December 31st: Hotel Chocolat Original / Pink Champagne Truffles

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

How fitting that the last review of the year should be a Hotel Chocolat product!? Having never even tried a Hotel Chocolat product before this year, I sure am pleased to have now tried a good deal of their range this year - long may it continue! This is a bit of a cheeky review as these Champagne truffles were actually meant to be gifted this Christmas, but sadly they didn't survive sitting around my University dorm until I got home - shame on me! I have reviewed these as one as I didn't personally perceive too much of a difference between the two variants. 

I bought these truffles in packs of eight, which although a little pricey would have made fantastic gifts if they had made it that far haha! The outer packaging for both was quite cute. The outer boxes radiated the usual Hotel Chocolat class, whilst the inner packaging included plastic trays, paper protective layers and branded thin plastic sheaths. In the picture above the slightly darker coloured truffle was the 'Pink Champagne' variant (on the left), whilst the 'Original Champagne' were slightly lighter in colour and contained a greater layer of fine sugar on the outside. Both truffles radiated nice smells, which were predominately cocoa led but had slight hints of alcohol.

I won't beat around the bush, these were tremendous truffles. The outer milk chocolate layers were thick and provided a nice crispness to the texture. The outer dusting sugar didn't distract from the milky, cocoa flavours from the chocolate that seemed to grow in intensity as the melt progressed. What I particularly liked about these truffles was that the boozy flavours of the centres didn't invade the taste of the outer chocolate, so the flavours of the truffles showed real progression. As I have said above there was very little difference between the taste of the two variants, though the 'Pink Champagne' truffles did seem to have a slightly more tart, stronger champagne influence. The truffles centres were nowhere near the smoothness of Lindt Lindors, but had a rather more viscous dexterity. To be honest I found this a nice change, and the denser texture meant that the flavours lasted longer in the mouth. The strength of the centres were really quite strong for alcoholic chocolates, though the creamy flavours of the chocolate meant they never became over dominating. These were rich truffles, and two at a time provided a nice little treat.

Overall it is a bit of a shame I never got to give these away as gifts, as I am sure they would have put a smile or two on the receivers faces. Those who enjoy their liqueur truffles will really enjoy these. The chocolate as ever was of a superb quality, and the centres supplied some longing, strong boozy flavours. For my money there is very little difference between the two variants, though I am sure the 'Pink Champagne' truffles will prove very popular with the females. 

8.4 out of 10

I would like to take this opportunity to everyone who has contributed to the site so far. It is amazing how the site has grown since its creation. Tomorrow will mark the sites 1st Birthday! I have been a little busy as of late, but do not fear a competition with a load of goodies will be arranged very soon. So anyway ... thanks again and I hope you continue to enjoy the site as I enter the 2nd year of trying to find 'the best chocolate bar in the world'.

December 30th: Terry's Chocolate Orange Dark

Kcal 134 Fat 7.7g Fat(sats) 4.5g Carbs 15.0g (per 3 pieces)

This Dark variant wraps up my reviews of the entire Terry’s Chocolate Orange range. The Terry’s range has frequently surprised me, the brand certainly wasn't a favourite of mine in my younger years, but it seems as I have grown to appreciate its very sweet, but rather tasty chocolate orange taste. There were no hidden surprises with this variant, it comprised of a 40% minimum dark chocolate with 'real orange'.

As with many of the variants I have reviewed recently, I bought this product in the 175.0g full orange form. I actually purchased this variant as part of a BOGOF in Woolworths along with the 'Snowball' – thats 350g worth of chocolate for £2 … not half bad eh!? Just as with the rest of the range, this variant came beautifully presented. I wasn't too sure about the choice of red as a colour to signify dark chocolate, though it still largely looked attractive anyway. The chocolate looked no different from the dark chocolate in the 'Minty' variant; as you can see from the picture above it had a very smooth complexion, and had the Terry's logo crafted cleanly into the surface of each segment. In regards to aroma, this product didn't quite have as forthcoming smell as the original milk chocolate variant. The orange wasn't quite as pungent, and the cocoa scents were noticeably quite reserved.

A week or so ago when I reviewed the 'Minty' variant I remarked on how the same recipe 40% dark chocolate was relatively unspectacular. This was rather the same story here, however its more subtle flavours worked better with the orange than it did with the mint. In my book this wasn't dark chocolate as such - it was more like unsweetened milk chocolate ... this had both its good and bad points. On the plus side it meant that I could actually eat more of this in one sitting, which made it slightly the more fulfilling product in comparison to the milk chocolate variant. Another aspect I did really enjoy about the chocolate was the texture, it had a really smooth and thick melt. Unfortunately though it just didn't offer the same tastewise. The taste seemed far too dominated by the orange - don't get me wrong the juicy, fresh flavours of the orange were enjoyable ... it was just I would rather of had more flavour from the chocolate.  The dominance of the orange did mean that after a few segments the taste did become ever so slightly monotomous. 

Overall this wasn't the best of the Terry's Chocolate Orange range, but it was still a pretty satisfying product nonetheless. It was by no means dark chocolate at its finest - I would have loved to have seen the intensity of the cocoa taken up a few notches. I really think that the combination of the divine fruity orange flavours and a really full flavoured dark chocolate would be really something. For those that simply can't take the sweetness of the original milk chocolate, this dark variant is a pretty good alternative, if your expecting a really full flavoured chocolate though you might be left feeling a bit letdown.

8.1 out of 10

December 29th: Lindt Mousse au Chocolat Dark

Kcal 550 Fat 37.0g Carbs 48.0g (per 100.0g)

Having reviwed the absolutely superb Lindt Mousse au Chocolat Milk a few weeks ago, I was really quite excited about trying this 'Dark' variant that Dean-German-Grocery so kindly included in the latest package they sent me. This bar followed much the same premise as the milk variant - formed of dark chocolate with a chocolate mousse filling (36%), it sounded absolutely fantastic.

