Tuesday, 11 August 2009
I have to start off todays review by sending a big muchos gracias in the direction of ChocolateMission reader Lottie who recently very generously sent me a few Schogetten bars to get stuck into. Chocolate that originates from Germany is very well represented on this site thanks by and large to Dean-German-Grocery. For whatever reason though Trumpf's Schogetten range is one that I have never got around to taking a look at ... until now of course. Lottie sent me three bars from their range and I decided to first get stuck into this Cappuccino flavoured bar. Billed as 'milk chocolate filled with a cappuccino flavoured creme' it appealed to me and I was hoping that it would be equally as good as the Ritter Sport Cappuccino bar.
The product originated from Saarlouis, Germany and came in a 100.0g size. I thought the presentation was all rather fair - it wasn't exactly the most eye catching, nor was it bad in anyway shape or form. One thing that I did like about the bar was how each of the individual blocks were already separated inside- even if it did catch me out at first sending bits of chocolate all over the place! Doh! When I was finished flinging the blocks across the room I took a smell of the bar and found that it emanated a rather mild instant coffee like smell.
A fair few readers of commented on how tasty this bar is, so I was genuinely looking forward to trying it for myself. Maybe because of the build up I was really expecting it to have a big X-factor but unfortunately this was the one thing I thought it truly lacked. The chocolate contained 30% cocoa and tasted like a bit of a halfway house between Ritter Sport and Milka. It wasn't as sweet as Milka yet had the same hazelnut hint in its aftertaste. Personally I felt that it was neither scintillating to the taste buds, neither was it anything to be disappointed with. Sitting at the heart of each of the blocks was the cappuccino filling to which I also had rather mixed feelings about. The transition from the slightly rougher texture of the outer chocolate to the smoother inner filling was well managed and melted at a nice pace allowing each different element to establish itself on the taste. In regards to taste my perceptions weren't quite as positive and I was failed to be bowled over by the cappuccino flavours. As I ate more of the bar I did come to enjoy the creamy nature of the mild coffee influence but something in the back of my mind couldn't help but remind me that it tasted rather like the instant cappuccino drink that I get from my work office vending machine. I ate this bar over the course of two separate occasions and felt both times that it provided an adequate snack - nothing more or less.
Overall reading back over the above I can see how this review might be perceived as a bit on the negative side. Truth be told this bar neither struck me as being great or bad ... on the balance of things it was pretty average. For me I think where this bar mostly stumbled was in the strength of its coffee flavours. I am a black coffee man so I am used to far stronger, more full on coffee flavours rather than the creamier mild ones that the filling here delivered. If I was looking for a coffee flavoured chocolate this probably wouldn't be the first bar that would spring to mind in order to get my fix, yet at the same time I wouldn't say that this should be a bar that deserves being dismissed straightaway. If you take your coffee weak and milky this could well be a chocolate that you would enjoy. More Schogetten coming soon!
7.2 out of 10
Monday, 10 August 2009
Due to the success of the TV series these bars have been a little tricky to get hold of. Luckily for me though ChocolateMission reader Emma was ever so kind in picking these up from Selfridges and sending them to me.
In regards to presentation I thought the bars were relatively well designed. Both came in 80.0g forms with both the variants containing two smaller 40.0g thick square pieces. In regards to the outer packaging both boxes were well decorated with some nice looking fonts and interesting information about how the bars were crafted. Whilst I liked the appearance of the chocolate I have to admit it wasn't the practical to eat. The 40.0g blocks were short and stubby which meant breaking them up without them melting on the hands was a little messy.
Having assessed everything but the taste there was only one question left to answer and that was if Willie had created the best chocolate in the world ...
Willie's Delectable Cacoa Venezuelan 72% Rio Caribe Superior:
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
According to the blurb the cocoa beans used for this bar originate from the finest cocoa regions in Venezuela and are roasted in Willie's chocolate factory in England using 100 year old chocolate making machinery .... wooo! This had to be good right?
From the off I could tell this was going to be a full flavoured chocolate as the fresh smell of the cocoa was immediately evident once the golden foil was opened. This was all but confirmed when I placed the first piece in my mouth as the intense flavours took no time at all to establish themselves. The cocoa flavours were raw and earthy and made a distinct impression in the mouth throughout the duration of the melt. Speaking of the melt I liked the pace and slight bit of grit that could be felt as it transformed into a thick cocoa liquor in the mouth. Going back to the taste the flavours were pleasant yet not all that progressive and I felt that there was a touch of sugar or vanilla needed in the aftertaste to make the lasting impression a little more friendly.
