Saturday, 31 January 2009

January 31st: Romy Classic Cocos

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

Your going to have to excuse me on this one, but I have absolutely no idea about the back story behind this bar. Romy is a brand I hadn't ever seen or heard of before Dean-German-Grocery sent me this bar in my latest sampling package. Here it was I do know - this bar was produced in Germany by Hosta Schokolade (same people as Nippon!!)  and was formed of 'milk chocolate filled with coconut cream (50%)'. If anyone has anymore information on this brand, please share.

On the face of things this Romy bar looked very much a 'knock-off' of the Ritter Sport brand. Its 200.0g size and branding aside, it looked very much like a Ritter Sport product. It came in a square bar with an outer wrapper not all that dissimilar looking from the aforementioned German rival. The bar itself was also split into sixteen pieces, this proved highly unpractical for the larger size as the pieces were way too big to eat in one go, it should have been split up double the amount it was. One thing I particularly enjoyed about this bar was the smell. Upon opening the wrapper I was met with a delightful barrage of coconut scents - it reminded me very much of the sweet nutty smell of Bounty bars. 

Much like the smell suggested the coconut really dominated the overall taste. The outer milk chocolate complimented the cream filling well. It had a really pleasant creamy taste that grew ever so slightly in its cocoa strength as the melt progressed. Even when eaten in isolation from the truffle filling the outer chocolate still had a strong element of coconut in its flavours - its safe to say if your not a fan of the stuff you don't want to be going near this one. The inner coconut filling was absolutely divine. It was softer than the outer milk chocolate, though had crunchy rougher bits of desiccated coconut throughout. I absolutely loved the taste of the inner cream filling - it was nutty, buttery, creamy and left a longing taste in the mouth. 50.0g of this bar (a rather small sounding four blocks!!!) provided a really satisfying and fulfilling snack.

Overall I think it would be harsh to just view this Romy Classic Cocos bar as a substandard Ritter Sport copycat. This bar tasted fantastic in its own right, and if I have heard correctly that the Ritter Sport Cocos is now going out of production, it should now have a nice little place in the market to call its own. As I stated earlier, if you don't like coconut there isn't anything for you here. If your partial to a coconut and chocolate combination though, then this is a product you should really consider trying - a highly enjoyable bar of chocolate.

8.1 out of 10  

Friday, 30 January 2009

January 30th: Mars Muffin

Kcal 367 Fat 18.6g Carbs 45.9g

Having reviewed the Galaxy chocolate muffin a few days ago, it would have been rude not to give this Mars Muffin the similar treatment. This product provided much the same premise, and constituted of 'a chocolate muffin with a caramel filling, covered in milk chocolate'. People on your January diets look away now .... much like its Galaxy equivalent this muffin contained a pretty huge 367 calories, as well as 18.6g of fat.

The muffin came in a 82.0g size that provided a highly fulfilling mid-afternoon snack. The outer packaging used the standard Mars design, though like the Galaxy muffin included McVities branding. Yet again I thought more could have been done with the presentation of the actual muffin. When cross-sectioned the golden caramel added a bit of interest - but on the whole it was still a little lacking aesthetically. Where the looks fell short, the smell more than made up for. The muffin smelt wonderfully fresh, with sweet cakey scents apparent as soon as the packaging was opened. 

The main cake part of the muffin tasted no different to the Galaxy muffin. It had a sweet doughy flavour that had a strong undertone of vanilla. Once again the muffin was crying out for the caramel filling and melted chocolate to be more generously portioned. The sweet, buttery taste of the caramel filling was superb, and its moistening effect on the cake really made for a lovely gooey texture. The chocolate that was melted on top of the muffin again added a nice crispness to the upper portion of the muffin. The melted chocolate although still a bit lacking, was marginally more portioned than with the Galaxy muffin, which made the crisp texture of the top portion of the muffin seem that little bit more impressive. After devouring the whole 82.0g I was well and truly satisfied.

Overall this was another impressive brand extension from Mars, and I must admit I ever so slightly preferred this variant to the Galaxy. The greater portioning of the chocolate melted on top gave a little more variation in the texture - based on taste alone I wouldn't be able to split them. Again it was the case here that the caramel filling and extra chocolate needed to be a bit more generously portioned, though on the whole this was still a very enjoyable product, and well worthy of giving a try if your a Mars fan.

