What gets Eden to write a blog entry? Guilting her by HAND DELIVERING KITKATS FROM JAPAN. I GUESS. Also, sometimes, booze.
For some reason, this bag only has 12 mini packs inside instead of the usual 13. The regional gift boxes also usually come with 12 mini packs, and are attractive and premium-looking. In contrast, this bag seemed to be extra-crinkly.
The first thing you notice on tearing open the bag is the clear scent of booze. Normally the individually wrappers seem pretty insulating (for example, I couldn’t smell any hint of anything when opening the Ginger Tea bag*), but I guess not in this case. Either that or they used whatever they saved on that 13th pack on some perfume which they then tantalizingly sprayed on the inside of the bag. Whatever it is, it’s spot on. Smells exactly like sake. Let me just say that lush centers were activated.
Opening a pack reveals an even more intense sake fragrance. Either mine came slightly pre-melted, or the white chocolate coating is softer than usual. Otherwise, there’s not that much to say, they’re KitKats. I don’t know? I guess I’d been slightly hoping they’d be colored blue, like the bottle on the bag.
Taste-wise, they’re on the sweet side and aren’t quite as boozy as you’d expect given the smell. Instead, there’s a really balanced mix of buttery richness from the white chocolate, slightly estery, banana-rice notes** from the sake, and a slightly alcoholic aftertaste. You know what this really brings to mind? Have you ever had an alcoholic ice cream? Around here we have Elysian Stout from Bluebird, or Snoqualmie’s Kentucky Bourbon. This is very much like that, except, you know, not ice cream. Oops, I guess that’s a minus? But ice cream never fights fair.
Anyway, my favorite KitKats to date have usually sat at the intersection of unusual and tasty. This certainly fits the bill! If you’re into liquor, even better. And if I’ve picked my friends correctly, that’s you.
*review coming when I get off my butt.
**brought to you by A Recently-Minted Beer Snob.
I’ve made a pact with myself: I’m not allowed to taste new KitKat flavors until I write up my backlog. Eep! But it’s probably the only way I’ll ever get through it. Better get cracking!
So. I was in London last April. And see, while Japan has to be the #1 producer of KitKat varieties in the world — because obviously — the UK has been the clear runner-up for interesting flavors. I mean… Golden Caramel. I still dream of it.
So, then, KitKats are on the itinerary. And anyone who knows me well will know that I’ve become a real beer geek lately, so this trip was all about finding interesting beer and KitKats (well, and sightseeing, but…), and five days in I’d really not had any luck at locating either, which made for very sad me. On the fifth night, needing a bottle of water, I walked into a seedy little convenience store a few blocks from Waterloo Station, found my water, and… KitKats. And beer, incidentally, but that’s another story altogether.
I always liked these large-sized bars — you get some real bite from the chocolate and more room to enjoy the flavors (if they’re good). These days, it’s almost a novelty for me to find a flavor with regular old milk chocolate on the outside, but here’s one, and a solid one at that. Inside is where things get interesting: a light beige, fluffy crème with shards of hard candy mixed in, providing super-interesting texture and small bursts of intense caramel flavor. Yum! The only other KitKat I’ve had with a similar effect is Yatsuhashi cinnamon candy from Japan, although the larger format here gives more variety of texture.
But wait! There’s more. The real gimmick here is that the bar comes in two sections, and the second half, instead of having the creme and hard candy bits, has a reservoir of liquid caramel in their place. And, glory of glories, this was pretty much Golden Caramel. Reincarnated. And just in time for Easter.
Sometimes I’m thankful that most of the KitKats I get are mini-sized, especially when they’re sweet. These were very sweet, but I enjoyed eating the Whole. Damn. Thing. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I totally forgot to take photos of the inside of the bars, which might have been useful. Oh, well.
Anyway, moving on:
I have no idea if “Toffee Treat” is a concept that exists separately in the UK — Google isn’t really helping. I do find toffee to be a real treat in general, though. So I was really looking forward to these.
These come packaged as the familiar four standard sized bars in foil wrap. The coating of the bars is beige, white chocolate-based, with a caramelized, very sweet flavor. If I blinked I could almost imagine toffee, but it seemed closer to maple syrup in general character. More importantly, I like my toffee with a little salt, and if there was any here, I couldn’t tell. That made them a little one-note, which for me means too sweet. I definitely thought the Double Caramel was the better of the two.
P.S. - To clarify, I was looking for interesting bottled beer. In defense of my beer geek credentials, I’d sampled some real ale in a few pubs already. But I did want to find something to take back home with me.
