Monday, December 9, 2013

Candy Christmas: Moser Roth Milk Chocolate Truffles (Aldi)

We're reviewing the item on the left here.

Aldi consistently has some excellent chocolate offerings.  From their Choceur line, which is more akin to Hershey’s in terms of flavor and price-point, to their more exotic Moser Roth line, you generally can’t go wrong with purchasing any of them from your local Aldi store.

That certainly holds true with Moser Roth’s Fine Truffles, which are available in both dark and milk chocolate versions.  These are basically knock-offs of Lindt’s Lindor truffles, with a very similar “bag”-style packaging that contains individually-wrapped chocolates inside, but it won’t quite set you back as much as their national-brand counterparts.

True to such form, these truffles consist of a ball-shaped, hollow outer shell of chocolate, that gives way to a soft chocolaty center.  Both parts are ridiculously creamy, with the outer shell melting in your mouth almost upon contact, leaving the rich center to do its thing.  One of my only complaints is that the soft chocolate core tends to come out entirely on the first bite, which ruins my planned tactic of eating them in equal halves.  But obviously this is just a minor quibble.  Another minor complaint is that they do not offer a white chocolate version, as, in my opinion, those are the best out of all of Lindt’s varieties.  Still, Moser Roth’s truffles provide some pretty decent value, making what should be a splurge, into an almost necessary buy (a bag of these, which consist of 17 truffles, will only set you back $2.49).  The only major downside is, much like the national brand, it’s only available during the holiday season, as these would make great treats year-round.

Overall: 9/10.  These are almost pitch-perfect knock-offs of Lindor truffles, with a tougher outer shell of chocolate that hides a rich, soft chocolate center.  The only difference is you won’t have to pay an arm and a leg to get them, as a bag of 17 truffles is a mere $2.49 (prices may vary by location).  I highly recommend these to anyone who enjoys chocolate.  Just be sure to stock up on them when you go, since like many of Aldi’s best products, these are only available around the holiday season.  Note that they are also available in a dark chocolate version.

Candy Christmas: Belmont Candy Cane Pie

NOTE: It would appear this product has shamefully been discontinued. This one might be worth starting a petition on of the best items Aldi has ever carried.
Words like "heavenly" don't even come close to accurately describing this.

I can’t hold it in, so I‘m just going to come out and say it:  This pie is perfect.  It’s hands-down the best frozen pie I’ve purchased anywhere.  When I first stumbled on it at Aldi a little over five years ago now, I immediately fell in love with it; its ridiculously soft and creamy mint center, its light and fluffy whipped cream, those perfect chocolate candies on the top, that ridiculously necessary fudge layer toward the bottom, the chocolate cookie crust…all come together to form a slice of heaven.  Jesus couldn’t make a better pie…it’s that freaking good.

Available at Aldi and only around Christmastime, I made the vow right then and there that this would become my holiday tradition.  Sure enough, it has remained that way, even to this day.  Unfortunately for me, thousands of people also seem to have picked up on these in the time since my first fateful encounter, because every year they seem to get harder and harder to get, assuming you fail to get them the week they are first offered as a Special Buy. 

Wanting to share in the wealth, I’ve even taken these over to my parents’ house, as well as my in-laws, and now both of them ask me when these are available every year.  No joke.  It’s pie perfection, and the fact that they are only occasionally available make it that much more addicting, as the cravings have too much time to fester and grow.  Now, it’s to the point where I only have to see them in the Aldi ad, and my mouth immediately starts watering.  That flawless mint flavor…those chocolates…that silky-smooth texture…I’m sorry, I just can’t help it!

It’s interesting that this is one of the very few Aldi products that, at least to my knowledge, aren’t a knockoff of a major brand.  In fact, I’m not sure of any other stores carrying anything like this.  A quick internet search has revealed that school fundraiser Market Day is the only other place to sell this product, and it seems to be the exact same thing, which is kind of bizarre…why haven’t other stores jumped on top of this?  Has no one ever tasted this thing?  If you’re reading this, turn around, jump in your car, go to your local Aldi store, and buy one now.  Then you can go ahead and thank me in the comments later.

Overall: 10/10.  The best frozen pie I’ve ever had, Belmont’s Candy Cane Pie is a perfect mix of mint, chocolate, and whipped cream that‘s so good, I really don‘t think there are words that can accurately sum up just how great it is.  Ever since I first tried it a little over a half-decade ago, I vowed it would become my own personal holiday tradition (it‘s only available at Aldi‘s around Christmastime), and it has remained that way ever since.  It has also received rave reviews from family members I’ve let try it, and they continue to ask me every year when this is available.  Seriously, if you like mint and chocolate together, there is almost a 100% chance you'll love this.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Clancy's Baked Cheddar and Sour Cream Ripples

A picture of a bag of this stuff, cowardly stolen from the internet.
In the world of chips, I much prefer the fatty, greasy, fried potatoes as opposed to the lighter, “healthier” baked options.  But for the sake of variety, I like to switch things up every now and again, which is what lead me to Clancy’s Baked Cheddar and Sour Cream Ripples potato chips.  Since ripples are my favorite style of chip, and cheddar and sour cream is my favorite flavor, I thought ‘What could go wrong’?  Hindsight is 20/20...