The bar came in the same 140.0g size as the milk variant. Comparing the two now, in regards to presentation, branding aside, they looked exactly the same apart from the shade of brown being ever so slightly darker on the dark variant. Of course I liked the look of the packaging, but I thought there should have been a few more differences between the two variants. For instance the pictures were nearly exactly the same ... I think something more could have been done to highlight the variations. I had no problem with the bar itself, the outer chocolate was darker in its complexion, which further highlighted the lighter, fluffier looking mousse filling - it looked very appetising. The chocolate smelt pretty enticing; strong cocoa scents emerged as soon as I opened the foil layer - only furthering my anticipation.

I will tell you straight away that I ever so slightly preferred the taste of the milk chocolate variant, I really wouldn't read to much into that though, as this dark variant was still absolutely fantastic. The flavour progression of the milk product was flipped on its head with this dark variant. The taste started off more edgy and intense, and then seemed to smooth out with the mousse filling. The initial flavours of the dark chocolate coating were fantastic. The melt was luxuriously smooth and thick and revealed the lighter mousse filling very seductively and slow. The taste of the outer dark chocolate was straight away very powerful, with the strong cocoa flavours very dominant. As the mouse filling was revealed, the taste became more creamy and sweet. Despite the intensity of the flavours 'tailing off' with the lighter mousse, the longer exposure to the stronger flavoured outer chocolate meant that overall this was the richer of the two variants. This was a highly satisfying bar, with each block leaving a lasting cocoa impression in the mouth.

Overall, just as I hoped this was a hugely enjoyable chocolate that didn't fail to live up to expectations. I can't actually determine an overall preference between the milk or dark variant - I ever so slightly preferred the nature of the flavour progression with the milk variant, though on the other hand I preferred the dark variant as it was the more fulfilling option out of the two. To be honest they are both superb chocolates bars that are worthy of their individual acclaim. From presentation to taste, they are both full round quality products and I would highly recommend either variant.

8.8 out of 10

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

December 28th: Ritter Sport Organic Sultanas & Cashew

Kcal 352 Fat 22.3g Fat(sats) 12.7g Carbs 32.0g (per 65.0g)

Dean-German-Grocery recently sent me across these new 'Bio' bars, which are the latest line of innovation from Ritter Sport. This range is formed of four organic options - the first of which I tried today, the Sultanas and Cashew variant. The bar came described as 'organic milk chocolate with cashew nuts (12%) and sultanas (8%)', my initial thoughts were that it was nice to see a fruit and nut combination using a different type of nut to the usual hazelnuts or almonds.

The Bio range differs from the standard Ritter Sport range in that all the bars come in 65.0g packs. I ate this entire bar in one serving - to be honest I thought it was quite an awkward size for a product. The outer packaging looked nice, I thought the wrapper got the organic message of the product over well with its graphical display of the fresh looking nuts and grapes. I was surprised to see the bar still split into sixteen blocks despite its smaller size - this would later prove detrimental to the textures of the product. The smell of the bar was quite enticing, the aroma was a mixture of nutty, cocoa elements - it was pretty indicative of the taste.

The first thing I noticed about this bar was that the milk chocolate was a little stronger in its flavours in comparison to the milk chocolate of the standard Ritter Sport bars. It was still not the most flavoursome of chocolates, but it was noticeably more amplified in its cocoa flavours, and its milky aftertaste seemed to linger that touch longer. In comparison to the standard Ritter Sport Fruit & Nut offering, I thought the textures of this Bio bar suffered due to the size of the blocks. The smaller pieces meant that the cashew nuts were not implemented as largely as they could have been. The nuts still offered a delicious set of nutty, buttery flavours but they lacked the crunch that would have come with them being implemented larger. There were no such problems with the sultanas, they were implemented in much the same fashion as the original and added a delightful sweet, fruity set of flavours as well as a nice extra chewy element to the texture.

Overall this was a very nice fruit and nut offering, though my preference does lie with the original Ritter Sport Whole Hazelnuts & Raisins for a few small reasons. The milk chocolate of this bar was superior, and noticeably more forceful with its cocoa flavours. Unfortunately though the textures of this bar weren't quite up to standard of the aforementioned - the smaller blocks meant the melt of the chocolate was a little bit too fast paced, and the size of the nuts were restricted meaning they didn't quite deliver the desired crunch. Despite these small discrepancies this was still a hugely enjoyable bar of chocolate - definitely one for readers that enjoy their organic produce.

8.3 out of 10

December 27th: Nestle After Eight

Kcal 31 Fat 0.9 Fat(sats) 0.6 Carbs 4.3g (per thin)

You may recall me way back in July giving the After Eight Bitesize a bit of a tough time (Review HERE). If I recall correctly I simply just didn't like the format of the product, the flavours were delivered in a sickeningly sweet fashion ... it just didn't work. It is surprising it has taken me this long to get around to it, but today I tried After Eight's in their traditional form - 'dark chocolate thin mints - plain chocolates with a peppermint flavoured fondant cream centre'.

I bought these in a rather handy 38.0g box - this might not sound like much, but it actually contained six pieces. The presentation of the product was nice the box incorporated the classical green After Eight theme well, and the mints came presented in branded paper sleeves. What with the chocolates being so thin, there wasn't much scope for design work, despite this I thought the pieces looked sleek anyway. The chocolates were not as minty smelling as I thought they might be, I could detect a hint of peppermint but the smell was quite subtle and more cocoa led.

Though these 'thins' were far more enjoyable than the After Eight Bitesize pieces, they still lacked a little something ... chocolate! The plain chocolate coating was extremely thin and really struggled to create a flavour base of any sort. I guess this was to be expected what with the 'thins' format, but even so it could have been implemented far thicker. The minor flavours it did muster brought a pleasant unsweetened cocoa element to the taste, however these were soon overcome by the dominant peppermint fondant. The mint filling delivered no where near the sickly taste of the Bitesize pieces. Although the sweet peppermint flavours were still strong, the thinner nature of the filling meant that , they avoided being overly harsh. My own real problem with the taste was that because the mint was so dominating it became a little monotonous, these were not chocolates to really be consumed more than three at a time, this made them a pretty unfulfilling product. 

