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.


Wrigley website

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TCHO Mokaccino

TCHO Mokaccino Bar

Even though I'm not by any means a picky eater anymore, there are some foods I'm not crazy about. Olives, banana-flavored candy, and coffee-flavored candy fall into that category. As a child, I used to hate fish, asparagus, brussels sprouts, and mushrooms, but age has changed my palate and I love them now. Project Olive (in which I try to make myself like olives) has been an abysmal failure thus far, but I'll never give up. My husband thinks that if your first experience with a food is really bad, then it can sour you for life, but if your first experience is amazing, then even poor imitations will remind you of the best version.

By that theory, TCHO's Mokaccino bar is definitely the coffee chocolate bar to try if you're on the fence! It was one of our tasting samples at the World of Chocolate Museum and Cafe, and I was surprised to find that I loved it! My husband was also a fan, so we bought the full bar in the shop. Now if only I could find some really good olives...

TCHO Mokaccino Bar

The bar had a strong coffee aroma, and strong coffee was the first thing I tasted, too. Although it was almost too bitter at first bite, the rich flavor of the milk chocolate cut away most of the bitterness and acidity, leaving behind a mellow mocha. The combination was great, especially since I'm not usually a huge fan of coffee and chocolate together.

The chocolate itself was incredible, and I just could not get over how smoothly it melted. It wasn't sticky or waxy, and it seemed like there was nothing standing between me and the cocoa butter. For that alone, this bar is worth a little splurge. The hints of caramelized milk were subtle, but with the coffee flavor it really was like drinking a good mocha. Basically it was another stunner from TCHO.


TCHO website

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Furuta Matcha Chocolate

Matcha Chocolate

Furuta isn't one of my favorite Japanese candy and snack brands (though they do make a lot of fun themed candies), but I have a hard time resisting matcha chocolates. Long story short, these came home with me on my spring trip to Mitsuwa Marketplace in Arlington Heights, Illinois. I was in the area for a graduation ceremony (mine!) and that put me in a celebratory, buy-all-the-things mood.

It's hard to go wrong with matcha-filled chocolates, and adding black sesame paste makes me even happier. The green and gold wrappers were very pretty, and reminded me of Lindt with a Japanese twist. They looked nice in my candy dish, especially since my guests ended up enjoying them more than I did.

Furuta Matcha Chocolate

After unwrapping, I could smell the milk chocolate, and I didn't get a sense of the green tea filling. The thickness of the outer shellwas about right, and the chocolate itself was fairly standard: sticky, but not too sweet. The gooey, oozy matcha center had the consistency of liquid caramel, and the tea flavor was very mild and not too bitter. I didn't taste the black sesame at all.

While the filling was ere a little too sweet for me, these chocolates were still quite pleasant, if a little messy. I think these would please people unfamiliar with matcha. A few of my pro-matcha family members tried and liked them, but I didn't really test them on unsuspecting subjects. The composition reminded me of American chocolates I've had, so I wouldn't anticipate the recoil I sometimes get when I green chocolate to someone who hasn't seen it before.


Furuta website

Monday, August 11, 2014

Bourbon Sakuramochi Mochi Chocolat

Mochi Chocolat

In a previous post, I mentioned how hard it is to find traditional Japanese sweets outside of Japan. That time, it was mitarashi dango, but here's another one to add to the list: sakuramochi. Sakuramochi are pretty little pink rice cakes filled with sweet red beans and wrapped in pickled sakura (cherry blossom) tree leaves. They might look or taste a little different depending where in Japan you get them, but they are sweet with a subtle very subtle sourness.

Bourbon makes this fancy line of chocolates called もちしょこら (mochi shokora), or Mochi Chocolat. On my last napaJapan purchase, I got the Matcha, Ganache, and Sakuramochi flavors. The thought occurred to me to review the matcha mochi chocolates right after I polished off the whole box, but at least I remembered to do the sakuramochi.

Mochi Chocolat

The box contained two separate packs of 4 mochi balls, so if you have some self control, you can share them or at least not eat all at once lest they go stale. I wish the box had contained a little pick or spear because the sticky little mochi were tough to get out of the container. The mochi chocolates smelled a little like fresh cherries with a hint of a sour, pickled aroma - and that's a good thing!

Rest assured that the outer coating was soft, sticky, actual mochi! According to the box, the middle layer of cherry chocolate was made with sakura leaves. It had no chocolate taste whatsoever, just a delicate cherry flavor. The red bean center was nice, adding just a touch of sweetness and a little pleasantly beany texture. The whole thing was a soft, lovely medley of textures and mild flavors.


