Tuesday, 30 September 2008

September 30th: Lion Bar White

Kcal 215 Fat 10.8g Carbs 26.5g

The Lion bar was one of my all time favourite bars as a kid, and after a successful review of the milk chocolate UK version, I was never going to be turning down the opportunity handed to me by Dean-German-Grocery to try this white chocolate version - a bar produced in Frankfurt Germany.

The first thing I noticed about this bar was the difference in size from the UK milk chocolate to this white chocolate version. This bar was a full 10g lighter at 45g - the difference was certainly noticeable and it simply wasn't a very fulfilling bar. It's smaller size meant it was slightly less impactful to look at, although the actual look of the bar with it's distinct layering was nicely presented and pleasing on the eye. The outer wrapper was standard Nestle plastic packaging, it looked ok aesthetically but it really struggled to maintain the freshness of the bar, the smell was really not forthcoming and the product only managed a minor sweet milky scent.

The smaller sizing of the bar seemed to not affect any one of the layers more so than any other, the down weighting was obviously proportional. The outer coating was still relatively thick and contained small rice crispies, which added nicely to the texture. The texture of the white chocolate wasn't bad - it had a nice constant melt, though there where mouthfuls were it did cloy and lump together. The white chocolate tastewise was largely disappointing, like the smell suggested it had a milky flavour, although this altogether was very minor and subtle ... sure it avoided being overly sweet like a lot of white chocolate, but it simply lacked flavour nearly entirely. The wafer had a nice wheaty taste that seemed noted with a slight twist of sweet coffee to its aftertaste. The middle white chocolate creme like the coating lacked flavour; conversely by far and away the most flavour impactful layer was the milk chocolate creme which had a lovely smooth texture and relatively strong chocolaty taste. Finally the caramel added a pleasant chewyness to each bite, however unfortunately was lacking in a definitive flavour. The aftertaste of the bar was heavily based around the wafer element as it lasted longest in the mouth, even this flavour didn't last that long though. The lack of strong flavours meant this bar wasn't the most satisfying of chocolates.

Overall as an eating experience this was a bar that really struggled to create an impression on me. The change up of chocolate from the original was not a favourable one; in comparison to the original milk chocolate, the white chocolate lacked flavour and depth. The caramel layer also suffered from lack of flavour, which was surprising due to this component being one of the real strengths of the original. The textures were still a real strength of the bar, the contrast in chewy, crunchy and creme layers was well executed - this alone though was not good enough to make this anything more than an average scoring bar. By no means an offensive product, just a little lacking in it's flavours and could have been done better.

7.3 out of 10

Monday, 29 September 2008

September 29th: Hotel Chocolat Organic Dark 100%

Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???

Today saw another Chocolate Mission first, this was my first ever review of a 100% cocoa bar - the Hotel Chocolat Organic Dark 100%. The bar was another from 'The Purist' range I have been sampling over the past few weeks, and was farmed at the Hacienda Lara Plantation, Ecuador. On pack the bar described itself as '100% cocoa and nothing else, but far more mellow than you would expect thanks to extra-long conching' ... what is Conching you ask!? Well refer HERE for the long explanation - in short it is the one of the final processes of chocolate production that involves using machinery to heat the chocolate so that the cocoa butter is evenly distributed, thus making the texture smoother ... you learn something new each day.

I will only fleetingly play tribute to the appearance of the bar - like the rest of 'The Purist' range it was spot on. The cardboard sleeve was full of interesting information on the farming and production of the bar, the foil packaging provided an outstanding freshness and the slab itself had a shiny, glossy appeal ... everything about it just radiated class. The smell of the slab was very indicative of the taste; it was very intense and had a strong cocoa aroma - there was no element of sweetness about it whatsoever. The boldness of the smell although expected was not the most enticing.

This was always going to be an experience slightly out the norm ... and that it was. Placing the first piece in my mouth I literally felt the moisture in my mouth just disappear. The texture felt chalky and dry, and the initial cocoa flavour was nothing more than I could describe as extremely bitter - my taste buds felt extremely overwhelmed. Despite my initial displeasure I did continue eating the slab, varying the size of the chunks I consumed. As I progressed eating the bar my taste buds became more at ease with the intensity of the flavours. The texture of the melt seemed to get smoother the more I ate, and the flavours more pronounced. After a few chunks the overwhelming burnt taste subsided, and I did start to appreciate the deep flavours of the bar more. The taste was extremely rich, the cocoa very pronounced with coffee and fruity notes ever present. The aftertaste as you can imagine was extremely long lasting in the mouth, I could taste the cocoa for a good deal after. Like the other variants from the range the bar came in a 75g serving, it took me days to finish; its intensity meant that it was best to only eat in very small servings.

