6.4 out of 10
Tuesday, 26 August 2008
6.4 out of 10
Monday, 25 August 2008
I ate these two separate 62.5g slabs over two sittings. I cant say it provided the same amazingly rich satisfying experience of the '85% dark chocolate' but it was certainly fulfilling and enjoyable. The slabs were presented nicely - they didn't have the glitz or glam of the 'Rocky Road' or 'Caramellow', but the clean glossy surface just oozed quality and the bar broke amazingly cleanly with a nice cracking sound. A quality that I have seemed to find common across the whole of the Hotel Chocolat portfolio is that all their slabs smell so wonderfully strong. Opening the packet, I found myself yet again met with a barrage of potent cocoa smells, as always it was massivelly enticing and very indicative of the taste.
There is only one true way to eat dark chocolate and that is to let simply let it melt on the tongue savouring every last gram of its taste. The strength of the bar was strongly evident from its initial flavour - a deep cocoa flavour literally exploded on my taste buds. As the chocolate rose in temperature and progressed in it's melt, it mellowed into a smoother taste with hints of vanilla and coffee becoming ever increasingly present.
The texture of the melt was superbly smooth, though I must say when compared to the '85% dark chocolate' and even to a lesser extent the 'Lindt Excellence 70% dark chocolate', it wasn't quite as thick and viscous ... it was more alike single cream compared to the others double cream like thickness. To call that a criticism would not be appropriate - more an observation, with my own preference with the thicker texture. Im sure there are plenty of people out there who would better appreciate the slightly thinner texture, as they may find the extra thickness overwhelming. Once again I found myself savouring every last bit of both slabs. The aftertaste was long and left a delicous dark cocoa flavour in the mouth for a long time after consumption; acting as a constant reminder of the richly declicious chocolate just experienced.
Sunday, 24 August 2008
Following on from last weeks Kit Kat Kinako Soy review I decided to save the rest of the Kit Kat flavours for one solitary mega round up. I have been lucky enough to sample these Watermelon, Mandarin Orange, Brown Sugar and Apple flavours all thanks to UniqJapan who so kindly sent me a rather large package of goodies a few weeks ago. Be sure to check there store out if you fancy trying any of these for yourself..... Sponsor pimping over lets head to the reviews:
It is worth noting that all of these flavour variants were of the same ridiculous size as the previously reviewed Kinako Soy. Indeed they were pleasant to eat across many tea breaks throughout the week, but even then each needed supplementing with something more to see me through the afternoons.
Each of these bars were mainly constituted of milk chocolate - like a standard Kit Kat with obviously each variant containing the flavour within the chocolate.
Below are my tasting notes for each of the different variants:
Watermelon:I liked the packaging of the bar, the colours were vivid and relevant to the flavour. The watermelon flavour was very evident from the smell of the bar - very fruity and sweet.
The milk chocolate retained a nice creaminess though the strong fruity flavour of the watermelon dominated the chocolate. The wheatiness of the wafer came through when chewed though the usual sweetness was offset by the slightest of salty licks. The bar had a long fruity aftertaste. A strong but uniquely flavoured offering.
6.7 out of 10
This was the chocolatiest of all the flavour variants and had a pleasant milky sweet taste. The wafer again had a strong presence once chewed. The orange flavour was more in the background until the aftertaste where it was very prevalent. This tasted remarkably similar to the 'Orange' Kit Kat that we have available in our UK supermarkets. This was my favourite of the lot.
6.8 out of 10
The taste strongly evoked memories of home baking...in particular of times when making cookies with far too much brown sugar included. The taste was unique; not unpleasant but not overly pleasant either. The brown sugar dominated the flavour of the chocolate and there was a distinct lack of the usual creaminess. The Wafer did seem prominent and defined in its sweet taste. The overall taste was very much like a biscuit...the chocolate element seemed completely lost which in my opinion was at detriment; the brown sugar flavour was too strong if anything.
