Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mint Chocolate M&Ms

Hi guys! I've just found out this morning that I'm going on a short trip, so here's a rushed review of my last Christmas product. I'll be back sometime next week -- probably on the 2nd -- and this blog will have a whole new face for the new year!

The M&Ms line has expanded lately. Dark and Dark Peanut have been added as regular flavors, and we’ve also seen a few limited editions pop up, such us Razzberry, Cherry Cordial, and this Mint Chocolate M&Ms.

Being a Holiday Mix, these come in red and two shades of green. They are a little bigger than plain M&Ms, being close in size to the Peanut Butter, I think. They are shaped irregularly, and in the picture you can see my favorite little conjoined Mint M&M.

They are a mint infused milk chocolate M&M, and honestly, that’s the best way to describe them. I think they taste like an Andes Mint, but I don’t have any on hand to do an actual comparison.

I liked these a lot better than Hershey’s attempt at mint infused milk chocolate. In retrospect, the mint probably doesn’t do well with that Hershey’s tang.

I think these are a nice seasonal item. I wouldn’t want to have them all the time, but popping up once a year is fine.

Ingredient Watch: All clear.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is about 1/4 cup of M&Ms. Each serving contains 210 calories, 9g of fat, 26g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Rating: 7/10

Name: Mint Chocolate M&Ms
Brand: Mars
Store: Target
Price: $2.00 (11oz)

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Goodies

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas! No review today, sorry, but here are some pictures of what I've been making and baking over the past few days. Nothing too fancy, but recipes will come in the future.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Russell Stover Christmas

We’ve already had a Russell Stover Halloween; now it’s time for a Russell Stover Christmas. The products that I reviewed for Halloween are available in Santa forms, but I chose a few new products this time. There are still a few varieties that I passed on though. I guess we’ll get to those for Easter!

Coconut Wreath: I wouldn’t call this a wreath. I would call it an unattractive (but tasty) dollop of milk chocolate and toasted coconut. I usually don’t care for coconut. I like the flavor but find the stringy texture unappealing. However, the coconut here is toasted and crispy, which lends a great crunchy texture. This is a simple, sweet mix of chocolate and coconut, and I really liked it! (140 calories, 9g of fat, 11g of sugar, 2g of protein.)

Rating: 8/10

Chocolate Marshmallow Snowman: This petite snowman is chocolate marshmallow covered in milk chocolate. The chocolate marshmallow has a mild cocoa flavor and is super soft, smooth, and springy. It’s less sweet than a typical marshmallow, but the bar’s sweetness is kicked up by the milk chocolate coating.

Unfortunately, this contains sorbitol, an artificial sweetener, which really irks me. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think that artificial sweeteners belong in candy. Of course, neither do partially hydrogenated oils and high fructose corn syrup. But I’m sensitive to artificial sweeteners, so the inclusion is a little more bothersome -- I didn’t bother to read the ingredients until after I ate this. Still, it’s Christmas, so I’ll give it the rating I would have given it sans sorbitol. I’m sure some of you don’t care about it! (100 calories, 3g of fat, 13g of sugar, 1g of protein.)

Rating: 7/10

Marshmallow Santa in Dark Chocolate: When I reviewed Halloween’s Buzzard Egg, I mentioned that I would like to see a dark chocolate covered marshmallow. Well, here it is! I think that Santa shape here is actually pretty well done. I can definitely make out his outline.

Again we’ve got soft, springy marshmallow. One thing I like about Russell Stover’s holidays products is that they are fresh. This really shows in their marshmallow products. (I also like the line because it’s very cheap -- 39 cents a piece!)

The marshmallow is sweet, but the semi-sweet chocolate tones it down. It’s not nearly as sweet as the milk chocolate covered marshmallow is. The chocolate comes though more, lending a better balance.

However, again with the sorbitol. Again I’ll let it slide for the rating. I should know the read the ingredients before I eat something. This is something I do with everything I consume except for candy. I say I’ll try any candy once, but artificial sweeteners are a no go for me. (So much for the Peppermint Peeps!) (110 calories, 3g of fat, 14g of sugar, 1g of protein.)

