When you think of Easter candy, a few key items probably come to mind: chocolate bunnies, marshmallow Peeps, and malted milk balls. And when you think of malted milk balls, you probably think of Whoppers.
It's no surprise—Whoppers has been making an Easter version of their malted milk balls since 1949. They gussy up the regular candy by transforming the balls into "robin eggs" using an elongated shape, smooth white coating, and pretty pastel speckles. But PAAS, of egg-dye fame, has steadily been creeping onto the scene, most recently with their Ice Cream Flavors Malted Milk Balls. With time growing short before the big day, I wondered—would these new flavors beat out Whoppers for a place in my Easter basket?
Whoppers Robin Eggs are about the size of a candied almond. Their outer shells fall at an 8 on the hard spectrum: cutting one of these eggs cleanly in half definitely requires your best sharpened knife.
Robin Eggs have three layers: a hard candy shell followed by a chocolate ring and a malted milk ball in the center. The outer chocolate ring provides an initial burst of cocoa flavor that lingers slightly before giving way to a marshmallow-scented interior. The flavor is a pleasing combination of milk and cocoa, but the texture is really the key: the malted ball melts on your tongue like astronaut ice cream. At the end of the day, Robin Eggs are just Whoppers in an Easter bonnet.
For as long as I can remember, PAAS has meant Easter. But it wasn't until the dye company joined with Necco that they made an attempt to conquer the second half of the Easter market—candy. PAAS is going a less traditional route, offering malted bird eggs in ice cream flavors.
These malt balls are about the size of Brazil nuts, making them substantially bigger than the Robin Eggs, and their outer shell was noticeably less crunchy. The Ice Cream pack contains four flavors: Chocolate, Orange, Strawberry, and Cookies N' Cream.
I started with the Cookies N' Cream because it looked the most similar to a regular malt ball. It tasted a shocking amount like raw cake batter, as if it was aspiring to be a chunk of the "birthday cake" they use as a mix-in at Cold Stone Creamery. I don't actually mind the taste of super vanilla-y boxed "yellow" cake and this is what these balls resemble. Boxed cake with sprinkles. It wasn't half bad.
The chocolate egg didn't fare as well. This flavor tasted so distinctly like orange that at first I thought I had sampled the wrong flavor. Another egg (halved, with insides exposed) confirmed that this off, fruit-flavored candy was indeed the chocolate egg. I had hoped that the chocolate flavor would taste like the chocolate ring of a Whopper, times three, but this had sadly lost its way.
At first bite, Orange tasted just like a Flinstones' Push-up Pop. The creamy orange flavor melted into a less desirable, astringent orange Tic Tac aftertaste, but it definitely wasn't as awful as you would think an orange malted milk ball would be. Meanwhile, there are no words for how strongly I disliked the Strawberry egg. It was Tums gone wrong, curdled Pepto Bismol, a cloud of bad strawberry-scented perfume shot into your mouth. To make matters worse, when I spit out the egg (no, I couldn't bring myself to swallow) the pink dye seeped all over my hands.
The verdict? If PAAS made an all Cookies N' Creme pack I might consider throwing it into my basket; it's nice to change things up. But as we've seen before, the oldies seem to be the goodies on the Easter candy scene.
What about you? What's your favorite brand of malt ball? Are you putting anything new in your Easter basket this year?