Review: Dove Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bar

By Cat Eldridge: At one of my local supermarkets they put lots of candy at the checkout area. Most of it is the common stuff you’d expect there, Musketeers, Almond Joy, Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups, Butterfinger and Hershey Bar with Almonds. No, not bad stuff but nothing really unexpected. You certainly won’t find my favorite Reese’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups here.

I did always wonder how this variety of sweet stuff is put together because it includes a handful of rather unexpected treats of which these Dove dark chocolate peanut butter bars are definitely welcome. Add to that I didn’t even know the Dove company did anything of a dark chocolate nature in general or anything in particular like this bar.

Dove is owned by Mars and the company site says this of the bar, “Unrivaled in taste, our DOVE Dark Chocolate & Peanut Butter PROMISES now come in a large share-worthy size. Unlock a whole new level of chocolate indulgence with this shareable chocolate candy featuring 3 large PROMISES in each pack.” 

Ok, it’s not high end, bittersweet chocolate but then I’ve not date found any such product that combines premium dark chocolate and high quality peanut butter, but I live in hope with such a product existing. 

These bars are a tad sweet but the chocolate is quite good and the peanut butter’s rather fine. Each bar is actually, as the Mars site noted, three separate pieces and quite frankly one piece is enough most of the time. I don’t purchase them every time I shop there but I do get them frequently.

Skye Kingsbury Review: Nutella and Two Comparable Products

By Skye Kingsbury: A report on Nutella. Nutti,  and Fabalous Orange Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread.

All three spreads were served at room temperature on Ritz crackers. Lulu participated under protest.

First up: Nutti, a hazelnut spread with cocoa and milk.

The consistency is really thick. It doesn’t melt easily in my mouth. It is sticking to everything. I’ll have to wipe my mouth clean afterwards. It coats the roof of my mouth. It’s very chocolately. It’s not overbearingly sweet but I couldn’t eat much of this before it got to be too much.

It’s very smooth. Very rich. It is sweet. It’s got the consistency of shea butter lotion. It’s nice. I’d eat this. It would be excellent on toast but not as a sandwich. Then it would be too much.

The Nutti has more cocoa powder than Nutella. You can see the palm oil separating in the Nutti. It’s got less emulsifiers. It’s also got less calories per serving than the Nutella.

Second: Genuine Nutella.

Real Nutella is much sweeter than the Nutti. It’s cloying. The vanilla doesn’t taste real. It tastes off. The Nutella tastes more artificial than the Nutti. I taste the hazelnuts much more in the Nutella than the Nutti. It’s not as chocolatey as the Nutti. It’s much thicker than the Nutti. It’s almost unpleasant. I’ll eat the Nutti. I used to like Nutella as a kid but I can’t eat it anymore. The fake vanilla is so strong, it burns the back of my throat.

Third: Fabalous Orange Hazelnut and Cocoa Spread with 32% chickpeas.

I had to stir the separated oil and work it into an even consistency so be forewarned when you open the jar. Like a nut butter, it will separate!

It’s much gooier and a darker color, more like melted chocolate. It smells heavily of orange. The orange notes are prominent enough I can taste them. The cocoa is strong, with hazelnut undertones. I can taste a bit of salt. It isn’t as smooth and creamy as the other two, but I like it.

This is also nowhere near as sweet as the other two. It contains half the sugar of the other two and you can tell. It’s more like semi-sweet. It is insanely gooey. The inside of my mouth is coated with chickpea spread. It’s very good but the texture is noticeable. It’s not humus, but you’ll see the difference between this and the other two. It’s heavy.

Surprisingly, of the three, I like the chickpea spread the best. I expected this one — which claims to be vaguely healthier — to be the worst but it was the tastiest.

The Nutella is too sweet and too artificial. It’s way worse than I remember from eating it when I was a kid. Maybe it’s the fake vanilla giving it a plastic-y aftertaste.

The Nutti is better than Nutella.

On a scale of one to ten, the Fabalous Orange Hazelnut chickpea spread is an 8. The Nutti is a 6. The Nutella — which I expected to adore all over again — is a 4. It’s too sweet and the more I taste it, the less I like it.

If you’re not a fan of super-sweet, the chickpea spread is superior. If you spread it on bread, you probably won’t object to the not-quite humus texture the way you might when you eat it straight from the jar.

