Russell Stover is a big name in my household. If there’s any need for a cheaper chocolate bonbon candy treat, Russell Stover is the “to go to”. I remember getting the small assorted boxes every year at Valentines Day from my parents and my sister now always had a box of the assorted creams on hand. I can’t say exactly why we always keep turning to them, if it’s because they’re delicious or affordable or both. I always have a special place in my heart for them though.
I was surprised to see one day a new Russell Stover offering on the shelf at the store that I hadn’t seen before. A rarity, for sure. The Russell Stover Pecan Roll just called to me since it looked so incredibly kitchy. It stuck out right away in it’s bright yellow wrapper, bold red lettering and very detailed photo of the candy itself on on the front. Inspecting it quickly I noted a promise of a “Vermont Fudge Center” written on the front as well, which was certainly enticing even thought I have no idea what that is.
The roll looks very small in package but weights in at a hefty 50g, so it’s a compact little thing. Unwrapped, it’s a very home-made looking: a small log that’s roughly been rolled in large, uneven pecan chunks. The sort of thing you’d expect to see if your mom just took some pecans to town with a ziploc bag and a rolling pin. It smells wonderful fresh of pecans: nutty, buttery, and sweet.
The first bite was lovely as the pecans are fresh with their smooth texture and rich flavor. The “Vermont fudge center” is a maple penuche fudge with a thick, grainy texture and a quick melt in the mouth with an intense brown sugar maple flavor followed with an intense sweetness. This roll is like a slice of pecan pie that’s been condensed into a little log. It’s really lovely in it’s simplicity of concept and execution and “wholesomeness” of flavor.
I hope to run into this one again so that I can introduce it to my family. I don’t know if that’ll be a good or bad thing!
Rating: Will Buy Again
Russell Stover Website
Hershey’s is following in their footsteps from last year and are releasing new flavors of Kisses for the fall. The big newbie last year were the Candy Corn Kisses, which were an exclusive limited edition release for Target. For those of you who were fans of those Kisses will be happy to know they’re back with a wider release this year and brought new friends with them this time: Caramel Apple Kisses and Pumpkin Spice Kisses.
I searched high and low for these new flavors, and unfortunately have had success in finding the former. The hunt for the Pumpkin Spice continues, I will not rest until I find them.
The Caramel Apple Kisses are beautiful to observe. The packaging is attractive with nice rich festive colors and nice illustrations. The Kisses are wrapped in even more eye-catching fall-colored wrappers with brilliant red and orange stripes. I look at these and am immediately reminded as to why I love fall so much.
Opening the bag with great anticipation, the kisses smell perfectly normal: sweet and chocolatey.
I took one of the Kisses to cut one in half for a photo. This proved dangerous as the center wanted to ooze everywhere. The caramel center is almost liquid, I was very surprised by. I don’t recall the regular Caramel Kisses being so flowing.
The flavor is first the sweet Hershey’s chocolate along with the creamy caramel flavors with nice burnt sugar notes. After that is when the apple taste comes in. It’s very artificial with a floral essence and strong juicy notes that have a slight tang to it. It reminds me of what candied apples taste like in a way: fruity, but something is a little off from the coating. They really remind me of those radioactive green Caramel Apple Pops that Charms makes. Despite the flavor oddness from the apple, the Kisses work somehow for me. They taste like fall.
As a side note, not everyone I shared these with agreed with me. As I fed some to one of my sisters and she scrunched her nose up at them.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Hershey’s Kisses Website
I can’t say what attracted me more to this candy bar: the fact that it uses pineapple as a base flavor or its unusual name. Maybe both? This candy bar hails from New Zealand where they strike me as more adventurous and broad with their confections. Still, what’s up with Pineapple Lumps? I don’t really consider lumps of any kind appetizing, so I can’t understand how this name seemed like a good idea.
Inside the package there’s two thin flat rectangular bars, er, lumps. They’re coated in mockolate since the ingredients list has no cocoa butter or liqueur in it, just vegetable oil and cocoa powder. At least there’s real pineapple juice concentrate in here, right? For the sake of experimentation I decided to eat one half of the “twin bar” at room temperature and the other frozen. That’s my best surmise as to how lumps should be eaten.
The smell is of sweet, diary-like chocolate. It reminds me of Halloween candy in that faint sugary/chocolate sort of way. I do also detect a bit of frutiness, but I can’t pin it to a specific fruit, not even the pineapple. The first bite has a good give to it. It’s not totally soft like marshmallow and it’s not hard like a Charleston Chew. The coating just tastes “sweet” and easily flaked off the very soft and strangely textured center.
As for the pineapple center? Think of it texture-wise as a dense, spongy, slightly grainy marshmallow. The flavor is fruity but I’m reminded more of Juicy Fruit gum than I am of pineapple. There’s a tropical-ness to it with some tangyness, but somewhere something goes wrong and it gets a strange sweetness and a funny bubblegum-like flavor.
