Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nestle KitKat Kokutou and Kinako

KitKat Kokutou and Kinako

First, just a quick reminder: please enter my Trident Gum Contest! Moving on, if I'm not mistaken, this is the 50th KitKat review on Snack Love! As luck would have it, it's a very good KitKat. I purchased mine at napaJapan ($1.99 for 2 mini bars), and as of now, they are still available for purchase.

There's just something so sophisticated about bitter chocolate, and even though KitKat isn't a sophisticated, classy brand, they have released some very grown-up flavors this year in Japan. Add Kokutou and Kinako (black sugar and soy bean flour) to that list! Although it translates to black sugar, kokutou is a dark brown sugar with a rich, bitter flavor, often associated with Okinawa.

KitKat Kokutou and Kinako

The bar smelled strongly of molasses, and the first bite was pleasantly bitter. The bitterness reminded me of coffee, and the milk chocolate was a lovely, sweet companion. The balance of flavors was fantastic! A hint of kinako was detectable only in the background, but it did give a certain nuttiness to the bar.

It was definitely unlike other KitKats I've tried, and I think it would please an adult palate, especially if that adult was a fan of molasses. I just couldn't get over that delicious initial bitter kick! It's definitely one of the best KitKats I've tried this year, if not of all time.


Check out a review of the first generation of this bar at Japanese Snack Reviews and the re-release at Jen Ken's Kit Kat Blog.

Nestle KitKat website

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

End of the Year Trident Layers Giveaway

Press Sample

This giveaway is now closed! Winners are being notified.

Where I work, everyone gets a gift certificate for a fancy ham at the end of the year. It's just a nice little bonus that makes a holiday meal a little easier. For my readers, here's a little end of the year bonus giveaway - but it's not a ham - this bonus is paid in gum!

Trident Layers Giveaway

You guessed it, it's Trident Layers! Thanks to a kind PR representative, I've got 4 sealed boxes, each filled with 12 packs of Trident Layers Cool Mint + Melon Fresco gum to give away to 4 lucky readers! It was definitely one of my favorite gum flavors of 2010.

Entering the contest is simple: just comment on this post about the best candy you had this year. Also, be sure you leave an email address for me to contact you if you're not a Blogger/Google member. I apologize, I know Blogger's comment system isn't the best for this. If you would rather not leave an email address publicly, you can send it to me at and let me know which comment goes with it.

From the comments, 4 winners will be selected at random to each receive a sealed box of 12 packs of Trident Layers Gum! The contest is open to all readers (as allowed by your state or country’s laws).

The deadline for entries is 9:00 PM EST on Wednesday, January 12, 2011, at which point the winners will be randomly selected and notified. I will make periodic reminder posts up to the deadline, and post again when all winners have responded.

Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Almond, Toffee, and Hazelnut Bars

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Bars Ghirardelli Toffee
Along with the individually wrapped squares, the Ghirardelli Luxe Milk line also includes chocolate bars. Coupons for these bars were kindly provided by a public relations representative. My local Target store only had the almond and hazelnut varieties, but I was able to find toffee at a Wal-mart.

I've certainly mentioned this before, but I'm not typically a milk chocolate person. Dark chocolate (somewhere around 60 to 70% cacao, to be specific) is my preference, but even for me, Ghirardelli's Luxe Milk hits the spot with its rich, creamy, traditional milk chocolate. The pretty, pale gold wrapper helps, too.

Ghirardelli Almond

Almond smelled of roasted almonds, and the chunky nuts had a meaty, chewy texture and strong, roasted flavor. The chocolate was milky and just a little sweet, and the bar seemed better than the individual squares. It was crunchy, a bit crackly, and very nicely balanced. The milk chocolate was just a little sticky but it didn't bother me. A-

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Toffee

Toffee might have knocked my socks off if I hadn't just tried the new Vosges toffee bar, but that's another review. The Ghirardelli bar smelled only of milk chocolate, but the toffee added texture right from the first bite. It was crunchy like fine hard candy bits, and it imparted a mild salty and savory butter flavor to the bar. The milk chocolate was smooth and cool on the tongue with just a little stickiness, and it was a good match for the toffee. At less than half the price of the aforementioned Vosges bar, it's not a bad choice at all. A-

