When I heard that Hershey’s would be closing down two of it’s subsidiary artisanal chocolatiers, I knew I had to make the effort to try them before it was too late. The two companies facing extinction are Scharffen Berger and Joseph Schmidt Confections, both of whom were independent until Hershey’s bought them out in 2005. The whole thing is quite sad really.
I could go on a rant on my extreme distaste of this situation, but I’ll save my breath and your time. You can read the history of the company here at Wikipedia, who does it more succinctly than I could here.
I was lucky to find this collection of Joseph Schmidt’s truffles at Wegman’s during their big post Valentines Day sales. Since they were on sale, I figured it was a good of a time as any to give this dying breed of chocolate a taste test. I would have been tow lazy to put an order in on the website as it is, so it works out better this way.
The truffles (I’d prefer to call them bonbons, but the website refers to them as truffles, so I digress) are gorgeous to look at. The box protects each one beautifully, with each having it’s own well to sit in to keep the pieces of shuffling around. They are all unique, no two look alike. The only similarities they share are the shape: a large sound dome with a flat bottom. The tag lists the flavor, but no key saying which was which.
All Dark: Plain looking with dark cross-crossed lines on them. It’s just a dark creamy bittersweet chocolate with nice notes of cream, caramel, raspberries and coconut.
All Milk: Milk chocolate with white lines and dots on top. The milk chocolate is awesome: sweet, creamy, with nice notes of caramel, coffee. The ganache echoes the flavors to the shell, but is much milder and creamier. Loved this one, so delicious in its simplicity.
Champagne: Milk chocolate with a creamy colored spot on the very top. It immediately has an sweet, alcoholic flavor to it: tasting lightly of grapes and strawberries that mixes in with the smooth milk chocolate ganache. Something about the flavor reminds me of chocolate ice cream.
Sea Salt Caramel: Dark chocolate with a little hollow in the very top filled with salt crystals. The inside tastes more fruity than of caramel. It’s very rich and interestingly has plum notes to it.
Wild Strawberry: Milk chocolate with a pink dot on top. The flavor is immediately fruity and jam-like. It’s very sweet yet has a nice tart edge to it.
Dark Raspberry: Plain with multiple white lines crossing at the top. The ganache has a wonderfully tart, strawberry jam flavor to it. It’s really more tart than sweet and it really overpowers the chocolate. I’m surprised at the tartness of it. It’s very flavorful ad juicy and pairs well with the chocolate shell.
Hazelnut: The easiest of them all to distinguish: milk chocolate with a raw hazelnut plopped on top and drizzled with lines of chocolate. The milk chocolate is smooth, creamy and sweet. The ganache has a nutty, almost alcoholic flavor. I expected something more like Nutella, but it’s so far from it. It’s more roasted nut flavors and cream, like a hazelnut coffee.
Grand Marnier(r): The shell is dark chocolate with the design of a white chocolate X on top. The dark chocolate is deep, rich and sweet. The ganache center is smooth and creamy, and I get a nice, mellow orange flavor to it. No hint of alcohol of all.
Irish Cream: Mottled with white chocolate and darker chocolate flecks on top, so it reminded me of a bird’s egg. Quite pretty. The ganache inside is perfectly smooth and carried the Irish Cream flavor slightly. It doesn’t has a slight alcoholic burn to it, and that nice, lightly coffee boozy flavor I associate with Bailey’s. Lovely, really nicely balanced with the flavors of the smooth chocolate.
Tiramisu: Milk chocolate with white chocolate and dark chocolate lines and dots. This one I couldn’t tell if it was meant to be tiramisu or champagne, but this had a tinge more coffee flavor to it, so I decided it must be the former. You taste the alcohol with this fruity bitterness and a hint of coffee. It pairs beautifully with the dark chocolate ganache and the milk chocolate shell.
Double Latte: Beautiful white chocolate shell with a large milk chocolate spot on top. Smells extremely milky. The flavor is strong of coffee with the ganache tasting of a smooth, creamy, medium-bodied roast. So fresh and terribly flavorful.