This One Weird Trend is Baffling KitKat Bloggers Everywhere…
Oh, hi! Yes, I’m still alive. Anne reminded me that I have a lot of KitKats on the backlog, so it was way past time. I figured I’d start with the new sales gimmick that Nestle Japan seems to be pushing. We’ve already talked about the Adult Sweetness line, and the “ice cream” bars you’re supposed to freeze before eating. Now, it seems that the new hotness is… heat.
I’m not sure if these flavors are based off previous ones; somehow I’ve had many cheesecake flavors with specific fruits, but never a “plain” one. And I’ve had at least two sweet potato varieties but they were very specific regional varieties.
(Oh, and the cheesecake ones were a gift from my friend Sammy. Thanks, Sammy!)
The trick with these is that you’re supposed to bake them in the oven until they get brown. Despite the optimistic photographs on the packaging, I had a hard time imagining how that could go well, so the first task was to taste them as if they were normal KitKat bars.
I immediately liked the sweet potato! Opening the foil wrapper, you get an instant hit of vegetal, yammy aromas. The flavor’s a bit on the sweet side, as usual, but there’s no mistaking what this is supposed to be.
(“This is weird,” says a coworker. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about this.”)
“Cheesecake” didn’t really do it for me, though. There’s a bit of a lactic tartness to it, but also a weirdly lime-like quality to the acidity. I didn’t think cheesecake so much as I thought of flavored Calpico. On the other hand, I think Nestle is really timid on the cheese aspect of their cheesecake flavors, preferring to opt for straight sweetness rather than a good New York-style tang. The only flavor I’ve ever thought was really cheesecake-like was the one that was supposed to just taste like cheese.
That’s not what you’re here for, though. Let’s get them into the oven!
So the packaging itself is not very descriptive about what you’re supposed to do, other than put them in the oven. I decided to try as hot as my kitchen’s would go, which was 500 degrees. I also set it to broil so that the heat would only come from the coils above.
Things didn’t go well. All the chocolate sloughed off before any browning happened at all, leaving slightly soggy but still crisp wafers sitting in a viscous goo of sugar.
I tasted them anyway. They tasted exactly like they did before baking, only somehow more gross.
Oh! Did I mention that I also found an old, unopened bag of Baked Custard Pudding KitKats in the meantime? Trifecta! I guess it’s time for a slight detour.
Back in 2011, I wrote about Custard Pudding KitKats. There’s no way I’m going to remember exactly how they tasted, but the writeup I did then seems about accurate. Generally, think flan, and you’ll have the idea.
Anyway, I waited a couple weeks before making my second attempt. I honestly hadn’t recovered from the horror yet, but I did want to give this an honest try. This time, I went for my toaster oven — smaller space, much closer heat source. Also, it’s an off-brand thing I bought for $10 one Black Friday, so if anything’s going to try to burn something beyond all expectation, this was the thing.
Fire extinguisher at the ready, I turned the thing to broil and let it heat up. Just kidding. I don’t have a fire extinguisher.
I set the timer for two minutes. About thirty seconds in, things were starting to look bad. The chocolate was oozing, like last time, and you could see the wafer texture start to appear. Fast forward to a minute-thirty, though, and…
I took the foil off and put it on the counter to help it cool, but I honestly wanted to eat them warm. That meant they were still gooey on the sides when I picked them up. This is a great way to lose some money value in chocolate, unless you’re the kind of gal that likes to lick chocolate right off the foil. Ummmmm, yes. I am.
The cheesecake ones browned the fastest and I pulled out the tray when I started to get worried, even though the other two were a little behind — though in the end, I’d say they ended up perfect and the cheesecakes were just a bit overdone. The first thing that wafted out was just the most beautiful baked sweet potato fragrance. Swoon! As before, the wafers were still crisp, but now there was a really wonderful caramelized crunch on top.
In general, the flavors ended up less sweet (although this could be from having less chocolate still attached) and with a definite toasted quality. Sweet potato fared the best, with the warm, root veggie flavors really coming out with the heat. I’d liked it most of the unbaked versions, though, so that wasn’t surprising! Cheesecake was still weirdly over-limey, and maybe a touch burnt. Custard pudding had a really beautiful, caramelized molasses flavor from the browning process. If you wanted a crème brulee KitKat, this is the closest thing.
