Friday, January 23, 2009
W Purin (Double Pudding) Tirol Chocolates
Japanese manufacturers often get props for their packaging and I can say for certain from experience that how a product is presented is very important to Japanese people. This box of Tirol chocolates is a pretty good example of clever and inventive packaging that can lure you into making a purchase, though the cleverness of it may escape you if your aren't already familiar with the company's standard product packaging.
The box for these candies is shaped like a big version of their conventional wrapping on each individual candy. The box contains 18 small candies and sells for about 300 yen ($3.30). Their usual plastic bags of small candy are 100 yen ($1.10) for 9 candies. That means you're paying 33% more for this attractive box and, with any luck, the better quality candy than usual inside. When I opened the box, I noted that the there's an inner bag which has hearts printed all over it. I believe this means this is intended to be bought for Valentine's Day gift giving, though there is no external indication of such.
There are 4 different designs for the individual candy packages, but only two kinds of candy. I'm not sure why they bothered to do this, but my husband and I sampled them all to make sure. The two flavors are custard (orange and white labels on the left) and chocolate pudding (white and brown labels on the right).
The custard flavor is an approximation of "purin". This is creme caramel or custard with a slightly burnt or bitter caramel sauce on top of it. The chocolate one is supposed to be the same thing only made with chocolate custard instead of plain. Each candy has a chocolate coating which is a bit on the soft side (no snap or crumbling when bitten into) and a soft center with a little flavored sauce on top of it.
The custard flavor is an excellent approximation of the type of purin you buy in little plastic containers in markets and convenience stores in Japan. The sauce is liquid and tastes of burnt caramel. The interior looks like and has the texture of pudding. It smells vaguely of coconut, but there is no coconut in the ingredients list. My only problem with it is that it was just a bit too sweet for me, as is often the case with white chocolates. My husband, who has a far greater tolerance for intense sweets than I, loved it.
I was a much greater fan of the chocolate version, which was smooth, creamy, and tasted just like chocolate pudding to me. The coating on the chocolate one is a little firmer, as is the center. The chocolate flavor is very deep and I'm guessing that the sauce in it is chocolate syrup. At only 40 calories per candy, they're a not too naughty indulgence with a ton of flavor.
These are the first soft center pedestrian (available in supermarkets and convenience stores) Japanese chocolates I've felt had a very nice ganache-like center. Most of the soft-centered candies tend to have something missing or something added. A lot of them are too firm or chalky. These were nice, soft, and creamy. They aren't premium candies, but they have the smooth feel and deep flavor of a designer chocolate. I'd definitely recommend these as a Valentine's gift for someone who you don't want to send a strong message of love to, or just buy a box for yourself and eat them slowly.