I’ve always admired the Les Anis de Flavigny line of candies on the store shelves. For the longest time I didn’t even know what they were exactly, but their beautiful tins kept me eying them regardless. It was only a matter of time before I gave them a try.
Anis de Flavigny has been producing these candy pastilles for hundreds of years. Each are made using a traditional panning technique, where a single fennel seed is combined with a sugar syrup and dried in a rotating drum. This process is repeated for 15 days until one pastille is completed, so a lot of work went into each of these little treats! The tins are just as classic as the candies they hold; with scenes of two young people finding love.
There’s a whole slew of flavors that you can find in the line: Mint, Orange Blossom, Violet, Licorice, Anise, and Rose. All of which strike me as very classic, refined, and romantic flavors. The one I was given is the Mint flavor, showing the two lovers idling by a freshwater stream.
Now, there’s something to be said about mints and candy. Some mints, in my opinion, aren’t very candy-like. Take Tic Tacs for example. Other mints, like Junior Mints, are more like candy to me. These fall more into the candy category to me, as they’re very sweet and long lasting, and I certainly eat them for the flavor and not how fresh they make my breath.
The outside of these pastilles are very smooth and cool feeling. The first couple of pastilles I just sucked on and got a wonderful sweet minty flavor that lasted such a long time because these take forever to dissolve. I was surprised by how incredibly hard they are and was frightened for my teeth if I decided to try and chew one. As I gained more experience I got to a point where I knew it was safe to munch on them and my eating time was shortened considerably. I know, shame on me, but I’m a chewer all the way.
I’d pick these up over most other mints any day for many reasons. I’m also really drawn to the history, the flavor, and the design. Having a cute tin to keep afterward in a plus too. I’m happy to have finally tasted these and I looking forward to trying out the other flavors soon.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Anise de Flavigny website
Cactus candy, which is a type of that fruit jelly that makes my heart go pitter patter, was something I’d had my eye on for a long time. I’d see it on random places online, but it wasn’t until I had a layover in the Phoenix airport that I actually saw it in the flesh. I quickly picked up a medium sized box of the prickly pear flavor and bought it. For once I felt grateful for those cheesy airline terminal gift shops.
Inside the box the squares of the candy are beautifully arranged in little white fluted cups to prevent them from sticking together. They’re incredible to look at with a gorgeous intensely deep rose red color. It reminds me of fresh guava pulp and they feel so exotic. I was a little disappointed to find that the color is helped a bit by bitter tasting Red 40.
The texture is very chewy, much more “gummi” than other fruit jellies that I’ve had. They stick a little in the mouth, but not enough for it to become annoying. It’s very dense so I automatically find it very satisfying.
I’ve never had prickly pear before and the best I can describe it is it’s lightly fruity and “watery”. It reminds me of aloe in the sense it’s refreshing and sweet, but these lack the herbal flavors. You can taste the lemon oil that’s been added to enhance the overall flavor, and I can’t decide of that’s a good thing or not. It’s nice to have that bright zestiness to heighten the light watery flavor but I can’t help but wonder how much of the prickly pear flavor is lost because of it.
I was pleasantly surprised with these, as I was expecting them to come across as odd more than anything else. I finished my box (I shared a few of course) and look forward to getting some again next time I’m in Arizona. Whenever that will be.
Rating: Will Buy Again
“Black licorice and fruit gummies?” was what ran through my head as I saw these on the shelf at a Cost Plus World Market. I have a big spot in my heart for black licorice, and the idea of a chewy version of it combined with fruit flavors was too much for me to handle. So into my shopping bag they went.
The fruit flavors here are tropical: kiwi, mango and passion fruit. I’m tickled by this choice, as I’d imagine more domestic fruits like apples, pears, peaches and strawberries blending better with licorice. I’m not a candy maker though, so what would I know? I can only imagine and express what my taste buds say to me.
The shapes of these are really cute; some are round and coin shaped while the others are more slender and oblong. The texture is like how I’d imagine a flat DOT would be: soft, chewy, lightly firm and nice staying power in the mouth.
Kiwi (green): The kiwi flavors are really juicy and the taste a nice mix between apple and peach. I don’t know how that translates to kiwi, but I’m open to the interpretation. The licorice matches with it well; it’s refreshing with strong notes of molasses and an herbal zest to it.
Mango (yellow): The mango is not quite mango in my mind. It’s more peachy and a little more berry tasting than the kiwi. It also lacks that signature “bite” I associate with mango. The flavor mixes nicely with the licorice side which tastes milder to me than the licorice in the kiwi.
Passion fruit (red): Tastes of peach (I’m seeing a trend here), strawberry and grape. Also blends nicely with a milder licorice.
These were fun to try and certainly quite tasty. I admit I’m slowly working on my bag, choosing to savor them as opposed to feeling that I need to gobble them up immediately. I love how unique they are, I cannot think of anything like this sold here in the United States. I’m happy that I got to try them, but I don’t see myself craving these once my bag is gone.
Rating: Will Eat Again
You can’t have Hershey’s without the Hershey’s Kiss. They are one of America’s most iconic candies with its classic tear-drop like shape, bright foil wrapper and thin paper strip at the top. This, like the Cookies ‘n Creme Kisses I reviewed earlier this month, is one of the new limited editions Kisses to be found on store shelves. I found these in my local Walgreens.
