Wednesday, 30 September 2009
Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
Thanks to Dean-German-Grocery I must now be close to reviewing as many German products as I have done English ones. I hope that statement isn't seen as a complaint as I tend to think that the German products I review are generally a lot more interesting than most of the UK based ones. Today I got to try another offering from the Sarotti range in the form of their Erdrischungs-Stabchen ... or in plain old English 'Sarotti Refreshement Sticks'. They came billed as 'chocolate sticks with an orange and lemon flavoured filling, coated with plain chocolate' which didn't sound an all to dissimilar proposition to the Hotel Chocolat chocolate covered fruit chocolates I have been trying recently.
The chocolates came in a 75.0g box that contained two layers of mini stick pieces. In regards to size they were about half the size of a Cadbury Finger and rather light in texture meaning that even half a pack wasn't the most substantial of snacks. The packaging was altogether fun looking, though I didn't think it conveyed the actual properties of the product that well i.e. I couldn't actually tell you exactly what the product was until I tasted it. The sticks themselves cut a pretty unremarkable look and I thought their clear inner contents wasn't exactly inspiring, though at the same time it was hardly a turn off of any manner. I was a little disappointed to see that the inner pieces were unprotected by any sort of film or foil wrapping but this didn't seemingly hamper the smell of the product that much as a sweet orangey, chocolaty smell was evident upon opening.
It took a little bit of experimentation to get the best out of these but once I found the best instance to eat them in they weren't altogether that bad. Initially I just dove right in and ate these at room temperature which really didn't prove to be the best condition to consume them. In this state the chocolate was extremely fast melting and its milk cocoa flavours were soon all but dominated by the inner filling which took a rather odd form. Lining the chocolate inside a layer of sugar gave the texture an odd crunchiness and contained the sweet, fruity syrup inside. In this state the sugary nature of the filling all but overtook the flavours generated by the outer chocolate which made for a pretty fowl tasting monotonous taste. Having tasted them at room temperature I thought that these would benefit from being chilled ... so I stuck them in the freezer for a good few hours. I am glad to report that this did them the world of good. The chocolate was slower to melt and due to this extended duration left a lasting impression in the mouth. The inner liquid was still a little to sweet for my liking, though there was no doubting the refreshing nature of the cool inner liquid centre which seemed to have a stronger lemon and orange fruit influences the greater chilled they were. As previously mentioned I ate these across two different sittings - the second felt a far more substantial experience as in their chilled state the chocolates could be savoured that bit longer.
Overall I have never come across a chocolate that has managed to vary so much in performance with just the small added factor of a quick period being stored in the freezer. In their normal state these were frankly pretty poor and the sugary nature of the inner filling just managed override any other factor that was brought to the taste by the chocolate. Once chilled though these were a different story altogether. The chocolate managed to express itself more, whilst the inner liquid provided a cool, fresh tasting fruity element that these chocolates completely lacked when eaten at room temperature. In conclusion I wouldn't say these are ever a must try product as they simply weren't altogether that amazing. On the other hand though if you were to be given them as a gift or just fancied trying them I would stress the importance of a bit of patience and a quick visit for these to a cooling unit.
7.2 out of 10
Monday, 28 September 2009
I get a fair few e-mails nowadays from companies offering to send me samples to appear on this site but a mail from Thomas at Chocolateque a few months ago really grabbed my attention. Thomas told me that him and his business partners were young Belgian entrepreneurs who were on a mission to 'make handmade & fresh Belgian chocolates widely available online'. I must say I admired their ambition and after a quick read of their website (HERE) I told them to send a sample of their chocolates for me to review. I would strongly suggest you do take a look at their site as it is very informative of their chocolatier Federic Blondeel and his methods of creating his chocolates.
The above chocolates all had fantastic quality outer shells of dark chocolate though varied slightly in terms of their inner fillings. The dark chocolate was wonderfully full rounded in flavour and provided a blanced non-bitter cocoa led taste that melted with the ultimate ease in the mouth.
Menthe - (ontop) - This piece looked fantastic and was labelled with silver squiggly writing that chaught my eye straight away. I was expecting a fresh tasting sweet minty influence though it soon became apparent that the inner ganache was flavoured with fresh mint leaves which made for a slightly odd overall taste. This was the only piece that didn't work for me. Poor.
Charles Hot - (cross-sectioned) - Conversely this chocolate was fantastic. It had a rich tasting inner ganache filling that was superbly hinted with influences of chilli and pepper adding both spicy flavours and warmth to the delicious tasting dark chocolate. Superb.
Laurier - (underneath) - This was another piece I was all too sure about when I read the description but it actually proved to be really rather good. The inner filling had a strong redcurrant influence which brought a fantastic fruity tartness to the non-bitter cocoa. Bay leaves were stated in the description though they were not all that apparent in the overall taste which may have been just as well. Good. These two were really something to behold and were two of my favourites out of the lot.
Carpe-Diem - (front) - Had head chocolatier been in my presence after I had eaten this chocolate I would have shook his hand there and then. This was one of the best tasting chocolates I have had this year - the outer milk chocolate was of a fantastic quality and produced a fine creamy outer shell to the outstanding filling. The filling was formed of a rich dark chocolate ganache that was expertly flavoured with a strong coffee influence that was almost espresso like in strength. At last a coffee chocolate that was as strongly flavoured as I desired. Superb.