Overall these are a far superior product to the After Eight Bitesize, though for me they are still far from being the great product they could be. I know these are a 'classic' design and have been around since time began, but there is a refinement that needs to be made in the portioning of the chocolate - it simply needs to be far thicker. Doing this would give the chocolate more of a relevance on the taste, as well as balancing the mint centre to a greater degree. For chocolate mint fans these are probably a fair proposition, but for the rest these are nothing really to get excited about. 

7.1 out of 10

December 26th: Terry's Chocolate Orange Cracking Hazelnut

Kcal 136 Fat 7.g Fat(sats) 4.3g Carbs 14.0g (per 3 pieces)

I really have been rattling my way through the Terry's Chocolate Orange range recently. My recent reviews of the Snowball and Minty showed these variants didn't quite live up to the original Terry's Chocolate Orange. Today I was hoping this 'Cracking Hazelnut' flavour would give it a run for its money - comprised of 'milk chocolate flavoured with real orange with hazelnut pieces', it really sounded like a combination that could do just that.

I bought this variant in the 170.0g 'whole orange' form - this did me nicely for four servings. I wasn't too sure about the yellow colouring of the packaging - I don't know what it was but I just don't generally associate hazelnut with that colour - I think a dark brown would have been more appropriate. The product obviously retained its usual appeal with its speherical form, though I wasn't all that impressed by the implementation of the hazelnuts. The hazelnut pieces could be clearly seen studded within the chocolate but they just looked tiny. As with every Terry's Chocolate Orange product the smell was extremely forthcoming, the orange smell was fantastic as ever, but there was no indication of the hazelnut at all. 

To be honest this tasted very little different to the standard Terry's Chocolate Orange. The milk chocolate set up the orange flavour nicely with its sweet and milky taste - its not the best milk chocolate in the world but as ever it complimented the orange flavour nicely. The orange element retained all its usual fresh, zesty flavours, indeed mass consumption does prove the flavours to be a bit monotonous, but as chocolate and orange combinations go very few beat it .... so what are we forgetting here? .... oh yes the hazelnuts. I have already referred to how unimpressive the nut pieces were aesthetically - unfortunately this corresponded in the taste as well. The hazelnut pieces only accounted for 4% of the total ingredients - tastewise they didn't even account for that, I could hardly detect any sort of contribution to the taste whatsoever. Not only were the pieces flavourless but they ruined the texture of the chocolate adding a none to pleasant grainy feel. This was still a relatively enjoyable product, though this was by no part thanks to the 'cracking hazelnut'.  

Overall this was a really hard product to rate as at the end of the day it still tasted pretty good, it was just the added hazelnut was actually detrimental and didn't prove worthwhile in its presence. I am normally not a fan of chopped nuts, but this was product took things to new extremes ... it was more along the lines of powdered nuts. Frankly, implementing the nuts so finely ruined a product of great potential. The hazelnut pieces added nothing to the taste and to an extent even managed to ruin the texture somewhat. Despite all this, some of the original greatness of the Terry's Chocolate Orange was retained - the orange flavouring was still fresh tasting and highly enjoyable in moderation. I would recommend staying clear of this variant, it is a shame but it just doesn't deliver the nutty goodness it should do. 

7.2 out of 10  

December 24th: Lindt Lindor Christmas Bells

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

I know it is a day early but ... Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you all have a grand day full of presents, food, booze and of course a bit of chocolate :) As you will all be aware I have been working my way through a mountain of festive themed chocolate goodies lately - included in which were these Lindt Lindor Christmas Bells. These were basically the standard milk chocolate Lindor truffles, but in festive looking bell shapes. 

I bought these in a 3 for £1 deal in my local OneStop shop. I am not sure how this works out economically, but for £1, three provided a pretty sufficient serving size - I would hazard at guess at them being about the equivalent of four standard Lindor truffles. Each of the chocolates came wrapped in a nice looking red foil wrapper. Beneath, the chocolate included some intricate detail on its surface - including branding and detail of the bell shape. When split in half the product appeared to be well constructed with the truffle filling dispersed evenly. The chocolate had a very familiar smell. It was predominantly milky, but hints of caramel were intermittently present. As I aforementioned, three of these bells provided a very sufficient chocolate fix.

Although I really enjoyed the aesthetic look of the bell shape, I can't say I was its greatest fan when it came to eating the product. It was way to big to eat in one bite, which meant that the pieces had to be handled for a significant amount of time. Anyone who has had a Lindor product before will know how quickly they melt. Though the bells retained many of the wonderful melt in the mouth qualities of the original Lindors, they proved a tad difficult to eat as they melted nearly instantly when handled, which of course was all a bit messy. In regards to taste they were absolutely fantastic. The chocolate had very evident cocoa connotations, though was most prevalent in its rich milk flavours. The fantastic creaminess of the outer chocolate was only surpassed by the inner truffle filling that added an extra buttery impetuous to the taste. 

Overall these Bells retained all the good aspects of the original Lindor milk chocolate truffles, with the added injection of a bit of festive cheer. Although not entirely practical in their shape for eating, this can be excused as they looked fantastic. I am a huge fan of Lindor truffles, and I personally think their melt in the mouth textures are amongst the most luxurious in the market. Chances are you are reading this review after Christmas now, if this is the case I would recommend you keep a look out for these in the inevitable sales, as these are very tasty truffles indeed.

8.5 out of 10

December 23rd: Quality Street

Kcal 456 Fat 19.6g Fat(sats) 11.9g Carbs 66.2g (per 100.0g)
Kcal 157 Fat 6.9g Fat(sats) 3.7g Carbs 22.2g (per 4 sweets)

Quality Street are a huge Christmas time favourite here in the UK, and I expect that a lot of you have been tucking into some form of box/tin from their range this month already. My Christmas reviews simply wouldn't be complete without a review of the Quality Street selection, so being the dedicated and kind guy I am, I picked up a 480.g carton and shared it with a few friends.