I admit, I am a Kiss junkie. I cannot resist trying the latest and (sometimes not the) greatest Kiss variety I see when I’m in the store. I since lost count of the flavors I’ve tasted, but it’s always fun for me to just give them a try. I found these Marshmallow Creme ones especially appealing because last year Hershey’s released a Chocolate Marshmallow Kiss variety that was less than stellar. When I saw the illustration of the Marshmallow Creme Kiss on the package showing a filled center, I couldn’t help but get excited about it.
The Kisses are very cute with their silver and brown checkered foil wrappers. The texture of them is very creamy and the smooth interior makes them much less structurally sound than the other kisses I’ve had. You just look at the buggers and they melt.
The inside isn’t a marshmallow creme at all. Actually, it really reminds me more of that tub frosting you can buy at the store. It’s thick, creamy and has that roasted vanilla flavor that marshmallows get after you toast them. Combined with the chocolate coating, it’s a very sweet little Kiss. I can’t help but wonder what they’d taste like smooshed between some graham crackers. I’ll put it on my to do list.
I like these better than a majority of the Kiss varieties I’ve had to date, but they don’t take home the blue ribbon. I found myself finishing the bag with no problem, so at least I know they’re good enough to be addictive. I’m looking forward to seeing what else Hershey’s does with the Kisses.
Rating: Will Eat Again
There’s been lots of artisenal chocolate makers popping up in the United States the past couple of years. There has, in my opinion, been a great deficit of them and it’s so rewarding for me to see that many have caught the chocolate making “bug”. These newcomers to the chocolate making scene have helped shape the future of chocolate by adopting progressive practices on how they source, make and sell their products. None of them have gone as far as Askinosie chocolate, who have literally taken chocolate making into their own hands.
Shawn Askinosie, the founder of Askinosie chocolate, was a criminal defense lawyer before he was called away to pursue a passion of chocolate. Learning everything he could about the process, he’s taken great steps to make sure his product is the best that it can be. Not only that, but his background has given him the gift of great social responsibility and has created a new way to work with the farmers whom he sources all his cocoa beans. Aside from traveling to the cocoa plantations to meet the workers and taste the beans himself, Shawn also pays above Fair Trade prices to his farmers so that they can focus on making better cocoa beans from more sustainable farming techniques and enjoy higher living standards.
Another amazing thing about Askinosie is that they are the only small batch chocolate maker in the United States to press their own cocoa butter. They use all natural cane sugar and also refuse to use additives in the chocolate as they feel it messed with the chocolate’s flavor and texture. This results in a very short shelf life of these bars which is about 6 months. Oh, and did I mention that the chocolate is also organic?
With all the fanfare in regard to the practices and processes of Askinosie, the big questions still remains: Does the chocolate taste good? I can give you a very enthusiastic “Yes”.
70% San Jose Del Tambo Dark Chocolate Bar: Very beautiful bar to look at. It has a great dark color with a gorgeous temper and gloss. The blocks are so cute, each sporting a letter of the “Askinoise” name. The aroma is intense: fresh, bright, red, fruity and very alive.
The flavor starts off mild with notes of cream, caramel, raisins and vanilla. The middle blossoms into a bright bouquet of fruits, berries, tart cherries and citrus which is pleasantly tart and pure tasting. That flavor lasts and has good staying power for a bit before fading into the finish like a brilliant sunset. The aftertaste has clean notes of cocoa and orange.
San Jose Del Tambo 34% white chocolate: There are many special things about this bar, but the main one is that it’s the first small batch white chocolate bar. Another special thin about this is that it’s a non deodorized white chocolate, which means the aromas in the cocoa butter aren’t removed. Other than El Rey’s Icoa white chocolate which is also non deodorized, this is the only type of white chocolate you can find on the market. It’s amazing to look at too, as the bar isn’t white at all; but a soft caramel, beige color. It doesn’t have much aroma, other than a slight fatty cocoa scent. the break is soft, the chocolate feels smooth and has a subtle gloss.
Right away it’s very sweet, and the flavor slowly comes out after a moment of melting on the tongue. It’s has a sweet, dairy-like musk to it (from the goat’s milk I’m guessing) that plays with the subtle notes of cocoa in the non deorodized butter. There’s light notes of caramel too and I’m reminded of dulche de la leche. The mouthfeel is very rich, with a thick texture that’s smooth but not slippery. The finish is light and sweet, and I admit I want more of it when it’s done.
75% Soconusco Dark Chocolate Nibble Bar: This bar uses the prized cocoa beans from the Soconusco valley in Mexico, where there are great pains are taken to collect these beans since it’s such a remote location. The bar is a deep rich brown and turing it over you can see the nibble bits are generously studded into the backside of the bar. It smells birght and roasted: notes of coffee, red berries, cinnamon, cutrus, and vanilla.
The flavor is beautiful and starts off with mild vanilla and nutty flavors that then bloom into citrus, cream and cocoa. Those flavor longer a moment, then fade when a slight acidic notes of berries and sweet red fruits leave a clean, fresh finish with no aftertaste. Along with all this you get a constant, light nuttieness from the nibs as they deliver a slight chewy texture which goes beautifully with the chocolate. The nibb’s texture is not too soft to get lost in the chocolate or too hard to compete with it. Lovely.
I cannot help but gush about the Askinosie chocolate. The chocolate is top-notch in terms of appearance, texture and flavor. Not only that, but the thoughtfulness of the practices of the company in regard how it processes the chocolate at the factory (they’re as green as possible) and the huge social commitment they make to the cocoa farmers where they course their beans makes this company one I want to support. With retail value $8-$10.50 per 85 g bar, this many not be an everyday indulgence, but it’s something I’ll happily pay for frequently. It’s something sweet for my taste buds and the planet.
Askinosie Chocolate Website