6.0 out of 10
5.9 out of 10
Overall these were certainly an interesting range of flavours that I enjoyed trying purely for the sheer reason that most of them offered something different from the Kit Kat range we have here in the UK. What was surprising though was the fact that the one I enjoyed most was the flavour we have a close replica for here in the UK - the 'Mandarin Orange.' The 'Watermelon' and 'Apple' variants were strong in their flavours, though for my money were not particularly suited to the Kit Kat format. The 'Apple' flavour especially seemed out of keeping with the Kit Kat, and it's flavour was more artificial than any of the other variants. The 'Brown Sugar' variant was certainly unique but not to my taste - it had more of biscuit focused taste that lacked a chocolate flavour of any note. None of these flavours are particularly groundbreaking, and all are frustratingly small in their size. Still though these are all interesting offerings and worthy of sampling for yourself if your a Kit Kat fan.
Visit UniqJapan for all these Kit Kats and more Japanese foods - all delivered right here to the UK!!
Saturday, 23 August 2008
A few months ago I reviewed both the original and dark version of the 'Cadbury Flake' and was both left impressed and disgruntled at the 'crumbly' design. One half of me loved the enjoyable melty texture, the other half simply no less than hated it for its annoying tendency to literally fall to pieces when trying to eat it. Today I tried another variant from the 'Flake' range, the 'Flake Praline', a bar that included 'milk chocolate praline and hazelnut'.
The bar didn't have a weight displayed on it's wrapper; it wasn't exactly on the same substantiality level as say a 'Cadbury Boost' but it was a satisfying snack nonetheless. This brings me to the appearance...well what can I say apart from it was completely and utterly flawed in it's design...yes it looked nice, but even worse than the original 'Flake' it literally disintegrated in my hands. Not only this but although I had kept the bar relatively well in-between my purchase and consumption, half the bar was already broken into crumbs at the bottom of the wrapper. Now there's using the crumbly nature of the bar for a USP (unique selling point)...and then there's over using the crumbly nature...this was more the latter. The foil packaging when opened released a sweet chocolaty scent. The smell had a slight nuttiness to it though at this point I was too distracted trying to get the bar out the wrapper with least mess possible to really savour it...grrr.
The crumbliness was indeed frustrating, but the pieces of the bar I actually managed to get in my mouth did indeed have a glorious texture. The base of the bar had a thin chocolate coating that provided a small cracking sensation when bitten into. Tastewise I couldn't really distinguish it from the middle 'Flake' centre. This was supposed to be the part of the bar which added the 'Praline' flavour, though the hazelnut pieces were mostly lying inside the crumbs in the packet. The nut flavour of the coating just didn't come through in the overall taste and was largely dominated by the original 'Flake' centre - pretty disappointing. The 'Flake' chocolate didn't quite have the creaminess of Dairy Milk, but it still had a nice rich cocoa taste. The melt was fast , but the long sweet aftertaste made sure this was not at the bars detriment.
Overall this is a bar that suffers all the problems of the original 'Flake' and unfortunately a few more. I wont go over it all again but as I have described above the design of the bar is largely flawed. Being crumbly is one thing, but being overly so is just a plain annoyance. The bar had an lavish texture, though the taste was largely disappointing. The chocolaty flavour was certainly not unpleasant though was largely dominating; the 'Praline' flavour was disappointingly anonymous and if I had not been aware this was supposed to be a nut enhanced bar beforehand, I would have very much struggled to tell you that it contained any nut content after consuming it. A largely disappointing offering from Cadbury.... my advice if you want this type of chocolate!?...grab a Cadbury Twirl... less mess... all the taste!
6.7 out of 10
My second dip into the Marks & Spencer range has come at the request of Chocolate Mission reader Martin, who very much recommended this 'M&S Swiss White Chocolate Mountain Bar'. My initial reaction at seeing this bar today was that it was a 'Knock-Off Nigel' version of the 'Toblerone White' - after eating it though I believe that description to be a injustice.
The bar did indeed come in a 100g serving, with a familiar sounding description 'Extra fine Swiss white chocolate with honey and almond nougat'. The bar was packaged superbly with a smart looking cardboard sleeve in addition to a foil wrapping covering the bar. The bar itself was sectioned quite awkwardly; the pieces were a nice bitesize mouthful though were a real pain to break away from each other. The product had a nice smell once released from the foil packaging; it wasn't the sweet creamy smell I was expecting but more of a slightly edgier yoghurty one.
