Friday, 31 October 2008

October 31st: Quality Street: My Caramel Swirl / Purple Big One / Green Triangle

It has been a long time since I have had any form of Quality Street, but from what I can remember there were always ones that disappeared from the tin far quicker than others. It seems everyone has their favourite, and Nestle think they are the 'Caramel Swirl', 'Purple Big One' and 'Green Triangle' pieces .... so what have Nestle done!?? Well made them in a grander form that's what! Under recommendation of reader Simon, I decided to give each of them a look at.

My Caramel Swirl:  

Kcal 186 Fat 9.5g Fat(sats) 5.7g Carbs 23.6g

Described as 'milk chocolate with a soft caramel centre',  this was the one I was looking forward to most. It looked impressive in stature and had a relatively dense heavy feel. When cross-sectioned the amount of caramel did look very impressive and had a nice pleasant looking golden appearance. The product didn't offer the greatest of smells, only a relatively low-key sweet smell could be detected.

The milk chocolate was pretty standard Nestle quality. It was by no means of the highest quality, and had little more than a reasonable sweet, milky taste. The caramel centre was not of the highest quality either, it had a relatively pleasant buttery taste, however lacked the real definition of flavours in comparison to the better quality caramels (Cadbury / Galaxy). The texture of the chocolate was partially grainy, though the smooth, chewiness of the caramel made the filling feel very soft in the mouth. The sweetness of the product meant that overall this was a relatively fulfilling snack.

Overall this was by far not the greatest milk chocolate / caramel combination I have tasted, but it was relatively pleasant nonetheless. If I were in need of chocolaty caramel flavour hit this wouldn't be the first product I would seek out, but I would probably settle for it nonetheless.

7.4 out of 10


My Purple Big One
Kcal 190 Fat 9.9g Fat(sats) 5.2g Carbs 23.4g

Is it me or does this name sound rather suggestive :) ... hmmm ok just me!! This 'Purple Big One' came billed as 'milk chocolate, with hazelnuts in a caramel centre'. 

Although I didn't care too much for the shape of this variant, when bitten into it looked pretty appetising. Again the golden caramel looked plentiful, and the added whole hazelnut pieces also looked quite enticing, all this to an extent made up for the clumsy design. The product smelt exactly the same as the Caramel Swirl, with no indication of the nut content at this point whatsoever.

The product not only smelt like the Caramel Swirl, but by and large tasted like it as well, though it must be said the hazelnuts did add a little something extra. The sweetness of the milk chocolate and caramel combination as described above was broken up somewhat by the savoury flavours of the nuts. In my 'Big Purple One' I got three whole hazelnuts, which made relative sense given I ate the piece in three bites. This meant each bite had an additional woody, nutty flavour that was delivered with a relatively fresh crunch. Again relative to its size it was a pretty fulfilling snack.

Overall your preference to this over the Caramel Swirl will be down to whether you enjoy hazelnuts. Personally I do, and I enjoyed the taste of the product that little bit more with the extra nutty element. By my reckoning the best out the bunch, but in my opinion a poor mans take on the Cadbury 'Nuts about Caramel'.

7.7 out of 10 


My Green Triangle:
Kcal 187 Fat 10.7g Fat(sats) 5.6g Carbs 20.7g

My Green Triangle constitutes of 'milk chocolate with a nut praline centre'. The Praline market is one that is generally a focus of the more prestigious brands, and having tried some pretty good offerings from the likes of Guylian and Ritter Sport I was quite curious to the quality this was going to deliver. 

The product had two main layers with the outer milk chocolate coating protecting the inner praline. As with the other two offerings, the milk chocolate offered the same distinctly average sweet, milky flavours. The praline centre had quite a thick, dense texture that I wasn't overly keen on, I would have much preferred the textures to have been a tad softer. Flavourwise it was also largely disappointing, the hazelnut flavours were there but just didn't really establish themselves. The lasting taste I was left with was the sweet chocolate, which was all a bit lacklustre. This was the most unfulfilling out from the three.

Overall I am not quite sure why Nestle would make one of their focus 'Big Ones' a praline offering. It was pretty obvious it was never going to meet the standard of the better offerings from the market, it wasn't necessarily poor, but as far as pralines go it was sub-standard. Add the fact the milk chocolate was hardly dazzling, it didn't take me long to come to the conclusion this was the worse of the lot.

