed milk.

Royal Milk Tea KitKats

The bar had a milky and slightly floral scent, like milk tea. It was a white chocolate bar, which was a fitting base for the classic milk tea color. As I expected, it tasted very sweet.

The flavors were very mild, and though I could taste the milk and just a bit of tea, I was hoping for a stronger floral flavor. It was tasty, and I didn't mind that it was quite sweet, but just like with the beverage, I shouldn't have expected much tea flavor.

Check out some other reviews at Japanese Snack Reviews, Jen's KitKat Blog, and Melon-Soda.


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tirol Premium Roundup

Tirol Chocolates

Premium Tirol are rather difficult to locate in the United States. Many Japanese stores in the Midwest carry the regular assorted Tirol packs, but I have never seen the premium variety in stores.

The flavors in this review are Cream Anmitsu, Vanilla Yogurt, and Hokkaido Cheese, and they were purchased from napaJapan. Premium Tirol are slightly larger (and supposedly of better quality) than the standard variety, and the flavors are changed more regularly, much like KitKats.

Cream Anmitsu Tirol

First up was Cream Anmitsu, which was a Tirol version of a popular Japanese dessert that is somewhat like a fruit salad with jellies, red beans, ice cream, and sometimes mochi. The piece smelled like azuki and mochi, and the gel and syrup were slightly sweet. The gel inside was like the agar jelly in the dessert - the texture reminds me of chewing on the inside of your cheek. The chocolate was smooth, creamy, and carried most of the bean flavor. The syrup gave the whole thing a fruity feel, and was a great representation of the actual dessert! A-

Hokkaido Cheese Tirol

Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan, is known for its dairy products, thus we have Hokkaido Cheese flavored Tirol. It smelled and tasted just like cheese spread and not like real cheese. There was no sign of chocolate here, just a processed cheese flavor with a crunchy biscuit. If that's your thing, you'd probably like it. I was surprised at the uniqueness, but not impressed with the flavor, and my husband thought it tasted like Combos. C

Vanilla Yogurt Tirol

Finally, there was Vanilla Yogurt (and a different light source in my photo). It had a strong vanilla scent, and a cool vanilla taste. It was like a creamy white chocolate homemade candy (think a meltaway mint without the mint) that melted in my mouth. The syrup inside was basically simple syrup infused with vanilla, and the center piece felt like meringue on my tongue. It was quite tasty, but I didn't really taste yogurt, just vanilla and white chocolate. I have never tried the actual product on which it is based, but I did like the chocolate. B+

Orchid64 of Japanese Snack Reviews has also reviewed all three of these flavors, so have a look at her take on Hokkaido Cheese, Cream Anmitsu, and Vanilla Yogurt. For a positive review of Hokkaido Cheese, check out Tasty Japan.

Tirol website

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Nestle Sakura Matcha KitKat

Sakura Matcha KitKat

It's been several months since my last KitKat review, so I placed my first order at NapaJapan a few weeks ago. My packaged arrived quickly, and not a melted bit of chocolate in the bunch.

After reading various rave reviews of the Sakura Matcha KitKat, I was itching to taste it, so it was the first item in my shopping cart. I was a little wary of the sakura part after the last sakura KitKat and its faint hints of soapiness, but matcha can cure a lot of ills.

Sakura Matcha KitKat

The bar smelled of matcha, and at first, the flavor was dominated by the matcha chocolate as well. However, once the wafers came through, I tasted faint hints of cinnamon. There was a subtle background fruitiness as well, and overall, it was quite a complex KitKat.

The matcha chocolate was cool and clean, and the slightly spiced notes from the wafers reminded me of yatsuhashi (another classic Kyoto treat). It was delicious, especially for a matcha lover. And, according to other reviews at Jen Ken's Kit Kat Blog and Pocky Watch, it might even appeal to a matcha non-believer.


KitKat website

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Choxie Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee Truffle Bar


The Choxie line at Target is inconsistent at best. This bar (and many of the others I've tried) was purchased on clearance, so I approached it with some caution. Still, the description caught my eye: "Caramel and vanilla-infused white chocolate truffle with a touch of toffee, blended in milk chocolate."

Despite having the longest name of any candy bar I've ever heard, the mention of toffee caught my eye. The whole bar is a whopping 400 calories, and from looking at a review on The Girl Tastes from 2008, it looks like there was a packaging design change.

Choxie Bar

The bar had a nice shine to it, and smelled milky. The bite was quite solid, especially since I was expecting a soft truffle filling. It was more like actual white chocolate. There were plenty of toffee bits inside (which seems like an improvement from the 2008 version).

I could taste the vanilla in the white chocolate filling, but didn't get any caramel from it. The toffee had a nice crunchy texture and good flavor, but it didn't really say creme brulee to me. The sweetness level was all right, and the milk chocolate was okay, but didn't add much. It did exceed my expectations, but a little went a long way.