April Gutierrez Reviews: Hammond’s Candies Cocoa

Review by April Gutierrez: Established in Denver in 1920 by Carl T. Hammond Sr., Hammond’s Candies has been in continuous operation ever since, priding itself on producing quality candies using ingredients and methods that harken back to the days of its founding. Hammond’s produces a wide variety of traditional candies, from chocolate-dipped caramels to ribbon candy, candy canes, lollipops and taffy. The company also produces its own brand of hot cocoa, which Green Man obtained for me to review.

A chocolate fiend, I’m inordinately fond of chocolate in all its forms, including hot cocoa/chocolate mixes. This past winter was particularly cold and lingered far past its welcome, so I looked forward to the chance to try out a new (to me) brand of cocoa. Hammond’s hot cocoa mix comes in a 6.25 ounce tin with an old-fashioned looking label (a hallmark of all Hammond’s products, it seems). It’s touted as being “double chocolate,” so promises a rich, chocolatey taste.

Prior to preparing a cup, I opened the tin to view the mix and inhale its aroma (the best cocoa I ever received was a tin of semi-sweet chips for melting into milk: visually attractive and delightfully pungent). Unfortunately, instead of being treated to a chocolatey scent, I was overwhelmed by a cloying sweetness. A sweetness that was confirmed when I looked at the mix and checked the ingredients. First item on that list? Sugar, not chocolate.

Still, aroma is just one component in the overall hot cocoa experience, so I prepared a cup per the tin’s instructions: one heaping tablespoon per six ounces of liquid. I tend to use milk in my cocoa rather than water, since it tends to produce a richer flavor and better mouth feel. However, I’m also fond of using almond milk, since the nutty flavor plays off chocolate so well. This time I used vanilla almond milk, which has proven a very good companion to cocoa in the past. After stirring in the recommended amount of mix, I sampled the cocoa and realized I couldn’t taste any chocolate – the result was just sweet hot almond milk. Since taste is such a subjective thing, I added a second heaping tablespoon of mix to the cup and stirred thoroughly.

Unfortunately, the results were much the same: precious little chocolate flavor and an overwhelming sense of sugary sweetness. For my tastes, it wasn’t drinkable at all. I considered remaking the cocoa with water, or obtaining some skim milk, but given the aroma and taste of this particular experience, I didn’t hold out much hope that the results would be any less sweet or any more chocolatey. So I left it at that.

Compared to the Gourmet du Village hot chocolate mixes I reviewed previously, which were rich and chocolatey, Hammond’s Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa was quite the disappointment. They may do candy very well, but this mix falls very short for fans of high quality cocoa. Might as well grab some Swiss Miss or Nesquik from your local grocery story rather than plunk down almost $7 for this tin.

More info about Hammond’s and their product line can be found at the link.

April Gutierrez, Japanese fan. A Green Man Review reviewer. A life-long lover of chocolate and felines, she indulges in the former frequently and shares her abode with a rather spoiled specimen of the latter. She can most commonly be found with her nose buried in a book, a cup of good tea in hand and Japanese pop music playing in the background.

Cat Eldridge Review: Diana’s Bananas Dark Chocolate Banana Babies

Review by Cat Eldridge: OK, it’s way too cute a name, I’ll grant you, but once you meet them and taste them for the first time you’ll forgive the overly cute name, as they’re amazingly good. Diana’s Bananas Dark Chocolate Banana Babies are one of those snacks that are both an indulgent treat and, surprisingly, rather good for you, as I’ll detail shortly.

Diana’s Bananas started in the Eighties at The Taste of Chicago, the city’s yearly open-air food fest, where they had the idea of freezing a fresh, ripe banana and giving it a bath in delicious chocolatier grade melted bar chocolate. The present product isn’t a whole banana but rather a half a banana but that just means you’ll be eating at least two of these delicious treats. In ten days at Taste of Chicago- they sold some twenty-five thousand of these treats!

What you get are four small frozen half-bananas dipped in dark chocolate. All the bananas are harvested in Ecuador and frozen to minus twenty F there. I don’t think they’re using the usual monocrop banana variety as the size suggests another variety. The dark chocolate they use is gluten free, and not overly sweet — actually almost savory in taste. The banana taste does not get overwhelmed by the chocolate, something far, far too easy to do.

I’ve eaten a lot of them in the last month. They’re very good — consistently tasty, sweet and satisfying. Diana’s Bananas website says they’re available at Kroger’s, Jewels, Shaw’s… Well, you get the idea. If you like bananas and you like dark chocolate, I’d say these are for you.