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Hazelnut Bar

Finally, Hazenlnut smelled nutty, and the rich flavor and slight sweetness of the hazelnuts brought out the sweeter flavors in the milk chocolate. Although they went well together here, I am not a big fan of hazelnut and chocolate (I don't even like Nutella), so it was a bit lost on me. The hazelnuts were fresh and crunchy, and I think fans of hazelnut chocolate would like it very much. B

Overall, the Luxe Milk line offers a nice range of fillings in good quality milk chocolate, and I think any of these bars would please a chocolate fan.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Meiji Mango Pudding Sweets Gum

Mango Pudding Sweets Gum

Have I ever mentioned my mango phase? When I was in college, there was this local hipster video rental store near campus (I may be young, but I had a VCR) with an attached smoothie bar, and I was addicted to their more-tart-than-sweet mango lemonade smoothies. Bubble tea may have been trendier, but I was hooked on those smoothies.

Once I graduated, I got over my addiction, but I still like mango. It’s fitting that this Mango Pudding gum came in a package from a dear college friend. Even though it happens subconsciously, I love associating scents and flavors with memories, and mango reminds me of fun with college friends and good grades.

Mango Pudding Sweets Gum

Now that I’ve gone off on a complete tangent, I had better get on with the review. The shape of the gum was interesting – sort of like Combos or Collon. According to the box, the outer ring was gum and the middle portion was soft candy, but it all chewed down the same. At first, it was on the hard side, and it was difficult to get the chewing started.

The initial flavor was a delightfully sharp, sour mango, but after a few seconds, the gum became much softer, and the flavor dulled to a mild, waxy tropical. The way the gum became so soft reminded me of the center of a Charms Blow Pop, as if the candy portion somehow altered the texture of the gum for the worse. That first burst of tart mango was great, but along with the satisfying texture, it was short-lived.


Meiji website

Friday, December 17, 2010

NewTree Granola

NewTree Granola

After loving the NewTree Belgian Biscuit bar, I was excited to come across the NewTree Granola bar at my local Wal-Mart. It offered another unique combination of flavors and textures I had not yet tried: milk chocolate and granola with lime and green tea extract.

The cocoa percentage was on the low side at 31%, but NewTree bars boast lower amounts of sugar than comparable chocolate bars (without an artificial sweetener in sight, mind you). In addition, half of the bar was well under 200 calories, which seems like a very reasonable indulgence. The box also mentions higher fiber and antioxidants, which are nice to have, but in the end, it’s still a chocolate bar.

NewTree Granola

The bar smelled of rich cocoa and lime juice, and I could taste the lime immediately. The granola bits (more like single pieces of oatmeal scattered throughout the bar) had a subtle vanilla flavor and added a neat crunch, making the chocolate a bit drier than I expected. This worked well for me, because it seemed to cancel out some of the stickiness I often experience with milk chocolate.

The green tea was almost undetectable, but concentration rewarded me with a few hints of grassiness. The chocolate, lime, and granola combination reminded me of cereals I liked as a kid, and the sweetness level was just right. It didn’t blow me away like the flax seed bar, but it was still an innovative, enjoyable chocolate bar.


NewTree website

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Las Vegas Treats - Payard

Payard at Caesar's Palace

While on our long weekend in Las Vegas, my husband and I were determined to stop in at the Payard Patisserie inside Caesar's Palace. Last year, we went there for the first time after reading Cybele's enticing review on her Candy Blog. This year, I was definitely looking forward to visiting Payard again.

The gigantic clock in the picture above spits out a chocolate sample every 15 minutes - my husband snagged one last year, but we were not so lucky this time. Still, I was there for the pastries rather than the chocolate.

Payard Dessert Case
This photo is from last year, by the way.

