Chipstar Chocolates

  • -

Chipstar Chocolates

Here’s another of those ‘only in Asia’ snacks which seem to defy logic. Maybe I am just too conservative in my tastes (although anyone who has been on a Julietours would probably dispute this…) but I find it very hard to enjoy snacks which combine sweet and savoury in the same mouthful.

But hey, I like Chipstar crisps, which are pretty much identical to Pringles and so dangerously addictive. And of course I cannot conceive of a world without chocolate. As I did not actively dislike some of the items I have previously tasted combining these 2 things, and I am unable to walk past bizarre new offerings like these when I spot them on a Japanese convenience store shelf, here they are…

What you get is exactly what you see in the picture on the packet – chocolate truffles coated in chocolate then rolled in crushed potato chips. Decidedly strange by Western standards, but not as ghastly as you might imagine. In fact, not that far removed from what the taste might be if you rolled these in crushed almonds or peanuts instead.

That said, these are not the nicest chocolate truffles underneath the chips, although no worse than you’d expect for the price. But having tried them once, I will be perfectly happy to leave them on the shelf next time.


  • -

Calbee Chocolate Sticks

I do not know where to start describing these, except to say I hated them.

Calbee is a Japanese firm famous for crispy potato snacks, many varieties of which are sold in small pouches or tubs like this. I rather like the ‘normal’ chipsticks, which are salty and crunchy, speckled with bits of vegetable so you could almost imagine they are good for you.

These are another story, however, and from the artwork on the tub may well be a Valentine’s Day special for this year. Although I am not quite sure what I was expecting, it certainly wasn’t this – they have a strong chocolatey taste and smell, but still manage to be salty and potatoey at the same time.

It is a disconcerting combination, and for someone who does not like mixing sweet and savoury, not at all pleasant. But I have Asian friends who think nothing of alternating bites of cake and curry, so presumably they are the sort of customers that Calbee hope will be wolfing down these treats.

I shall just chalk them down to experience and never buy them again!


  • -

Chocolate ‘Chip’ Ice Cream

Chocolate chip ice cream, but not as you know it!

The ‘chips’ are actually bits of crinkle cut potato crisp, mixed with the molten chocolate into which the soft serve cone is dipped.

Chocolate covered potato chips are increasingly common – a lot of Asian confectionary companies are now producing them in a variety of different of different forms and flavours – so I suppose this is a logical next step.

There are 2 versions here, so you can choose either milk chocolate on vanilla ice cream or white chocolate on frozen yoghurt. A serving costs just 18 baht, from KFC in Thailand.

The ice cream is pretty horrible, of course (what would you expect at that price?) and it had a disconcerting way of forcing itself out in shiny beads through the chocolate coating. The crispy bits in the chocolate are surprisingly palatable, however. Eating this was rather like eating one of those ice creams with bits of crushed nut in the chocolate coating, except these crunchy bits left a potato rather than an almond aftertaste. It’s obviously very popular, and honestly, not half as bad as I was expecting.


  • -

Ginger KitKat Balls

I can never resist the lure of a new type of KitKat, and there are so many amazing and/or outrageous varieties to be had in Japan that your taste buds can go into shock (wasabi and soy sauce, anyone??)

These ginger tea flavoured KitKat balls were a welcome contrast to some of the odder things I have sampled recently. They are new and different, but taste just the way you’d expect – slightly sweet and slightly spicy like a warming mug of ginger tea mixed with chocolate. The little bit of biscuit crunch is a bonus.

It’s always a treat to find something that is unusual but not a challenge to consume, and I really enjoyed these. Like most of the KitKat flavours it is probably just a short-lived special, but whilst it is around I will be buying it where I can.


  • -

Cherry Blossom Chocolate

It isn’t even cherry blossom season any more, but I had never seen this version of Dars before so felt honour bound to try it.

To be honest, I am not a great fan of the sakura taste, although I have consumed it in tea, ice cream, and no end of delightful cakes where there is a piece of dried blossom as decoration. There’s nothing wrong with it, there just isn’t much of a flavour there to form an opinion on. So apart from the pretty colour, there doesn’t seem much point.

Here, the predominant flavour is the white chocolate, with just a hint of something extra which is hard to define. The pink colour is not particularly striking, either.

No, I wasn’t impressed, I only ate 1 piece and will not be buying this again.


  • -

Chocolate Idlis

Anyone who loves Indian food will know all about idli – the spongey steamed ‘cake’ made from fermented rice and lentils. In southern India it is usually served at breakfast time, along with a tangy yellow dahl and coconut chutney, and I personally have always found it a splendid start to the day.

But the idli itself, whilst ostensibly a savoury item, is plain enough to go with almost anything, which is why I was tempted by this packet of chocolate idli mix. Yes, I know that packet mixes are a total cheat, but making idli at home requires hours of laborious preparation and life really is too short.

