Monday, May 31, 2010

Green & Black's Organic Mint

Green & Black's Organic Mint Chocolate

My mother is a big fan of York Peppermint Patties, so mint chocolate was always around when I was younger. This might explain why mint chocolate is such a nostalgic taste for me. In particular, there was a candy store called Fanny Farmer (quite appropriate) that carried a bright green mint "chocolate" bar that perfectly suited my childhood tastes.

I doubt I would like it now, but I seem to always compare mint chocolate bars to how I think that one tasted. This Green & Black's bar came from a local Target, and as of February of this year, it's 100% fair trade certified.

Green & Black's Organic Mint Chocolate

Both the foil wrapper and the bar inside were simply stunning. The gorgeous bar had a nice peppermint oil aroma with just a hint of earthiness. It had a good snap and the perforations actually seemed to work. Both the texture and melt of the chocolate were nice.

The chocolate was just a bit sour and tangy, and those fruity notes made the 60% cocoa bar seem darker than it was. I found the mint to be quite mild. According to the website, neither the mint nor the chocolate is supposed to dominate, though I felt the chocolate was more prominent. It's definitely more grown up than my "dream" bar, but I could have done with more mint and fewer sour notes in the dark chocolate.


Green & Black's Website

Friday, May 28, 2010

Tirol Premium Apple Pie

Apple Pie Tirol

Pie as I know it is one of those things that is hard to come by in Japan. I'm sure it's available, but commercial "pie" snacks in Japan are often extremely dry, flaky, and don't suit my tastes at all. For example, Lotte's Pie no Mi is a Japanese snack I just don't enjoy, no matter how many chances I give it.

Still, this Apple Pie Tirol came so highly recommended that I had to try it. Both Japanese Snack Reviews and NapaJapan (where I purchased them) gave glowing reviews. I should mention that I'm not huge on apple-flavored things (though I love apples), so add a letter grade if you love apple sweets. Bonus points if you manage to find the ones with Toy Story 3 wrappers (scroll to the bottom)!

Apple Pie Tirol

There was a very strong apple smell with just a hint of spices. The first bit was at first a bit fake, but the apple flavor got better as I chewed. The crispy/crunchy bits (which seemed like puffed rice) brought out the cinnamon taste, and the white chocolate did a fine job of holding it all together (almost like pie a la mode).

It seemed like there was some chewy sort of apple pulp within the square, which was a nice touch. I was worried that the pie element would be like other Japanese pies, but it was a nice, crunchy and non-flaky texture. I was reminded of Apple Cinnamon Cheerios or some other apple cereal more than pie, but found these to be a pleasant surprise from Tirol!


Tirol website

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Nestle Maple KitKat

Maple KitKat

Maple makes me think of family trips to Canada and those touristy packages of maple sugar pressed into the shape of maple leaves. Of course, good maple syrup is available domestically and over the border in Canada, but it's still quite expensive.

Maple syrup is also a bit of a luxury in Japan, as detailed in Jen's KitKat Blog's review of the bar. Back in 2008, I tried the Soy Sauce KitKat and found it to taste like maple, so I was pretty curious about the actual Maple KitKat.

Maple KitKat

The KitKat had a strong, sugary maple scent with a super creamy and sweet white chocolate base. Naturally, it was quite sweet, but I'd expect no less from maple. Instead of being intensely sweet like pressed maple sugar, though, it was more like a maple cream. This was a good thing.

It was a nice, mild KitKat, but I would have liked a stronger maple flavor. Without that bitter punch, it was pleasant but nothing special. I wonder if Nestle Canada will ever put out a maple KitKat?


KitKat Website

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lotte Custard Waffle Koala's March


Koala's March is a snack that takes me back to my childhood - pretty strange, since it's a Japanese snack. In the mid 1980s, they were sold as Koala Yummies, and I have some vague memories of watching Noozles on Nick Jr. and eating these little cookies. Japanese koalas must have been big then. Here's a blog post about Koala Yummies, if you're feeling nostalgic.

They are long gone in American stores, but they never went away in Asia. In Japan, they are known as コアラのマーチ (Koala's March), but they haven't really changed. Of course, there are plenty of limited edition flavors to try, and this one is Custard Waffle (purchased at NapaJapan).