Overall as you will have noticed this was my favourite out of the two and would probably be the one I would buy again if it came to it. As far as dark chocolate goes this was of a fair to good standard but nothing truly made it stand out from other more well rounded chocolates I have had before. The cocoa strength was there but it didn't show much progression from its initial dark, roasted flavour set and the aftertaste was begging for just a touch of sweetness to make it a more well rounded taste.
8.3 out of 10
Selected from the province of San Martin in Peru the cocoa beans used in this bar were also roasted and formed in chocolate in Willie's factories here in the UK. Although both bars looked exactly the same had you blindfolded me I could easily have told them apart due to some quite evident differences.
For starters the smell of this bar was a little less intense and had some sweeter fruitier hints amongst the evident cocoa scents. In regards to taste the flavours were slower to develop and the cocoa was a bit more steady with the taste amplifying as the melt progressed. The taste overall was not quite as strong as the Venezuelan bar had more of murkier dark coffee noted taste that was well established once the melt was in full flow. Noticeably the melt itself lacked the slight grit and grip on the tongue compared to the Rio Cabre and had a softer, smoother feel. One commonality that both bars did share was the lack of thought in the aftertaste. Just like the Rio Cabre the San Martin could also have done with a little X-factor to nicely round off the experience.
Overall I guess a preference between the two will largely be down to personal perceptions - in my case it was the Rio Cabre. The main reason for this was because I liked the way it was exerting in terms of its flavours straight away. The San Martin bar took a little too long 'getting to the point' with its flavours and the lack of texture in the melt meant that its flavours didn't last quite as long. As I have said this would all be down to personal preference and I wouldn't be surprised if most people preferred the smooth tasting and melting San Martin.
7.9 out of 10
Sunday, 9 August 2009
Saturday, 8 August 2009
When the question 'what product would you most like to see return to the shelves' is asked one of the most commonly mentioned bars is the Cadbury Nuts about Caramel. Unfortunately we are yet to see this bar make its triumphant return, however today I got to try a Milka bar which followed much the same idea. This Milka Toffee Ganznuss came described as 'Alpine milk chocolate with a caramel creme filling with added whole hazelnuts', which didn't sound all too dissimilar from the Milka Caramel bar I reviewed back in October last year. If you read this review and like the sound of this bar then I suggest you head to Dean-German-Grocery who sent me this bar to review today.
As you will be able to tell from the picture above this bar wasn't part of the standard 100.0g range but was a part of the mammoth 300.0g Milka selection. Of course with the amount of chocolate I have to eat to keep up with my review schedule I decided to share this with a group of friends as I never would have been able to get through the entire bar myself. On the whole I was very impressed with the packaging and especially liked the on pack illustrations which depicted an enticing, yet still relatively realistic picture of the inner product. The chocolate inside was divided into well sized blocks that were perfect for eating one at a time. When cross-sectioned the inner layers were clearly visible with the inner creme, caramel and whole hazelnut pieces distinguished and visible in each and every piece. In line with expectations the smell was sweet with a hint of nut - by this point I was expecting this bar to deliver big time.
Thankfully I can report that the chocolate didn't let itself down when it came to the taste test and it was thoroughly enjoyed by most people that tried it. The chocolate that coated the bar really brought no surprises - it was very milk based with its sweet, creamy flavours and had just the slightest note of hazelnut. The real delight of this bar though lay within the inner caramel flavoured creme and caramel layers - they were simply delicious. The inner creme provided the softest, cool textured centre that was deliciously creamy with just the slightest toffee hint. The toffee flavours were of course further enhanced by the actual caramel which really drove home the sweet, buttery flavours that were initially set up by the creme. Sitting at the heart of the caramel almost like an end treat to the melt of the chocolate were the hazelnut pieces. To be honest they were a bit hit or miss - in some blocks the nuts were fresh, crunchy and full of woody nut flavours ... in others they were soft, lacking in flavour and on the whole a bit lacklustre - it was a little bit of a lottery.
Overall as I have mentioned the bar was enjoyed by most that tried it and I for one certainly absolutely loved it. In the blocks where the nuts were of a good quality the taste was simply divine and had a devilish moreishness that kept me coming back for more. As is the case with most Milka products some may find the taste a little on the sweet side but frankly if you buy a milk chocolate caramel bar you would be a bit stupid thinking that this wouldn't be the case. I guess for the time being we won't be seeing the Cadbury Nuts about Caramel. This is of course is a little disappointing but having tried this wonderful Milka offering for the moment I will be more than happy settling for this great substitute. If you like your milk chocolate and caramel combination I would really recommend you try this one.
