This I believe is another holiday limited edition flavor put out by Vosges this year. I have seen more popularity surrounding the gingerbread flavoring in recent years, so it seems only natural that Vosges would find a unique way to incorporate it into their chocolate. I admit, I haven’t encountered anyone yet who has infused gingerbread flavoring into toffee so they can put it into chocolate. Very creative!
The gingerbread spiced toffee is paired with a 65% dark chocolate. Milder that most dark chocolates but still it’s not going to be too sweet for the infused toffee bits. The color is a pretty rich brown with a high gloss and red undertones to it. It smells sweet and slightly spiced.
The flavor is wonderfully complex. It stars off very sweet with buttery tones of the chocolate, which is very mild and rich for a 65%. Then you taste the toffee bits, which start off salty the and blossoms into a rich, buttery, spicy flavor of gingerbread. The gingerbread toffee is soft and slightly crispy so it adds a level of texture to the smooth creaminess of the chocolate. This bar had a wonderful play of sweet/salty, smooth/crispy and buttery/spicy. Really yummy!
Rating: Will Buy Again
Links Vosges Website
My sister over in Queens is always telling me of these cool fellows she sees when she visits one of the many flea markets in Brooklyn. When she mentioned that one of them was Mast Brothers, my interest was immediately piqued and did my best to accompany her on one of her trips as soon as I could. I’ve heard of Mast Brothers before, and to be fair I had acquired these bars and had tasted them this past November. At the time there was only whispers about Mast Brothers on the internet, as they sold exclusively in Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the time. As of now they’re found in select shops in the Five Boroughs with no online sales yet.
In recent months they’ve gotten lots of attention, one of the most notable was a write up in the New York Times. The Mast Brothers started from humble beginnings that they remind faithful to. They’re New York City’s only bean to bar chocolate maker, with each bar hand crafted by Rick and Michael using cacao beans acquired from small family coops. Needless to say, their ideas and processes are certainly heartfelt and full of quality.
When I was at their table at the flea market. I was immediately torn between the selections. Firstly, they have a lot to offer, and it was difficult deciding on which to try to get a good idea of their range and flavors. The other factor is the packaging. It’s simply gorgeous. I felt the pull to try a bar that I wasn’t as interested in, tasting wise, because the paper that it was wrapped in was just too beautiful. That’s a good problem to pose to your customers.
I finally narrowed it down to three bars:
70% Dominican: Dark in color with a nice gloss and red undertones. The snap is hard and the break is clean with only intermittent air bubbles. I can tell there’s lots of cocoa butter here, as it melts easily under my fingers as I hold up a piece to examine. The bar smells very fruity: berries, tart cherries, cranberries, coffee, cocoa, vanilla, coconut. It breaks nicely when bitten into. The flavor starts off cool and dry with light cocoa notes, then blooms with a tartness of red berries and coffee. Those tastes linger and fade away to leave a somewhat tannic flavor of cocoa powder and cream. The aftertaste is extremely clean. Love it.
80% Fleur De Sel: This bar’s color is deep, dark brown with blue/gray undertones and a subtle sheen. The snap is hard with a nice solid break. The bar smells strongly of cocoa, coffee, caramel, and strawberries and coconut. The flavor is dry at first, but quickly opens to light flavors of cocoa, red fruits, coconut, and green coffee. I’m pleased as this chocolate is quite mild, especially for an 80%. There are only a few slight dry/tannic notes at the finish. Thankfully it’s not sour at all. The salt is barely noticeable, as I taste them more as grit in the bar. If I really pay attention, I do notice a little saltiness, but it’s not terribly noteworthy. A great bar.
60% Salt and Pepper: A nice medium brown color with only a very light gloss. There’s flecks of pepper and salt easily visible in the bar’s backside, and it’s really beautiful. The chocolate smells lightly of chocolate (of course!) with notes of berries and coffee. The bite is soft and the chocolate is very creamy and smooth. You notice the light saltiness right away, and it really compliments the milky, caramel flavors of the chocolate. The pepper shows later, about halfway through the flavor. It tastes sharp and floral, but not overly so, it makes a great, spicy addition to the chocolate. Again, I love this, as it’s unique and very tasty.
Needless to say. I’m impressed. I’m floored. This is some unique and tasty chocolate and I can’t wait to get my hands on more.
Links Mast Brother’s Website
I’ve never noticed these bright pink candies on shelves in many of my grocery stores until recently. I think part of the reason I’ve never given them a second look is the very antique packaging (which, oddly, usually catches my eye right away) and the other is the fact that I saw Necco’s name on them. I just assumed they were a big bag of plain Sweethearts. It wasn’t until I read on Candybog.net that these sugar lozenge candies were in fact wintergreen flavored and were pretty tasty. I immediately turned my thinking around and secured myself a bag the next chance I got. Isn’t it great how we candy bloggers can learn from one another?