I think its quickly worth mentioning the nutritional information and ingredients. The ingredients list was surprisingly small with only eight listed, one slightly wired one was 'butter oil'...I haven't come across the term before but im sure it had something to do with the 580 kcal and near 40.0g of fat in the bar. One thing I did appreciate was the lack of artificial colours or flavourings - its not often nowadays you find chocolate that isn't packed full of chemicals and all sorts to make it's shelf life longer - good stuff.
I ate the bar over two separate 50g servings, both of which provided very satisfying helpings. Despite the blocks being awkward to seperate they were nicely shaped for the mouth and had a nice smooth melt on the tongue. The nougat pieces added a pleasant chewy aspect to the texture that made for a far more interesting chew. The chocolate had a fine flavoured milky flavour that thankfully avoided the common white chocolate pitfall of being overly sweet. The taste didn't develop during its course in the mouth, but it's flavour was delightfully creamy which made this largely acceptable. Despite the almond nougat pieces being quite prevalent in the texture they added very little to the taste - I found them largely flavourless though could still appreciate them for what they added to the texture. The honey enhancement wasn't overly detectable - this wasn't the greatestof surprises as it was hardly portioned generously at only 3.5%.
Overall this is a good standard white chocolate offering that although largely resembles the 'Toblerone White' is actually quite different in its taste. The 'Toblerone White' has a far sweeter, vanilla heavy taste, whilst this M&S offering focuses far more on a silky creamy milky flavour. Personally I preferred the milky flavour of the M&S though still believe it could further develop its flavour with the development of another layer to its overall taste...it could do with a minor vanilla or stronger honey note to its aftertaste if only to mix it up a little. Another way this could be resolved is by making the almond nougat more impactful in it's flavour. As I said above it's hard to label this a 'Toblerone White' copycat; its true it looks similar and contains very comparable ingredients, but the taste is very much different. If your're a 'Toblerone White' fan or just a generally enjoy white chocolate fan this is a bar very much worth checking out.
8.3 out of 10
Friday, 22 August 2008
Thanks to ChocolateMission reader Alan I got the chance to try the Polish version of this bar. Compared to the UK version the biscuit was a little blander and didn't quite have the same depth of buttery, shortbread flavours as did the UK version. I couldn't detect any differences between the chocolate or the caramel though.
Well well well what do we have here then!?...was my train of thought when I passed these in Tesco the other day - didn't Mars sneakily get this limited edition to market without preparing us...not even as much as a press release! If this review is the first time you have seen these new 'Twix Dark' I can tell you they are currently being sold in Tesco, Sainsburys & Netto in packs of fourteen for around about £1.50-£2......£1.89 for 2 packs in Tesco ;)
So what's the deal with the 'Twix Dark' then!? Well its 'a biscuit finger, covered in a layer of caramel and coated in chocolate'....with the milk chocolate of the original 'Twix' replaced with dark chocolate. The packaging had a nice contemporary look, the individual fingers had decent enough looking plastic wrappers though did not benefit from having foil ones like their impulse bar variants (the ones you find in the shops!!), this would probably account for the lack of genuinely strong aroma. I detected a minor cocoa scent, though it really wasn't that strong. The darkness of the chocolate looked nice against the paleness of the biscuit, the caramel layer appeared very generously portioned and was an appealing golden colour.
The dark chocolate coating had a similar texture to its milk chocolate original and melted at a nice rate to reveal the caramel and biscuit base. It wasn't the most forthcoming in it's flavour though was noticeably less sweet than the original 'Twix'. It did provide a subtle cocoa hit, and had an aftertaste noted with vanilla, though it really wasn't that impactful on the overall taste...it was more a pleasant background to the simply delightful biscuit and caramel elements.
Due to the chocolate being less sweet it meant the caramel seemed even more prominent in its flavour. It brought a deliciously sweet chewy texture to the bar that complimented the biscuit base superbly. The biscuit was everything you would want from a biscuit base - crunchy and substantial with a delightfully balanced wheaty taste. Although the caramel and biscuit were both mainly sweet, they each had a slight salty lick to their taste - which made each mouthful all that bit moreish. I ate two of these fingers this afternoon and that proved a very satisfying and fulfilling snack.