Overall I found this bar extremely hard to rate. Appreciating this chocolate required a degree of dedication, if I had judged the bar on my first few mouthfalls I would have told you it was overly intense and repulsive ... well after getting used to the concentration of flavours my appreciation for the taste grew. The chocolate does indeed have a nice deep clean cocoa flavour with a number of spicy edgy notes in the formulation of its rich overall taste. The texture for me wasn't the best, initially it felt quite dry, however like the taste I did become more accustom to it over time. Personally I have much preferred the more straight forward offerings from Hotel Chocolat ... ones that instantly struck me as flavours I could appreciate like the 85% Dark, Caramellow and Praline White. If your after a really full flavoured chocolate this could be a bar that you could really enjoy, just beware this is one intense experience and certainly won't be everyones cup of tea.

7.6 out of 10

Sunday, 28 September 2008

September 28th: Harry & David Moose Munch Milk Chocolate Bar

Kcal 300 Fat 21.0g Fat(sats) 13.0g Carbs 29.0g

Having never heard of the Harry and David brand, I had to consult Liz at **I Shop 4 You II** to get the low down on this bar. Well, according to Liz this Harry & David Moose Munch Milk Chocolate bar is currently her favourite, and is a pretty hard to find premium brand of chocolate. Looking at the wrapper revealed that this was a bar comprised of a 'smooth fudgy centre, fluffy white popcorn, buttery caramel and crisp nuts all dipped in sweet milk chocolate' ... wow that's a lot of stuff crammed into one bar.

As you can see above in the nutritional information this was one pretty mean bar! It weighed in at a largish 56.0g and contained 65% of the RDA of saturated fat... this was indeed a plentiful serving, anything larger would have pushed the boundaries of actual necessity. The packaging of the product was superb the bar came in a matted foil wrapper packed with an inner plastic tray for added protection. The bar itself wasn't the most spectacular looking of chocolates, though the cross section did provide an interesting look at all the added ingredients. For a bar that contained so many added elements the smell was pretty non-descript, I was expecting more than just the sweet dairy scent that I got from it.

Lets clear something up courtesy of my friend Wikipedia:

"Fudge" in the U.S. is usually understood to be chocolate. In fact, the word fudge is used on packaging of cakes and brownies with "extra" chocolate flavoring or with fluid chocolate in the mixture.

The fudge centre was not like the sugary fudge we get here in the UK, but more of a moist chocolaty centre ... almost like a truffle filling but a tad more viscous. It had a silky smooth texture that melted delightfully in the mouth. It was not the most deliciously flavoured milk chocolate, but it still had a nice sweet milky appeal. Unfortunately I couldn't help but be slightly disappointed at the balance of the ingredients used for the filling. The popcorn was portioned at least double the amount of the peanuts and caramel. I'm not saying the popcorn was bad ... it was great and added a superb crunchy texture and slightly salty note; it was just a shame that the caramel and nut elements were equally as tasty, but just simply weren't as prominent. The caramel element was especially good; like all good caramel it had a nice sweet, buttery taste - absolutely fantastic. The bar had a wonderful array of textures, the fudge centre was luxuriously smooth and contrasted superbly with the gooey caramel and crunchiness from the popcorn and nuts. As you probably would have guessed this bar did a great job fulfilling my hunger, the aftertaste had a nice milky flavour to it - I definitely wasn't in need of a second.

Overall this was a bar like no other I had tried before, it certainly gets credit for its originality. The milk chocolate was better than average with it's sweet, milky and long lasting taste. I think I would have enjoyed this bar even more if the ingredients had been better portioned. As I referred to above, each part of the filling added individual qualities, which just made it an even greater shame that the portioning was slightly off. Definitely a bar worth checking out if you get the opportunity - the only reason why I would say avoid is if your watching the fat in your diet, or dislike any of the mentioned ingredients. Those people aside - for a truly innovative offering this is a pretty good bar.

8.0 out of 10

*** EU & UK Readers Attention*** Ever been been browsing Chocolate Mission or any other Candy Site and felt frustrated not being able to get hold of an American bar/item!??? .... well feel frustrated no more!!! 'I SHOP 4 YOU II'!! is a great service that provides a unique "one stop shop" international shopping experience!!! Visit the Ebay shop - if they dont have the item you want instock simply give them a message - there is no harm in asking. This service comes with a Chocolate Mission Seal of Approval!! It is a genuinely great, fast and friendly service... Just say you came from Chocolate Mission.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

September 27th: Hershey's / Reese's Snacksters

Chocolate Mission takes a slight detour today, breakfast is supposedly the most important meal of the day ... personally I'm rather partial to a nice round of toast and an OJ. To be honest I'm not particularly big on my cereals, though I was intrigued by these Hershey's and Reese's 'Snacksters' when **I SHOP 4 You II** included them in my latest sampling package. Below are my mini reviews of them both:

Hershey's Snacksters
Kcal 100 Fat 3.5g Fat(sats) 2.0g Carbs 15.0g (per 21.0g serving)

The Hershey's variant included 'cereal puffs, semi-sweet & milk chocolate chips and chocolate chip cookies'. The packaging was pretty standard, the cereal came in a single serving foil packet - it looked OK aesthetically and did a nice job at keeping the product fresh. The cereal itself looked pretty appetising, the cookie pieces looked particularly nice and the chocolate chips were a nice size and relatively well portioned. I know it's not really that normal to smell cereal but I must comment on the slightly odd aroma of this product, It had a predominantly biscuity, malty smell though it had a tinge of old smelling milk ... it really wasn't that enticing.

