Whipping Out A Raspberry

Candy Review
RUSSELL STOVER RASPBERRY WHIP EGG


As I think I mentioned a few days ago, I still had a couple of Russell Stover chocolate eggs to review. But let's face it, after four reviews in rapid succession, I think I may have been getting just a little slap-happy. Now that I've had a break for a few days, I need to review a couple of eggs.

Today's subject is the Raspberry Whip Egg from Russell Stover. This particular egg is dark chocolate on the outside. Inside . . . well, I'm not completely sure how to describe it. The "raspberry whip" is similar to a nougat, but it has a much softer consistency. Quite a bit softer than the nougat in the Raspberry 3 Musketeers, for instance. Like the marshmallow in Russell Stover's Marshmallow Egg, I'm pretty certain that it wouldn't hold its shape without the chocolate covering.

Like most of the Russell Stover chocolate eggs, I have enjoyed the Raspberry Whip Eggs with great regularity every Easter. And there is one thing I notice about it that seems to be unique to this egg from Russell Stover. When I open the wrapper, I get a quick whiff of raspberries greeting my nostrils. At least, I don't recall any similar olfactory sensations from the other eggs when I open them.

Whatever you want to call the center of this egg, it is very sweet -- almost more sweet than raspberry-flavored. But there were a couple of times I encountered what seemed like tiny seeds in the filling. At first, I thought I might have been imagining it, but I encountered them too many times to be mere figments.

The dark chocolate, as always, is wonderfully rich, and the flavors of dark chocolate and raspberry always go well together, no matter what form that pairing might take. The raspberry center does tend to leave the tastebuds quicker, leaving the chocolate to make a final impression on the tongue.

As with the other Easter candy, the usual holiday disclaimer applies. The Raspberry Whip Eggs will be here until the holiday, but after that, the various store owners and shopkeepers will want to clear them from the shelves to make way for all the pool, beach, and other summer merchandise. But they are popular enough that I am sure they will return after Valentine's Day 2012.


-jc-

Hashing Out The Egg

Candy Review
HEAVENLY HASH EGG


As you can see, I thought it was time to take a pause from the rapid succession of Russell Stover chocolate eggs. Oh, I still have at least a couple to review, but it's time for the pitcher to throw a few changeups or curveballs instead of a constant barrage of fastballs.

Or as John Cleese has said on more than one occasion, "And now, for something completely different."

I regularly see the Heavenly Hash Egg from Elmer Chocolate every Easter, and I've bought more than a few. I just discovered the Elmer Chocolate website, though, and it leaves me a little disappointed. I learned that Elmer makes several different chocolate Easter eggs, but it appears that only the Heavenly Hash Eggs make their way to Louisville. At least I don't recall seeing any of the other eggs at Walgreens or Rite Aid.

The Heavenly Hash Egg is about a third larger than the Russell Stover eggs I have been recently reviewing. The wrapper describes it as "Rich Milk Chocolate, Fluffy Marshmallow, And Roasted Almonds."

The milk chocolate on the outside has a richer flavor than say, Hershey's milk chocolate. Of course, by now I'm realizing that just about every other candy maker's milk chocolate is richer than Hershey's. I could make an argument for calling Hershey the least common denominator of milk chocolate, but I think that is a topic for another time.

The Elmer chocolate is probably on the same level as Russell Stover's milk chocolate, in terms of the richness of the chocolate. I can detect slight differences in flavor; for instance, that mystery hint of flavor in the background of Russell Stover's chocolate isn't in Elmer's chocolate. But Elmer's chocolate has the same (or at least similar) degree of richness, which leads me to believe that the two chocolates probably have similar amounts of cocoa solids.

The marshmallow is similar to the marshmallow in other chocolate eggs I've encountered. In other words, it's a little spongier than the marshmallows you buy at the supermarket. This particular marshmallow also seems to be just a little sweeter than both the marshmallows from the supermarket and the marshmallow in other chocolate eggs.

Besides the chocolate and marshmallow, the Heavenly Hash Egg contains whole almonds. The only problem is, there is just not that many of them. There might be three or four of them in an egg at most, and there is plenty of room for more. The almonds seem to be dropped in the marshmallow without a particular regard for anything resembling a regular pattern.

