Candle Cafe Desserts on the West Coast – Part 2

Last week I reviewed three of the five new desserts from Candle Café that are now available on the West coast. Since then, I managed to get my hands on the other two Candle Café desserts, Vanilla Rice Pudding and Vanilla Cheesecake, at the Potrero Whole Foods in San Francisco.

Candle Cafe Vanilla Cheesecake

Candle Cafe Vanilla Cheesecake

Over the years, I’ve tasted vegan cheesecakes that have ranged from the tasteless and boring to the creamy, rich and sublime. The vanilla cheesecake from Candle Café falls somewhere in between.

The taste is fairly middle of the road; it didn’t knock me over the head with vanilla or (soy) cream cheese flavor, but it did taste something like a cheesecake. Similarly, the texture wasn’t luscious and creamy, but it wasn’t dry. It actually felt creamier in my mouth than it looked in the little plastic container and on the spoon. And the crust? There is none. This is a cheesecake minus the crust.

Vanilla Rice Pudding: Now being pulled from a grocer near you

The rice pudding is another story entirely. I was so shocked at how awful it was, I couldn’t help but think that something had gone terribly wrong. Is this from the same Candle Café that has been the source of so many great dining memories for me? Is there some sort of quality control issue? Is it past it’s shelf life? According to an employee at Whole Foods, all of the Candle Café desserts are shipped frozen and thawed in the store. I thought this would explain some of the issues with the texture of the rice pudding and the tart crusts, but I wanted to be sure.I emailed Candle Café with several questions and they were kind enough to reply with some answers. And despite my blunt and sometimes harsh criticism of their products, the person replying to my email was pleasant and friendly. Here is what I found out:

  • The desserts are shipped frozen and thawed as I was told by the Whole Foods employee
  • They are having issues with the rice pudding and it has been pulled from the shelves until it is reformulated. Although the issues weren’t specified, it isn’t hard to figure out after tasting the rice pudding.
  • The issues with the tart shells and peanuts had to do with how long they were on the shelf at the Whole Foods where I bought them, not freezing and thawing.

My first reaction after getting this information was relief. Why? Despite that it must have been a difficult move (emotionally and financially), Candle Café was smart enough to get the rice pudding off the shelves. Also, the issues with the tart shells and peanuts seem to be isolated to one particular Whole Foods and is not a result of freezing and thawing.

Given what I was told, I’m looking forward to getting some fresh tarts, and I will update my original review based on the results. I will also post a new review of the rice pudding when the reformulated version hits the shelf of my local Whole Foods.