8.0 out of 10 


Thursday, 29 January 2009

January 29th: Snickers 'The Lot'

Kcal 265 Fat 15.2g Fat(sats) 7.8g Carbs 26.9g

Snickers has to be the brand with the most spin offs ever - we have had the ChargedDark,Rockin' Nut Road ... you name I have reviewed it! Today I tried the latest bar on offer from Mars  - Snicker's 'The Lot', a bar all the way from Australia. This bar was "packed with a pile of stuff", and came described as 'crispy pieces in a thick cream, caramel, sprinkled with heaps of nuts, covered in chocolate'. I had been looking to review this bar for a good while before I got the chance to do so today, so my expectations were pretty high.

The bar came in a 50.0g serving and provided a pretty hefty snack option. The product was well presented in a aesthetically pleasing foil wrapper, though it did exhibit the usual idiotic Snickers branding "Get Some Nuts!!" ... hmmm! I thought the bar itself looked pretty good, it looked a lot like the Reese's Nutrageous bar, though the inner cream filling looked lighter in its viscosity, and the caramel greater in presence. I was somewhat disappointed with the smell of the product, it didn't have the usual nutty smell of Snickers, but emanated a more subtle sweet, diary led smell.  

As you can imagine the chocolate wasn't of the highest quality ever, but then again Snickers bars have never been about exquisite chocolate. It wasn't the best, yet it still provided a pleasant enough coating to the bar with its predominantly milky flavours. Studded within the chocolate were small chopped pieces of peanuts. They lacked the usual crunchiness and really full on nutty flavours of the standard Snickers bars, though they were still highly prominent in the aftertaste. Beneath the chocolate lay the caramel and cream layers, which combined offered a fantastic combination of flavours. The caramel was very generously portioned and added the usual sweet, buttery flavours. The cream layer included rice crispy pieces, though these only added a crispness to the texture, and were largely lost in the wonderful creamy vanilla flavours. The convergence of so many different elements made for a very satisfying bar that was very varied in all its flavours.   

Overall this was far from being the best variant from the Snickers range, though it was still a very enjoyable one. The chopped nature of the nuts meant they didn't quite have the same sort of impact on the taste, but they were still very giving to the overall flavour. Similarly the replacement of the usual nougat for the lighter cream filling was subsequently detrimental, however again the cream filling was reasonably enjoyable in its own right. This isn't a 'must try' bar, but it is one I am sure a lot of Snickers fans will understandably want to get acquainted with.

8.1 out of 10


Wednesday, 28 January 2009

January 28th: Marks & Spencer Belgian Chocolate Chunk Brownie


Kcal 450 Fat 19.7g Fat(sats) 11.2g Carbs 58.2g (per 100.0g)

Continuing my way through the whole heap of Marks & Spencer goodies I bought last week, I today tried one of their Belgian Chocolate Chunk Brownies. On pack the ingredients list described the chocolate as 'dark', though it failed to mention what percentage was actual cocoa. I know this isn't the sort of product that normally falls within the ChocolateMission remit, but when it comes to all things M&S I just can't help myself. 

The brownie felt a lot heavier than the 55.0g that was stated on the pack. As far as snacks go this was a pretty damn fulfilling one due to its dense nature. Like the 'Millionaire Shortbread' I reviewed a few days ago, this product only came in a very basic looking transparent cellophane wrapper. Although the brownie managed to survive the trip home in my bag relatively undamaged, I personally think an inner plastic tray would have been a nice inclusion to just add a bit of protection. Out its wrapper the brownie smelt tremendous; my senses were treated to a wonderful mixture of chocolaty, doughy, cakey scents ... it smelt amazingly fresh.

I think brownies should always be served warm, so I popped it in the microwave for a quick spin. If you have never done this, I highly recommend you do - it tasted absolutely fantastic. The heat made the brownie a little lighter in its texture, and melted the chocolate chunks so they were a little gooey. The brownie had a wonderful sweet, doughy taste, that was complimented superbly by the small pockets of melted chocolate chunks where present. I say 'where present' as for my liking the chocolate chunks could have been a bit more generously portioned. Despite this minor annoyance the sweetness was wonderfully balanced with just the slightest touch of salt, which made it incredibly moreish. Even though the warming of the brownie made the texture slightly less viscous, the product was still amazingly fulfilling, saying that I still savoured every last wonderful bite.  

