Serious Eats

The Best and Worst of Dean & Deluca's 15 Licorice Varieties

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[Photograph: Jenny McCoy]

While perusing the aisles of Dean & Deluca a few days ago, I found to my delight, 15 different types of licorice sold in their bulk candy section. As I peered through the giant glass jars, I marveled at how many varieties I'd never even heard of. Licorice has always been one of my favorite treats. So much so that on Halloween, when all my friends would gather to trade our loot at the end of the evening as I would happily turn over my stock of Snickers bars for boxes of Good & Plenty, and receive star status for my peculiar tastes in candy.

Of course, I decided I had to try them all. And for a steal ($2.83), I purchased two pieces of each flavor to take home and sample. The woman behind the counter gently warned me of some of candies, saying they were "very different than I would think," or "that one is really salty." I thought I'd be able to handle them without a doubt. Like I said, I've loved anise-flavored candy for years. Uh, I was wrong.

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Some of the licorice were absolutely amazing and tasted like soft, creamy caramels with hints of wild flowers. Others were atrocious, resulting in me spitting them out! Find out more in the tasting notes below.

1. White Duet Licorice Drops: Hard and very chewy with a chalky, grainy mouth feel. Really intense peppermint flavor.

2. Black Duet Licorice Drops: Similar texture to the white variety, with a creamy vanilla and caramel flavor, followed by a slight aroma of anise and ammonia.

3. Double Salt : This candy is stamped with a "DZ," which stands for "double salt" in Dutch. It was probably the worst candy I've ever eaten. After about five seconds on my tongue, I realized it tasted just like ammonia or perm solution and I spit it out! I'm not sure if it's really edible.

4. Licorice Mounties: Brown exterior had a strong maple flavor with notes of black coffee and a sandy texture. The interior had a traditional black licorice flavor with a semi-soft texture.

5. Licorice Buttons: These super hard and chewy little dots were full of berry and vanilla aromas and had a floral licorice flavor.

6. Salmiak Rocks: Simply the complete opposite of the Licorice Mounties.

7. Honey Licorice: Even thought this candy boasts a lovely beehive design, it didn't taste one bit like honey. It has a sweet and ammonia-like flavor with a crumbly texture.

8. Licorice Ice: This little tube has a very satisfyingly sweet hard candy shell that cracked when bitten into. It's filling was light peppermint-flavored, with a nice creamy, vanilla background.

9. Money Licorice: These made me want a return on my money. They had a papery, cardboard flavor that was laced with must and ammonia. They were also really hard and chewy. Perfect for a filling removal.

10. Black Kookaburra: Yum. Soft and chewy, spicy and delicious, with lots of molasses and cloves.

11. Licorice Caramel: These were my favorite! Super soft like a Kraft caramel, with a milky, floral flavor that reminded me of lots of lavender.

12. Licorice Mint: The same as number 11, with a bright, spicy, peppermint swirl.

13. Mango Kookaburra: Soft and sticky texture with tart, acidic, like an under ripe mango flavors.

14. Green Apple Kookaburra: Bright green apple scent and flavor, with a salty start and a chalky finish.

15. Raspberry Kookaburra The gourmet version of a Twizzler. Lots of acid and tang, followed by a sweet and salty, bright red berry flavor.

About the author: Jennifer McCoy is the pastry chef at Craft in New York City. When she's not covered in flour or frying doughnuts, you can find her strolling the streets of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, with her little dog Olive.

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