Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Tirol Daigakuimo and Peach Nectar Chocolates


Here's a little 2-for-1 review of Peach Nectar and Daigakuimo Tirol Chocolates. I love a simple little treat, so I'm always up for new Tirol flavors (though I have my doubts about these Cheese & Pizza chocolates). These were both purchased from napaJapan, where incidentally, you can also purchase the Cheese & Pizza flavor. I'll leave that up to you.

First up is Daigakuimo, or candied sweet potatoes. Literally, it means university potato, and here's a recipe with a back story if you're interested.


The chocolate smelled a bit like potato with hints of butter and something floral. However, I didn't get much of that from the taste. It almost reminded me of strawberry chocolate, and it was sweet with a slight hint of citrus. The biscuit was the best part: very crunchy with a strong black sesame flavor.

Bites with biscuit and chocolate were the best, but the biscuit was too small. Overall, these were decent chocolates, but they lacked sweet potato flavor, and they didn't have that hint of slight savoriness that balances the sweetness in the actual dish. B

Peach Nectar Tirol

Next up is Peach Nectar. There is nothing like a ripe, in-season peach, and as such, my peach expectations are pretty high. Unfortunately, this Tirol didn't quite live up to my expectations.

Peach Nectar Tirol

I knew as soon as I smelled it that this Tirol was going to disappoint. It smelled a bit fake, and intensely sweet. Thankfully, the peach nectar tasted better than it smelled, and it reminded me of white peaches. The marshmallow center was nice, as well.

The problem ended up being the ridiculously sweet white chocolate coating. Not only was it cloying, it was a bit grainy, almost powdery, and just not very good. At least the nectar and marshmallow were good, and 2/3 ain't bad. C

Tirol Chocolate website (Japanese)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Mindo Chocolate Makers Celtic Sea Salt

Mindo Celtic Sea Salt

My sister brought me a Mindo chocolate bar about 2 years ago and I enjoyed it, so when I saw the brand again while shopping in Ann Arbor, MI, I had to pick up another bar. This time, I went with the Celtic Sea Salt. Chocolates from Mindo Chocolate Makers are sold mainly out of Michigan with some limited distribution outside of the state.

You can read all about the company and their products on their website, but definitely try their chocolate if you get a chance. It really speaks for itself!

Mindo Celtic Sea Salt

The best word I can use describe the taste of this bar is "rustic." I don't mean that in a bad way - there is just something about the flavor and the texture that lets you know it was made with care. The chocolate itself was bitter and delicious. The bitterness reminded me a bit of coffee, and it didn't have any fruity notes.

The dark chocolate paired well with the warmth provided by the sea salt. The bar was well balanced overall and melted smoothly to a clean finish. I don't have a whole lot to say except that this was a really great bar! I don't often get up to Michigan, but the next time I do, I will definitely look out for more Mindo.


Mindo website

Friday, December 12, 2014

Seed and Bean Lemon and Poppy Seed White Chocolate

Seed and Bean Lemon and Poppy Seed

Here's another flavor combination I enjoy but had never seen in a chocolate bar before: lemon and poppy seed. It seems so simple, but Seed and Bean has transformed my favorite muffin into a candy bar. Their website is full of fun combinations I'd like to try. Seed and Bean is an English company, and so far I haven't seen their products in any US stores (this bar was given to me by that well-traveled coworker).

Seed and Bean's website invites you to "Experience a chocolate taste sensation in our creamy, dreamy white chocolate bar, with poppy seeds for that earthy crunch and infused with Italian lemon oil for a subtle citrus twist." I'd say they delivered.

Seed and Bean Poppy Seed

The chocolate smelled buttery with hints of lemon. The white chocolate melted smoothly and cleanly, with a hint of natural-tasting lemon flavor. It was a subtle, creamy lemon vanilla. The only drawback for me was it was just on the edge of being too sweet - the white chocolate was about as sweet as I can handle.

The poppy seeds added a fun texture - a little crunch, a little pop. I didn't get much of the earthiness the website mentioned, but the bar did remind me of muffins. It's a pretty safe bet to say that any white chocolate & lemon lover would adore this bar.


Seed and Bean website

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Babaevskiy 75% Cocoa

Russian Dark Chocolate Bar

My world traveling coworker went to Russia this year, and she brought some Russian chocolate back for me to taste. Although I had some exposure to the Russian language in elementary school, it was only once a week and I don't remember any of it. However, through some Googling I was able to find the name (Russian and Romanized) of the brand as well as their website, but that was about all I could do.