Target Choxie website

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Cadbury Mini Eggs Popping

Cadbury Mini Eggs Popping

Cadbury Mini Eggs were a bit of an Easter tradition in my house growing up. For what seems like my entire childhood, most Cadbury products were Easter only. I know it's blasphemy, but I am not and have never been a fan of the famous Creme Eggs. Even to my young, Starburst-addicted tongue, they were just too sweet.

Cadbury Mini Eggs are a different story. I like them better than Hershey's chocolate, and there's none of that messy white (and yellow) junk inside. Also, the candy shell has a lovely matte finish with a little more sophistication than the gloss of an M&M or Robin's Egg. The particular variety reviewed here has popping candy inside and was purchased at a Shoppers Drug Mart in Ontario.

Cadbury Popping Eggs

The eggs smelled like hot cocoa, and the candy shell and the chocolate on the inside seemed very crunchy (probably because of the popping candy). The popping effect didn't kick in right away, but once it did, each individual pop was mild - there were just a lot of those little pops.

It was a fun and interesting combination: mild, rich, creamy, milk chocolate and active popping candy. The pops were a good match for the texture of the shell. I prefer the regular eggs, just because too much popping candy can be annoying, but the pops were gentle enough here for me to not mind too much.


Cadbury website

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Too Haute Cowgirls Gourmet Popcorn

day 69
Press Sample

Recently, I had a blogging milestone - my first company samples. Up to this point, everything I've reviewed was either purchased by me or received as gift from a friend or family member. To be clear, these samples were sent from Too Haute Cowgirls (which was very exciting for me), but no one's paying me to review these, or any snack on this blog.

On to the popcorn! Too Haute Cowgirls is a Colorado-based gourmet popcorn company, started by a wedding cake designer and a pastry school graduate. Currently, they offer seven flavors, and all of them were included in the package. Rather than simple coated popcorn, however, each kind has some sort of chocolate coating, nuts, or other special touches. Here is my take on each of the flavors.

day 72

Among the small bags, there was one larger bag of Fistful of Fleur de Sel, so it was first. This flavor was caramel corn coated with dark chocolate, toffee bits, and French salt. The toffee bits were delicious and went very well with the chocolate and popcorn, and though it was almost too sweet for me, the salt provided an interesting balance. It was great for a quick indulgence, but I couldn't eat a lot at once. B+

Blisters on my Buttercorn

At first, Blisters on my Buttercrunch had a salty smell and tasted like buttery caramel. The flavors blended together very smoothly, with the saltiness keeping the sweetness at a perfect level. The coated nuts (almonds, cashews, and peanuts) were delicious and matched the popcorn texture very well. It was an addictive combination and a very strong original flavor for Too Haute Cowgirls! A+

The Good the Bad and the Peanut Butter

The Good the Bad and the Peanut Butter had a cool, savory, and sweet feel on the tongue. The sweetness of the peanut butter was very good with the salty, crunchy nuts. It was one of the saltier mixes of the bunch, probably because of the pretzels. It made me thirsty! The white chocolate was almost too sweet, and again, the salt provided a good balance. A-


Spicier is always better for me, so I was looking forward to Chili Con Chocolate. It smelled delicious, and reminded my husband of beef jerky. The spice mixture was peppery and had a mesquite, woodsy feel. The smoky flavor went well with the sweet dark chocolate, and there was a great spicy kick on the finish. It was hot, but painfully so, and I think it would appeal to a wide audience. The pecans added a good, tender texture. A

Mutton Bustin Milk Chocolate

Mutton Bustin Milk Chocolate was similar to the Buttercrunch, with the addition of milk chocolate. It was very pleasant, subtly sweet, and addictive. The large assortment of nuts and peanut brittle made for a very special mix, and I enjoyed this almost as much as the Buttercrunch. A

End of the Trail Mix

End of the Trail Mix smelled sweet and yogurty, with a hint of cinnamon. The granola was chewy and carried orange and cinnamon flavors. The banana chips weren't really my thing, but my husband enjjoyed them a lot. I liked the subtle white chocolate on the popcorn, and the orange and ginger notes were stronger in some bites than others. Each bite was a little different, actually, and I do like the company's suggestion to have it for breakfast. B

Cowgirl Coffee

I didn't love the smell of Cowgirl Coffee, as it smelled a little like Maxwell House coffee. The chocolate was good, but I wasn't sure about the coffee flavor or the white chocolate flakes. There was only one chocolate covered coffee bean in my bag, but that was good. The mix was decent, but it was my least favorite of the bunch, and the only flavor I couldn't see myself eating again. It might just be because I've never been keen on coffee flavored items, despite my love of actual coffee. B-

Overall, Too Haute Cowgirls offers a great variety of truly unique popcorn products. I'm not a popcorn connoisseur, but I had never tried anything like this before. Blisters on my Buttercrunch was my favorite; I finished my samples a week ago and I'm still thinking about it. The other stand out flavors were Mutton Bustin Milk Chocolate and the Chili Con Chocolate. Normally I don't go for cutesy names, but they definitely goes with the image, and don't detract from the delicious products.

Too Haute Cowgirls website