I thought the decoration of the outer packaging was good. I thought it avoided being overly complicated with simply just the branding displayed on the traditional purple coloured background. The communication of the colour coding of the wrappers was well displayed on-pack; the wrappers themselves also did a good job keeping the products fresh, with all the chocolates contained within a foil layer.

The range boasted a huge twelve different variants:  

Vanilla Fudge - Pink Wrapper - This variant had a really sweet vanilla essence smell. The chocolate melted at a nice rate to reveal quite a soft fudge centre. The taste was buttery and sweet, and left a lasting vanilla flavour in the mouth. One of my favourites. Very Good

Orange Chocolate Crunch - Orange Octagonal Wrapper - I liked the shape of this piece, it fitted nicely in the mouth. The melt of the chocolate was very fast, though I really enjoyed the crispy crystallised pieces at the centre. The orange was a bit artificial tasting, but it still had a relative zesty appeal. Standard.   

Coconut Eclair - Dark Blue Wrapper - Sweet dairy based smell. Very subdued in its coconut flavours, the chocolate seemed lost in the grand scheme of what was a very bland taste. The texture lacked the crunchy appeal of Bounty, and was actually just rather grainy. This one definitely wasn't a favourite. Poor

The Green Triangle - Green Triangle Wrapper - This delivered much the same experience as the bigger Green Triangle piece I reviewed a month or so ago. The hazelnut flavours were reasonably well delivered in the slightly softer centre. The nut flavours could have done with being a bit stronger, as the sweetness of the chocolate dominated the taste. Standard.  

Caramel Swirl - Gold Dome - This was a really nice fit in the mouth. The chocolate quickly melted to a point where the piece imploded releasing the inner caramel. The caramel was very well portioned and made for an exceedingly sweet taste. This piece didn't last all that long in the mouth, but it delivered a short, sharp burst of buttery, sweet flavours. Good.

Milk Chocolate Block - Green Rectangle Wrapper - This had a very dairy based aroma. The block was a good size but melted alarmingly fast. The taste was predominantly milky, though I could also detect a small note of hazelnut. This was a very sweet, sugar based milk chocolate that really didn't taste of a high quality. Poor

Orange Creme - Orange Block Wrapper - This was a plain chocolate variant that contained an orange fondant centre. The chocolate failed to substantiate any flavour base before the incredibly sweet fondant centre took centre stage. The orange flavouring again tasted very artificial but it at least had a refreshing edge. Standard.   

Toffee Deluxe - Brown Block Wrapper - The chocolate was extremely fast melting and revealed the hard toffee centre very quickly. In comparison to other variants from the mix it was a bit more methodical in its flavours. The buttery sweet taste grew in intensity as the toffee softened, this was one of very few to leave a lasting impression in the mouth. Very Good.

Toffee Penny - Yellow Circular Wrapper - This was the only piece not to contain any form of chocolate. The buttery, sweet flavours of the toffee were even more pronounced than in the variants that also contained chocolate. This is one of the most iconic pieces from the selection, and definitely one of my favourites. Very Good.

Strawberry Delight - Red Circular Wrapper - Although I am actually allergic to Strawberries (the seeds anyway), I risked one of these on the basis I thought they wouldn't contain any real strawberry. Like the Orange Creme, this variant had an outer plain chocolate that failed to generate any sort of flavour base against the terribly sweet, artificial tasting fondant centre. This one was so sweet it gave me that terrible burning sensation at the back of my throat. Awful.

The Purple One - Purple Wrapper - Despite the chocolate being implemented slightly thicker here, it still melted very fast exposing the soft, chewy caramel. The caramel established a pleasant sweet, buttery taste though the flavours soon fizzled out as soon as the caramel left the mouth. At the heart of the piece there was a whole hazelnut. Unfortunately it lacked both the desired crunch and strong nutty taste. Standard.   

Toffee Finger - Gold Finger - This piece followed much the same premise as the Toffee Deluxe, though was a bit more awkward in its shape and had a thinner chocolate layer. The toffee flavours were still delicious, but to be honest it seemed a little silly having this and the Toffee Deluxe - just one of them would have sufficed. Standard.   

Overall, although this was a selection that offered a huge variety of choice, it failed to deliver what its name suggested it had in abundance - quality. The milk chocolate was simply of a poor standard - more often than not it was overly sweet, and failed to establish an enjoyable flavour base for the inner fillings. The fillings really varied in quality - by and large the toffee variants were pleasant, though I thought the strawberry and coconut fillings were pretty terrible to put it mildly. There is no doubting the sheer variety you get with Quality Street, though I personally think the brand is starting to show its age. There is no doubting their nostalgia quality, but I think there are better selection boxes out there now - you need only look as far as the Cadbury Roses, Cadbury Heroes or Celebrations

7.3 out of 10

December 23rd: Green & Black's Milk & Spiced Fruit

Kcal 496 Fat 29.0g Carbs 50.0g (per 100.0g)

Last week I reviewed the first of two Green & Black's Christmas limited editions - the Green & Black's Dark & Gingerbread. Having been relatively impressed by that variant it only felt right to review the second Christmas edition, the Milk & Spiced Fruit. On pack This bar was described as 'dried fruits mulled with rum and seasonal spices blended with milk chocolate'. Further inspection of the ingredients showed it contained a whole manner of different fruits: dried apple, lemon peel, orange peel, sultanas and raisins. This combined with the aged Jamaican rum, ginger, cinnamon and chilli made for what sounded like a very exciting mixture. 

As with the Dark & Gingerbread this product came in a 150.0g bar. The outer packaging was nicely presented and gave the impression of being a premium chocolate. I wasn't as impressed with the presentation of the actual chocolate. As you can see in the picture above the blocks were almost impossible to break off cleanly, which was not only mildly annoying, but also made eating this bar quite a messy experience. Despite this problem the sheer wealth of the fruit pieces was highly noticeable in the chocolate, and was really quite tempting. When removed from its foil layer the chocolate had a fantastically forthcoming aroma. The smell was an enticing convergence of alcohol and fragrant spices and reminded me a lot of mulled wine - it certainly provided a good indication of the taste.

