November 30th: Hotel Chocolat Cinnamon Crunch

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

It is the start of another working week (boo) but that also means it is Hotel Chocolat Monday (Yay!) and I today bring you another review of one of Hotel Chocolat newest chocolates. The second of the four new Hotel Chocolat Christmas slabs I tried recently was this Cinnamon Crunch variant which came billed as '40% milk chocolate with cinnamon spiced praline'. Thinking about it now this has to be one of the first cinnamon flavoured bars I have reviewed that has come from the UK. You may remember my Christmas reviews last year being dominated by cinnamon flavoured chocolates but most of those chocolates came from Germany/Middle Europe (Ritter, Milka & Lindt) so it was nice to see a UK firm try their hand at the combination.

This Christmas slab came in a slightly different format to the Hotel Chocolate Orange Nice Spice and came in a single 100.0g form. Of course this was a bit of a pain in the backside when trying to break pieces off but there is no doubting how awesome the slab looked aesthetically. The outer packaging incorporated the same look as the Orange Nice Spice and managed to combine both a prestigious and colourful looked with the box awash with gold fonts and silver patterns. The slab itself looked brilliant with the clean cut milk chocolate decorated with a snowman centre piece and small white icing sugar pieces for a snow effect. After I had stopped admiring the slab I noticed the sweet and spicy smells that were emanating from the foil wrapper ... can a chocolate smell Christmassy!? ...This one did for me :)

One thing that I was never worried about with this chocolate and knew was going to be of a good quality was the 40% milk chocolate which has to be one of Hotel Chocolat finest recipes. As usual it had a creamy taste that was laced with the finest degree of cocoa to give it an extremely smooth, friendly, strong flavoured appeal. The defining element of this chocolate was of course going to be the implementation of the cinnamon to the chocolate and I can say it was done really well. Although having a great presence in the smell of the chocolate the flavours didn't really come to the party until the latter stages of the melt and encountering of the rice pieces. Rice is often used as cheap 'filler' for chocolates but this was not the case here as the cereal element delivered a biscuity element to the taste whilst also delivering the cinnamon element. The spices weren't overpowering and were nicely balanced with the chocolate to bring a nicely well rounded taste experience. Just as if this all wasn't enough the snowman centre piece was formed of Hotel Chocolat caramel flavoured milk chocolate which brought notes of burnt brown sugar and toffee to the taste. With the slab portioned a single serving it was hard not eating the thing all in one go with its moreish taste. I don' think this would survive two sitting for most people.

Overall I wouldn't say that cinnamon flavoured chocolates are necessarily my favourite but what this slab did prove is that it is a terribly underutilised ingredient in this country. As this chocolate proved when implemented correctly cinnamon can really be a flavour enhancing spice and this was definitely very much the case here. With the spice flavours not coming through until the latter stages of the taste this allowed the chocolate to be enjoyed first before the full on effect of the cinnamon was experienced. One thing I have failed to mention yet is how gloriously the textures worked together. The thick melting chocolate was nicely studded by the cripsy cereal pieces whilst the aftertaste had a warming spice effect which I can only believe was brought about by the touch of paprika that was present in the chocolate. If you are looking for a real festive chocolate to get you in the mood this Christmas or perhaps just fancy trying something a little different this is another Hotel Chocolat option well worth looking at.

8.8 out of 10

December 29th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 24


Congratulations to Daniel Bailey whos answer fell between the +/-15 parameters of the competition I set two weeks ago. He is the lucky winner of the Ritter, Riesen, Amicelli and Schogetten chocolates - please send me your address Daniel .... I have e-mailed you!

I won't be telling you all the exact number of product reviews that have been featured on the site yet as I want to keep post 1000 a surprise as I am planning something special! Put it this way ...if you guessed between 820-850 you were in the mix for the final draw!!

Again this is a shortened edition of '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' as I want to clear out the remaining reviews I have stockpiled and get through all the Christmas products I have before the end of the year!

Apart from the Cadbury buyout story rumbling on I couldn't find any other chocolate news I am afraid .... Nestle interested in buying Cadbury?

~~ Other Blog Posts I enjoyed this week ~~

* ImpulsiveBuy - Marvo posted podcast #9 featuring an instant Yakisoba product. Be sure to check it out ... SEE HERE

* GiGi Reviews - Gi posted her review of the new limited edition Oreos ... for the love of god someone please send me some :) ... SEE HERE

* Foodstuffinds - Cin has come up with a cool idea for readers to share their advent calendar content each day! Check it out ... SEE HERE

* Yum Yucky - Josie over at YY wasn't impressed with these but I thought the concept of sweet potatoe crisps (aka chips!) sounded like a cool one ... SEE HERE

* Chocablog - Dom reviewed the Hotel Chocolat Sparkling Stars Praline and like I found with the Sparkling Stars Caramel he was puzzled as to where the actual Christmas concept came in? ... SEE HERE

~~ Where to do your Chritmas Shopping ~~

Luxurious Christmas Gifts from Hotel Chocolat

November 29th: Mr Bunbury Millionaire's Shortbreads

Kcal 213 Fat 12.3g Fat(sats) 6.9g Carbs 24.3g (per slice)

Long term readers will be aware that Millionaire Shortbread is my favourite bakery item and I have been trying a fair few different brand offerings over the last year or so. The latest product to come under the ChocolateMission spotlight were these Mr Bunbury Millionaire's Shortbreads which I found in my local Sainsbury's. Mr Bunbury is a small UK based company who produce their goods in Kingston-Upon-Thames in Surrey, a stones throw away from where I reside now. One thing I immediately loved was how they were described on the pack as 'buttery shortcake fingers shamelessly smothered in caramel and topped with vulgarly rich Belgian milk chocolate' - they get points creativity at least.