Chris Tuthill Review: Trader Joe’s Sipping Chocolate
and Ghirardelli’s Peppermint Bark

Review by Chris Tuthill: I’d never had sipping chocolate before trying this tin from Trader Joe’s. To my ears, even the name — ‘sipping chocolate’– sounded amusing and a bit decadent. It’s nothing like the chocolate drinks most Americans like me grew up with— it’s sweet but not nearly as sweet as the hot chocolate or Bosco syrup you might find in the grocery store. Mix a scoop of this with hot milk, and you feel almost like you’re drinking a smooth, melted bar of dark chocolate. It’s not bitter the way some dark chocolates can be, but creamy and a bit heavy, though you could also mix it with water to make the effect more like hot chocolate. It’s a rich indulgence, but for a cold winter’s night this is the perfect remedy. Add a little anisette to your cup and you’ll soon banish the chill of winter.

Ghirardelli makes delicious chocolate, with something for every palate in their many flavors. The Dark Twilight Delight 72% cacao bar, is smooth, dark, and just sweet enough for me without overpowering the cocoa. This makes for a really nice after dinner treat that to me tasted slightly of espresso. It doesn’t leave you feeling too guilty, as three squares of the bar is two hundred calories.

I also tried the peppermint bark, a holiday treat of a whole different kind. My young children love the sweetness and the mix of peppermint and milk chocolate. It isn’t exactly subtle the way some of Ghirardelli’s dark chocolates are, but it’s quite good, especially if you have a sweet tooth and enjoy peppermint. Unless you’re really craving sugar, for most of us these will be best enjoyed in moderation. These bars had been a seasonal offering, but Ghirardelli now seems to be selling them year-round.

You can’t go wrong with any of the Ghirardelli bars. Even if you buy one and decide it isn’t to your taste, you’re sure to find a friend or family member who will happily finish it for you.

Chris Tuthill’s work has recently appeared in The Mythic Circle, A Companion to JRR Tolkien, and Dark Tales From Elder Regions, among other venues. Chris is a librarian who lives in Poughkeepsie, New York with his wife and two children.

Denise Kitashima Dutton Reviews Yuengling’s Hershey’s Chocolate Porter

Review by Denise Kitashima Dutton: What do you get when two great Pennsylvania tastes decide to mix it up? You get a fantastic porter that’s well worth searching out. Yuengling knew what they were doing when they collaborated with Hershey’s. And the brewery definitely let the chocolatier take the wheel. And it’s glorious.

It’s truly Willy Wonka beer, because even though it has a beautifully dark porter look, it tastes like chocolate milk in the glass. You know, the good kind, with extra syrup. No wonder the brewery sold out the moment it hit taps. (Don’t worry though. They made more.)

Belly up to the glass and get a clean nose, with a whiff of clear water. Then the chocolate hits you. No, not the cocoa. The CHOCOLATE. Cocoa nib? Never heard of her. There’s more syrup and chocolate on the tongue, with the tart nib barely getting through past all the beautiful Hershey’s sauciness. This is pure chocolate decadence, and it slides down the throat.

The head is a lovely dark cream, full of bubbles and froth. But it quickly becomes all but nonexistent, settling down the minute your glass hits the table. Perhaps the infusion of chocolate makes the beverage a bit heartier, the head a bit lesser. But who cares, as this is one helluva brew. I had to triple check the ABV on this one, because I’m not used to such a rich flavor profile in such a low alcohol beer. If this is how Y&H work together, here’s to many more collaborations. Can we get a Reese’s next, please?

Pairing this one with anything chocolate – perhaps a Hershey’s Special Dark – is a no-brainer. But a spicy-sweet barbecue, smoked cheese, or slow-roasted veg wouldn’t be bad choice either. Or just go all out and plop in a scoop or three of your favorite frozen creamy stuff straight into the glass. (I’m thinking butter pecan ice cream, or vanilla Soy Delicious…)

Okay, now I’m hungry.

Yuengling Hershey’s Chocolate Porter
Style: Dark Brewed Porter
ABV: (alcohol by volume): 4.7%
IBUs (international bitterness units): unknown/not given

Denise Kitashima Dutton Reviews “Diana Malouf’s Ococoa”

Review by Denise Kitashima Dutton: Every so often an unexpected, and very welcome, treat shows up in my mailbox, courtesy of Cat, who’s constantly on the lookout for new chocolate-related review opportunities. This time around it was a box of bonbons from Diana Malouf’s Ococoa – candy that is both beautiful to look at and a pleasure to eat.