6.3 out 10


Despite not being entirely enamored by any out of the three, I have safely come to the conclusion that the 'Big Purple One' is the best out of the lot. One thing really puzzles me with this range, and it is the question: 'when are these supposed to be eaten?'. Personally I would never choose one of these over a standard chocolate bar, but they are also to big to have as a one off small chocolate. Surely the appeal of the Quality Street brand is the fact they offer several 'okish' chocolates in one product ... why would you choose an average (or just slightly better) as a one off larger item??? I hope you know what I am getting at here, it would be great to hear some opinions on the matter. 

October 31st: Milka Luft White Chocolate

Kcal 540 Fat 29.5g Fat(sats) 18.0g Carbs 63.0g (per 100.0g)

Those of you who remember my review of the Milka White Chocolate a few weeks ago, will be aware that I wasn't its biggest fan. Despite this, Dean-German-Grocery were kind enough to include this limited edition 'Luft (Air) White Chocolate' in their latest sampling package. This was an aerated variation on the standard white chocolate bar ... basically think Milka White Chocolate meets Wispa / Aero style chocolate.

Despite its aerated form, the bar still came in the standard 100.0g serving. The bar was about the same size in length as the standard Milka bars, though it was about three/four times the thickness. The design work of the bar reminded me a lot of Aero chocolate, with bubbles visibly present in the cross-section of the bar. On the whole, the product was presented nicely aesthetically, the same could not be said about the smell. I remember with the standard Milka White Chocolate bar I was pushed to identify the minor milky aromas. With this Luft bar a smell was all but absent - with a small generic sweet scent the only thing remotely detectable.

Despite the chocolate formulation remaining the same, there was no doubting that the 'Luft' format changed its delivery. The taste of the bar was still heavily dominated by its sugar content - one look at the ingredients revealed this was to be no big surprise. The bar was still awfully sweet, though this sweetness was managed to a degree by the lighter nature of the chocolate. Despite feeling lighter, the chocolate did little to take advantage of the potential of the aerated texture. The melt just seemed to plod along as normal, with none of the fizzy, melt in the mouth texture qualities that are so present in other aerated chocolate alternatives (Wispa /Aero etc) ... pretty poor to be honest. I ate this bar over four servings .... despite the slightly friendlier taste I still could not stand more than 25.0g at a time ... a pretty unsatisfying experience to say the least.

Overall I have rated this 'Luft' variation even lower than the original bar, for the sole reason that the unique selling point of the bar - the Luft aerated texture, failed to deliver on almost every level. Despite making the overly sweet taste a tad more bearable, the texture remained dull, lifeless and empty feeling in comparison to the more superior aerated chocolate offerings. Again I am going to suggest to you that there are better white chocolate products available - though I guess if your a fan of super sweet chocolate with a lighter texture, there is potentially some pleasure to get from this bar ... maybe.

6.0 out of 10

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

Thursday, 30 October 2008

October 30th: Reese's Sweet & Salty Granola Bar

Kcal 170 Fat 9.0g Fat(sats) 2.5g Carbs 18.0g

I mentioned last week that Reese's really aren't shy when it comes to diversification in their product range. Geraldine at Yankee Soda & Candy has managed to get hold of some of these new Reese's Sweet & Salty Granola Bars, and was kind enough to send one along for me to try.

Described as a 'Granola bar with peanuts, dipped in a peanut butter coating', I thought it most suitable I eat the bar for a mid-morning snack. Despite not being the biggest in its size (34.0g), it actually provided a pretty satisfying stop-gap between brekkie and lunch. I was a little unfussed about the presentation - the bar stuck quite annoyingly to the inside of the wrapper, though the bar itself looked nice with its glazed effect and appetising whole peanuts nicely dispersed throughout. I was extremely unsurprised to find the bar had a very forthcoming nutty smell upon opening, it was very inviting indeed.

Despite containing both oats and rice cereal, the peanuts completely dominated the taste. As the name suggested there was a nice contrastive element of sweet and salty flavours, the sweet flavour chiefly delivered through the sugary glaze. The peanut flavours were fantastic, though were bordering on being a little savoury for my liking. I would have preferred the peanut butter coating that thinly fused the bottom of the bar to have been greater in its presence. The sweet buttery flavours that the coating delivered were delicious, but were quickly dominated by the more prevalent whole peanuts. I very much like the degree of saltiness that is usual with Reese's products, but this was very close to being overly so. The nutty flavours lasted for a good amount of time, and as aforementioned delivered a pretty fulfilling experience.

