Monday, June 15, 2009

Crunky Almond Chocolate

Back when I was still working at a Japanese company, I used to fuel my late day energy lag with chocolate covered almonds. Most convenience stores carry at least one of several varieties of them. My favorite was Meiji's. The only problem was that the box was 105 grams (3.7 oz.) and resistance was futile. Buying a box was tantamount to admitting that I was going to overindulge in a big way. Chocolate-covered nuts are very dense in calories.

The Crunky Almond chocolates come in a box which is more manageable at 37 grams (1.3 oz.). The whole box is 212 calories or 22 calories per candy and cost 99 yen. Because the Meiji box is bigger, it costs about 180-200 yen. Note that Lotte, which makes Crunky products, has their own version of chocolate covered almonds both with and without crispy bits in the coating. These Crunky almonds seem to duplicate their existing product.

The candy looks and feels almost exactly like other types of chocolate-covered almonds. It's smooth and shiny and has almost no smell at all because of the shiny waxy coating. This gives them a very polished look, like part of a good bridge mix.

Despite my affinity for chocolate-covered almonds, I strung out eating this box for quite awhile, eating about one-third at a time. The first time I tried them, I couldn't sense much chocolate taste at all, but I think that was because my sense of smell and taste were suppressed for some reason. Initially, I thought that it was the waxy coating on the outside because sucking on them for awhile seemed to open up the flavor in a way that just crunching on them didn't. The second and third samplings were much richer and more appealing. The chocolate is deep, familiar Japanese bittersweet chocolate. It pairs well with a deeply roasted, crunchy almond.

The "Crunky" crunchy bits didn't do much for the overall experience except dilute the intensity of the chocolate a small amount. There's a hint of their malted puff flavor as a leftover taste, but it's not very strong. The almond and chocolate mostly overwhelm the puffs. The puffs do add a bit more crunch to the chocolates, but I'm not sure that it really needs it since the chocolate coating is solid and a little hard and the almond very crunchy.

These were quite good, but I can't say that they're necessarily better than a regular chocolate-covered almond. The main benefit of these over the other varieties is that the portion control is nicer for someone like me who finds it hard to resist the bigger boxes. I'd definitely buy these again, but if I saw them side by side with the Meiji almonds in the same portions, I'd still probably go for the pure chocolate coating of the regular chocolate-covered almonds.

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