Overall this was an absolutely delicious snack that I enjoyed immensely. It was highly fulfilling and wonderful in its taste - it was almost as if was fresh out the bakery. The bites which included the melted chocolate chunks were absolutely to die for, the plain brownie wasn't half bad either. If M&S just added a few more chocolate chunks in the middle of the bar, this would really be an utterly outstanding product. If you like your brownies, then I would highly recommend you pick one of these up next time your in your local M&S. Sinful? ... for sure! Totally worth it? ... hell yes!

8.7 out of 10

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

January 27th: Hotel Chocolat Caramel Sweethearts

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

Those of you lucky enough to have someone to send chocolates to this Valentines Day will be happy to know that I will be running through the finest selections on offer from Hotel Chocolat in the coming weeks. Today I started off by taking a look at the Caramel Sweethearts - a product that I have seen Terry and Chocablog already get their mitts on (Click names for their reviews!). These were formed of 'caramel flavoured milk chocolate hearts with bresilliene, cocoa crispies and cherry powder'. For those that are unaware 'Bresilliene' constitutes of grounded hazelnut and sugar.

As with every Hotel Chocolat product these came wonderfully presented in a pink tinted 170.0g box that contained 28 chocolate hearts. The pieces looked incredible, with very intricate engravings present on each of the chocolate hearts - it all looked incredibly impressive. I was a little less struck by the aroma of the product. A quite minor diary smell was present, though the most forthcoming influence came from the subtle savoury smelling rice crispies.

Although the pieces looked fantastic it must be said they were quite awkward to eat. They were a little to large to eat in one bite, but also broke into several bits when snapped. This was something fundamentally caused by the crisped rice and proved to be not the only downside of the rice inclusion. The milk chocolate had a a pleasant enough melt in the mouth, however the pieces also had a degree of roughness due to the bresilliene and rice ingredients ... after eating four pieces the roof of my mouth was actually quite sore. It wasn't just the textures that let this product down though. The combination of the sweetened caramel milk chocolate, and bresilliene made for a very sweet overall taste, one that seemed to rely on sugar a lot more than most Hotel Chocolat products I have reviewed before. The influences of the hazelnut and cherry powder elements seemed lost within the sugary nature of the chocolate, which was just a real shame. I ate these about six at a time, though with each serving they failed to really satisfy or give me that much pleasure.

Overall I am not very often underwhelmed by Hotel Chocolat products, but I really didn't hit it off with these. Hotel Chocolat have set their own standards, a quick look through the archive will show that no doubt they are a company who deliver quality on a regular basis. Unfortunately though, I wouldn't place these in that category. These Caramel Sweethearts were overly sweet, and the roughness of their texture caused quite considerable irritation when eaten on mass. Not the best start to my look at their Valentines day range ... but trust me there are some corkers to come.

6.9 out of 10

January 27th: Ritter Sport Organic Almond

***UPDATED WRAPPER APRIL 2011


Kcal 374 Fat 26.9g Fat(sats) 12.6g Carbs 25.5g (per 100.0g)

Today thanks to Dean-German-Grocery, I tried the last of the Ritter Sport Organic bars, the 'Mandelsplitter'. This bar was formed of milk chocolate that was studded with small almond nut pieces. As with the rest of the milk chocolate bars from the Organic range, it was formed of a 35% cocoa recipe, whilst the almonds formed a plentiful 23% of the total bar.

The product came in the standard Organic 65.0g size, that was split into the typical 16 blocks. I thought the outer packaging looked pretty good. The two tone green nicely differentiated the product from the standard Ritter Sport range, whilst the almonds featured on the wrapper looked pretty tempting. As I have mentioned above the almond pieces were generously portioned, and looked impressive dispersed within the chocolate. The bar emanated the usual dairy led aromas of Ritter Sport milk chocolate, the smallest hint of nut could also be detected.

The milk chocolate did its usual standard job, and carried the flavour of the bar well with its creamy tasting, smooth melting attributes. Considering the small sizes of the nuts pieces I was actually quite surprised at how well they established their flavours. The nut pieces added a woody, buttery influence to the taste that was on the whole quite pleasant. Although the almonds didn't have the depth of flavour of other nut types (hazelnut, cashews etc), they still provided an extra level of interest to the overall taste. I wasn't totally at ease with their finely, chopped implementation, as small bits of nut did tend to get stuck in my teeth; they also didn't quite provide the desired nut crunch. I ate this bar over two separate sittings, both of which were surprisingly satisfying for just over 32.0g each.