I’m not quite sure how Canada fits into the concept of bright green candy tablets, but I suspect it has something to do with the “coolness” of the wintergreen flavor. There’s another variety I’ve seen around, it’s peppermint and the package has a nice blue color scheme to it. I won’t try that though, at least not right away, as peppermint and I have some issues that we need to work out first.
The candy pieces are bright pepto-bismal pink and are about the circumference a nickel and 1/4 inch thick. “Canada” is pressed into once side of them. They smell intensely of sweet wintergreen.
In my mouth they feel quite hard. I couldn’t chomp down on them right away. Reminds me of the texture of Sweetheart conversation hearts: dry, and slightly chalky. I found I could break them a little with my molars, but the best way to eat them is just to suck on them. The flavor is fresh wintergreen with nice minty and herbal flavors that are reminiscent of sassafras and root beer. The flavor is mild, not too minty and not too bland. A perfect in between. Once the tablet is soft enough to break, it gives a nice brief chew as the pieces dissolve and the wintergreen flavor intensifies a little. Tasty. I found I kept reaching for more of these, they’re very addictive.
I can’t help but smile to myself whenever I see these in the stores now. I like knowing that I gave them a try and found them enjoyable. I bet I’ll be reaching for a bag next time my wintergreen craving hits.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Links Necco Website
I love spice beans, so I was curious to give those purposely looked over spice gumdrops of my youth a try. The Brach’s variety are lovely, coming in six different colors/flavors, but no mention as to what exactly those flavors are! The drops themselves are beautiful. They have a great tall dome shape with a even coating of granulated sugar. The quality control on these must be really tight, since I didn’t get a single “deformed” one in the whole bag, most impressive! The texture is fantastic too, a good chew that isn’t too hard or soft. It’s a little sticky, but not overly so. Literally the ideal gumdrop. The granular sugar coating is also terribly fine, it feels and melt just right on your tongue. I believe I’m falling in love!
White: A light fresh wintergreen. Lovely all around.
Green: A bright zesty peppermint! My mouth felt immediately clean.
Red: I can’t place this one. I was expecting cinnamon, but it doesn’t taste hot or spice at all. It just tastes….red.
Orange: Orange. Surprised? I was! I wasn’t expecting a fruity flavor. It’s a good juicy flavor, reminds me of the orange slices Brach’s makes.
Yellow: Spicy, more like a cinnamon/allspice combination. A little hot, but has a good woodsy herbal essence to it.
Purple: It took a few moments of chewing before the flavor came out> It’s clove, but not a “spicy” clove. Instead it’s very creamy and sweet. A pleasant and tasty surprise.
I looked up these flavors on the website afterward to find this out:
“Brach’s(R) Spice Drops are jelly candies in six different flavors and colors sanded in sugar for an enhanced flavor experience. The flavor varieties include; Orange, lemon, cherry, mint, grape and licorice. Make Spice Drops an everyday personal treat, share them in your favorite candy dish or surprise and delight in baking and decorating.”
I find it interesting how the lemon and grape flavors tasting more like spice than fruit to me. Maybe they were tainted by the other spicy flavors in the package? Who knows. Regardless if I was able to correctly identify the flavors, there were really tasty and I am definitely going to finish this bag.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Links Brach’s Spice Drops Website
I was utterly delighted when I received a sample of these in the mail from Just Born. I first remember seeing them in my friend’s Flickr photos, then Cybele gave them a wonderful review. I had reviewed an assortment of spice beans by Just Born for CandyAddict at about the same time, and I realized that they were probably the same set of jelly beans, just different packaging. Still, the candy brat in me wanted to have the ones with the Hot Tamale branding because they seemed so much cooler in my mind.
The beans are a nice size. Not as small as Jelly Belly’s beans, but no where near as large and many of the pectin varieties you see out there. I’d say well, they’re the size of a baked beans or a peanut. The panned shell is glossy and smooth with an even color. The texture is nice and chewy and doesn’t ever get sticky.
Peppermint (white): Very intense and fresh. It’s just lick sucking on a candy cane. It’s powerful flavor is refreshing and sweet.
Spearmint (green): More sweet and herbal than the peppermint. It’s grassier and not as intense. It’s a good balance of flavor too, it’s not powerful like a stick of gum.
Cinnamon (red): Very punchy and spicy, true to normal Hot Tamales. It has that signature kick to it, along with a warmth from the spicy burn. Thankfully these at not as fiery a Red Hots, otherwise I wouldn’t have enjoyed them as much.
Clove (yellow): Oh, how I love clove flavored beans! These come across as very earthy and spicy. They have great woodsy accents that really capture the taste of cloves.
Wintergreen (pink): My favorite of the bunch. It’s very bright, sweet and pleasantly herbal in flavor. It has nice spicy notes that remind me of a nice mug of root beer.
These are great, and a nice change from the Brach’s beans I love so much. I wish I could find them year ‘round, heck, even find them in stores near me. Maybe I can plead Just Born to supple me with more of them.
Links Hot Tamale Website
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