The cereal tasted pretty good, the cereal puffs had a nice biscuity taste that was complimented every so often by a nice cocoa burst from the chocolate chips. The unsweetened chips were a welcome addition, I think the overall taste might have been overly sweet if they were all milk chocolate. The only disappointing aspect of this variant were the cookie pieces, they very quickly became soggy and tasteless when mixed with the milk.

7.0 out of 10

Reese's Snacksters
Kcal 100 Fat 4.0g Fat(sats) 2.5g Carbs 14.0g (per 21.0g serving)

The Reese's variant included 'cereal puffs, peanut butter chips, cereal squares and Reese's Pieces'. The product came in almost identically styled packaging, with just the obvious differences in branding. The yellow, brown and orange Reese's Pieces gave the cereal itself a colourful look, though the colourings did turn the milk a slightly off putting colour. The product had a nice smell in comparison to the Hershey's variant, it had a relatively pleasant bisuity smell with a slight nutty element.

In comparison to the Hershey's cereal, the taste was not quite as strong. It had the same nice wheaty/corn base flavour from the cereal puffs, and the peanut butter chips added a nice creamy nutty taste every odd bite; however I don't think Reese's Pieces were suited to the context of cereal. The sugary shells were simply not as crispy, and they just failed to release that strong peanut butter Reese's flavour that I was hoping for, it was more refined and subtle.

7.0 out of 10


Overall I have pretty mixed feelings about these cereals. They are indeed a bit gimmicky, I just don't feel that cereal was really the greatest place to compliment either the Hershey's chocolate or the Reese's peanut butter flavours. I wouldn't necessarily recommend swapping these for your traditional breakfast, they just really aren't anything that special. If you fancy something a little different for your breakfast though these could be a nice little change up; they are worth trying at least if your fans of the brands.

September 27th: Ritter Sport Milk Whole Hazelnuts

Kcal 565 Fat 37.9g Fat(sats) 17.4g Carbs 46.9g (per 100g)

Chocolate Mission truly is a becoming a world wide phenomenon ... the latest supplier to kindly provide me with some of their regions greatest goods are Dean-German-Grocery - who stock quite possibly the largest number of Lindt, Milka, Storck and Ritter Sport etc goods I have ever seen - and the best thing!? Well they ship worldwide ... definitely worth checking out if you are after the more obscure varieties from those brands.

Today Dean-German-Grocery provided me with the 'Ritter Sport Milk Whole Hazelnuts'; as you probably gathered this was the milk chocolate version of one of the current 'top rated bars' the 'Ritter Sport White Whole Hazelnuts'.

The bar came in the standard 100g 5x5 blocked serving size that I ate over two sittings. Each provided a very substantial serving, and left me feeling wholly satisfied. The packaging was its usual high standard; the choice of colour of course highly appropriate and the bumpy hazelnut pattern was also a nice touch. The bar itself looked mightily impressive, the whole hazelnuts appeared well dispersed and neither affected the splitting of the bar nor the perfectly imprinted Ritter Sport logos. The bar also had a pretty pleasant smell, I couldn't detect the strongest of nutty aromas but it had a nice strong chocolaty fragrance that went some way to raising my already high anticipation.

Similar to the 'White Whole Hazelnuts' bar, I found that by far and away the best eating method was to let the chocolate of the blocks melt away leaving the whole hazelnuts to crunch on. The milk chocolate had a highly enjoyable smooth thick melt that lasted a near perfect amount of time in which to release it's flavors. The milk chocolate had a nice long taste, it was more cocoa intensive than it was milk based, it wasn't the best milk chocolate I have tasted; it didn't have a really unique taste to it like Dairy Milk, Galaxy or Hershey's (the latter probably more a good thing!!), it was more just a middle ground milk chocolate, though was still of a good quality. The hazelnuts were just as with the 'White Whole Hazelnuts', deliciously buttery in their taste with a long earthy woody aftertaste - very flavoursome and fantastically fresh tasting with a wonderful crunch.

Overall this was yet another winner from the Ritter Sport range. The milk chocolate was of a high standard, and the hazelnuts simply delicious; it was a combination that delivered a highly enjoyable and substantial product. The keener eyed will have noticed I rated this bar slightly below the 'White Whole Hazelnuts' - personally I felt that though the milk chocolate was of a high standard it didn't quite have the uniqueness in its overall flavour in comparison to the creaminess of the white chocolate. An absolutely delicious offering again from Ritter Sport, highly recommended.