In terms of its flavours this was a very busy bar. The milk chocolate was of a 37% recipe and provided a good base chocolate. The chocolate was more notable for its milky, dairy led flavours rather than its cocoa strength. It largely constitued the background of the taste, allowing the added ingredients in the bar too express their flavours fully. The rum flavours were instantly detectable when the chocolate first entered the mouth. It gave the chocolate a slight alcoholic edge, but thankfully avoided  being overly intense or dominating in relation to the other flavours. As the nice smooth melt of the chocolate progressed the fruit pieces were revealed. Each block seemed to provide a different fruity taste - some having more sharp, citrus notes, whilst others adding sweeter flavour bursts. The spices were most detectable in the aftertaste where the ginger and cinnamon spices left lasting complimentary flavours to the fruit. Due to the dense nature of the bar, it proved to be a very fulfilling chocolate. I ended up eating this product over four very satisfying servings. 

Overall this could easily have been a bar branded 'Christmas Pudding Flavoured Chocolate' - as this was exactly how it tasted. The convergence of all the different fruits, rum and spices made for a very enjoyable taste. The chocolate itself wasn't the most spectacular, though it did a good enough job of carrying the added ingriedients. This was certainly one of the fruitiest bars of chocolate I have tasted - it was crammed full of several different fruits, which made the taste extremely variable. If you love your Christmas Pudding then then this would be a bar you would really enjoy, and one that I would certainly recommend.

8.3 out of 10 

December 22nd: Marks & Spencer Snowy Balls

Kcal 460 Fat 28.2g Fat(sats) 19.7g Carbs 46.7g (per 100.0g)

I have been studying for my finals in the last few weeks so sugar based snacks have been of high consumption recently. I am a bit of an M&S fan, and have recently been paying more attention to their confectionery offerings. Given my love for M&S and desire for sugar laden snacks, these M&S Snowy Balls that constituted of 'solid milk chocolate balls in a crispy candy shell with icing sugar', sounded like a product that fitted my needs entirely.  

These Snowy Balls came in a 100.0g bag that contained 15 or so spherical pieces. I liked the design of the outer packaging, the Christmas theme was well incorporated and refrained from being overstated or tacky. The pieces themselves were wonderful to look at, though left a trail of icing sugar on anything they came into contact with i.e. they were a little messy. Although a highly decorative product, these lacked any sort of an aroma. Aside from the most minor of sweet smells the pieces largely were scentless, which disappointingly didn't really do anything to indicate the nature of the taste. 

Before consuming these I wasn't entirely convinced at the thought of the pieces being coated in icing sugar and a crisp sugar coating. I thought the combination of the two might make the taste overly sweet, but this wasn't to be the case. Of course it was sweet, but the sugary flavours were more refined and subtle than expected. The icing sugar was light in texture, and the crispy shells were really smooth - not like the gritty sugary shells you can get with similar products. The outer sweet layers really set up the chocolate nicely. The chocolate was relatively forthcoming in its milky cocoa, driven flavours. It was not the most intricate or sophisticated of milk chocolates, though its was flavoursome enough, and left a relatively long lasting cocoa taste in the mouth. 

Overall these were hardly a spectacular product, though they did the job in terms of providing a pleasant sweet chocolaty snack. Despite my initial predisposition to the icing sugar and crispy shells combination, they actually ended up delivering a unique and enjoyable basis for the chocolate. As I said above it was not the best tasting milk chocolate ever, but it was tasty enough to provide a satisfying experience. I wouldn't say you should go massively out your way to buy these, but if your passing through M&S anytime soon these could be worth a try if your a fan of Smarties, M&Ms etc. 

7.7 out of 10 

December 22nd: Lindt Lindor 60% Extra Dark Truffles

Kcal 70 Fat 6.3g Fat(sats) 4.3g Carbs 4.5g (per truffle)

Having just reviewed the Lindt Lindor Noel Christmas truffles, I noticed there was a glaring omission from the Chocolate Mission Lindor reviews ... these 60% Extra Dark truffles. Although pretty widely available in the UK (see the supermarkets etc!!) Dean-German-Grocery yet again provided me with the product for today's review. Combining an outer dark chocolate coating with a smooth truffle centre, these were far from the strongest Lindt dark chocolate I had tasted, but I was hoping that this 60% formulation would do the Lindor format justice.

As you can see above these came in the usual Lindt Lindor wrappers - the black colour was obviously highly appropriate given the product. The truffles looked identical to the mint variant until cross-sectioned, upon where the product lacked the contrasting filling colours. I was disappointed at the slight blooming effect that was apparent on the surface of the truffles, I hadn't had this trouble with any other Lindt offering before, regardless the distance the product had travelled. The aroma wasn't quite as forthcoming as some other dark chocolate Lindt bars I have tried, though it still had a detectable cocoa scent that set the mood nicely for what was to come.

As expected the dark chocolate was not the strongest in comparison to other Lindt Chocolates I have tasted, but it was full of flavour. The outer chocolate had a fantastic melt that was wonderfully smooth but still thick, even at the most progressed stage of its melt. The chocolate was wonderfully flavoured, the cocoa taste became increasingly intense as the outer chocolate melted, though it was never near what I would determine bitter. This was largely due to the ever existing milky undertone that accompanied the dominant cocoa flavours. The truffle centre was as ever luxuriously smooth in its texture - there isn't anything quite as soft as a Lindor truffle centre. The one problem I have had with Lindor truffle centres in that past is that at times the fast melt of the centres have meant the flavours have disappeared all too quickly. Luckily this wasn't the case here, the centres were not quite as cocoa intensive as the outer chocolate, but were just as flavoursome, with a divine creaminess that had a hint of vanilla in its aftertaste. These were very enjoyable truffles, and due to their richness even gave a satisfying chocolate hit when eaten one at a time.