Overall this was another pretty fair showing from Reese's ever growing portfolio. The peanut flavours were hugely dominant, but made for a pretty satisfying experience. The peanut butter coating could have been portioned far greater than it was, which would have maybe balanced the product a lot more with it's near overdominating salty flavours. I'm not going to complain too much though, it did a fine job of satisfying my mid-morning munchies ... and was a pretty tasty nonetheless. If your into your cereal/granola bars I recommend you give this a try.

7.8 out of 10

October 30th: Divine Orange Milk Chocolate / 70% Dark Chocolate

I  had these bars sitting in my review box awaiting their turn for months before I finally took the plunge today. I can't say I was too enthused to review these bars - mainly due to the relatively poor performance of the Divine white and milk chocolate bars I reviewed at the beginning of the year. However after a bit of a nudge from Jeanna at 'The Wisconin Candy Dish', and her fantastic reviews of some of Divine's goodies (See HERE!), I decided to get a get a wriggle on and give them a chance.

The presentation of the Divine range has never been a problem for me, in fact it is actually rather good. The wrappers come two fold, and combine a nice contemporary designed outer-wrapper with a foil inner-layer around the chocolate for freshness. On the inside of the paper wrapping, it explains the fascinating story of how Divine are a Fairtrade company, and how they go about the bean to bar process ... interesting if your a geek like myself and enjoy that sort of thing :)


Divine Orange Milk Chocolate:

Kcal 240 Fat 14.1g Carbs 25.4g

There was never going to be any other comparator for this bar other than Terry's Chocolate Orange, which is one of my favourite chocolate orange combinations. Opening the foil wrapper I was met with a moderate orangey smell. The citrus connotation was obvious, though it lacked the sweetness and intensity of Terry's.

Way back in February, my feelings behind the Divine Milk chocolate were largely of underwhelment ... nothing about the texture or the taste really stood out for me. By and large these were my feelings with this bar as well, though the orange element was relatively forthcoming, and added an extra dimension to the familiar bland milk chocolate. The zesty, fruity note was largely evident during the duration of the chocolate in the mouth, though once the block had melted away the taste largely disappeared leaving only a minor milky taste. 

Overall I felt the extra orange element added an extra depth to the taste, though it was still somewhat shallow and lacking real impact. Personally I would recommend the far cheaper Terry's Chocolate Orange as a means of getting your chocolate orange hit, though I guess if your intent on buying fairtrade this is a fair, if still underwhelming proposition. 

7.3 out of 10  



Divine 70% Dark Chocolate:

Kcal 249 Fat 20.8g Carbs 12.4g

The first thing I noticed here was the disproportion of fat to sugar (carbs) in this bar compared to the milk chocolate and to a greater extent, white chocolate variants in the range. With this indication that there was a greater emphasis placed on the cocoa in this bar rather than a reliance on sugar I was somewhat hopeful.

My optimism was justified to an extent. The bar had mild scents of cocoa and coffee, though again they were only minor and lacking true definition. The melt was relatively thicker, however still lacked the softness and slow flavour release qualities of the finer dark chocolates of Lindt and Hotel Chocolat. This was the most flavoursome of the Divine range I have tasted, and had by far the most depth. The chocolate had more of an unsweetened milk chocolate sense about it rather than an cocoa intensified focus ... I'm sure to the mass market this would be far the more popular approach than the latter. The flavours never got too concentrated, and the overall taste was relatively long with the cocoa leaving a lasting impression in the mouth.

Overall this is definitely my favourite from the Divine range. Despite this though I still felt that the texture was still a long way from luxurious, and the melt definitly needs work. The taste of the bar was better than average; despite its 70% cocoa constituents it was pretty mass consumer friendly and mild in the grand scheme of the dark chocolate market. To be honest you only have to look as far as Lindt or Hotel Chocolat for better alternatives, but if your going to go Divine this is the bar I suggest. 

7.7 out of 10  

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

*** FREE COMPETITION ***

Once again I feel the need to treat you all to a FREE ... yes FREE COMPETITION :D :D


So what is up for grabs this time???

Well courtesy of the great people at Dean-German-Grocery - up for grabs are seven .... yes SEVEN Nestle White Lion Bars (Click for Review!!)

