I make another departure this week from the "normal" chocolate review with a look at some cotton candy. This is, of course, the cotton candy I mentioned finding at the Chiles & Chocolate Festival at the Desert Botanical Garden. Spun Light makes appearances at other festivals and events around the Phoenix area, but I've only seen the chocolate flavors at Chiles & Chocolate.
What makes Spun Light unique is not just their flavor choice; it's the type of sugar they use. They make their cotton with organic cane sugar--and they add the flavor with organic and natural flavors, many of which they make themselves. So you get the same attention to quality that is often reserved for "healthier" options and not something like a simple candy/dessert. And it makes sense. If you're going for a sweet, cotton candy isn't bad. It's literally straight sugar stretched out, so as long as you're not eating a truckload of it, it probably has less sugar total than plenty of other sweets.
They were making fresh cotton candy and giving out samples generously at the festival. So I first started with the Chocolate Mint. Amazingly fresh not just in the mint but also in the sugar flavor. I was hooked--this truly was a different type of cotton candy. I tried the plain Chocolate next and then the Aztec Chocolate. The Chocolate was nice, but I chose to take away the Aztec Chocolate to review because the way that it builds flavor is absolutely amazing and unexpected for something so simple as cotton candy.
Since Spun Light sticks to the natural side, only the flavors that naturally bring in color are colored. Most are just a light, cream color. That suits me just fine. And honestly, if it's the novelty of cotton candy that you love, even then, a freshly made batch on its paper cone is still going to have just as much novelty even if it isn't bright pink or blue. You can also buy them in little plastic tubs, which is of course the option I went for since I was bringing it home to dissect.
We all already know the texture of cotton candy. A fluffy substance that you can tear easily that dissolves in your mouth. This fluffy substance smells of cinnamon and sugar. In your mouth, it gives an initial feeling of warm chocolate, then the cinnamon comes in to give it all more of a hug, and the habanero becomes most present as the cotton melts. So you have that quick melting experience happen simultaneously with the flavor explosion; the sensation in your mouth is quite unique. After you taste the chile, you go back to that warmth of the cinnamon and then reflect again on the chocolate and sugar.
There is definite spice to this one. So if you can't handle any spice, it probably won't be for you. I wouldn't call it strong, though. No more than medium and probably not even that strong if you stick to small pieces. In fact, I recommend smaller pieces. You might get more flavor with bigger pieces, but the flavor development is superior with the small pieces, the little fluffs. So while the habanero is a definite spice in here, I would ultimately call the strongest flavor cinnamon. It might not actually be, but the cinnamon is mentally the flavor that connects chocolate and sweetness with spice. So cinnamon is the strongest flavor concept.
The strongest subject concept, though, is obviously still chocolate. They're crafted this cotton candy around the Aztec approach to drinking chocolate, full of spices. Probably it's more modern Mexican chocolate than specifically Aztec chocolate, but this is a great way to bring that idea into cotton candy. Again, usually you won't see this approach in cotton candy. I've had great Aztec-inspired drinking chocolate. But cotton candy? Now that's a novelty, an adult novelty. (Yes, children will enjoy Spun Light's cotton candy, too, but I'm making a different point here.) This is just a sweet treat that you can get when you're out at a festival--but it also has great ingredients and style and a pure approach to flavor. Whether you go for one of the chocolate flavors or another, absolutely don't pass their booth by if you ever come across them (they'll be at the Tempe Festival of the Arts this three-day weekend, by the way). Spun Light will give you a reinterpretation of cotton candy.