Sunday, February 28, 2010

Meiji Juicy White Grape Pupurun

Pupurun Muscat Gummies

Do you peel your grapes? My sister and I liked to peel grapes when we were little, and then we would say they were eyeballs. We grew out of that (for the most part), and I like grape skin pretty well.

When my sister studied in Nagoya, Japan in 2002, she sat down with her host family for some grapes, and was surprised to see them peeling their grapes. The grapes in Japan typically have a thicker skin than the grapes in the US, but it struck me as an interesting.

Pupurun Gummies

I thought of this because the white grape Pupurun do an excellent job of imitating actual grapes. The texture balance of the candy involves a thicker gummy skin around a very soft gummy center, and this worked particularly well for grape.

The gummies smelled intensely of green grapes, but not in a fake way. The flavor was mildly tart, and pretty much a dead ringer for muscat. They were very enjoyable, with a solid flavor and fun texture combination. This was probably the best of the three Pupurun flavors I tried.


Pupurun website

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Morinaga Matcha Yatsuhashi Hi-chew

Matcha Yatsuhashi Hi-chew

Today, I received a package from a good friend of mine in Japan. We met in 2005 when she came to my university as an exchange student, and we've kept in touch ever since then. We exchange packages a couple times a year, and if we're really lucky, especially if me going to Japan or her coming to the US isn't in the cards at the time.

Anyhow, she lives in Kyoto and therefore has access to many special edition matcha snacks. This particular Hi-chew flavor is very Kyoto. Yatsuhashi is Kyoto's traditional regional sweet. It's made with rice flour, sugar, and cinnamon and can be raw or baked. The baked kind is good (it reminds me of Cinnamon Toast Crunch), but I especially love the raw variety, as it's soft and doughy like mochi. Kyoto and the nearby city of Uji are also known for matcha, and matcha is one of many possible flavors for yatsuhashi.

Matcha Yastsuhashi Hi-chew

They smelled like cinnamon, and had a firmer texture than typical Hi-chew. The matcha flavor was clean, tasty, and quite authentic, though a bit mild. Unfortunately, the cinnamon flavor reminded me of a cinnamon gum instead of the actual spice.

The mochi-like element was great, with a mild rice flavor and good texture. I felt like it was a great approximation of the real thing, and was pleasantly surprised. The only issue was the cinnamon flavor, which felt more like red hots (though not as strong, of course). I'd rather have actual yatsuhashi, but these Hi-chew were very fun.


Morinaga website

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wonka Pink Lemonade Kazoozles

Wonka Kazoozles

Like many kids, I used to like sour, fruity candy much better than chocolate. My tastes have since changed, but I still hold a spot in my heart for goofy candy like Wonka Kazoozles. They also spoke to my love of Anatomy and Physiology, one of my favorite subjects in both high school and college, but more on that later.

Along with Pink Lemonade, Kazoozles also come in Cherry Punch. A Kazoozle is basically a licorice-style tube filled with soft, fruit punch flavored candy. The colors were bright and bold, and definitely earned some fun points. "Kazoozle" is also fun to say and type.

Wonka Kazoozles

The tubes didn't have much of a scent, at least not a fruity one. The main tastes were sour and sweet, but I couldn't detect much of a lemon flavor. The center tasted a little like cherry, but overall, flavors were weak. On taste alone, Kazoozles were a C at best, but they did have other things going for them.

The texture, at least, was interesting. The tougher exterior went well with the soft center. I was expecting the center to be tougher, like taffy, but it had a consistency more like that of nougat. To be honest, my inner biology nerd was reminded of bone marrow, but that's not to say that the outside was crunchy (ew). Kazoozles were definitely a fun distraction, but I don't see myself buying them again.


Have a look at what Candy Blog and I Heart Candies had to say about them.

Wonka website

Monday, February 22, 2010

Chuao Earl Grey

Chuao Earl Grey

Since the other Chuao bars I've had have been so tasty, I was excited to try this bar. I found it at a Jewel Osco grocery store while traveling. The grocery stores near me definitely don't carry fancy lines like Chuao.

I'm not just a fan of matcha - I'm a fan of tea in general. Earl Grey isn't my favorite to drink by itself, but it is nice with a touch of milk. I didn't know what to expect of this candy bar, but I hoped it would be something like that.

Chuao Earl Grey

The bar had a lovely scent, with cocoa and floral notes. The texture of the bar was good, with a nice, pleasing snap and a smooth melt. The taste immediately reminded me of royal milk tea, as it was flowery, sweet, and a little spicy.

The begamont flavors were especially strong on the finish, leaving a distinctly Earl Grey taste in my mouth. The bitterness was well countered by the sweetness of the 41% chocolate, making for a balanced bar. I shared it with friends and got an overwhelmingly positive response from them as well. My husband wanted me to give it an A+, but I was only slightly less impressed.


