Easter Basket 2012: A Few Bad Eggs
My mother always told me that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I still painted a boy's hair green when he copied my picture in art class, and it was with similar dismay that I saw that the king of drugstore chocolate, Russell Stover, had knocked off my beloved Cadbury Creme Eggs.
A taste comparison was in order. I was surprised to find that, at Walgreens at least, the two eggs retail for the same amount: an agreeable 39 cents per egg.
I started with the Russell Stover Chocolate Creme Egg so that I could evaluate it on its own merits, not immediately compare it to the Cadbury Chocolate Creme Egg. I could tell just from looking at the Russell Stover shell that something was wrong: the chocolate had the dull appearance of bad quality chocolate, and the egg's seams were wantonly on display.
The first bite sent a shock of pain up my back teeth. Maybe I have a cavity, or maybe I just made one—the egg had so much sugar I'm sure it could bore a hole through bone. Sure, the original Cadbury Creme Egg is also tooth-achingly sweet, but it's not supposed to taste like chocolate. This chocolate egg? I was hard pressed to find the chocolate flavor. The outer shell didn't melt on my tongue, and even chewing didn't make it taste anything like the substance it purports to be. The inside of the egg was very loose, and it tasted like caramel mixed with watery ice-rink cocoa. I would have been better off if I hadn't seen the word chocolate in the egg's name.
In contrast, the Cadbury Chocolate Creme Egg tasted like a Jacques Torres creation. A few minutes and a glass of water revealed that no, it wasn't that good, but it was still leagues above the Russell Stover. The chocolate shell tastes like a milk chocolate Hersey Kiss or other standard milk chocolate bar—creamy and actually responsive to the decaying properties of my spit.
The inside of the Cadbury egg was firm—it was by far the easiest egg to eat. The flavor was undeniably chocolate. Not dark chocolate, no, but cocoa-y, similar to Duncan Hines chocolate frosting.
After the Cadbury chocolate take-down, I knew that comparing the already dissimilar caramel egg to the marshmallow & caramel egg would provide little insight. But since they're both on the market, I decided to take a look at the results. It took a few minutes to set up this tasting because the wrapper to the marshmallow & caramel egg was stuck to the chocolate shell. There weren't any holes in the egg, yet there was definitely white, gluey marshmallow on the surface. I tried not to think about the possibilities of cross-contamination and finally, I got my egg unpeeled, and carefully broke it in two.
As you can see, the Russel Stover marshmallow & caramel egg has about an 80-20 ratio of marshmallow to caramel. What the picture doesn't properly show is that the marshmallow had the consistency of undercooked egg whites (and that I was loathe to touch it.) Upon tasting, I found that the egg had actual marshmallow flavor, giving it a flavor profile much more on point than its chocolate cousin. Still, I wished that there was more caramel, and most of all, that the chocolate shell actually tasted like chocolate. The effect was somehow less sugary than the Russell Stover chocolate creme egg, but pretty awful nonetheless.
The Cadbury Caramel Egg is meant for anyone who has ever eaten a Milky Way bar only to think, "I wish there was more caramel!" The high ratio of caramel to chocolate feels decadent, and it's definitely the star of the show.
Texturally, the caramel is more viscous than the Cadbury chocolate creme egg filling. So, like with the original Cadbury Creme Egg, the trick is eating the egg without having the insides run out all over your fingers, to nibble at the chocolate shell without crumbling the whole structure.
In all its iterations, a Cadbury Creme egg is meant to be sweet, verging on too sweet for most. So it's with surprise that I'll say, I didn't even know what sweet was until I tried a Russel Stover creme egg. Quick, somebody call my dentist.