Thursday, March 27, 2008

Review: Russian Candy

I have a real weakness for cheap chocolate. Sure, I like the hoity-toity super dark stuff, but I won’t pass up M&Ms, or dark Mars bars, or Twix. I’ll even eat Hershey’s kisses, provided they’re the almond kind. (I’ll pass on plain Hershey’s bars, thanks.) I’m never more tempted to eat cheap chocolate than when I’m shopping at Russian groceries, all of which sell a big selection of candy. The quality varies, but the varieties are breathtaking: my little local store must stock at least 15 kinds. Some have been on the market since the Soviet times, others are new, many have baroque names. Anyone up for a mishka kosolapiy (clumsy bear) or a ptichie moloko (bird’s milk)?

In this third part of my series on stuff you can buy at Russian/Eastern European groceries, I will sample and review Russian candy. My goal is to taste my way through all of the God knows how many varieties and produce the definitive hierarchy of Russian sweets. (A hierarchy of American candy bars can be found here.)

This one’s called “Condensed Milk.” It’s actually dark chocolate-covered…something. The filling is off-white, grainy, and tastes kind of nutty and super-sugary. A C list-candy: good mostly when you crave a sugar boost.

The name means “little trunks with condensed milk.” Little trunks--aww! This one’s for the A-list: a soft, creamy, slightly lemony filling, covered with dark chocolate. A little too sweet, but I don’t mind.

Rachki! That means “crawfish” in Russian, but for some reason a lobster is pictured on the wrapper. What does this candy have to do with shellfish? I suspect “rachki” refers to the crunchy, hard exterior; inside is a crumbly chocolate-nut filling. Eh. I’ll eat this if I crave sugar and nothing better is around. C-list.


adele said...

Oooh. I love reading about foreign candy. I can't wait to see further installments of this feature. :)

Yulinka said...

Adele--Glad you share my enthusiasim for foreign candy. I also like Chinese and Japanese sweets.

Anonymous said...

I used to love chocolate Russian candies, but the quality of the chocolate decreased so much in the recent years that I cannot stomach them anymore. However, the caramels are still very good.
Raki means crawfish (plural) in Russian. Crab is "krab." When I was little, these candies would be called "Rakovye shejki" (lit. crawfish necks, meaning tails). They had a very interesting flaky chocolate and sugar filling. I admit that they are far too sweet for me.

Yulinka said...

Victoria--Thanks for the heads up on raki/crawfish! I've made that correction in my post. The quality of Russian candy really varies-- dry, crumbly chocolate is problem. I don't remember much of the candy from my childhood (except jam-filled caramels), so I'm tasting most of these for the first time.

Anonymous said...

Oh I love these candies.
My favorite are barbarisky or Iriski though.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get these crazy candies anyway. Actually, when I was a kid my Dad had a grocery store in Canada after his parents fled the Ukraine region in 1926. My Dad had a fabulous candy counter at Christmas time and people from all over the south end of the province would come to the store for their Christmas candy. One of the candies he brought in was the Rakovye shejki. I loved it but haven't been able to find it anywhere for years. I also had no idea what the word meant. The wrapping looked different. It was silver paper covered with a black and red clear plastic. The hard candy was red and the center had a sort of peanut crunch thing happening. Is this the same candy and if it is, is there a place I could get it? My kids keep asking for it.

Yulinka said...

Anon--Russian and Eastern European groceries are your best bet. I have no idea if the candy you're looking for is still being produced.

Karina said...

My not sure if its even russian, but its sold in russian stores, is a candy called myracle (in russian), it reminds me of ferrero rocher, but with a white creamy filling.. (:

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