Koala's March - Custard Waffle

The cookies had a bit of a vanilla scent, and each cookie had a little koala stamped on it. The number of unique koala designs in the bag was pretty amazing! Right away, the cookies had a buttery, slightly salty taste. The crunch reminded me of the crispy, toasty rim of the waffle where the batter leaks out of the iron but still cooks.

The cream in the center reminded me of whipped cream with slight maple notes, giving a very convincing waffle flavor. Despite a slightly oily feeling after swallowing (which I usually attribute to preservatives), the cookies were very addictive. I'd happily consume this flavor again, and wouldn't hesitate to try other limited edition flavors.


Lotte website

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cadbury Dairy Milk Fruit and Nut

Cadbury Dairy Milk Fruit & Nut

This bar certainly changed my opinion of fruity chocolate bars. Before it, my only experience with them had been some sort of off brand chocolate bar with dried fruit, and that left a rather vile taste in my mouth long after the one bite I had was swallowed. Thank goodness for Cadbury.

Cadbury starts with good chocolate, at least to my tastes. It has a very distinct flavor that is similar to other non-gourmet European chocolate bars but quite different from Hershey's. The texture tends to be smoother, and the flavor is very milky with just a hint of caramelization.
Cadbury Dairy Milk Fruit and Nut

The bar had the signature aroma of Cadbury chocolate - milky with caramel notes - but I could smell the dried fruits, too. The chocolate was very smooth and melted quickly on the tongue, leaving the tart taste of the raisins and the crunchy almonds.

The whole almonds, easily visible in this picture didn't add much flavor. Almonds have a pretty delicate flavor, so it was probably masked by the intense milk chocolate. The raisins had a good taste and texture, and the texture of the nuts made for a more interesting bar. I prefer this bar to the plain old milk chocolate, and my husband said it reminded him of trail mix.


Cadbury Website

Friday, May 21, 2010

Tivon Maison de Kukkia Matcha


It seems like the time of year when matcha snacks are more common. Recently, there were a couple different matcha KitKats, and one of the rotating flavors in Tirol assortment packs is a green tea latte. However, I think these Masion de Kukkia cookies are available any time.

These were purchased from Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, IL, and they were found in the section with other fancy cookies and tea snacks. These types of products tend to be rather hit or miss - Tivon isn't a brand of which I'm aware, and despite my love of Japanese snacks, sometimes these fancy ones just don't taste good to me.


The cookie wafers were a bit sweeter and less flaky than a cake cone, but they were similar. Of course, since I'm not a fan of cake cones I can say that these wafers tasted much better. However, all they needed to be was a texture accompaniment to the matcha chocolate. They served this function beautifully.

The green tea chocolate inside was firmer than a cream, so it held up well in the package. The flavor was right about in the middle in terms of intensity. The matcha taste was definitely there, but it was not overpowering. Since the wafers were fairly bland, there was no intense sweetness, and the whole cookie was quite balanced and satisfying. According to the Tivon site, milk chocolate, "sweet" chocolate, and strawberry chocolate versions are also available.


Maison de Kukkia website

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Meiji Apollo Vanilla Pudding

Apollo Vanilla Pudding

Custard purin (or pudding, similar to flan) is one of my husband's favorite desserts. We made a point of trying the famed Kobe purin, and it is as tasty as they say. This was the reasoning behind purchasing this particular flavor of Apollo, which a typically lackluster Meiji product.

According to the box, this is a special release for the 40th anniversary of the snack, and vanilla pudding was the number one requested flavor, I'm assuming by popular vote. This explains why the quality of the product seemed better than usual, as described below.

Meiji Apollo Vanilla Pudding

The candies smelled like milk chocolate, and the top portion had a nice, mild vanilla flavor with some caramel notes. The two sections of chocolate blended well, and the cocoa was neither underwhelming nor overpowering. It did taste like purin, and was better than the typical Apollo.

Normally, Apollo chocolate can seem kind of cheap, and it did feel a bit oily at the end, but the flavors were good enough to make up for it. It's certainly not gourmet chocolate, but it had a nice, milky, distinctly Meiji flavor.


Meiji website

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Chuao Panko Bar

Chuao Panko Bar

Panko breading is a staple in my kitchen, since my husband and I like to eat tonkatsu (fried breaded pork), but I never would have thought to put it in a chocolate bar.

This bar seemed elusive in my area for quite some time, but I just didn't know where to look for it. After checking nearly every local gourmet store, the Chuao Panko bar showed up at Wal-Mart.