Canelle - (back) - Although this chocolate wasn't quite as tasty as the Carpe-Diem this was still really very good and was constructed using the same outer milk chocolate that covered a darker coloured filling. Like the majority of the centres it had a stronger tasting cocoa led taste though this particular one had a cinnamon kick to it which made for an interesting and unique set of spicy flavours. Very Good.Cralin - This one was so good it deserved it's own photo ;) ... hmm ok I lie didn't know it was this good when I took the photo. This chocolate was formed of an outer layer of dark chocolate that held within a delicious vanilla hinted caramel which sat on top of a crispy biscuit like base. The mixture of the unsweetened dark chocolate and sugary, buttery caramel was near perfect and the crunchy base added interest with a delightful crunch in texture. Superb.
Cassonade - Help I am running out of superlatives here! This was one of the few whites chocolates in my selection and boy was it great. The outer shell was dusted with a thin layer of caramelised hazelnut dust which gave the chocolate a unique crispness when bitten into. The combination of the white chocolate and inner hazelnut praline was quite frankly to die. I have tried many good pralines in my time but this was up there with the best of them. Superb.
Couer - (heart piece) - Like the Cassonade above this was a very fine combination of outer white chocolate and inner hazelnut praline. The small addition to the party with this piece was the implementation of the cocoa nibs which conversely added crispness to the inner filling rather than the outer filling as in the previous. It was just as wonderful in my estimation. Superb.
Couer Caraibe - (left) - This was a solid gianduja piece that melted with the ultimate of ease once placed in the warmth of mouth. Like most giandujas the melt was silky smooth though this chocolate was notable for its fine hazelnut flavours which didn't disappoint in terms of fine woody, nutty influences that complimented the underlying creamy chocolate that provided a soothing chocolate flavour base. Very Good.
Escargot - (seashell) - I am not generally a fan of walnuts though this chocolate Incorporated the nut very well. With the addition of some ground almond pieces the walnut element produced a subtle nutty taste that a very obvious butter flavour influence on the creamy chocolate. Personally I think one of the best ingredients to compliment nuts is caramel and this chocolate inhibited exactly that with some sweet, butterscotch flavour providing yet another fabulous element to the taste. Very Good. Many of the above milk chocolate squares were very similar, though each had slightly different flavoured centres. The cross-sectioned piece in the middle was a milk chocolate version of the Coriander chocolate described above.
Tigres - (left) - The outer milk chocolate here was of a great standard with a fine creamy taste that was built upon nicely by the inner filling. At the centre a softer truffle like filling was nicely flavoured with a vanilla noted hazelnut taste that made for friendly flavoured chocolate and made for a nice change from the intensity of the rest of the selection. Very Good.
Gr Marnier - (bottom) - This was one of only a few fruit flavoured chocolates from the selection though it was executed with real prestige. The outer milk chocolate was wonderfully creamy and led nicely into the zesty orangey centre. I understand this is one of Chocolateque's master pieces and I can understand why. Superb.
Green Tea (right) - Green tea is good for us right? Perhaps not in chocolate form :) This chocolate wasn't my favourite from the selection but it was certainly one of the more diverse with the green tea influence coming through quite subtle in the inner creme. Give the really high standard of the rest I wouldn't choose to have this chocolate again but it was certainly interesting to try. Standard.
Overall I was hugely impressed by the standard of these truffles and have to hand it Thomas and his fellow team at Chocolateque for producing a really high quality selection of chocolate. Some of the chocolate I have described above were some of the best I have had in a long while with the likes of the Carpe-Diem, Cassonade, Cralin and Trianon coming to mind straight away. What really impressed was the consistent quality of their chocolate throughout - all three of their dark, white and milk chocolates were of a high quality and full flavoured. Were these perfect? No of course not - a few build for the Chocolateque team would be to include a menu with their chocolates and perhaps more fruit based chocolates to add a little more diversity to the heavily nut and spiced themed selection. These minor builds aside I really think Chocolateque have the beginnings of something special here. With delicious chocolates and an enthusiastic team I can see little holding them back. If you fancy treating yourself or a loved one to some chocolates that are of great quality but are something a little different from your readily available Hotel Chocolat, Thorntons etc I strongly recommend you try these.
9.0 out of 10
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Hi Everyone lets keep this short and sweet this week.
Over the past few days I have been using the ChocolateMission Twitter feed to contact some more of our favourite celebs. I have had some surprising feedback so far some pretty well known faces so be sure to check that out weekend after next.
One of the biggest talking points you may have missed this week came off the back of this article I posted last week about Hershey's eyeing Cadbury (HERE). This article seemed to catch the attention of a few reader most notably Alan and Cybele (Candyblog) and sparked a debate as to which chocolate was superior ... Cadbury or Hershey? Both sides raised compelling arguments and the argument reached a nice point where both sides had stated equally justifiable cases ....so why don't the rest of us decide ...
'Which do you prefer out of Hershey's Milk Chocolate or Cadbury Dairy Milk?'