So How do I win? ... Answer these Following Questions:

Q.1 Name Four brands of Chocolate that are available to buy from Dean-German-Grocery

Q.2 Name these products:To enter send your answers to Jim@Chocolatemission.net

Please include your address for your prize to be sent to if you should be so lucky to win, and please make your subject 'Competition Answers'

Entries close at 10pm 12.11.2008 - and the winners will be notified
Open to the UK & Ireland only - sorry folks - times are tight as a student :(GOOD LUCK and keep tuning in to Chocolate Mission :D
This is a competition for seven individual winners to win one Nestle White Lion Bar each!!

Small Print:
1. None of your contact Details will be used or sold on to any 3rd party companies - this is a competition solely for fun.
2. Entries must be in by 10pm 12.11.2008.
3. Only one entry per person4. Rules/Prizes of the competition may be changed at any time to my discrection..there are blatantly details I have forgotten
4. As it says above this is only open to the UK & Ireland
5. My say on anything to do with this competition is FINAL


*******************************************

RESULTS!!!

Congratulations to:

Heidi, Jamie, Sally, James, Rachel, Ibbs & Tilly ..... You have all won a Nestle White Lion Bar!! I hope you enjoy them! 

Please share your thoughts on the bar once you have tried it!

Thanks for all the entries!!

Jim

October 29th: Lindt '1001 Nights' Chocolate Dream Candle Holder

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

As I have already brought to your attention, Dean-German-Grocery recently sent me through another load of samples, this time containing many of the most popular German brands Christmas offerings. One item that straight away stood out to me was this Lindt one. This product forms part of the Lindt '1001 Nights' range, and included 125g of mini milk chocolate truffles.

As you may have gathered from the title, this was not your standard chocolate offering. The tin packaging doubled up as quite a nice looking candle holder. I doubt I will get much use out of it myself, but this was really a nice unique touch. Onto the more important issue at hand, the chocolates, were wrapped in nice individual looking sparkly wrappers and despite their small size had nicely detailed logo imprinted surfaces. Releasing the chocolates from the wrappers, they had a nice smell that had a strong vanilla essence to it. As ever, the presentation of this Lindt product was brilliant.

For such small chocolates the number of flavour dimensions was incredible. The milk chocolate had a creamy taste that intensified as the piece melted. Inside the outer chocolate layer was a wonderfully smooth tasting praline type filling, which had a sweet hazelnut taste. The longer the praline filling was exposed, the greater the underlying vanilla flavour grew in its intensity. This vanilla flavour heavily noted the creamy chocolaty aftertaste, leaving a lovely lasting impression. These were extremely moreish chocolates, the only downside to them being that even half of the tin was a pretty unfulfilling experience.

Overall not only did this product provide a classy looking candle holder, but it actually had some pretty awesome chocolates as well :) !! The chocolates though small, and pretty unfulfilling were full of flavour. I would love to see these flavours incorporated into a Lindor truffle. The nutty flavours of the hazelnuts, and subtle but lasting vanilla flavours would be perfect for the Lindor format - I guess we can only cross our fingers. A good start to what will be a very extensive look over the Lindt Christmas range.

8.2 out of 10

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

October 28th: Cadbury Dairy Milk Black Forest

Kcal 242 Fat 12.0g Fat(sats) 7.1g Carbs 29.8g

The last bar I reviewed from Cadbury that was manufactured in New Zealand was the simply dismal Cadbury Buzz... I was really hoping todays bar the Cadbury Dairy Milk Black Forest was going to be a hell of a lot better..thankfully it was!

The Black Forest incorporates 'Dairy Milk milk chocolate with cherry flavoured jellies and biscuit pieces', all in a single serving 45g bar. The packaging looked nice...pretty typical Cadbury with a snazzy looking foil wrapper...the bar was split into eight chunks as shown above and had a nice look with the Cadbury logo cleanly scribed into each block. The bar had a familiar Dairy Milk creamy smell though had a slight scent of very sweet artificial fruitiness...the aroma was nice but I was a little curious with regard to the sweet fruity smell.

Further adding to the conundrum of the formulation of Cadbury Dairy Milk (see CDM Irish!), this New Zealand sourced variation of the recipe comprised of 27% cocoa solids and 25% milk solids. It had a similar taste to our English version though had a stronger cocoa edginess in the aftertaste. Its flavour was no where near the creaminess of the Irish though I must say I preferred the thinner texture with this bar as it allowed the other elements of the bar to express their flavours and not be lost in a overly dense chocolate.