The dessert case is a wonderful collection of delightfully decorated miniature cakes, tarts, and pies, costing around $7 each. They definitely fall into the almost-too-pretty-to-eat category, and although they are a bit pricey, it's Las Vegas. At least when you spend that $7 on a cake, you've got a guaranteed win.

I selected the gorgeous Manjari Berry Tart (shown below) because it was such a glossy, sexy red, and it reminded me of topsy-turvy designer cakes. The edible gold leaf topping didn't hurt, either. The cashier served it up on a plastic dish for me and my husband, and we sat at a table just outside the boutique, overlooking the slot machines. One of my favorite touches at Payard is that the plastic cutlery looks like silverware. It's very cute.

Payard Manjari Berry Tart
"Chocolate Almond Sponge layered with Berry Curd and
Manjari Chocolate Mousse topped with an Almond Macaron"

The gold leaf was a gorgeous, luxurious touch, and the French macaron was a fun, crispy topping. Apparently, Payard serves gorgeous full size macarons, but I guess I've been so distracted by the dessert case that I've missed them both times. Anyhow, the mousse and sponge were delightfully bitter, providing a rich contrast to the tartness of the berry curd.

Payard Manjari Berry Tart Inside

The texture play inside the tart was quite fun, with sponge cake, mousse, gel, and a cookie-like bottom. Keeping the chocolate in the airier components of the cake gave it a delicate feel, and the intense berry curd flavor was just right. In short, the Manjari Berry Tart was decadent without being heavy, and the contrasting flavors were interesting and delicious.

Payard Chestnut Tart

Finally, this is the lovely Chestnut Tart I sampled last fall. Underneath the glossy orange coating, the texture of the filling was meaty and tender like a chestnut, but the flavor was more like pumpkin (which must have been intentional, since the description mentioned pumpkin). Still, it was quite tasty and again, not heavy.

To sum it up, these small luxuries are certainly worth it. If you happen to be on the Las Vegas strip, Payard is definitely worth a visit. They also have a beautiful sorbet and gelato display and a chocolate shop. Everything looks delicious, but I've really only tried the pastries.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Vosges Bapchi's Caramel Toffee Bar


Technology never ceases to amaze me! Right now, I am writing this entry from cruising altitude on my way to Las Vegas. Thanks to Google, Delta's on-flight internet service is free this month. So, it seemed a good of a time as any to break my lazy blogger streak.

Vosges is not an indulgence I often allow myself to make. It's one of the more expensive chocolate brands available at stores in my area, but when I saw this new flavor, I couldn't resist. It was placed next to a mint flavor for the Holidays, but Caramel Toffee sounded better.


The bar was a little beaten up, but it had an amazingly complex scent and taste. It smelled of rich, browned butter toffee with a hint of something that reminds me of rum. The flavor was at first sweet cocoa, then the salt hit the tongue, and finally, it was nutty and full of rich, incredibly buttery toffee.

There were several textures at play - smooth, rich 45% cacao chocolate (just dark enough to offset the sweetness), crisp and chewy toffee, and meaty nuts. This is definitely the best bar I've tried all year. It reminded me of chocolate caramel corn, only much more refined. It was so hard to put this bar down, but after talking it up so much, I had to save some for my husband.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lotte Green Gum

Green Gum
Press Sample

Another item in my package from was this Green Gum. With only that name to go on, I assumed it would be mint, but it was hard to be sure. The simple, old fashioned, and, of course, green packaging didn't give much away.

Green Gum is one of Lotte's signature gum flavors, and according to their Let's Chewing website, it contains chlorophyll and green tea flavonoids, giving the chewer minty and woodsy sensations.

Green Gum

The gum gave me deja vu; it smelled just like the candy cane page in a Christmas scratch and sniff book I had as a child. The mint flavor different, but it was fresh and a little sweet; it reminded me most of spearmint. There was a hint of evergreen, making for a woodsy, refreshing mint flavor.

The texture was soft and bouncy at first, and the cooling effect was pleasant. I loved it at first, but within 2 or 3 minutes, it lost most of its flavor, then became firmer as I chewed. Still, the initial flavor was unique and tasty and it was a good breath freshener, but it wasn't a long lasting chewing gum.