... leave your vote by popping a comment below! I look forward to hearing your answers
The ChocolateMission Omnibus:
Thornton's got a fair bit of attention this week and somehow managed to pop up 3 out of the 6 days. First of all on Monday I published my review of their Mini Caramel Shortcakes (See HERE). These were lauded by most as being an utterly fantastic snack with the likes of Susanne, Hiedi, Lottie and George all adding their own praise to my own. The second Thornton's product this week was the Milk Chocolate Venezuela 37% (See HERE) which similarly scored very highly on the rating system. Lastly on Saturday I got around to trying Thornton's Chocolate Cake Bars which were recommended to me by Phil (See HERE). They were among the best Cake Bars I have eaten and Ana and Mark concurred with this entirely.
Cadbury's also had another two outings this week with firstly the Cadbury Peanuts (See HERE) and then the Cadbury Dairy Milk Rocky Road (See HERE) from New Zealand. The less said about the Peanuts is probably for the better, though the Rocky Road seemed to catch the eye of the likes of Maggs. In between those reviews I managed to publish my review of McVitie's Galaxy Cake Bars (See HERE).
News from the Chocolate Market:
* Cadbury released their new Fairtrade TVC and are also bringing out a music single - I think I will pass thanks! See HERE
* Nestle are releasing price marked packs for some of their best known brands. See HERE
* If you like Aero Bubbles you will be pleased to hear that for a limited time Nestle are giving away 33% free with each pack. See HERE
* There is even more evidence that cocoa prices will be going up soon. See HERE
* Yet more speculation on the Kraft takeover of Cadbury. See HERE
Post from other blogs I enjoyed this week:
* Foodstufffinds - I do love Pringles and Cin at FFF has recently been finding all these new great sounding flavours. See HERE.
* GiGi Reviews - Speaking of crisps GiGi got hold of a new flavour of Doritos in the US - Cheesy Enchilada and Sour Cream YUM! See HERE.
* ImpulsiveBuy - I liked the look of these Yoplait Lemon Torte desserts that Marvo reviewed at IB. See HERE.
* CandyBlog - Cybele did a fantastic job documenting how US Cadbury Dairy Milk compares to our UK Dairy Milk. See HERE.
* Chocablog - Dom wrote a funny review about some knock off Jaffa Cakes. Funny stuff!! See HERE
Saturday, 26 September 2009
If you have been reading the site lately you will be aware of my recent forays into the world of cake bars. Indeed I have recently reviewed products such as Mars and Cadbury Mini Rolls as well as Galaxy's original and caramel cake bar offerings. Today I decided to step up my investigation and get involved with these Thorntons Chocolate Cakes (to posh to be called Cake Bars I assume!?) which were on the same offer as the Thorntons Mini Caramel Shortcakes, at £1 a pack. These Thorntons Chocolate Cakes came described as 'chocolate sponge filled with a layer of chocolate buttercream and Belgian chocolate sauce, covered in Thorntons milk chocolate' ... sounds great huh!?
The cake bars (Yes I am going to call them that!!) came in a pack of five that I ate across the course of one working week with my mid-afternoon tea. Presentationwise the product looked all round pretty good and I liked the look of the glossy foil outer wrapper which incorporated a fine selection of tempting pictures and enticing product information. Inside the individual cakes were wrapped in separate wrappers which I liked as they had transparent windows so the inner product could be seen. I always think it is a good thing to be able to see the product in its wrapper as it reassures the consumer that what is inside is what is promised on the packaging - I think there is a lesson to be learnt here for a lot of other manufacturers. As evident in the photo above the cakes themselves also looked pretty stunning, though maybe a little squished thanks to being bundled into my work bag.
When I opened the plastic packets I was immediately met with a nice array of chocolaty scents which gave a nice insight to the taste of the product. What was immediate from the outset was that Thorntons had by no means skimped on the portioning of the outer covering chocolate. You can see from the above evidence it was wonderfully thick and it certainly provided a really solid base set of cream and chocolate flavours with its lovely smooth melt. On its own the inner chocolate cake may have been just a touch bland, though the inner chocolate syrup and chocolate buttercream gave it a lovely touch of moistness as well as an additional sweet chocolaty flavour burst. If I had a minor criticism it would be that the distinction between the chocolate buttercream and the chocolate syrup wasn't all that evident but I guess this may have just been a consequence of the cakes getting a little bit flattened in my bag before I ate them. Personally I thought that one cake was near enough a perfect amount to eat in one sitting. The cakes delivered a wonderfully rich chocolaty taste experience that left me feeling both satisfied and fulfilled which is pretty much all you can ask from such a product.
Overall these have definitely been the best cake bar type product I have reviewed so far and I think that another product is going to have to go some way to top them. From the out set I really liked these and the thickness of the outer chocolate meant that from the get-go these were never going to fail to deliver the all important chocolate hit. Below the outer chocolate the cake, syrup and buttercream elements combined to bring a nice variety of different flavours to the party and did so with a mixture of moist, dense textures that made for an altogether filling and tasty snack offering. As I have previously mentioned this pack of five lasted me a whole working week which I think at £1 is really good value for money given the quality of the product. I will definitely buy these again in thefuture and I recommend you do so yourself if your partial to a cake bar every now and then.