Taken alone, the marshmallow in the Heavenly Hash Egg would come close to being a massive sugar buzz. The flavor of the chocolate takes a little bit of the edge off. So do the nuts, for that matter. If there is any good point in the paucity of almonds in the Heavenly Hash Egg, it's that you can taste the nuts in the candy on the rare occasions you encounter them. Although I strongly suspect that the main reason you can taste the almonds is because the marshmallow is so sweet that it makes the almonds so noticeable by comparison.

This is another holiday release, so the usual holiday disclaimer applies. These will be gone soon after Easter, so grab them while you can.

(And now that I know that Elmer produces more than just this one egg for Easter, I'm hoping that I can find a way to score some of the others in 2012.)


-jc-

Not Giving Up That Easily

When I went by Godiva yesterday, I was a little disappointed that I was unable to get an Almond Butter Egg as my freebie for the month. I thought about it a little while walking through Mall St. Matthews, then went back before I left. Since I had already selected my freebie for the month, I decided that I might as well go ahead and get an Almond Butter Egg now, since there was an excellent chance that they would be unavailable in a few days.

Like the Coconut Egg -- like all of Godiva's chocolate eggs, as a matter of fact -- the Almond Butter Egg comes wrapped in foil. The foil for the Almond Butter Egg is that particular shade that falls somewhere between lavender and sky blue -- I think periwinkle is the name usually given to this color. It has the same pattern of flowers and upper case Gs, but printed in an orange color.

The chocolate menu describes the Almond Butter Egg as "Creamy almond butter in a milk chocolate." Either the "a" was put there by mistake, or they meant to say "a milk chocolate shell." (Emphasis mine.) I think the former is more likely, given that the Coconut Egg used just "in dark chocolate."

The Almond Butter Egg is the same size as the Coconut Egg; as I said in that mini-review, I estimated it as being about the size of a quail egg. And like the Coconut Egg, there was a pattern of concentric ovals molded into the chocolate.

The milk chocolate is as rich and creamy as always, so this time, my focus was on the almond butter inside. The texture was smooth, but it wasn't precisely what I usually call creamy. My basis for comparison is creamy peanut butter, and there was still a touch of roughness in the almond butter. My feeling is that the almonds weren't processed as completely as the peanuts being turned into peanut butter are. The whole process was stopped just shy of that. There was just the slightest hint of the nuts that had been ground into almond butter.

The flavor of the almond butter was a little on the mild side. There was a certain nuttiness to it, but I feel that it needed to be a little more pronounced.

The flavors of the milk chocolate and the almond butter make a good balance. Dark chocolate would have perhaps been a little overpowering. Pairing the almond butter with the milk chocolate allowed both flavors to make their presence known on the tongue.

And as always, one small chocolate can provide only so much material for analysis, and I have reached that limit again.


-jc-

No Fooling

When I went to Godiva last month to pick up my monthly freebie, my choice was one of the chocolates they had for Easter, the Coconut Egg. At the time, I took a careful look at the other Easter chocolates, with the idea of deciding what would be my choice for this month as well. (Hey, it never hurts to plan ahead!)

Godiva produced three other chocolate eggs for this Easter. Two of them are a solid milk chocolate egg and a solid dark chocolate egg. While I am certain that both are unbelievable, I suspect that my usual mini-review would be somewhat lacking if I chose either of them. The third, however, is an Almond Butter Egg, and that did sound particularly interesting to me.

Seeing as how Easter is only a few days away, I thought it might be a good idea to go ahead and acquire my free chocolate for April before Easter, as I was uncertain as to whether or not I would be able to do so the day after (or later). And so, I made my way to Mall St. Matthews and the Godiva store.

One slight problem. At the moment, Godiva is promoting a line of "Light & Airy Mousse Truffles," and those were the only ones available for selection as the monthly free chocolate. After being told this, I thought about it for a few moments, then decided that I was not interested in a repeat of February. So, I decided on the Chocolate Mousse Truffle.

As usual, I shall turn to Godiva's chocolate menu for the description. The Chocolate Mousse Truffle is described as "Dark chocolate mousse enrobed in rich milk chocolate with chocolate stringing." The chocolate stringing in this case is a quick twirl of dark chocolate placed on the chocolate as a finishing decoration.

I have a feeling that these truffles started by making the outer shells first in a mold, then filling the molded shells once the chocolate had hardened. The shell on this truffle seems to be a little thicker than that of some of Godiva's other truffles. The mousse filling seems to be just a little too soft for the shell to be formed around the filling. And finally, the shell looked just a little too perfectly spherical to not have been formed in a mold.