Chuao Chocolatier website

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Norman Love Chocolates (part 2)

Norman Love Truffles

Well, the truffles are finished, a little after Valentine's Day. I tried to make them last, and I'm sad to see them go. It's a little cruel that the box included the full list of Norman Love varieties, so I had to look at pictures and descriptions of chocolates that were not included in my set. It's a very clever marketing ploy, because I definitely want to try the other varieties. Click here for part 1 or keep reading for reviews of the rest of the assortment in my box.

BananaBanana was my least favorite of the set. The white chocolate was good, and though I didn't like the banana flavor at first, the end notes were nice, with a hint of sour to balance the sweet.

Almond MarzipanAlmond Marzipan was another lovely piece, with just the right amount of cocoa. Just under the shell, there was a delicate layer of marzipan that gave the piece a cool texture. The mild almond flavors in the ganache were tasty and the piece had an overall traditional feel.

Java FudgeJava Fudge was an amazing little chocolate, and easily one of my favorites. The smooth, shiny center had a delectable dark chocolate espresso flavor. The coating was beautiful and delicious, as well.

Gianduja Truffle had a nice, mild, hazelnut flavor. The milk chocolate shell was wonderful, and the caramelized hazelnut coating gave the truffle a lovely toasted aroma and taste.

Cinnamon RollCinnamon Roll had a delicious cinnamon ganache and a good milk chocolate coating. It was well balanced in terms of sweetness, and tasted like the gooey center of a cinnamon roll.

White Vanilla TruffleI'm always impressed with a good white truffle, and White Vanilla Truffle exceeded my expectations. The vanilla flavor was incredibly rich and intense, perfectly matched to the well-balanced white chocolate shell.

Florida OrangeFlorida Orange was beautifully colored dark truffle. The mild orange flavor went well with the dark chocolate, but it wasn't a stand out piece.

This was a visually stunning and overwhelmingly palate pleasing assortment. The pieces that really stuck with me were Butter Pecan, Java Fudge, Strawberry, and Cherry Cordial. The only flavor I felt lukewarm about was Banana. I can definitely recommend Norman Love chocolates and have no qualms about giving them my highest rating.


Norman Love Confections website

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Norman Love Chocolates

Norman Love Truffles

For Valentine's Day, my husband got me a box of Norman Love chocolates. We don't do much for Valentine's Day, but I may have hinted heavily that I wanted them ever since seeing pictures. These truffles did not disappoint, so as a bit of a Valentine's Day special, this is the first of a two part review of Norman Love chocolates.

The chocolates arrived in an insulated box with ice packs to keep them at a good temperature. In the middle of February, I'm not sure how much the ice helped, but I'm sure the insulation was good for protecting the delicate chocolates from the environment. According to a note included with the chocolates, Norman Love chocolates are made without preservatives and should be consumed within 21 days.

Norman Love Truffles

The truffles truly are works of art. Each piece has a unique look, and the stunning colors drew me in immediately. In particular, I was drawn to the golds and reds. The individual shapes of each piece were interesting and they were a 10 out of 10 for appearance.

Pumpkin TrufflePumpkin was a stunning orange and white swirl, and had a lovely bouquet of spices. It was sweet and nutty and definitely hit pumpkin pie notes. My only complaint is that it might have been a little too sweet.

Vanilla Latte TruffleVanilla Latte had a lovely teardrop shape and an equally delightful espresso flavor. The bitterness was well balanced by the sweet vanilla flavor, and this was one of my favorites.

The Strawberry was one of the best, most authentic strawberry confections I've ever had. The flavor was similar to a rich and creamy strawberry yogurt, and it even looked like the bottom end of a strawberry!

Caramel Apple TruffleCaramel Apple was one of the prettiest truffles of the bunch with lovely shades of gold and green and an oblong shape. It was almost boozy, but the apple flavor was an authentic Granny Smith, and the caramel was oozy, sticky, and delicious.

Cherry CordialCherry Cordial is not normally a flavor I like, but this was a wonderful chocolate. It had an amazingly deep, authentic cherry flavor, and the tartness was balanced by the delicious chocolate coating.

Pistachio Cherry was a lovely shade of green, and had a cherry liquid and pistachio ganache center. The cherry flavor was intense and delicious, but the pistachio flavor didn't come across as strongly.

Butter Pecan TruffleButter Pecan was a surprise. The filling was like a soft, rich buttercream frosting, and the pecan pieces were delightful. This was my favorite of the bunch so far.

Rum RaisinIn Rum Raisin, the metallic purple and gold color scheme was so appealing, and although the flavors aren't my favorite, this was another tasty piece. The rum flavor was strong, but the raisin still came through.

Click here for part 2!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Meiji Lemon Pupurun

Lemon Pupurun

The second of three Pupurun flavors I bought is lemon, a flavor I usually enjoy. A few weeks ago, I saw an adorable Pupurun commercial on YouTube, but didn't realize that it was the same candy I bought.

I'm glad I didn't make the commercial connection right away, as it's harder to eat something once it's been personified. Still, I wouldn't hesitate to eat them in the future.