8.9 out of 10
Friday, 7 August 2009
Once again I have to start off yet again by thanking ChocolateMission reader Alan who so kindly sent me this for a review. Whilst scouring his local pound shop Alan found this Dove (Galaxy) bar which had made its way all the way from Poland. With a little help from Google Translate I finally determined that this was a 'cinnamon & orange' flavoured milk chocolate product. Remembering back to my reviews during Christmas I remember this combination being particularly popular in the sample boxes that were sent my way from Germany. With the Milka and Lindt bars springing to mind as fine examples, I was hoping this bar could show similar results.
The product came in a 40.0g size much like the standard Galaxy bars we get here in the UK. One area that this product particularly impressed me was the packaging. It was formed of the same material as UK Cadbury bars use nowadays - the matted material with the foil innards. I felt it gave the bar a very suave look and was only further impressed when I saw the actual chocolate. The blocks were split into well sized chunks and had a small truffle like layer running through the middle. Whilst I thought this looked appetising I was not quite as impressed by the aroma which had a quite odd floral sweet smell - it really wasn't what I was expecting.
Lets not mess around here ... by Galaxy (Dove) usual high standards the taste was pretty poor. The outer chocolate was pretty in-line with what you would expect from the brand and supplied the usual smooth tasting creamy chocolate experience that can be found with most Galaxy bars. As soon as my the centre filling came in to play though a rather different story began to be told. At first it wasn't all that bad ... well for the first few seconds anyway. The orange element was the first to come into play and as I said it initially wasn't so bad as it provided a strong juicy orange influence. Once the taste calmed down a little it got a whole lot weirder as the orange creme soon became so sickeningly sweet it was as if I could taste the raw sugar. This sugar based taste was only trumped by the musty cinnamon flavours that lingered in the aftertaste. The cinnamon just didn't seem quite right and neither brought the spiciness or the distinctiveness that I desired. It almost seemed as if the cinnamon was an after thought and not carefully implemented into the product. The taste neither left me feeling satisfied or particularly wanting more - I would much rather have snacked on something else.
Overall this simply wasn't up to the usual high standards from the Galaxy/Dove brand. Personally I don't think half as much care was taken in forming this bar as the combination just didn't seem to work and I think that it is plain to see for anyone trying it. As expected the actual milk chocolate was pretty good and what you would expect from a product from this brand. The true failing though came in the implementation of the orange and cinnamon into the filling. The orange was ridiculously sweet, whilst the cinnamon was pretty much non-descript. Having said that I did like the idea of the softer liquid filling and would like to see this implemented across other bars from this range in the future. In regards to this particular product though I would best advise you to try it with low expectations.
6.7 out of 10
Thursday, 6 August 2009
According to Wiki the herb Thyme is used in a wide range of different countries as a basic ingredient. From French, Greek, Lebanese to Persian cuisine ... you name it ... they use it. Chocolate flavoured with Thyme though was a completely new concept to me and I hadn't see it attempted by any manufacture. That was all until today of course, when I tried the Lindt Thyme & Orange Fantasy bar thanks once again to Dean-German-Grocery. Promising simply 'dark chocolate with orange and thyme' I hadn't a clue what to really expect, though on reflection I guess this was only ever going to turn out one way.
In true football language the taste was a story of two halves - the first half being a 5-0 drubbing and the second half being a respectable 0-0 draw. This was a chocolate that didn't wait around to impose itself and from the outset the added flavours were all but evident. Placing the dark chocolate in the mouth I was straight away struck by what was a pretty benign herb influence. I was getting some pleasant enough chocolaty cocoa flavours but at the same time I was getting a barrage of slightly spicy herb elements that just seemed completely out of context. The addition of the thyme just simply didn't work and it wasn't until the orange kicked in later during the melt that I started to feel comfortable with what was in my mouth. Although the mixture of the dark chocolate and orange was pretty ok it still didn't make up for the puzzling taste that came before it. Thinking about it now I think the word 'uncomfortable' is the best way to describe the experience - it was like putting salt in your tea instead of sugar ... frankly I just didn't like it and struggled to eat more than a few blocks.
Overall I think I have been pretty generous giving this a 4.0 in the taste test - I guess I was a little swayed by the fact that the dark chocolate and orange elements were actually pretty good. I don't know who in their right mind thought adding thyme to chocolate would work but it just simply didn't and I am surprised it got past testing at Lindt. Personally I just can't see thyme ever being implemented into chocolate successfully - I think some ingredients are just best left to seasoning my Sunday Lamb roast rather than my dessert. I guess if you want to experience this for yourself as far I know this is the only thyme infused chocolate on the market. My advice, and its one I think you should take notice of, is that you stay well clear ... Lindt do so many better things than this.