Lotte gum website

Snack Nostalgia (Linked Article)

Do you ever miss snacks from your childhood? Here's a fun list mainly geared at for Generation Yers (like myself), but I think older and younger readers might get a kick out of it, too. compiled a 20 Discontinued Snacks We Wish Would Come Back list, complete with classic commercials.

Personally, I'm pretty happy with the current snack selection, but there are a few things I miss. On the Collegecrunch list, I fondly remember the palate-slicing French Toast Crunch cereal and, of course, that a classy little party beverage called Ecto Cooler.

Off the list, I've already mentioned the brief American appearance of Koala Yummies, and every now and then, I get a craving for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Pies. How about you?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Kasugai Cream Soda Gummies

Kasugai Cream Soda Gummies

This cute yet slightly creepy package of gummies called out to me, although I can't remember where. It wasn't a gift...maybe I bought it in Vancouver, BC this October? I mention this because I'm normally very good about remembering where I buy my snacks, but these, I'm just not sure.

The company Kasugai makes many gummy candies, including a well known, Engrish-laden line called Gummy 100 that is made with 100% fruit juice. They are well-worth trying, since they taste just like real fruit. I especially love the red and green grape flavors, but that's for another review.

In Japan, cream soda almost always means melon cream soda, which is why this package is predominantly green. The gummies themselves are green and white, with the white half simulating a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It might be called a Melon Soda Float in the US (if we had melon soda).

Kasugai Cream Soda Gummies

The gummies smelled like slightly floral melon and citrus in the open bag. There was an odd coating to the gummies that made them feel slippery, and it immediately put a powdery film on my teeth. It went away quickly, but it was weird and detracted a bit from the otherwise very tasty flavor.

The green part was a mildly sour, almost melon gummy with hints of lime, and the bottom layer tasted and chewed like marshmallow for a neat texture play. Actually, the weird waxy film reminded me of eating straight marshmallows (something I haven't done since I was 8 because I don't like them).

Still, the flavors melded together so nicely, and these went over well when I shared with friends. No one mentioned the filminess, but they raved about the flavor, so I'd still recommend these gummies.


Kasugai website

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ritter Sport Cappuccino

Ritter Sport Cappuccino

A few weeks ago, I house-sat for my parents when they were out of town. My parents know me pretty well, because they "paid" me in chocolate! Their two cats are so cute that I would do it for free, but I wasn't about to turn those candy bars down.

Part of my "payment" was this Ritter Sport Cappuccino bar. Although I've seen it many times in stores, I've never purchased it for myself or even tried it. I love drinking coffee, but I'm always a little wary of coffee flavored treats. Too many of them have the sour, bitter aftertaste of cold, old coffee and not enough of the bold, toasty richness of a fresh cup.

Ritter Sport Cappuccino

The chocolate had a mild coffee scent, and the milk chocolate coating was sweet and just a bit salty. The filling was smooth and cool on the tongue, and it had a creamy coffee flavor.

Thankfully, the coffee flavor wasn't too sour, and the sweetness of the chocolate balances the subtle bitterness from the cappuccino flavor. Overall, the bar was enjoyable and sweet without being cloying, and it was one of the better coffee flavored sweets I've tried.


Ritter Sport website

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Kabaya Rilakkuma Pretzel Butter Flavor

Rilakkuma Pretzel
Press Sample

Hey, this makes two Kabaya reviews in a row! Instead of gummies, it's a Kabaya take on Glico Pretz, with a cute mascot character (Rilakkuma) tie-in. This snack was kindly provided by

Rilakkuma is basically a couch potato. His name comes from the English word relax and the Japanese word kuma, which means bear. He spends most of his time relaxing, presumably stuffing his face with cookies like on the package.

Rilakkuma Pretzel

The design on the inner bag was strikingly adorable. Although the package says pretzel, the sticks are more like crackers (basically naked Pocky). They smelled like buttered toast, and had a fresh, appetizing crunch.

