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Perugina Milk Chocolate With Cappuccino Crispy

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On a recent business trip to New York, I searched a few grocery local stores for a new sweet treat to taste. I wanted a taste of coffee without too much caffeine so I decided on this product. This is the first time I have seen a product by Perugina, an Italian company established in 1907,  so I thought it would be an interesting experience.

I’ll quote a sentence from the marketing quip on the back of the  package:

“You will be transported into a dream world of flavor, culture, and passion for delicacies that is genuinely Italian.”

Flavor

Everything from this product, from its appearance to its taste, seemed like a ripoff of the classic ‘Nestle Crunch’. Nestle Crunch has been around since 1938, but I’m not sure if Perugina’s product was first of not. If I had to guess I would go with Nestle Crunch being first. Ironically Nestle purchased Perugina in 1988 – I wonder how this affected their recipes.

My biggest beef with this product is that there is practically no coffee flavor, its overpowered by all the sugar packed in. The ingredient list also is consistent with this since coffee is listed after sugar.

This one of the times when I will probably not finish the entire bar and it will end up in the trash can. To be fair, its also one of the times I didn’t pay attention to the ingredients before purchase.

Nutrition/Ingredients

In a 40 gram serving (2.5 total servings) there is 220 calories and 19 grams of sugars.  This is pretty typical for chocolate bars with a low percentage of cocoa. It isn’t listed on the package, but from the taste and amount of sugars I would say roughly 30-40%.

Because of the high sugar content (listed first on the ingredient list) and low cocoa content, I can’t recommend this chocolate from a nutritional perspective. One surprise is that crisped rice is used in Nestle Crunch, whereas this product has modified food starch and wheat maltodextrin replacing that.  The presence of artificial flavors really puts the nail in the coffin for this chocolate.

I have no idea what part of this product is “genuinely Italian”, since both the flavor and ingredients are quite generic. I guess this company still gets shelf space since it has been around for over 100 years (and has the backing of Nestle), but if they want to stay competitive they should try new recipes with more unique flavor and healthy ingredients.

Full ingredient list: Sugar, milk, cocoa butter, chocolate liquor, cappuccino crispy (nonfat milk, sugar, coffee, modified food starch, wheat maltodextrin), milkfat, sunflower lechitin, artificial flavor.

Price/Availability

I got this for $4.99 at Cafe Hestia near Grand Central Station in New York.

Ratings:   Flavor: 6.0   Nutrition/Ingredients: 5.o   Price:  7.0  Overall: 6.0

Summary

With a load of sugar, very little chocolate and hardly any coffee taste, this product is a major letdown. If you are a bug fan of classic chocolate like Hershey’s you might enjoy this, otherwise pass it up for more healthy, refined chocolate.

Talenti Coffee Chocolate Chip Gelato- Product Review

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Introduction

For Sweets Reporter’s 20th post, I didn’t want to review just any product. It had to be something extra special and extra delicious.

I decided on using Talenti’s Coffee Chocolate Chip Gelato – my current favorite ice cream, hands down. You may have noticed I just mixed terms – is this a gelato or an ice cream?

Gelato is supposed to have several major differences compared to ice cream: Less fat, higher serving temperature, more sugar, and slower churning. But this ‘gelato’ has nearly the same amount of fat, if not more, than many ice cream products. I eat it at the same temperature, and the amount of sugar is comparable to ice cream. I can’t speak on how fast it was churned, but without a clear distinction between what makes a ‘gelato’ and an ‘ice cream’, I’ll continue to group these together. After all, ‘gelato’ simply means ice cream in Italian.

Anyway, lets get to the meat of this review. I’m looking forward to writing this and I hope you are looking forward to reading it.

Flavor

This is a product that I’ve eaten so many times and just learned to enjoy in sort of a zen state. Rather than thinking about the flavor too much,  I simply savor the experience as time seems to slow down. So its a little difficult to give an objective description for someone who is new to this gelato, but I’ll do my best.

From far away, things don’t look too different than run-of-the-mill chocolate ice cream. But as you dig in a spoon the texture is somehow thicker and more dense.

