October 31st: Cadbury Cinder Toffee Cake Bars

Kcal 150 Fat 8.2g Fat(sats) 4.5g Carbs 16.8g

I know said I wasn't going to do anymore Halloween themed reviews this year but I couldn't resist adding to my exploration of the cake bar market. Nestled in between all the usual Halloween junk you get in the supermarkets this time of year I managed to stumble across these Cadbury Cinder Toffee flavoured cake bars at the knock down price of £1 a pack. As much as I loathe Halloween I just couldn't resist the sound of 'golden sponge with cinder toffee flavour topping with milk chocolate' - those of you who aren't aware the difference between normal toffee and cinder toffee take a look HERE at our trusted friend Wiki.

At 20p a cake bar I thought the price was very good and happily parted with my hard earned £1 for a multi pack of 5. Looking at the packaging I have to say it was fair enough standard and I liked the fact that Cadbury at least when to some effort to incorporate a Halloween theme despite it looking a little on the messy side. More positively the cake bars themselves looked pretty good when cross-sectioned and I liked the fact the cinder toffee filling stood out nicely wedged between the chocolate and cake elements. Straight out the wrapper these cake bars didn't smell all that strong, however when I bit into one I immediately detected a strong brown sugar type aroma.

From my very bite I had an overwhelming wave of nostalgia come over me, but annoyingly I still can't quite pinpoint the taste down to a specific product. The taste was exactly like a cake bar product that I had as a kid but frustratingly I just can't remember what it was? Part of me thinks it may have been a 'Crunchie' version of Cadbury cake bars but to be honest that is a real stab in the dark! Anyway ... back to matters at hand I had mixed feelings about these Cinder Toffee cakes. On the plus side the outer milk chocolate was as enjoyable as always and the sweet, milky taste nicely set up the vanilla noted golden sponge that lay below. With the cake layer providing a bit of substance to the bite the cinder toffee layer was surprisingly light and whipped in texture and melted almost instantly in the mouth. The toffee flavours were pleasant with sharp, sweet, burnt sugar led flavours that unfortunately just didn't last for the desired duration in the mouth. With the flavours lacking longevity I have to say these weren't the most well rounded cake bars I have ever had but they did the job for a mid-afternoon snack.

Overall having now tried my fair share of cake bar products I can conclude that these are no better or worse than your average offering from this part of the market. The cinder toffee flavour was a good idea however it just wasn't executed as well as it might have been given its limitations due to the ease at which it melted and disappeared in the mouth. Aside from the chocolate not being Dairy Milk I had no gripes with the milk chocolate or sponge element to this bar and actually thought that the golden sponge was just a bit more flavoursome than the usual chocolate sponge used in the rest of the Cadbury Cake Bars range. By now you will know I am no fan of Halloween but would it not have been awesome to see Cadbury go for a toffee apple flavoured cake bar!? That to me sounds like a winner and I think these would have benefitted from a different type of flavour influence as they were just a little one dimensional. These are worth a try for just £1 a punt ... if only to tell me what old product these taste exactly like.

7.3 out of 10

October 30th: Nestle Munchies Mini Bites

Kcal 78 Fat 3.3g Fat(sats) 2.1g Carbs 11.2g (per bite)

I have to hold my hands up from the start here and admit that I was pretty reticent about reviewing these as Nestle's Munchies brand has previously come in for a fair bit of flack from me on this website. Way back in July 2008 I reviewed the original Nestle Munchies and concluded that they were 'an unspectacular offering'. My view of the Munchies Munchies which I reviewed in January 2009 was little different and I rated them a poor 6.1 out of 10 so suffice to say all the indicators were that I was hardly going to get on to well with these Nestle Munchies Mini Bites. Described as 'chocolate and biscuit bases with a layer of caramel, covered in milk chocolate' it sounded a very familiar proposition so I was expecting much the same experience as per my last two reviews from this brand.

Like the Nestle Toffee Crisp Mini Bites these Munchie Mini Bites did not have a catch weight on box, however it did tell me that 15 Mini Bite pieces were contained within. Apologies if it sounds like I am repeating myself from the Toffee Crisp review but my thoughts regarding the packaging and presentation were very similar - aesthetically all was well but the product let itself down with its lack of inner wrapper. The Munchie branding gave the box and fun and inviting look, though the problem of the inner pieces having dusty, scuffed surfaces reared its ugly head again and the Mini Bites just didn't look fresh. Aroma wise the Mini Bites failed to register anything more than a slightly chocolaty smell when I opened the box which neither managed to excite me or put me off.

I was frankly expecting to launch into a full on rant about how poor these tasted but I was relatively surprised (and pleased) with what I came across. I needn't bother going into detail about the quality of the chocolate as I am sure you are all already well aware of the sweet, milk based taste of Nestle milk chocolate. The surprise factor of these Munchies Mini Bites came in the proportion of caramel to biscuit and thankfully unlike the packaging indicated the proportion of biscuit to caramel was far greater than I thought it was going to be. Unlike in the original Munchies where the biscuit elements plays a minor role in these Mini Bites the biscuit base had a real say in the majority of the taste and the brown sugar noted, malt flavours were exceedingly welcome given the average standard chocolate and relatively poor caramel. The biscuit base not only provided a well needed burst of flavour to the bland caramel but it also provided a nice crunchy variation to the texture as well as making each bite feel quite substantial. A few of these Munchie Mini Bites complimented an afternoon coffee relatively nicely and subsequently did tie over my hunger until the evening.

Overall these are probably the best of the Munchies products I have ever reviewed but if you look at the score you will be able to see that this wasn't exactly a hard feat. Having tried both the new Mini Bites products I am still wondering why Nestle felt the need to leave out a layer of inner wrapping. Given that the box itself isn't air tight it makes very little sense to me and it subsequently affected not only the look of products but most likely probably the taste as well. One thing that I did like about these Munchie Mini Bites was the biscuit base which I felt made up somewhat for the poor standard caramel (less said about that cheap tasting stuff the better) and the bog standard Nestle milk chocolate. So down to the all important question .... would I have these again? Most likely not given the price point would be my answer. If your a Munchies fan I would give these a try but if your unfussed by the brand already there is no real reason for you to venture into these parts.

6.9 out of 10

October 29th: Moser Roth Milk Chocolate Caramel

Kcal 546 Fat 33.1g Fat(sats) 19.8g Carbs 56.0g (per 100.0g)

Before I launch right into the review today I must once again thank Susanne for so kindly sending me the Moser Roth chocolates you have been seeing reviewed on this site in the last couple of weeks. If you don't remember from my last review Moser Roth is a German produced chocolate that is distributed in Aldi stores. The Dark Chocolate and Orange variant I tried previously was very good but this milk chocolate and caramel proposition offered up something completely different and came described as a combination of 'milk chocolate and crunchy caramel pieces' - it certainly sounded like something I would like!

Just as the Dark Chocolate and Orange this came equally as well presented in a 125.0g package that contained five separate 25.0g bars. Aesthetically I thought all was rather good and liked the way the two gold and orange colours combined to give the packaging really good stand out without making it look overly busy. I have to say I am a real fan of the five separate servings and think it is a idea that some more well known manufactures should take note of. The separate foil wrappers just made the chocolate seem fresher and each bar was decorated nicely with the Moser Roth branding. The smell of the chocolate didn't quite impress me as much as its looked but it smelt nice nonetheless with a notable toffee hint amongst some sweet smelling cocoa scents.