Bourbon website

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Morinaga Uji Matcha BAKE

Uji Matcha BAKE

Seems like baked chocolate is one of those Japanese trends that came and (probably) went, but to my knowledge it's not something that has caught on here in the US. I've seen several flavors of Morinaga BAKE online, as well as KitKats intended for baking. I'm not sure if there's anything special about the chocolate, because I can't imagine anything stopping someone from sticking any old KitKat in the toaster oven, but it's a neat idea. All food trends are a little gimmicky,

Since I automatically gravitate towards matcha, this flavor was a natural choice for my first foray into baked chocolate. This pack came from my usual source for Japanese sweets, napaJapan. As you can see below, the trip overseas was a little rough on these chocolates, but at least baked chocolate is resistant to melting.

Uji Matcha Bake

These had a powerful matcha aroma, even by my standards! Most of the pieces were falling apart, but the hard top layer was so delicate, I think this would have happened anyway. The outermost layer was slightly crunchy and stuck in my teeth sort of like a cookie when I chewed. The center was softer and melted away smoothly, but the texture contrast made for a messy, crumbly experience. They reminded me a bit of Collon (or sweet Combos), only not as tasty.

On a positive note, I liked that the matcha flavor was so intense. Unfortunately, the dry texture coupled with the bitterness made it feel almost like I was just eating plain matcha, and I am not that hardcore. Furthermore, these weren't very sweet; they were even a little salty (maybe that's why they reminded me of Combos). BAKE was interesting, but I found myself wishing these were cookies rather than just really dry chocolates.


Morinaga website

Friday, August 8, 2014

TCHO Galactic Gelato

TCHO Astronaut Ice Cream

I mentioned my Disney honeymoon in my last post, but on that trip, we also visited the Kennedy Space Center. My husband is a space and astronaut enthusiast, so he was over the moon (sorry!) the entire visit. This love for space exploration also means that he buys astronaut ice cream every time he sees it. I'm not a fan of the stuff myself - give me real ice cream any day!

Even though astronaut ice cream reminds me of the chalky "marshmallows" in Lucky Charms, I couldn't resist this TCHO bar. Who thinks to put freeze dried ice cream in a chocolate bar? Just like TCHO's Strawberry Rhubarb Pie, the packaging was fun and enticing.

TCHO Astronaut Ice Cream

TCHO bars are perforated in thick, slanted blocks, making for easy, satisfying breakage. It was easy to see pieces of mint astronaut ice cream within the dark chocolate. Together, the mint and the dark chocolate had an earthy scent. The chocolate itself was smooth and slightly fruity, and the minty ice cream seemed to permeate the bar.

The balance was right because the mint didn't overpower the chocolate and the dark chocolate didn't drown out the mint. The astronaut ice cream provided an interesting (non-chalky), briefly crunchy texture, but both elements melted smoothly and creamily for an all-around tasty bar. Still, for such a clever concept, the end result didn't really stand out from other mint chocolate bars I've tried.


TCHO website

Thursday, August 7, 2014

TCHO Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

TCHO Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

This year, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary in Orlando, Florida, or more specifically, at Disney World and Universal Studios. This is not the first anniversary we've celebrated there, and we did our honeymoon there as well, so I guess you could say we're those people. But even those people have their limits, and after 3 days at the parks, we needed a break from the magic.

After a little searching on Yelp, we settled on the World of Chocolate Museum and Cafe. We arrived just in time for the first tour of the day, and the tour guide David was amusing. The admission included a little history on the cultivation and production of chocolate, some massive chocolate sculptures, and finally, a chocolate tasting of about 10 different bars ranging in cocoa content and retail value. If you can't make the tour, this place is at least worth a visit for the impressive array of chocolate bars and truffles in the shop.

TCHO Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Even though the shop carried many of my favorite brands, I wanted to try something new, and the spectacular TCHO packaging and unique flavors caught my eye. I bought a couple flavors, but I'll start with Strawberry Rhubarb Pie. My mom makes a tasty pie, so the tagline, "Like your mom made - then plunged into milk chocolate!" really spoke to me. Sorry that I spazzed and forgot to take a picture of the bar before I devoured it, but that should tell you something!

The chocolate was nice and thick and had a good snap when broken. I could see the chunks of real strawberry and tiny pieces of crust inside the milk chocolate. Right away, it was tart like rhubarb, and then I could taste the sweet, freeze-dried strawberries. The fruit was well-balanced by the subtly sweet, slightly sticky milk chocolate. The melt was clean, leaving real fruit pulp and seeds behind for a great, tart finish. The strawberry was definitely the main player here in terms of taste and texture, while the rhubarb only adds an extra sour kick. I didn't get much of a sense of the crust at all. Still, this was a standout bar, and fans of fruity chocolate will definitely appreciate it!


TCHO website