Overall much like the rest of the Ritter Sport Organic range this was a solid bar, though it was far from really being a stand out product. I tend to prefer nuts implemented in a wholenut form, though the flavours delivered by the almonds in this bar were actually quite flavoursome for nuts that had been chopped so finely. The Ritter Sport Organic bars overall have hardly been groundbreaking, but I guess for people who prefer their chcolate without all the chemicals, this range would be a good place to look.

7.8 out of 10

Monday, 26 January 2009

January 26th: Galaxy Chocolate Muffin

Kcal 390 Fat 21.8g Carbs 44.0g

Given both my love for muffins and love for Galaxy milk chocolate, I couldn't help but give one of these Galaxy chocolate muffins a review. Described as a 'chocolate muffin filled with chocolate cream and covered in Galaxy milk chocolate', this product contained a whopping 390 calories and 21.8g of fat. This wasn't quite what I had in mind when I started off the month looking at the 'lighter choices' on the chocolate market - woops! 

The muffin weighed in at a stonking 86.0g, and provided a pretty sufficient option for breakfast - I certainly didn't get the 11am munchies. The outer packaging was relatively good looking - as you can see above it incoporated the usual Galaxy theme, though included McVities branding as the actual muffin was baked by them. I must admit I was a little underwhelmed by the look of the muffin. It was nicely protected in a transparent tray, but it didn't really look all that impressive either straight out the pack or when cross-sectioned; it could have done with a decorative logo or sprinkles on top to just make it that bit more aesthetically imposing. One thing that was certainly was striking was the delightful smell. Sweet, fresh cakey scents emerged as soon as the muffin was released from its plastic wrapper - yum! 

There was no doubting that this muffin tasted superb - but it could have just been a little more generous in some of its elements. The cake part of the muffin tasted pleasant, yet unspectacular. Unsurprisingly it dominated the taste of most mouthfuls due to it being present in a far greater proportion than the rest of the constituents. It had a nice doughy taste that was awash with strong notes of vanilla and sugar. It was perhaps a little dry in its texture, though where present the chocolate cream quickly make amends for this. The chocolate cream tasted fantastic - it was sweet, chocolaty and ever so creamy - it just unfortunately wasn't quite portioned generously enough, and was only present in the odd bite. The Galaxy chocolate melted on top was also a very welcome edition. It gave the top half of the muffin a very pleasant crispness when bitten into, whilst also providing a very enjoyable creamy chocolaty burst.

Overall this was a very enjoyable spin-off from Mars, and certainly provided a product that was worthy of the Galaxy branding. As mentioned above I would have liked to have seen the chocolate cream, and melted chocolate on top more generously portioned, as the bites where they were present were by far the most enjoyable. This was a fantastic product, and one that I would very much recommend if you have a love for muffins and Galaxy chocolate. I wouldn't suggest you have one of these a day, but as the occasional treat these are a nice proposition. 

7.9 out of 10
 

Sunday, 25 January 2009

January 25th: Kraft Chips Ahoy Snak Pak

Kcal 170 Fat 8.0g Fat(sats) 2.5g Carbs 24.0g

Excuse me for taking another slight diversion in my mission to find the best chocolate bar in the world, but when offered the chance to review a pack of these Chips Ahoy Mini Cookies by Geraldine at Yankee Soda & Candy I simply couldn't resist. Whenever I used to visit the US when I was younger I could never get enough of these, and I always used to bring back several packs with me. Before today though I hadn't had a Chips Ahoy cookie for a good few years, so I was looking forward to once again tasting these chocolate chip little treats.

Yankee Soda & Candy sent me a 35.0g pack of mini Chips Ahoy, which made nicely for a pretty standard snack that I ate during one afternoon. I must admit I groaned out loud in despair when I saw the branding .... 'Snak Paks' ... no wonder kids seem so dumb nowadays, why on earth would you miss the 'C's out? Maybe this is just me showing my age :D !? Anyway that aside the presentation was pretty good. The mini cookies came in a foil packet that ensured a nice freshness to the product. When I opened the small bag I was met with a lovely wave of sweet, biscuity smells that even had a nice indicative hint of cocoa. I was delighted to find that all the cookies were in a good condition, and looked relatively twee in their 'mini' form.

