February 2, 2011

See's Chocolate Adventure: A First-Round Report

Finally, FINALLY, after a long week of waiting, my See's chocolates have arrived.


Because I have been making such a gd fuss about it on Twitter, people have been asking if they are REALLY so good. Er...I'm not sure. That is, I know I like them, and I've never found an equal to the Butterscotch Square---but I haven't compared to many other higher-cost chocolates, and the non-Butterscotch-Squares don't strike me as being Beyond! Compare!, and I think hardly anything is worth $20/pound plus shipping, and probably I wouldn't have spent the money if I hadn't had some gift money burning a hole in my pocket plus the recent annual discussion with Paul where we decide not to do Valentine's Day. I think on a regular day I would get more satisfaction per dollar out of $20 worth of Dove chocolates with almonds, or $20 worth of peanut M&Ms. But because having expensive candy is a rare thing, and because it was kind of a thrilling situation to have ordered them for myself (and I added a mug at the last minute, and the mug came with another little box of candy), and because my appetite for Butterscotch Squares was whetted by Doing My Best's Crappy Day Present of See's---well, I got kind of WORKED UP about the package arriving, and about trying other kinds to see if perhaps there was another Butterscotch-Square-level candy among them.

The first thing I noticed was that the first box I picked up felt like it weighed more than a pound. I have a postal scale, so I checked it:


My two 1-pound boxes together weighed just a teeny bit less than 2.5 pounds. Packing techniques can vary, and also probably the pre-assorted chocolates are much closer to an actual pound than the pick-your-own boxes, so I wouldn't want to make a big THING about this and then have us all disappointed if we ordered boxes later that were "only" a pound---but it certainly was a happy discovery. That's like a free $10-worth-of-chocolate-plus-shipping right there.

Now. Let's open the boxes:



Oh, wait, I forgot to switch it to my camera's "Blogger Mode":



The one I wanted most to try was the Milk Bordeaux. I've mentioned (perhaps OVER-mentioned) that my favorite is the Butterscotch Square, which is described as "Firm brown sugar buttercream." Milk Bordeaux is described as "Brown sugar buttercream," so I've been wondering how it differs from the Butterscotch Square. I have now tried both and am ready to make my report: the Bordeaux is more like a regular buttercream, with a dense (I'd say it's as dense as the truffles), sweet, very smooth and creamy filling that tastes only a little bit like brown sugar (primary flavor is "sweet"); whereas the Butterscotch Square has a grained texture like actual packed brown sugar, and also tastes like actual packed brown sugar. The Bordeaux also has a layer of little chocolate bits (like jimmies, but better) over the chocolate coating, and I don't like those: messy and I dislike the texture.

Milk Bordeaux
(photo from Sees.com)



Butterscotch Square
(photo from Sees.com)




So to me, Butterscotch Square wins HANDS DOWN NO CONTEST. The Bordeaux is NICE, and I'd put it in the lower middle tier of my own favorites, with Butterscotch Square in the top tier and Ginger in the lower tier (I got Ginger in a mixed box once and I don't remember if I spit it out or if I just didn't finish the piece---it was like a strongly-flavored ginger-root gumdrop covered in dark chocolate that peeled off brittley when I bit) (oh, ick: that gave me a taste/texture flashback).

Next I wanted to try the stripey one. It's a Blueberry Truffle, and I didn't expect to like it so I only put it at 5% of one box (in this case, 5% of a 1-pound box was one truffle). But I DO like it! Middle tier, possibly even upper-middle. Nice blueberry flavor, some of it "blueberry candy" flavor and some of it "actual blueberry-the-fruit" flavor, and it's a very pretty color with flecks of what is either blueberry skin or a very nice approximation of it.

Blueberry Truffle
(photo from Sees.com)


From there I moved on to the California Brittle. I was excited to try this because I love Skor bars and Heath bars, and this looked like an upscale version. I got three large pieces of this (they're on the far right of the lower box in my photo) and I would definitely get more next time: SO YUMMY. The brittle was just the right type of brittle: it shatters exactly right, neither hurting the teeth nor being too sticky, and the nuts made it even better. In my top tier: I'd still choose a Butterscotch Square over it, but they can keep company.