The shell itself is Godiva's usual milk chocolate. While that is a quite remarkable chocolate, it is the dark chocolate mousse inside that really blows you away. I'm guessing that it's just dark chocolate, and not an extra-dark chocolate, but it is incredible. There's not much sweetness in the mousse, and has just the slightest bitter bite to it. It's also very soft; almost melting the moment it touches your tongue -- which may account for the thicker shell; it's needed to contain the mousse properly. (The mousse reminds me a little of the ganache in the Midnight Swirl I sampled a couple of months ago.)

If the mousse leans more to the bitter than the sweet, it is balanced by the milk chocolate shell. The sweetness of the shell and the bitterness of the mousse perform an intricate tango on your tastebuds. Neither flavor dominates, and there is a hint of both lingering on your tongue even after you have finished the Chocolate Mousse Truffle.

And once again, I think I have extracted an unbelievable amount of analysis from a single piece of chocolate that lasted just a few bites.


-jc-

Tax Returns Mailed Before The Deadline

Candy Review
RUSSELL STOVER CARAMEL EGG


Today's review is . . . yes, you got it, another chocolate Easter egg from Russell Stover! Okay, maybe I am doing more than a few of these in rapid succession, but as I mentioned a few reviews back, my local Rite Aid had these as one of their weekly specials this past week.

The Caramel Egg is about the same size as the Truffle Egg, and for the same reason -- the caramel and truffle fillings are denser than the nougat or marshmallow centers. If you haven't figured it out already, the center of this egg is caramel, and it is covered in milk chocolate.

In my review of the Truffle Egg, I mentioned that I detected an additional flavor lurking in the background of the truffle filling. I was mistaken; I think that additional flavor is part of the milk chocolate, because I detect the same flavor in the Caramel Egg. I still can't figure out what it is, though.

The caramel in the egg has what I consider to be the right balance of softness and firmness. By that, I mean that it is soft enough to be chewy, but is firm enough to hold its own shape. It doesn't start oozing out of the shell the second you bite into the egg. The closest comparison I can make is to the caramel in the Milky Way Simply Caramel bar. The caramel in the Caramel Egg, though, has a deeper flavor than the Milky Way caramel. I would almost say that it has a hint of brown sugar in its flavor.

The flavors of the caramel and the chocolate blend together on the tongue, but I would have to say that it's the caramel that is the dominant flavor. It's definitely the one that stays on your tongue longer. And of course, no matter who the manufacturer is, the combination of chocolate and caramel is a classic one.

Once again, it's time for my usual disclaimer. Easter is fast approaching, so if you want to get your hands on a Caramel Egg this year, you should probably hop on down to your local drugstore or supermarket to pick up a few before the Easter Bunny arrives.


-jc-

Overlooked For Quite A While

Candy Review
RUSSELL STOVER TRUFFLE EGG


This is the third Russell Stover egg that I bought a few days ago. And like the other two I reviewed, I was just a little surprised that I had not reviewed it before now.

[MEMO TO SELF: When the Halloween candy hits the shelves in a few months, I really need to make a list of any interesting candy I see at the stores, then compare it to my archives. If I have been this lax with Easter reviews, it's likely that I've overlooked Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine candy in a similar fashion.]

At first glance, the Truffle Egg appears to be smaller than the previous two eggs I reviewed; the Marshmallow Egg and the Maple Cream egg. But as the saying goes, appearances can be deceiving. All three eggs are the same weight -- that would be 1 ounce -- but the Truffle Egg's apparent smaller size derives from the fact that it has a denser center than the other two. The outside of the Truffle Egg is milk chocolate, and inside that is, well, a truffle filling.

(Yeah, I know; the appropriate response here would be, "Well, DUH!" If I state the obvious, I do so just to be accurate. If I don't, someone will complain that I didn't mention what was inside.)

The milk chocolate . . . you know, it's kind of hard to come up with something new to write about Russell Stover's milk chocolate that doesn't sound like something I've written before. Very rich, very smooth, very creamy, more so than, say, Hershey . . . done all of those. Let's see . . . silky. Now there's an adjective I haven't used before. I'll have to remember that one for the next couple of Russell Stover reviews.

As I mentioned, the truffle filling is quite dense. It has a slightly deeper chocolate flavor than the chocolate shell. There is also an additional flavor in the background, but it's subtle enough that I can't identify it. And I’m finding that just a little puzzling. (Maybe a hint of cinnamon?)