8.7 out of 10

Fancy trying the Ritter Sport Milk Whole Hazelnuts for yourself!? Fancy any another Ritter Sport / Milka / Lindt / Storck or German Grocery ... head over to Dean-German-Grocery!!

Friday, 26 September 2008

September 26th: Milka & Daim Bar


**Updated** 09.04.2010

This bar is now available in a 45.0g impulse bar here in the UK - see my photo above!!

Kcal 530 Fat 30.0g Carbs 59.0g (per 100.0g)
Dean-German-Grocery recently sent me a near truckload of their latest and best selling German goodies in order for me to sample and review. Included in this package was this exciting Milka bar, a bar combining both Milka Alpine Milk chocolate and the ever popular Daim bar - two great individual products. Were they a perfect combination?

The bar came in the standard 100g Milka serving, as usual I ate this over two sittings - I felt like I could have eaten a little more each time but the servings were adequate enough. The bar came in the new plastic wrapper packaging, personally I liked the style of the wrapper, it had a nice bright glossy look, whilst also maintaining a nice freshness to the product - all in one recyclable layer ... good work Kraft! The bar had a pretty pleasant aroma; it had the typical dairy chocolaty Alpine Milk smell with just a little added sweet scent thrown into the mix.

When reviewing the Daim bar, I just couldn't quite get on with its lack of substantiality, I found the thinness of the bar very unappealing, the chocolate flaked and just wasn't impactful enough with it's flavours ... saying that I actually quite liked the caramel centre. This collaborative bar took all the problems of the Daim and threw them out the window! The Milka Alpine Milk chocolate provided a fantastic coating for the plentiful Daim pieces dispersed throughout the middle of the bar. The Alpine Milk provided a perfectly balanced smooth dairy taste that was impactful with its flavour, but not overly so that it dominated the Daim. The Daim pieces were very generously portioned and provided a fantastic contrastive crunch element against the smooth melting Alpine Milk. This was actually one of a few chocolates I enjoyed chewing, the Daim pieces literally exploded with their strong sweet caramel flavours that had a unique 'burnt' quality to their taste. The Daim element left a delicious long lasting taste in the mouth, it would have been nice for the milky chocolate flavour to have lasted longer but this has never been a strength of Milka chocolate.

Overall this is the best Milka bar I have tasted to date. This bar brought the best out of both individual elements; the Daim benefited greatily by being implemented in a bigger, more substantial milk chocolate coating, and the Milka Alpine Milk benefitted from having another dimension to it's overall flavour. It's not completely without it's faults the bar could possibly benefit with a slight refinement in it's cocoa levels ... Alpine Milk is indeed very milky and could be a little bland for some palettes. That aside, this is a bar that proves that 2 + 2 = 5 is definitely possible.

8.5 out of 10

September 26th: Snickers Rockin' Nut Road

Kcal 240 Fat 11.0g Fat(sats) 5.0g Carbs 34.0g

I find it literally quite amazing the amount of different variations of some bars they get in the US. Here in the UK we have the Snickers ... straight up, no bends ... Snickers! It was only last week I sampled the Snickers Dark, a few months back the Snickers Charged ... even longer ago the Snickers Almond ... lets not even talking about the Snickers Nut'nButter Crunch and 'Adventure Bar' as my heads beginning to hurt lol!

Well today courtesy once again of **I Shop 4 You II** I got to try the latest of the Snickers range, the Rockin' Nut Road. My opening paragraph may sound like im complaining about all the different varieties but thankfully this one was actually pretty good! Want a second opinion!? See GiGi's review over at GiGi Reviews!!

This Rockin' Nut Road was a formed using a bit of everything from the other limited editions - 'Almonds, caramel and marshmallow-flavoured nougat wrapped in dark chocolate'. The bar came in a standard limited edition Snickers size 51.9g ... a fair old serving size ... Snickers does indeed 'Satisfy' as it claims on the wrapper. The packaging didn't look anything out of place from the rest of the Snickers range, the cross section of the bar looked very similar to the Snickers Dark ... a nice dark coloured chocolate looked impressive against the paleness of the nougat, the layering was obvious and enticing. The bar had a very familiar Snickers like smell, the dark chocolate was the main focus of the aroma, though I could also detect small extracts of nut and sweetness from the mallow.

The outer dark chocolate was of course identical to the Snickers Dark - it lacked the sweetness and the milkiness of the original milk chocolate Snickers and had a fuller longer cocoa rooted taste. As I said on that review it was far from overbearing, anyone wary of dark chocolate being bitter needn't worry here, it had a friendly and pleasant taste. The middle of bar was obviously a mix of the caramel, almond and nougat layers. I was expecting the flavour of the marshmallow nougat to be similar to the Hershey's S'mores bar, basically overly sweet and bland ... this wasn't the case. It was indeed sweet but had a distinct toasted mallow flavour, its texture was firm but light and had a pleasant chewyness. The sweetness was complimented very nicely by the additional salty but sweet caramel and almond layer. The nuts had a buttery flavour and added a nice crunchiness to the mix, the caramel was faultless as ever. The textures of the bar worked remarkably well, the melt of the chocolate was smooth, whilst the chewy nature of the middle layers made for an interesting contrast. The duration of the taste was long and had elements of all the cocoa, sweet mallow and nutty flavours.