The biscuit component was not the strongest in flavour but did add a pleasant crunchiness to the smooth chocolate....as I said it wasn't the strongest in taste and offered no more than the slightest wheaty flavour. The jelly pieces were really the distinctive element of the bar and I very much enjoyed their inclusion. They had a gummy bear like texture and provided a unique chewiness against the other smooth and crunchy textures. Like their smell suggested they were artificially sweet but lets face it...who do sent enjoy the occasional fruit flavoured gummy!?...well I do anyway! The jelly pieces were spread nicely throughout the bar and were present in nearly every block.

Overall I really enjoyed this bar and found it very refreshing in the way that it was a unique combination of flavours and ingredients...there just isn't currently anything else like it on the market. The combination of great tasting Dairy Milk chocolate and jelly pieces is executed brilliantly and I particularly enjoyed the experience of letting the smooth chocolate melt away in my mouth and then sucking on the remaining cherry jelly pieces. If your a fan of Haribo sweets or Maynards Wine Gums this would definitely be a bar you would enjoy. Its a real wonder why this bar doesn't have worldwide distribution and is only being sold in the New Zealand...that said its worth tracking down if you can find it - highly recommended!

8.6 out of 10

October 28th: Milka Caramel

Kcal 540 Fat 33.0g Carbs 56.0g

Similar to the case of the Milka Fruit and Nut of a few days ago, this Milka Caramel certainly had a lot to live up to considering that the Cadbury and Galaxy Caramel bars are still taking pride of place at number two on the overall Chocolate Mission leader board. As far as I am aware Milka Caramel is not available here in the UK ... not that I have seen anyway. Thankfully this bar is just one of many that comprises Dean-German-Grocery's extensive collection ... so I suggest you head there if this bar tickles your fancy.

As you can see in the above picture, this bar took a bit of a different angle to the market norm in regard to it's caramel centre. The bar was coated in the standard Milka Alpine milk chocolate, though the middle contained both a caramel flavoured cream centre as well as a more typical gooey caramel layer. This was a concept communicated well through the presentation of the product. The picture looked enticing and the cross section revealed the distinctive layering. The bar had a fantastically sweet, honey like smell that I would have savoured for longer had I not been so eager to taste the product.

Both the flavours and textures I got from this bar were superb. The inner caramel centre was absolutely divine - combining a delicious mixture of dairy flavours from the cream filling and sweet toffee notes from the more liquid gooey layer. Initially the distinction between the two components was quite evident, though once the super smooth melt had progressed they merged into a fantastic sweet, creamy taste. The outer Alpine Milk chocolate for my liking was a little thin in it's proportioning, it's flavour never really stamped its authority on the taste as it's melty nature made it all but disappear to quickly. Had the chocolate been that bit more prominent, the longevity of the flavours in the mouth would no doubt have increased. The flavours were fantastic, though a bit short in terms of their lifespan.

Overall I have big respect for Milka trying something a little different in terms of their caramel centre. It would have been all too easy for them to follow the typical route of filling the bar with any old golden coloured, sweet syrup and being done with that. Milka stretched themselves by incorporating the extra caramel cream layer, and have really created a product that brings something new to the caramel bar table. The taste of the caramel filling was delicious, I would say it even surpasses the caramel from the Cadbury and Galaxy bars. The only slight issue is that the level of chocolate isn't sufficient enough to really stamp it's presence on the taste ... a problem that could so easily be solved by increasing the proportioning of the Alpine Milk. This is both a unique and fantastic offering in the caramel market and one that I really whole heartidly recommend - my favourite Milka bar to date.

8.7 out of 10

Monday, 27 October 2008

October 27th: Lindt Christmas Punch

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

When sifting through the vast bunch of Christmas samples that Dean-German-Grocery sent me, this Lindt offering immediately caught my eye. Now I have never heard of 'Christmas Punch' before but according to Lindt it involves a concoction of cinnamon and rum ... sounds interesting huh!? Well this bar incorporated these 'punch' elements in the form of a liquid filling sitting inside milk chocolate ... I was intrigued!!