So did they taste as good as I remembered? In short ... yes! Chips Ahoy don't quite deliver the taste of freshly baked cookies, though this is unsurprising given their mass production and worldwide distribution. The cookie base was just how I remembered - very sweet and wheaty with hints of both brown sugar and salt. Of course as you would expect with cookies they had a delightfully fresh crunchiness, though the slight moistness generated by the melt of the chocolate chips made for a highly enjoyable addition to the dry base texture. The unsweetened nature of the chocolate chips also still seemed highly suited given that they delivered a forthcoming set of cocoa flavours, though did not add to the already quite sweet taste. One criticism I still have is with the taste longevity, which I again found quite lacking ... I guess that is just what makes them so moreish.

Overall these are definitely one of my favourite cookies/biscuits, and they tasted just as good now as they did when I was younger. The mixture of the sweet cookie base and plain chocolate chips make for a good combination, but it must be said that if the overall taste were to sustain itself that little bit longer in the mouth it would really make quite a difference. If you like your cookies or are an avid biscuit eater I would suggest getting yourself familiar with Chips Ahoy.

7.8 out of 10

January 25th: Conscious Chocolate Yummy Mummy

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

The Conscious range has proven itself to be much differentiated from many other chocolate brands and has delivered some fantastically enjoyable bars thus far for me to review. This Yummy Mummy variant certainly offered something no other brand I have come across before and was formed of raw chocolate with spices, Yacon root and Lucuma. Now those of you who don't have a foggiest what Yacon root or Lucuma are, I can tell you that Yacon is a perennial plant and Lucuma is a subtropical fruit - fancy huh!? Still confused see HERE & HERE.

The bar came in a nicely sized 40.0g serving - of course I still was none to impressed with the packaging, which as you can see above was basic to say the least. The chocolate looked relatively unimpressive, though the small pieces of Yacon and Lucuma could be seen dispersed throughout. As with the rest of the Conscious range the smell of the product was a real strength, and the forthcoming cocoa scents really whet my appetite.

One thing that is consistent with all Conscious products is the quality of the chocolate - again here it was superb. It had a delightful set of flavoursome but not overbearing fudgy, cocoa tones that really left a longing taste in the mouth. As the melt of the chocolate progressed these flavours became increasingly strong, which is always a nice effect. To be honest as I wasn't able to distinguish the taste between the Yacon and Lucuma beforehand, I couldn't honestly tell you what sort of flavours each individually brought to the table. Combined the small pieces brought a sweet, apple like taste, that was fair but not overly inspiring. To be honest the smallness of the pieces meant they partially ruined the texture of the chocolate, and made it somewhat gritty. On the whole the rich flavours of the chocolate meant this was a largely satisfying bar.

Overall this was a nice chocolate bar, though I must admit the Yacon and Lucuma were hardly the best tasting fillings. Original? ... Definitely! ... Great tasting? ... Not particularly! It was not that they tasted bad, they had a sweet, fruity appeal but just really didn't seem to be that greater combination with the chocolate. Although I was hardly bowled over by this bar, I am all for companies trying different combinations of ingredients; for this reason I suggest if your curious you give this product a try.

7.6 out of 10

Saturday, 24 January 2009

January 24th: Sarotti Creme de Cacao

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

You may recall a week or so ago that I was hardly bowled over with the Sarotti No. 1 Mexico Chilli bar. I said in that review that I was hoping for more from the next Sarotti product I was going to try. Well thanks to Dean-German-Grocery I didn't have to wait long, as today I sampled the Sarotti Creme de Cacao - a 'milk chocolate bar with a cocoa cream filling'.

The bar came in a 100.0g form that was broken down into 24 rather small looking blocks. Like I do with most 100.0g bars I split the bar in half and ate them in separate sittings - both provided relatively fulfilling snacks. I liked the all round aesthetics of the product - the outer packaging had a nice design, and showed off the nature of creme filling nicely. As I said the actual chocolate blocks themselves looked a bit small, though each was still branded intricately with the Sarotti logo. The chocolate was contained within a branded foil layer that released a very sweet smelling cocoa smell when opened.

The chocolate contained 32% cocoa solids min, which I thought was a little low sounding. It came as no surprise when I read that sugar headlined the ingredients, though the bar had more of a dried milk sweetness to it rather than a raw sugar based one. The outer chocolate substantiated a very dominant set of milky flavours, though the cocoa influence was forever present as a constant undertone. The distinction between the outer chocolate and inner filling could be detected in both taste and texture. The outer chocolate was slower to melt and firmer in its density. The cream filling was not only softer, but it had a creamier taste, that just had the smallest hint of salt. The resulting taste was a very pleasant one, and was really quite unique with its sweet milky flavours - if I had to liken it to any other bar it would be the Milka Alpine Milk Cream.

