Friday, March 16, 2012
Vanilla KitKat Big Bar
There's a song by Barenaked Ladies which my husband has listened to many times in which about a million lyrics are disgorged in about 3 seconds that has a line which says something about vanilla being the finest of the flavors. As a kid, I would have vehemently disagreed with this, but, as an adult, I'm definitely much closer to agreeing with. I realize that one of the reasons "vanilla" was not good when I was a kid was that most of what was marketed at that time as "vanilla" was simply "absence of chocolate". An ice cream cone from the local "Tastee Freeze" was pretty much milk flavored with some artificial flavoring tossed in. It wasn't even an approximation of vanilla, but rather some sort of flavor that was supposed to enhance the consumption of a cone of white soft serve.
I think that since the days of my ancient childhood (I am all of 47, after all), consumers have gotten more sophisticated about vanilla. The price of vanilla beans would indicate there is some reason to believe that is so. They wouldn't be so expensive if demand were not fairly high. Nestle Japan decided that they were going to go "for real" in this vanilla KitKat bar and the package boasts the inclusion of real vanilla beans and 13% "vanilla paste". I was not sure at all what "vanilla paste" was, but a little research said that it is vanilla beans mixed with a thick sweet syrup made with sugar and a thickener. It's supposed to be good for making ice cream and is used in gourmet cooking. I may be a tad cynical, but I'm guessing this KitKat isn't using the highest quality vanilla bean paste in every bar.
I should note that this purchase was something my husband desired more than me. He's a great fan of white chocolate and I'm decidedly "so-so" on it as I generally find it too sweet. For that reason, I'm going to go with his rating on this bar instead of mine. I will share my impressions, however, since I can't really speak for his taste buds. I can only say that he said, "I really liked it!" I can also say that he ate all but the bite I took for review purposes by himself.
Regarding my feelings, it was, as expected, too sweet. There were nice little black flecks of vanilla beans in the white chocolate and the inner filling was brown (not white) so there wasn't an overload of white chocolate. The wafers were, as always, crispy and satisfying and the extra number of them in a Big Bar were welcome. However, there was a funky flavor to the white chocolate which overpowered any sense of the vanilla beans authenticity. I thought it tasted like chemicals, but it may simply be something about white chocolate that rubbed me the wrong way.
So, for me, this would be an "unhappy sumo" rating as I wouldn't have finished the bar. For my husband, it'd definitely be happy as he ate most of it in one sitting. If you want one, they're at most convenience stores for about 120 yen ($1.44) for now. Fans of really sweet bars should love it. Those like me, perhaps not so much.