Rating: 8/10

Brand: Russell Stover
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.39 each

Monday, December 24, 2007

Peeps Cutouts

Just Born has been expanding its Peeps line over the past few years. You can find them for all the major candy holidays, not just Easter. They’ve also added flavors: Cocoa Cats, Peppermint Stars, and even Cookie Cutouts. Last year was the first time I saw these cookie flavored Peeps. I bought a pack because they looked like good gingerbread house occupants. But I ended up baking cookie people for the gingerbread house, and these Peeps sat around into January. I almost threw them away. I like Peeps, but cookie flavored? Weird.

I decided to give them a try anyway. I was horrified. Horrified that I actually liked them. Yes, I liked them quite a bit. So much that I bought another package this year.

That being said, I don’t think that these really taste like cookies. They taste like a mix of artificial vanilla and almond. Yes, artificial… so artificial, but man, I like them. Don’t ask me why.

Like all Peeps, these are soft and springy marshmallow with a sparkly sugar coating. These are colored all the way through, unlike most Peeps, which are white with colored sugar.

Come on, they’re cute. Admit it.

Ingredient Watch: Nothing suspicious. These are basically just sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin. Not remotely healthy, but hey, fat free!

Nutrition Breakdown: Servings size is two peeps. There are 100 calories, 0g of fat, 24g of sugar, and 1g of protein per serving.

Bottom Line: I should not adore these.. But I do!

Rating: 7/10

Name: Peeps Cutouts
Brand: Just Born
Store: Target
Price: $0.99

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Hershey's Mint Miniatures

The Mint Miniatures are milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and white confection infused with peppermint flavor. They smelled strongly of mint, even when they were still sealed inside the bag. I stored them separate from my other candy because I was afraid the mint would infect the other goods.

Mint Milk Chocolate: These are very strongly minted. Seriously. The blast of cool peppermint is really too much for me. I didn’t enjoy the intense mint mixed with so much sweet chocolate. Rating: 4/10

Mint Sweet Chocolate: The mint flavor is more subtle here. Mint seems to compliment darker chocolate better, and this is much more pleasant that the milk variety. Rating: 5/10

Mint White Crème with Candy Bits: These are basically flat Candy Cane Kisses studded with red and green nonpareils, so I’ll just refer you back to that review. I know I gave those a better rating, but I'm sick of white confection.. I want some white chocolate! Rating: 6/10

Overall, I wasn’t too crazy about these, which I think is reflected in the quick review. The best tasting were the white, but I only had a couple because, like the Candy Cane Kisses, they are made with inferior ingredients.

Nutrition Breakdown: Servings size is 4 pieces. Each serving contains 170 calories, 10g of fat, 20g of sugar, and 3g of protein.

Name: Hershey’s Miniature Mint Collection
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Walgreens
Price: $1.00 (8.5oz)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nestle Meets Santa Clause is Comin' to Town

Santa Clause Is Comin’ To Town is one of the classic stop-motion Christmas specials -- you know, the one with the Burgermeister Meisterburger. I’m not exactly sure how it ties in with Nestle, but let’s just go with it.

These come in Nestle Crunch and Butterfinger. The wrappers feature jolly old Santa, a few snowflakes, and the North Pole pole. Nostalgic. The chocolate medallions also feature Santa, which is a little weird. I feel bad eating this with Santa’s little molded face staring back at me. I don’t want to end up on the naughty list!

Butterfinger: Regular Butterfingers are covered in lackluster mockolate. This however, is made with real milk chocolate. That’s a necessity, because this is mostly chocolate. There are plenty crispy little Butterfinger bits that bring the salty peanut butter flavor, but it’s nothing close to the full on peanut butter blast of the Butterfinger.

I like this and I’m glad to have tried it with real milk chocolate. That being said, Nestle chocolate isn’t a favorite of mine, so I feel pretty ‘meh’ towards it.