5.3 out of 10
Wednesday, 5 August 2009
Tuesday, 4 August 2009
Just a few weeks ago it was brought to my attention by ChocolateMission readers Phil & Susanne that Nestle were ridding of the Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter and replacing it with the Kit Kat Chunky Caramel. Although I was a little disappointed about the loss of the Peanut Butter variant as we have such a lack of peanut butter based chocolates already here in the UK, I was relatively pleased to hear that the 'superb' Caramel would be taking its place. I say 'superb' as it wasn't long ago that I reviewed the Kit Kat Caramel Chunky from Australia which I have to say is still one of my favourite bars I have tried this year (score 9.2 - review See HERE!).
I had high hopes that this bar was going to be more alike the Caramel Chunky from Australia and not like the newly released Kit Kat Caramel multi pack two finger but I was immediately alarmed when I saw the on pack details. Described as 'a wafer finger with a creamy caramel topping coated in milk chocolate' it was obvious that this was going to be a different proposition to the bar from the Southern Hemisphere. It not only differed in composition but also in its weight (50.0g rather than 65.0g) and also rather more oddly in its lack of full on pack nutritional information. Despite the lacking information I thought the new golden foil packaging looked pretty awesome and thought it had great stand out on shelf. On the contrary I must say I wasn't exactly bowled over by the bar when I cross sectioned it. The inner filling looked remarkably like the Peanut Butter variant, with the caramel looking more paste like rather than the more traditional (and better looking) gooey caramels ala Cadbury Caramel.
Putting aside my minor disappointment at the way the bar looked I was soon more encouraged by the smells that I detected once I opened the foil wrapper. The aroma was chocolaty with sweet hints of toffee which certainly did fail to entice me. I won't waste my time describing the outer chocolate and inner wafer as this is something I have covered many times before in my many Kit Kat reviews. In summary the chocolate was fair and substantiated a nice chocolaty taste with each bite and the wafer brought some pleasant biscuity, malt flavours to the party with its superb crunchy texture. With that out the way it is time to get to the important factor and that was of course the inner caramel filling which if I was to also sum up in one word would be classed as disappointing. Just as it looked and was billed on pack it was nothing like the gooey sort of caramel I desired and it had more of a dry, creme like texture. In regards to taste it was unfortunately quite like the Kit Kat Caramel bars we have just released in the supermarkets. It started off by generating a toffee like taste in the mouth but as the flavours progressed they became increasingly sweet up until the point they produced that awful throat burning sensation. My initial displeasure of seeing our UK Caramel Chunky dwarfed by its Australian equivalent was soon all but gone as I struggled to even finish off this bar due to its sugary nature.
Overall on reflection the replacement of the Peanut Butter Chunky with this Caramel Chunky looks to be a pretty damn poor decision due to the poor execution of the caramel. Where were the elements of butter, salt, butterscotch??? ... answer ... nowhere to be seen! The caramel filling was fundamentally just not great. It was more of an overly sweet, sugary paste rather than the gooey, golden layer of amber nectar that I was really hoping for. The decision to replace one of the more unique bars on the UK market, with a bar that is quite frankly poo interms of quality to me appears to be a pretty bad one. Maybe I have been spoilt by trying a better version of the bar we now have gracing our shelves, but in my estimation the Australian variation of the Kit Kat Chunky Caramel is the far, far better out of the two. Probably worth trying if you like your Kit Kats but beware for a major disappointment.
6.9 out of 10
I tracked this bar down in my local Co-Op ... why not tell me what you think by adding a comment to the review!
Monday, 3 August 2009
I must admit that until I read the article from 'The Grocer' magazine a week or so ago I had no clue whatsoever what Mars Treets were. According to that piece the relaunch of Treets is Mars' attempt to ride the nostalgia wave that seems to be taking over the Confectionery market at present (Cadbury Wispa etc!). Just as with most new products I was scooped to a review by Foodstufffinds who managed to track these down a week or so earlier than I did myself (See Review HERE!). If you are still looking for them yourself I suggest you head to your local Sainsburys where I found them on a £1 promotion.
According to 'The Grocer' article Treets used to come in a few different formats - some with toffee etc! With this in mind I guess I was a little disappointed when I read the on pack description - 'milk chocolate covered peanuts in a crisp brown shell' ... the first thing that sprang to mind was whether these were just going to be M&M's Peanuts in a different bag. The packaging itself was altogether pretty unspectacular. I have no idea what the packaging used to look like but the pouch just struck me as rather plain looking and lacked any sort of retro appeal. The pieces inside looked a tad boring as they were just brown coloured, however I was pleased to see that the majority of the pieces looked larger than M&M's Peanuts. Currently the only size pack Treets are available in are 200.0g pouches - with the help of a few work colleagues we managed to polish off a bag in an afternoon.