Overall you may see that this variant has received a marginally lower score than the original 'Twix'. This is solely down to the product not having a foil wrapper; which lowered the score of its appearance and in turn probably was a main factor in the lack of aroma. Tastewise it was really on a par with the original Twix'...it's neither better or worse...it's just simply a different proposition. As with most mass confection bars (see 'Flake Dark' & 'Reese's Dark Bat) the 'Dark' chocolate was pretty consumer friendly in that rather than really turn up the cocoa levels, some of the sweetness had just been removed from the chocolate. In a way this was disappointing as the dark chocolate taste wasn't really that bold, though it did bring out the best in the caramel and biscuit elements, which became further imposing on the overall taste...and both of which were superb. If your're a fan of the original 'Twix' this is a limited edition really worth tracking down - well worth sticking in the trolley next time your're in your local supermarket.
8.3 out of 10
Though more commonly found in larger bags, I settled for a single serving size which contained sixteen of these largely size buttons. They were at least double the diameter of the standard 'Buttons', and about twice as thick. They looked far more imposing in their appearance though only provided a slightly more substantial snack than the standard Dairy Milk 'Buttons'. The only criteria that the previously reviewed smaller 'Buttons' could match up to the standard Dairy Milk bar was in their aroma credentials...and this was no different for the 'Giant Buttons'. The simply exquisite smell of Dairy Milk was evident upon opening the packet...the sweet creamy chocolaty smell was unmistakeable - simply divine.
There was simply no better way of eating these than placing one on the tongue and letting it melt. The larger surface area of the 'Giant Buttons' still ensured these melted faster than a standard Dairy Milk block, though the issue of the lack of flavour hit with the standard sized 'Buttons' was definitely not as problematic. The 'Giant Buttons' delivered the amazingly delicious Dairy Milk creamy chocolaty blend almost aswell as the block shape; the taste wasn't quite as long but the flavour hit was very close to being on the same level. Due to the flavours not lasting as long in the mouth and the larger surface area making the melt faster, the 'Giant Buttons' simply didn't feel like the most substantial of products. My hand just simply kept heading for the packet - unfortunately it wasn't long before the packet was empty...a little frustrating.
8.4 out of 10
Thursday, 21 August 2008
6.2 out of 10
Wednesday, 20 August 2008
Whose favourite bar is the Topic!???... Anyone???... I thought not!! Not a single person has requested this bar to be reviewed - which is surprising considering the vast amount of wide ranging bars that have been suggested to me. The Topic bar occupies most UK retailer's shelves! So why the lack of love? Today I tried answering this question the only way I could...yep the Chocolate Mission way!
The Topic comes billed as 'milk chocolate with hazelnuts, soft nougat and smooth caramel' - nothing wrong with that eh!? The bar came in a 49g serving that although sounds large looked disappointingly small in its appearance; in comparison to say a Mars bar it looked less than two thirds the size and unfortunately this corresponded with its hunger fulfilling credentials...it just simply didn't satisfy my hunger to the degree I wanted. Although somewhat lacking in size the bar looked nice in it's appearance, the layering was distinct, and each component looked appetising. The bar lacked a notable aroma and apart from the slightest sweet scent I couldn't really detect much; I was expecting more of a chocolaty, nutty smell but this was sadly lacking.
Despite its small size each bite was full of flavour and had a nice variety of textures. The outer milk chocolate didn't provide the strongest of chocolaty hits, though it's flavour was nice and creamy and it melted at a pleasant rate. The next apparent layer was the caramel that tasted absolutely divine. Its taste reminded me of the Galaxy Caramel bar - a luxuriously smooth, deep sweet taste with the nicest of salty notes; it provided the most perfect of chewy layers to compliment the nougat. The nougat had a crumbly texture that varied nicely from the moistness of the other components. It had a milky creamyness with a lovely nutty edge to it. The whole hazelnut pieces dispersed throughout provided a strong woody nutty flavour that contrasted nicely with the sweetness of the other ingredients. The whole nature of the hazelnuts added yet another layer to the contrastive textures, adding an extra bitty crunch to most bites.
Overall if this bar was judged on its taste credentials alone it would be up there with the best of them. Unfortunately this isn't the case for the Topic and its lacking in the aroma and hunger fulfillment categories somewhat pull it's overall score down. Though the bar has shortcomings in these areas it actually tastes really quite good. The focal point of the bar, the hazelnuts, are strongly flavoured and make for a delicious creamy nutty nougat. The caramel is particularly fine and well flavoured, bringing an added sweetness and chewyness.