Made of largely vegan-friendly ingredients (honey is the lone exception), the chocolates are shot-glass shaped, and larger than most popularly known peanut butter cup candies.  Each cup is a thin shell of dark chocolate, which has a mild flavor and silky mouth feel, around a unique filling. The top of each cup is beautifully decorated with a simple, thin slice of nut or fruit, or a delicate painted design such as bees or cherry blossom. And inside each cup . . . well, these are definitely not your run of the mill flavors! Included in the 9-piece box are one each of the following:  Classic Peanut Butter, Pistachio Date, Sesame Fig, Hazelnut Chocolate, Almond Cherry, Cashew Apricot, Marzipan Truffle, Macadamia Guava, and Sunflower Honey.

Across the board, these are some of the most unique and flavorful filled chocolates I’ve had the good fortune to taste.  Each cup incorporates a very delicate balance of sweet and savory in each bite, successfully playing the boldness of the fruit or honey against the more subtle flavor of the nut butter. There’s also a harmony of textures, creamy nut butter or ganache against jelly or jam, set off by the chocolate shell. All in all, a delicious treat to be savored.

A full list of the flavors, along with pictures of each cup, formerly could be found on the Ococoa website, however, the business is now closed. (A wide variety of pictures can still be seen on Instagram.) My personal favorites are the Sesame Fig, Sunflower Honey and the salty goodness of the traditional Classic Peanut Butter (truly, the addition of Fleur del Del and sea salt to the cup itself is a perfect addition to the creamy peanut butter). I would have heartily recommended this collection to anyone who likes exotic flavors, or wanted a little something out of the ordinary: there was sure to be something here to tempt them.

Denise Kitashima Dutton has been a reviewer since 2003, and hopes to get the hang of things any moment now.  She believes that bluegrass is not hell in music form, and that beer is better when it’s a nitro pour.  You can find her at Green Man Review, Atomic Fangirl,, or at that end seat at the bar, multi-tasking with her Kindle.

Gary Whitehouse Review: Trader Joe’s Chocolate & Peanut Butter Joe-Joe’s Sandwich Cookies

Review by Gary Whitehouse: I’m in the habit of having something sweet with a bit of tea or coffee most evenings, an hour or two after dinner. My particular weakness has always been cookies. Of course, the best are homemade, especially if they involve chocolate, but I’m pretty much a cookie slut. As long as it’s sweet, chewy or crunchy (or better yet, a combination of both textures), and not gluten-free … I’ll eat it with gusto.

I’ve been known to enjoy Trader Joe’s regular Joe-Joe’s, especially their chocolate-peanut butter flavor. But I generally avoid them because they tend to be pretty high in fat, sugar, and therefore calories. And I find that so many of today’s store-bought treats tend to be very sweet. Very very sweet, not to put too fine a point on it. But the powers that be sent me a double pack of these goodies and wanted a review, so who am I to look a gift cookie in the mouth?

These cookies start out as naked TJ’s chocolate-peanut butter Joe-Joe’s sandwich cookies. Then they’re “enrobed” in a peanut butter coating, which is then decorated with a chocolate drizzle. True to TJ’s form, on first bite the overwhelming impression is of sweetness. Then the peanut butter flavor kicks in, and as it’s chewed, the crispy cookie layers give up their chocolate flavor. Ever since Reese’s invented the peanut butter cup, it’s been common knowledge that chocolate and peanut butter go well together, and this cookie is no exception. And, it’s kinda good? But.

It’s really sweet. And it’s not my imagination, either. Sugar is the top ingredient in the peanut butter coating, which hits your tongue first. Next is palm kernel oil, followed by “partially defatted peanut flour,” and several other things like emulsifiers. I mean, they can’t just smear actual peanut butter on the outside of a cookie, right? So it has to be a peanut butter flavored stuff that will hold its shape, not melt in the package, and not come off on your fingers when you eat it. It does that job quite well, and tastes passably peanutty, just very sweet. And a bit … gummy? Those emulsifiers give it an odd texture, if you’re paying too much attention. The crispy cookie pieces are nice and crunchy and chocolatey, and the chocolate drizzle … well, it’s mostly for decoration but I’m sure it adds a little bit of chocolate flavor to the peanut buttery exterior. Sugar’s the top ingredient in the drizzle too. It’s not the top ingredient in the chocolate cookies (that would be flour) but they contain three types of sugar, so, yeah.

