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
Sometimes I come across a candy and I don’t really know what to make of it. The Clif Shot Bloks are a good example of this. They’re sold as an energy option for endurance athletes to eat for their training and events. The thing that interests me about them is that they’re gummis. Technically that means they are an energy candy, but what exactly is that? Is it still candy if it’s meant for something else then eating for pleasure?
I am torn on the issue of candy as athletic fuel. Granted, it’s well known scientific fact that sugar is a fast way to get an energy fix, which is necessary for many of the athletes who use these sort of products. It’s also a given that you’d want these products to taste good, too. So it’s really logical to make these energy supplements to taste like candy. Here lies the problem though: can these energy products really taste like candy? Would you eat them if you didn’t need the energy fix? I was curious to find out.
Strawberry: The shape of these are very large, about 1oz apiece. They’re square and reminds me of the approximate space and size of a standard chocolate bonbon. They’re semi-opaque, with a deep berry like pink color. The flavor is wonderful, especially considering this is meant purely as a form of quick-energy and not as something to savor. It tastes intensely of strawberry with a very thick, jam-like flavor. I also get some tartness in there, and it comes through as tasting like fresh apple cider. it’s so good. The texture is nice too. Thick, your teeth slice though it in the nicest way. It’s a little sticky, but only in your hands. The chew is firm yet quick, since you don’t want to be spending time chewing when you’re trying to deliver glucose to your muscles. What can I say, I’m impressed!
Cran-Razz: These are much darker than the strawberry, a very deep opaque berry purple. The taste is very jammy, but very bland. I get light notes of raspberry, but no hint of cranberry, not even a tart edge, to be found. It reminds me of how watered down juice tastes.
Cola: A nice deep brown color and looks yellow ish toward the ends where the gummi is a little translucent. It has an odd smell like the other, oddly fruity and a little salty. The flavor is a very spicy cola flavor, which is sweet and earthy with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and a twist of lemon. These have a very strong bitter aftertaste to them which I’m not too fond of though, which is a killjoy for me. Kinda like drinking a soda that’s gotten flat. It just feels like something is off.
As a workout boost these are a great option. But as candy? Personally, I wouldn’t eat them as such.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Shot Bloks at the Clif Website
I recently read Hilary Liftin’s book “Candy and Me” which is an autobiographical story about her love affair with candy. Her favorite throughout the story is Wonka’s Bottle Caps, which I admit is a candy that I don’t have much experience with. Therefore, I decided it was worth checking out.
In essence Bottle Caps are soda flavored compressed dextrose tablets. The cute little discs that have the fluted edges so they look like the metal caps on glass soda bottles back in the good ‘ol days. The cover of the package shows these goofy looking Bottle Caps with googly eyes and it looks like one is even about to raspberry us (at least it looks like it to me). The colors are not very intense with a chalky appeareance. The colors are light purple, light brown, light orange and a surprisingly deep raspberry pink color.
Purple: My guess of grape soda was spot on (what else could it have been, really?). The flavor was pretty mild, but definitly of grape soda. I didn’t get that spicy soda kick from it which was disappointing. I chewed the tablet in hopes of releasing more flavor, but it didn’t deliver. It was just mildly sweet with a little tartness at the end, but overall disappointly bland.
Pink: I had no idea what to expect from this flavor. Pink soda? It was immediately clear once I popped one into my mouth. Cherry. It had a very artificial, slightly tart cherry flavor. It was more flavorful than the grape (which isn’t a feat really) yet it didn’t remind me of soda at all. I felt like I just chewed a cherry Tums or something.
Orange: This flavor was another no brainer. This was very much like orange soda, except for the “cool” flavor and texture coming from the dextrose. It was orangey, very Tang like with a good mix of tart and sweet.
Brown: I was expecting this to be a cola flavor, so imagine my surprise when it turned out to be root beer! Yay! It had an awesome old fashioned flavor with great spicy, woodsy notes with a good wintergreen kick. Easily the best of the bunch and hands down my favorite.
I don’t think I’ll ever pick pick these again unless they start making packets that are just the root beer flavor. Now there’s an idea, hrmmm…
Rating: Might Eat Again
Wonka Candy 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
The Hershey’s Symphony line of chocolate bars was released back in 1989, just in time for me to catch the commercials during my after school cartoons. These bars are meant to be more “premium” than the regular Hershey bar with creamier, richer chocolate that, well, feels like a symphony in your mouth.
There are only two bars in the line; a Milk Chocolate and a Milk Chocolate with Almonds and Toffee. There’s been rumors that with he release of Hershey’s Bliss, the Symphony bars are going to gradually be phased out. I saw this as an opportunity to try these bars in case they do disappear, so I did some hunting to track these babies down.
Symphony Almonds and Toffee: The wrapper has a blue color scheme and the expiration date reads 2009, so I know it’s at least fresh. Looking at the ingredients I’m immediately annoyed to see PGPR listed. Hershey’s has a nasty habit of using this stuff in their chocolate in recent years. It allows them to use less cocoa butter, but still keep that slippery mouth feel. I digress….
The bar smells lovely once unwrapped: milky, a little nutty and very sweet. The back of the bar is bumpy showing the almond and toffee bits while the front is very traditional looking with the standard rectangles with the Hershey’s name printed in them. The break is very,very soft; almost fudgy. The chunks of almonds and toffee are a reasonable size from looking at the pieces.
The flavor is is very punchy: the sweetness of the chocolate is cloying and has a creamy milkiness. This is cut by the nuttiness of the almonds and then the final kick of the toffee: extra sweet, with a good caramelized flavor and a super crispy crunch. Aside from the chocolate lacking “chocolate” flavor, I have little to complain about. It’s very tasty, also a little “moreish”.
Symphony Milk Chocolate: This is the single serving bar and once opened you immediately notice a difference in presentation. Where the other was more the form of a normal Hershey’s bar, this is thicker with the bar split into two rows of slightly raised squares with “Symphony” written on them. The color also seems much lighter to me. The aroma is also very sweet with a solid creamy scent with notes of vanilla and caramel.
The flavor is bland at first. The chocolate doesn’t really feel creamy, but instead it’s smooth with a subtle grain. The flavor appears more as it melts giving notes of milk and sweetness, but not much else. There are moments where I’d get an strange note of fruit or bubblegum but it soon vanishes as another wave of sweet rushed over me. I’m not impressed buy the super sweetness (what are they hiding?) and lack of complexity. Not too impressed with this, give me the almond toffee one any day.
I wish Hershey’s would drop the Bliss chocolate and just stick with the Symphony Almond Toffee. It’s the best of the Hershey’s chocolate bars I’ve had to date.
Rating: Might Eat Again
Hershey’s Symphony Webpage