Overall these are up there with the very best of the Lindor range. The combination of great flavours and textures made for a superb truffle - maybe not quite the standard of the comparable Ferrero Rondnoir, but still a wonderful dark chocolate truffle nonetheless. I don't think you have to be the biggest fan of dark chocolate to enjoy these, the cocoa strength was evident, but never over done; and the added creaminess of the centre further made this a non-issue. I would very much recommend these, they are bound to be a favourite for a lot of people this Christmas.

8.6 out of 10

December 21st: Lindt Milk Chocolate Snowballs

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

Thanks largely to my friends at Dean-German-Grocery, I have been able to try some of Lindt's finest Christmas goods. Although there have been the odd anomalies *cough* Lindt Christmas Punch *cough*, there have also been some absolutely fantastic offerings (see Lindor Noel, Magic Selection). Today I tried yet another product from their Christmas range, the Lindt Milk Chocolate Snowballs. These came described as 'milk chocolate balls with a double cream filling'.

I bought these in a 100.0g packet that I ate in one very greedy sitting. The presentation of the product was nice. The outer packaging had a pleasant looking Christmas theme, and avoided being overly elaborate. The chocolates themselves looked remarkably similar to the Lindt Kristallzauber I reviewed back in the November. They looked like mini Lindor truffles, and had very appetising looking cream filled centres. Although pretty much scentless in the plastic bag, when released from their mini foil wrappers the chocolates had a dairy led enticing smell.

It wasn't just presentation where this product sparkled. From taste to textures, these were very enjoyable mini chocolates. Although the chocolate was only of a 30% cocoa recipe, and actually quite thin, this still didn't stop it from establishing a strong chocolaty base taste. As soon as the chocolate entered the mouth the distinctly milky, cocoa flavours were immediately present, and grew in their strength as the smooth, thick melt developed. The double cream fillings felt utterly luxurious, and had a super soft feel to compliment the added burst of dairy flavours they offered to the taste. My only slight reservation with these was that due to the super smooth textures, the chocolates didn't last that long in the mouth. This combined with the fact they tasted so good was a deadly combination, as I said above I tucked away the full 100.0g bag in only the one sitting.

Overall these were hugely enjoyable mini chocolate truffles, however they weren't quite a full rounded satisfying product. The milk chocolate was of a high quality, and the double cream truffle fillings really made for a divine overall taste. The textures of the product were superb, with the chocolate only beaten in terms of smoothness by the fillings, which felt almost like silk in the mouth. Unfortunately it was the smoothness and quick melting textures, which made these quite unfulfilling. These are a product I would love to see in the standard Lindor format, if your going to buy some of these, I suggest you buy a few packs - they are incredibly addictive.

8.2 out of 10

December 21st: Ritter Sport Jamaica Rum Truffle

Kcal 512 Fat 30.9g Fat(sats) 19.7g Carbs 52.2g (per 100.0g)

As if my Ritter Sport 'to-review' list wasn't long enough, Dean-German-Grocery kindly sent me across the latest 'Winter Varieties' liqueur based range. Having just reviewed the Ritter Sport Rum Knusperstuck, I thought I would compare them to this 'Jamaica Rum Truffle' variant. This bar was formed of 'milk chocolate filled with butter truffle and rum (3%)'.

This 'Winter Variant' came in the same 100.0g form of the standard Ritter Sport offerings. I particularly liked the look of the packaging - I thought the black portion of the wrapper gave the product a more sophisticated look, whilst the pictures were highly relevant to the filling. The chocolate itself wasn't the most striking of Ritter Sport bars, though a clear distinction between the outer chocolate and inner truffle layer could be made. Much like the 'Rum Knusperstuck' this bar had a very forthcoming Rum smell - the aroma wasn't quite as sweet, but it was equally as indicative of the taste.

I really enjoyed the flavour progression of this bar. The outer chocolate was of the usual Ritter Sport milk chocolate standard and performed its task well of 'carrying' the inner truffle centre. The milky smooth taste of the outer chocolate melted slowly in to the more intense flavours of the truffle centre, the taste growing ever stronger as the melt progressed. The taste of the truffle filling was highly enjoyable - it combined both smooth buttery flavours wonderfully with the ever present rum element. The rum taste was more friendly than the edgier 'Rum Knusperstuck' and had a creamier nature due to the truffle context. Despite not being quite as sharp, the rum flavour lasted for a long time in the mouth, delivering a relatively rich experience.

Overall this was a pretty satisfactory bar that delivered a highly enjoyable rum centric taste. The milk chocolate provided an initial creaminess which set the smooth flavours of the truffle filling up nicely. The concentration of the rum was just about right for me, it was strong enough to stamp its presence on the taste, though not overly alcoholic tasting. I preferred this bar slightly over the Ritter Sport Rum Knusperstuck as it provided a richer, more fulfilling taste. To be honest though, if your a fan of liqueur chocolates, particularly rum, then they are both products you will want to check out.

8.2 out of 10

December 20th: Terry's Chocolate Orange Minty

Kcal 510 Fat 29.5g Fat(sats) 17.0g Carbs 57.0g (per 100.0g)

To say I was a little bemused by this product is a bit of an understatement. 'Terry's Chocolate Orange goes Minty' constitutes of 'dark chocolate with peppermint oil' .... notice anything missing here? Kraft are obviously relying on the 'Terry's' brand to shift this product, but surely branding a product 'Chocolate Orange' and it not containing an orange flavour of any sort is a step to far?

I bought product in the standard 175.0g sphere that was broken into twenty segments. Despite being slightly disgruntled at the misleading outer packaging I could still appreciate the look of the chocolate itself. Terry's Chocolate Orange *ahem* spherical presentation really does have a uniqueness of its own - it would be silly to see any other brand try and imitate it. The chocolate was contained nicely within a foil layer - all of the pieces appeared very clean cut, with very shiny surfaces. The presence of the peppermint oil was very evident from the smell. I could detect elements of cocoa, but the aroma was largely led by the mint.