I knew this bar reminded me of something when I read the description and it wasn't long before I clocked that it was the Lindt Excellence Crunchy Caramel that I reviewed back in February. In a comparison of milk chocolate the Lindt bar was an obvious winner but that is not to say the milk chocolate on offer here was bad in any manner. The chocolate was formed of 36% cocoa solids which came through nicely in the taste as soon as the melt started. The predominant flavour influences throughout were milk based though things took a turn when the caramel pieces were encountered once the chocolate had smoothly melted away. Just as described the caramel pieces were crunchy and crystallised in texture and once bitten into released a fine set of sweet butterscotch and golden syrup flavours. With the volume of flavours being so high just one bar made for satisfying and fulfilling serving - it is not often you can say that about a 25.0g bar.

Overall the quality of both the chocolate and caramel pieces were ever so slightly lower than the Lindt equivalent both this was still a very enjoyable chocolate. Despite the milk chocolate not having quite the creaminess of the Lindt milk chocolate both the flow of flavours and texture were wonderfully and made for what I would describe as a good quality chocolate. Similarly the caramel pieces were not quite as good as in the Excellence Crunchy Caramel but they still delivered on what they promised and brought a nice caramel element to the taste. I wouldn't say this was a bar of the highest quality but it was a very good one that was presented well and tasted just as pleasant. I am not quite sure of the price point of this chocolate but one would suspect it is going to be lower than Lindt. If this is the case I would certainly give this bar a try as it certainly gives it a run for its money.

8.3 out of 10

October 28th: Lindt Wafer

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

Last week I brought you all my review of the Lindt Nocciolatte which was the first sort of 'on the go' chocolate bar I had seen from Lindt. On that very same trip to WH Smith I also came across another similar product in the form of this Lindt Wafer bar. Whereas the Nocciolatte was produced in Italy this bar originated from Austria and came billed as 'milk chocolate with wafer and hazelnut creme filling'. If you read my Nocciolatte review you will be aware that it didn't quite reach the high exceptionally high standards set by the rest of the Lindt range. Despite this my expectations were pretty high and I was hoping that this bar could better represent the brand.

This bar came in a 35.0g size that I ate in one single sitting. The product looked very similar to the Nocciolatte incorporating the same royal blue colour scheme though this particular variant had a larger proportion of the wrapper covered with gold foil. The chocolate itself looked as superb as the outer packaging and was split into nicely sized chunks with each sporting a Lindt logo. When cut into I was surprised to see that the centre was a little randomly put together with no distinct layering between the wafer and hazelnut paste. Despite appearing a little jumbled a fine array of nutty, biscuity smells emanated from the chocolate which certainly set up a nice enticing prospect.

I wont take long describing the outer milk chocolate that coated this bar as I guess you can probably tell that it was utterly superb. Lindt have a cracking milk chocolate recipe and it is nice to see that they haven't used a cheaper alternative across either this Wafer or Nocciolatte bar. The chocolate was delightfully smooth and thick in melt and delivered a consistent double cream like taste that had just the right volume of cocoa to deliver a friendly chocolaty taste. Inside the filling tasted just as it appeared with the wafer and hazelnut creme filling a little all over place. Tastewise I had no problem with either and enjoyed their presence but personally I would have preferred a better distinction between the two with some sort of layering. In relation to other wafer products the one on offer here was well recieved as it delivered a fine set of flavours with some pleasant wheat and malt influences brought to the party. The hazelnut creme was pleasant though could have certainly have been stronger and failed to really make the desired impact I was hoping it would do. The real issue with the mixed up nature of the wafer and hazelnut creme was that neither really came through that strongle in the taste and the wafer didn't have the same crispness as it would would have done if it had just been one defined layer. On the plus side with the chocolate being so strongly flavoured this relatively small 35.0g bar actually made for a pretty fulfilling chocolate and complimented an afternoon coffee quite nicely.

Overall this may sound absurd but I think Lindt could learn something from the Nestle Kit Kat bar when it comes to the actual construction of this bar. The Kit Kat is a really well put together product with clear layering of outer chocolate, inner creme and crisp wafer. As I have alluded to many times above the wafer and inner creme were mixed together which I think failed to bring out the best of either. The wafer seemed to absorb the creme which left it with less of a crispness and meant that both had less of a distinguishable impact on the taste. Where the centre components were ever so slightly disappointing what could not be faulted was the outer milk chocolate and it delivered the high quality Lindt experience that I had come to expect. At the end of the day this wasn't the best Lindt offering I have ever had but it was a pretty tasty one nonetheless. I am a little unsure as to whether I will pick another up again anytime soon, however I think if you like your Lindt milk chocolate this could certainly be a product that you might want to try at some point.

8.1 out of 10

October 27th: Snickers Fudge

Kcal 250 Fat 13.0g Fat(sats) 6.0g Carbs 31.0g

One thing you can seemingly bank on is that every six months or so Mars US will come up with another limited edition Snickers
bar. Although Mars UK feel comfortable just making our own standard Snickers UK bar smaller every now and then, Mars US actually seem to want to inject a little bit of excitement in to one of the world best known chocolate candy bars and have brought out another variation of the normal Snickers. Despite living here in the UK, thanks to CandyPirate I got a chance to try the latest addition to the range the Snickers Fudge which came billed as 'Fudge with peanut butter nougat and peanuts, covered in milk chocolate'. If you look to the left you will see that the original Snickers still holds pride of place in second position on the ChocolateMission leaderboard - I think it goes without saying that I love trying the new Snickers variants when they come out.

Like all Snickers limited editions this bar came in
a single 50.5g serving (smaller bars are available check out GiGi's Review HERE!). The outer packaging looked relatively cool and differentiated itself nicely from the standard Snickers variant with a paler shade of brown communicating the fudge theme. Opening up the wrapper I was met by some familiar peanut led scents though I must say they were a little more subtle than other Snickers bars I have had in the past. Cutting in to the bar it was nice to see that the layers of nougat, fudge and peanuts were well defined, however I must note there were some sizable pockets of air visible throughout the fudge.

I wont spend to long
describing the taste of the milk chocolate as it delivered in line with expectations tasting no different to any other milk chocolate Snickers I have had previously. The coating provided the desired chocolate flavour hit with it's sweet milk led taste. Just as with most Snickers bars the outer chocolate had just a hint of peanut which was probably thanks to the oil seeping out from the inner constituents. The inner peanut butter nougat was utterly delicious and I really enjoyed the taste swinging from sweet to salty as it warmed in the mouth. The real success of this bar was of course always going to hinge on the quality of the inner fudge and I am glad to say it was of a reasonably good standard. Fudge in the US is not like the fudge we get here in the UK and the filling here was far moister than the crumbly, dry, pure sugar stuff that I am used to. The fudge on offer in this bar was still sweet but had a hint of maple and reaffirmed the chocolaty flavours of the outer coating. With the fudge layer taking up more space than the normal caramel layer there was less room for the peanuts and just as I had observed in my observations above there were less peanuts in this bar than a traditional Snickers. The tagline for Snickers in the US is that 'Snickers Satisfies' and I for one won't be arguing with that statement too much as I felt that this was a fulfilling snack.