The flavor was slightly sweet, salty, and buttery without being oily. I didn't detect a preservative aftertaste, and had no trouble finishing the whole bag (160 calories) in one sitting. Although addictive, they were pretty basic as far as snacks go. Still, they definitely satisfied my craving for crunchy.


Kabaya website

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Kabaya Kakigori Gummies

Kabaya Kakigori Gummies

Kabaya isn't the biggest name in the Japanese snack business, but they do make excellent gummies. These are based on kakigori, a popular Japanese summer treat that is basically a snow cone. These came in four flavors: Soda, Melon, Lemon, and Strawberry Milk. They were even shaped like little mounds of shaved ice!

Soda smelled strongly of ramune. The texture was really neat! The coating and bottom half was a little crunchy and grainy (sort of like ice) but the top of the inside was soft, sticky, and gooey. It had just a hint of a fizz to it and a good citrus flavor.

Kabaya Kakigori Gummies

Melon smelled a little floral, and the flavor was a very convincing, mellow honeydew. It had the same interesting shaved ice-like texture, and I had no complaints.

Lemon smelled like a cleaner, and although it tasted a little more like a lemon than it smelled, it still wasn't too authentic. It was floral and sweet, but my least favorite of the flavors. Although the textures were similar, the flavor was not as good as the other Kabaya lemon gummies I tried.

Strawberry Milk was very authentic! It smelled and tasted just like strawberries and condensed milk. It was one of the sweetest of the bunch, but the favor was so good that I didn't mind.


Kabaya website

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lotte Double Berry Cheesecake Toppo

Toppo Double Berry Cheesecake

In a world of endless Pocky-like snacks, Toppo is one of my favorites. I usually like it better than Pocky (with the exception of those fancy dessert mousse types of Pocky), so I was excited to try a new flavor.

However, in a world of endless desserts, cheesecake is not my favorite. Oh sure, a bite is good, but it's often just too rich for me - even New York style (though it is better). It could have something to do with the lactose intolerance, but if I'm picking the dessert, it's almost certainly not going to be cheesecake.

Toppo Double Berry Cheesecake

The Toppo smelled strongly of cheese (yep, I took a Lactaid) but not cheesecake. The cheese flavor was quite subtle and didn't seem like cheesecake at all. Mostly, I tasted the strawberry and blueberry flavors, but they had a slight soapiness about them.

The pretzel was standard, slightly sweet and salty Toppo fare, with a slight preservative-like aftertaste. The whole thing left a little oily residue behind, but it wasn't bad. The soapy berry flavors turned me off, and I definitely prefer regular chocolate Toppo to this limited edition.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nestle Salt and Caramel KitKat

KitKat Salt and Caramel

This flavor has been recycled many times since Nestle Japan started selling limited edition KitKats, but this might be the first time I've tried it. Salted caramels were quite trendy a few years ago, and even though the sweets industry has mostly moved on, the combination is still good.

The packaging feels a little nautical, and I like that. My bar was a little melted, since it came from Japan in the summer (and I'm just getting around to it, yikes), but it still had its structural integrity, so I doubt the flavor was affected.

KitKat Salt and Caramel

The chocolate had a strong caramel scent with just a hint of salt. When I bit into it, it was apparent that the wafers were very salty and that the caramel flavor seemed to come from the chocolate. The two tastes came together nicely for a savory flavor.

I do enjoy the ratio of wafer to chocolate in the larger KitKat, especially when the flavors are done well. The salt mostly kept the sweetness of the milk chocolate in check, and the bar easily defeated my craving for salty/sweet.


KitKat website

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Country Ma'am Ujikintoki Cookies

Country Ma'am Uji Kintoki Cookies

Since I don't live in Japan, Country Ma'am cookies are something to which I have very little exposure. On my last visit to Kyoto, I tried a kinako version that was tasty, but I think that's the only time I've had them. You can read several reviews of different types of Country Ma'am cookies at Japanese Snack Reviews.

