I found this gem in a very neglected dollar store in the middle of upstate New York. Sometimes, the places you find the candy is as interesting as the candy itself. These Haviland Wintergreen Patties sat on the shelf next to several candies that shouldn’t technically be sold anymore. We’re talking the likes of Marshmallow Take 5 and other candies from 2006. I was relieved to find a date, and a fresh one, on the back of this mysterious Wintergreen Patty. I decided to give it a home.
Another tidbit about my personal tastes: I’ve never been big on mint, peppermint, and spearmint. Especially when it’s mixed with other things, like chocolate. But wintergreen? I’m all over that stuff, I can’t get enough of it. So all the rules from my taste buds about minty things are out the window when wintergreen shows up. I love it that much!
I was perplexed why I hadn’t heard of this candy before, considering that I do make an effort to seek out wintergreen flavored things. Part of the answer is that Haviland is a subcategory of NECCO, which have a very interesting niche of products for the candy market. It immediately made sense in my mind; why it was so rare to find and of course in a place where people who’d remember it from childhood would possibly shop. I’d almost liken it to a regional candy in that respect.
When you open the package, you immediately you smell the wintergreen. The patty is large, 2 inches in diameter and about 1/3 inch thick. The chocolate is glossy and a nice rippled effect on top, like patterns on windblown sand. Breaking it in half, you can tell it’s dense as it has that thick “give” to it like a Mounds or Almond Joy. The center is an incredibly bright pink and it looks very striking against the dark chocolate.
Surprisingly the wintergreen smell doesn’t overpower the aroma of the chocolate, which is nice and sweet with notes of caramel. They blend beautifully together.
The wintetrgreen hits you right off in the first bite. It’s strong yet it’s not too much, and delivers that great minty, fresh, slightly spicy flavor. The taste does mellow and allows the chocolate to show the tastebuds some attention, and it comes across as nicely sweet and smooth with good notes of cocoa and a hint of coconut. I didn’t find this as off putting in terms of minty “fresh” intensity like a York Peppermint Patty, but this has a good level of freshness, sweetness, and then the chocolate to balance it all out. The texture is awesome as it’s thick and smooth with a slight graininess to it. It lasts a good time in the mouth if you just savor it slowly, which really adds to the satisfaction level.
So in conclusion: wintergreen+chocolate=YUM! Why isn’t there more of this out there?
Haviland Wintergreen Patties on the NECCO Website
Ferrero is an Italian confectioner know for their excellent line of candies that feature chocolate and hazelnuts. One of the most popular is Ferrero Rocher line that you can pretty much find everywhere. Ferrero is also the masterminds behind Nutella, which is something I cannot keep safely in my apartment. Tronky is one of their rarer bars, at least here in the United States. I first encountered it in the DiBruno Bros. store in Philadelphia, and I haven’t seen it since.
Tronky is a long, log shaped wafer with hazelnut chocolate creme and chopped hazelnut bits on the inside. It’s very light since the wafer makes up such a large majority of the bar . The wafer’s design its so cute too: it has a wood grain pattern molded in it so it’s stick-like and it’s really lovely (even though sticks aren’t that tasty…).
The wafter is light and bland, like most wafers are. It’s crunchy and soft and is a great texture. The chocolate creme on the inside is very smooth, dense, and is very similar to Nutella. The exception is you get these tiny hazelnut pieces in there, but more noticeably I don’t find the chocolate and hazelnut flavors to be very bold here.
These delicate flavors all work together very nicely and make Tronky quite delicious. The texture contrast between the light and crunchy and the dense creamy center is my favorite part. In fact, it reminds me very much of Manner biscuits, which are a longtime favorite of mine.
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
Like most every American kid, I grew up on Hershey’s chocolate. It was the chocolate bar to have with its iconic wrapper and powerful sweetness. It was the only chocolate acceptable to make S’mores with. Despite how my tastes have changed since the days of my youth, Hershey’s chocolate is still ingrained deeply into my sweets psyche. It plays an important role as a basis for all the chocolate I’ll experience for the rest of my life, whether I like it or not.