Overall I have come to conclusion that I really liked this bar. Due to the overkill of limited editions, as you can tell by the opening paragraph this really wasn't a bar that excited me all that much beforehand - however it was actually rather good. The marshmallow nougat was flavoursome and not the overly sugar laden prospect I thought it would be - it had a nice distinct flavour whilst retaining the usual pleasantness of the chew with its nougat texture. The dark chocolate, almonds and caramel all combined nicely with this marshmallow to deliver a great tasting, nicely textured product. No ... it's not quite on the same level of the standard original Snickers ... it lacks the size and near perfect balance of peanut sweetness and saltiness ... but this well worthy of a Chocolate Mission coveted 9.0 rating. Well worth trying for yourself, a very accomplished and worthwhile limited edition ... its not too often I say that now.

9.0 out of 10

*** EU & UK Readers Attention*** Ever been been browsing Chocolate Mission or any other Candy Site and felt frustrated not being able to get hold of an American bar/item!??? .... well feel frustrated no more!!! 'I SHOP 4 YOU II'!! is a great service that provides a unique "one stop shop" international shopping experience!!! Visit the Ebay shop - if they dont have the item you want instock simply give them a message - there is no harm in asking. This service comes with a Chocolate Mission Seal of Approval!! It is a genuinely great, fast and friendly service... Just say you came from Chocolate Mission.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

September 25th: Hershey's Bliss Milk Chocolate Meltaway

Kcal 220 Fat 15.0g Fat(sats) 10.0g Carbs 24.0g (per 6 chocolates)

Todays review is the final variant from the Hershey's Bliss range the 'Milk Chocolate Meltaway', another product that was sent to me by **I Shop 4 YOU II**. Both the 'Milk Chocolate' & 'Dark Chocolate' variants provided pretty adequate chocolate offerings, the 'Dark Chocolate' option my personal favourite of the two.

So what did this 'Milk Chocolate Meltaway' constitute of!? Well it wasn't the truffle like product I gathered from it's name - I envisaged a solid milk chocolate coating covering a soft truffle centre...well I was almost entirely wrong. This product consisted of a solid chocolate that had an added dose of Kernel/Palm oil that gave it a softer texture. As you can see above it was packaged the same as the rest of the range, each in an individual foil wrapper; as with the pink colour of the dark variant I found the choice of colour a bit puzzling ... beige just has to be the most boring colour ever!! Why Hershey's picked this colour I do not know! The chocolates lacked a definitive smell, it did emanate a mild chocolaty scent but it was far from what I would describe as striking.

The texture of the chocolates were certainly unique ... I have never had anything else quite like it. The chocolates still maintained a very solid shape, however had an extremely soft melt as soon as they entered the mouth. It was very much like a truffle filling ... but just solid in its initial form. The melt was extremely quick, but it was pleasurably soft and smooth, and had a luxurious nature about it. Unfortunately this didn't quite play favourably in terms of the taste of the product. The product had an almost identical taste to that of the 'Bliss Milk Chocolate' variant, it had a pleasant enough creamy taste, it's certainly not a world beater in terms of its flavours but it was good quality milk chocolate nonetheless. Unfortunately due to the speed of the melt, the flavour in the mouth didn't last that long, this meant that these were really not a satisfying chocolate ... the taste simply couldn't be savoured, which was a shame considering it wasn't half bad.

Overall I would have to say this variant was the weakest of the Hershey's Bliss range. The texture was indeed very unique - it's solid chocolate build but super soft melting texture was certainly enjoyable, though unfortunately this completely came at detriment to the taste; and made it an extremely unfulfilling product. If you like smooth soft textures and subtle flavoured chocolate, this could be a product you should consider trying. The Bliss range as a whole was slightly under whelming ... by no means bad chocolates whatsoever, but still just not a real 'must try' range. If you are keen at trying them for yourself I would recommend the 'Bliss dark' option over the other two milk chocolate variants.