California Brittle
(photo from Sees.com)


Last, I tried a Pecan Bud. This is another large piece, like the California Brittle (the Pecan Buds are on the far left of the lower box in my photo: two slots are double-stacked Pecan Buds, and one is an extra-large Pecan Bud all by itself). I THINK I like them very much, but it will take another try to be sure (good thing I have five of them): I was expecting more chocolate per pecan, so the first piece I tried was a little disappointing---but that doesn't mean I won't love them when I go into it knowing what to expect. ...In fact, I'm going to have another one right now to see. Yes, this time it was much better. These would be lower-upper tier, except that I feel like anyone can put caramel and chocolate on some pecans. Even _I_ could put caramel and chocolate on some pecans. So although these are very yummy and I really like them, I probably wouldn't ORDER them at $20/pound again.

Pecan Buds
(photo from Sees.com)


Five flavors down, fifteen more to go!

39 comments:

Mimi said...

OH YUMMY. They look gooooood.

Today Wendy said...

Oooh, now I want to go put some caramel and chocolate on pecans...that seems totally doable.

Kate said...

There is something SO satisfying about a box of assorted chocolates! I have a casual working relationship with See's so they send me maybe three boxes of chocolate a year -- they're definitely much better than most other chocolates that I've tried.

ixBeths said...

Holy shit. Send me a chocolate. Pretty please. Just one?

LizScott said...

Camera's Blogger mode: BWAH HA HA HA HA HA

God that made my day.

ps: now I want chocolate. Not just chocolate: THAT chocolate. NOM.

Doing my best said...

I also LOVE the Butterscotch Squares! The first time I tried one I thought, "Brilliant!!! Chocolate covered, packed, dark brown sugar!!!" (....this coming from a person who has been known to be overcome by the incredible smell coming from the brown sugar bag, when it has been opened for baking purposes, and has eaten a lump or two....) It was quite the exercise in self-control to pack those butterscotch squares for you without eating EVEN ONE, but I DID IT =)!

Doing my best said...

PS. Those pictures are KILLER; See's really should compensate you for this since, I'm certain, it is going to positively impact sales =). They should hire you to be their official "taster/reviewer"!

AnneMeg said...

My favorite is the dark chocolate truffle and one year (we were still dating and he was trying to impress me, obviously) my husband got me one dark chocolate truffle from several different fancy chocolate places (Sees, Godiva...I cant remember the others but there was five or six all told) and I got to sit and compare all of them. It was so fun. AND, in the end, Sees won. It beat several that were pricier and harder to get, which made me happy.

Megan

J Grace said...

Bordeauxs are my favorite. And buttercreams. And those maple sugar ones.

My dad buys all his kids See's candy for valentine's day and for Easter. Like, EVERY year. Like even the year that my brother was living in Chile? My dad totally bought him his See's candy and had my mom mail it to him.

These days I think that Gabriel and my nephews might be getting jealous of all of our awesome candy, especially since my sister and I certainly aren't buying See's easter baskets. OH WELL.

d e v a n said...

Yum! The toffee one looks like it would be a favorite for me.

Maggie said...

Had never heard of See's candies before I moved to the NW and I thought "really, how good can they be?" Discovered they are THAT GOOD. See's dark chocolate over any kind of nut is a total dietary Waterloo for me. I literally cannot resist them and have eaten a ridiculous amount at one sitting, regretted it, and then done it again. Cannot have them in my house but I love them so. May have to hit the See's candy store at lunch today and both love and hate myself for it later...

Melissa Haworth said...

Glad to see you share my CA Brittle love. They are SO good. Now I have to try a butterscotch square which, oddly, despite years of Sees eating I have never sampled. Will rectify!

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

Oh, how I wish I didn't read this right before lunch (after having a chocolate breakfast). My lunch is seeming pretty pathetic now. I haven't had See's Candy in ages and I wish I had some now.

Carmen said...

Blogger Mode. I snorted. At my desk, with all my co-workers wondering what on earth I was doing. Now I want some chocolate, at 8:53 in the morning. Is that wrong?

Allyson said...

See's is the best. And the Bordeaux is my absolute fav. In my family, it isn't unusual to get an entire 1lb box just with the Bordeaux. Mmm. See's is one of those things I take for granted living out west...like In 'N Out. It's 8:57am and I'm now craving a cheeseburger.

Carolyn said...

I'm sitting here with my huge prego belly and my gestational diabetes, waiting to take my blood sugar after eating my single piece of toast with peanut butter for breakfast, and my mouth is WATERING over all those candies! I LOVE truffles and buttercreams, so you have officially ruined my morning (but in the best possible way, of course) ;) I'll have to add a box of Sees candies to the list of "foods that somebody is going to bring to the hospital for me to eat as soon as this baby is out of me!" :)

Mrs. Irritation said...