Overall before I ate this bar I doubted very much that it would overtake the
original Snickers in my order of preference but at the same time I really enjoyed it for what it was
. Personally I think that the caramel layer is one of the key constituents of the Snickers bar so it will hardly come as a surprise when I say I was disappointed that this was missing from the product. If I had it my way I would have halved the amount of nougat and would have stuck in a thin layer of fudge between the nougat, peanuts and caramel. Despite my minor criticisms this was a bar that I really enjoyed trying and would happily eat again if given the chance. What bemuses me so much about this all is that Mars UK are so defiant in not releasing any new innovation on the Snickers brand here. Surely if they keep doing it in the US there has to be some success behind doing so!? Oh well for the moment I suggest if your a Snickers nut you head to CandyPirate while they still have some stock. Certainly not the best Snickers ever but worth a try if it sounds like your sort of thing.

8.3 out of 10

October 26th: Cadbury Mini Bakes Chocolate Flapjack

Kcal 115 Fat 5.8g Fat(sats) 3.4g Carbs 14.2g (per flapjack)

Firstly Nestle Mini Bites ...now Cadbury Mini Bakes!! I don't know what is quite driving the plethora of new products like these at the moment but everywhere you look there seems to be a new cake themed product like this coming out every week. It is not that I am complaining or anything, hopefully it keeps sites like this one interesting and it has been nice for me recently to venture out from my traiditional straight up chocolate bar reviews. On to the focus of todays review over the last few days I have been casting my eye over these Cadbury Mini Bakes Chocolate Flapjacks. Those with memories as long as an elephants (is this generalisation even true!?) may recall that it was around this time last year I reviewed Cadbury's Dairy Milk Chocolate Flapjack (See HERE). Personally I haven't seen one of those large flapjacks for a longtime but in their place now Cadbury have brought these mini ones to market - were they as good?

The flapjacks came in a box of 8 which weighed in at 195.0g. Aesthetically the box graphics looked pretty good and incorporated the usual Cadbury purple brand colour with a new style 'Mini Bakes' slogan which I thought gave it nice stand out on-shelf ... it caught my eye anyway! Inside the box I was pleased to see that each of the mini flapjacks were contained within their own separate plastic packets; thinking back to the Nestle Toffee Crisp Mini Bites a few days ago this something that product could of really done with! Within these packets the flapjacks were all maintained in a nice condition with hardly any bits broken off whatsoever, though I must add that at this point I did notice how small they looked. Despite not appearing the most imperious looking products ever they did emanate a relatively pleasant smell which had mild hints of honey and butterscotch.

Needing no second invitation to get stuck in I shared my box of these with some colleagues at work. I hope the photo above is able to give you some sort of perspective on how big each flapjack was but just to clarify they were really rather diddy. In regards to taste I had no problem with these whatsoever. Unlike the previously reviewed Cadbury Dairy Milk Flapjack the actual chocolate on top wasn't Dairy Milk though it provided relatively the same experience with possibly just a little less creaminess to it's sweet milk based taste. The flapjack base below was of a very good standard and substantiated a delicious butter, oat and syrup noted biscuity taste that was both moreish and tasty. The ratio of chocolate to flapjack was well proportioned with the chocolate providing the lead influence on the initial taste before the denser flapjack ingredients led the way latter on. My only real gripe with these was the obvious one and that was their size -if they had been about twice the size these probably would have been the perfect amount. Perhaps I am greedy but just one of these barely scratched the surface of mid afternoon munchies.

Overall these were pretty good tasting but sadly a little flawed in design. Despite the Cadbury Dairy Milk being substituted out for Cadbury's slightly different secondary recipe I could see past this as the chocolate still managed to substantiate a good influence on the taste despite the flapjack constituents being far denser and greater portioned. The flapjack bases themselves were surprisingly of a very high quality and tasted almost bakery fresh with their strongly butter led flavours. As I have alluded to above the only real problem I had with these was the size as they just weren't big enough to eat just one at a time. The simple solution would of course be to just eat two at a time, though I feel this rather defeats the whole 'Mini Bakes' concept given that they are meant for 'on the go' consumption, thus carrying two separate packets seems a bit against the point of the product in the first place. If you are fond of mini snacks like these I would recommend you give these a try as they get a thumbs up from me in the taste department. If it is a fulfilling snack your after though your better off looking somewhere else as these just didn't tick that box for me.

7.3 out of 10

October 25th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Hotel Chocolat Question Time Edition

'7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Hotel Chocolat Question Time Edition

Remember a while back when I asked you all to send me some questions to forward on to Hotel Chocolat? Well the Swines have only gone and answered every single one of them :) ....

Your questions in BOLD
Hotel Chocolat answers in ITALICS
My comments in RED

The answers have been provided by Matt (Online Commercial Development Executive 2.5 years) & Gabriela (Hotel Chocolat Buyer - 4.5 years).

1. Why do they think their chocolate demands such a high premium price?

Gabriela: The high quality of chocolate and packaging innovation justifies the higher price, but we think we still are an affordable luxury. Part of that money is also used to support our ethical programs in Ghana and St Lucia – more information ... check it out if you have an interest it is good read .... pictures too :)

2. What new products (if any) can we expect soon?

Gabriela: Expect new products for every season and occasion; Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, Easter, Father’s Day, summer, Halloween and Christmas. It’s one of our real strengths, developing products specifically for key events and seasons. We’re also always looking to improve our core range, so there are likely to be a few new twists and improvements made to our existing range. As for what products are currently in development, we like to ‘keep our cards close to our chest’! ... The NPD from HC has been fantastic this year ... I expect that same next!

3. Why do they put 'may contain nuts' on every single one of their products?

Gabriela: Unfortunately, because we handle chocolates containing nut in our packing facility, we cannot guarantee with 100% certainty that those products are nut-free.

4. Will they ever bring back their gianduja cubes?

Gabriela: We have brought them back, just in a brand new format. ... They look great to me ... expect a review soon.

5. Are they planning on opening any more stores soon?

Matt: Just a few! We’ve got stores opening in Chester, Chichester, Guildford and Meadowhall, Sheffield all before Christmas. Two new stores have opened in London in the past month in Victoria and The Strand, along with our very first store in the US on Newbury Street in Boston. With the launch of Hotel Chocolat in select John Lewis stores towards the end of September we are increasing our high street presence significantly and this will continue throughout 2010. Don’t be surprised if you see a new Hotel Chocolat store popping up in a town near you next year! ... The day these guys open a near a store near me I expect my life expectancy to drop a few years :)

6. Do they ever plan on doing anything with peanut butter?

Gabriela: There is a chocolate selector called “Peanut Passion” which is available in our stores, but in 2010 we will bring a new product that is all about peanut butter and chocolate (that is all I can say for now). .... I hope I will be first in like to try it :)

7. Will they ever produce any normal sized chocolate bars?

Matt: We do sell a chocolate bar in store which might be considered a ‘normal sized’ bar. Our take on the chocolate bar is reflected in our slabs range. Originally developed as Giant Slabs, we now have smaller 100g mini-slabs which are still slightly larger than your normal bar.