Chocolate is a thriving business and there’s always a demand to somehow re-invent it to increase sales. That is essentially what Hershey’s is doing here with their new line of Bliss chocolates. Not only are they trying to grab attention with a new brand and re-packaged look but they’re also trying to compete with the Dove Chocolate line. This move of Hershey’s to try and make a “premium” chocolate line is interesting to me, especially after their stance on changing the definition of chocolate.
The new Bliss chocolate come in large bags with the little individually foil-wrapped squares inside, very similar to how the Kisses are packaged. Depending on where you shop, you can find other flavors in the line. I recall seeing a Raspberry flavor in Target last week. I was lucky and stumbled across these mini packets in my grocery store so I could sample just a few without much risk.
Milk Chocolate: Immediately very soft and sweet. It’s creamy, light milky and caramel notes to it. Thankfully it doesn’t come across as waxy to me at all.
Milk Chocolate Meltaway: The texture is noticeable “fudgier” than the other milk chocolate; it feels thicker and more slippery in the mouth. There isn’t a “center” per se, like in a Lindt Lindor. I got no shell/creamy center separation as the chocolate just overall seemed softer. There’s more caramel notes here and a salty touch, but other than that there’s not much else that appears different to me from the regular milk chocolate.
Dark Chocolate: Pretty flavorless and waxy. There’s light chocolately notes, but they have an odd muskiness about them that’s very off-putting. That problem was all fixed when I paired it with a cup of coffee.
Considering what is trying to be accomplished, it’s a decent attempt on Hershey’s behalf. It’s still far from good enough to get me to buy it over something much better, such as Droste, Chocolove or Michel Cluizel (just to name a few!). The funny thing with chocolate is it’s really such an individual thing, so even though it’s not my chocolate Bliss, it might be yours.
Rating: Not Worth It
Scharffen Berger is one of the few, if not the first, American chocolate company to work from “bean to bar”. What does that mean you may ask? To put it simply, it means that the company oversees the whole chocolate production: from sourcing the beans to the molding and wrapping the final bar. This level of control allows the chocolate makers to assure that the chocolate is made to their level of taste and satisfaction. The results are usually a fantastic bar of chocolate.
I’ve known of Scharffen Berger for a long time as I’d often seen it in gourmet stores and the shelves of my local Whole Foods. I always considered them too easily available for me to make an impromptu buy, but I’d knew it’d happen someday when I felt like trying something new (which is all the time, but you know what I mean). I saw this little tasting kit and I knew this would be a perfect way to try out Scarffen Berger’s selection, so into my cart it went.
41% Milk: It has a nice color and the aroma is extremely decadent: sweet with notes of cream, caramel and vanilla. It reminds me of ice cream. The flavor is lovely; chocolatey and creamy with neither flavor dominating over the other. Between the two big players there, there’s hints of the caramel and vanilla to give it that extra sweetness and depth. The mouth feel is extremely silky too, very luxurious. One of the better milk chocolates I’ve had to date.
70% Bittersweet: I love bittersweet, so this will be interesting. It has a strong medium brown color which is a little on the darker side. Smells of cocoa, coffee, and wood. The flavor is very earthy at first, with notes of vegetables, wood and fungi. Then a caramel like sweetness blossoms and mellows the flavor a little until the finish when the earthy notes return. It’s very reminiscent of the jungle where the cacao comes from.
82% Extra Dark: Sharp, dark color with reddish undertones. Smells very bright and fruity with subte notes of cherries and coffee. It’s a lovely aroma, which is also surprisingly pretty sweet smelling. The snap is really hard: loud and clean showing the good tempering of the chocolate. The flavor is very complex. It starts off with light cocoa flavors, then toward the middle bright sour notes of cherries and green coffee burst forward. Those flavors linger and a dry finish comes from under them and washes it all away in a cocoa like aftertaste. Beginners might be put off toward the bitterness, but I found the notes nicely controlled and flavorful. I enjoyed it.
This is nice to try so I could get an idea of what the range of the chocolate coming from Scharffen Berger. It’s a good step for beginners as it gives the opportunity taste the differences between the different cacao percentages. I liked how I know what to expect from them in the “mix in” bars and in their future products. A good chocolate that’s worth returning to every so often.
Rating: Will Eat Again