Out of all the Millionaire Shortbread products I have tried over the last few months (McVitie's, Thornton's etc) these were the most dear and cost me £1.99 for a pack of 5. My thoughts on the outer packaging were pretty positive and I liked the classic look of the light blue coloured cardboard box which was patterned with some simple but quite decorative looking fonts. Upon opening the box though I was less impressed with what I saw as despite each slice being wrapped in a plastic wrapper the biscuit of each had crumbled everywhere. As well as hampering the aesthetic appeal the softness of the biscuit layers made these incredibly hard to eat without causing a mess which is never what you want for on the go consumption. Messiness aside I must admit that I was relatively tempted by the sweet caramel smell that emanated from the wrappers.

With Mr Bunbury having built his Millionaire's Shortbreads up as shamelessly seductive I was expecting a sinfully rich taste experience - especially since these packed over 200 calories a slice! With the biscuit base crumbling everywhere I decided to be done with it and first ate away at the shortcake base. To my surprise the biscuit really lacked flavour and was disappointingly lacked the buttery element that the packaging promised. With its soft, yielding texture the biscuit lacked presence and it only took seconds for it to disappear entirely once in placed in the mouth. With the biscuit layer devoured this left the caramel and milk chocolate layers which I had mixed feelings about. Like the biscuit the caramel was disappointing and lacked distinctiveness in terms of it's flavours as well as a soft texture. Unlike any good caramel the one on display here was gritty and grainy in texture and lacked the desired butterscotch and salt notes to make it stand out as a good quality caramel. Thankfully having ripped into almost every aspect of this product above I finally have something nice to say and that was that I really enjoyed the milk chocolate that was placed on top of each slice. It was thick and broke with a fresh crispness when bitten in to and had a well paced melt when left to melt on the tongue. Unlike the biscuit and caramel layers that were lacking in flavour the chocolate exerted itself far more and had a delightful cream led taste that delivered the desired chocolate hit with a friendly cocoa edge. Looking at the nutritional content whilst considering the satisfaction I got from eating a slice these were probably more underwhelming than I would have hoped for.

Overall I would have loved to have written a really positive review about a local manufacture but I am afraid I would be doing an injustice to you all. As good as the chocolate layer was there was simply no excusing the caramel and shortcake elements which were frankly both underwhelming and disappointing. I guess there is the fun, comical side of billing your products as 'vulgarly rich' and 'shamelessly seductive' but when they don't deliver on these propositions the product comes across as all the more disappointing. Having reviewed the fantastic Thornton's Millionaire Shortcakes recently these were always going up against a tough benchmark but considering they cost the greater out the two there is simply only one winner out of the two. It would have been great to be able to tell you all to go out and buy these to support a smaller, relatively new brand but I just can't. Your better off sticking with the cheaper, tastier alternatives mentioned in this review.

6.2 out of 10

November 28th: Thorntons Creme Brulee

Kcal 180 Fat 10.4g Fat(sats) 7.0g Carbs 20.2g

As requested by ChocolateMission reader Lily I
today bring you the first of two seasonal limited editions from our friends at Thorntons UK. Joining the Thorntons Christmas line up this year we have been treated to two new variants from their single bars range - one of which is this Creme Brulee variant. This bar came described as 'milk chocolate with a creamy vanilla flavoured centre' and was certainly up against it from the outset given the quality of the recent Lindt Petite Desserts Creme Brulee chocolate I tried just a few weeks ago. Just so you know I bought this bar from a local Thorntons shop, where I believe is the only place to track these new bars down.

Like most
products from this range the bar came in a 33.0g serving size which I of course ate in one single sitting. Looking at the presentation of the product as a whole I was pretty impressed and thought everything from the outer wrapper to the inner bar looked aesthetically pleasing. The outer wrapper incorporated a bit of a Christmas theme with a few silver snowflakes printed across the front giving it a sparkly and inviting look. The bar itself looked a little on the small side for my liking though I must say I did like the light dusting of brown sugar on the outer chocolate and the inner layering certainly looked appetising. Upon opening the plastic packet I was met with a waft of sweet, chocolaty smells that enticed to an extent but a the same time seemed nothing out of the ordinary.

en Thorntons put the required effort into their products they tend to do pretty well on the ChocolateMission rating system but it is an all too common occurrence that they fall fowl of this and serve up some right old rubbish. To be honest this bar didn't quite fit that mould, in that Thorntons looked to have put sufficient effort in, but just didn't quite produce a quality product. Starting off with the outer constituents the milk chocolate coating with the brown sugar pieces was pretty good. The chocolate was nice and creamy, whilst the brown sugar pieces delivered the sweet, crunchy texture that you would get on a creme brulee pudding with real effect. Unfortunately the taste was dominated by the inner creme which was pretty unpleasant and tasted sickeningly sweet. Whilst the wrapper promised a vanilla flavoured centre the reality was that it was more a sugary gloop that was monotonous and overpowering of the other flavour influences. As I have mentioned above, looking at this bar my immediate thoughts were that it simply looked really small and this did ultimately not fulfil my hunger to a satisfactory degree.

all I felt Thorntons didn't quite crack the Creme Brulee flavour in this bar and it unfortunately is yet another product that falls in to the bracket of 'it sounds better than it actually is'. In the defence of Thorntons it is nice to see them give this sort of innovation a try and they weren't far off producing a relatively fair standard product. This Creme Brulee bar fell down in two pretty obvious areas; firstly (and most importantly) the actual creme brulee inner filling wasn't good enough and was terribly sweet tasting and lacking the sophisticated creamy custard flavours I was hoping for. Secondly the product was simply just too small and had this bar actually been tasty I would most likely been left feeling disappointed given the miniature size. I don't want to lay into Thorntons too much here as I was pleased they actually gave something like this a go and they were up against pretty hot competition from the likes of Lindt. Look out for my second review of the limited edition bars from Thorntons this Christmas coming in the next couple of days.