8. Can we ever expect to get their products through means other than their shops or online ordering?

Matt: You can find a selection of our range in some John Lewis stores, and at World Duty Free; however, for the time being our core focus will be selling our products through our own stores and website. ... Good decision I think! Look what happened to Thorntons!

9. What have they got planned for Christmas this year?

Matt: A BIGGER and BETTER Christmas than the last! We’ve expanded the Christmas range significantly this year and have introduced some new lines including Signature Collections which come in luxurious keepsake boxes, a huge Truffle Tree weighing 650g, Sparkling Stars selections and more. We’ve got a new Cookies & Caramel Wreath which I think will prove a hit, and a new, larger Christmas Sleekster. I could go on, you can check out all of our Christmas gifts here. Of course, in stores we’ll continue to have regular free tastings as well. ... My wishlist has been sent to HC ... expect reviews of the range in late November and early December.

10. What are your own personal favourites from the range?

Matt: This is a really difficult question. From a boxed chocolates perspective my previous favourite, the Hand-Piped Sleekster has recently been ‘replaced’ by the Dinner Party Platter. I also love our Christmas Wreaths and the Triple Wham Bam Giant Slab which is perhaps the most iconic of our Giant Slab range. When it comes to my favourite chocolate it’s a close call but our 62% Milk Purist Bar from our Rabot Estate in St Lucia shades it. ... what about the 85% Matt!???

11. Why do they produce such big choice of white chocolate products, considering people in general usually find white chocolate too sweet?

Gabriela: .... I’m not sure this is really the case! I make sure we have a range suitable for all tastes! Some of the flavours, for example strawberry, works better with white chocolates, as the flavours come through better. Also we made sure that our bespoke white chocolate recipe is not too sweet. ... I'm not sure where the consumer evidence came for this but I think HC's white chocolate is one of the best around.

12. Do you have any plans to do a chocolate cookie and biscuit range?

Gabriela: Not at this moment in time, but you never now…

13. Will you ever be bringing back your chocolate covered coffee beans?

Gabriela: Yes, in the near future. .... when they do expect a review from me!

14. Is there a Hotel Chocolat recipe book? If not will you ever consider doing one?

Matt: Yes, we have book called “101 Best Loved Chocolate Recipes”.

15. Do you plan to do more mainstream advertising next year?

Matt: At the present time, ‘mainstream’ advertising isn’t something we get heavily involved in. Some of the recent Cadbury’s advertising has been fantastic and has made great use of multiple channels. I find their use of digital marketing channels particularly inspiring. I think our strong brand identity and fantastic product range would provide a great platform for developing exciting and engaging advertising campaigns, particularly in digital channels. We will of course continue to advertise in search engines, via our affiliate program and within the occasional glossy magazine. ... Again sitting here with my marketing cap on a good decision. Keeping the brand away from the mainstream will the keep the core brand values and principles strong ... oh and save on the A&P of course :)

16. If you had to describe your brand in three words what would it be?

Matt: Original, Authentic, Ethical. Our mission statement is: “To open up to a wider audience, the escapist sanctuary of Hotel Chocolat. To do this whilst sticking to our core values of originality, authenticity and ethics.”

17. Have there ever been any products that haven't passed the taste testing?

Gabriela: Hundreds of recipes are rejected every month, so all the recipes that we include in our selections/range have passed a tasting panel. The recipes which pass the tasting panel are then included in the Chocolate Tasting Club Monthly Boxes. Members then have the opportunity to taste and score them and send us their feedback. ... This attention to quality is probably why their scores are so consistently high.

18. Would you ever consider producing a ChocolateMission branded bar?

Matt: I don’t think so, although I must say Jim’s ChocolateMission is a particularly popular blog amongst the office! ... I don't think the ChocolateMission 'brand' would particularly work for Hotel Chocolat :) but nice try guys.

19. What is the best selling Hotel Chocolat product?

Matt: This does depend on the season; however, the regular ‘chart-topper’ is our Hand-piped Sleekster.

20. What is it like working for Hotel Chocolat? Are there loads of chocolates hanging round the office? Do you ever get bored of talking about chocolates?

Gabriela: Fantastic! Depends in which area of the business you work. We are never bored of talking about chocolate! There are always so many new flavours and product concepts that it is impossible to get bored
Matt: Who wouldn’t want to work for such a fantastic brand, with such great products!? It’s an intense, fast-moving, innovative and ultimately very rewarding environment in which to work. Plus I’m surrounded by a great group of people who make it a fun place to work. As for chocolate hanging around the office, I’m sure there’s some round here somewhere… I’ll post some photographs from around the office on our Facebook fan page now! ... Oi I thought I was the only one around here allowed to pimp my Facebook page!?? Haha only joking! If Hotel Chocolat ever create a consumer/market insight department I'm there! It sounds a great place to work!

21. Do your friends still gift you chocolates? ... mine do - I find it very hard to look excited!!

Gabriela: No, they tell me I’m a chocolate snob! So they rather gift me with something else… I’m glad! ... I bet! ... Even if I get gifted chocolate there is always an urge to give it a score out of 10 and take a few photos :)

Thanks for Matt & Gabriela for taking the time to answer these questions - the answers were really insightful and I look forward to the reaction from you all.


October 24th: Nestle Toffee Crisp Mini Bites

Kcal 62 Fat 3.1g Fat(sats) 1.6g Carbs 7.9g (per bite)

Last month in Edition 14 of '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' I brought you all the news that Nestle were releasing two new 'Mini Bites' tub products (See HERE). One of these new products is from the Munchies brand, whilst the other, which just so happens to be the focus of todays review uses Nestle's Toffee Crisp branding. I found both of these new products in Tesco on an introductory offer price of £2.00 a pack which is a 33.0% discount offer on the standard £2.99 rrp. On pack these Nestle Toffee Crisp Bites came described as 'crisped rice and caramel bites in milk chocolate' which sounded a great proposition to me - the idea just had to be executed correctly.

There was no catch weight on the box though it did say that 15 mini bite pieces were included inside. Personally I thought the outer packaging was pretty good. It wasn't too large in terms of size meaning it could be stored in the fridge with ease, whilst the graphic work was also fairly decent incorporating the bright orange Toffee Crisp colour theme with a realistic looking picture of the actual product. Admittedly I was more disappointed with the lack inner packaging as the mini bites simply rolled around loosely inside the box with no plastic packet or film covering. The lacking of an airtight seal meant that the pieces had a scuffed, dusty looking surface which meant they didn't look all that fresh or appetising on the eye. Despite the lack of inner wrapping the chocolates still had a detectable sweet, chocolaty smell but I couldn't help but feel that it would have been stronger had the pieces not been so exposed.