7.4 out of 10

*** EU & UK Readers Attention*** Ever been been browsing Chocolate Mission or any other Candy Site and felt frustrated not being able to get hold of an American bar/item!??? .... well feel frustrated no more!!! 'I SHOP 4 YOU II'!! is a great service that provides a unique "one stop shop" international shopping experience!!! Visit the Ebay shop - if they dont have the item you want instock simply give them a message - there is no harm in asking. This service comes with a Chocolate Mission Seal of Approval!! It is a genuinely great, fast and friendly service... Just say you came from Chocolate Mission.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

September 24th: Mars Dark

Kcal 230 Fat 9.0g Fat(sats) 6.0g Carbs 36.0g

After reviewing the Snickers Dark last week a lot of readers requested I try the Mars Dark. Well in truth I have indeed already reviewed the Mars Dark ... in the form of the Milky Way 'Midnight' .... that was the American version; and was a bar I found disappointing for its relatively flavourless dark chocolate and vanilla nougat. Well today I sampled the Canadian version of the Mars dark - this bar retained the usual chocolate flavoured nougat found in the standard Mars bar, but was coated in dark chocolate instead of the standard milk chocolate.

As is commonly found with most non UK Mars and Snickers, the bar came in a slightly smaller 50g serving, this was by no means catastrophic - it still was a very fulfilling bar, it just wasn't quite the full on experience of a full sized UK Mars bar. It's smaller size made it look slightly less of a prospect, though the bar itself looked pretty appetising when cross-sectioned - the caramel layer especially looked particularly enticing. The wrapper itself was pretty standard but it must be said it ensured the bar retained a fantastic smell. The bar had an enticing cocoa smell when opened, it didn't smell as sweet as the original bar but it had an extremely chocolaty appealing scent.

The dark chocolate had a nice balanced taste that was very similar to the dark chocolate of the Snickers Dark. It was by no means a really dark, rich tasting dark chocolate like a Lindt or Hotel Chocolat product, it was more an unsweetened version of the standard milk chocolate with a tad more emphasis from the cocoa. It was nowhere near what I would describe as intense - just a slightly different proposition to the original. Im glad to report that the middle nougat was its usual highly satisfying standard, it had a delicious milky chocolaty flavour that became more and more forthcoming as it was chewed. The Caramel was also its usual standard; it had an enjoyable chewy texture and delicious sweet, partially salt enhanced taste - yum! The combination of all these different layers made for a long aftertaste, the unsweetened cocoa taste stayed in the mouth for a nice amount of time.

Overall this was highly enjoyable variation of the original Mars bar. The dark chocolate was nicely implemented, it didn't push the boundaries of dark chocolate with its 'mass consumer friendly' approach but it tasted fair and individual enough to differentiate itself from the original milk chocolate. The nougat and caramel bars remained true to their original attributes, both adding great variations to the taste and textures. Personally my preference lies with the original Mars bar due to is greater size and milkier taste - for the odd occasion though this is a great bar and one that I would highly recommend to Mars fans ... do us all a favour and bring back the Mars Midnight for the UK!!

8.8 out of 10
   

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

September 23rd: M&M's Premiums Raspberry Almond

Kcal 240 Fat 17.0g Fat(sats) 6.0g Carbs 19.0g (per 42.0g serving)

A few weeks ago, thanks to **I SHOP 4 YOU II** I took my first look at the M&M's Premiums range with the 'Triple Chocolate' flavour - I thought they were absolutely delicious, and definitely worthy of their 'Premium' branding. The standard had well and truly been set - read on to find out if these 'Raspberry Almond' M&M's Premiums matched up to expectations?

The 'Raspberry Almond' flavour consisted of 'Raspberry flavoured white chocolate and almond nut, wrapped in dark chocolate' - a pretty interesting mix that I can't really recall encountering elsewhere beforehand. From the pictures above you will see that again the product was nicely presented in the modern style packaging. The M&M's themselves again looked stunning with their marble effect painted finish - the insides of each M&M also looked very impressive with a distinct layering and definition between the different chocolates, aswell as a fresh looking nut. Opening the inner plastic packet I was met with a strong fruity berry aroma. It smelt very distinct, and I guess very relevant for the flavour, though one part of me couldn't help but feel that it was overly sweet and artificial - of which of course it was. Surprisingly there were no genuine raspberry ingredients listed on the packaging whatsoever. Fruit flavoured M&M's have always been pretty weak in my reckoning, and my previous reviews have always called for Mars to use real fruit elements instead of the artificial flavours ... no such luck again here.

The artificial nature of the smell soon paled in comparison to the artificialness of the raspberry in the taste. The raspberry flavour was sharp, overly sweet and just really quite fake in it's flavour. It was unfortunately the strongest part of the taste - and dominated the almond and chocolate layers. When eaten in isolation from the raspberry flavoured white chocolate, the almonds were crunchy and fresh with a pleasant buttery taste, the dark chocolate was also fair flavoured, providing a decent semi-sweet cocoa element to the taste briefly. The aftertaste was of course dominated by the sweet artificial berry flavour ... a shame ... a real shame. Too sweet, too fake - in a word poor!