6.6 out of 10

November 27th: Maryland White Choc Chip Mini Cookies

Kcal 514 Fat 26.4g Fat(sats) 13.5g Carbs 62.3g (per 100.0g)

With only 25 days left until Christmas there was only ever going to be one way to kick off the month of December and that of course was with a festive themed chocolate review. The Christmas products have been on the shelves of the retailers for almost 3 months now and an ever present since the first few started appearing were these Maryland White Choc Chip Mini Cookies. The attentive among you may recall that I gave the original milk chocolate Maryland Mini Cookies a review in their pouch form last month. As you can probably tell from the product name the only difference between them and these were that these mini cookies contained white chocolate chips.

For the relatively small price of £1.29 these mini cookies came in a 150.0g box that contained a single plastic bag with the cookies inside. To be honest this was a little problematic as the inner plastic packet was not resealable which meant the cookies had gone soft after just a few days despite being kept in a tin box. I think it would have been far more suitable for the inner contents to have been split into two plastic packets as I am sure this would have kept the the cookies far fresher. Aesthetically I thought the product was a lot better and liked the fact that .... oh dear ... looking at the box now I have only just noticed the 'Merryland' branding ... right that isn't the cleverest thing ever :) Regardless I could at least appreciate the effort they went to making the outer packaging looking a little different and festive. Despite my reservations at the cookies being kept within a plastic packet things seemed a lot more promising when I was met with some wonderful fresh biscuit smells as I opened it.

One thing I did forget to mention looking at the product was that the white chocolate chip pieces appeared very dark in the cookies themselves and I had to double check I hadn't wrongly been given a pack of original milk chocolate ones. Fears of this were soon put to rest when I ate my first cookie and could detect a white chocolate influence. Just like the originals the chocolate didn't particularly come through that strongly during any point of the taste but at times there were noticeable outbreaks of sweet, dried milk like flavours breaking out through the constant flavours of the cookies. The cookies themselves were quite mild in taste with minor notes of wheat and butter intermittently broken up with waves of brown sugar which pepped things up every now and then. With the taste not being all that strong I didn't find a handful of these all that fulfilling and wouldn't recommend them as a hunger satisfying snack.

Overall I am afraid December has got off to a bit of a limp start here as these cookies just didn't do the business for me. After my experience with the original Maryland Cookies I probably should have been able to foresee that these would ultimately be a bit of a letdown but what with the festive theme decorating the outer packaging I couldn't really resist. Just like the originals the cookies bases were disappointing and put in the context of other cookie/biscuit products were just pretty bland to put it bluntly. Unfortunately for these cookies the white chocolate chips were equally as average and contributed quite little to the overall taste aside from an extra sweet milky flavour influence. If Maryland Cookies are one of those products that you absolutely adore and have grown up eating then these maybe of interest to you since they offer a slight twist on the originals. Personally though I just frankly wouldn't bother - they aren't the worse cookie product ever but trust me there are better options out there ... some which may just be reviewed on this site in the next few days ;)

6.6 out of 10

November 26th: Milka Knister

Kcal 535 Fat 30.0g Fat(sats) 18.0g Carbs 60.0g (per 100.0g)

We aren't a day into December yet but the Christmas reviews are coming thick and fast here on ChocolateMission. With so many manufactures here in the UK piling on the Christmas bandwagon and releasing many limited edition offerings I was given the opportunity by ChocolateMission reader Susie to add a German manufactured product into this years festive
mix. Milka is one of my favourite German brands so I excited to see that Susie had been so kind to include a bag of these Knister chocolates in the box of goodies she sent me. These Knister chocolates came billed as 'Alpine milk chocolate with a milky cream filling with Brausegranulat' .... indeed I hear you all saying Brausegranulat??!? What on earth is that!? I decided to find out for myself by getting stuck in.

The bag Susie sent across weighed 75.0g and included around 10 or 12 small spherical pieces. Looking at the packaging I can't say I was all that endeared by the practicality of the bag as it was about twice the size it needed to be. That said I have to admit that I liked the festive snowman on the front and it immediately radiated a fun festive feel to the product. Inside each of the ball pieces were wrapped in layer of thin foil which maintained the typical dairy smells of the Milka chocolate nicely. Half way through the packet I found that by splitting the pieces in two, one half was nearly all solid milk chocolate, whilst the other contained the milk cream filling. Being the saddo I thought this added a bit of fun when eating them.