This contains partially hydrogenated oils (most likely in the Butterfinger bits). The label does note that this “adds a trivial amount of trans fat.” So a slight tip of the hat to Nestle for at least noting that. (160 calories, 8g of fat, 18g of sugar, and 2g of protein per medallion)

Rating: 6/10

Nestle Crunch: So, this is pretty much a round Nestle Crunch; we’ve got the familiar sweet Nestle chocolate and crispy rice bits. I may say that I’m not crazy about Nestle chocolate -- and I’m not -- but the Nestle Crunch always wins me over in the end. It’s slightly malty, and I love malt. It’s familiar and good, but still, I want more from it. With a little more flavor, a little more maltiness, I would reach for these more often.

To it’s credit, this is free from any suspect ingredients. (170 calories, 9g of fat, 19g of sugar, and 1g of protein per medallion)

Rating: 7/10

Name: Santa Clause Is Comin’ To Town Butterfinger and Nestle Crunch
Brand: Nestle
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.50

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

KitKat Holiday Assorment

I’ve always underappreciated the KitKat. It’s never been a go-to candy for me, but every time I have one I remember how good they are. After eating my way through this assortment I’m a bit more interested in the KitKat and the wacky flavors you can find across the world. This assortment is pretty classic though: milk, dark, and white KitKats.

Milk Chocolate (red): This is your classic KitKat, but the smaller size throws off the proportions a little. There is more chocolate to wafer here, but that’s certainly not a bad thing. It’s sweet and perfect with a cup of coffee or tea. Scrumptious! Rating: 9/10

Mildly Sweet Dark Chocolate (dark brown): I’ve never had a Dark KitKat, but I’ve heard people rave about it. I have to admit that I was a little under-whelmed by this. It was good, but I wasn’t blown away. The initial flavor reminded me strongly of coffee, but that morphed into a semi-sweet chocolate chip flavor, which overtook the wafer. I think this would be very nice in a regular size, with more wafer to chocolate. Rating: 7/10

White Candy (white): Note that this is white confection, not white chocolate. That’s because it’s made with various vegetable oils, not pure cocoa butter. I’ve come to expect that with most mass-produced white products. Still, I did enjoy these. It has a strong vanilla flavor that works well with the wafers. Rating: 7/10

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 5 pieces. Each serving contains 210 calories, 12g of fat, 20g of sugar, and 3g of protein.

Name: KitKat Assorted Minis
Brand: Hershey’s
Store: Target
Price: $1.66 (11oz)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Snickers Nutcracker

I picked this up with the Snickers Crème Pumpkin in mind. This is labeled Snickers Nutcracker, with no trace of the word crème in sight. Would it contain nougat or not? I figured that the odds were 75% in favor of there being no nougat and… there was no nougat. As with the Crème Pumpkin, this is a nougat-less, extra sweet Snickers. Yummy!

Ingredient Watch: Partially hydrogenated soybean oil in the caramel.

Nutrition Breakdown: Once again, there are no nutrition facts on the individual pieces. Boo. I did look at a multi-pack in the store to get the calorie count… but I forgot to write it down. I'm pretty sure it was 140 calories per Nutcracker, but don’t hold me on that.

Rating: 8/10

Name: Snickers Nutcracker
Brand: Mars
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.50

Friday, December 14, 2007

The girl bakes! Sweet Cornbread

With all of my final papers, projects, and exams, I haven't had time to bake since Thanksgiving! Fortunately, now that the semester is finished, it is time for the Christmas baking to begin. I haven't gotten into the kitchen yet though, so today I'll share the recipe for the sweet cornbread that I made for Thanksgiving.