Overall this was a far better showing from the Sarotti brand, and this was a bar that I got a great deal of enjoyment from. The chocolate was led largely by a powdered milk taste that was not only creamy tasting, but also had a delightful sweetness. The textures were wonderfully delivered with the slow more methodical melt of the outer chocolate complimenting, the lighter, faster melting filling superbly. Some may find the sweet flavours a bit overbearing, but for fans of Milka, Ritter Sport chocolate this is a bar right up your street.

8.0 out of 10

Friday, 23 January 2009

January 23rd: Munchies Munchies

Kcal 504 Fat 25.3g Fat(sats) 16.4g Carbs 64.7g (per 100.0g)

I am trying very hard not to start off with a rant but I just can't quite help myself - who the hell came up with the name for this product?!! I'm sorry, but to put it extremely mildly the marketing team behind 'Munchies Munchies' hardly struck gold with that name - its terrible. Having not particularly enjoyed my last pack of Munchies I have been pretty reticent to trying these; when I saw them on offer in Tesco for 89p though I hardly felt like I could put them off any longer. These 'Munchies Munchies' came billed as 'milk chocolates with soft caramel and crisp biscuit centres'.

I bought these in a 150.0g pouch that contained several miniature pieces about two thirds the size of the standard Munchies cubes. The outer packaging was presented well enough. Branding aside I thought the pouch made use of a nice contrast of red and orange colours and the pictures exhibited the product well. I was less impressed with the look of the pieces themselves - like I found with the standard Munchies the chocolate had a very dusty looking surface, they simply just didn't look fresh. Opening the pouch I was met with a very sweet smell. The aroma did have hints of cocoa and caramel that gave it a relative appeal unlike its aesthetic appearance. 

In comparison to the standard Munchies I found these smaller sized pieces preferable for two main reasons. Firstly I liked the dome shape - the pieces fitted nicely in the mouth which meant they could either be eaten singly or a few at time with relative ease and comfort. Secondly I thought the smaller pieces were superior as the caramel content was lowered whilst the biscuit piece remained the same size, this thankfully gave it more prevalence in the overall taste. Given that both the chocolate and caramel were as disappointing as in the standard Munchies, the greater presence of the biscuit was highly preferable. Unfortunately the chocolate was grainy and lacking flavour, whilst the caramel was only a little better with its overly sweetened, sugar rooted taste. The lack of meaningful flavours from the pieces meant these were a largely unfulfilling experience.

Overall even though I would say these were preferable to the standard Munchies, I still think they are far from being a good product. The chocolate was of a similar poor quality and the only reason I perceived the caramel as more bearable was because there was simply less of it. The biscuit pieces were as enjoyable as ever, but this was of little relevance given the poorness of the other elements. This seems to be just another mindless brand extension, and a product of little thought - you need only look as far as the name for evidence. Although slightly superior to the original Munchies - I personally still wouldn't recommend either. 

6.1 out of 10   


Thursday, 22 January 2009

January 22nd: Ritter Sport 71% Fine Extra Dark Chocolate

Kcal 558 Fat 44.6g Fat(sats) 28.5g Carbs 31.0g (per 100.0g)

A couple of weeks ago in my review of the Ritter Sport Organic 60% Dark, I mentioned that Dean-German-Grocery had sent me this 71% Fine Extra Dark bar. I decided not to do a direct comparison of the two bars as I thought they would have had very different crafting and recipe properties. I am guessing ... well hoping, that from the title you have managed to gather this was in fact a dark chocolate variant which contained 71% cocoa solids min.

This bar was delivered in the standard 100.0g size, and provided me with two very fulfilling servings. I was a little surprised at the choice of colour for the packaging, the quite vivid pink colour was personally not a colour I would have chosen to represent the strongest bar in the Ritter Sport range ...what the hell at least it stood out. The chocolate itself was beautifully presented, the surface had a nice shine to it, and the Ritter Sport logos looked extremely well cut into the surface. The presentation wasn't let down by the smell, the bar released some fantastically rich smelling cocoa scents upon opening the wrapper.

My preconception that this bar would be quite different to the Ritter Sport Organic 60% bar proved a bit inaccurate. I perceived only a slight variation in the overall taste, with this bar having a slightly more intense cocoa edge. Despite being described as 'Extra Dark', the creamy background was still present, and provided the same pleasant complimentary base tones to the forthcoming cocoa flavours. The texture was wonderfully smooth, and melted at a nice rate, with the taste growing in intensity as the chocolate developed in its melt. The aftertaste was firmer in comparison to the Organic bar, and had less impetuous placed on the vanilla flavour, and more on the cocoa. It left an even greater impression in the mouth, and just made the bar that little bit richer.