Saving the revelation of our mystery Brausegranulat ingredient to very last I will first describe the taste of the Milka chocolate and inner milk centre. Just as I expected the outer chocolate was damn delicious and I enjoyed the creamy chocolaty undertones that were hinted with the ever so important note of hazelnut giving it that very familiar Milka taste. Inside the milk flavours of the chocolates were further reaffirmed by the smooth, silky flavours of the milk-cream centre which at first brought a delightful cooling sensation on the tongue. I say at first as the milk centre also played host to the mysterious Brausegranulat, which once encountered unfortunately made things take a turn for the worse. If you haven't guessed already the Brausegranulat was in fact popping candy - one of my least favourite things that can be added to chocolate. The popping candy brought upon that awful crackly feeling at the back of my throat which somewhat hampered my enjoyment of the product and didn't have me digging back into the pack as I probably would of done had it not been present.

Overall this was a product spoilt for me by the presence of the Brausegranulat - a word that will be forever imprinted in my mind. Having had Milka products with the ingredient in before I probably should have been a bit more clued up on the fact it was going to be my arch nemesis popping candy but being the oblivious fool I was unaware up until I actually tasted my first piece. Given the quality of the taste it is probably a fair representation to say that my mood went from :D .... to .... :( .... as soon as the horrible popping sensation could be felt at the back of my mouth. I guess the fact is that I just don't like the stuff in my chocolate - I just really don't see the need for it! If you are a fan or the stuff or similarly not particularly bothered by it then I would suggest that these Knister chocolates are well worth a look at if you like your Milka chocolate. These aren't a Milka product I would ever have again but fortunately for me there are a million other options in their extensive portfolio.

7.1 out of 10

November 25th: Lindt Magical Milk

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

Unbelievably it is already just one month until Christmas and the festive themed reviews are coming thick and fast. Last year thanks to my pals at Dean-German-Grocery I tried several Lindt Christmas products and this year they seemed to have come up with a few new bits and pieces. I have been demanding that Lindt produce more smaller convenience sized products for awhile now as the two I tried previously (Nociolatte & Wafer bars HERE) were pretty disappointing compared to usual Lindt quality. As you can imagine when I saw this 'Magical Milk' bar sitting with the rest of the Christmas products in Tesco I was hopeful for a lot better from a product that came billed as 'milk chocolate with a creamy milk filling'.

Weighing 40.0g this was an unusual looking bar in that it was about 15cm long but really very thin in terms of thickness. The outer packaging looked fantastic and the simple addition of a few sparkly silver stars brought the blue background colour to life and gave it a nice festive glow. Inside the bar itself was split into very streamlined blocks which looked very appetising with each sporting a Lindt brand logo and a nice serving of white, fluffy looking cream filling. Thanks to the foil fresh seal of the wrapper the chocolate maintained a lovely dairy cream smell that was evident when the bar was smelt up close. Presentation is often the one thing that Lindt can never be pulled up on and they certainly did themselves justice here.

The milk chocolate used here wasn't one of Lindt's primary recipes though there was no denying the quality of the taste. The outer milk chocolate was more forthcoming in its cocoa flavours than I was expecting and substantiated a good degree of chocolatyness as soon as the chocolate entered the mouth. As the thick, smooth melt of the chocolate progressed the taste took a turn for the sweeter as the milk flavours really started to come to the party. The transition from the outer chocolate to the inner cream filling was as seamless as it could of been and the texture of the inner filling was noticeably even smoother and just a touch lighter. The taste of the filling wasn't the most spectacular thing I have ever tasted but it further compounded the milk flavours of the milk chocolate and brought a double cream like flavour influence that made for a wonderfully smooth, slowing taste. With the taste being so smooth I didn't need any encouragement to devour the whole bar in one sitting which made for a satisfying amount.

Overall Lindt have finally managed to take the quality of one of their bigger 100.0g products and translate it into a smaller product that cane be consumed out of the home. The milk chocolate prehaps wasn't quite up to scratch with their Lindt Excellence Extra Creamy milk chocolate recipe but that said it was still very good and delivered the all important chocolate flavour hit. The thing that still pleasantly surprises me when I taste these type of bars from Lindt is the smoothness in which their chocolate melts in the mouth and I have to say the sensuous feel of the melt was simply wonderful here yet again. The creamy filling may not have been the most distinctive filling ever but it added a fantastic cream element to the overall taste which I am sure would be a hit amongst most consumers. I personally hope Lindt don't discontinue this bar straight after Christmas - I think it is worthy of a permanent place on our confectionery shelves.

8.4 out of 10

November 24th: McVitie's Christmas Irish Cream Bars

Kcal 114 Fat 5.9g Fat(sats) 2.9g Carbs 14.1g (per bar)

The cake bar reviews have been coming thick and fast for the last two months but todays has a special Christmas twist to make it all the more interesting. McVitie's cake bars have already had a few cracks at the ChocolateMission rating system with their Galaxy bars proving a lot more successful than their Penguin offering. Over the last few weeks a few seasonal cake bar varieties have been popping up on the supermarket shelves and it was these Christmas Irish Cream Bars that really caught my eye during my last outing in Sainsbury's. I think most of us are partial to the odd Bailey's at Christmas so the concept of combining Irish Creme Liqueur with chocolate cake and milk chocolate sounded like a grand idea to me.

£1 of my hard earned money bought a five pack of five cakes which were all of course individually wrapped. To pass comment on the packaging I have to say the outer wrapper looked a little generic and I think McVitie's could possibly have done a slightly better job with the communicating the Irish Creme theme. If you look across McVitie's Christmas range you will see that many of the products look very similar - I think a little differentiation is never a bad thing. More positively the bar itself looked pretty gorgeous when cross-sectioned with a fluffy white filling nestled nicely above the cake. The aroma of the chocolate was hardly over powering but when closer inspection was taken I could detect a fine smelling Irish brandy like hint.