Camera on "blogger mode".

SNORT!

I love you.

Nik-Nak said...

Quick question...do they make caramel? Like just caramel and chocolate? Those are the only ones I like in the assorted boxes but I'd love to know if it was superior to other brands.

Stimey said...

I'm impressed by the stopping at five flavors thing.

SIL Anna said...

You actually inspired me to order my own box of See's earlier this week! Wish I'd read this post beforehand. I would have thrown in a butterscotch square, and maybe one of those blueberry ones.

el-e-e said...

hahahaha! "camera's blogger mode!" That made me LOL and stop reading the post to come make this comment. HA HA! You're so funny.

Swistle said...

Nik-Nak- Yes! A lot of their caramels have nuts in them, but without nuts they have the Butterchew (in Milk or Dark) and the Pattie (in Milk or Dark).

Jaida said...

I would be embarassed to describe exactly how much I live this post. Ever look at candyblog.net?

el-e-e said...

Jaida, omg that candyblog!!! I think I should thank you!

Nicole said...

The blueberry looks good. I like those fruity filled chocolates. How did you finally figure out what to order?

Swistle said...

Nicole- I had a glass of wine to make me stop agitating about getting it perfect! Then I took 9 of the ones I wanted the LEAST of and put those with the Butterscotch Squares, and put the remaining 10 in the other box, and then just adjusted percentages until they Seemed Right.

Clarabella said...

Those look YUMMY. Now I want fancy chocolate. Damn.
In related news, Godiva chocolates are my favorite fancys to spend real $ on. Over Christmas, my mom had gotten a box of Godiva truffles as a gift, & she & I almost came to blows over the last red velvet one. My mouth is watering now just thinking about it. I'm off to see if I can find them on the internet now.
Can't wait to hear about the rest of the box!

Clarabella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Clarabella said...

Here they are (you have to scroll way down). The carrot cake truffle was another favorite. YUM.

Naomi said...

I'm not sure why I'm so entertained by in-depth descriptions of chocolate, but I am!!! Keep em coming, it's like eating them by proxy

Susanica said...

Well Swistle, at the risk of having you sweat again whether to sit in the aisle or window seat on a flight, can I tell you that when you got to Sees Candy Stores in San Francisco, you get FREE SAMPLES of an of the chocolate in the store! My first experience with Sees was when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer a friend brought some to our village and I fell in love. Hadn't thought about them for years though until that business trip to San Fran last year. Nirvana. I'm going to order some for Susanne now for Valentine's Day. I say they are for her, but we both know they are for US! -Monica

Leeann said...

I agree with everyone. I am enjoying these posts so much and I don't even like chocolate all that much!

Hey, did you get any of the Apricot Delights? I love those things. They are so good.

Anonymous said...

Yum-my. And you've brought back some memories.

When I was growing up in San Francisco, we lived a few miles from the big See's store on El Camino Real. Everyone once in a while, Mom would bring home a box filled with big chunks of their chocolate molasses honeycomb. So delicious, and the feel of your teeth shearing through the honeycomb was incredible.

Lippy said...

We are total candy twins. I am so excited and I don't really know why. The bordeaux are another one I like, and the toffe is good. If I don't get some butterscotch squares for my birthday or valentines day, I will be super pissed. Luckily, we have a See's at our mall.

Hotch Potchery said...

Oh dear. I was going to ask you what kind of a camera you had that has blogger mode. mm.

I do love the candy report. Candy is my third favorite thing ever after Mr. P and TV. Oh wait, fifth. I have those 2 offspring.

Nilzed said...

Somebody let you know that they give free samples when you walk up to the counter (yay!) but on the other hand if you aren't a native westerner with favorites learned in childhood and you need to either and think there is always someone in line behind you being all rude about your slowness. So I've yet to really develop favorites. Never thought I'd like the butterscotch but now I'm thinking of stopping at the one down the street after I go to the gym on Friday!

I think the stores have seasonal flavors: we got strawberry hearts dipped in white chocolate a few weeks ago. Like the blueberry it was a pleasant mix of real and candy strawberry flavor, with little bits. Nice for white chocolate. .

Swistle said...

Leeann- I DIDN'T, and I REGRET it!

Kelsey said...

Yum! There are lots of kinds of chocolate that I don't like but I think I would buy a whole box of those butterscotch squares and be very happy about my decision-making.

Leeann said...

Oh, Swistle, regret is no good. Maybe you need to order MORE SEE'S!
:-)