1 c flour
1 c. yellow cornmeal
3/4 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 egg
2/3 c. plain yogurt
1/3 c. milk
1/2 c. oil
1 tbsp. honey

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl combine the egg, yogurt, milk, oil, and honey. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. (Don't over-mix – it will be a lumpy batter.) Pour into a greased 9 in. round pan and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

I adapted this recipe from several different ones that I found across the web. It turned out quite well. It was great with a little butter for breakfast! I'm sure you can also makes this into muffins or a loaf.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Fannie May Pixie

Fannie May is a Chicago-based candy company. One of their bestsellers is the Pixie, which is pecans and caramel surrounded by milk chocolate. It’s basically a big (1.5 oz) turtle. These aren’t a seasonal product, but the wrapper is decorated with festive holly leaves. I’m not sure if they sell them individually wrapped outside of the holiday season.

The caramel is soft, thick, and matte. It slightly buttery, but really lacking in burnt sugar notes. I’d like a darker flavor. Underneath the thick caramel layer are several large pecan pieces. Unfortunately, the premium sized pieces lack in other departments. They are mushy, not crunchy at all. Nor are they buttery, which is how I would describe a good toasted pecan. The whole thing was pretty lackluster.

Ingredient Watch: I spy partially hydrogenated oils in the caramel.

Nutrition Breakdown: Each Pixie contains 180 calories, 12g of fat, 14g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Bottom Line: A bland take on a turtle.

Rating: 5/10

Name: Pixie
Brand: Fannie May
Store: Walgreens
Price: $0.99

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Nestle Tollhouse Jingles

Jingles are Nestle’s seasonal bell-shaped chocolates. They come in Nestle Crunch, Butterfinger, and Nestle Tollhouse flavor. I picked up the Tollhouse because I wanted to try something a little different. Nestle describes these as “cookie pieces in real milk chocolate.”

These are little molded bells dressed in red, green, and gold wrappers. (The gold aren’t pictured because my cousins got into the bag and picked them all out.) The chocolate is typical of what you get with a Nestle Crunch, which, for me, is pretty nondescript. I can’t say that I’m overly fond of it, but it’s not bad. The little cookie bits don’t really add much flavor, just crunchiness. Really, this is like a Nestle Crunch with chunkier bits.

Ingredient Watch: We've got partially hydrogenated oils near the end of the list.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 5 pieces. Each serving has 200 calories, 11g of fat, 22g of sugar, and 2g of protein.

Bottom Line: These are fine, but are somehow not as satisfying as a Nestle Crunch.

Rating: 6/10

Name: Nestle Tollhouse Jingles
Brand: Nestle
Store: Target
Price: $1.66

Monday, December 10, 2007

Candy Cane Kisses

I heard a lot of good things about the Candy Cane Kisses last year, but I never got around to buying them. This year I made sure to pick up a bag. They really are quite cute. Red stripes stand out against white confection, which is dotted with red nonpareils. They are dressed in silver foil wrappers adorned with red canes.

The white confection is sweet and tastes strongly of vanilla. The infused peppermint flavor is refreshing and festive, but not overwhelming. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed, because I expected candy cane bits, not nonpareils. But the nonpareils add a nice crunch, and don’t stick in your teeth like candy cane bits probably would.

Ingredient Watch: These aren't white chocolate, as they aren't made with pure cocoa butter. There's a good amount of palm, shea, sunflower, and safflower oil here. These also contain PGPR.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 9 pieces. There are 220 calories, 12g of fat, 25g of sugar, and 4g of protein per serving.

Bottom Line: Tasty and fairly addicting. Too bad these aren't pure cocoa butter; a good melt would blow me away.

Rating: 7/10

Name: Candy Cane Kisses
Brand: Hershey's
Store: Target
Price: $2.00 (11oz)

Sunday, December 9, 2007

'Tis NOT the season for eggs.

I recently covered the Cadbury Ornament Creme Egg for Sugar Savvy. I personally think it's a cop-out, but I can forgive that. At least they are trying to disguise it as a Christmas product.