The Babaevskiy (Бабаевский) bar has a stunning wrapper. My photo doesn't really capture the beauty of the gold, embossed letters and design. I almost didn't want to unwrap it because I can never seem to fold chocolate bar wrappers up the way they came. You'd think after 5+ years of candy blogging...

Russian Dark Chocolate Bar

I am so glad I unwrapped it, because this bar was absolutely gorgeous. Breathtaking, at least compared to most chocolate bars. It was a rich, glossy brown with intricate patterns, and it seemed a shame to break it. The chocolate had a big, loud snap, and it was firm and slow melting.

The cocoa flavor was very mild with no distinct fruity notes. It wasn't too bitter, maybe just a bit of a roasted flavor. It didn't melt smoothly, but the texture was fine. Overall, it was good, but not remarkable. Just straightforward dark chocolate. Still, for the gorgeous design, I'd say this bar was a pretty awesome souvenir.


Babaevskiy website (Russian)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Morinaga Cream Soda Choco Ball

Cream Soda Choco Ball

While I've got to give Morinaga points for originality, I really need to stop buying every flavor of Choco Ball that I see. Darn you Kyoro-chan, and your irresistible little face! I'm not sure if I'm too old or just too boring, but these limited edition flavors just don't suit me. The original peanut kind is tasty, and these fancy ones from 2009 were good, but the rest have been interesting at best.

In Japan, the term cream soda refers to a melon soda float. Melon soda is my favorite Japanese fountain drink, so I definitely still have some kid in me. That must have been what compelled me to buy these candies, which are are white chocolate (and it does contain cocoa powder) wrapped around a fizzy melon-flavored ramune (Japanese vaguely citrusy soda) candy center. Sound appetizing?


I went in with an open mind, but these were as bad as they sounded. The candies smelled like ramune and dissolved easily with a slight fizzy sensation on the tongue. I didn't get much of a sense of melon flavor, just sour. There wasn't much flavor to the chocolate, either; it was just sweet and sort of milky (I guess that was supposed to be the ice cream component). Both had a bit of a stale aftertaste.

Either part would have been at least okay on their own, but when they tried to play together, it was a problem. The flavors clashed violently, resulting in a milky and sour mess of a candy. The soft, slow melting texture of white chocolate didn't go with the gritty fizzy candy either. The first piece I tried made me laugh out loud because it just felt and tasted so wrong in my mouth. Sucking the flavorless chocolate off and eating the candy alone improved the experience just a little, but that was about as pleasant as it sounds. Points for a fun concept, but no thanks.


Morinaga website (Japanese)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Meiji Mild Chestnut Takenoko no Sato

Chestnut Takenoko no Sato

Well, it's almost the end of the year and my blogging has been spotty at best in 2014. Thankfully, I've got some time off work coming up, so I thought I'd try and catch up on some blogging. Rest assured my level of snack consumption has remained unchanged! Here's a review of the fall limited edition Mild Chestnut flavor of Meiji's Takenoko no Sato (Bamboo Shoot Village).

I've reviewed Takenoko no Sato many times before, and they are still just as cute as ever. The bright, colorful package designs, variety of fun flavors, and adorable shape of the product itself do a lot of the heavy lifting, but I would still call Takenoko no Sato a reliable buy. They may not be a premium chocolate cookie, but I've never had a flavor that was just plain bad.

Chestnut Takenoko no Sato

These done have much scent, just a little bit sweet, maybe with a hint of something that reminded me of coffee. The chocolate coating starts to melt right away, smooth, creamy, and cool. It has a very mild flavor that's a bit like chestnuts, but again, more like very milky coffee. The biscuit doesn't have much flavor; it's a bit like a shortbread cookie, only not very buttery.

I love the balance of cookie to chocolate in Takenoko no Sato. It keeps them from being too sweet, and that did help here. The crunch of the biscuit reminds me a bit of a graham cracker, and it's a nice contrast to the soft white chocolate. In short, these make a tasty snack, but they just didn't scream chestnut to me. Maybe that's because I associate chestnut more with a meaty, nutty texture rather than a distinct flavor.


Meiji Takenoko no Sato website (Japanese)