As I was sharing I didn't really get a great opportunity to have a smell of the bag though an obvious nut based smell was released when I tore it open. Remembering back to my review of the M&M's Peanuts I can recall that I thought they didn't quite deliver the desired chocolate flavour hit and that the peanuts were not particularly that fresh tasting. I am pleased to say that these Mars Treets went some way to solving these problems as the chocolate was not only implemented thicker but the nuts were also a heck of a lot nicer. As you can see the in the cross-section photo above the chocolate that coated the peanuts was a heck of a lot more substantial which meant that the chocolaty flavours came through more in the initial taste. As the chocolate was thicker the sugary shells didn't dominate as much which was quite the opposite to what I found with the M&M's Peanuts. As I have already mentioned I also found the inner peanuts to my preference and felt that they displayed a greater array of fresh, roasted flavours in comparison to the M&M equivalents. As I shared these I am not sure exactly how many I had - I would hazard a guess that I consumed a quarter of the pack which was a pretty fulfilling amount.
Overall these didn't quite deliver the excitement of many other new products but at the same time I enjoyed them nonetheless. I wouldn't have put it past Mars just to stick some non coloured M&M's in a different branded pouch though I am pleased to say that in comparison these were actually a touch better. The thicker implementation of the chocolate provided a far better chocolaty experience and the nuts just seem to give a lot more in both crunchy textures and flavours. My recommendation regarding these is pretty simple - if you like M&M's Peanuts then you should really try these, if your not a fan then I would stay well away. Innovation isn't exactly a strong point for Mars - these are good but lets hope they can come up with something a bit more exciting soon.
7.6 out of 10
Sunday, 2 August 2009
The ChocolateMission Omnibus:
The week started off with my review of Paul.A.Young's Salted Caramel Chocolates that I found to be absolutely superb. Several readers including Alan, Brody, Laura and Rachel asked the question whether these could be mail ordered, which led to Paul's manager James popping in tell us that they indeed could indeed be made to order - further details on the review (See HERE).
Later on in the week I reviewed the final variant from Taste of Natures Cookie Dough Bites range - the Mint flavoured, whilst I also published my review on Ferrero's Duplo bar. I was surprised to learn from Susanne and Chris that I had in fact reviewed the Duplo that is in distribution in Italy and not the German one I thought.
A few days later I reviewed the Hotel Chocolat Mango Strips which were met with a great deal of positivity from Mark and many others who are obviously fans of Hotel Chocolat's chocolate coated fruit collection. I managed to pick up another couple of requests from readers in that review - I will endeavour to get them covered ASAP.
News from the Chocolate Market:
* The recession has even managed to even hit the confectionery market with Mars introducing some price marked pack for their Twix, Bounty, Mars and Snickers bars - 35p sounds good to me. See HERE
* Mars are also launching a new promotion on their bitesize selection packs with a '1 in 10 chance to win a DVD' competition. See HERE
* Nestle are also getting in on the act with a new on pack competition on their Kit Kat range with 35 million music downloads up for grabs. See HERE
* Cadbury have announced their first half results - claiming that overall sales are up 10% ... lord knows what they will deliver in Q3 & Q4 with the upcoming release of the Wispa Gold. See HERE
* Strong contender for article of the week ... 'Blue M&Ms help spinal injuries' :) See HERE
* Burnt Sugar are relaunching their adult confectionery line introducing some new packaging and smaller sized packs. See HERE
Posts from other Blogs I enjoyed this week:
Foodstufffinds - Just as I announced in the last edition of 7Days of Chocolate Reviews, Mars Treets are back and FSF as always managed to hunt them down first. My review will be up on Monday but see the FSF review HERE
Chocablog - Dom had a very justified rant at M&S for producing a blatant imitation product of the Mars bar. As Dom put so elegantly ... 'WHY??' ... come on M&S your better than that! See HERE
GiGi - I have seen some puzzling collaborations in my time ... but Mountain Dew and World of Warcraft!? Someone please explain me the significance of the two - GiGi didn't seem to know either. See HERE
ImpulsiveBuy - Marvo released the first ever Impulsive Buy podcast which is well worth checking out ... starring Marvo himself! See HERE
JapaneseSnackReviews - KitKat seem to be relentless in their innovation in Japan and the latest flavour they have come up with is Mango Purin ... 'Purin' being a milky sort of pudding. Sounds good to me! See HERE
Question of the Week:
'What do you think is the best looking product on the Chocolate Market'
... I don't mean the best tasting .... I mean the best one aesthetically!