Pomegranate: This one is creamy and milky looking on top, like cream just poured into coffee. The milk chocolate shell is hard with a nice creamy, sweet flavor. The ganache is smooth and chocolatey, and has a nice, lightly tart red fruity flavor to it. It’s hard to really identify pomegranate as an iconic flavor, but this does read a fruity and exotic, so I think the essence here is nicely captured.
Even though this is a Valentines Day box, you can find the same flavors in the Easter assortments. The 30th of June will be the last day of sales, with Easter being their last season. If my descriptions enticed you in the least, I recommend giving them a try before they disappear forever.
Rating: Will Buy Again
Links Joseph Schmidt Website
Many know Jelly Belly for their jelly beans, especially around this time of year. What many don’t know is that Jelly Belly makes other candies besides their signature beans, especially around Easter. They can be hard to find, but I have come across these other confections in Bed Bath and Beyond, Marshalls, Ross, TJ Maxx and some specialty stores (thankfully the website has an item locator to help with this). I found this bag of their Speckled Chocolate Malted Eggs in Marshalls when I was there shopping for a new skillet.
I’m no stranger to these eggs. I reviewed them when I was writing for CandyAddict, and enjoyed them very much. Now that some time has passed, I wanted to give them another go and see if they still held up to my more seasoned candy tasting palette. Plus the colors are so pretty, how could I resist?
The eggs are really stunning with a light, sweet smell. The shells are smooth and matte in color. They each have a unique speckled pattern on them with green, magenta, blue and yellow.
The first bite reveals that the shells are wonderfully crisp and crunchy. One egg can be two bites or a single bite if you like to get a mouthful of malt like I do.
I’m happy to report that the whole egg, not just the shells, is very crunchy. The malt center is a key player in that. The center is wonderfully strong and malty. The chocolate between the shell and malt center adds sweetness and not much flavor. Depending on the color the shell adds subtle flavor too, white is more vanilla, purple grape, pink strawberry, yellow lemon and green lime. It’s not enough that it takes of the whole egg, but instead adds an extra level to the malt interior, just enough to keep things interesting.
I like these, but as much of a fan of malt balls that I am, I find that after my initial tasting, I didn’t feel compelled to go back and finish my bag. I don’t think there’s a big enough chocolate hit to these as I prefer. Yet, if I found these in my Easter basket, I’d certainly scarf them down with no hesitation.
Rating: Will Eat Again
Links Jelly Belly Website
Peeps are one of those candies that you immediately associate with Easter. Or, at least, I do, even though I never got them in my Easter Basket as a kid. Peeps are the kind of candy that you either love them to pieces or you don’t care much for them, I’ve found little gray area in between. The people who do love Peeps almost have formed a cult following for them. I’m sure a book could be written by fan as to the best way to eat them (fresh, stale, microwaved, toasted, etc) or what to do with them (make s’ mores, decorate cupcakes, make art and crafts, scientific research, etc). There isn’t a more versatile candy around, it seems.
I prefer to take photos of them myself, like these, er, peeps over at Flickr.
The concept of Peeps are pretty simply, they’re marshmallow with a crunchy colored sugar shell. Most are shaped like baby chicks, but as the years have passed new shapes have been introduced. At Easter you can find the chicks along with bunny peeps. New colors also have been introduced, and you can find them in all colors of the rainbow now. I recall red ones that were a Target exclusive last year, and this year I saw orange ones on the shelves in Wal-Mart. True to real chickens and rabbits, the peeps seem to have no problem multiplying to take up more shelf space each year.
I do like the little Peeps simply because they’re so cute. The eyes on them are hand painted, and I especially love the ones that I find a little cross-eyed.
The texture of these really depends on how fresh you get them and how fresh you like to eat them. When brand new, they’re very soft and pillow like a marshmallow should be, with their sugar coating a bit crunchy. The staler they get, which is how many prefer to eat them, the peeps get firmer and chewier. It really all depends on the maturity of your peep.