Anyway, this is hardly going to become my standard way of eating KitKats, but it was a fun experience. Even if it was literally a bit of a hot mess! I’m not sure if the chocolate was formulated to brown this way, but I’m tempted to try it out with some of the other extra bars I have. Since the process seems to bring out subtle flavors in sweeter bars, maybe… wasabi? I’ll report back if I do.
Two years, right? I’ve got a bunch more on the backlog, so hopefully there’s more to come, and soon.
Although this site could really use a redesign…
P.S. - I found a video on YouTube that explains how you’re supposed to bake these. You’re not supposed to preheat the oven, which makes sense — keep to direct heat rather than having the ambient temperature in the oven melt your chocolate. So I gave it a try:
Those sure look better, but I think the texture was worse, somehow. The wafers were soggy and I didn’t get quite the sugary crunch on top. But! They do come out pretty.
This may be a bit of a cheat. As far as I can tell, these are more or less identical to last year’s Cookies & Cream Petit selection, which we really, really liked. The only difference is that, like Vanilla Ice, these are advertised as being better when frozen — so, like ice cream rather than just cookies.
The truth is — they’re just not. The whole appeal of this flavor is the contrast of textures between the soft white chocolate coating and the dark chocolate cookie bits embedded inside, and that’s totally lost when everything is frozen solid. The whole thing gets unpleasantly difficult to hold, hard to taste, and the texture turns both uncomfortably rigid and weirdly stale-feeling. At room temperature, as mentioned before, they’re delicious.
Incidentally, I just found a package of Cookies & Cream KitKats from the U.K. at Cost Plus(!), and I can tell from the outside of the package that they’re going to be something completely different. Watch for an impending comparison!
This is the first of two flavors in a new World Assort collection from Japan, the other being Hazelnut. Last time we saw a “World” bag of KitKats, it contained chocolate KitKats from three different countries. This time it’s two different flavors from Europe, so it’s less about comparing the differences between places and more about visiting a different locale’s flavors. Not that Nestle Japan wasn’t already importing all kinds of flavors from around the world, but it’s still a nice concept.
I’m not a huge fan of orange chocolate — usually I find it too cloying, or the chocolate is too dark (I find orange and bitter chocolate to be … well, not exactly bad, but more of a challenge. You know, as opposed to being candy). Also, I’d had Canadian Orange KitKats something like ten years ago and didn’t like them at all. So I kept my expectations way, way down.
Luckily, I needn’t have worried! These are actually quite yummy. I think the key, actually, is a flavorful orange jam that they’ve put between the wafer layers. It gives a nice bit of sticky chew along with a strong hit of orange flavor that balances the somewhat nutty milk chocolate coating really well. This is the third KitKat flavor I’ve had with jam inside and all three have been winners (the other two were Otona no amasa Raspberry, and last week’s Otona no amasa Passionfruit). I have no idea if there’s even orange flavoring in the chocolate coating, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there wasn’t. The jam is plenty strong.
Here’s a small look at what I’m talking about:
At least they got the color right, amirite? Anyway. These were good! I’m looking forward to the Hazelnut ones as well.
After a long dry spell, a single trip to Uwajimaya yielded three new flavors of KitKats! First, we’ll look at the latest “adult sweetness” flavor, which I’ve been looking for ever since I saw it on a friend’s Facebook feed. These are passionfruit, which seems like a good candidate for a series of candies designed to explore adult flavors like tartness and bitterness.
The first thing you notice is the color, a dull dark yellow reminiscent of cheddar cheese or the flesh of a mango, and a nice, fruity flavor wafting out of the wrapper. The bag proclaims that the coating is passionfruit-flavored and the cream contains passionfruit powder, and they’re not kidding. You’ll have no problem identifying which fruit this is supposed to be, and like the Otona no amasa Raspberry KitKats that preceded these, there’s a real tartness here that balances the sweetness provided by the cookie layers and the white chocolate. Finally, those cookies! In addition to giving the bars a nice moist crumble, they leave off with a buttery, malty finish.
Speaking of dry spells, I apologize for being rather absent lately. Things are crazy! And also, beer.
Dangers abound, in the hallways at work. Couldn’t help manufacturing a little drama. Click for full size!
So, back in December I said something like, Can you believe I’ve never seen a peanut butter KitKat? Never mind that as far back as 2003 or 2004 I actually did have a Peanut Butter Chunky KitKat bar in Canada. I didn’t write about it at the time and wouldn’t even have remembered it if I hadn’t dug up an old point & shoot snapshot while nostalgia-diving.