I am one for rattling on about how classy Lindt present their products, and this product did little to change my mind on this. The outer packaging had a lovely shiny golden effect - one that my camera really didn't do justice for as you will see above. As well as beautiful outer packaging the bar itself didn't look half bad either. The liquid 'Punch' filling was contained within several pods, each of which were impressively branded with the Lindt logo. The smell of the bar was what I can only describe as very forthcoming. Releasing the bar from its inner foil packaging I was met with an almost overpowering smell of rum - as you will learn later when I describe the taste this wasn't entirely preferable.

To really asses the quality of the chocolate I really had to tune myself into looking past the amazingly dominant rum flavours. The chocolate was quite a weak formulation for Lindt, containing only 30% cocoa solids. When tasted in isolation from the filling it had a smooth milky taste, and was heavily noted with cinnamon - to be honest I find it almost pointless describing the taste of the chocolate as this was a product about one thing, and one thing only ... the rum!! According for only 6% of the total constituents this was never going to be a situation where eating a whole bar would result in the consumer seeing double and having a sudden urge for Karaoke :) ... saying that I must say it was bloody strong and completely dominated all the other flavours of the bar. Now I am no rum expert but even I could tell this wasn't good quality rum. I'm a poor student who has drank some god damn awful spirits in my time, but to be honest this ranked up there with the Tesco Value stuff ... paint stripper anyone!?? The rum element smelt bad, tasted bad and even manged to ruin the smooth melt of the chocolate with its coarse crystallised texture ... need I say more??

Overall the novelty factor of this bar is high, however at the heart of the matter, it is just a really poor tasting bar. The rum is frankly awful - and its dominance of every other element of the bar pretty much spoils the product. Lindt as ever presented this product beautifully, given as a 'joke' gift it would actually look pretty classy ... unfortunately the laughs would soon stop upon tasting the thing. I may be well off on my own on this one ... but imagine that cheap bottle of booze at the back of your parents liquor cupboard that probably hasn't seen light of day for 30 odd years!?? ... well this is it in chocolate bar form!

5.6 out of 10

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

October 27th: Hotel Chocolat Bells & Baubles / Chilli Penguins

Following on from Hotel Chocolat's Kissing Mistletoe/ Little Angels reviews, I have this week been sampling their milk chocolate 'Bells & Baubles' and spiced dark chocolate 'Chilli Penguins'.

These came in exactly the same nice looking packaging as last weeks products, in two separate festive looking boxes with plenty of inner wrapping for protection and freshness. The 110.0g boxes contained ten chocolates. Ten chocolates were more than enough to last me two servings, though I warn you now I wouldn't leave these lieing around your house opened ... I am sure they will be eaten in a matter of seconds :)

In essence, the only thing that differed the 'Bells & Baubles' from last weeks 'Kissing Mistletoe' was the design. Personally I much preferred the size and shape of the 'Bells & Baubles' ... but I will go into that in a minute. As for the 'Chilli Penguins', well again as with many of the products from this impulse range, I liked the design but they just weren't all that practical.

Hotel Chocolat Bells & Baubles:

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

As I have explained above these differed to the 'Kissing Mistletoe' only in their design shape. Comprised of the same 40% house milk chocolate, I was met with the same sweet cocoa scents when I opened the box.

You will be unsurprised to learn that the chocolate retained the creamy, clean milky flavours, which again provided a wonderfully long, lasting taste. The 40% Hotel Chocolat milk chocolate is one of my favourite formulations. I think the firm but friendly cocoa base tones are complimented perfectly by the crisp dairy flavours ... all of which are delivered superbly through the wonderfully thick, smooth melt.

So why did these score slightly better than the 'Kissing Mistletoe' ... well it was purely down to the shape. These 'Bells & Baubles' chocolates were smaller, but thicker. Though they were still too large to eat in one mouthful, the greater thickness meant that the nature of the melt was much more enjoyable in the two thicker bites, and meant that each bite lasted that bit longer in the mouth. Of course this was a very minor difference, but it was noticeable nonetheless.

A highly enjoyable milk chocolate offering, and one that I would highly recommend for Christmas this year. To be honest though its not as if were expecting anything less were we!?

8.9 out of 10


Hotel Chocolat Chilli Penguins:

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

'Hotel Chocolat 74% Dark Chocolate with a little warming chilli' .... and not a peppercorn in sight ... thank god :) The first thing I noticed about these 'Penguins' was the fact the dark chocolate was comprised of 74% cocoa and not the standard 72% ... this was noticeable on the packaging, though I honestly wouldn't of been able to tell had it been a blind taste test.

