Peanut Swirl – $2.40 from Breadtop, plenty of locations all over greater Sydney (except for Sussex St which has closed)
This week sees us return to Breadtop for a Peanut Swirl. Now right from the start this snack has me in two minds. On one hand, I do appreciate the literal naming of snacks (see the Sascha Pork Floss Roll), but on the other hand, I can’t stand this new trend of turning verbs into nouns (or vice versa, as my good friend Bernard Black would agree). This time it’s going to come down to taste, so lets potter along in order to learn more about this snack shall we?
Firstly a few warnings. Those of you with nut allergies should not attempt a Swirl, and perhaps should even stop reading this review now, as recent research has shown that even pictures of nut based products can cause a mild reaction in some anaphylaxis sufferers. Additionally, the unique appearance of the swirl may require a bit of a leap of faith from new eaters, who could be forgiven for thinking the roll was covered in maggots, but anything more than a cursory glance would show that this isn’t the case (or at least that the maggots are now dead, providing an additional protein boost).
The Swirl starts as many similar snacks do, with a sweet bread roll base, which in this case is twisted prior to baking to give the swirled appearance. Next the base is covered in a unique nut mixture, unlike anything I’ve eaten before. It’s more pastey than crushed nuts, more crumbly than peanut butter, but is somehow reminiscent of both – no mean feat. On top of the nuts comes another swirl, this time of custard, adding a splash of colour to an otherwise fairly brown snack. Finally comes the small white worms populating the top of the Swirl, which luckily are nothing more than extruded noodles of milk powder paste, adding a welcoming crunchy finish.
The peanuts really are the heart of this snack. The unique sweet-yet-savoury flavour and crumbly-yet-smooth mouthfeel are a triumph, recalling features of many childhood snacks while still retaining a refreshing modernity. The subtle layering of flavours and textures completes what is a very satisfying afternoon treat. Minus half a point for the noun/verb thing though. 4 stars.
Originality – Excellent
Execution – Excellent
Value – Good
Overall judgement: 4
Walnutmeats – from all good Asian food stores
If you’re wondering, that sound you’re hearing is once again the sound of my hyperbole radar beeping at outrageous snack claims. This time, the beeps come to you courtesy of The Best Food No 1 – Walnutmeats. “But that’s a packet!” I hear you say. “I thought you only ate baked goods?” Well dear reader, snacks come in many forms, and limiting myself to the lovely yet limited world of baked snacks would be doing you, nay the world, a disservice.
I’m not much of a gambler. With my addictive personality, I fear that a few small wagers would lead me down a destructive path, ending in financial ruin and personal turmoil. I do like a bit of a flutter though, so instead of trading in currency, I use cultural ignorance. For me, gambling sees me head to my local Asian supermarket, buy an unknown snack with limited English descriptions, and eat it. As with regular gambling, sometimes you win (Yan Yan) and sometimes you lose (dolphin satay sticks).
Walnutmeats are the caramelised combination of walnut kernels, honey, sesame seeds, oil and glucose. Popular in both China and Korea (or so I’m led to believe), this “Super Quality Health Food” are a high density source of nutrients, including essential fatty acids. The snack is tasty, as expected, with a slightly airy mouth-feel. The crunchy caramel coating contrasts with the meaty centre, and leaves a smooth sugary sesame finish. As for The Best Food? Unlikely. No 1? Maybe not, but I’m definitely counting it as a win.
Choc-pecan turtle – ~$2.50 from The Fudge Shop
Now I’m no biologist, but I’ve seen a few turtles in my time. And none of them looked much like my most recent snacquisition, the choc-pecan turtle. To see if I was missing something, I turned to the internets, and discovered that ‘turtle candies get their name from their whimsical turtle shape’. It seems that once in the distant past, the snack we speak of did resemble our reptilian friend, but the people these days seem to have forgotten. For a more lifelike example, check out my good friend The Certified Pastry Aficionado (who’s certification I’m yet to see, but her recipes are good).
The turtle, as it exists today, is a combination of pecans, caramel, and chocolate. Ideally the caramel should be soft enough to bite through, but hard enough to hold everything together, so softer than a Fantale, but chewier than a Caramello Koala. The Fudge Shop, in the Harbourside mall at Darling Harbour sell three varieties of turtles, a no choc-all caramel, a white chocolate, and the classic chocolate, which is the subject of my judgement today.
Before eating my turtle, I was excited. Someone had combined my favourite nut with my favourite sweet, then covered it in chocolate. The stage was set for great new heights, or snack disappointment. On first bite, the chocolate cracked, the caramel squished, and the pecans crumbled, the perfect outcome. This is one of the best examples of caramel I’ve ever eaten, the perfect level of chewiness. Chocolate was nothing to write home about, but didn’t let the snack down. A good amount of pecans balanced the snack, cutting through the sweetness. A solid effort, but they need to work on the whimsy. Four stars.
Originality – Good
Execution – Good, but needs more turtle
Value – Excellent
Overall judgement: 4