Chuao Panko Bar

The bulk of the bar was a nice, mildly bitter chocolate with a lovely salty crunch. The panko did a great job of adding texture without changing the flavor. The sea salt was great both with the chocolate and the panko, and it reminded me of potato chip chocolates without the potato flavor.

The end notes were bitter and earthy, and it made for a tasty bar. The gritty texture of the panko gave it an extra hearty feel. I've never had anything quite like it, and though it didn't become my favorite Chuao bar, I would certainly buy it again.

Check out another review of this bar at Candy Blog.


Chuao website

Nestle Calpis KitKat

Calpis KitKat

Whenever I see a new type of Calpis, I buy it. So far, this has meant Calpis soda, flavored Calpis, alcoholic Calpis, and Calpis candy, just to name a few. When Calpis KitKats came out, I knew I had to have them.

The polka dot packaging was adorable, and of course, it was a white chocolate bar. Milk chocolate Calpis just wouldn't make sense (though I'd gladly try it). It's hard to pin down the flavor of Calpis, but it is distinctive nonetheless. It's a little tangy from citrus and yogurt, but typically not carbonated.

Calpis KitKat

The bar smelled like lemon, cream, and just a tiny bit like Calpis. It was tart and just a tiny bit tingly, but it reminded me more of lemon cake than the drink. However, that's not a bad thing, because lemon cake is delicious.

There were sour citrus bits in the wafers that provided a balance for the white chocolate. Not surprisingly, the bar was very sweet, but I didn't mind. In the end notes, there was the faintest hint of yogurt, but I can't really say it tasted like Calpis. Regardless, this KitKat was delicious, and I wish I ordered more.


KitKat website

Monday, May 3, 2010

Godiva Spring Chocolates + 1 Summer Truffle

Godiva Spring Truffles
This free truffle every month at Godiva thing isn't working out too well for me. At the end of April, I went in with the intention of getting two truffles (one being the freebie), and I came out with six. They had an assortment of new spring chocolates, but instead of the round truffle, these were flattened chocolates stamped with a pretty floral pattern. Finally, because I can't resist mango anything, I also got a mango summer truffle for "free."

I forgot to write down the flavors when I was at the shop, but according to some post-tasting research on a non-Godiva website, they are mandarin orange, pina colada, black raspberry, green pear, and lemon chiffon. I'm not sure I agree, and I plan on double checking, but please correct me in the meantime. You can think of this as a blind taste test.

Apple Godiva Truffle

I'll start with some controversy. Supposedly, the piece with the green and white pattern was Green Pear, but when I tasted it, it felt very apple. It was delicious - my favorite of them bunch - as it had a nice, subtle cinnamon flavor and a lovely caramel texture. It tasted like a rich apple cider in a melty milk chocolate shell. A+

There was no mistaking Black Raspberry (purple flowers). It was full of seeds! So many seeds, actually, that it was distracting. The dark chocolate shell was nice, but the filling was just a bit weak and didn't have the bite I look for in a raspberry sweet. The plentiful seeds were too much for me, but they did convey the feeling of jam. C+

The only white chocolate piece in the bunch, Pina Colada didn't have much flavor at all. All I could taste was a sweet white chocolate at first, then hints of coconut milk and a tiny bit of citrus. It was so very mild, and was my least favorite. C-

I believe the orange and yellow chocolate was Mandarin Orange, but it could have passed for lemon. The milk chocolate was quite good, but despite a crisp citrus flavor, the center was just a bit too sweet. Still, it was probably my third favorite out of the five. B

The last of the spring chocolates was Lemon Chiffon, in yellow and white flowers (I think). I know I said the green one was my favorite, but I may have to reconsider, because this chocolate was amazing. The filling tasted just like fresh lemon pie filling. I could taste the lemon juice, and the zesty, tart filling was just perfect with the buttery chocolate shell. A+

Godiva Mango Truffle

Finally, here's the bonus summer truffle: Mango. The dark chocolate shell had a nice snap, leading to a citrusy mango filling with a surprisingly authentic flavor. It was sweet and delicious, and even had some of the smooth, thick texture of mango. A

There were some outstanding chocolates in this bunch, and though I'm not sure I needed all of them, even the not-so-stellar flavors were fun to try (especially since I was guessing at flavors).