Saturday, 1 August 2009
Whenever I think of Hershey's I generally straight away think of their more traditional chocolate bar offerings such as their Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, 5th Avenue bar etc! CandyPirate though have recently been sharing with me some of Hershey's more unusual products that they stock - like the Hershey's Brownie and Reese's Brownie etc and today was no different. Forming another part of the Hershey's Cookies range these York Cookies promised 'a chocolate biscuit base with a peppermint fondant filling covered in semi-sweet chocolate' - these sounded like a rival for one of my favourite cookies of all time the Oreo Double Stuffed Mint.
The cookies came in a pack of 4 that weighed in at 56.0g. Despite some slight melting issues (due to be kept in my bag on a hot day!) I thought the presentation was of a pretty good standard and liked the way the usual York brand theme had been incorporated into the cookie product format. To cure the melting issue I stuck these in the fridge which managed to return them to a decent enough state to eat. I thought the cookies looked appetising with the white fondant layer appearing very distinctive when the biscuits were broken in half. This combined with the appetising minty smell that I detected really set my expectations high and at this point I was really expecting these to contend with its Oreo rivals.
I have to say that sticking these in the fridge for an hour or so before consuming was a bit of a master stroke. As mentioned I ate these on a really hot day so the cooled nature of the cookies along with a chilled glass of milk made for an extremely satisfying snack. Despite there being three very distinctive layers (outer chocolate, biscuit and mint fondant) there was never really any chance for eating any of them in isolation from one or other, as there wasn't any chance of breaking the cookies up (ala Oreo cookie) due to the messiness it would have caused. Although there was limited opportunity to do this the taste progressed in three natural steps with the outer semi-sweet chocolate featuring prominently when the cookie was first in the mouth. The flavours were a little understated in terms of cocoa strength but I felt much the same as I did with normal York Peppermint Patties in that the chocolate did its job in terms of providing a chocolaty context that wasn't too sweet. Once the outer chocolate had melted away the biscuit was next to feature in the taste and it brought elements of butter, malt and brown sugar with its crunchy texture. Last but by no means least the peppermint fondant bursted on to the scene with a mixture of fresh tasting sweet mint influences that left a lasting impression in the mouth with its cooling menthol effect. Being the greedy man I am I managed to tuck away four cookies in the one sitting which I think would be a very substantial snack for anyone.
Overall in my estimation these didn't quite overtake the Oreo Double Stuffed Mint as my favourite chocolate mint cookies of all time but they did put a pretty good fight. Being the weirdo I am, I think one of the greatest features of the Oreo biscuit is the way it can be dissected and divided up which on the whole makes it the more fun and interesting out of the two products. In regards to taste though I think that it is a pretty close run thing - I especially liked the way these Hershey's cookies had been dipped in semi-sweet chocolate which established a real chocolate hit from the outset (though not the greatest quality of chocolate ever!). If you are a fan of your mint chocolate cookies I would recommend you try these at some point - these are yet another product to put on your CandyPirate wish list.
8.3 out of 10
Friday, 31 July 2009
Thanks to J-List.com I am continually being introduced to some of the most bizarre products going in their confectionery market. Todays offering looked rather innocent at first glance but once I delved in further and actually looked up what they were on the J-list website I realised they were not a conventional western confection. These Bourbon Choco-Dutsumi came described as sweet rice mochi dumplings filled with milk chocolate ganache. This all sounded rather bizarre to me but as always I was willing to give these a go - it wasn't as if my scepticism hadn't been proved wrong before.
These came in a pack that weighed 184.0g and included eight individual pieces. The packaging as ever for a Japanese product was altogether pretty awesome. The glossy cardboard box featured an appealing looking picture and incorporated a cool opening mechanism which contained 2 separate plastic trays inside. The first thing I noticed when I opened the first plastic packet was the lack of smell that I could, or more aptly put, couldn't detect. This didn't to any degree make me feel any more comfortable with the concept of the product and the appearance of the odd looking sugar dusted jelly like pieces didn't particularly help either.
Picking the first piece up from the plastic tray I was alarmed at the feel of it in my hand. It felt like a mini stress ball and when it was squeezed it soon returned to its original round form within a few unnerving seconds. Having played around with the chocolates for long enough I took the plunge and finally bit into one. Just as expected the outer mochi dumpling had a very odd texture that felt like a firm jelly substance in the mouth. At first I was not completely at one with the feel of it in my mouth, though this anxiety soon disappeared when the flavours came through. The outer rice dumpling had a sweet taste that I would a like to scotch pancakes - slightly eggy but with a nice buttery, sugary taste. At the centre of the rather odd outer portion was a nicely flavoured chocolate ganache centre. It was wonderfully smooth in texture and had a rich and creamy chocolaty taste that complimented the dough like flavours of the mochi extremely well. Although the pieces were not particularly large and could be eaten in two bites, two at a time seemed a reasonable sized snack and their heavy feel made them feel really quite substantial.