With this egg, the flavors blend together on your tastebuds, rather than remain distinct. With each bite of the Truffle Egg, there is usually one or two pieces of the shell that are the last to remain on the tongue, and it is the flavor of the shell that leaves a lingering impression.

Okay, the standard holiday disclaimer applies. It will be available through the end of the holiday (Easter, if you haven't been paying attention), and for maybe a few days beyond. After that, you have to wait until February 15 to find these again.


-jc-

Easter, Eh?

Candy Review
RUSSELL STOVER MAPLE CREAM EGG


This is another Russell Stover chocolate egg that surprised me when I learned that I never reviewed it. I would have to say that it's probably one of my favorite chocolate eggs, and I know that I always buy plenty of them once Easter is over. (Or at least as many as I can, given what may or may not be left.)

The shape of the Maple Cream Egg is more of a flattened oval. Like someone rolled out dough for biscuits or cookies, and used an oval-shaped cutter instead of a round one.

As for the egg itself, the outer shell is dark chocolate. Inside the shell is a maple-flavored filling that resembles a nougat.

You remember the descriptions that I've made about Russell Stover's dark chocolate in prior entries? They still apply. It definitely has a darker brown color, which I might theorize is an indication of a higher percentage of cocoa solids. And it does have a deeper chocolate flavor than most of the dark chocolate products I encounter.

The filling inside resembles the nougat in a 3 Musketeers bar -- light, whipped, fluffy. It does feel a little softer than the 3 Musketeers nougat, though. It has a rich maple flavor, with the slightest hint of a salty taste.

I love the combination of maple and chocolate. The Maple Cream Egg reminds me of chocolate chip pancakes topped with syrup (without all the pancake, of course). Neither flavor really dominates -- it's more a case of the maple flavor being stronger for a second or two, then the chocolate takes its turn being stronger. And the nougat seems to be soft enough that it almost melts on your tongue.

As a seasonal product -- the season in this case being Easter -- the usual seasonal disclaimer is in effect. Look for it through Easter, and maybe a few days after. Then it's another wait until after Valentine's Day 2012.


-jc-

I Should Be Working On My Tax Returns

Candy Review
RUSSELL STOVER MARSHMALLOW EGG


I was just looking through my archives, and I discovered something a bit surprising. I discovered that I haven't reviewed as many of Russell Stover's Easter candy as I thought I had. What makes this particularly surprising is over the past few years, I have regularly picked up a number of Russell Stover's offerings. Especially the day after Easter, once the candy is discounted.

As it happens, Rite Aid has a special on Russell Stover candy this week. So I made a stop by my local Rite Aid, and picked up a few eggs for review purposes. I closed my eyes, reached into the bag, and the one that I pulled out was the Marshmallow egg.

The Marshmallow Egg is one of those candy eggs that really isn't egg-shaped. It has more of a semi-egg shape. Think of a hard boiled egg sliced in half lengthwise; that should give you a good idea of the shape. Rounded on one side, flat on the other.

The egg itself is marshmallow, covered in milk chocolate. As I have mentioned in previous reviews of Russell Stover products, their milk chocolate has a richer flavor than what you might find in something by Hershey or Nestle.

The marshmallow, like the chocolate, is much the same as I have encountered in other Russell Stover candies. It has a strong vanilla flavor, and has a softer, spongier feel to it than the marshmallows you find in the grocery store. In fact, I would have to say that without the chocolate shell, the marshmallow in the Marshmallow Egg probably would not hold a shape.

When biting into the Marshmallow Egg, the flavors of the marshmallow and the chocolate remain distinctive. The strong vanilla flavor of the marshmallow balance the richness of the milk chocolate. And the marshmallow itself becomes a little gooey; almost melting on the tongue.

Since this is an Easter product, the standard holiday disclaimer applies. The Marshmallow Egg will be around at least until Easter. Maybe a few days longer, depending on how quickly your local retailer wants to get the remainders out of the store.


-jc-

Fire & Spice

Candy Review
GOOD & FIERY


I've seen this particular candy off and on for a couple of years now. I honestly can't tell you if this is a limited edition, a seasonal edition, or if Hershey just has some unusual distribution glitches with this particular product.

Good & Fiery is another variation on the Good & Plenty theme. And while I avoid Good & Plenty like the plague (I've said it before; I can't stand licorice), I was intrigued when I saw the Good & Fiery box. Once I determined that there was no licorice involved, I eagerly snatched up a box. (And several more after that, once I had sampled that initial box.)