I think the reasons for why this bar receives such little acclaim are two fold. Firstly the lack of mainstream publicity - ask yourself this...when was the last time you have read, seen or heard about the Topic brand?? ...Thought not! Secondly I believe people are simply put off it by its size; it looks feeble and in truth it's simply not big enough. A tasty treat, but not one you want to eat when ravenously hungry...Mars I demand you make this bar larger...it deserves better!
7.7 out of 10
Tuesday, 19 August 2008
Kcal 270 Fat 17.3g Fat(sats) 8.0g Carbs 24.3g
Overall this is a bar that ticked a lot of boxes, though was missing something in its nutty flavour credentials to substantiate itself as a really great offering. The Dairy Milk provided a delightful flavour base to the bar, however the actual whole hazelnuts were lacking in their taste. The hazelnuts did provide a pleasant texture and added an extra substantial element to the bar but on the whole their lack of flavour was disappointing. This isn't the greatest chocolate and nut bar on the market though it's still a pretty good one - largely due to the excellence of the Dairy Milk chocolate. If your a fan of good milk chocolate and subtle nut flavours then this will be the bar for you....probably not one for anyone on a diet though.
8.2 out of 10
Monday, 18 August 2008
The last flavour left for me to sample from my latest 'Peepster Box' was the 'Caramellow' which came billed as 'Swirls of caramel and milk chocolate topped with florentine, caramel drops and crunchy cinder toffee'.
The slab was similar in its build to the previously reviewed 'Rocky Road' - a single 100g slab with a solid base of milk chocolate with added extra elements. Normally products of this size I would eat over two sittings - if you haven't peeked at the score already im going to spoil the review for you here by revealing that this bar was simply too good to not eat all at once...it was simply just too moreish. The slab looked absolutely fantastic - the blend of the two shades of chocolate had a delightful swirl pattern and the extra elements to the bar just made for an outlandish and interesting look - not quite the diversification of colours as with the 'Rocky Road', but it still looked marvellous. I was expecting an aroma similar to the one experienced with the 40% house milk chocolate bar and wasn't disappointed. It smelt creamy and chocolaty with an added sweet toffee like edge...well and truly tempting.
The milk chocolate was of the standard 40% house recipe and was as delicious as ever with its super smooth cocoa heavy taste. What was surprising though was that the milk chocolate was outshone by the simply outstanding flavour of the caramel chocolate that tasted out of this world. The caramel chocolate constituted 28% of the base of the bar and also the 'caramel drop' pieces on top the slab. It was immensely creamy and had an even greater buttery taste that was all the more delicious with its heavily toffee noted aftertaste. The florentine pieces delivered another delightful flavour element, adding a nice almond and hazelnut woody type nuttiness where present.
You may remember that the 'Rocky Road' slab had a similar centrepiece component as with the cinder toffee piece in this 'Caramellow' slab. Unlike the cookie piece in the 'Rocky Road' the cinder toffee was glorious in its taste and well worthy of saving for the very last bite. It had a toffee brittle like sugary taste that although sweet, was a wonderful texture variation against the smooth chocolate elements. Each bite of this slab was wonderfully diverse and equally as rich in its flavour - simply magnificent.
Overall this certainly was a busy slab, though each ingredient genuinely added to what was a delightful culmination of flavours. The milk chocolate was as good as ever; though was outshone by the caramel chocolate which was rich, creamy and had a wonderful toffee noted flavour. The florentine squares, caramel drops and cinder toffee piece not only made the bar look amazing but were all great additional flavour elements, and made each bite amazingly diverse. Im running out of superlatives to use for Hotel Chocolat, this is one of my favourite products of theirs and is definitely up there amongst the best bars I have tried. Yet more fantastic stuff from Hotel Chocolat and one for caramel and milk chocolate fans alike - need I even say I recommend this!?