Eating this is a totally different beast when it’s frozen. The squishy interior becomes rock hard and cleaves off in sharp chunks when bitten into, leaving a flawlessly clean break. The texture of it in the mouth is slightly tacky at first, then it deflates immediately into a filmy paste than quickly melts away. You only notice the odd flavor briefly, so all you manage to taste is the overly sweet mockolate left behind.
Overall a very odd candy. I’m happy to have tried it for the novelty value but it’s not something I’m not going to seek out again.
Rating: Not Worth It
Reese’s Pieces are a candy that took me a long time to learn to appreciate, as strange as that may sound. As a child I’d watch my parents and sister enjoy them and I could never bring myself to like them. The obviously lack of chocolate made Reese’s Pieces unappealing in my mind. To add to this, the odd color scheme of the candies (brown, orange and yellow) reminded me too much of the nasty 1970’s styled furniture that was prevalent in my house. It made me feel ill to just look at them.
As I got older I did give Reese’s Pieces several chances to redeem themselves, but they never became something I’d specifically crave. Still, they’re such a popular candy still, I figured it’d be good fodder for the blog.
I found a packet to try just in time to catch the special promo packaging for the new Batman “Dark Knight” film. The only difference is that the standard orange/yellow/brown colors have been replaced with black and blue. Very odd I must say, yet I like it better than the normal colors. Don’t ask why, I can’t logically explain it. The shape of the pieces are a little smaller than a plain M&M and a little flatter.
The flavor is very, very peanut buttery. You get the light sweet hit from the candy shell, then almost immediatly after you get the flavor of the iconic Reese’s smooth peanut butter. The texture is different from the cups we all know and love, as the pieces’ center is very creamy and buttery as opposed to dry and crumbly. The pieces have a very satisfying sweet/salty balance that is hard to beat.
I have to admit these aren’t as offensive as I remember as a kid and I quickly polished off my packet. Just goes to show your tastes always change.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Reese’s Pieces Website
There’s some chocolatiers that can do no wrong in my mind and Christopher Norman Chocolates is one of them. I originally discovered them last year at the New York City Chocolate Show where I was graciously given some of their signature bonbons to try. Aside from the fact that I was blown away by the incredible quality and flavor, I was also drawn to the acute artistic sense that was applied to the bonbons. Christopher Norman was a painter before becoming a chocolatier and he now combines his two passions to create chocolates with his modern sense of painterly design. The result? Well, for my taste buds at least, everything is nothing short of a masterpiece.
Dark Chocolate and Blood Orange: These bars are beautifully wrapped and neatly folded in gold foil. I was surprised to find the bar was not a singular slab, but made of six filled connected squared sections. It smells mainly of the dark chocolate and hardly any scent of orange at all. It you concentrated enough you can detect a little, but it’s very, very faint. The inside is a chocolate filling that has a unique texture: think of it as a cooled, soft, not very dense ganache. The blood orange flavor is pronounced with a lovely fresh and very real orange flavor that’s not to sweet and delivers the perfect amount of tartness. It balances beautifully with the rich, complex dark chocolate and it really a masterpiece to taste. This is a great sophisticated bar if you’re looking for a chocolate orange comibination, but don’t want to restort to something cheap and artificial like Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
White Chocolate Lemon Crisp: This bar also follows the same format with six squared sections as opposed to one large bar. It’s a wonderfully creamy white color and just beautiful to look at. The white chocolate is the most delicate I’ve ever tasted, and by that I mean that’s it’s not overly sweet or bursting with vanilla like most of the other white chocolates I’ve had. This is subtly sweet, very creamy, and you can taste the creaminess of the cocoa butter.
Of course, this is all lightly accentuated by a hint of lemon. It’s amazing how the flavor is incorporated since I think “white chocolate” when I eat this, not “oohh, this is lemon flavored”. The flavor is mixed in and balanced so well, that it just makes the white chocolate stronger and more natural tasting. It reminds me of how just a hint of lemon can really brighten a cheesecake, and this is a similar thing. The crisps are like bits of corn flakes and provide a nice texture to the bar and thankfully they do not compete with the chocolate. The amount is perfect too: not too little not too many and it isn’t like a Nestle crunch at all, thankfully.
I just love this bar, because it managed to find elements that compliment the white chocolate rather than hide it, which is what I find most companies do. Christopher Norman managed to find a way to add ingredients that allowed the white chocolate to shine and really show how good it can be when done right.
Words fail me in describing how much I loved these. I cannot wait to make it back to the Christopher Norman store so I can buy more of these and sample some of their other flavors. Do yourself a favor and get your hands on these chocolate bars.
Christopher Norman Chocolate