8.5 out of 10
Friday, 25 September 2009
Today I bring you yet another review from my box of goodies from the land Daaaaaan Unda courtesy of my pals over at Shopenzed. Over the last week or so I have been slowly nibbling away on this Cadbury Dairy Milk Rocky Road - a bar like none other we have here in the UK. Reading the description of this bar I got really quite excited at the proposition of this chocolate as it was unlike most things I have ever had before. The description of 'Dairy Milk chocolate with marshmallows, cherry flavoured jellies, peanuts and coconuts' sounded like a really promising concoction of ingredients. The only question that remained was whether these would blend into a fine tasting chocolate? Of course I was to be the judge of that.
The bar came in a 200.0g size that I ate slowly over the course of seven days. As I have already alluded to the packaging really caught my attention and the combination of the on pack description and illustrations really made for an enticing looking product. Just like the Dairy Milk Coconut Rough bar the back of the packaging included a neat looking envelope type mechanism that held the foil covered chocolate below. As you can see from the photo above the chocolate contained several little bits of jelly, nuts and marshmallows that were distributed evenly throughout. When the foil packaging was split a nice mixture of cocoa and mild nut scents were released which further tempted me to dig right in.
It won't surprise you to hear that I very much enjoyed the Dairy Milk chocolate that formed the base part of this product. To repeat myself for probably only the hundredth time the Dairy Milk was sweet but nicely balanced with a thick melting creamy taste that had just the right amount of cocoa to give that all important chocolaty undertone. As you can imagine though the real defining element of this chocolate was the inner ingredients and on the whole I would say that they were implemented well. The marshmallows were firmer in texture that I was expecting, though I think this helped them bring a nice bit of variation to the smoothness of the melt. Whereas the marshmallows brought little in terms of taste the cherry flavoured jelly pieces really brought a fruity influence to the party and their chewy texture certainly brought a pleasant playfulness. In terms of flavour I would have to say that the nut elements were not quite as well delivered as I hoped they would be. The coconut was pretty much all but lost in the busyness of the rest of the bar, but that said the peanuts were a touch better and a roasted nuttiness was at times detectable. In terms of hunger satisfaction this was never a chocolate that I ate in great quantities as I felt that one or two blocks at a time was more than enough - in this light I guess it can be seen as a fulfilling product.
Overall this was always going to be an interesting product and it certainly didn't let itself down in the variety of flavours it brought with every single bite. What I found most exciting about this chocolate was that with every block you didn't know exactly what you were going to get ... well unless you cheated and looked at the underside of the chocolate to see what was crammed into the block. On reflection I guess not all of the ingredients were implemented quite as well as they could have been - the coconut element was pretty lost in the rest of the more prominent bits like the jelly pieces and peanuts which was just a little disappointing considering how well it was done in the Coconut Rough bar. On the whole I did enjoy slowly eating away at this bar and found that it was a nice chocolate to eat in small quantities. If you like your chocolate quite variable and are partial to the Rocky Road ingredients I would recommend you give this bar a try sometime in the future.
8.5 out of 10
Thursday, 24 September 2009
Normally I would have settled for just reviewing both these variants one at a time, but when I saw a special offer on 2 packs for £1.50 in Tesco I simply couldn't resist and bought them both. Each pack consisted of five individually wrapped Cake Bars with the packaging of each variant varying just ever so slightly. As you will see below both the standard flavoured and Caramel flavoured took upon the look of their respective normal chocolate bars and just as with them I thought the designs looked impressive. What I also liked was that the illustrations of the Cake Bars on the front of the packet gave a good indication of what the inner product looked like. That said I would have preferred that the inner wrappers were made of a foil material and not the film type material that the bars came in as I think this may have kept them even fresher.
Below are my thoughts on each variant:
McVitie's Galaxy Cake Bar:
Kcal 154 Fat 8.8g Fat(sats) 4.4g Carbs 17.2g (per bar)
One of the first things I noticed about these when I looked at the packaging was that this original variant contained another 2.7g of fat and 1.4g of saturated fat despite being the same size! Hmmm! Boring stuff out the way this bar was described as a 'cake bar with a smooth chocolate cram centre, covered in Galaxy milk chocolate'.
I hope from the picture above you can see that the outer chocolate was actually surprisingly thick. It certainly managed to substantiate a wonderful full on effect Galaxy milk chocolate taste which I have described many times before. It was thick, yet wonderfully smooth in its melt and generated a simply divine cream based chocolaty taste as soon as it hit my tongue. In comparison to the fantastic outer chocolate I guess it has to be said that that inner cake was a little on the bland side, though I still like the wheaty, sweet eggy flavours it brought to the party. With the proportion of cake vastly outweighing the chocolate I was a little worried that the texture might get a little dry, though my fears were all but laid to rest when the chocolate cream came through in the taste. Tastewise it didn't add much terms of flavours as it was so similar to the chocolate. What it did deliver though was a nice cool, moistness which certainly added nicely to the cake element.
Overall these were a nice set of Cake Bars though I think this was largelly down to the divine Galaxy milk chocolate that coated them. I think if the chocolate was taken away then the inner cake and chocolate cream element might have just seemed a little average and perhaps a little boring. I always like to rate things on whether I would have them again!? The answer to this would be a straight up YES. Maybe these weren't the most exciting product in the world, but they were tasty nonetheless.