Overall this was a good standard dark chocolate, though like its Organic 60% Dark counterpart just slightly lacked the definition in its flavours to really challenge the upper tier of the dark chocolate ranks. Despite its strongly concentrated 71% formulation, its intensity didn't mirror this; the cocoa flavours were forthcoming but were largely controlled and rounded by the strong creamy undertone. I ever so slightly preferred this bar to the Organic 60% Dark as the aftertaste was a little longer lasting, though to be honest there was very little difference between the two.

8.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

January 21st: Marks & Spencer Millionaire Shortbread

Kcal 450 Fat 18.3g Fat(sats) 5.9g Carbs 66.9 (per 100.0g) 

It seems lately that I have been on a one man mission to save Marks & Spencer from the credit crunch. In the last few weeks I have been finding myself all too often in my local M&S food hall, not only checking out their divine selection of sandwiches, but also their confectionery range. Today I picked out this 'Millionaire Shortbread' bar, which was comprised of 'all butter shortbread covered in a layer of caramel and milk chocolate'. One look at the nutritional information all but confirmed this was a bar of pure indulgence. 

The product came in a huge 65.0g serving that provided a really fulfilling snack. The packaging was pretty no frills, with the bar only protected by a transparent plastic wrapping. Although this was a little basic looking, the bar itself looked fantastic. The shortbread was golden, the caramel thick and the chocolate unblemished and smooth looking - it looked magnificent. The bar smelt hugely enticing. As soon as I opened the plastic packaging I was presented with some buttery, biscuity sweet smells that were extremely alluring.

This thankfully wasn't a product purely about its looks and smell - it tasted just as good as well. The shortbread was divine and had a full flavoured, butter led taste that was complimented superbly by the sweetness of the brown sugar. Above the shortbread sat the caramel layer, which added a wonderful set of fudge like flavours. The caramel also added a hint of saltiness, that really contrasted well with the overriding sweetness to the taste. The milk chocolate formed the upper part of the bar and was of a reasonably good quality. It didn't really stand out in and amongst the caramel and shortbread, though it still brought a chocolaty context to the overall taste. The combination of all three layers certainly made for a very sweet taste, though it was incredibly moreish. Saying that the 65.0g certainly pushed the boundaries of what I could consume in one sitting.  

Overall this is one of those products that if you ate everyday you would soon become tired of it. Eaten as the occasional treat though, this is truly a luxurious tasting product that I would highly recommend. The blend of the caramel and shortbread was simply superb, and combined the sweet, buttery flavours of each with a fantastic salty moreishness. The chocolate could have been more prominent , though it still provided a reasonable influence to the overall taste. I found this to be both a really enjoyable, as well as a very satisfying bar. 

8.6 out of 10   


Tuesday, 20 January 2009

January 20th: Conscious Chocolate Nicely Nutty

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

My reviews of the Conscious range have seen me try some pretty tasty bars, with the Choca Mocha Magic a clear shinning star so far. Today I tried another variant from the 'sugar free, pesticide free, gluten free, raw and handmade' chocolate range - the 'Nicely Nutty'. This bar contained four different types of nuts - cashews, brazil, walnut and hazelnuts. Never before had I tried a bar that had dared to mix all four, so this was always going to be an interesting prospect.

I needn't tell you about my displeasure regarding the outer packaging - according to Emily at Conscious it is currently under redesign. The chocolate itself was relatively impressive looking, the nuts pieces although small appeared generously portioned throughout the bar. Again due to the soft nature of the chocolate, the product was messy to handle - this definitely isn't a range of chocolates you want to be eating on the move. Once again the smell of the bar was a real sell point for me. When the foil packaging was unwrapped a fantastic mixture of nutty, cocoa aromas were released - it smelt very tempting.

Having savoured the fantastic smell for a decent amount of time I decided to tuck into the bar, and was immediately struck by the strong nutty flavours. As I have aforementioned the nut pieces were small, but very well portioned. It was near impossible to tell what type of nuts the actual pieces contained by their aesthetics looks, though in the context of the taste they were very distinguishable indeed. Each of the blocks were awash with woody flavours from the hazelnuts, buttery flavours of the cashews, earthy flavours of the brazils and salty flavoured walnuts. My only slight criticism of the nut pieces were that as they were so small they did tend to get stuck in between my teeth. This was only a minor issue though, and on the whole the nuts combined fantastically with the balanced unsweetened cocoa flavours in what was a long lasting, enjoyable taste.

