Thursday, April 27, 2017

Kika's Treats

I don't really recall the first place I encountered Kika's Treats.  It might have been at a local artisan's market.  It might have been at the La Cocina kiosk in the Ferry Building.  I'm really not sure, but I think I discovered Kika's Treats fairly on when they were getting started, and I've watched the product line grow and grow.

Kika's Treats is a local SF company, started by a woman (nicknamed, as you might have guessed, Kika) from Brazil.  She is a baker and loves chocolate, and thus started a company that makes mostly chocolate covered confections, all using local sourced ingredients.  A distinguishing characteristic is that she does not use white sugar or corn syrup, and find other ways to make things sweet.  And the products are gluten-free too.  I believe she started as a La Cocina project, was a success story, and she now gives back 5% of all of her proceeds to the incubator.

Her main products are cookies and caramels, but she also makes Brazillian cheese bread, and has experimented with a few other products along the way.  You can find her goods at a few small stores around town, at the La Cocina kiosk at the Ferry Building, and on Good Eggs.

Cookies

Cookies are where Kika started, and are the majority of the products offered.  They company describes:
"Kika's longtime love affair with chocolate-covered cookies led her to create this line. It all started with the Brazilian Honey Cakes, Kika's favorite Brazilian treat, followed by the Caramelized Graham Crackers, Kika's award-winning take on her favorite American treat, then complemented by Shortbreads, each one with a unique and delicious flavor. Try them all!"
I'm not a big cookie fan, but I've still tried almost all varieties over the years.
Coconut Shortbread in Pure Dark Chocolate.
"Smooth dark chocolate covers a deliciously crisp coconut shortbread, made with coconut flakes and rapadura, an unrefined cane sugar with unmatched nutritional value and a unique caramel flavor. You’ll find yourself in the Tropics."

The coconut shortbreads had a nice crunch when you bit in, and I liked the texture from the coconut, but the shortbread was fairly boring to me.  It wasn't ... buttery enough.  I did really like the coconut though.  The dark chocolate coating wasn't actually that dark (64% it turns out), and I would have guessed milk chocolate if I hadn't read the packaging.

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Coconut Shortbread in Pure Milk Chocolate: 
“Smooth milk chocolate covers a deliciously crisp coconut shortbread, made with coconut flakes and rapadura, an unrefined cane sugar with unmatched nutritional value and a unique caramel flavor.” 

I also tried the milk chocolate coated version.  It again had a nice crunch, I liked the texture the coconut added, and the flavor was decent.  The coconut really makes these.  Milk chocolate was less exciting than dark.

Cocoa Nib Chocolate Shortbread Covered in Pure Dark Chocolate:
"Smooth dark chocolate covers a rich chocolate shortbread studded with roasted cocoa nibs, the delicious tiny pieces of crushed cocoa beans, which add an extra crunch and a subtle delicious bitterness to Kika’s least sweet Treat. Dedicated to all chocolate lovers."

Chocolate three ways!  Chocolate shortbread, cocoa nibs, and chocolate coated.  I loved the crunch from the nibs, even more than the coconut version, but the shortbread was again fairly boring, even though chocolate based.

Espresso Shortbread in Pure Dark Chocolate: 
"Smooth dark chocolate covers a light, buttery shortbread flavored with coarsely ground Arabica espresso beans. Call it a Mocha Treat!"

My least favorite.  The nibs and coconut had added great textures to the shortbread, but the espresso just made this gritty.  I did not like the mouthfeel.  And again, the shortbread wasn't very buttery.  I didn't like this one.

Caramelized Grahams in Pure Milk Chocolate:
"These are Kika’s most popular treats and truly addictive. Their distinctive buttery crunchiness and toffee-like flavor are unlike any other graham cracker available in the market."

This isn't the most exciting sounding product, but, it was tastier than expected.  The graham cracker is a nice base, and it is really, really cinnamon-y.  It didn't really seem "caramelized", but there was certainly something going on, and I liked the crunch, and combination of graham cracker and chocolate.  Again, just a flavored graham cracker with chocolate coating, but, for what it is, it was good.