In terms of dark chocolate quality I wasn't particularly bowled over by the 40% recipe of this product. As I have referred to with many mass produced dark chocolate before the taste was very 'mass consumer friendly' ... i.e. it tasted more like unsweetened milk chocolate rather than having its cocoa flavours amplified. Although not the most strongly flavoured, the dark chocolate still provided a tasty chocolaty background for the more prominent minty flavours. The peppermint oil had a nice cool, refreshing flavour, however its dominance meant the taste was quite one dimensional. The intensity of the peppermint meant the product offered very little in the way of flavours progression  - the taste didn't change whatsoever from the chocolate first entering the mouth till the aftertaste. Five segments provided a reasonable snack, though I must admit I was getting a bit bored of the product once I was near finishing it.

Overall this was a real no frills chocolate mint product. I am still a little peeved at the 'false advertising' of the 'Chocolate Orange' branding - I know it would be one wired mixture with the mint, but surely everything is worth a try. Anyway, forgetting what might have been, this product was a pretty run of the mill offering. The dark chocolate was far from offensive, but at the same time decidedly average. The mint flavouring was strong but a bit overly so, its dominance made for quite a monotonous overall taste. If your a fan of chocolate mint combinations then this would probably be a product you would enjoy, for the rest i wouldn't recommend going massively out your way to try it.

7.3 out of 10

December 19th: Lindt Gold Reindeer

Kcal 272 Fat 16.5g Fat(sats) 10.0g Carbs 27.5g (per 50.0g)

Way back in March I reviewed my first ever Lindt product. It was an Easter themed goodie, the Lindt Gold Bunny, and I remember really enjoying it. Since then, and many reviews later, I have come to be a massive appreciator of most things Lindt. Given all this there was no way I was going to turn down giving this Lindt Gold Reindeer a review. Almost identical to the Gold Bunny, this was a hollowed out milk chocolate product.

Although available in various sizes, I bought this Gold Reindeer in the 100.0g form. The product was beautifully presented in a gold foil wrapper and included a decorative red bow. The chocolate itself was nicely shaped and included a small amount of detail on its surface, which further added to its authenticity. Granted this wasn't the most practically formed chocolate, though there was no doubting that it looked impressive. I was also quite impressed with the smell of the product. As soon as I split open the foil wrapper I was met with a very appetising dairy based smell. Presentation is always a strong point of Lindt products.

Although it was pretty to look at, the truth of course was in the taste, and of course it didn't let me down here either. The milk chocolate was of a 30% cocoa recipe and offered much the same taste as the Lindt Excellence Milk Extra Creamy chocolate. It was predominantly milky in its flavours, though its thick, smooth melting texture gave it more the feel of double cream in the mouth. The chocolate melted at a lovely rate, with the cocoa growing ever so slightly in its prominence and strength as the melt progressed. The chocolate was relatively sweet, and had minor caramel like notes in its aftertaste. Although it was not the strongest tasting the chocolate I have ever had, the density of its melt made 50.0g (half) a very satisfying serving size. 

Overall there were no surprises here, and this was as expected a very enjoyable milk chocolate product. The chocolate lived up to the glamourous presentation and was of a good quality, with a sweet but exerting creamy taste. It is little under six days until Christmas now, and if your struggling for stock fillers, or little smaller gifts, then this would be a good little present. After all, who doesen't apprecitate chocolates at Christmas!? Especially when it looks and tastes this good.

8.5 out of 10

December 19th: Annabelle's Rocky Road

Kcal 240 Fat 11.0g Fat(sats) 4.0g Carbs 34.0g

Someone at CandyPirate must really must have taken a liking to their retro candy bars lately, as straight off the back of my Necco reviews, they sent me this 'Rocky Road' bar. Formed of 'milk chocolate coated marshmallow and cashews', it reminded me a bit of the UK's Tunnocks Teacake (minus the biscuit of course - review coming shortly). This bar is part of the Annabelle's portfolio - a brand that also produces the Abba-Zaba & Big Hunk bars.

The product came in a large looking 51.0g serving, in a very distinct looking red foil wrapper. Personally I thought the wrapper looked a bit tacky, it didn't have the retro appeal of the Necco Sky Bar, to be honest I thought it just looked quite cheap. Despite this the bar itself looked pretty good. The milk chocolate coating held the product together well, and the generous, white fluffy look of the marshmallow looked quite appealing. The smell of the bar was nothing too special, I would describe it as more sweet than anything else, the chocolate and cashews were not all that apparent in the aroma.

The biggest disappointment with this bar had to be the outer chocolate. It lacked a telling taste and really lost relevance in both its texture and flavours due to the prominence of the marshmallow centre. Where the chocolate was distinguishable it offered a pretty uninspiring very sugar led, sweet taste. Its texture wasn't all that impressive either, the melt seemed to have a bit of a grainy texture ... on the whole it was really just disappointing chocolate. Sitting below the chocolate was of course the marshmallow layer, which I had mixed feelings about. It was a lot different to the marshmallow we get here in the UK, its texture was much lighter, with a fluffier feel. Initially I didn't enjoy the taste all that much ... it was just a little to sweet for my liking. However the more I ate, the more the vanilla flavouring of the mallow came to the fore, making its taste that bit more enjoyable. The presence of the cashews can only be described as minimal. Not only were they sparse, but where present their chopped nature meant they did very little for the overall taste. Despite weighing at 51.0g this was a pretty unfulfilling product.

Overall I would say that I was pretty disappointed with this bar, it just didn't deliver on its full potential. Pretty much all the different aspects of the bar could be improved. The milk chocolate could have done with a more distinctive taste, it would probably hugely benefit from being a little thicker. The marshmallow was pretty fair and I enjoyed its unique texture. The implementation of the cashews needs a lot of refining - they need to be far more generously portioned and in a whole nut form. Much like the Necco bars I wouldn't recommend this product on its taste, but if you are interested in trying old fashioned, nostalgia rich candy bars I would give this a look at.

