Sunday, December 16, 2012

Christmas in Chocolate: Specially Selected Chocolate Covered Potato Chips (Aldi)

Proof that two junk foods combined make an even more delicious super-junk food.
Potato chips are addicting on their own.  So is chocolate.  And now I’m happy to say they are both even more addicting together!  I came to this conclusion courtesy of Aldi’s Chocolate Covered Potato Chips, which are available around the holiday season, and are part of their new Specially Selected line of gourmet products.

I’ll admit to being a little disappointed upon taking a sniff inside the 6.5 oz. bag (which retails for $1.99 here in Ohio, but may vary depending on the market), and being reminded of a cheap chocolate bar.  There’s the strong smell of cocoa, sure, but it’s almost bitter, and if there’s one thing I do not like in my chocolate, it’s a bitter taste (hence my disdain for dark chocolate).

But my fears melted away, both literally and figuratively, once I took my first bite.  It takes a second or two to kick in, but once the Belgian chocolate starts melting in your mouth, you’ll really think you’ve died and gone to heaven!  That is, unless you were expecting more salt.  To me, all the chip seemed to provide is a crunch, as I didn’t seem to notice too much of a salty flavor in the initial taste, meaning the chocolate more or less overwhelmed the chip, as opposed to striking a solid compromise between the sweet and the salty.  But really, who cares?  The chocolate is really quite addicting, especially for the price, which makes it a little too easy to take on the whole bag in one sitting.

My only downside, is once the flavor of the potato comes through, it’s generally in the form of a rather unpleasant aftertaste.  My wife didn’t seem to be as bothered by it as I was, so maybe it’s just me, and it certainly didn’t deter me from digging in on several occasions, so it’s obviously just a minor quibble, but worth mentioning.  Also of note, though it should pretty much go without saying since it mixes two terrible junk foods together into a new one, but these are really pretty bad for you.  One serving contains 14g of fat and 6g of saturated fat.  The main problem?  A serving is only 4 chips.  Again, it’s probably to be expected, but these numbers were a little worse than I thought they would be.

Overall: 7.5/10.  A delicious snack that’s perfect for when you’re in the mood for something new!  Even though the chip doesn’t seem to provide much more than a crunch (at least initially), the Belgian chocolate is ridiculously thick and creamy, and is definitely worth the shallow price tag entirely on its own.  The salt (and potato) arrive late to the flavor party in the form of an unpleasant aftertaste, though it’s not so terrible that you’ll ever think twice before digging in.  The bag looks small, but don’t let that dissuade you…there are really quite a few chips in here.  Should also be noted that the fat content is rather high, and the serving size only 4 chips, so if you’re on a diet, you should probably look elsewhere (which probably should have gone without saying, but hey, just thought it was worth mentioning).

Christmas in Chocolate: Friendly Farms Chocolate Mint Milk (Aldi)

Smooth and delicious.
My mind was jumping at the excitement of the possibly delicious taste combinations of Friendly Farms’ Mint Chocolate Milk from the moment I first laid eyes on it in an Aldi advert.  But inevitably, my mind also shifted to the possibility that it would be atrocious.  After all, chocolate mint milk doesn’t exactly appear to be a popular item; a quick check of the internet has revealed that, outside of soy brands, there really isn’t a supplier of chocolate mint milk, either seasonally, or year ‘round (and if there is, they don’t market it very well), though there are quite a few recipes to make it yourself at home.

Initially, I was a little off-put by the rather small size of the carton.  It’s 32 oz. (think half the size of an orange juice carton), for $1.99, which seems a little bit high to me.  But hey, it only comes around once a year, and my curiosity got the better of me, so I decided to splurge on it.

The smell is enticing, consisting largely of chocolate milk (which is to be expected, considering it is the first ingredient mentioned in the name) with a nice background hint of mint.  While scents can certainly be deceiving, it did allay one of my biggest fears, and that was that the mint would be too overpowering.  Eager to dig in, I didn’t even waste time pouring it into a glass, instead taking it straight from the carton.

Not surprisingly, this stuff is silky smooth in texture, given the fact so are Aldi’s half-gallons, also manufactured by Friendly Farms.  Initially, the chocolate flavor comes through, and it tastes exactly like the milk contained in their half-gallons.  But about a split-second later, the mint comes through--and it is a very welcome addition.  The mint is a background flavor that never really comes through full-bore, but that’s a definite plus, as it never even comes close to overtaking the chocolate. 

This allows both flavors to work in almost perfect harmony, making this a simple, rich dessert that can be taken straight out of the carton.  However, let’s not ignore the nearly endless possible combinations for this stuff, as this would make an excellent base for a milkshake, a delicious coffee creamer, a good mixer with a seasonal Bailey’s, a delicious mocha…and that’s only the tip of the iceberg.  And if it’s this could straight out of the carton, I can only imagine what it would add to existing beverage recipes.

Overall: 8/10.  Let’s be honest here:  As amazing as this stuff is, it’s not something I could drink very often.  But for a once-a-year holiday treat, Friendly Farms Chocolate Mint Milk is a delicious, sippable dessert that works very well straight out of the carton.  It’s smooth, rich, and creamy with a perfect balance of chocolate and mint flavors, with the mint wisely taking a backseat.  Would also make an excellent mixer for existing drinks, such as a delicious base for a milkshake, or a perfect twist on beverage recipes that call for milk.  Definitely recommended.