Anyway, fast forward to last week, when some friends returning from Mexico brought me a little package of goodness:
Look familiar? It’s the same Nestle travel pack that the earlier Hazelnut Cream KitKats came in, except this is a variety pack containing milk chocolate, white chocolate, and… peanut butter! Like the others, these were made in Bulgaria, presumably for sale in airports around the world. So without further ado:
The Big Kat / Chunky / KitKat Bar form factor is really nice if you’re a chocolate lover. It’s thick enough that you get a really nice, toothy bite, it’s not likely to melt beyond recognition, and if the chocolate is tasty, there’s no better way to show it off. As we saw from the World Variety KitKats, Japan’s milk chocolate is just okay, and America… not so much. But in Europe, it’s definitely a winner: sweet, but not cloying; creamy; with maybe just a touch of marzipan on the tongue.
Better yet, the top layer of wafer has been replaced by a thick well of pure, creamy peanut butter, not noticeably sweet & with a nice hit of salt (this in distinct contrast to the hazelnut cream from above, which was much more candylike). The saltiness is a beautiful complement to the chocolate, like a super-luxe peanut butter cup, and with a silky smooth texture combined with the crunch from the wafers you have a really nice bonus interplay of textures. Plus, it’s a Chunky bar, so you get a lot more of it! Wins all around.
I only wish the box just had six peanut butters in it instead of two of each flavor! I’m going to have to find more — a lot more.
In related news, the supply of Japanese KitKats seems to be drying up on this side of the Pacific. I don’t know if Nestle is scaling back in general or if people have stopped importing them for some other reason, but none of my usual sources here and in Canada have seen a new flavor in months. If you’re lucky, you can find white, dark or matcha adult sweetness bars, but otherwise nothing. End of an era? Would be sad.
I was walking around, looking for a fro-yo place in Steveston, Richmond, British Columbia and I think I walked into a television set.
(The yogurt was delicious, by the way)
So I was on a cruise. I have some things to say about that but they’ve been coming slowly. Also sunburn! In general, though, it was really great.
Somehow this is the first time we’ve had a hard liquor-based KitKat flavor? I have to say, I fully approve of this trend. On the other hand, rum raisin as a concept is like the nightmare stuff of my candy childhood. I’m pretty sure those horrible lollipops were always at the bottom of the Halloween bag, right between the Good & Plentys and candy corn.
As an adult, though (read: well past college), I have managed to learn to appreciate rum as a beverage (it helps to be surrounded by lushes at work). And since Tokyo is synonymous with quality rum, …! Um. Anyway.
These KitKats are fresh from Narita Airport, thanks to Jet & family, and are the first regional flavor I’ve tried since finishing up the motherlode. There are twelve sets of foil-wrapped minis inside the attractive gift box, and the first thing you get on tearing open the wrapper is a super-strong wave of more-raisiny-than-rummy sweetness. The flavor is kind of that in reverse, tasting distinctly of dark rum with only a hint of raisin, but still very sweet. It’s fairly one-note, but the liquor prevents it from being boring.
I don’t know if I love it, but they’ll do for now. I certainly wouldn’t mind if this meant some bourbon or other whisky-based KitKats in my future. No ouzo, though — Good & Plentys have not gotten any more appealing with age.
New from England! I’ve had regular dark KitKats from Canada and semisweets from Japan, as well as a variety of dark chocolate-based novelty flavors, but this is probably the first time I’ve had a straight dark chocolate in this percentage range before. 70% is about where I like my chocolate for non-KitKat situations, so I was pretty excited to see these at our local British goods store.
(Incidentally, Dave Kim on Google+ tipped me off to the currently-running 2013 Kit Kat Chunky Champion promotion running in the U.K.. Kind of like the Lay’s flavor contest that produced this week’s sriracha potato chips, people can vote for their favorite among Mint, Coconut, Hazelnut and Chocolate Fudge. Mint! I’ve had no luck finding them here, though — Sadface.)
These are four full-size bars in a foil wrapper. After years of Japanese KitKats, I’d forgotten how big the regular bars are! The wrapping is an attractive mix of matte and dark print, and advertises that the chocolate contained within is fair trade certified. Lovely.
The bite is very firm, with a solid, but not waxy texture to the chocolate. Flavorwise, it’s a nice and strong with some bitterness (but not too much!), still generously sweet but not cloying. I really liked the rigidity of the bar, which helped reinforce that this was a strong dark chocolate. All in all, I liked these very much.
Three from Seattle Center. It’s been so long since I took photos — it’s a gladdening thing.
Listen, I know the bag on the right is the one getting all the attention, but DILL PICKLE LAYS PEOPLE