I think we are all aware by now that Nestle milk chocolate is not the best tasting in the world, yet at the same time it always manages to do it job with very little fuss. I could probably cut and paste my thoughts on the Nestle's milk chocolate from another review if I wanted as it delivered the same experience as it always does. It was relatively well paced in melt with a taste that was quite sweet with a dried milk like focus which managed to deliver a fair standard chocolate base taste with each bite. Sat under the average standard milk chocolate coating was the Toffee Crisp filling which I sadly have to report was a bit lacklustre. Unlike the standard Toffee Crisp bar these Mini Bites did not include a distinctive caramel layer in addition to the chocolate flavoured rice cereal. Conversely these bites tried to combine the two which resulted in a golden coloured rice centre which offered minimal amounts of flavour aside from a golden syrup type influence. The combination of the sweet cereal centre and outer chocolate wasn't necessarily bad in anyway but at the same time it didn't offer much in the way of satisfaction and left me feeling a little sold short in terms of my expectations.

Overall had this been my first experience of the Toffee Crisp brand I wouldn't be feeling all that positive towards it. I guess with this product I was expecting a pretty high standard given how much I liked the standard Toffee Crisp bar and also the Toffee Crisp Clusters that I both reviewed HERE with great success's. I think where both those succeeded where these failed was where they tried to combine the usually separate caramel and cereal elements in to one caramel flavoured cereal centre. This neither allowed for either to express the different flavours and texture they could bring to the product and ultimately just resulted in there being one mish-mash of a centre that wasn't necessarily bad in anyway but at the same time was far from exciting or worthy of being associated as being in the same league as the standard Toffee Crisp. In my opinion these weren't worth the hefty price tag - one can only imagine the profit margin they are making with a less complicated product at four times the price!

6.6 out of 10

October 23rd: Lindt Hot Mango

Kcal 210 Fat 17.0g Fat(sats) 10.0g Carbs 20.0g (per 45.0g)

Lindt Chilli bars have a habit of scoring quite highly on the ChocolateMission rating system so as you can imagine I was pretty excited when Cin from Foodstufffinds kindly sent me along this Lindt Hot Mango to review. Cin described this to me as her favourite Lindt Chilli chocolate so given this big build up I was expecting quite a lot. Produced in Germany (quelle surprise!!) this bar came described as 'dark chocolate with a dark chocolate mousse and mango and cayenne filling'. If you fancy swotting up on your Cayenne chilli pepper knowledge (Geek!!) I suggest you head HERE, I swear I didn't find that page interesting .... honest ;)

The bar came in a 150.0g format that was split into 12 separate blocks. In truth I thought the blocks were a little too big for my liking, though given how beautifully the product was presented I didn't mind all that much. Unfortunately I haven't really done the outer packaging that much justice with my photo (camera was acting up! Doh!!) but it looked fantastic with its sophisticated black background and sparkling gold colours fonts. The mango and Cayenne chilli illustrations added further intrigue, whilst the picture of the chocolate provided a relatively accurate account of the actual product displaying its light coloured filling. Inside the chocolate was held within a silver branded wrapper than helped maintain a very rich smelling cocoa scent that erupted as soon as the foil was split.

As soon as I saw the 70% branding I knew this was going to be a good standard Lindt chocolate and it certainly didn't let me down. The chocolate was very forthcoming in terms of its flavours and substantiated a very strong cocoa influence as soon as the chocolate hit the tongue. As the chocolate melted and transformed into its softer liquid state the cocoa flavours became amplified yet never ventured into what I would describe as bitter. Sat at the heart of this chocolate the packaging stated that there was a dark mousse filling though frankly this I forgot all about this until I read the outer packaging again for the opening paragraph of this review. I think this was probably a consequence of both the soft melt of the actual chocolate and the very unique tasting mango and chilli filling which dominated the taste as soon as it came into contact with my mouth. The mango and chilli filling was one of the most unique things I have ever tasted in a chocolate bar and combined a wonderfully juicy, fruity taste with a hot chilli bite in its aftertaste. The fruit element was well balanced with it's sweet, yet quite tart, almost sour flavours; whilst the chilli really came to life in the latter stages of the taste providing a peppery flavour influence and delightful warming feeling to the mouth. With the taste being so lively just a few of these large blocks provided a barrage of flavours and made for both a satisfying and fulfilling chocolate.

Overall this was yet another very tasty chilli chocolate from Lindt, so much so that I am starting to believe that they are real experts when it comes to handling this very volatile ingredient. With this bar Lindt have managed to bring the best out of two very variable tasting influences. The mango could have easily have been too sour, whilst the chilli could easily have been over powering or too weak. At the end of the day I think that Lindt combined both almost perfectly with each contributing equally and incrementally to the superb tasting dark chocolate that provided a wonderful flavour base from the outset. If you like your chilli flavoured chocolates this is a bar you should really be thinking of tracking down. By the looks of it this isn't a bar that is available in the UK but I am sure if you do a little searching it is one that you can find quite easily from the likes of Dean-German-Grocery etc. This is yet another Lindt bar that comes with a ChocolateMission recommendation.

8.7 out of 10

October 22nd: Cadbury Cake Bars Fudge & Mint

Having reviewed the Cadbury Chocolate and Cadury Caramel Cake Bars last month I thought I better be totally thorough with my research so picked up the two remaining Cadbury Cake Bar variants when I was in the supermarket last week. I bought both of these Fudge and Mint cake bars in packs of 5 and brought them into my work office last week. Before the greedy so-and-so's could gobbled them all up I nabbed two of each and ate them over the last four days.

Before I get into how they tasted it wouldn't be a ChocolateMission review without my passing comment on the presentation of both and my thoughts were very similar with each variants. Both variants came in purple coloured packets though contained different secondary branding in which to communicate the flavours. The wrappers looked ok to me but what excited me about these products were the fudge and mint creme fillings which both looked very well portioned - I think you will agree when you see the photos below.

Below are my thoughts on each variant:

Cadbury Cake Bars Fudge:
Kcal 135 Fat 5.5g Fat(sats) 3.3g Carbs 20.6g (per bar)

These came described as 'chocolate flavoured sponge with a fudge topping, covered in milk chocolate' and utilised the much under implemented Cadbury Fudge. I have long been calling for a larger, more satisfying Cadbury Fudge product so I was hoping that these cake bars might be right on the money.

In my previous Cadbury Cake Bar reviews I commented how disappointing it was that Cadbury decided not to use Dairy Milk and I still stand by this point. Although the chocolate on offer here was still very tasty with its sweet, milk based flavours it was noticeably lacking the creamy edge of Dairy Milk. If you peeked at the score already you will have noticed there was one thing fundamentally wrong these - the textures! I generally find cake a little too dry for me and this was only further accentuated by the dry, crumbly nature of the fudge. The combination of these left my mouth feeling like desert and it was lucky I had a cup of tea to wash it down with.

Overall there was nothing wrong with the taste on offer here whatsoever, however these Fudge Cake Bars were fundamentally flawed due to their dryness. The flavours of the sweet chocolate and fudge complimented each other well but the cake and fudge layers cloyed in the mouth resulting in a stodgy chew that was calling out for a bit of moistness. Nice tasting but sadly not what I would describe as an all round pleasant experience.

7.0 out of 10

Cadbury Cake Bars Mint:

Kcal 150 Fat 8.5g Fat(sats) 4.7g Carbs 17.2g (per 100.0g)

Out of the two I have to say these were the ones I was looking forward to least with their billing of 'chocolate flavoured sponge topped with a mint flavoured creme, covered in milk chocolate'. My view did start to change however as soon as I prised open the first plastic wrapper upon where I was met with a fresh smelling peppermint smell.