Biting into the cake bar I was unsurprised that the milk chocolate on offer was the same as the one implemented on the Penguin Cake Bars. Facing facts this of course meant the quality wasn't all the high but having had it a few times now I am starting to get used to the sweet dried milk like taste that it consistently delivered. The melt of the chocolate was fairly well paced if a tad rough and grainy but it ultimately led nicely into the firmer cake that lay below. As I have found all too often with cake bars over the last two months the quality of the cake wasn't particularly great, however it did maintain a degree of appeal with it's sweet chocolaty, vanilla taste that was partially seasoned with a touch of salt. The ultimate quality of this product was of course going to lie in the standard of the Irish Creme filling and it was unfortunately not what I was hoping for. As I probably should have guessed the actual strength of the liqueur element was embarrassingly weak, thus resulting in little more than a sugary white gloop that offered very little in terms of flavour. I think had I not been aware these were meant to be Irish Creme flavoured I would have seriously struggled to find the flavours in the taste and I was resultingly left pretty unsatisfied with what I had just eaten.

Overall the execution of this product was such a shame because the actual concept of it was excellent. As written above I probably should had been more realistic in my expectations but I was truly surprised by the lack of Irish Creme kick in the filling which just made for a really disappointing overall experience. I guess in a way it was pretty lucky I was aware of McVitie's limitations with their milk chocolate as I probably would have been even more disappointed from what was on offer here. On reflection I would love to see a more competent manufacture give this combination a try as I think there is real potential behind the idea. Having tried many a cake bar recently this was neither the best, nor the worst but just disappointingly pretty average. The filling added the desired amount of moistness to the texture but failed to deliver the important thing which was of course Irish Cream flavours to the party. Possibly one for Bailey's fans to try but I would urge you not to get your hopes up.

7.4 out of 10

November 23rd: Hotel Chocolat Sparkling Stars Caramels

Over the past few weeks I have munching my way through Hotel Chocolat's finest Christmas offerings this year (with the help of my family!) and today bring you my review of their Sparkling Stars Caramels selection box. Described as 'a collection of caramel filled stars sure to bring a sparkle into the festive season' the selection was formed of 14 different chocolates - with one portioned twice constituting the full box of 15.

Looking at the packaging I have to admit I felt like I wasn't quite filled with the same festive spirit as was with some the Christmas Slabs that will be appearing on the site soon. Don't get me wrong the golden coloured box and the inner chocolates looked well presented and neat, but in comparison I felt it wasn't quite there with its Christmas credentials.

Another thing that bothered me ever so slightly about this box was that the menu that was included was a little inaccurate with not all the pictures matching up with the chocolates themselves. Although in a way this does sort of prove they aren't rolling off a factory conveyor belt in their thousands identically it took a little more effort than it should have done matching them up.

In the interest of keeping this review a reasonable I will keep my comments on each pretty brief - below I will be working from left to right in each picture:

Salted Caramel - I always like to start off a positive note and this one was one of the best in the box. The outer milk chocolate was of the usual superb quality and the sweetness of the chocolate nicely transcended into a soft butterscotch caramel centre which melted with ultimate ease. The salt note was prevalent in aftertaste and left a delicious set of flavours in the mouth. Superb.

Coffee Caramel - This was one of the harder ones to identify as it looked nothing like the picture in the menu. The outer chocolate was thick melting and creamy, however it dominated the inner coffee caramel which was a little weak for my taste buds. This was more your mocha flavoured caramel than your espresso. A nice tasting chocolate but I was a little disappointed. Good.

Caramel & Golden Rum - My sister tried this one as she is a big fan of boozy chocolates. Like many liqueur filled Hotel Chocolat truffles that have gone before she thought that the rum innards over powered the chocolate making it a little redundant and a little too booze focused in taste.... and this comes from a girl that likes her alcohol! Standard.

Caramel Praline - The keen eyed of you may have noticed in the picture that this was the piece that was portioned twice. Simply put it was absolutely delicious. The combination of the white and milk chocolate made for a creamy, vanilla noted outer coating and held a delicious tasting praline truffle filling inside. The praline was too die for its hazelnut paste taste enhanced with a note of toffee caramel to make it all the desirable. I could have eaten a box full of these. Superb.

Apricot Brandy & Caramel - This was another impossible piece to identify but it was eventually consumed by my mother who is a big fan of apricot. Unfortunately for her she felt that that the fruit flavours of the apricot didn't quite come through in taste enough with the dark chocolate dominating the main stay of the taste and the brandy the latter stages. She did say the dark chocolate was rather good but that is perhaps missing the point just a little bit. Good.

Toffee Apple - This was another bagged by my mother who was a little intrigued by the garish green colour on the top of the piece - I thought it looked a little fake/artificial myself. She was surprised to find that this was another boozy chocolate though this one was little more expressive with its added flavours in comparison to some of the others. My mother described it as creamy milk chocolate with a sweet apple schnapps and caramel flavoured centre and was one of the pieces she enjoyed more out of the lot. Very Good.

Blood Orange Caramel - This piece was consumed by my sister who is a big fan of orange flavoured chocolates. I was expecting the combination of the sweet orange fruit and caramel to possibly be a little on the sugar overkill side however she really enjoyed this one and described the transition of the melt into soft fruity caramel centre as absolutely sensational. This was of the surprises in the selection - maybe I should get around to trying some of Hotel Chocolat's orange flavoured slabs. Very Good.