Ujikintoki is a type of Japanese shaved ice dessert (kakigori) made with matcha syrup and red bean toppings. The package suggested putting the cookies in the refrigerator to simulate the shaved ice dessert. To get the full effect, I tried three different preparation methods: straight out of the bag, one hour in the refrigerator, and 20 seconds in the microwave.

Uji Kintoki Cookie

Straight out of the bag, the cookie was grainy and very sweet, but it had a soft and chewy texture. The matcha and azuki flavors were subtle, and I also tasted brown sugar. The chocolate chips seemed downplayed by the other flavors.

Refrigeration brought out the chocolate and azuki flavors, but the matcha was almost undetectable. Also, the cold made the cookie a little crunchy and I prefer a softer chew.

I'd definitely recommend going with the microwave option. The warm, buttery cookie had a nice chocolate and matcha scent, and they were so soft and gooey. They tasted like brown sugar or molasses with less azuki flavor and a little more matcha.


Fujiya website

Monday, November 8, 2010

NewTree Belgian Biscuit

NewTree Belgian Biscuit

I'm pretty big on textures, so any chocolate bar with a new or interesting makeup is at least a good experience. I'm not sure if this NewTree bar is state of the art in terms of components, but flax seed and cookie crumbs are not thing I often see in chocolate bars.

My sister gave me this bar as part of my birthday present last month. Many of my favorite chocolate bars involve cookies (like the Ritter Sport Butter Biscuit, KitKat Cookies+, or Tirol BIS), so this bar had the potential to be a winner, despite my limited experience with flax seed.

New Tree Belgian Biscuit

The Belgian Biscuit bar had a bitter, toasty scent and a good snap. The cookie bits and flax seeds gave the bar a rich and almost spicy flavor without adding any heat. As for the texture, it was crackly and crunchy, and most certainly new to me.

At 65%, the cocoa was just about perfect, and the chocolate was clean, smooth, a bit bitter but not fruity - a great match for the sweeter cookie bits. I've been try a lot of chocolate lately, but this is one of my new favorites! I don't know about the health benefits, but I'd definitely recommend giving this bar a taste!


NewTree website

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Seattle Chocolates Orange Appeal Truffle Bar

Seattle Chocolates Orange Appeal

After the filling distribution issues with my last Seattle Chocolates bar, I was a little worried about this one, but at the very least, the chocolate would be good. Oranges and chocolate are a classic combination, and the idea of candied orange peel filling sounded very appealing.

This bar was purchased locally, and again, the packaging really caught my eye. Clean lines and bright colors always seem to work on me. No Seattle tie-ins on the name of this bar, but at least there's a nice little pun.

Seattle Chocolates Orange Appeal

The orange zest aroma of this bar was amazing. The chocolate was soft and delicious, and the slightly bitter cocoa was wonderful with the sharp, sour orange flavor. I don't know what I was expecting from the texture, but the candied orange peel was really hard! It almost felt like that unexpected bone in your meat, and it definitely took some getting used to.

Even with the texture surprise, the flavor was unique and wonderful. The orange peel was sour and zesty (and evenly distributed throughout the bar), and it was just perfect with 53% cocoa. There was no aftertaste or sticky mouthfeel, and it was a good bar all around. Just watch out for that candied peel!


Seattle Chocolates website

Friday, November 5, 2010

Morinaga Ramune Melon Soda

Melon Soda Ramune

This cute little bottle of Melon Soda flavored Ramune candy was included in the promotional package kindly provided by This type of candy is very similar to Smarties in the United States - flavored pressed sugar pellets. I don't know anyone who gets excited about Smarties, but I don't know anyone who hates them, either.

I'll admit it - I've bought little Hello Kitty or Pokemon toys from grocery stores in Japan for myself and for souvenirs, and they often include a wrapped Ramune candy pellet. One is usually enough for me, but this Morinaga candy packs a whole 27 grams worth of pellets - 23 grams of which are sugar!