As I mentioned in previous posts, ice creams generally taste better when partially melted into a half-liquid state, so the creaminess can be felt along the length of the tongue. This product is no different. In fact I’d say the effect is even more pronounced, and this is in line with the recommendation that gelatos are served at a higher temperature than ice cream.

Several sensations come as your tongue makes contact with this delightful desert. There is a very strong sweetness, backed by evenly balanced flavors of chocolate and coffee. There is also a rich, savory flavor that is difficult to describe in words, but many associate with butter, meat, or cheese. On a historical note, a Japanese chemist was the first to discover this taste which he called “umami” (tastiness) and attributed to it glutamate. He was also the inventor of the (in)famous food additive MSG.

Fortunately, the savory taste in this product comes from a much more natural and healthy source, eggs. I don’t know of another gelato/ice cream with the same taste, and I think this is one of the reasons I’ve fallen for this product.

Awhile back actually tried to replicate this ice cream myself, and after a few batches with successively more eggs I realized those were what was giving such a great flavor. I never did quite get the right taste (or texture, for that matter), but I plan to try again someday.

Embedded throughout the ice cream base is a storm of chocolate pieces, little treasures hiding here and there. The company has referred to them as “a ribbon of chocolate”, but its really just tiny chocolate chips, and I enjoy their sweet, chocolate flavor much more than “chocolate flakes” I’ve had in another product.

That reminds me of a funny story. This gelato used to be called simply “Cappuccino” and lacked  chocolate chips, but sometime last year they changed the name to “Coffee Chocolate Chip” and added in the chips. At that time I was outraged. I even wrote an email to Talenti demanding my Cappuccino back, and went as far as saying that the chocolate chips destroyed the smooth, creamy texture and overpowered the coffee flavor.

Now it’s over a year later and I have gotten used to these things. Having said that, I wish I could taste that classic flavor one more time. Maybe I would still like it better.

Ingredients / Nutrition

Per a single 1/2 cup (102 gram) serving, there is 240 calories. I would say this is near the average for ice creams I have eaten.

As you would expect from the taste, this product has a good helping of sugar – 24 grams per serving. While this is higher than I am normally comfortable with, because of the great taste I make an exception. There are ice creams with much high sugar content, such as Argentine Caramel, made by the same company, with 33 grams per serving.

For an ice cream with such a complex flavor the ingredient count isn’t too high (13). Eggs, which give the characteristic savory taste and also enhance the thick creamy texture, are in very high proportion (they are the 3rd ingredient). I don’t know of any other ice cream or gelato for which this can be said of.

Because of the high egg content, there is a moderate amount of protein (6 grams per serving). But more than that, the cholesterol value is off the charts, providing over half (57%) of your daily amount in a single serving. Until recently this would have been regarded as extremely unhealthy, but some recent research shows that the cholesterol in eggs can actually be good for you. See link in references section below for more information.

Besides the massive amount of eggs, the ingredients are pretty typical. My pet-peeve “natural flavor” is present, and I have sent out an email to Talenti to get further detail on what is really in there.

Here is the full ingredient list:

Milk, sugar, eggs, cream, chocolate, dextrose, oil (coconut soybean), coffee, carob gum, natural flavor, soy lechitin, vanilla.

One warning for those who aren’t frequent coffee drinkers. I don’t have any specific figures on caffeine present but based on my experience I can say there is a hefty amount in this product, coming from both coffee and chocolate. Add a sugar high to the caffeine buzz and you’ll be bouncing around for quite a while.

Price and Availability

This sells for around $5 in Publix and other grocery stores, though I have seen it for nearly $8 online. It is a bit pricey but at Publix it occasionally goes on sale for one dollar off, and rarely for half price. Whole foods also carries Talenti gelatos, but I have never seen this flavor there for some reason.

Ratings

Flavor: 9.5

Ingredients/Nutrition: 7.5

Price:7.5

Overall: 8.16

 

Summary

A heavenly mix of sweet chocolate and coffee, enhanced by the lush, savory taste of eggs. Except for a few minor issues such as “natural flavor” and high sugar content, its practically the perfect ice cream (or gelato). As my current favorite, I recommend it to anyone who enjoys sweets, chocolate, or coffee.