Overall to put it bluntly, this was a terribly disappointing product. Your always going to be in trouble when trying to achieve a flavour through artificial ingredients, but even then the attempt through this method was terribly exectuted. These were no better than the original limited edition M&M's Razzpberry, which when I reviewed a few months ago were equally as disappointing ... I guess the only thing we can say about them now is that at least they didn't have the premium price tag like these. M&M's just don't see to be able to pull off fruit flavoured variants ... and these more confirmed this to me rather than dispelled that theory. Personally not a product I would recommend. Lets hope the range gets back on track with my next review from the 'Premiums' line.

6.9 out of 10

*** EU & UK Readers Attention*** Ever been been browsing Chocolate Mission or any other Candy Site and felt frustrated not being able to get hold of an American bar/item!??? .... well feel frustrated no more!!! 'I SHOP 4 YOU II'!! is a great service that provides a unique "one stop shop" international shopping experience!!! Visit the Ebay shop - if they dont have the item you want instock simply give them a message - there is no harm in asking. This service comes with a Chocolate Mission Seal of Approval!! It is a genuinely great, fast and friendly service... Just say you came from Chocolate Mission.

Monday, 22 September 2008

September 22nd: Hotel Chocolat Milk 52% Vanilla & Cocoa Nibs

Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???

My exploration of the 'Purist Range' continued this week with me sampling the 'Milk 52% with Vanilla & Cocoa Nibs'. The pack informed me that this bar combined a 'unique fresh tasting milk chocolate with less sugar, more cocoa and sufficient milkiness'. The bar was farmed from the Menavava Plantation in Madagascar and contained added vanilla pod and cocoa nibs in its ingredients.

If you have been reading my reviews from this 'Purist Range' you will know that the presentation is absolutely incredible. Once again this bar contained interesting on-pack blurb about how the product was produced from bean to bar ... some may find it pretentious but personally I find it all quite interesting - its nice knowing where your chocolate comes from. I'm not to sure this type of approach would go down to well on some Nestle bars ... lol ok lets leave that issue well alone. Contained within the inner foil packet, the slab had a nice smell, it smelt very dairy based with a undertone of vanilla. It was unspectacular but pretty appetising nonetheless. 

Tastewise this was one of the milkier tasting Hotel Chocolat products I have tried. Despite the far heavier weighting of ingredients on the cocoa solids (52% cocoa solids & 22% milk solids), the taste was remarkably light and clean in comparison to many Hotel Chocolat products like the '52% Himalayan Salt/Caramel' and less surprisingly the '72% Dark'. The taste was more milky that I would say cream like, and this was true of it's texture aswell. The melt was typically super smooth and well paced but was less viscous than other Hotel Chocolat offerings. Though the thinner density wasn't entirely preferable, the added crunch factor from the cocoa nibs was pleasant and brought an extra dimension to the bar in this regard. The cocoa nibs also added an extra chocolaty burst when chewed, though the overriding aftertaste of the bar was an overarching milky flavour that had the slightest of vanilla notes. The lightness of the taste meant this wasn't the richest of chocolates - I easily ate the 75g over one sitting.

Overall this was one of the more subtly flavoured bars I have tried from Hotel Chocolat. The dominant milky flavour was a kind pleasant one, that although wasn't the most fulfilling, was still of a very high quality and very moreish. The added vanilla and cocoa nib elements had fairly minor roles in regards of being flavour incremental, though they were still very much detectable, just less flavour enhancing than say the 'Caramel/Himalayan Salt' and 'Orange & Chilli' ingredients in those bars. Some readers have said to me they find the intensity of flavour concentration in some Hotel Chocolat slabs too much - to be honest this offering seems to cover all bases for those people. For a light, clean and crisp milk chocolate I would really say this is a good choice; its not the most characteristic of chocolates from the Hotel Chocolat range, but yet another tasty offering.

8.4 out of 10


Sunday, 21 September 2008

September 21st: Snickers Dark

Kcal 250 Fat 13.0g Fat(sats) 5.0g Carbs 30.0g

The original UK Snickers Is one of my favourite bars ever and sits proudly amongst the upper tier of the Chocolate Mission top rated bars. Being the dark chocolate fan I am, I simply couldn't wait to try this dark variation, which simply involved the same peanut, caramel and nougat premise, but with the normal milk chocolate replaced with dark chocolate. I am aware this was originally introduced as a limited edition, though due to popular demand it got made a staple part of the US range....this was one I was really looking forward to.

The bar came in a 51.9g serving size - smaller than the standard milk chocolate version. The bar was still very substantial and wholly satisfying yet not quite the monster of the original Snickers. In appearance the wrapper and bar were unsurprisingly coloured slightly darker - the paleness of the nougat looked even more appetising than normal against the darker coloured chocolate - yum. The bar's aroma was not quite as nutty as normal - it was more cocoa rooted. It still enticed me, but personally I think the roasted nut smell of the original is near unbeatable.

