Sunday, January 12, 2014

Russell Stover Chocolates

Not the calibre of chocolate I normally review, but I received a ton of Russell Stover for Christmas, so I at least tried them.

Spoiler: they are not good.  My favorite part of tasting these chocolates was the quotes from my co-tasters, and I've included some highlights below.

Side note: A few years ago, when I was at my local chocolate shop, they actually had us do a side-by-side comparison of some of their products with Russell Stover to show how different the chocolates could be.  It was incredibly striking then, and after trying a whole box of these things, I understand why!

Truffles, Whips, and Creams

Otherwise known as "soft centers".  These are usually round.
  • Milk Chocolate Maple Nut Cream: "A maple nut cream filling with walnuts covered in rich milk chocolate." Tasting notes: The milk chocolate is even worse than the dark chocolate, offering nothing particularly chocolatey. This had a few bits of nuts for a crunch, and a slight maple sweetness, but otherwise, very MEH.
  • Milk Chocolate Truffle: "A rich chocolate center covered in sweet milk chocolate."  Tasting notes: Waxy, bitter, and horrible.
  • Dark Chocolate Coconut Cream: "A creamy coconut filling covered in deep, dark chocolate."  Tasting notes: I laugh at their “dark” chocolate, as this didn’t have any flavor of dark chocolate at all. The coconut didn’t really taste like coconut, more just like sweet, with texture from coconut. Very disappointing.
  • Dark Chocolate Maple Nut Cream: "A maple nut cream filling with walnuts covered in rich dark chocolate." Tasting notes: One of the better ones in the box, but still not good. The nut and maple flavors were good, and the dark chocolate was much better than the milk.
  • Dark Chocolate Raspberry Parfait: "Light and fluffy, our Parfaits have a whipped raspberry center covered in a thick layer of rich dark chocolate."  Tasting notes: Again, the dark chocolate aspect of this was a joke, but the filling was a pleasant enough whipped berry flavored thing.  I wouldn’t get another, but I was at least willing to finish it.

Butter Fudge

Usually oval.
  • Dark Chocolate Butter Cream Caramel: "Smooth and delicious butter cream caramel layered in deep, dark chocolate." Tasting notes:  Didn't really detect any caramel.  One taster said:  "There is a hint of dark chocolate in that at least." 
  • Milk Chocolate Butter Cream Caramel: "Smooth and delicious butter cream caramel covered in creamy milk chocolate." Tasting notes:   Again, caramel?  Didn't really taste it.
  • Milk Chocolate Maple Nut Butter: Tasting notes: Another bitter, waxy, horrible one. I gave up on trying any more of their milk chocolate after this. 

Nut Clusters

Usually round with a chunky surface.
  • Milk Chocolate Coconut Cluster: "Toasted coconut drenched in rich milk chocolate." Tasting notes: Nasty milk chocolate, even more nasty coconut. Really dried out flakes. Not good at all. Another taster said: "I like coconut but I don't like that one at all". [ Their very crappy milk chocolate, loaded up with shredded coconut. Coconut reminded me of sawdust. Not good at all. ]
  • Pecan Delight: "Candymakers drizzle melted caramel over chopped pecans and top each candy with a quartet of pecan halves. Then comes the chocolate: our special recipe milk chocolate, drizzled over everything and topped with another pecan half."  Tasting notes: mostly caramel, which makes the name of this kinda funny.  Caramel was smooth, soft, and sweet.  Very buttery and actually kinda nice.  The milk chocolate was very creamy and inoffensive.  Pecans seemed slightly caramelized or glazed and paired very nicely with the caramel filling.  Overall, I was very surprised by this, it was decent.  Pretty much the only thing I have tried by Russell Stover that I'd remotely consider eating again, and not part of their classic boxes.

Nougats

Usually rectangular
  • Dark Chocolate with Walnuts and some kind of nougat. Tasting notes: We didn't know what this one was.  Gritty, kinda awful feeling. We think it had walnuts, although we were not entirely sure what type of nuts they were. Quote from fellow taster: "With all the oil taste, I couldn't tell it was too sweet". Another identified the strongest flavor it in: "Petroleum!" 

Toffee

  • Butter Nut Crunch: "Almond toffee rolled in milk chocolate and covered in crunched almonds."  Tasting notes: Slightly chewy hard toffee, slight bitterness, crappy milk chocolate coating. Not horrible, but not good either.
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