Caramel & Whiskey - The more I write this review the more I realise how little of these I got myself :) ... this one was eaten by my father who is rather partial to whiskey truffles to say the least. He described the milk chocolate was very high quality and loved the inner whiskey centre which is said provided a fiery malt flavoured toffee like taste. I was kinda expecting him to like this one and he did. Very Good.

Balsamic Caramel - Wahey one I ate :) Just like the majority of the selection box this was coated in milk chocolate which wonderfully clean in taste and sensually creamy. What lay below in this was piece was certainly a little different in comparison to the other pieces from the selection and provided a sweet chocolaty tasting caramel that had a unique acidic edge. It was a tasting experience though I can't say I would go for a box full of them. Good.

Caramel & Salted Almond - This was yet another piece that looked a little different than it did on the menu but it was instantly recognisable as soon as I tasted it. The almonds nuts in their chopped state were not the most forthcoming in flavour but were accentuated nicely by the hint of salt that was present in each bite. Just as with the salted caramel piece the hint of rock salt nicely played into the hands of the sweetness of the caramel and livened up the nutty undertones. Very Good.

Orange Liqueur & Toffee - Surprise surprise this was bagged by my sister who again really enjoyed this one. In addition to the citrus and orange and caramel flavours in the blood orange piece she felt the added element of the booze brought a nice warming element to the the textures in the mouth. She said that she would happily of had a box full of these and handpicked this as her favourite from the selection that she tried. She demanded I give this a Superb.

Caramel Crunch - This was one of the first pieces I had from the box and it turned out to be one of my favourites. The milk chocolate was creamy and delicious, the inner caramel was sweet and salty and small cookie pieces placed on top were crunchy with hints of butter and brown sugar. Imagine what everyone wants the Nestle Munchies to taste like and this was it. Superb.

Banana Caramel - The rest of family were told by my mother "eat this and die" :) this was strictly off limits given her love for banana flavoured chocolates and I am glad to report it was every bit as good as she hoped. She said like the cream flavours of the milk chocolate were hinted nicely with banana with the fruit flavours becoming further accentuated when the sweet caramel was hit below. She said the velvety soft feel of the caramel was luxurious and melted with ultimate ease. Superb.

Caramel Cherry - I was surprised to see that this was not one of the liqueur based chocolates in the selection though it was a rarity in that it was one of the few coated in dark chocolate. I think this swap was a positive thing as the unsweetened taste of the dark chocolate subsided the tartness of the red fruit flavours somewhat which made for a more natural taste. It was my favourite from the selection but it was a nice variation on the recipe nonetheless. Good.

Overall these were a good selection of caramel truffles with a five out of the fourteen obtaining a Superb rating. The standouts from the box for me personally had to be the Crunch and Praline pieces, though particular members of my family really loved the Banana, Orange Liqueur and Whiskey Caramels. Unfortunately though this wasn't a selection box that got me excited as other Hotel Chocolat chocolate boxes have gone before, as it seemed to just not quite have the same prestigious aire about it. Firstly I have to say the Christmas theme wasn't quite there in the packaging or the selection of flavours in the box - why were there not any Christmassy flavoured caramels e.g. Cinnamon Caramel? Also as I have referred to above the menu that was included wasn't always that helpful which made for a marginally frustrating and confusing experience at times. This will no doubt be seen as nit picking but from a brand that prides itself of the highest qualities I think that these were minor oversights. The long story cut short is that these are a high quality box of chocolates, but just not the best Hotel Chocolat have ever offered.

8.1 out of 10

November 22nd: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 24


Hi All,

7Days of Chocolate Reviews is being cut short this week as I have so many reviews to get in before Christmas I am posting another today ... see below for the review of Green & Black's Cherry bar.

Question of the week is - 'What Christmas chocolates have you bought yet? Any you can recommend?' ... this question comes after a comment from David on the Cadbury Snowballs review yesterday who said that Cadbury had distributed them too early meaning that his eyes anyway they lost their Christmas sparkle! See that review for my own comments.

It has been slow for news on the chocolate market this week .... Ferrero announced a big spend media campaign for Christmas (HERE). Following on from the news I broke last week about battle of the Cadbury & Nestle bunnies things have been gearing up (HERE), and finally could Hershey and Ferrero being plotting a joint venture for Cadbury? The Telegraph thinks so (HERE).

As for Blogs I enjoyed this week -

GiGi wrote a fantastic review of Heinz's Treacle Sponge ... she just didn't have the custard to back it up :) (HERE)

Marvo at the Impulsive Buy reviewed the latest limited edition mint fudge Oreos (HERE)

Cybele wrote a few reviews on some Fannie May products this week. She didn't like them as much as I did mind you (HERE)

Rosa at ZOMG Candy absolutey loved the Milka Joghurt bar and gave it one of their special ZOMG ratings (HERE)

I hope you all have great weeks - don't forget to look at the review below :D


November 22nd: Green & Black's Cherry

Kcal 477 Fat 28.2g Carbs 48.0g (per 100.0g)

Over the last week or so I have been sampling a few more variants from the Green & Black's range - some of which have been great, others of which have been not so great. For this very reason I have to admit that Green & Black's isn't one of my favourite brands as it often doesn't live up to it's premium proposition. The G&B price isn't what I would call expensive but at the same time it is more expensive than brands like Dairy Milk or Galaxy who just so happen to be a lot more consistent. Today the bar at hand was this 'Cherry' variant, which came described as 'organic dark chocolate with whole cherries'.