The package describes Good & Fiery as "sweet and spicy chewy candy." There are four different flavors in each box: lemon, orange, apple, and cinnamon. Well, that isn't entirely accurate. The first three are combinations of the respective fruit flavors and cinnamon. The fourth, of course, is just straight cinnamon.

The lemon/cinnamon combination is perhaps the one that strikes my tastebuds as being the strangest. I'm not quite sure how to describe the taste. Perhaps the closest I can come is that it tastes like a hot lemonade that has had a cinnamon stick steeping in it.

I think that maybe the orange/cinnamon candy is my favorite of the quartet. When I was a boy (many, many centuries ago), my mother was given a recipe for a hot spiced tea mix. I don't remember what spices were in it, but I do remember that the two main ingredients were instant tea and Tang. (I'm sure she still has the recipe, but I may have to ask her to email me a copy.) The orange Good & Fiery candy reminds me of that spiced tea.

At initial glance, it's a little tricky determining which is the apple and which is the cinnamon. Both are shades of red, with the apple/cinnamon candy being the lighter of the two. The apple Good & Fiery candy tastes like a mug of hot apple cider -- in a slightly chewier form, of course.

And finally, we have the cinnamon Good & Fiery candy -- or if I really want to get silly, the cinnamon/cinnamon combination. This cinnamon candy is pleasantly spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. It has a cinnamon kick, but nothing so potent as, say, Red Hots.

One thing I have noticed with all four flavors of Good & Fiery is that they leave something of an aftertaste on the tongue. It isn't cinnamon, but it isn't any of the other flavors, either. I'm not sure how to describe it, which I find a little frustrating.

As I said at the outset, I'm not completely certain if Good & Fiery is a regular part of the Hershey product line or not. I first saw it on the shelves during the fall a couple of years ago (right around Halloween, as a matter of fact), and I'm fairly certain I've seen on sale each fall since. I've also seen it on sale during the rest of the year, but the sightings are somewhat erratic.


-jc-

No Clucking Bunnies Here

I realized that I was fast running out of month, and that I had not yet acquired my monthly freebie from Godiva. And so, I made my way to Mall St. Matthews today, to visit my local Godiva store.

As it turns out, it was probably a good thing that I did wait as long as I did this month. By this time, the staff at the store had all of the Easter-themed chocolates on display -- something I don't remember seeing earlier this month. And after some consideration, I selected one of the Easter chocolates. To be precise, I selected the Coconut Egg as my March freebie.

You know, one of these days, I really need to make a list of what chocolates I have and have not tried, for consultation on making my monthly selection. Yes, I fully realize that duplication of my monthly freebies is probably inevitable. I would just prefer to postpone that event for as long as possible. But I digress . . .

Unfortunately, the chocolate menu doesn't have a description for the Coconut Egg, so this time, I'm on my own. The egg comes wrapped in a pink foil with a pattern of flowers and the upper case G printed in yellow. When unwrapped, the egg is dark chocolate, with a pattern of concentric ovals and "GODIVA" molded into the chocolate. The egg itself is about the size of a quail egg.

[EDIT: On a subsequent visit, the chocolate menu contained an insert that described their various Easter chocolates. The description for the Coconut Egg is "Sweet coconut in dark chocolate."]

The dark chocolate shell is thin -- almost as thin as a real eggshell would be. The tiniest first bite (which, as usual, is what I took) was enough to shatter about half of the shell. I have mentioned in previous entries that Godiva's dark chocolate is intense. In fact, some of the other words I have used to describe it are indulgent, smooth, and velvety. All of those words apply to the chocolate in the Coconut Egg equally as well.

Inside the dark chocolate shell is a coconut filling. Now, this is not what you might find inside a Mounds bar. That is almost all coconut, held together with a sticky sweet syrup to give it a solid form. Nor is it the filling you would find in Hershey's Coconut Creme Kisses. That filling reminds me of a slightly denser version of the coconut cream used to make pina coladas more than anything else, with little coconut texture. This filling does have real coconut, but it is much softer than the Mounds filling. It also contains an additional flavor. I'm not completely certain, but I think it might be just the slightest hint of rum flavor. Perhaps with a touch of pineapple as well. Whatever that additional flavor is, it gives the filling a bit of a tropical feel to it.

And as usual, I have tried to squeeze as much analysis as possible from a chocolate that was meant to be two bites at most.


-jc-