Happy September, dear friends! And hello, durian. We meet again.
Durian – hailed as the ‘King of Fruits’ – made its debut in my blog last year. In 2019, I tasted mouth-watering steamed durian rice cakes from a place that was featured on the Singapore-themed episode of Netflix’s foodie series, Street Food: Asia. This year, durian is back on the blog!
Just when the world thought that Cadbury’s Vegemite Dairy Milk from Australia is the chocolate powerhouse’s craziest invention yet (to anyone who’s never heard of it, Vegemite is FAR from a chocolate spread! And no, it ISN’T a hazelnut spread!), Cadbury in Southeast Asia has conjured a wackier flavor. There’s a new kid on the Cadbury chocolate block: Durian Dairy Milk.
Funnily, I can ‘tolerate’ durians over Vegemite. Vegemite is basically yeast extract, and durian is a fruit – that’s perhaps why durian wins in my eyes. If I see a spoon of Vegemite or Vegemite-laden foods, I’ll make a dash before you can blink! Having steered away from Vegemite-filled Cadbury blocks a few years ago, I’m living on the confectionery edge through tasting durian milk chocolate here in the Lion City.
A little backstory…
Durian’s flavor isn’t easily likened to any other foods. It has a distinctive taste – sweet, but not too sweet, neither is it savory. The flesh itself is velvety and creamy, and it’s like ice cream when it’s frozen. Everyone has their own opinion on what durian tastes like. In my opinion, durian tastes like… durian. It’s incomparable to other foods!
Despite its spiky appearance (which is inedible, only its sunny yellow flesh can be consumed), durians bring everyone together on the island. Durian fans tend to bond over their shared love of the King of Fruits while tucking into durian platters together at ‘durian parties’. Food is one of the many symbols of unity on the island, and feasting on durians is no exception to that philosophy. Rather, durians emphasize it. This is what I love about the fruit the most: creating cherished memories with amazing people. Nothing can top that!
My taste buds consider durian a friend and it’s safe to say I’m in the ‘yay’ squad. Durian is one of those foods that evoke one of two extreme reactions:
- Loving it to bits and discovering more about your flavor palate whilst reaching for yet another piece of this glorious fruit, or
- Awakening your inner marathoner and sprinting away in the opposite direction, realizing that you can indeed be a track star if you set your heart to it.
From my viewpoint, durians to the ‘yay’ squad draw an eccentric parallel to characters who befriend Casper the Friendly Ghost – Casper looks terrifying (he is a ghost after all), but these humans soon realize that he’s actually, well, friendly.
Back to chocolate!
This isn’t my first rodeo with durian chocolate: the last and only time I tasted it was in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia many moons ago. This is a memory I’ll never forget: it was completely different from any other fruity chocolate I had ever tasted (durian isn’t any ordinary fruit!), and it had a strong scent. The idea of combining chocolate and durian? It could work, as long as it’s executed perfectly by balancing flavors. Fast forward to today, I’m not used to the chocolate-durian combo. As soon as my teeny bit of skepticism had faded (the ‘Casper’ theory in action), I couldn’t resist tasting it.
I’m amazed that durian’s trademark scent (or “aroma”, to the ‘yay’ squad) is mildly-bold in this chocolate. That’s stage 1 of every durian experience: even if it’s out of sight, you can most certainly smell it!
This chocolate bar has executed durian’s taste, without including its flesh or a durian-centered filling. The headlining flavor is infused into the smooth milk chocolate itself. In comparison to my first experience with durian chocolate, Cadbury’s take on durian chocolate eases chocolate enthusiasts into growing accustomed to durian’s flavor. It’s less of a jolt as I wasn’t ‘shoved’ into the world of durian: this version is a gentler nudge. Durian is prominent without being overbearing – that hits the sweet spot for me, personally. It doesn’t have the same flavor punch as actual durians, but I love it.
Cadbury’s signature Dairy Milk chocolate doesn’t fade into the background: it supports durian with its regular sweetness and cocoa-licious flavor.
I’m thrilled that they included little wafer balls, which are like rice krispies. These krispies don’t seem to be flavored with durian, but the fruit’s taste prevails as these crunchy bits are completely covered in chocolate. That addition reminds me of flavored corn snacks in Asia – like delicious Japanese corn caramel snacks – but coated in thick durian chocolate instead of being tossed in a coat of caramel. Now to come to think of it, this chocolate reminds me of an old-school durian-flavored corn snack that’s available here.
I reckon it’s a good bite for anyone who’s pondering on stepping into the world of durians for the very first time. Although the experience of eating actual durians is vastly different from that of munching on a block of chocolate, it’s a great way to be acquainted with the King of Fruits. As for me, I don’t mind tasting durian milk chocolate every now and then!