This G&B bar came in the normal 100.0g format that was separated into the tiny sized blocks that I have ranted about way too many times before to go into detail again. The outer wrapper was predominantly coloured with the horrible looking G&B brown colour - one can only hope they will be flipping the placement of the primary and secondary colours soon like they have done on a few other variants from their range. More positively the chocolate itself was covered in a great looking layer of gold G&B branded foil and exhibited a fair amount of chocolaty, fruity smells when broken into. As you can see in the picture above the cherry pieces were generously dispersed throughout the chocolate with most blocks gracing at least one cherry piece.

I can't honestly think of another range where the quality of chocolate swings from one extreme to another quite like G&B's dark chocolate does. Their 70% dark chocolate is absolutely fantastic with its rich, non-bitter cocoa taste that has notes of coffee and red wine. Their 60% dark chocolate (the stuff used here unfortunately!) just so happens to be the polar opposite. The chocolate was just like I had experienced before in that it was fair paced and smooth in melt but utterly lifeless and limp in terms of flavour impact. Where the chocolate was just unexciting the cherry pieces were completely repulsive and the polar opposite of what I was hoping for. The cherries were tart, sour and bitter and frankly tasted like fruit that had past its best before date. Just to cap off a really bad showing for the cherries here they also felt horrible in the mouth and had waxy thick skins that just didn't blend with the melting chocolate in any manner. You can probably guess already that this wasn't a chocolate I consumed in any great quantity. I never like to admit this but over half of it ended up in the bin.

Overall this chocolate has really put me off trying another Green & Black's bar for a long time. It was simply dismal in nearly every which way - from the boring looking packaging (which I have rated way too highly), the bland tasting chocolate and the awful tasting cherries there was no real redeeming feature of this chocolate that I really care to mention. G&B have never managed to blow my socks off with any of their chocolates but there is a certain level of quality that you come to expect when you pay over a certain price point for a chocolate. Unfortunately it is just an all too common experience for me that G&B don't reach the levels that they should be and this bar failed miserably to get anywhere near tolerable standards. I normally try ending my reviews with at least something positive to say about the chocolate bar at hand but I am really struggling with this one. It would be interesting to hear from others who have also tried this Cherry variant as I am wondering if it just wasn't to my own taste or if it really is awful.

4.6 out of 10

November 21st: Cadbury Snow Bites

Kcal 240 Fat 11.0g Fat(sats) 6.9g Carbs 33.3g (per 50.0g)

With just over a month to go Christmas 2009 reviews are officially go on ChocolateMission this year. A few Christmas products have slipped through the net already and made an appearance but from now until the 25th of December you can expect at least few Christmas themed products a week. Getting us started this year I today bring you my review of Cadbury's latest new product Cadbury Snow Bites which got announced in the press way back in July (HERE). These Snow Bites looked exactly the same in proposition to a Marks & Spencer's product I reviewed last year and came described as 'milk chocolate balls in a crisp sugar shell, dusted with icing sugar'. Could Cadbury trump M&S?

These Snow Bites came in a standard sized 100.0g bag that I found in my local Tesco Superstore. Aesthetically speaking I really liked the look of the outer portion of the bag and thought that Cadbury had done well incorporating a festive looking theme with the very clear Snow Bites branding. What surprised me slightly was the small size of the Cadbury logo and had I not been clued up beforehand it would have all to easy to overlook that this was actually a Cadbury product. Inside the packet it was nice to see that the inner portion of the wrapper was foil based which meant that the pieces were maintained with a great deal of freshness. Unsurprisingly despite the foil fresh seal the chocolates inside lacked an aroma of great note but this has been quite a common thing with a lot of other sugar coated products I have reviewed in the past.

Being a sceptical old so-and-so I thought the outer icing sugar that lined each Snow Bite was merely there for decoration though as soon as I placed the first piece in my mouth I realised that it actually had an important role to play. The icing sugar layer was actually very well implemented and was portioned correctly with just a light sprinkle on the outer shell of each piece. To my surprise the icing sugar brought a wonderful cooling sensation on the tongue which meant that the melt felt all that more exciting in the mouth. Whilst the cooling tingle lasted only a matter of seconds it nicely set up the crunchy texture of the thin crisp sugar shell that lay below which was best enjoyed when sucked on to melt the chocolate inside. The inner chocolate!? ... well it was your standard Cadbury's quality. It wasn't quite Dairy Milk but it was nicely milk rooted in flavour and had a sweet chocolaty taste that had me reaching back into the bag time after time. Despite the bag stating that half (50.0g) at a time constituted a serving I was more than happy just enjoying a few handfuls each sitting.

Overall I didn't think these sounded like the most exciting new product that was ever going to grace the UK but having tasted them I have to say I was pleased with what they delivered. As I have written about above I was really thrilled to see that the icing sugar actually had more of a role in the product than I first thought and it was great that it contributed in terms of the interplay of the textures. The transition of the cooling sensation of the melting icing sugar to the crisp outer sugar shell was simply delightful and the chocolate that lay below was of a slightly better than average quality. Of course it would have been nice if the chocolate had been Dairy Milk but for some reason Cadbury seem to be pulling it's most famous chocolate recipe from most of it's secondary products. On reflection I have to say that these Cadbury Snow Bites were just a little better than the Marks & Spencer's Snowy Balls I reviewed last year. I wouldn't say these are one of Cadbury's greatest products ever but if you see them around this Christmas and fancy some Cadbury themed Christmas cheer they could be worth a look at.