My thoughts regarding the chocolate are the same the above - it was a fair standard but crying out to be Dairy Milk. I tried these after the Fudge Cake Bars and I was expecting quite a similar experience in regards to dry textures as most mint cremes and fondants I have had before are normally quite solid as they are normally sugar based. I am glad to report though I was pleasantly surprised - the inner creme was far moister than I was expecting and really complimented the cake element well. The mint flavours were actually subtle in the creme with the majority of the taste being cream based. Despite being quite mild I thought the mint was strong enough and it provided a real fresh influence on the taste.

Overall these were easily the best out of the two and I would rate them just as highly as the Cadbury Caramel Cake Bars. One thing I did notice about these Mint Cake Bars were that they contained noticeably more fat and calories, though lets be honest it was well worth it given how much these were as an all round product. I wouldn't say these are a must try if your a fan of mint flavoured chocolates as the mint element doesn't actually come through that strongly. Personally though I think these make for a nice snack to have in the cupboard from time to time. The Thornton's Chocolate Cake Bars still hold the title as the best chocolate cake bars reviewed so far!

8.0 out of 10

October 21st: Lindt Nocciolatte

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

I have been wanting to see something like this from Lindt for ages and it took a random visit to WH Smith (popular book/convenience shop in the UK) for me to finally chance upon such a product. Personally I think the market has been screaming out for an 'on the go' chocolate bar from one of the more prestigious manufactures like Lindt for a long time and this Lindt Nociolatte seemed like the perfect product in which to fill this gaping niche. Produced in Italy the product came described as 'milk chocolate with hazelnut filling and whole hazelnuts' and came at the suitable price of 65p, which here in the UK is at a slight premium to a standard chocolate bar like Cadbury Dairy Milk that retails for about 55p.

The bar came in a 40.0g serving size that was split into three separate blocks. The bar itself wasn't the most conveniently designed as one block at a time made for a very large and almost uncomfortable mouthful. That slight issue aside I will happily exclaim that I thought the bar was aesthetically brilliant and I loved the subtle branding of each piece as well as the nice hazelnut pattern that was implemented on each block. The outer wrapper was equally well designed and incorporated the same smart looking design theme as Lindt's standard range with its dark blue colour and white and gold fonts. In addition to looking rather sleek the bar also smelt pretty nice out the packet and had a nice nutty scent in addition to the familiar Lindt chocolaty smell.

Despite parts of this bar tasting phenomenal I have to give it a rather mediocre 7.0 score when it comes to that taste test as there was just one aspect that let it down completely. The outer milk chocolate you will be unsurprised to hear was pretty phenomenal and provided a very familiar double cream rooted taste that delivered a wonderful chocolate hit with it's finally balanced cocoa volume and smooth longing taste. Below the wonderfully smooth melting chocolate sat the first hazelnut element which was a praline like substance that held the whole nut in position. In terms of quality these elements sat at different ends of the spectrum in that the praline was fantastic, whilst the wholenuts just simply weren't. The praline had slightly grittier texture than the chocolate which nicely differentiated the two in the melt. The cause of the rougher texture was of course the addition of the ground hazelnuts which provided a wonderfully fresh, woody nut taste. Whereas the praline tasted relatively fresh the same couldn't be said for the nut pieces. They had a slightly mushy, yielding soft texture and provided very little flavour in addition to the praline which was obviously pretty disappointing.

Overall this was a disappointing product on the whole considering how much promise the actual concept has. I think the decision to make a product like this was a great strategic move by Lindt as it brings a whole new 'occasion' to the table for their chocolate to be enjoyed. As good as Lindt chocolate is, their products are not the most convenient to eat out of home as they normally come in sizes upwards of 100.0g etc. As 40.0g bar this product solved that problem but didn't quite deliver the quality that is normally so consistent with Lint products. Despite being eight months in date the products nuts just didn't taste fresh and almost (not entirely) ruined the other fantastic milk chocolate and praline elements. If you see this bar around then I would say give it a try as maybe I just had a duff one? Unfortunately for Lindt though products on this site most the time only get one shot at the scoring system! Not great ... not awful, but Lindt can certainly do better than this.

7.5 out of 10

October 20th: Green & Black's Milk Chocolate

Kcal 558 Fat 35.9g Carbs 49.7g (per 100.0g)

I don't know about you all but I am still hugely undecided on Green & Black's as a brand. Some of their products I have tried before and thought they were rather good, whilst others I thought were decidedly average. It is a well known fact that Green & Black's are actually owned by Cadbury, so when I saw this new 'Creamy Milk' variant I was wondering whether it was going to match up to the UK's most notorious milk chocolate - Cadbury Dairy Milk. Organically made and with a greater cocoa proportion (30%) all the evidence suggested that it was going to give it a good run for its money.

Like all Green & Black's chocolates this one came in a 100.0g size which was split up in to several very small sized blocks. I have complained about the Green & Black's packaging before but If you look closely at the the photo above you will notice that that the traditional brown colour and flavour indicating secondary colour have been swapped around in terms of position compared to the standard bars in the range. Personally I think this gave the product far more standout and when you see it on-shelf in the retailer it looks far more inviting than the rest of the standard range which carry the boring looking primary brown colour scheme. Inside the chocolate was nicely wrapped in a gold foil layer but it did little to excite aesthetically given the tiny size of each of the blocks. Whereas it was a little underwhelming in terms of looks the same couldn't be said for the aroma of the chocolate which had a nice fresh dairy smell.

Lets just cut right to the chase - was it as good as Dairy Milk? For my money it wasn't, but that is not to say it wasn't a reasonably good milk chocolate. I shared this with a few work colleagues over a mid morning coffee and we all pretty much drew the conclusions. What we certainly all agreed on was that this chocolate had a delightfully smooth melt that really effortlessly transcended into a very soft chocolate liquor when simply just placed on the tongue. Although the chocolate was quite fast in the pace of it's melt it didn't really generate much in the way of flavours until it had progressed quite far in the melting process. Whereas the initial taste was disappointingly mild only substantiating quite a sweet milk based cocoa tone, once the chocolate had gained warmth strong notes of cream and vanilla came through relatively strongly and made for a well rounded taste. To be honest this wasn't the most satisfying of chocolates I have ever eaten and my colleagues and I did manage to consume about a third of a bar each with relative ease.

Overall despite this bar being at a premium price to its even grander mass produced equivalent Cadbury Dairy Milk I have to say in my estimation it didn't match up in terms of quality. Cadbury Dairy Milk has such a distinctive cream based that this Green & Black's offering just simply couldn't match up to. Although I would say that this chocolate was a little more elegant in terms of it's flavours I wouldn't say that was necessarily a good thing and I think in comparison I would rather the more burly, stronger and more distinctive taste of the Dairy Milk. As I said in the previous paragraph this was by no means a bad chocolate whatsoever but at the same time it did very little in terms of establishing itself as a distinctive chocolate that is any more worthy of trying than any other fair standard milk chocolate on the market at present. Given the smooth texture and flowing taste of this chocolate I would suggest that Galaxy lovers give this chocolate a try as it may be more a chocolate they might quite enjoy. For the moment though I think I will stick with my Hotel Chocolat for my premium milk chocolate and my Cadbury Dairy Milk for my everyday.