Overall this was one of the finest tasting chocolate and nut combinations I have tasted. In previous reviews I have alluded to the fact that I believe nuts are best implemented in a wholenut form (ala Ritter Sport Milk Whole Hazelnuts), well this bar completely blew that theory out the water. Even though the nut pieces were very finally chopped they delivered a wonderful strong set of distinct nutty flavours. The chocolate was as usual very tasty, if a little messy, and carried the nuts very well. This is yet another bar from the Conscious range I would really recommend.

8.3 out of 10

Monday, 19 January 2009

January 19th: 100 Calories Hershey's / York / Reese's

Once Geraldine at Yankee Soda & Candy heard I was looking at some 'light choices' on the chocolate market she thought she better send me some samples of these 100 calorie bars that she is currently stocking. Geraldine was kind enough to send me three different variants - Hershey's, Reese's and York. Below are my concise thoughts on each of these 'two fingered crispy wafer bars':

100 Calories Hershey's Bar:

Kcal 100 Fat 5.0g Fat(sats) 3.5g Carbs 12.0g

Out of the three this was the variant that excited me the least. This was a straight up milk chocolate covered wafer, with a milk chocolate filling. Out the three it was definitely the least striking in its general appearance - it lacked the distinct smell of both the others, though still had a relatively pleasant sweet, cocoa led aroma.

The taste of this variant struck me immediately as very Kit Kat like, though the flavours of the wafer were not quite as lasting. This did give the cocoa flavours of the chocolate more of a prominence in the taste, though these flavours were not all that sustaining and were quickly gone from the mouth. The inner milk chocolate filling had a nice moistness against the crispness of the wafer, though it wasn't differentiated in terms of taste from the outer coating.

Overall a fair standard milk chocolate option that would certainly suffice for people who are not a fan of the other mint or peanut variants available.

7.0 out of 10


100 Calories York Bar:

Kcal 100 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 4.0g Carbs 11.0g

This variant was formed of a dark chocolate coating with a mint creme filled wafer. It was ever so slightly more appealing in regards to its presentation to the standard Hershey's bar as the mint content of the product immediately stamped its authority with its lovely fresh scents.

The dark chocolate of course did not have many attributes of dark chocolate whatsoever - as with every mass consumer 'dark chocolate' it was more along the lines of unsweetened milk chocolate. I would have liked to have seen the cocoa amplified in its prominence, though the coating still did its job of providing adequate chocolate base flavours. The real ray of light with this variant was the delightful peppermint filling, which provided a delightful set of cool, minty flavours within the sweet, crisp wafer.

Overall this was my favourite out of the selection. The dynamic combination of the unsweetened chocolate and the really forthcoming mint flavours made for the taste that sustained the longest presence in the mouth out of the three.

7.5 out of 10
100 Calories Reese's Bar:
Kcal 100 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 2.5g Carbs 11.0g

This last variant was formed of a milk chocolate coating with a peanut butter filled wafer. Allot like most Reese's products both the fingers had a somewhat greasy coating, and melted very fast in my hands. Despite this being a slight annoyance, there was no denying the wonderful enticement that was brought on by the wonderful peanut scents that emanated from the product.

It was a bit same old story here with Reese's. The milk chocolate was quite frankly poor - the extra greasiness meant that the milky, cocoa flavours lasted for an even shorter time in the mouth, which given the size of the product really wasn't a good thing. The saving grace of course came in the form of the peanut butter filling, which was delightful by all accounts. Creamy, salty, sweet and nutty are four words that best describe Reese's peanut butter - outstanding stuff.

Overall I slightly favoured this bar over the Hershey's variant as the nutty flavours made it a slightly more interesting product. Probably not the flavour you should look at if your wanting a specific chocolate hit from your 100 calories though.

7.3 out of 10

With all of these bars only weighing in at 19.0g each I was hardly expecting much, but these delivered some quite tasty snacks for 100 calorie options. They were never going to hit the heights of more traditional bigger chocolate options, though for those watching their weight but not wanting to eradicate their favourite treats from their diets completely, these are a great range of bars, and are ones I would recommend.
 

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