7.9 out of 10
McVitie's Galaxy Caramel Cake Bars:
Right, if there is one thing better than standard Galaxy milk chocolate it has to be Galaxy Caramel milk chocolate and I was really looking forward to trying these. Described as 'sponge cake bars with a caramel centre, covered in Galaxy milk chocolate' these really took my fancy and I couldn't waite to see if they could trump the original flavoured ones.
My description of these will be a little shorter to the ones above as I will spare you details in regards to how brilliant the outer Galaxy milk chocolate was (see above!!). Again I thought the inner cake was a little bland in taste as it also was no different to the what I experiences with the originals above. Where these really did excel and made them stand apart from the originals though was of course in the simply divine caramel layer. Just as with the original Galaxy Caramel chocolate bar the caramel perfectly complimented the chocolate and showed all the dexterity in its flavours than the original bar. The caramel was sweet, slightly salty and terrifically buttery in terms of taste and just like its chocolate cream counterpart the moistness it provided really reinvigorated the cake element just as it was becoming too dry in the mouth.
Overall you will be able to tell from the wonderful scoring charts that these were my preferred variant out the two and given the chance they would be the one I would choose to buy again if given the option. For me the caramel element was just a little more exciting than the chocolate cream filling and it provided just a little variation in the taste. Would I have this one again? Oh hell yes. A really fine tasting Cake Bar and it would be the one I recommend slightly more out of the two on show today.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
Following on from my review of the exquisite Thorntons Milk Chocolate with Tonka Bean bar a few weeks ago, Kate from Thorntons kindly sent me some more of their winning bars from the 2009 Academy of Chocolate Awards. Today I got to try the Thorntons Milk Chocolate Venezuela 38% which according to the on pack blurb is 'made from the finest Criollo cocoa beans' ooooh how terribly fancy eh!? Gently mock I will but in actual fact 'less than 5% of the world's chocolate is made from these prestigious beans'. I think I will be judge as to whether they are 'prestigious' Mr Thorntons :D
One thing that hasn't gone unnoticed by myself across Thorntons' award winning range is that they have been rather cheeky and only given us 70.0g of chocolate compared to the usual 90.0g as with the rest of the square bars range. This annoyance aside I was again like the presentation and thought the cool blue suited the milk chocolate flavour well. The foil packet inside was aligned with the colour of the award won at the AoCA and was a brightly coloured bronze. The chocolate held inside was decorated with the standard patterned look and was nicely split into well sized chunks. Whilst looking impressive the chocolate radiated a particularly pleasant and fresh smelling dairy cocoa smell that unsurprisingly was highly reminiscent of the Tonka Bean bar.
I ate the 70.0g over the course of two sittings, though I think I could of easily have noshed the whole lot in one. Placing the first piece in my mouth I was instantly happy at the cool, icy milk based flavours that immediately became detectable. The taste was resoundingly smooth with a lovely flowing milky taste that also had a nice intensity of cocoa present throughout. Its only natural that I compare this bar to the Tonka Bean bar which I must say was just ever so slightly superior. The Tonka Bean bar had cinnamon notes and hints of caramel and honey which just altogether made it the minimally more interesting out of the two. This Venezuelan still had the buttery, vanilla aftertaste but didn't quite stretch the taste in as many directions as the Tonka. I hope this doesn't sound like a huge criticism because what this bar did - it did extremely well and left with the impression that this was an extremely nice tasting milk chocolate offering.
Overall I wish milk chocolate was always as good as the last two Thorntons bars I have reviewed - the Tonka Bean was slightly superior but this one was almost just as good and well received. This milk chocolate was smooth in both taste and texture and left a sweet chocolaty taste in my mouth that I simply couldn't get enough of. As I said if I hadn't specifically wanted to eat this bar in two sittings I would have happily of just had the whole lot in one ... it is not often I say that now! Once again Thorntons hit another peak in their rather turbulent time on ChocolateMission. If you seriously like your milk chocolate I would really suggest you try one of Thorntons' offerings that I have outlined in this review.
8.7 out of 10
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
It has taken me awhile to get around to reviewing these but my reluctance to doing so has been mainly rooted in the limited pack sizes these Cadbury Peanuts come in. A couple of months ago when the new Cadbury Clusters, Raisins and Peanuts products were released I straight away went about reviewing the Clusters as they were immediately available to try in a sensible sized one serving packet. I have for the last couple of months been waiting for the same size packs to surface for both the Peanuts and the Raisins but as of writing this is still yet to happen. With me reviewing the comparable Mars Treets just last month I felt like I couldn't hold out reviewing these any longer and reluctantly bought these in my local Tesco.
Armed with a 200.0g pack of chocolate coated peanuts I brought these into my work office and shared them with my work colleagues. Presentationwise I thought the product was a bit of a mixed bag. In regards to the outer packaging I have to give a big thumbs up - the gold foil matted outer wrapper looked pleasing on the eye and I liked the playful, fun fonts that branded the pack. On completely the other end of the spectrum though I have to say how bad the actual peanut pieces looked. They looked tiny in size and just looked completely underwhelming in the hand ... frankly they just looked boring. When I opened the foil bag I was met with a pleasant waft of nutty scents, though I guess when put in the context of other peanut products like the Snickers and Mars Treets even this was a let down.