Anyway, I did buy this from an Indian store, despite the fact that it is made under licence from giant US food company Pilsbury. At least it meant the instructions were in English, which always helps.

Compared to the labour that would have been involved in making this from scratch, opening the packet and whisking in milk was easy. There’s even a helpful line drawn on the packet of powder, to measure the amount of milk you need. Unfortunately, the instructions tell you to add a lot of vegetable oil as well at this point, which did not appeal very much. So I cut back on that a bit, which in retrospect may not have been the best idea (daughters #1 and #2 would tell you I am incapable of following a recipe to the letter…)

Not having the specialist equipment needed to steam idlis the Indian way, I resorted to silicone cupcake moulds inside my rice cooker and a brief spin in the microwave. This worked a treat, even taking a mere 5 minutes as opposed to the 30 recommended on the packet.

The idlis turned out to be pretty dense, which was probably because I failed to add the necessary amount of oil, but never mind because otherwise they were very definitely the genuine article – surprising for a packet mix.

The only downside was that, like regular idlis, they did not have a great deal of taste and could have done with a sweet alternative to spicy sambar as a sauce. But all was not lost, apparently there is nothing that homemade super-thick chocolate orange vodka cannot improve…

 


  • -

Scented Nail Stickers

I find this idea bemusing. ‘Scratch and Sniff’ stickers had a moment many years ago, and I don’t recall anyone who seriously thought they smelled anything like the fruits they were supposed to be channelling.

Fast forward to these chocolate scented nail decorations, all in cute cupcake and cake slice pictures. They have to be aimed at pre-teens, but daughter #1 gamely gave them a go (I expect the wine helped…), only to declare them “not terribly chocolatey”.

To be honest, this is probably a good thing, as being enveloped in the aroma of chocolate is highly dangerous. I will never forget the set of cocoa butter body products a friend once bought for my birthday – they were wonderfully rich but smelled so strongly of cocoa that I could not stop myself from feasting on the nearest available chocolate bar every time I used them. I am afraid they had to go…


  • -

Molten Chocolates

This was a Christmas special at M&S which sounded too good to leave on the shelf – chocolates which you heat up so as you bite into the crisp outer shell the molten chocolate spills out. Sort of like the chocolate version of a lava cake, really.

Or would have been, if I had managed to make them work.

I am not sure quite what happened, as I followed the instructions carefully, but the shells started cracking before the oven time was up, yet the chocolate inside was stubbornly lukewarm and solid. In the tropical heat of our Singapore climate, maybe I should just have left them on the kitchen counter to achieve the right effect.


  • -

Cactus Chocolate

Here’s another slightly bonkers souvenir from Korea, which is full of fascinatingly ‘different’ things just begging to be sampled.

The cactus in this chocolate is from Jeju Island, which with its volcanic scenery and reputation for pure, organic produce, is a major tourist destination. Here, the cactus fruit is apparently freeze dried and powdered to retain all its natural goodness before being made into the filling for individually wrapped chocolate pieces.

As a single cactus fruit is supposed to contain almost a quarter of your daily vitamin C requirement, this could be the healthiest chocolate treat I have eaten, although as the packet of 5 pieces weighs in at 232 calories, it is not what you’d call a diet aid.

I admit, I was originally attracted as much by the packaging as the ingredients, because the bright purple of the cactus fruit in the illustration really caught my eye. As it turned out, the colour of the filling was more pink than purple, and the whole thing had a very odd and slightly fibrous texture. The flavour was hard to distinguish, and did not really remind me of the cactus fruit I have eaten fresh.

Daughter #2 thought they were weird but not unpleasant, which summed it up fairly well. She added: “I thought they might taste like tequila, but apparently not…”

These do not appear to be available in Singapore, but even if they were, I think trying them once was enough.


  • -

Magic Ice Cream

 

OK, I admit, I should have known better, but there is something in me which finds it hard to resist the off-beat and bizarre.

This packet of instant, easy, DIY ice cream called to me from the shelf of an Indonesian supermarket, and was in my kitchen before I knew it. Luckily, the instructions on the back came in English, too, so there was no problem puzzling out what to do.

Basically, you measure out 300cc of iced milk or water, whisk in the contents of the sachet of powder for 5 to 10 minutes (an electric mixer of some sort is clearly needed here…) then add the chocolate chips and freeze for 5 hours.

Simple!

Hmm… In truth, you cannot beat fresh and lovingly sourced ingredients for something like this, rather than opening up a packet of premixed powder whose main ingredient seems to be sugar. This was never going to be as delicious as the carton claimed, but in fact it was so tasteless and weird that it was binned after 2 spoonsful.

Luckily I went for the chocolate flavour rather than the durian or mung bean varieties that were also on sale. This was from Pondam, but I don’t expect any other manufacturer can do a better job.


Search

Food

Beauty

Fashion/Accessories

Other