Brazilian Honey Cakes in Pure Dark Chocolate:
“Originally called “pão de mel” (honey bread) in Brazil, where it’s a local favorite, this dark chocolate covered little dense spice honey cake will amaze your taste buds.”

And lastly, her original product!  I wasn't really into it.  The cake had a subtle honey flavor, and decent spicing, but overall it fell kinda flat for me. Again, just not a very interesting item.

Salted Caramels

Kika then expanded into the confections market, producing chocolate covered caramels.  They are even award winning, at some level ("Best Caramels" at the 2011 Chocolate Salon).  The company's description:
"Kika's Treats award-winning salted caramels are made with coconut palm sugar, an incredibly tasty sweetener with a natural deep caramel flavor. On top of that, it’s one of the best sweeteners around, with a low Glycemic Index and high in macronutrients. Does it get any better? Yes! We cover each one in rich, bittersweet chocolate and finish with a sprinkle of delicate flakes of sea salt. Try one and you'll never want a white sugar caramel again! Ever!"
They come in two flavors, both of which I have tried.
Salted Crunchy Caramels.
"Made with Coconut Palm Sugar, one of the best sweeteners around, these caramels have a unique and delicious deep caramel flavor. Crunchy Caramels contain Puffed Brown Rice. They are covered in pure bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt flakes. Product does not use corn syrup and is gluten-free."

These I kinda liked.  It was a caramel with rice crispies in it, covered in dark chocolate.  The caramel was firm, chewy, and tasty, but the rice crispies were a bit odd, they were sorta ... soggy?  I was expecting them to be crunchy as it is the "Salted Crunchy Caramels" variety.  Still, I liked the salty caramel, it had a slight burnt caramel flavor, and the chocolate notes were good too.

Salted Nutty Caramels
"Made with Coconut Palm Sugar, one of the best sweeteners around, these caramels have a unique and delicious deep caramel flavor. Nutty Caramels contain roasted Oregon hazelnuts, are covered in pure bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt flakes. Product does not use corn syrup and is gluten-free."

This was similar to the Salted Crunchy Caramel, but with hazelnuts instead of rice crispies.  It was again a decent caramel, firm and chewy, nice buttery flavor.  The nuts did better than the rice crispies, but still were fairly lost in it.

Other

Gluten-Free Brazilian Cheese Bread
"Naturally gluten-free, Pão de Queijo is one of Brazil's best kept secrets. Kika's version has been tried and tested at events in San Francisco, and has always left people clamoring for more. Now you can be the chef and serve these fresh and hot, right out of your oven (no baking skills required). Plain or as sliders –with dry cured meats, tomato basil and olive oil– they're incredibly delicious!"

My notes on this are fairly lacking, but I seemed to have not really liked it: "Kinda oily, not great cheese flavor", is all they said.

Discontinued Items

These are all items that I tried at some point, but are no longer offered.  Including here just for completeness.

Brigadeiros: 
“The delicious marriage between a chocolate truffle and a caramel”.
Well, I didn't like this.  It was a mild chocolate caramel rolled in shredded coconut.  It was not very chocolate, nor very caramel-y, and even the coconut wasn't very flavorful.  It also had a strange mouthfeel.

Sweet Treaty Dark Chocolate Covered Rice Cake Bites.
"Crispy thin rice cakes covered in our dark chocolate, with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes. An almost guilt-free low-fat snack that will satisfy your chocolate cravings."

This was pretty unexpected, although, exactly what it advertised itself as.  I really liked it, and wished it wasn't discontinued.

Yes, kinda just a rice cake, covered in dark chocolate.  But it had a good level of saltiness, and was very munchable.  It was sweet and salty, but not too sweet.  The dark chocolate seemed high quality, with a nice level of bitterness.

I think I liked this partially because it felt healthy and indulgent at the same time.

Sweet Treaty Dark Chocolate Covered Corn Cake Bites.
"Crispy thin corn cakes covered in our dark chocolate, with a sprinkle of sea salt flakes. An almost guilt-free low-fat snack that will satisfy your chocolate cravings."

This was a corn based version of the previous item.  Same decent dark chocolate coating used in all the confections, wrapping a salty, crunchy, corn cake.  A nice combination of salty, chocolately, and crunchy.  I liked this even more than the rice cake version.
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