I bet you can guess already from my opening two paragraph this wasn't going to be a positive review so I will take these straight to task and let you know where I felt they went wrong. I have already commented on the pathetic aesthetic size of the peanuts but when it came to tasting them the size factor really became even more disappointing. The smallness of the nut pieces meant that each individual peanut was only coated with most minimal amount of chocolate which resulted in the chocolate never coming across as strong as I would have liked. Of course I thought this was a real shame as it was not the chocolate itself that was a poor quality - it was just the proportion of nut to chocolate that was the letdown. As underwhelmed as I was by the size of the peanuts, the real disappointment with them came in the taste - in a word they were simply 'bland'. The peanuts lacked any sort of flavour and only managed to establish the most meagre nut flavours in the mouth. They weren't buttery, salty, roasted or anything ... just simply lacking in a telling, meaningful flavour influence. For me a handful of these delivered absolutely nothing in terms of hungers fulfilment though I guess this was never going to be the case due to the complete lacking of flavour.
Overall these were a hugely disappointing product for me and I really think they paled in comparison to the Mars Treets that I reviewed previously. I really didn't get off on the right foot with these with being forced in to buying a ridiculous pack size that no man (or woman!) would ever want to eat or be able to carry round with relative ease. Where the pack size was annoying the taste was just as disappointing. The chocolate was of a good standard like most Cadbury products but it simply just didn't have much of a say in the taste due to the small sized peanuts. The peanuts themselves were not only lacking in size but unfortunately also flavour. As aforementioned when compared to Mars Treets the penauts used by Cadbury here ... were ...well ... pathetic! I honestly wouldn't recommend these to you, but if your a Cadbury fan and like coated peanuts you might want to check them out for yourself.
5.0 out of 10
Monday, 21 September 2009
When the request came in from one of my most loyal readers Susanne to review these Throntons Mini Caramel Shortcakes I was really very pleased. Millionaire Shortcake is one of my favourite bakery items and it is often my choice of treat when I find myself in M&S on a Saturday morning. As Susanne had obviously noticed I hadn't yet got around to reviewing Thorntons' widely available version of this delightful treat, so when I saw them on special offer at £1 a pack in Tesco I could no longer resist. On pack they were described as 'crunchy biscuit bases with a thick layer of caramel and Thorntons milk chocolate' which sounded delicious to me - suffice to say I was really looking forward to trying them.
As the photo above shows you these came in a pack 12 mini pieces which at first I thought was a little annoying as they were so small. That aside the presentation was really rather good and I liked the way that the it Incorporated the usual Thorntons designs despite the mass produced nature of the product. The on pack photos of the shortcake pieces gave an accurate and enticing insight to what lay inside, though my anticipation was at its highest when the first chocolate biscuit scents aroused my senses when I opened the packet.
As I have said above at first I was disappointed by the mini size of the shortcake pieces but after tasting my first one my view changed dramatically. The taste was insanely rich but thankfully utterly delicious at the same time. My preferred method of eating these was to eat the caramel and chocolate layer first and then finish off the biscuit base. The combination of the milk chocolate and caramel was in every sense utterly wonderful. The chocolate substantiated a fine cocoa base tone which led nicely into the sweet, butter like flavours of the caramel. The sweetness of the caramel was certainly sharp tasting, though the small serving sizes meant they never verged on what I would say was sickly. The biscuit base was incredibly crumbly in texture which was a mild annoyance, though I couldn't fault it for its divine malty, brown sugar taste that had a glorious lick of salt making it so incredibly moreish. My initial disappointment at the size was quickly allayed when I realised that two pieces at a time were more than enough for a decent snack.
Overall I was glad when this product was requested for a review and having fulfilled that request I am now even more happy. These were utterly fantastic in almost every sense and I savoured each and every one of these across the week that I ate them. The concept of caramel shortcake might not be the most innovative but these were executed almost flawlessly - my only recommendation I would make to the recipe would that I would make the biscuit bases a little firmer to make eating them just a little less crumbly. This Throntons offering offered a great tasting milk chocolate, a wonderful caramel and a fantastic biscuit base ... what more can you ask for!? I think these are a great product to buy and share with the family, at £1 a pack you simply can't complain and these are well worthy of a coveted 9.0 rating.
9.0 out of 10
Sunday, 20 September 2009
I think I say this most Sundays but a record number of visitors visited the site this week thanks mainly to some handy 'Re-Tweets' on Twitter courtesy of Stephen Fry and Lilly Allen. More on that will follow with 'Star & Their Bars - Part 2' which will be up within the coming weeks.
Believe it or not we are drawing close to the end of the year, which brings me on to 'Question of the Week' which makes a triumphant return after a two week absence. The question I want to pose to you is ....
'Do you want a ChocolateMission awards ceremony? i.e. Best Milk Chocolate bar of 2009 etc'
If the demand is there then I will most certainly put one together.
That is all from me this week - keep the feedback coming in it is always great to hear from you all.
The ChocolateMission Omnibus:
This week I took a look at some products that were out of my usual remit firstly looking at the chocolate Mini Rolls market both reviewing the McVitie's Mars and Cadbury offerings (HERE).