Lemon Pupurun

The scent in the bag was not nearly as overwhelming as the tropical flavor, but it still smelled sour. I was used to the texture, so I could focus on the flavor. It was quite tasty, and the lemon was fairly authentic. It was tart and slightly floral, but managed to avoid tasting like cleaner or cough drops.

I should mention the texture again, as it is what really sets Pupurun apart from other gummies. The skin is just a little tough and the center is amazingly soft and glossy. This time, I took a picture of a gummy cross-section to try and get that point across. It was the blend of those textures, coupled with the solid lemon flavor, that made these gummies another winning Pupurun variety.


Pupurun website

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hageland Madagascar 32%

Hageland Madagascar 32%

Finally, I've exhausted my chocolate bar supply. I put off trying the Madagascar simply because it sounded too light for my tastes, and I thought it might be too sweet. After trying my other two Hageland bars, I should have had more faith.

My husband was eagerly awaiting this bar, and when I did open it, I was really surprised just how light it was. It was a pretty caramel brown color that reminded me of the Meiji Royal Milk Tea chocolate I tried last summer.

Hageland Madagascar 32%

The bar smelled rich and just a bit toasty, and from the first bite, it exceeded my expectations. It was milky and caramel-like with a smooth texture and a wonderfully chewy, sticky melt. The bar had a soft snap, but it was perfect for the mild chocolate.

The cocoa flavor was subdued and well balanced with the milk and caramel notes. The sweetness I so feared was not a problem at all. Although I'm not a milk chocolate convert, this bar was a refreshing change of pace, and I liked it much more than I would. My husband and I both thought it was delicious, and we are both very impressed with Hageland chocolate.


Hageland Website

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Meiji Tropical Mix Pupurun


On my recent trip to Mitsuwa near Chicago, I picked up several flavors of Meiji Pupurun gummies on clearance. The line still appears on Meiji's website, so I am not sure why they were so cheap. Perhaps new packaging is on the way? In any case, the first of the flavors up for review is Tropical Mix.

The big selling point of these gummies is that they have 1200 mg of chewable collagen. I'm fairly certain that there is no scientific evidence that ingesting collagen does anything special for your skin, but it probably helps sell products.


Upon opening the bag, I could smell pineapple and mango, but the smell reminded me of fruity quasi-boozy cocktails. The gummies were quite large st almost 20 mm in diameter. The texture was a bit weird at first, with a tougher, chewy outer layer over a soft, sticky center.

The flavor was very juicy and a little tart, with a distinctly tropical flavor. It was a lot like pineapple juice, with a splash of mango. There were both natural and artificial flavors listed on the label, as well as both agar-agar and fish collagen. No results on skin smoothness yet, but despite the gimmick, the gummies were very tasty.


Pupurun website

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Tirol Hot Cake

Tirol Hot Cake

I have been waiting to try this Tirol flavor for several months, and finally found it at Mitsuwa Marketplace near Chicago. It was part of the normal strip variety packs, as the one seasonal flavor included among the standards.

Pancakes were a regular meal in my house growing up, though they were always my dad's multigrain variety. Hotcakes like the ones pictured on this Tirol were a rare treat only to be enjoyed at restaurants. No matter the type, pancakes are one of my favorite things to eat, so I was pretty excited about this chocolate.

Tirol Hot Cake

The chocolate smelled like imitation maple syrup and white chocolate, and though the majority of the piece was plain white, there was a maple chocolate layer on the bottom. It tasted syrupy, too, as there was a bit of liquid syrup above the biscuit center.

It was definitely a lot like pancakes, only even sweeter. The crunchy layer was good, though it didn't exactly evoke the texture of pancakes. There were also buttery notes that helped the overall taste. I was glad the piece was so small, because it was quite sweet. Still, I wasn't disappointed, and I am glad I got to sample the flavor.


Tirol website

Friday, February 5, 2010

UHA G Fresh Cola

UHA G Fresh Cola

I do wish cola was a more common candy flavor in the US. Haribo makes some good cola gummies but they are hard to find in my area. I had never tried G Fresh gummies before, so I picked these up at the Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights, IL during my recent trip.

These gummies seemed more like vitamins than candy. They claimed to be a source of both vitamin C and GABA. I had never heard of GABA before, but a little research told me that it is gamma-aminobutyric acid, a neurotransmitter naturally produced in humans that regulates muscle tone, among other things. I highly doubt the amount in this candy has a measurable effect.

G Fresh Cola

First, let me point out the over-engineering of the bag - the tear slit was located between two ridges to ensure a straight rip. On the candies themselves, the sour powder on the surface almost looked like scales! The gummies smelled like sweet cola candy and were immediately sour on the tongue. I could taste the vitamin C really well. The actual gummy part was mild in flavor, with a slightly sour, syrupy cola taste.

The texture of the gummies was very firm, and almost a little too hard. They were made with agar-agar and not gelatin, but I don't think that was the cause of the firmness. The coating was much more sour than the inside, but overall, it made for a pleasantly tart cola flavor. They were quite addictive!


UHA website