I was first off-put by the smell, which I guess is pretty much what you would expect out of a product that somehow has fifty ingredients--it pretty much smells like a factory.  There’s nary a hint of cheddar, or sour cream in the scent profile, which is never a good thing when that’s the flavor of chip you’re about to eat.  It just smells…processed.  Bitter.  Take your pick; it’s anything but inviting.  But hey, there are plenty of things that smell terrible that still taste good, so this is just a small knock…right?

Thankfully the looks put my fears at ease, at least temporarily.  A lot of the chips are absolutely covered in cheese powder, which is something I was not at all expecting.  Far too often baked chips skimp out on the flavor, giving you a light sprinkle of flavoring in an effort to once again remind you that you’re eating something semi-healthy.  One thing you can say:  Clancy’s is definitely generous with the cheese…it’s all over the place!  Now with a rejuvenated interest in the processed product, I hunkered down and took a bite…

The chips have a satisfying crunch, which is about the only positive thing I have to say about the taste aspect.  And don’t think that I’m holding these to the standards of a normal greasy, fried chip; I have had some very good baked chips in my day, even from Clancy themselves.  Like Alexander’s bad day, these are terrible, horrible, and no good.  The cheese powder does give you a flavor that slightly resembles cheese, but I had a hard time detecting even the slightest bit of sour cream, unless that was the nasty, processed aftertaste that lingered in my mouth for far too long.  Speaking of taste, for this being a ‘potato’ chip, I couldn’t even detect the slightest bit of potato, as the chip base tastes more akin to a cracker, than a chip.

I packed these for my lunch at work all week, and whereas I usually have no problems sticking to what I packed, I kept trying to find excuses to buy food rather than force these things down my throat.  About a quarter of the bag ended up in the trash, and I honestly can’t remember the last time I didn’t finish a bag of chips.  They single-handedly took the fun out of lunch, and that is the first time I’ve ever had anything like that happen.  In case you can’t tell, this is something I will never buy again, and if you’re in the market for baked chips, I strongly advise you to find an alternative.

Overall: 2/10.  The chips do get some marks because of value (a full-sized bag goes for under $2), and the chips are absolutely smothered in cheese powder, but those are about the only positives I can even dig up.  If the scent doesn’t turn you off, the flavor will, which tastes pretty much as you’d expect from potato chips made in a factory; there’s nary the taste of sour cream to be found, and the chip itself tastes more like a cracker.  One of the few Aldi products I can say with utter certainty that I will never buy again, so I highly recommend you look elsewhere, too.

Specially Selected Gouda Cheese Bites (Aldi)

A tasty alternative to standard potato chips.
The “Specially Selected” line seems to be Aldi’s “premium” collection, so I tend to jump at the chance to try the items that are, shall we say, cheaper.  Honestly, I’m not really sure how much these were, as they were unmarked (and I’ve since tossed the receipt), but they looked pretty cheap, and that was good enough for me.

These Gouda cheese bites are light, fluffy potato crisps that are cutely made to resemble Swiss cheese, which is kind of weird if you think about it, because these have nothing to do with Swiss cheese.  Still, I somehow liked the unnecessary touch.  They get their Gouda flavor through the use of “Gouda cheese powder”, according to the ingredients (one of three powders, including just straight-up “cheese powder” and “butter powder” that are also listed).

Let me be honest here: I have no idea what Gouda cheese tastes like.  But if it tastes like these chips/crackers, I could probably learn to like it.  The flavor in these crisps starts off heading for “white cheddar” territory, then somehow veers off before it gets too strong, ending with a creamy, buttery flavor that’s actually kind of addicting.  The light texture doesn’t make you feel like you’re eating greasy potato chips (which you’re not), while the aforementioned lighter taste makes it come across as something that’s almost…healthy (which it's not).

As I said, these are pretty addicting, so it’s easy to eat more than you plan to.  I found myself eating one of these cracker/chip hybrids every few seconds for a few minutes one day when I was bored, so keep yourself entertained while you eat them to prevent overeating.  This isn’t a snack that I could keep around the house all the time, but seeing as how this is a once-or-twice-annually Special Buy from Aldi, that means it’s really not an option anyway.  This is something I could definitely see myself getting again.

Overall: 7.5/10.  A nice, light texture and a creamy cheese flavor combine to make this pretty delicious and surprisingly addictive snack.  A quick search on the ‘Net has also revealed these things are only $1.49 per 4.4 oz. package, which makes them even more enticing.  If you stumble on them, and are in the mood for something a little different, I would definitely suggest you check them out.  Chances are, you won’t want them around all the time, but seeing as how they’re only available a couple times a year from Aldi, that will give you plenty of time to build up your next craving!