9.3 out of 10
Sunday, 17 August 2008
These came in a 42.5g M&M single serving bag in a garishly pink coloured package...hmmm lovely! The M&Ms themselves corresponded to the packaging colour - bright pink sugary shells with darkly coloured milk chocolate insides..nothing amazingly special looking about them but the colour variation was at least different from standard M&Ms. Normally I harp on about how M&Ms are lacking in any aroma credentials...these 'Razzberry' M&Ms actually had a quite evident sweet fruity smell...slightly artificial but it at least was relative to the flavour.
The M&Ms were slightly odd in their size...some were a lot larger than others which surprised me somewhat as M&Ms are normally sized identically. Though I enjoyed the thicker shells of the larger pieces they were to heavy on the raspberry. The raspberry flavour in these M&Ms was of course achieved through the artificial flavours in the shells. The flavour was distinctly berry like and fruity but at the same time very sweet. The smaller pieces in the pack did manage to strike a better balance of raspberry and milk chocolate; when chewed together the creamyness of the chocolate did manage to dilute the sweetness of the raspberry flavour - making it more of a fruity undertone. In the instances where the pieces were larger the taste was often to intense in its sweetness and actually left quite a horrible acrid aftertaste in the mouth.
Overall as witnessed with the 'Wildly Cherry' limited edition, fruit flavours just do not seem to be a strength of the M&Ms brand. The taste of the raspberry was just overly sweet and quite artificial tasting; in the instances where the pieces and shells were larger the raspberry sweetness over dominated the chocolate making for an overly intense quite sickly taste. Limited editions are always intriguing to try, and I guess that is the reason of their existence - I wouldn't masively recommend these but if your a fan of raspberries then these may be of interest.
6.4 out of 10
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Saturday, 16 August 2008
It seems the Cadbury 'Malted Milk' is yet another sneaky bar the Canadian's have been hiding from the rest of the world - as far as I am aware, like the 'Wunderbar' this is only available there. The 'Malted Milk' was billed to me as Cadbury's answer to the Mars bar with an on pack description of 'Light whipped malted nougat and delicious caramel covered with a rich, creamy chocolatey coating'.
The bar came in a 48g serving - it looked large in appearance and certainly did a job satisfying my hunger. The outer packaging was very Cadbury esque - purple in colour and pretty plain with just the Cadbury logo, product name and product picture displayed. Though I could appreciate the plain nature of the wrapper I was somewhat under whelmed by the look of the bar itself - it looked very generic with no Cadbury branding or decoration...the layering between the nougat and the caramel was also non-apparent and the two layers seemed to have converged into one. Aswell as lacking somewhat in the looks department the bar also lacked an aroma of real note. Besides a slight sweet smell it was mostly scentless which really didn't do anything for my anticipation of the taste.
The outer chocolate layer was thick, dense and generally quite well flavoured. Its thickness gave it a nice crispness to the bite though it did not have the smoothest of melts in the mouth and felt a smidge waxy. The milk chocolate coating was not half as flavoursome as Dairy Milk chocolate, it was creamy yes but lacked the depth of chocolaty cocoaness. As you will have gathered from the above the caramel and nougat layers had mixed together despite the fact they were supposed to be seperate. Both elements combined to give the bar a pleasant chewyness that made the flavours last in the mouth that little bit longer - this was no crumbly nougat...it was more taffy like in its viscosity - especially when chilled before its consumption. Unfortunately due to the mixed nature of the two layers the caramel struggled for a flavour base and although its sweetness could be detected it was nothing more than just that...an added sweetness. By far and away the strongest flavour element of the bar came from the malt nougat. It had a very strong malt flavour that I would alike very much to sponge cake - it was very unique and not like anything I had tasted before. The relatively strong flavours and dense texture made this a very substantial bar, especially for one that only had 210 calories!
Overall this is a pretty sound concept for a bar by Cadbury, but the implementation is partly flawed. The malt element of the bar is well applied through the nougat and has a delicious cakey taste that is well placed in the chewy texture. There are certainly places where this bar could be improved though; the separation of the caramel from the nougat layer is a must as its amalgamation with the nougat does not allow it to establish its full flavour. The design of the bar could also really be improved - at present it is very under whelming in both its appearance and aroma qualities, I'm sure it really wouldn't take much effort to fine tune the bar here. This is a bar that is very worthwhile trying if you come across it, it's uniquely flavoured and one that with just with a few adaptations could vastly be improved upon.
7.3 out of 10