7.9 out of 10

October 19th: Hotel Chocolat Munchkins

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

Believe it or not Halloween has rolled round once again on our calendars with the day falling in little under a weeks time. I wont be giving to much coverage to Halloween this year for the sole reason that I simply don't like it :) but regardless I was hardly going to be turning down some more goodies from my chums at Hotel Chocolat. Last year you may remember me reviewing their Boo! milk chocolate collection (HERE) aswell as some of their other Halloween themed products. This year they have extended their Halloween range further with some additional products like these Hotel Chocolat Munchkins which came described as 'mini shortbread biscuits covered in orange flavoured white chocolate and icing sugar'. To me they sounded completely different to any other Hotel Chocolat product I had seen before and I was hoping that this new found adventurism would pay dividends.

These mini chocolates came in a 115.0g bag that I managed to wolf down in nearly in a single sitting. You may have noticed that the packaging was exactly the same as Hotel Chocolat's Chocolate Puddles range in that they were stored within a clear plastic packet decorated with a label and sealed with a stylish looking Hotel Chocolat ribbon. On the whole I do like this style of presentation though my one slight gripe with it is that it is quite hard to reseal once opened. Inside the pieces looked really groovy with their bright orange colour though they did have quite an awkward feel in the hand with their dusting of icing sugar making them feel dry, but at the same time a bit clammy - it was odd to say their least. Not to be perturbed by their odd feel I was more welcoming of the tempting dairy and fruity orange scents that emerged when the packet was opened.

Although above I have described not liking the feel of the icing sugar on my fingers it did provide a very welcome cooling sensation as the pieces hit my tongue and it gave a pleasant fizzling sensation to reveal the chocolate layer below. As expected the white chocolate was nothing short of delicious and combined a cream based, vanilla hinted taste with a wonderful note of fresh tasting zingy orange which brought a lovely bit of variation to the traditional Hotel Chocolat white chocolate. The shortbread biscuit that sat below was unsurprisingly overwhelmed by the orange white chocolate though it did bring a pleasant crunchy element to the other softer, smoother textures. As I stated above I nearly managed to eat my way through a whole pack of these in one sitting and this was solely down to something I call the 'Maltesers' effect. These Hotel Chocolat Munchkins tasted absolutely superb but just were not satisfying or fulfilling in any way whatsoever.

Overall I think when judging this product it will make more sense to look at the different attribute scores rather than the aggregated average as I think it doesn't give a fair reflection on the product. The only sole problem with these Hotel Chocolat Munchkins was that they provided very little in terms of hunger fulfilment which was a real shame when put in the light of how nice they tasted. These were yet another nicely presented and great tasting product from Hotel Chocolat and fans of their white chocolate will absolutely love these if they also happen to like orange flavoured chocolates. Though these wouldn't probably wouldn't purchase these for myself again in the future if I was to be gifting small presents at Halloween (which I wont be!!) then I would see these as a sensible option given that they both look and taste great. These were by no means the best Hotel Chocolat product ever but I feel a step in the right direction in terms of new smaller, fun products in their portfolio.

7.5 out of 10

October 18th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 19

### Jim's Corner & QOTW ###

Hi All,

I have been busy writing some festive themed reviews this week with a few Halloween and Christmas products consumed in the past few days.

As I am not a big fan of the holiday itself Halloween wont be covered off to a great extent but some of the chaps from Hotel Chocolat were kind enough to send me some of their latest products and I also bought some of the Halloween themed cakes bars from the likes of Cadbury. These reviews will be published in the last week or so of October.

The Christmas reviews will kick off on November 20th and will no doubt cover Nestle, Cadbury and Hotel Chocolat's ranges this year ... maybe the odd white chocolate covered Oreo biscuit from Kraft too ;) ... which brings me to question of the week ...

'Are there any specific Christmas products you want to see reviewed?'

If so please give me an indication so I can make sure I can cover them all off!!

Unfortunately the guys at Hotel Chocolat are still ridiculously busy with preparations for Christmas, thus no answers to the questions just yet! I got promised them by the end of this week so fingers crossed they will make appear next weekend in '7Days of ChocolateReviews'.

Have a great week and please continue the great contributions to the site.


The ChocolateMission Omnibus:

I always like to get the week off to a good start and pleased with the response I got to my post Monday which looked at the new Mars Dark (UK) vs Mars Midnight (Poland) ... SEE HERE. At the present reader comparisons were a little limited with Russ, Alan and Alex all oddly having tried the Polish bar but not the UK one - I hope they all let us know their thoughts when they finally track one down.

Moving on in the week I got to try a bar that is no longer available in the UK but still has presence in South Africa - Cadbury Flake Snow (SEE HERE). Personally I found it a little on the sweet side, however it seem to evoke good memories for the likes of Rachel, Cin & Lottie.

Also this week I really kicked on my investigation of the UK cake bar range reviewing the McVitie's Penguin (SEE HERE) and Cadbury Original & Caramel offerings (SEE HERE). As pointed out by a few readers I did epically fail when it came to providing the joke on the back of my Penguin Cake Bar but don't you worry the same mistake hasn't been made in my review of the normal Penguin bar that will be published in early November.

Lastly Friday was the first outing for Moser Roth on ChocolateMission in the form of their Dark Chocolate & Orange variant (SEE HERE). I have to really once again thank ChocolateMission contributor Susanne for providing me with the chance to try this bar and I obviously wasn't alone in my thinking given the positive response from the likes of Phil and Ana.

News from the Chocolate Market:

* Mikado has become the fast selling everyday product in the impulse sector ... SEE HERE

* Hannock's has created a new gifting range in collaboration with Beeches ... SEE HERE

* Cadbury & Maryland have announced their Christmas biscuit line ups - if you want to see any reviewed see QOTW above ... SEE HERE

* Cadbury have been accused of racial stereotyping in their latest fairtrade advert ... SEE HERE

* Quality Street & Matchmakers are again going to receive big marketing spend this Christmas ... SEE HERE

Posts from other Blogs I enjoyed this week:

* Chocablog - If your going to look at one other site this week it has to be Chocablog. Despite many an invite unfortunately due to work commitments I could attend myself but their coverage of Chocolate Week has been extensive and brilliant with all their contributors going into overdrive with articles each day with the latest news ... SEE HERE

* CandyBlog - I loved this review looking at Hershey's Cookies n Creme vs a cheap supermarket alternative! Bravo Cybele ... SEE HERE

* Foodstufffinds - Tried some posh hot chocolate this week from Butler's ... this has got me thinking on some new mini ChocolateMissions for the new year ... SEE HERE

* GiGi Reviews - It has been gum week on GiGi Reviews! As an avid chewer it has been amazing looking at the different flavours they get in the US ... SEE HERE

* Japanese Snack Reviews - The award for bizzarest review of the week has to go to JSR - what on earth is a Pizza Weiner Rapper ... SEE HERE

October 16th: Moser Roth Dark Chocolate Orange & Almond

Kcal 529 Fat 33.1g Fat(sats) 19.3g Carbs 51.7g (per 100.0g)

Once again I must start off another review by thanking ChocolateMission reader Susanne for sending this bar for me to try. As I always do with brands I don't recognise I attempted to do some research about Moser Roth before I wrote this review but I have come up a little dry. The limited information I have found says that Moser Roth was formed in 1841 and became a protected name in 1902 before being sold off to German manufacture Storck. Storck's site doesn't have any further details or even recognise it as part of their brand portfolio but from what I can tell now Moser Roth is solely produced for Aldi the discounter supermarket. Boring stuff out the way, my first look at the range came in the form of this Dark Chocolate Orange & Almond bar.

