August 2009
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Bavarian Chocolate Bears

I got these Chocolate bears in a candy swap with a Bavarian friend on Flickr. They were a surprise to say the least, as I didn’t specifically request them. I know little of the confectionery found in Bavaria, so I figured a swap might give me a good idea of what I might find on candy shelves there.

I sadly can’t tell you much about the candy. The writing on the package is all a type of Bavarian German, which is something I don’t read or understand. Thankfully, a picture is worth a thousand words. So all I really need to see is a brown colored bear, and I feel safe in assuming I’m eating some sort of chocolate.

The package holds three of these chocolate bears, and they look exactly like the illustrations on the box. They’re even the same size! It’s rare that a package so accurately depicts the product inside. The bears are a nice brown color, and beautifully molded with cute nubbins for arms and legs, a smiling snout and a cute bow tie.

The flavor is…lacking to say the least. It’s only taste is of sweetness. I get no chocolate, no cream, no caramel, nothing. The texture is extremely slick and unnaturally greasy. I felt like I had a coating on my tongue long after I had swallowed the candy bear. I have a suspicion that this is mockolate, but there’s really no way of telling for sure considering my lack of language skills.

I’m happy to have tried these, but they’re nothing I’m interested in eating ever again.

Rating: Not Worth It


Not Worth It



Michel Cluizel 99% 85% Ganaches Box

Today’s review marks some firsts for me. Michel Cluizel, a famous french chocolate maker and chocolatier, was one of the first great chocolates I ever had the pleasure of tasting as I began my journey as a candy enthusiast. Along with that, I experienced many tasting firsts with his work: first “dark” milk chocolate, first single origin chocolate, and my first taste of a 99% chocolate.

I first had 99% truffle back in 2007 at the New York City Chocolate show. It was such a new things for me back them, and it was one of things I was most excited about discovering that day. I only had it once more after that, before discovering this beautiful tasting box of course, and that was when Michel Cluizel had a small chocolate shop in the back of ABC Carpets in New York.

Now, I was lucky enough to find a box of the 99% and the 85% truffles in a recent trip into Philadelphia. The box is gorgeous and slick with a matte black surface and white lettering. It describes itself as “Tasting box 8 ganaches dark chocolate” which is translated from the french written above it. What’s cool about this find is that it has a list on ingredients on the back, so I know exactly what makes these intense chocolate a complete masterpiece. Listed, is cocoa, cane sugar, anhydrous butter, cocoa butter, cream, sorbitol syrup and honey, coloring agents, whole milk powder, ginger, bourbon vanilla pod, spices. Unfortunately, it doesn’t separate the ingredients for the 99% and the 85% pieces. Interesting.


Michel Cluizel 99% 85% Ganaches

Th texture of these is just incredible. I haven’t really experiences a smoother and more rich ganache than these, unless of course you get them a few hours’ fresh. They’re velvety smooth and very thick on the tongue. You do sense the difference from the shell and the creamy interior, but they quickly melt together in the mouth, leaving a very seamless experience.

The flavors are bitter, but the butter and cream really cut it so it’s more enjoyable that you’d first think. I know 99% sounds very daunting! The 99% has acidic fruity notes, while still giving a full chocolatey taste. The 85% is milder with more caramel notes mixed with berries, it’s still a dark chocolate, but it’s a little creamier and sweeter. 

These are terribly luxurious, and even though they are little works of chocolate art, I can’t see myself buying them with any regularity. It has nothing to do with the quality of the product, which is superb, but more because of availability of funds and finding the product again.
Rating: Will Eat Again


Will Eat Again

Links Michel Cluizel Website



Hichew Daruma Cherry

I saved the oddest HiChew for the last of the reviews. This one has a pretty busy design, with a daruma doll and many scattered ume (or Japanese plum) blossoms. Since all the flavor descriptions are listed in kanji, I am not able to decipher it, and the lack of any food item on the wrapper doesn’t help me either. I went into trying this not knowing what to expect at all. 

Now I’m sure this is a pretty seasonal HiChew, as daruma dolls are meant for making wishes on, and ume blossoms are the symbol of spring. I’ve seen many candies with images of sakura and other Japanese cultural motifs on them, and have the flavor be something completely normal (the regular flavored Kit kats that come out in the spring immediately come to mind). Still, part of me cannot help but wonder if the flavor here is much more unusual than that. 

Inside, the chews are a pretty light pink. They have a light, floral smell. Now, I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s floral how some things taste floral, like some cheeses and vegetables and fruits. No, no. This smells like I had just buried my nose in a rose. It’s interesting.

Taking a bite into my first piece, the flavor is hard to describe. It’s got this strong, sour flavor that takes the forefront. It’s also vaguely fruity, and overall it just tastes of flowers. It has moments of tartness, and if you wait for it, it’s also a little salty. I think I’m onto what this flavor is trying to mimic, and it’s umeboshi, the very salty/sour Japanese pickled plum.

I finished my package, so it’s good, just unique. By far the strangest HiChew I’ve had to date.

Rating: Not Worth It


Not Worth It

Links HiChew Website


Hichew Strawberry Cheesecake

My second HiChew find from the store, and by far the most attractive of the bunch to me. Oh does this HiChew ever look tasty! Just look at the bright packaging and beautifully illustrated cheesecake slice. It caught my eye right away. The gorgeous red and pink colors accented by the little green leaves is just such a great color palette.

Ok, I’ll lay off my design gushing and get to the part we all really want to know.

The chews are light pink, almost white and smell more cheesy and tart than fruity to me. It’s almost is like clue cheese, as it comes off tart and a little stinky.

The flavor is really something. It has a delicate, fruity strawberry presence that’s very jammy and fresh. The cheesecake part is always present in the taste with it’s creamy, sweet and, well, cheesy flavors. As much as you might think, the cheese flavors aren’t of cream cheese. They’re much more savory like a Parmesan or Blue. I know it sounds odd, but that’s how it tastes, and it works. It maybe not read as “American” cheesecake, so maybe I need to go try the Japanese kind to see how it compares and how faithful this flavor is to it.

As odd as this flavor sounds, it was really a treat. I need to go back for more!

Rating: Will Buy Again


Will Buy Again

Links HiChew Website


Hichew Gold Apple

I love it when I step into an Asian market after a long hiatus and find lots of new and exciting things to try. This specific trip I found three new varieties of HiChew, one of my favorite Japanese candies ever, as you are all aware of by now. The first of these new HiChew is Gold Apple, which I am guessing is Engrish for “Golden Delicious”. Yet, the image on the wrapper shows red apples, so overall it’s very confusing.

The HiChew opens to reveal the chews all lined up in a perfectly organized row. The pieces smell like apple cider; fresh, juicy and full of that rounded apple flavor with an edge of tartness. The chews are a pretty light yellow in color, with a slightly darker center.

The flavor is light, appley and it’s very authentic. It reminds me of a Golden Delicious apple with subtle sweet flavors as opposed to granny smith which are powerful and tart. It’s extremely tasty and along with the great chew the pieces give, with all the extra saliva action, it really tastes like you’re eating fruit…just better because it’s candy. Ha ha.

These are awesome and if you’re not really big on apple flavors in candy like I am (I blame you Jolly Rancher!) then I encourage you to give these a go. They’ll change your mind.

Rating: Will Buy Again


Will Buy Again

Links HiChew Website

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