Opening the box I was met with a barrage of rich cocoa scents. The chilli element wasn't all too evident at this point in time, however this was soon to change. Placing the chocolate on the tongue, the rich cocoa flavours quickly made their presence felt creating a fantastically strong overall taste. Despite the cocoa flavours being very impactful, they were never too intense and the chocolate had a nice smooth milkiness to it. The texture was absolutely superb, the nature of the melt was wonderfully thick and progressed at a nice rate. I didn't care too much for the shape of the 'Penuguins', like the 'Little Angels' from the previous week I found their size somewhat awkward, in that they had to be eaten in the three mouthfuls rather than the favourable two. So ... the chilli element - despite not being all that noticeable in a single piece, when eating a few of these at a time the warmth from the chilli was very evident. It created a nice new dynamic to the chocolate - it didn't alter the delicious flavours, but created an extra dimension to the texture delivering a tingle in the aftertaste.

Overall these were my favourite from this particular Christmas range. The dark chocolate was near perfectly flavoured, rich but not overpowering or bitter in any sense. The chilli element was perfectly managed, providing a fantastic warming effect to the aftertaste. Although I will admit the look of the 'Penguins' was cute, I did have some small reservations towards the shape and size of the chocolates. This was a product I really enjoyed and would again definitely recommend this Christmas.

9.0 out of 10
Yet again Hotel Chocolat delivered on a grand scale. I am constantly praising Hotel Chocolat, probably to the point that it is getting boring for all you guys .... the fact is though you can't argue with quality. If you are gifting chocolate this Christmas I would personally recommend any of the Kissing Mistletoe / Little Angels / Bells & Baubles / Chilli Penguins ... all are fantastic offerings that would be great gifts or chocolates to have round the house for the entire family. More Hotel Chocolat Christmas goodies next week.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

October 26th: Aero Mint

*** UPDATE 04/01/11 ***

New Wrapper Added


Kcal 256 Fat 14.7g Carbs 28.4g

I think I must be the only person left in the country buying into the Aero brand at the moment. Poor Aero, I'm willing to bet that despite their best efforts of putting the brand back on TV and giving it a re-designed wrapper (not pictured!), that the recently returned Cadbury Wispa is wiping the floor with it in terms of it's market share. Despite rating the Cadbury Wispa higher than the original Aero, my review of the Aero Mint Bubbles was even more positive. Because of this I was very interested to see how the Aero mint in bar form would fair.

As I mentioned above the brand team has in actual fact given their outer packaging a re-design. It is lucky for Aero I am rating the bar on it's old design, as to be honest I prefer the old school paper and foil retro look over the new cheaper plastic looking one. The bar itself also had a fairly decent look. Some may feel the brightness of the green may be a little garish, though myself I thought it gave the bar a unique look. Relieving the bar of it's inner foil wrapper a wonderful minty smell was released. There was no getting away from the freshness of the mint aroma - it smelt pretty fantastic to me.

Last month when I reviewed the original Aero I criticised it for it's waxy outer texture. Despite this being no different with this mint variation, I must pass comment on how superb the overall texture was. The middle bubbly centre had a further coolness factor added to it, which combined to the aerated nature of the centre made for a fantastically unique feel on the tongue. As well as the bar being superb in it's texture it was also fantastically flavoured. The 'middle-ground' milk chocolate that seemed so average and boring in the original bar was a near perfect 'robin' to the mint centres 'batman'. The taste of the brightly coloured centre was fantastically fresh and prevalent with it's strong yet creamy peppermint flavours. The mint taste was extremely long lasting and stayed alive in the mouth for an extended duration.

Overall this was a highly enjoyable, satisfying bar that proved to me there is still life in the Aero brand yet. The subtleness of the milk chocolate complimented the minty filling superbly, allowing the forcefulness of the minty flavours to rightfully take centre stage. The coolness from the mint gave the melty chocolate a wonderfully unique clean, crisp texture. Mint chocolate fans this is one I am sure you no doubt already love, if you haven't tried it yet I suggest you really get a wriggle on. The Aero brand team can breath easy for now ... but with the inevitable re-release of the Wispa Mint (not yet confirmed!!) you have to believe that even this bar might have an uphill struggle.

