I’ve been seeing lots of interesting confectionary related news recently that I feel is worth sharing. Take a looksee!
The New York Times posted a really interesting interview with famous chocolatier Jacques Torres.
On the science side of things, Cotton Candy may help grow replacement tissue for patients. And if that isn’t enough, medicinal gum is an effective method for helping people with kidney problems. Who would have thought?
Now for a nod towards the historical, the earliest signs of chocolate in America have been found. I don’t know about you, but drinking chocolate is a ritual for me too. Guess I’m on the right track!
Last, but not least, Cybele at Candyblog.net has a list of candies that are appearing on shelves soon, so keep an eye out.
Have you seen anything else sweet in the news? Drop me a line and let me know.
Have a great weekend!
Marshmallows are an overlooked confection in my opinion. I think part of the problem is how we Americans eat them, which is paired with something else like s’mores, rice crispy treats or in peanut butter fluff sandwiches. Or maybe I am just speaking for myself as this is how I always had them growing up. It was almost unheard of to eat one straight out of the bag, and when you did, the texture was often strange and the flavor lacking. It was enough to keep you from doing it ever again.
I started seeing stuffed marshmallows when I was in Japan five years ago during an architecture study during school. I was first shocked at the idea, taking something that’s pretty much pure sugar and adding more sugar to it. I gave some a try, I recall getting a strawberry, blueberry and a pudding variety a try. All of which ended up being so sweet that I could only eat a couple of them. Like eating a marshmallow plain, the experience left me not wanting to try it again.
I first encountered Gud Fud Stuffed Marshmallows back when I first started writing for CandyAddict.com. I enjoyed them, and aside from seeing them at the All Candy Expo again that year and in a few select stores, I had forgotten about them. I was also dismayed to find Cybele at Candyblog reviewed them after I had gotten my samples, only because she suggested some cool ideas of alternative ways of eating them.
So, as you might have guessed, I was recently contacted by the nice folks at Gud Fud offering to send me some samples to review. I was excited to give them a second go, and next thing I knew, I was swimming in 1600, or 8kg, of Gud Fud marshmallows.
A picture was necessary!
Even though I didn’t have any of the actual store packages on hand with this new set of ample samples, I do recall my impressions when I first saw them as they’re very striking. Firstly, the GüdFüd (I believe it’s pronounced Goood Fooood, with that fun long “oooo” sound) caught my eye as I feel it’s a clever way of expressing and presenting the name. Then the artwork caught my eye: illustrations of little crazy-looking marshmallows with varying expressions adorn the wrappers. It’s cute as they’re all getting the “stuffing” shoved into their heads, and they look so gleeful about it. Alongside the smiling marshmallows are the Japanese katakana translations of the flavors.
Each marshmallow come individually wrapped, true to their Japanese cousins.
The marshmallows are a a good size, a little larger than a silver dollar. They have a nice shape to them too, about 3/4 inch tall and and round and squish nicely between my fingers. They feel firm, yet have that nice give to them that tells me they are quite fresh.
The don’t have much of a smell at all, just lightly sweet, like most marshmallows do. The texture is great, it’s firm, yet soft, just like how it feels in my hand. It feels pillowy and soft, and it allows me a to chew it a few times in my mouth before ti dissolves. As far as flavor, it’s lightly sweet and, just, well, marshmallow-y.
Strawberry: The berry flavor is strong, with a juicy, floral perfumey note to it with hints of bubblegum. It reads a strawberry, yet I hesitate to call it an authentic representation. It’s color is a bright pink and is very striking against the white marshmallow.
Orange: Very juicy and zesty, and like the strawberry, not authentic, but still tasty and enjoyable. I’m get a mix of marmalade and orange soda if I had to lay my finger on what the flavor reminds me of. It has a good strength of flavor and I’d say it’s the punchiest of the fruit flavors.
Grape: The flavor reminds me of Smuckers grape jelly mixed with that tart kick and intense sweetness of grape soda. It isn’t terribly strong as a flavor, and it compliments the marshmallow nicely. By far the mildest of the three.
Chocolate: This marshmallows smells, and it smells lightly of hot chocolate. The flavor reminds me immediately of hot chocolate powder or packaged brownie and cake mix. It’s chocolately for sure, but it’s not the real deal, as so to speak. You can taste the “flatness” of the cocoa, yet it works well with the marshmallow. Besides, they’re “stuffed marshmallows with chocolate”, not “marshmallow covered” chocolate, so I’m glad they worked on preserving the marshmallow as the primary component, especially with such an aggressive flavor.
I am happy to say, I enjoyed these now even more than when I first tried them. Something about the subtle flavors and chewy texture is really appealing to my candy cravings as of late. I’ve also had a lot of fun trying different ways of eating them, inspired by Cybele. I’ve toasted them, microwaved them, dipped them in chocolate, sandwiched them, eaten them with Golden Grahams, and of course shared them with friends. All experiments have been successful.