References

https://talentigelato.com/our-products/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gelato

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/28/ice-cream-vs-gelato_n_3333016.html

http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2012/07/whats-the-difference-between-gelato-and-ice-cream.html

http://www.livescience.com/39353-eggs-dont-deserve-bad-reputation.html

Nonni’s Biscotti Cioccolati

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Introduction

I’ll admin I’m pretty new to the world of biscotti. I’ve known about this italian cookie (whose name originated from a Latin word that means “twice cooked/baked”) for many years now, but my first opportunity to try one was when we decided to buy one for our son. That was a different product that was sold in single packages, but since he enjoyed it so much we searched for a healthier product. Nonni’s Biscotti Cioccolati is what we ended up discovering.

As you likely already guessed, “Cioccolati” means “Chocolate” in Italian.

Flavor

As is typical of biscotti, these are elongated, finger shaped cookies. Nuts adorn one side and a strip of chocolate the other. While both almonds and walnuts are used according to the ingredients list, the nuts were so finely chopped and so sparse that they practically had no effect on the overall texture or taste. This contrasted greatly with the picture on the box (shown above) where the nut size, amount, and placement was much more favorable. I checked the few cookies remaining in the package and some of those looked better than the ones I had eaten, but none looked quite as good as the product photograph.

I had two of these cookies before writing this report, and one of them was much crisper and firmer than the other, more what I would expect from a twice-baked product. I’m not sure what happened to the  spongy one. Maybe there was a small hole in the packaging which let air in and accelerated staleness. If you are accustomed to super-crispy biscotti, you might be disappointed with this product.

The mildly sweet cookie base, whose flavor brings to mind a cake, is balanced by a sweet, thick layer of chocolate. This was the most generous helping of chocolate I’ve experienced on a Biscotti, and as a result I I don’t think I’ll ever to be enjoy other brands with less chocolate the same.

There was a minor aftertaste which bothered me, or should I say undertaste since it sort of hid underneath the basic flavors. I don’t think it is inherently bad, but it somehow reminded me of another food product which was unhealthy. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is though.

Ingredients / Nutrition

A single cookie has  110 calories and 9 grams of sugar. For a fairly large cookie whose length is about a inch longer than my middle finger, those aren’t bad figures. Most people will tend to nibble a little at a time, so one cookie can go a long way in terms of time and enjoyment.

Theres not much to write home about regarding nutrition, with 2 grams of protein, 1 of fiber, and 4% or Iron. Clearly this cookie wasn’t made to replace a meal but nobody’s trying to pretend it does.

There are around 20 ingredients which isn’t too bad for this type of product. You can compare to my recent review of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Brownie ice cream, which had nearly the same number. There are no artificial flavors, and real vanilla is used instead of the artificial vanillin, which is a nice touch. There is the mysterious “natural flavors” but thats pretty common practice for this type of product. The rest of the ingredients are pretty much standard-fare, with the exception of anise seeds which raised an eyebrow. I’m guessing they use it to improve texture.

As a side note, Nonni’s logo contains the phrase “Authentic Italian Family Recipe” and their website claims they have been using the same recipe for almost a century. However I somewhat doubt that chocolate was used back then, at least in such a large proportion. In any case, the cookie base seems like it might very well be authentic, but I’m no biscotti expert.

Also its interesting to note that their website claims they are the most popular selling biscotti on the market. Aside from the minor texture inconsistency, I’m not surprised.

Price and Availability

I got mine at Publix for around $3.00 for a 8-pack. These are also available online at places like Amazon. For less than 50 cents a cookie, they are a great deal! I called my local Whole Foods and they didn’t carry this product, unfortunately.

Ratings

Flavor: 8.0

Ingredients/Nutrition: 7.0

Price:8.0

Overall: 7.66

Summary

Great tasting biscotti cookie with reasonably natural ingredients and a sweet coating of chocolate. It’s not going to win any awards for nutrition, but its a must-try for fans of biscotti or Italian food.

References

http://nonnis.com/products/cioccolati/

http://www.amazon.com/Nonnis-Biscotti-Cioccolati-8-Count-Boxes/dp/B000G7WWW6

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