Then this weekend I found myself in Walgreens, where I noticed a display of Cadbury Orange Creme Eggs. There was nothing ornamenty or Christmasy about them. I found this odd, but brushed it off. Then I noticed a display of plain old Cadbury Creme Eggs in their regular Easter garb. This just didn't seem right. Were they introducing these year-round or were they really putting out Easter products this early? Shaking my head, I proceeded to the checkout counter (with no Cadbury eggs in hand, mind you). To my horror, next to the gum was a display of Snickers Sport Eggs.

Since when are we putting out Easter candy before Christmas? It's bad enough that Christmas candy makes it's appearance the day after Halloween. But we've still got Christmas and Valentine's to get through before Easter. I don't understand the need to rush into these things.

Has anyone else noticed this, or am I the only one?

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Hot Cocoa Creme Kisses

I've been curious about these. How can hot cocoa work as a flavor? What sets hot cocoa apart is the fact that it is hot; aside from that you just have chocolate milk. Still, I think they probably captured the flavor as best as they could. I suppose they could have thrown in some marshmallow flavor. After all, who doesn't have marshmallows with their hot cocoa? But no, no marshmallow here (and it may be better that way).

These are reminiscent of a regular Hershey's Kiss, but a bit milkier. It's smooth, milky chocolate creme surrounded by classic Hershey's milk chocolate. They're sweet, but not throat burningly so. I find them rather comforting, actually. I think that fits in with the hot cocoa theme. They really remind me of homemade chocolate buttercream icing.

Ingredient Watch: These contain PGPR.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 9 pieces. There are 210 calories, 13g of fat, 23g of sugar, and 3g of protein per serving.

Bottom Line: This remind me of comforting, homemade chocolate icing. That can't be bad.

Rating: 7/10

Name: Hot Cocoa Creme Kisses
Brand: Hershey's
Store: Walgreens
Price: $1.00 (8.5oz)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Mint Truffle Kisses

The Mint Truffle Kisses are a new addition to the Kisses lineup. I think they're either limited edition or seasonal... I guess it depends on how well they sell this year! They are wrapped in either silver or green foil; each bag has a mix of both. They are dark chocolate filled with a creamy mint center. To my surprise, the center is bright green. I guess I should have looked at the picture on the wrapper.

These are very strongly minted, more so than either a York Pattie or Andes Mint, which I find myself comparing these to. The center is dense and creamy, not fluffy and sweet like a York Pattie. The dark chocolate is a nice addition, but it's really overtaken by the mint. I think the chocolate comes through more in an Andes Mint.

Nutrition Breakdown: Serving size is 9 pieces. There are 210 calories, 14g of fat, 22g of sugar, and 2g of protein per serving.

Bottom Line: These are good, but I'd rather have an Andes Mint or York Pattie.

Rating: 6/10

Name: Mint Truffle Kisses
Brand: Hershey's
Store: Target
Price: $2.00 (11oz)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Cadbury Sugar Shell Chocolates

These Cadbury chocolates are the Christmas version of Easter's Cadbury Mini Eggs. I'm already a big fan of the Mini Eggs, and these aren't much different. They are little spheres of Cadbury milk chocolate – sweet, dairy, and smooth. They're quite yummy... and addicting!

The shells are crispier than an M&M. They don't have much flavor, but I don't expect them to. The colors are green, red, and white, and I can't help but notice that my bag is overwhelmingly green.

The name of these bugs me. Or rather, the lack of name bugs me. I'm not sure what to call them. The bag just says Cadbury Solid Milk Chocolates with a Crisp Sugar Shell. Okay. I don't see why these can't be Mini Ornaments. After all, Cadbury now has an Ornament Creme Egg. You can read my post over at Sugar Savvy about that.

These contain PGPR. That makes me sad. I really love these but bad ingredients knocks it down a couple points.

Bottom line: I adore these far more than I should. But PGPR is a real turnoff. Still..

Rating: 8/10

Name: Solid Milk Chocolates (with a Crisp Sugar Shell)
Brand: Cadbury (under Hershey's)
Store: Walgreens
Price: $1.00 (8.5oz)