Will Buy Again
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
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
I was originally introduced to the work of Lake Champlain Chocolates by my Mom, and I wish I could remember where and when she originally discovered them. All I can recall is her gushing to me about how good their chocolate was and how I needed to try it. I finally caved and bought some when I saw it in Whole Foods some time later, and when I tasted it, I was hooked.
I saw these earlier this year as one of their seasonal spring releases, and it was too pretty and tasty looking to pass up. The chocolates are so beautiful. They’re shaped like dogwood flowers and are wrapped by flavor in colorful foil. The actual chocolates is very dark in color and has a nice “clean” chocolatey aroma. I can’t imagine how they could be any more enticing.
Dark Mint (green): The bite is surprisingly firm and breaks off with a good “klok” sound. The mint flavor shows immediately yet it’s light and not overpowering at all. The chocolate provides sweetness and a good richness to the palette. What I thought was really cool was that there’s slivers/chunks of peppermint in here, like crushed pieces of candy cane. It delivers an unexpected burst of mintiness in some bites and the slightly chewy texture is a lot of fun.
Milk Chocolate Caramel (pink): The milk chocolate is wonderful and is the “standard” chocolate base for Lake Champlain: very creamy with dairy flavors and strong sweetness. The overall effect is extremely chocolatey and very satisfying satisfying. I’m reminded of good Swiss chocolate. The center holds the caramel which is very free flowing and drippy. The flavor is quite sweet with really strong notes of cooked sugar resulting in a toasty flavor. I also taste a strong hit of cream that gives it a little tang. The caramel center and chocolate exterior make a very sweet and dedicant combination here.
Milk Chocolate Hazelnut Praline (blue): This uses the same delicious milk chocolate as above but the the taste of the hazelnuts is immediately apparent. It’s as if Nutella has come and crashed milk chocolate’s party. It’s a wonderful combination, and dare I say, the whole thing feels smoother and richer because of it. This is hard for me to believe since Lake Champlain’s chocolate is so smooth to begin with. A lovely chocolate morsel to say the least.
These are awesome, no question about it. Even if the flavor selection doesn’t appeal to you, I can safely say that these also make excellent gifts. My Mom relies on me to give them to her.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Lake Champlain’s Milk Chocolate Flowers Webpage
“Cioccolato extra fondente 74% all-assenzio” reads the box of this chocolate bar. I don’t speak Italian, yet I knew immediately what this was when I saw it: absinthe dark chocolate. I’ve had liqueur flavors in chocolate before and I’ve had anise flavored chocolate before, but together? This is something I had to taste for myself.
This is made by Leone, a very well know Italian confectionery company. This bar is actually part of an absinthe line that they offer; including absinthe chocolate bonbons, pastilles and a bottle of the green stuff itself. As for this chocolate bar version, the packaging theme is very dark and mysterious with deep brown tones with copper accents and green detailing. It really delivers the odd mystique of absinthe, in a dark turn of the century like feel.
The back shows a very suggestive image of molten chocolate and some history on the chocolate (all in Italian). The ingredients list is simple: cocoa beans, cane sugar, cocoa butter, absinthe infusion, extracts and essences of aromatic herbs and plants, natural vanilla. There’s no funny business here.
You immediately you smell the anise when the opaque foil protecting the bar is opened. It’s pretty strong smell. The chocolate is very dark and smooth, with no gloss at all. It feels glassy smooth to the touch. The break is very hard and clean, save for a few random air bubbles.
The flavor is quite complex. There’s a very bright sweetness that rests at the base of the whole flavor. The strong, herbal anise flavor of the absinthe shows up almost immediately. It’s varies between intense and mild, allowing hints of mint, grassiness and fennel to appear. There’s no burn at all, just a mix of very strong herbal notes. The chocolate lends a great deep roasted richness to it all, staying grounded and strong and keeping the whole bar from tasting too medicinal. There’s a coolness to this bar too, and overall, I think this is like a very intense mint chocolate, with those extra anise flavors included.
I enjoyed this. I wish I bought more of them.
Rating: Will Buy Again
I’ve heard of these Cream Nut Clusters long before I ever found them to try. Like yesterday’s Tronky bar, they were something I discovered in the DiBruno Bros. store and as soon as I saw them, I snatched them us as if there were the last bit of food on earth. Yes, I was that excited to try them.
The Cream Nut Peanut Butter Clusters are made by Koeze Company, who specializes in making the infamous Cream Nut Peanut Butter. I’ve heard it’s the best peanut butter out there, but I haven’t tried it myself. As if my opinions on peanut butter on a candy blog would matter, anyways. These clusters use that peanut butter, blend it with white chocolate to make a creamy center, then layer it on fresh pecans before covering it all in dark chocolate. I’m drooling already.
They look similar to caramel turtles: a ploop with edges that curl under into a little mound. It’s large too, about 2 inches in diameter and 1/2 in tall. It smells chocolatey with a hint of coconut to it.
The first bite is terribly creamy. The chocolate is a good thickness and cleanly snaps when you bite into it. The peanut butter white chocolate center is terribly smooth and very sweet. The peanut butter flavor is not very strong as it’s been diluted by the white chocolate, but it still is the start of the whole candy. The pecan bits are a perfect size; not too big or small. They deliver a wonderful light nutty flavor with an incredibly fresh, meaty texture that’s crunchy at first then buttery smooth for the rest of the time.
The entire symphony of flavors works beautifully: the chocolate provides a deep, characteristic flavor which balances out the sweet creamy center and ends with the crunchy pecans. Think of this as a extreme quality Russell Stover creme bonbon or maybe what the Reeses’ Select Clusters should be like.
Rating: Will Buy Again