In between those reviews I also took time to dish out a score for Cadbury Fingers (HERE) which failed to impress the likes of Jack now that they aren't made with Dairy Milk. Poor planning on my part meant that I managed to publish three Cadbury reviews in a row (DOH!) with the third being the Cadbury Dairy Milk Coconut Rough (HERE). This reviewed sparked questions from Gemma and Maggs as to why we don't have more coconut products here in the UK!? Conclusions were that it was mostly down to the Bounty Monopoly!
The scores for the week then took a turn for the worse with my review of the Feodora Gourmet Chocolade Granatapfel (HERE), though the week ended well with Whittaker's Original Peanut Block (HERE) obtaining a massive 9.2 score.
News from the Chocolate Market:
* Cadbury have added a dash of caramel to their Buttons range. See HERE
* Cadbury are also bringing out some Halloween goodies - 'Trick or Treat Mini Rolls'. See HERE
* Mars Dark is being reintroduced for a limited time. Thanks to several readers for sending this story to me. See HERE
* Nutella is about to celebrate it's 45th birthday. Old huh!? See HERE
* Surely Hershey's arent going to takeover Cadbury? See HERE
Post from other Blogs I enjoyed this week:
* ZOMG Candy - Has been taking a look at various Ritter Sport bars in the last week. Well worth a look at. See HERE
* GiGi Reviews - Has been lucky enough to be getting stuck into some Iced Coffee drinks this week. We have a shocking lack of these in the UK. See HERE
* The Impulsive Buy - Marvo looks as if he has been importing energy drinks from the Netherlands. Sounds expensive business to me! See HERE
* ChocaBlog - This actually got posted last week but I forgot to mention it ... Fancy writing chocolate reviews yourself? These guys here need a new writer!! See HERE
* Candy Blog - Cybele has been reviewing some more Trader Joe's products! I am not jealous ... honest ;) This PB&J bar looks delicious. See HERE
Saturday, 19 September 2009
I once again today dipped into my latest sampling package from Shopenzed and had a try of another of Whittaker's famous bars. This time around I tried Whittaker's Original Peanut Block which was formed of the simple combination of milk chocolate with roasted peanuts. Having already tried some of Whittaker's fabulous range I was really excited at the prospect of trying this bar. If it was anywhere near the standards of their Ghanaian Dark Chocolate or indeed their White Chocolate bar I knew I was going to be in for a treat. It was also immediately apparent that this bar was going to be packed to the brim full of nuts, as according to the ingredients they made up a whole 25% of the total bar.
Quelle Surprise this bar came in a 250.0g size that was split into several small bite size blocks pieces. Due to the huge size I shared this once again amongst my fellow office workers, who I guess must start to be getting a little confused due to variety of exotic chocolates I keep bringing in for them to chow down. It probably won't surprise you to hear that I was once again well and truly taken in by the presentation of this Whittaker's product. I think the golden colours and stylish black fonts are so wonderfully apt for the great standard chocolate that normally lies below and I especially liked the communication of the peanut content with some subtle yet still quite effective on pack pictures. Upon opening the golden foil wrapper my senses were quickly introduced to a simply divine peanut smell that quickly set my expectations for this product high - it smelt highly reminiscent of one of my all time favourites the Snickers bar.
As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, due to its large size I brought this bar into the office to share with some colleagues. Now, I do work in a relatively large team but even I was still a little surprised to see the whole 250.0g eaten in less than an hour. I guess what we can read in to this is that the chocolate was enjoyed by one and all and I would have to include myself in that camp as well - it was simply delicious. With the bar being formed of 25% peanuts it wasn't as if the taste was ever likely going to lack in its nut flavours and I can confirm the nuts were utterly divine. The milk chocolate was fair in flavour and melted smoothly into a nice set of flavours that had nice whole milk and mild cocoa influences. The base chocolate though really played second fiddle to the peanuts as these guys were really the star of the show. The nuts tasted so utterly wonderful and had fresh crunchy textures that literally exploded with roasted, buttery, salt flavour elements with every single block. Every mouthful delivered a wonderful amount of flavour which meant that just a few blocks felt like a rich and fulfilling amount to eat in one sitting.
Overall I think I have said this a few times over the last few months but this bar has to be up there was one of my favourites for the year. To be honest I feel a little disappointed that I shared this with some other people as it really was a chocolate that I would have savoured had I known how utterly delicious it was. This was an offering that not only delivered in terms of cocoa flavours, but also with the prestige of its nuts. Given that the peanuts made up such a large proportion of the bar it was always going to be important that they were both full of flavour and crunchy in texture - from me they get a huge tick in both boxes here. What with Cadbury fannying around with covering individual peanuts it is not as if we get an actual bar like this in the UK and I am struggling to think of another like it apart from the poor Ritter Sport Voll Erdnuss. For that reason I would seriously recommend this to any of my readers that like fine peanuts - this is a wonderful chocolate.
9.2 out of 10
Friday, 18 September 2009
Ever heard of the brand Feodora? Nope me neither! It is a pretty safe assumption to make that when a product comes from Dean-German-Grocery it is likely that the product itself hails from Germany and this Feodora Gourmet Chocolade Granatapfel certainly did. Produced in Bremen this bar came with the unique proposition of 'dark chocolate filled with pomegranate and dark mousse'. Last I heard pomegranate had been labelled as one of those so called 'Superfoods', which is normally evident through the high price tags here in the UK. Regardless the only real question that mattered to me was whether a 'Superfood' could make a 'Super Chocolate'.