8.6 out of 10

October 26th: M&M's Chocolate Brownie

Kcal 355 Fat 17.5g Carbs 45.9g 

This isn't the first brownie product to get a ChocolateMission review - those of you may remember the slightly disappointing Reese's Peanut Butter Brownie I reviewed a few months ago. Being generally quite happy with the M&M's brand after the recent success with their 'Premiums' line, I thought why not give their delicious looking brownie a try.

Billed as a 'chocolate brownie topped with milk chocolate and mini M&M's', the product came packaged in both an attractive plastic wrapper and plastic inner box for protection. I was somewhat disappointed by the lack of M&M's content. For starters I only got the 7 which didn't equate to much, but also they were only three colours - red, green and brown ... I guess this was partially down to luck, though you would expect them to have some consistency measures in place. The brownie had a pretty desirable buttery, cakey smell that was pretty evident upon removal from the wrapper. 

Chocolate content was never going to be a problem here - and boy was this one chocolaty experience. The brownie had a nice texture, that was both firm and moist. It had a sweet aftertaste, though during its time in the mouth it radiated a nice chocolaty, buttery set of flavours that I very much enjoyed. The milk chocolate layer that lined the top section of the bar was just about the right thickness and added an exta dimension of sweet milky flavours to the overall taste. The mini M&M's were really the only real letdown. Due to their size their taste was largely just sugar based due to their crispy shells. Despite their minimal portioning, the bites where they were present the extra sweetness they added felt unecessary as the cake was already sweet enough. 

Overall this was pretty satisfying snack, and delivered big time in terms of a chocolaty hit. I can't help but feel the point of the M&M's was slightly missed though, and I would have far preffered standard sized M&M's to have been used rather the smaller Mini versions. If Mars were being really clever they would integrate the M&M's into the brownie mix itself, aswell as placing them ontop ... now that sounds great to me. Despite the areas of improvement, I still think this was a pretty good product, and one I would recommend if your a fan of brownies.

8.0 out of 10
  

Saturday, 25 October 2008

October 25th: Milka Alpine Milk Chocolate Raisin & Nut

Kcal 490 Fat 25.5g Fat(sats) 13.5g Carbs 57.5g (per 100.og)

Milka have thus far produced some mighty fine bars of chocolate - the 'Milka & Daim' and the original 'Alpine Milk' being no greater examples. Fruit and Nut however is a different kettle of fish altogether - many have tried with very few nailing the combination on the head completely. Cadbury, Hotel Chocolat, Toblerone and Montezumas had all scored pretty respectfully on the ChocolateMission rating system, so this Milka bar from Dean-German-Grocery had some pretty high standards to live up to. Comprising of the standard Alpine Milk chocolate, Raisins (19%) and Hazelnuts (6%) even before opening, it had already overcome the first hurdle by not containing chopped almonds.

I won't bleat on again about the high quality of Milka packaging - you all know I think it's great. One thing I will mention is the attractiveness of the bar itself - it had a unblemished appearance on the top side of the bar, though turned over the bar revealed the sheer abundance at which the raisins and nuts were portioned ... it looked impressive indeed. Despite the heavy presence in the aesthetics of the appearance, the fruit and nut element was surprisingly absent from the smell of the product. Don't get me wrong - the bar had a pretty great smelling dairy like aroma ... it was just the lack of fruit and nut element was a minor disappointment.

I ate this bar over two really satisfying, fulfilling servings eating half the 100g at a time. The chocolate retained all the fantastic attributes of the original Alpine milk bar, as well as actually being enhanced by the additional ingredients. The taste was deliciously creamy and the melt was fantastically smooth. The usual slight nutty edge to the Milka Alpine Milk chocolate was further intensified by the hazelnut pieces, this resulted in the flavours lasting even longer in the mouth. The raisins were equally as enhancing to the bar, they gave a pleasant sweet, sugary fruity element to the taste, whilst adding an extra softer, chewy variation in the texture. Raisins can sometimes be really hit or miss in such bars, but these were amongst the most flavoursome and enhancing I have tasted ... great stuff.

Overall I am glad to be able to inform you that this bar deserves it's place siting amongst the upper tier of the fruit and nut offerings. Both the raisins and the hazelnuts added unique and enhancing textures and flavours, which already given the high quality of the original Alpine Milk chocolate, it was always going to be hard pushed not to be of a good standard. Fans of Milka and Fruit and Nut products should both be satisfied by this bar. A highly enjoyable product that I would recommend to all.

8.5 out of 10

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

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