The dark chocolate was very evident from the first mouthful, and it's flavour was instantly recognisable as different from the original milk chocolate. It had a stronger chocolaty taste that although wasn't bitter, was certainly not as sweet, and had a richer flavour that lasted a lot longer in the mouth. Though their chewy textures were still evident and enjoyable, the flavours of the caramel and nougat were partly overwhelmed by the stronger chocolate. Their normal sweeter flavour elements were partially toned down by the chocolate...still recognisable but just not as impactful. The peanuts were as enjoyable as ever with their amazingly tasty roasted flavour...the slight kick of salt was as prominent and beneficial to the overall flavour as with the original. This was a great tasting bar, and was one that left me very satisfyed in terms of hunger fufilment and enjoyment.

Overall this is a nice variation from Mars and one that is worthy of its place in their portfolio. The dark chocolate is pretty 'mass consumer friendly', it's not quite the same proposition as a Lindt 70% dark chocolate; it's more of chocolate with a stronger edgier chocolaty taste - one that in a mainstream environment will be interpreted as 'dark'. The dark chocolate was enjoyable though it's stronger taste wasn't all beneficial as it overly dominated the nougat and caramel elements partially negating their impact. I would definitely recommend this bar to Snickers fans, though not quite the outstanding level of the original Snickers, it's a great variation and well worthy of trying - a bar I would definately have again.

8.8 out of 10

September 21st: Competition Results


Firstly I would like to say thank you to all the entrants! There was an overwhelming amount - my inbox has nearly exploded!!

The answers:

Bar 1 - Cadbury Twirl
Bar 2 - Cadbury Cherry Ripe (Aus)
Bar 3 - Mars Bounty
Bar 4 - Fry's Turkish Delight


****AND THE WINNERS ARE.....***


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M&Ms Milk Chocolate (US) - Anne McMillan

M&Ms Peanut Butter (US) - Nina Woodcock

Hotel Chocolat Orange & Chilli Dark Chocolate Slab 125g - Jan Evans

Hotel Chocolat 85% Dark Chocolate Slab 125g - Gareth Moorhead

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Congratulations to all the winners - I have sent you all e-mails asking for your postal addresses.

Commiserations to all who didn't win ... this time!! Due to a huge recent influx of goodies, another competition should be running in the next few weeks - so please continue to contribute to the blog and check for the daily updates.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

September 20th: Hershey's Bliss Dark Chocolate

Kcal 200 Fat 14.0g Fat(sats) 9.0g Carbs 25.0g (per 6 chocolates)

Having kicked off my range review of the 'Hershey's Bliss' line with the milk chocolate flavour last week, I today sampled the dark chocolate variant - again all thanks to **I SHOP 4 YOU II** who sent these from America.

Evidence that these are a product positioned to the female side of the market is pretty blatant from the packaging. As you can see it was a lovely shade of pastel pink ... I don't think it could be anymore effeminate if it tried. Is it really such a good idea cutting off half a market aka blokes?? Who knows!? What I do know - is that I wouldn't feel the most comfortable buying these in a shop ... and that's coming from a bloke who buys Milkybar Buttons lol! Despite my resentment to the choice of colour, the packaging was no different to the milk chocolate, lacking detail on the chocolates themselves, but wrapped in smart stylish looking foil packages. The chocolates had an established smell, far less dairy rooted than the milk chocolate variety and one more with a dark smelling cocoa scent.

Although the perfect size and shape to simply plonk in the mouth one by one, I did bite into one of the chocolates, it had more of a soft chalky feel than the crisp smoothness of the milk chocolate. Despite having a bit more of a bumpy texture the melt was equally smooth and had a nice thick single cream viscosity once melted. The flavour of the chocolate developed as it started to melt in the mouth, the initial flavour was surprisingly nutty, though this soon developed into an intensifying cocoa flavour. Before the cocoa could become overly concentrated the sweetness of the sugar kicked in - the overall taste was strong, yet not over powering - as I always say 'mass consumer friendly dark chocolate'. The taste lasted a reasonable time in the mouth, which meant that is was a well round satisfying chocolate - no off putting Hershey's style aftertaste to note here.

Overall these are probably the best plain chocolate offering I have had from Hershey's - superior than both their original milk chocolate and even the 'Bliss milk chocolate'. The taste wasn't up their with the most accomplished dark chocolates I have tried but its a good standard friendly dark chocolate that has a delightfully smooth texture. This might not be a chocolate that would be overly enjoyed by the more refined taste buds, but is another one of those products I would recommend to people looking to ease themselves into dark chocolate.

8.0 out of 10
*** EU & UK Readers Attention*** Ever been been browsing Chocolate Mission or any other Candy Site and felt frustrated not being able to get hold of an American bar/item!??? .... well feel frustrated no more!!! 'I SHOP 4 YOU II'!! is a great service that provides a unique "one stop shop" international shopping experience!!! Visit the Ebay shop - if they dont have the item you want instock simply give them a message - there is no harm in asking. This service comes with a Chocolate Mission Seal of Approval!! It is a genuinely great, fast and friendly service... Just say you came from Chocolate Mission.
 

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