Melon Soda Ramune

The open bottle smelled sweet and reminded me of cotton candy. The pellets chew into a very fine powder with an intensely sweet and slightly sour citric acid flavor. I didn't get any hints of melon soda, and the aftertaste was a little chalky. They were very similar to American Smarties.

Still, even though Morinaga didn't deliver on flavor, I can't say I disliked the taste. The whole bottle was too much for me to eat in one sitting, but I'm not really the target demographic. After 5 or 6 pieces, I had a nice sugar rush, but the candies became a bit cloying and I had to put the bottle away.


Morinaga website

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Seattle Chocolates Panoramic Pecan

Seattle Chocolates Panoramic Pecan

Although I've seen Seattle Chocolates in my area, when I was visiting Seattle and saw this truffle bar in the Space Needle gift shop, I was compelled to buy it. The package design was very cool, and I thought it would make a good souvenir...and I ended up eating it myself. To be fair, I shared it with 3 people, but I do feel a little guilty.

I never made the connection before, but many of the Seattle Chocolates truffle bars pay homage to famous locations in the Seattle area. Some good examples are the Pike Place Espresso Bar and the Whidbey Wildberry Truffle Bar, but I haven't tried either. Panoramic Pecan promised raisins and praline pecans in dark chocolate truffle.


Because it's a truffle bar, the chocolate had a matte finish and a very soft snap. It smelled of raisins and chocolate (like Raisinettes, if you've had them). The chocolate was sweet for being dark, but it was very smooth and silky with a mildly bitter finish. I liked the texture and the flavor very well.

Did you notice that I haven't mentioned any pecans or actual raisins yet? That's because in the first of 4 quarters of the bar, there was almost nothing but chocolate. My piece had one tiny candied pecan piece, and while it was crunchy and had a nice caramelized flavor, I was pretty disappointed with the distribution.

Luckily, one of my guinea pigs let me have half of another piece later, and the experience was quite different! The plentiful nuts added a firm, sweet crunch and the raisins were tender and flavorful. It reminded me of a high quality trail mix. If only the whole bar had been like that....


Seattle Chocolates website

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ritter Sport Milk Chocolate with Cornflakes


There's just something about Ritter Sport squares that makes them better than the average chocolate bar. I'm not sure if it's the square shape, the boldly basic packaging, or the plethora of flavors that appeals most to me, but I'm pretty hooked.

Although it's not a cereal I tend to reach for at the store, I do like Corn Flakes. They're quite versatile! One of my favorite comfort foods is cheesy potato casserole with corn flake topping - so healthy, right? But this is my first foray into chocolate with cornflakes!

Here's a bit of Halloween promotional fun from Ritter Sport: they are having a giveaway for fans who use their online application to send Halloween e-cards. Check out this entry at the Ritter Sport blog for details on how to use the application and enter to win a box of 84 Ritter Sport minis. Ritter will be giving one away every day until November 6!

Ritter Sport Cornflakes

The bar looked fresh and appetizing, and I especially loved the bumpy bottom texture from the cornflakes. It smelled mildly of cocoa, and the milk chocolate certainly was mild here. The cornflakes cut down on the creamy, sticky feeling of the chocolate (which suits me just fine).

While they didn't add much in the way of flavor (just a hint of vegetable sweetness), the texture the cornflakes brought to this bar was great! The crunch was different from that of puffed rice or wafers, and the cornflakes seemed very fresh (not stale or soggy). The bar was a little on the sweet side for my tastes, but if I'm ever in the mood for crunchy milk chocolate, I might pick this one up again!


Ritter Sport website

Information on the Ritter promotion was sent by a PR representative, and Ritter Sport is hosting the giveaway - not me. It did not influence my review in any way, nor did I receive anything in exchange for blogging about this promotion. Luckily, I just happened to have a Ritter Sport square on deck for review!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Niederegger Lubeck Marzipan Classic


There's a lot of chocolate in my house these days, and I've been slowly working my way through it. Thanks to various colds and sinus issues, I haven't been in the mood for tasting much of anything, but my taste buds seem to be functioning again so I'll keep trying to stay on top of it.