I’m hoping that I will be able to find these more readily in stores now, as I believe Gud Fud is really working to get wider distribution (they even have a Facebook page!). If you haven’t’ seen them around and want to give them a try, Rosa over at ZOMG! Candy is having a giveaway of these tasty fellas. I highly recommend entering.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Links Gud Fud Website
These are last of the Q.bel reviews I have to share. Take my word for it though, as these may be last, but not the least of the bunch!
Q.bel PB Wafer Bars
I can’t comment much more on the packaging without it feeling like I’m beating a dead horse. Unwrapping these bars, I am pleased to say these smell exactly like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (RPBC) to me. The aroma is so strong of fresh peanut butter with a kiss of chocolate. It’s something I could sit and inhale all day.
The Peanut Butter Wafer Bars are a little different in terms of construction than the Milk and Dark Chocolate ones. There’s no rice crisps in this bar and I was sort of expecting to find bits of peanut in there as a replacement. Alas, I was wrong. The peanut butter is beautifully sandwiched in between the wafers, as you can see in the photo.
There’s a really nice crispness to the bite in these despite the lack of the crisped rice. The flavor isn’t as punchy as the Wafer Rolls, there’s more wafer here to soften the bold flavors of the peanut butter and chocolate. It’s very creamy, nutty with a touch of salt. There’s nice sweetness under the whole flavor from the chocolate that’s smooth and cool on the tongue. I got a bit of a throat tickle from eating this, as the peanut butter is intense. I like it that way though.
Out of all the Wafer Bars I had, these were the ones that disappeared first out of the bunch that I shared with friends.
Q.bel Peanut Butter Wafer Rolls
The Peanut Butter Wafer Rolls, like their Milk and Dark Chocolate counterparts, didn’t disappoint. They too smelled strongly and are reminiscent of RPBC. The coating didn’t melt as easily in my hands as the others did, which I found perplexing. I’m not complaining though!
The Rolls are wonderfully peanutty, roasted and salty. The flavor is great and I’d consider this an awesome snack for peanut butter lovers. You get an intense flavor hit of the smooth, extremely fresh creamy peanut butter. It’s sweet, roasted, salty, and plain tasty! The Roll even lets you get the thick peanut butter texture on your tongue if you eat it in just the right way. The chocolate coating gives it that needed edge of sweetness and the wafer provides a wonderful crunchy/crispy texture.
Addicting. Simply addicting.
Even though I’m more of a chocolate than a peanut butter person, I’d say these were beautifully done and tie with the dark chocolate wafer rolls as my favorite in the Q.bel line.
You don’t have to take my opinions on these as the final word though, be sure to check out what Cybele at CandyBlog.net, Rosa at ZOMG! Candy, CandyAddict.com and Chocolate Blog has to say about them.
Links Q.bel Website
Today we continue on with the reviews of Q.bel’s new line of candy bars, and in particular the Dark Chocolate Crispy Rice Wafer Bars and Wafer Rolls. I’ve decided to separate the reviews by flavor instead of format, since I thought it’d be interesting to see how the execution of the confection influenced the flavor, as opposed to the other way around.
One thing I’d like to mention first is that I’m impressed with the packaging on the Wafer Rolls. Considering they’re more delicate than their brick-like bar siblings, they come packaged in a plastic tray that’s actually recyclable. I was happy to find that triangle with a number 1 printed on it when I first tried them. It makes me feel responsible somehow to set it aside in my recycling bin every time I eat one. It must be some unidentified OCD issue that I have.
Dark Chocolate Crispy Rice Wafer Bars
These are basically the same format as the Milk Chocolate versions I reviewed yesterday, however they look much darker and have a rather sophisticated feeling. The surface appears more heavily textured than the other as it has more bumps from the rice crisps on top.
I looked at the ingredients list and was surprised to find the cocoa powder isn’t alkalized or “dutched”. Usually that is the reason for the dark color in chocolate products, which is why Oreo cookies are so dark, in case you didn’t know.
These smell milder than the Milk Chocolate bars with a softer, smokier chocolate aroma. The darker chocolate is deeper, more acidic smelling of red berries and coffee.
The flavor is milder too with not as big of a chocolate punch as the Milk Chocolate bars (or the Wafer Rolls, getting to that..). Instead, you do taste more of the wafers here, which add a mild vanilla flavor to the whole bar and serves to mellow out the chocolate flavor. The bar starts off sweet with the vanilla wafer coming through a little later and then finally the chocolate which its mild, lightly sweet, coffee and coconutty taste. The overall effect is a sturdy chocolately hit, and I really like it. The crispy texture and strong chocolate flavor combined with the size of the bar keeps it substantial rather than a light snack.