6.9 out of 10

December 18th: Cadbury Heroes

Kcal 510 Fat 27.7g Fat(sats) 16.6g Carbs 60.3g (per 100.0g)

I haven't had 'Heroes' in a long time, but blimey have there been some changes. Some good, many not so good: out with the 'Miniature' branding, Timeout - out (Boo!), Cadbury Dream - out (Yay!), Picnic - out (Boo!), Crunchie Bites - out (Boo! Boo! Boo!), Cadbury Eclair - in (Yay!), Cadbury Bournville - in (Boo!) .... sooo many changes. 

So whats left you ask? The lineup now takes the shape of: Dairy Milk, Dairy Milk with Caramel, Dairy Milk Whole Nut, Fudge, Bournville, Twirl and Eclairs. I bought a large pack of these (445.0g) and shared them with a few friends. The general consensus was that the recent substitutions weren't all the favourable - the lack of Picnic and Dream pieces seemed a particularly spiky topic with some. 

I thought the product was well presented - the outer packaging looked sharp, though I was left a little bemused with the ridding of the 'Miniatures' part of the branding!? The chocolates themselves were presented well, each with their own branded mini wrappers. I found it quite funny that Cadbury felt the need to warn me there were nuts in the Whole Nut block - well DUH!!! 

Below are my thoughts regarding each piece:

Dairy Milk - What is there to say!? I liked the fact the block was split into two smaller pieces. The melt was smooth and thick, and the taste was wonderfully sweet and creamy. I wasn't expecting anything different - great stuff. Excellent.

Dairy Milk with Caramel - (soon to be back to Cadbury Caramel ... See HERE!!) Heaven in a chocolate block :) Still by far my favourite Cadbury product. Its sweet, sticky caramel and delightful creamy chocolate combination just can't be touched in the mass confectionery market ... well apart from the Galaxy Caramel! Typical really that I only got four of these in the whole pack. Excellent.

Dairy Milk Whole Nut - Another enjoyable piece. I thought this was one was well designed with a single whole nut in the centre of the block. The chocolate was thick, creamy and despite not the having the strongest flavours, the hazelnut piece added a delightful crunch. It was good to have a nutty option in the mix. Very Good.

Fudge - I got about twenty of these in my pack - I won't grumble too much at least it wasn't the Bournville that was over portioned! These smelt very sweet out their wrappers. The milk chocolate was a little thin for my liking, though sucking on the sweet, buttery fudge centre was rather enjoyable. Good.

Bournville - A new arrival to the selection, the words ... why? oh why? Spring to mind :( If you have read my original review of the Bournville bar (HERE), you will know that I am no big fan. I had no better experience here - the melt was poor and clumpy, whilst the taste was overly sweet and what I would describe as cloudy and mirky ... its as if it was scared to express its true cocoa flavours. Poor

Eclairs - The second of the two newest additions, and a much more welcome one. Despite being scentless the outer hard caramel was wonderful with its sweet, buttery toffee flavours. As I referred to in my original Eclairs review, the real joy of these was in the anticipation of the chocolate, which just so happened to deliver a fantastic chocolaty burst. Very Good.

Twirl - As its smell suggested its flavours were not quite as sweet as the Dairy Milk variants, which made for a nice change. It was also nice to have a lighter textured option in the selection, which further made it more enjoyable. Good

Overall there is no doubting this is a fabulous mixture of chocolates, but it has to be said that the recent changes haven't all been for the better. I can live with the Bournville, as really it has only replaced the Dream, which was equally as poor. What I think was really a bad decision was the exclusion of the Crunchie and Picnic pieces, as straight away two of the more diverse options were taken from the selection. Taking this product at face value and forgetting 'what used to be', it still offers a very nice range of tasty varieties from the Cadbury portfolio - with the Caramel, Eclairs and Dairy Milk pieces the real shinning stars. I would recommend this selection, but be prepared to feel like something is missing.

8.4 out of 10

December 17th: Ritter Sport Rum Knusperstuck

Kcal 89 Fat 5.5g Fat(sats) 3.6g Carbs 8.9g (per piece)

I have been a little wary of my rum containing chocolate ever since the horrible experience of the Lindt Christmas Punch. Saying that it was hardly like I could turn down the offer from Dean-German-Grocery to sample these Ritter Sport Rum Knusperstuck. These pieces were billed as 'filled milk chocolate with hazelnut cream, raisins, broken wafer, crispy rice and rum'. This was all sounded a little busy for me, though I was hoping Ritter Sport could deliver better results than Lindt's attempt.

It was nice to finally see a Ritter Sport product that didn't just come in the 100.0g square format. These pieces came in a 200.0g bag that contained twelve individually wrapped chocolates. The outer packaging was relatively attractive with a blue Caribbean type theme that was also implemented on the smaller wrappers for each of the chocolates. The chocolates themselves looked pretty appetising. The milk chocolate appeared quite thin, though the middle hazelnut cream filling looked tempting with the raisin, wafer and rice pieces all evident. The smell of the pack was very forthcoming, just opening the outer packaging released a very strong sweet rum smell that grew ever stronger removing the chocolates from their individual wrappers. The aroma set the tone nicely for what was to come.

As the appearance indicated the outer chocolate wasn't the most forceful on the overall taste due to its thin portioning. As soon as the chocolate quickly melted the inner filling cream came to the fore of the taste, with the rum element largely dominating. The earthy flavours of the hazelnut were ever present, though the rum was by far the most forthcoming. The rum was reasonably pleasant and had a nice sweetness to its alcoholic taste. The raisin, wafer and rice pieces were also detectable in the creamy rum taste every so often, adding small sweet fruity, wheaty bursts of flavour. The rum left a lasting impression in the mouth, though the overall taste was really quite sweet. Three pieces at a time provided all the sweetness I could take in one serving, though this was still a pretty pleasant snack.

Overall these have rid my fear of rum flavoured chocolate for the time being, and were actually relatively pleasant chocolates. Right from the off the smell of the product heavily indicated that the rum was going to be the dominant aspect of the product, and this transpired with the taste as well. The pieces lacked influence from the chocolate, however the other ingredients more than made up for its lacklustre presence delivering a strong, sweet alcohol rooted taste. For those that are fans of their liqueur chocolates I would recommend these

8.1 out of 10