This bar was part of a birthday present from my sister, so I'm not really sure where she got it. Marzipan is a new favorite of mine, discovered when I tried Ritter Sport Marzipan earlier this year. When marzipan pieces are included in chocolate or truffle boxes, they are always some of my favorites, but my exposure is still pretty limited.


The gorgeous gold wrapper caught my eye, as did the glossy bittersweet chocolate. The bar had a nice slightly bitter cocoa scent with a subtle, cherry-like hint of almond, which was a great start. The pieces snapped apart in a satisfying (though sometimes uneven) way, and the marzipan inside looked moist (in an appetizing way - some people are weird about that word).

The chocolate coating had a decent balance of bitter and sweet, and it did a good job of accenting the marzipan with a slight fruitiness. This marzipan had all the lovely cherry or amaretto notes I adore. The paste was slightly drier than in other marzipan chocolates I've tried, but I was able to put that aside because the flavor was really lovely.


Niederegger website

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Squares

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Milk

A couple years ago, I ate at the Ghirardelli Soda Fountain and Chocolate Shop in Orlando, Florida's Downtown Disney. I still remember the deliciously bittersweet cookie sundae I split with my husband. This is what immediately comes to mind when I think of Ghirardelli chocolate, so my opinion of the brand is pretty positive.

A marketing company representative kindly provided me with coupons for free products from Ghirardelli's new Luxe Milk line of all natural chocolatse, and in my area, I was able to find the Milk and Almond squares, as well as two bars to be reviewed shortly. As always, I wasn't paid for this or any review.

Ghirardelli Luxe Milk Almond

Though I usually prefer dark chocolate, I can always enjoy good milk chocolate. Luxe Milk Milk was very clean, classic, and quite tasty. The chocolate had a slightly nutty scent with the mild cocoa. The texture was the best part for me; it was smooth and rich but not sticky. The flavor was milky and just a little like caramel. It was quite enjoyable and not too sweet, and it made me rethink my beliefs about milk chocolate. A

Almond smelled milky as well, but the aroma of the toasted almond came through for a nice effect. The almonds were chunks rather than slivers or whole almonds, so the meatiness of the nuts was a nice change of pace. There was just a hint of saltiness which was interesting with the buttery chocolate (it reminded me of popcorn), but I think I preferred the milk chocolate by itself. This was a different take on almond chocolate, though, and I did enjoy this flavor, too. B+

Ghirardelli website

Trident Layers Cool Mint + Melon Fresco


Sometimes, a gum just sounds right from the get-go. Cool Mint + Melon Fresco called out to me in the check out lane, as gums often do, and I answered (meaning I bought this product myself). I love a good fruity mint, and melon is a great companion for mint. Maybe I wouldn't mind getting paid in this flavor...

For any readers in the New York city area, Trident is doing a bit of exciting non-traditional marketing in Times Square today from 6:30 AM until 2:00 PM. At Broadway and 42nd street, a fleet of taxis will give rides in exchange for a pack of this gum. There will also be celebrity appearances (Bethenny Frankel and Wendy Williams), free samples of the new flavor, and chances to win prizes instantly, or by snatching as many mint leaves in a "Grab for Mint" cyclone booth. It sounds pretty refreshing!


The gum smells like mint, and if I had to nail it down, I'd say spearmint. As I chewed, the melon flavor came out from the sticky center. It was like an extra tart almost honeydew, and it went very well with the mint. The sourness made the melon come off a bit like lime, but it was very subtle.

It's definitely my favorite of the Trident Layers flavors, and it's something I would buy again. The refreshing flavor lasted a very long time (probably around 20 minutes), and the gum had a good texture throughout the chew. If fruity-mint gum is not your thing, you may not like this one, but this gum was really well received by my friends and coworkers when I shared the pack.


Trident Website

Note: A PR company representative provided information about the promotional event, but I had already tried the gum, and this contact did not influence my review (not that it would have if I hadn't tried the gum). On a side note, I wish cool promotional events took place in the midwest...