Dark Chocolate Wafer Rolls
Following in the footsteps of the Crispy Rice Wafer bar, the Wafer Rolls sport the same dark, rich dark chocolate appearance. The color is very deep, and mysterious with nice purple undertones. It smells sweet with hints of caramel, coconut and chocolate.
On a side note the ingredients list milk fat in the dark chocolate, so it’s not “true” dark chocolate. Also unlike the bars, the cocoa liqueur is listed as alkalized, so the extreme darkness of the chocolate makes more sense here.
The flavor is rich, deep and very chocolatey. True to my expectations of a good dark chocolate. I get more of a chocolate hit here than I do with the milk chocolate version, which I really like. The taste reminds me more of a bittersweet than a true dark chocolate: it’s sweeter, and has nice flavors of coconut, caramel, coffee, and chocolate running through it. Again, the wafer adds only texture here since the chocolate is so powerful, and give it a great crispy crunch. I taste more of the creamy chocolate center in this version too, and it’s thick on the tongue which makes me really slow down and savor it.
Hmm, now I’m realizing it may be a bad thing I can get these at my Whole Foods. I want to buy them out of this flavor, pronto.
Links Q.bel Website
I was in Whole Foods the other day doing the sparse shopping I try to do in that store (since the prices are a little much for me on a regular basis) and before heading to the checkout I made my usual pass at the candy aisle to see if there was anything new. See how my attempts at not spending much is usually thwarted by this little detour? As I ran my eyes over the shelves, I noticed something new in pretty, brightly colored packaging: the Q.bel bars. “Eureka!” my head shouted as a snatched the flavors up in couples to take home for blog swag. I was then floored to find an email from the Q.bel PR folks in my inbox the next day, kindly offering to send me samples. How’s that for luck and good timing?
Let me start by saying that I am usually wary of the “candy bars” I find in health food stores. I think a lot of people get the terms “organic” and “natural” confused with “healthy” and “low calorie”. And just because they don’t see hydrogenated oils on the labels, that makes it “better” for you despite the fact that the first ingredient is brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, or whatever organic sweeteners are calling themselves these days.
The result of this, at least for me, is a candy that it usually….lacking something. There’s something in the flavor that just falls flat for me, like a bit of its candy bar soul has been removed in attempt to make something “bad” for you into something “better” for you. The result is something that I don’t really feel like eating at all, and falls into the category of all those power bars I see in the next aisle over. Something somewhat tasty that I can wolf down if I suddenly needed a surge of calories in my body.
Thankfully, Q.bel doesn’t take part in this candy confusion. With a tag line of : “Be True, Be Honest, Be Good”, you can expect quality. What they’re getting at is the fact that there’s no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils in these. I admit, even though I do love my candy, I do do my best to keep that sort of stuff out of my diet.
Milk Chocolate Crispy Rice Wafer Bars
The package with this specific color scheme is quite easily confused with the peanut butter bars as they both use bold reds and yellows. Despite how small the package looks, you’ll find two bars on the inside. Once removed form the wrapper, they appear much larger as they’re about an inch wide and 3/4 inch tall. They look like a rugged Kit Kat or a Manner biscuit on steroids. The bars smell sweet, chocolatey with notes of malt and caramel.
The construction is layers of wafers and chocolate cream, topped with rice crisps and then covered in chocolate.
The flavor is awesome and nicely balanced as I can really detect both parties. I can taste the wafer and rice crisps easily: starchy, light, crispy with a slight vanilla flavor. The chocolate is sweet, milky and most importantly, chocolatey! Very flavorful and very satisfying. The texture is light and crisp and feels like a nice light snack at first (it’s even very light to pick up!) but once you start eating, you are satisfied quickly.
Milk Chocolate Crisp Wafer Rolls
I like the colors of this package much more, as it was easily distinguishable from the others with its rich blues and navy borders. Somehow these feels more “milk chocolate” to me than colors the Crispy Wafer Bars utilize.
These remind me of the chocolate filled wafer Pirouettes, but more intense. If my memory serves me correctly, I can make a quick comparison that these have more filling and are also enrobed in chocolate. More of a good thing? Yes, please! They’re long, thin, and rounded except for the bottom where the chocolate flattens out to create a base. The rolls smell extremely chocolatey as soon as you open the package and it’s very enticing. I’m reminded of brownies.
The construction is a hollow wafer roll with a chocolate creme inside. The outside enrobing melts easily on my fingers, so I had to be careful not to hold it for too long. The flavor is perfectly rich: sweet, creamy with notes of milk, chocolate, and a kiss of hazelnut is present. The texture is delightfully light and crisp, and like the wafer bars, was deceivingly satisfying. I ate the two rolls and was happy with what I got. They’ve become a favorite to enjoy with my morning coffee.
I’m happy to know my Whole Foods are carrying these. I want more of them.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Links Q.bel Website