Overall these were a pleasant surprise and were a really quite enjoyable snack once I had gotten over the initial odd feel of the outer mochi pancakes. They smelt of nothing, looked and felt a little odd but were actually really quite delicious. As far as Japanese confections go you can't really get any more authentic - mochi filled with chocolate cream might not sound your cup of tea but I would urge you to give these a try before you entirely dismiss them as not for you. It is always nice to come across a product that exceeds my expectations and I must admit that up until tasting these I was completely unconvinced by the product proposition. Although they are not the highest scoring ChocolateMission product reviewed ever I would recommend you give these a try - especially if you like trying more unique offerings from the market.
7.8 out of 10
Thursday, 30 July 2009
With the help of the kind marketing guys at Hotel Chocolat I am slowly but surely making my way through their range. One of my favourite snacks that I often nibble on during the day is dried fruit, which almost always happens to be dried mango. Normally I just grab a bag from Tesco (the M&S stuff isn't great!) but today I got a whole new preserved mango experience thanks to these Hotel Chocolat Mango Strips. They came described as 'real mango pieces preserved and softened in mango liqueur, sealed in dark chocolate' which really sounded good to me.
These Mango Strips came in the same type of 150.0g cylinder container as the Ginger Strips I reviewed a few months ago. Presentation on the whole was pretty good - nothing about the exterior packaging really struck me as that special but I liked the photos of the mango fruits on the back and thought the photos of the actual product gave a reasonably accurate indication of the product. Opening the top and then the foil seal that lay below I was immediately struck by a waft of fruity, boozie scents that really set the mood for the taste to come. The chocolate covered fruit pieces varied in size considerably but this didn't bother me as it made the product feel altogether more authentic.
I must admit that at first taste I felt slightly let down by the outer chocolate. I am a huge fan of Hotel Chocolat's 72% & 85% recipes and I was disappointed to find that the dark chocolate implemented here was 50% cocoa. Don't get me wrong the chocolate was still very enjoyable; the melt was still absolutely divine and the taste was still impeccably smooth and rich with its cocoa flavours. The melt from the outer chocolate to the solid fruit that lay below was simply out of this world and the softness of the chocolate complimented the denser fruit superbly. The first thing that struck me about the mango below was that the really boozie smell didn't translate into the taste. Personally I thought this was a good thing as the citrusy, juicy flavours of the mango fruit came through superbly with the moist, fleshy texture. My only small gripe with the mango fruit itself was that at times some of the pieces were a little stringy which didn't feel at that great in the mouth. Just a few pieces of this chocolate drenched fruit complimented an after dinner coffee superbly - they possibly aren't the sort of thing you would want to snack on when on the move but for an after dinner occasion they seriously fit the bill.
Overall these Mango Strips get a big thumbs up from me aswell as the rest of my family who also thought they were absolutely delicious. Knowing the quality of Hotel Chocolat's stronger chocolates as I do, a little part of me was yearning for the outer dark chocolate to be of a greater strength. This though has to be a very minor criticism as the combination of the bitter chocolate and sweet fruity mango was simply luxurious and was one that I enjoyed each and every time I reach into the small tub. You can almost always determine whether a product was any good judging by the level of disappointment when its finished. Suffice to say there was mass disappointment when my families stock of Mango Strips ran out. The only question now is whether these count as part of your 'five-a-day?' :) I think probably not but I still whole heartily recommend them.
8.5 out of 10
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Today saw me come to the end of my journey looking at Taste of Nature's Cookie Dough Bites range with me finally getting around to trying the very last 'Mint' variant. Whilst I have been reviewing this line of products I have been eating them on their intended consumption occasion - at the cinema. The choice of film today was Public Enemies directed by Michael Mann and I would strongly recommend it if your a fan of the action genre. More importantly back on topic the snack that accompanied the film was formed of 'mint flavoured cookie dough covered in milk chocolate'.
I must say that out of all the Cookie Bites variants this was certainly the one that had the most suiting packaging and was the most interesting aesthetically out the packet. The outer cardboard box implemented a relevant green colour theme and communicated a fun and differentiated look compared to the other variants from the range. As with all the other flavours I was a little wary of the inner plastic packet (which I to this day still thinks a little clumsy!) but I did like the uniqueness of the pale green colour of the cookie dough that was contained within the milk chocolate. Just as expected the cookie dough pieces had a slight minty smell when the inner packaging was opened which didn't fail to appeal to me.