The product came in a 125.0g form that was split into 5 smaller 25.0g bars which I thought was handy given that 25.0g made for a perfectly sized serving. The packaging I thought looked really good and gave the product a nice premium feel with the gold coloured fonts giving nice standout without looking tacky. One thing I did notice was that the graphic designer at Moser Roth might not know his nuts all that well ... take a closer look at the packaging photo and you will see that peanuts are displayed rather than almonds!! Error!! Inside each bar was coated with a foil/paper wrapper which kept the chocolate not only looking fantastic but smelling absolutely wonderful with an enticing orange fruity smell evident once opened.

All was great up until this point so there was real thing left to do. If you take a look at the photo above you will see that the chocolate was actually relatively thin in terms of thickness which left me a little worried before I tasted it. What concerned me about this was that if the chocolate wasn't strong enough it might not last long enough in the mouth for it's flavours to truly develop. Luckily this was a non-issue as the chocolate was immediately forthcoming in taste with several different flavours coming to the party. As soon as the chocolate hit the warmth of the tongue some non-bitter cocoa flavours made themselves apparent and were kept flowing and smooth in the taste with some nice milk based undertones. As suggested by the smell the orange element was also evident from out the outset, providing a solid fruity, zesty flavour to the background which in simple terms was delicious. What I really enjoyed about this chocolate was letting it slowly melt away on the tongue appreciating the fruity dark chocolate before then crunching away on the nutty, buttery almond pieces left in the mouth. The nutty element in the aftertaste nicely added to the orange flavours left in the mouth which left me feeling both refreshed and satisfied.

Overall I have to give a big thumbs up to my first ever Moser Roth product - it is one that has certainly left me wanting to try more from this brand. The dark chocolate here perhaps wasn't the grandest I have ever tried though it provided a very suitable background taste to the really well implemented orange fruit which made for a really eventful and exciting taste. The almond influence didn't really surface until the stronger tasting chocolate and orange elements had gone though I have to say that it certainly left a nice lingering nutty flavour note in the mouth. If Moser Roth isn't a brand you have come across before, based on the evidence of this bar alone I would say it is worth trying some of their products out. It may not have been the best chocolate I have ever tried but it was an extremely tasty one nonetheless. It gets a recommendation from me anyway!

8.6 out of 10

October 15th: Cadbury Cake Bars Milk Chocolate / Caramel

Yesterday I informed you all in my review of the McVitie's Penguin Cake Bar that I would next be moving on to looking at Cadbury's offerings in the cake bar market. Well as always I have kept my word and today I bring you one of my double reviews looking at both the original 'Milk Chocolate' and 'Caramel' flavoured offerings.

Each variants was bought in a multi-pack which contained 5 bars. Both flavours sported the usual purple Cadbury theme though the caramel one of course also had the yellow secondary colour influence. Inside the cake bars themselves were contained within film wrappers which did a reasonably nice job in maintaining the inner bars in pretty good condition. Before I start rambling on too much lets get stuck in to what I thought of each:

Cadbury Cake Bars Milk Chocolate:

Kcal 150 Fat 7.4g Fat(sats) 3.8g Carbs 18.7g (per bar)

On pack this one came described as 'chocolate flavoured sponge with a milk chocolate filling, covered in milk chocolate'. I have to admit that out of the two this was the one that less appealed to me at first as it sounded more or less exactly like the Galaxy and Penguin McVitie's bars I had tried before.

One of the first things that you may have picked up on when reading the start of this review is that the words Dairy Milk haven't appeared yet and sadly I can confirm that Dairy Milk chocolate was nowhere to be seen. As suspected the bar incorporated Cadbury's secondary milk chocolate recipe which meant that the taste was a little more sugar rooted than it was creamy. Don't get me wrong the chocolate still had a sweet, milky appeal but I couldn't help but think it could have been all that bit better had it been proper Dairy Milk. You may also have noticed from the photo above that this milk chocolate coating was also a little bit flimsy and thin in its portioning which meant it got dominated by the far greater portioned inner cake. On the plus side the inner chocolate cream filling did bring a much needed moistness to the dry cake, though admittedly in did little in terms of bringing any new flavour influences to the table.

Overall this 'Milk Chocolate' variant had undertones of Cadbury charm but at at the end of the day it didn't strike me as anything that special when put in the context of the cake bars I have had recently. As stated above I think it would have been better for at least the coating to have used the Dairy Milk recipe though I think even that would have struggled to exert its presence given the thin nature of the outer coating. This was by no means a bad cake bar (better than the Penguin one at least), but at the same time nothing all that special either.

7.5 out of 10

Cadbury Cake Bars Caramel
Kcal 145 Fat 6.7g Fat(sats) 4.7g Carbs 19.3g (per bar)

The back of the outer wrapper described these bars as 'chocolate flavoured sponge topped with caramel, covered in milk chocolate' which I thought certainly sounded like the more exciting out of the two at hand. These Caramel cake bars were flatter and a little smaller in appearance compared to the 'Milk Chocolate' variant though they looked appetising when cross sectioned with the golden caramel layer really catching the eye.

Just like the 'Milk Chocolate' bars Dairy Milk chocolate wasn't in the offering here again though I felt it didn't matter quite so much as the caramel layer was the real focus of the taste. Despite the bar being thinner itself, thankfully the outer chocolate wasn't an area of cut back so the initial milky, sweet flavours were still well and truly substantiated. I felt that with the cake not being quite as heavily portioned in these it was actually beneficial to the product overall as there was still enough to make it feel like a substantial snack, though it also didn't dominate the other elements of the bar quite as much as it did in the 'Milk Chocolate' bars. Despite the caramel not being implemented quite the same as is in standard Cadbury Caramel bars as it was a bit stodgier in texture, it still brought the usual butter and sugar elements to the taste which made brought a nice variation to the rather placid cake. Although this was the smaller out of the two bars its greater variation in flavours made it the more fulfilling and satisfying out of the two.

Overall this was defiantly the better out of the two variants I tried today and would certainly be the one I would more readily reach for if I was to buy either again. In comparison to the Galaxy Caramel cake bar I have to say that the McVitie's offering is the better out of the two as the Galaxy chocolate is portioned far greater and lack of Dairy Milk used here means that the quality of chocolate is greater on the latter. Whereas I wouldn't say that either of these cake bars are necessarily bad I can't help but feel that Cadbury could have done just a little better with these products. If your a fan of Cadbury chocolate then these could be worth a look at but for the rest of you I wouldn't be in a massive rush to try these.

8.0 out of 10