The flavor is lightly sweet and tastes rather bland. They don’t even taste like marshmallow to me, which usually have a hint of vanilla to them. These just taste sweet and starchy, and forgive me for saying so, but I’m reminded of communion wafers.
I’m trying to expand my Peep eating horizon and have let those I’d taken out for my photos to sit outside the package and gradually get stale in my living room. I’m trying them day-by-day to see exactly how stiff and crunchy I like them. I find that I prefer the texture of Peeps over the flavor, which is why once these are gone I probably won’t buy more unless I have the urge for another photo shoot.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Links Peep’s Website
Peeps at Wikipedia
I can’t remember where or when it was that I first heard of the Kinda Surprise Egg. My best guess is that it was during college, and one of my friends introduced me to them. What I was immediately stuck by was how great the idea of it was and how silly it is that they’re not available in the United States (and now sadly, other countries are following suit.) due to a supposed choking hazard of the toy. I find that silly and disappointing, since the Kinder Surprise is such a fun and unique candy. It’d be a shame to have it disappear in this over-protective modern world we live in.
The Kinder Egg (kinder meaning “child” in German) is made by Ferrero and is about double the size of a real egg. I’ve seen them sold as is or in a box or three or more. It’s construction sonsists of the chocolate egg surrounding that iconic bright yellow capsule that holds the toy. The chocolate has two layers: the outside is milk chocolate and the inside white “lining”...aka mockolate. The egg is easily broken open since the chocolate is soft, and it tastes very sweet with that European dry milk powder flavor. I find that it gives me a small throat burn, but it doesn’t bother me too much.
The yellow capsule pops open under firm pressure revealing the instructions and pieces of the toy, which almost always require assembly. There’s also usually a paper that has the website and a coupon code printed on it for a chance to win prizes. I admit I never bothered with that, though.
Wow! Look, I got a spy kit! I now can use my belt-clipping mirror to spy on my roommate!
A few of the more memorable toys I’ve gotten from are a German gingerbread-styled house (to line up with other houses, oh yay!), a whale-shaped car meant for driving on the moon (say what?) and a figurine of a “handsome” prince which was actually rather terrifying. You can see many other toys in the Flickr Kinder Surprise Pool.
I find myself buying these whenever I see them because I love the cheesy toy so much. It never fails to make me laugh. Regardless if I keep it for myself or give it to a friend, it’s fun embodied in a chocolate candy egg.
Rating:Will Buy Again
Links Kinder Surprise Website
I love retro and classic candy. I was a really big history nerd back in High School, so of course any sort of candy that has a long standing tradition or story behind it would make my little heart go pitter-patter. Sadly, most of these types of candies are very hard to find. Some are only carried by the most out of the way stores, while others can only be found in certain regions of the country. Still, that doesn’t keep me from scheming of hunting them all down and trying them.
Atkinson’s Coconut Long Boys are one of those classic candies I’ve always heard about but never actually saw for sale. It was only when I was in downtown Burbank did I finally locate them. It was a well stocked candy shop where they had these tucked into a bulk bin. Trying to hide my extreme delight from the cashier, I didn’t want to scare her, I bought a handful to try once I got home.
So what is a Coconut Long Boy? Well, they’re caramels that are shaped into long cylinders. They come wrapped in brightly colored wax paper that reminds me of ketchup and mustard. These Coconut Long Boys have family too, as there’s chocolate and junior varieties available too. I sadly didn’t find these at said store, they must have been separated at birth.
The Long Boys look like any typical light colored caramel. The texture is pleasant: thankfully they’re not sticky in the mouth, even thought it did stick to the wrapper a little. They’re chewy similar to Sugar Babies where chew is long, firm and grainy. You can taste and feel the flakes of the coconut too, which is a nice touch. It’s a nice sweet coconut flavor, not artificial at all and it’s not overly sweet. As for the caramel flavor, it’s certainly creamy but it doesn’t have the burnt sugar or cream notes I’m used to. It’s all overshadowed by the coconut.
That being said, they’re really tasty. I enjoyed them a lot and I understand much better why these have stayed on the candy scene for so long.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Links Atkinson’s Long Boys Webpage
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