The last batch of Cookie Dough Bites I tried the other day (Peanut Butter) were pretty damn awful so these weren't going to have to try that hard to better them. I am glad to say that this was entirely the case and these in actual fact surprisingly ended up being my favourite from the entire lot. Just as I found with all the other milk chocolate variants from the selection the quality of the chocolate wasn't altogether that special yet still managed to provide a worthwhile set of chocolaty flavours with each piece. Unlike the Peanut Butter variant the melt wasn't as fast the sweet, milk based flavours generated by the chocolate lingered just that bit longer in the mouth which made them seem more substantial. The cookie dough at the centre of each piece brought all the sugary, wheaty dough flavours of many other of the variants but just with an added extra hint of peppermint which I thought was near perfectly implemented. The mint flavours were not overly strong yet still managed to generate a decent amount of flavour and left a lasting impression in the mouth providing a cooling sensation which negated the slight dryness of the cookie dough. Suffice to say the 88.0g pack was gobbled up between four of us in no time.
Overall these were far from being my favourite snack of all time but they were still the best of a pretty average product range. These were far superior to the Peanut Butter that I last tried - maybe on reflection the poorness of them made these seem all that bit better. What I can't deny is that these weren't enjoyed by one and all that tried them with everyone seeming coming to the same conclusion as myself ... Taste of Nature's Cookie Dough Bites range aren't in anyway really that special, but when put in the context of the boring cinema snacks we have here in the UK they are certainly worth at least trying once. If you do fancy trying them I would head to CandyPirate. Out of the lot I would suggest these mint flavoured ones - they were my personal favourites.
7.8 out of 10
Monday, 27 July 2009
Fresh off the back of his appearance on The Apprentice, about a month or so ago I was approached by one of Paul.a.Young's PR team who invited me to one of his in store exhibitions. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the day as I just so happened to be sitting my University Finals that week. On a brighter note Paul's team decided to send me some of his famous Salted Caramel chocolates which I had previously heard so much about. Having read some reviews on Chocablog and noted the gold medal award that they won at the Academy of Chocolate awards these Salted Caramel certainly came with a lot of promise ... here is what I thought of them.
Before I get into how they tasted as per usual I would like to pass a few comments on the presentation. Paul's team sent me a pack of nine chocolates which came beautifully presented in a ribboned box. Inside the chocolates were presented in cute purple coloured wrappers and were protected by a small paper layer. I thought that overall the presentation was simplistic in its sophistication and was not over the top or overly elaborate. The chocolates themselves were the size of large thimbles and emanated a genuinely fresh smelling sweet cocoa smell when the box was opened. As instructed by the packaging I stored these in the fridge as soon as I received them, this however didn't stop me digging straight in when they were at room temperature. For reasons that will be come obvious in a minute I would very much recommend you wait until they are nicely chilled.
There are no two ways of describing how these tasted - they were utterly delicious, yet I still thought there was the tiniest room without room for improvement. According to Paul's website the outer chocolate was formed of a Madagascan 62% recipe and much like the smell suggested it tasted wonderfully fresh and forthcoming with its cocoa flavours. As soon as the chocolate hit my tongue the cocoa flavours were evident and substantiated a nice chocolaty base tone to the taste. My only one criticism of these chocolates was that the chocolate itself was just a little too thin and the outer shell could have done with being just a touch thicker to make the chocolaty flavours last longer in the mouth. Minor criticism aside the transition from the smooth, silky melting chocolate to the soft, gooey caramel centre was fantastic yet maybe just a little short lived. The caramel that lay inside the chocolates was the finest I have ever tasted ... it was everything you wanted a caramel to be. It was sugary, sweet, buttery, syrupy, with floral, burnt sugar notes ... sorry for the list but the flavours that this caramel produced were so terrifically variable and explosive. The most important flavour hit was in the aftertaste of the caramel which was of course the promised salt lick. It was utterly marvellous and contrasted so fantastically well with the sweetness produced by the other components of the chocolate. The salt element not only made these delicious but also ever so moreish ... a cheeky chocolate soon turned into three cheeky chocolates.
Overall there is no doubting that Paul has struck gold with this recipe here. This could just be personal preference but if I had my own way the outer chocolate shell would be a touch thicker to make these more substantial. Due to the soft, near liquid like nature of the caramel and thinness of the chocolate these didn't last all that long in the mouth but it wasn't as if they didn't leave a lasting impression. I have said it once already but it is worth saying again ... the inner caramel was the finest I have ever tasted ... and boy have I tried my fill in my time. If you like your caramel chocolates then these are simply a must try. I would whole heartily recommend you visit Paul online or in one of his two stores - Paul has struck gold ... caramel gold!
8.5 out of 10