The bar came in a 125.0g size that was split into about 15 fair sized chunks. I had never come across a Feodora product before and I have to admit the packaging didn't resonate with me. By the looks of it the brand is supposed to be positioned as a premium 'Gourmet' chocolate but I thought the bright yellow colour did little to help plead its case. I thought the yellow was a little to garish and cheap looking and I think it would have been better off being a little more subtle. When I opened the silver foil I was disappointed to see that the chocolate that lay below had bloomed in places despite the careful attention I had given storing it. I not only thought the white specks were a little disappointing but also the lack of aroma that failed to register as anything more than just a mild cocoa influence on the senses.
Whenever I eat a disappointing chocolate I hate to labour the point so I will just get on to where I thought this bar fell down. For a 75% cocoa recipe it has to be said that the outer dark chocolate was extremely disappointing in its volume of flavours as just as the smell suggested it lacked the impetuous in terms of its cocoa flavours. It lacked any sort of creamy undertone and was wafer thin in its melt ... on the whole I guess I would just describe it as unexciting. Sat inside the dark chocolate was a dual filling of a mousse like substance and a pomegranate flavoured jelly. Admittedly the jelly like substance did taste a little like pomegranate with some juicy, fruity bursts of flavours though when the flavours convened with the mousse the two just didn't mix and the resulting taste was a rather odd acidic one. Where the taste was poor the only thing worse was the texture of the jelly. Just like the pomegranate fruit itself the jelly was lined with little inner seeds which roughened up the texture and left odd bits and pieces in the mouth. I hate to admit but the majority of this bar ended up in the bin ... not even the rest of my family wanted to mop up the rest.
Overall I guess this was just an all round disappointing show from a bar that I thought had real potential. I have never come across a bar before that included pomegranate, though I guess on reflection this chocolate proved why. Just as I guess you would come to expect the texture was on the rough side and couldn't escape the usual bittiness that you get with the pomegranate fruit itself. The rough texture could have potentially been forgiven if the taste itself was sparkling though unfortunately the fruit element was overly acidic and the dark chocolate was mild and meagre in taste. Although I would never try this bar again I would like to see if this was just a one off lacklustre product from Feodora and would probably try another offering from their range. By my reckoning this is one I would stay clear of.
4.7 out of 10
Thursday, 17 September 2009
Kcal 492 Fat 29.2g Fat(sats) 16.0g Carbs 49.6g (per 100.0g)
Todays review again comes courtesy of my friends over at Shopenzed who included this Cadbury Coconut Rough bar in the latest package they sent me a few weeks ago. I happen to think that coconut is one of those ingredients that is criminally under utilised and as far as I am aware this is not a bar that has ever been in distribution here in the UK. Having done a little research I believe this bar might actually be available in Ireland, though the one I reviewed today was actually produced in Australia and constituted of 'milk chocolate with toasted coconut'.
I am sure they do smaller sized bars in Australia but generally all the ones I get sent from Shopenzed are large, which is great as it means I get to share it with some willing taste testers. This Coconut Rough bar came in a 200.0g size and was split into about 60 really quite small blocks. I thought the outer cardboard packaging was smart with its appetising coconut and chocolate images, whilst I also particularly liked the envelope type mechanism at the back of the box ... I don't particularly know why, I just thought it looked pretty swish. The chocolate was contained within a bright, Cadbury branded foil layer which released a simply stunning coconut biscuit like smell when unwrapped.
At this point I had seriously high hopes for this product but this was before I had actually physically laid hands on it. Breaking my first piece of the first thing I noticed was how oily and soft the chocolate was. Despite having a long bout in the fridge the chocolate yielded easily in my hands and left a slightly greasy feel on my fingers. Obviously I didn't find this all that pleasant, though I must admit as soon as the chocolate entered my mouth some of this had been long forgiven. Tastewise this chocolate reminded me of one of my other favourite bars the Romy Classic (from Germany See HERE!) and blended a terrific amount of different flavours influences into each and every small block. Of course the taste at all times was underpinned by the wonderfully, creamy sweet Dairy Milk which of course didn't fail in bringing a nice touch of cocoa to the party. Forming 15% of the total bar though the toasted coconut really brought this bar to life, adding a plethora of nutty, milky, salty elements to taste with its crunchy diverse texture. The back of the packaging stated that a serving of this bar should constitute of 5 blocks. This wasn't enough to satisfy my hunger entirely but the amount of flavour generated by each of the small blocks made it a fair proposition nonetheless.
Overall I have a few mixed feelings about this bar. On one hand it tasted great, but on the other it had a pretty horrible element to its texture. Personally the slight greasiness of each block wasn't all too my liking and it must be said that the similarly tasting Romy bar avoided having this problem to the degree that this bar suffered. Although I wasn't impressed with this element of the bar, I was more happy with the taste as it brought a simply delicious coconut based taste and delivered it with a wonderful Cadbury Dairy Milk base chocolate. I guess your enjoyment of this bar will simply be down to whether you can get over the slightly odd elements that are brought to the texture. I think I probably would have this bar again, though I am not sure I would pick it over the Romy bar.
7.9 out of 10