The first time I tried these I had them with hot English Breakfast tea, and overall I wasn’t that impressed. Next night I tried one with coffee, and it was much better! The bitter, savory nature of the coffee cuts through both the sweetness and the emulsifiers better than tea. In fact, TJ’s on its website suggests having this cookie with coffee or milk. I’m not a milk drinker so I can’t address that, but the coffee suggestion is right on.

Going through the Nutrition Information label, they’re pretty high in fat and added sugars, at 130 calories per serving, which is one cookie. I’d be hard pressed to eat more than one at a time. You won’t gobble up this pack of eight cookies in one sitting. Good to put on a platter at a social occasion! They’re tasty and definitely satisfy your sweet tooth. I don’t think they need to be as sugary as they are, but then I’m not the one making gazillions of dollars selling high-end snacks to the bougies, so what do I know?

Gary Whitehouse (he, him), a lifelong resident of the U.S. Pacific Northwest, is a retired reporter, editor, and government communicator. He’s also a lifelong lover of books and music, which he has been writing about online for nearly a quarter of a century. His other passions include birding, standard poodles, chocolate, coffee, and craft ales.

Robert Tilendis Review: Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Chocolate, Dark

Review by Robert Tilendis: For the confirmed chocoholic, Trader Joe’s has come up with a real treat: Pound Plus Chocolates. It really is a pound plus — 17.6 ounces (500 g), to be exact — and it’s quite reasonably priced — one might even say “cheap”, at only $4.99 for a nice hefty bar. It comes in a variety of flavors, from milk chocolate to 72% cacao; I usually pick up the dark chocolate. These chocolates are made for Trader Joe’s in Belgium; the dark chocolate contains chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, and soy lecithin.

The bar itself is large and flat, scored into squares that break apart fairly easily. The color is a nice, rich chocolate brown, and the scent is definitely chocolate. But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding — so to speak.

The squares are bite-size, and the texture is quite firm, with some variation depending on ambient temperature. (I did once have a few squares that I was carrying with me melt together, just enough to stick, but the temperature was in the 90s.) Once you’ve started chewing, the texture turns somewhat buttery. The taste is rich, slightly earthy, and also contains hints of butter under a rich chocolate taste.

As I noted above, the bars come in several varieties, including milk chocolate, bittersweet, 72% cacao, dark, and possibly one or two others — Trader Joe’s website is marvelously reticent about this particular line, and most other listings seem to feature the 72% cacao. It’s worth checking out at your local Trader Joe’s, though, to see what else is available.

Denise Kitashima Dutton Reviews Butterfinger Dark

Review by Denise Kitashima Dutton: I love dark chocolate. It’s something everyone knows, because I don’t mind saying so. But I think I’ve found something that has me thinking that perhaps dark chocolate has its limits. Because with Butterfinger Dark, these two great tastes don’t quite make a satisfying whole.

Same crisp, crunchy, nutty filling. The dark chocolate is smooth and sweet, a nice cocoa punch. But the two tastes don’t seem to play well together. Instead of the blend of chocolate and buttery toffee, my mouth felt like it was playing a tennis match. One moment it was toffee, the other chocolate; back and forth, never the twain shall meet.

The bar I reviewed was a share pack, with two pieces per package. Each piece is slightly bigger than the average Fun Size bar you’d pick up for Halloween. But Butterfinger Dark comes in a single bar, as well as snack size bites.

Though Butterfinger Dark bars are gluten-free, they’re not dairy free; milk solids are added to the chocolate, and though it’s “less than 1%”, it’s there in case you’re trying to avoid that sort of thing. (Me, I think it gives the coating a nice, smooth mouthfeel.) They’ve also got ground peanuts that give the bar that “dusty” bite, and the blend of peanut and toffee is that lovely mix that this brand is known for.

While this bar doesn’t live up to the beautiful balance of the original Butterfingers, if you’re itching to give it a try I’d recommend using it as an ice cream topping. Smash the bar a bit, then sprinkle the crumbs over the flavor of your choice (I’d recommend vanilla, so you can get the maximum Butterfinger flavor for your buck.) As a lone star though, this bar is a bit too much of a good thing. Yeah, I’m just as shocked as you.

Denise Kitashima Dutton has been a reviewer since 2003, and hopes to get the hang of things any moment now.  She believes that bluegrass is not hell in music form, and that beer is better when it’s a nitro pour.  You can find her at Green Man Review, Atomic Fangirl,, or at that end seat at the bar, multi-tasking with her Kindle.