7.9 out of 10

November 20th: Lion Bar (Poland)

Kcal 209 Fat 9.8g Fat(sats) 6.4g Carbs 27.9g

They don't come more manly than the Lion Bar now do they? ... ok maybe the Yorkie! If you have read my review of the UK's Lion Bar that I wrote way back in March 2008 you will be more than aware that it is one of my all time favourite Nestle bars. Combining both its great taste and masculine brand positioning the Lion Bar is a product that I feel suits me down to the ground so it was with great excitement that I received this Polish version from ChocolateMission reader Alan. If you are unaware of the constituents of a Lion Bar it is a product formed of a wafer centre, covered in caramel, rice cereal and milk chocolate. Over the last year I have tried a white chocolate variation from Germany (See HERE) which wasn't quite as good as the original milk chocolate - the question today was whether the Polish bar could match up to the UK equivalent.

At first glance something was immediately evident and it was that Polish bar was considerably smaller than the UK 55.0g bar. At 43.0g this bar didn't quite have the same 'this is a huge manly chocolate bar' feel and obviously didn't prove to be as satisfying. I guess an upside of this was that it had considerably less calories but I can't think of many Lion Bar consumers who probably care about that. Appearance wise apart from the obvious size differences it aesthetically looked no different to our UK bar with the distinct Lion branding on the outer packaging. The actual bar itself also looked no different with each of the layers of chocolate, rice, caramel and wafer all clearly visible when cross-sectioned. In regards to smell the bar didn't quite seem to smell as fresh or inviting as the UK equivalent but I'm sure this was down to the extensive travel of the product.

Up to this point apart from the size aside the bar appeared almost identical to what we have here in the UK but when it came to taste there were some very obvious differences. Again I am aware this may be down to the extensive air miles clocked up by the product but the melt of the chocolate felt slightly rougher in the mouth and not quite as smooth flowing. In regards to the flavours of the chocolate the taste had just a touch more emphasis on its sugar credentials than normal and played less to the very familiar dried milk sweet taste that I am all to familiar with UK Nestle products. On the balance of things this wasn't too much of an issue for me, however I must say I didn't enjoy the wafer element as much as I normally did with the UK bar. I often complain that wafers lack flavour here in the UK but the wafer on offer here was slightly over powering with it's strong malt rooted taste. This bar retained the appeal of the variable textures from the UK bar but the stronger tasting wafer somewhat took the cereal and caramel elements out of the equation and it was all too often that the strong malt flavours dominated the taste. The wafer by no means tasted horrible in any manner but the fact that it prohibited the other elements coming through as strongly came at detriment to the resulting taste.

Overall just like with the Mars Dark I have to conclude that the UK variant of this bar is the superior out of the two. Of course you may think this may just be home bias but I genuinely I have come to this conclusion for a few reasons I have gone into extensively above. The first reason of course has to be the size. For the product positioning the last thing you would want to do with this bar is it a smaller size as I am sure this would never be a favourable thing in the eyes of a typical Lion Bar consumer. Secondly I thought the dominance of the wafer in the taste came at detriment to the caramel and cereal elements which simply meant that this Polish bar didn't quite pull off the same classical combinations that the UK bar does so well. Personally I would say that the UK is the better bar out of the two but I would be willing to bet that a Polish person would say the opposite. I think preference is most likely down to what you 'know and trust' as a consumer; it would certainly be interesting to hear views from other people who have tried both to get their opinions.

7.9 out of 10

November 19th: Green & Black's Mint

Kcal 478 Fat 27.3g Carbs 50.5g (per 100.0g)

It has taken me a while but I am a slowly making my through Green & Black's extensive range and this week I have been trying out their 'Mint' variant. Described as 'dark chocolate with a mint fondant centre' this bar didn't exactly sound like a new proposition - especially since it was only a week or so ago I was trying a very similar product from Bendicks. Taking a look back at the scores of some similar sounding products, with only a few aside this combination is one that can generally be quite unremarkable e.g. Nestle After Eight. In fact a little dig through the archives shows that the only manufactures to have scored over 7.5 for this combo are Ghiradelli and Bendicks - no pressure then!

Despite the bar coming in the usual 100.0g Green & Black's size it was split into different shaped blocks to normal. Instead of the standard tiny sized flat blocks this bar was formed of some bigger filled pieces which held a nice serving of mint fondant within each. Personally I thought this did wonders for the presentation of the product and at last I was really pleased to see something a little different from the Green & Black's brand. Just as I noted on the 'Ginger' review last week G&B's have started flipping the placement of their primary brown and secondary flavour indicative colours on their wrappers. Again I thought the greater presence of the dark green made the product have more stand out on shelf and just made the product look more interesting - I can only hope G&B's plan to do this across their entire range. One thing I have never had a problem with is the inner gold foil wrapper which kept the chocolate both looking and smelling fresh releasing some fragrant mint and cocoa scents as soon as I broke the seal.

One thing that I did find quite humorous about this bar was the ingredients list as it had the word 'organic' in it no fewer than twelve times. I understand pushing the organic credentials of the bar but surely a simply 'made with organic ingredients' line would have sufficed. Putting this to a side having not had such a great time with G&B's last dark chocolate variant I was pleased to see that they ramped up the strength somewhat and used their 70% recipe instead of their 60% formulation with this bar. Although this may only seem like a number the actual difference in the taste was very noticeable and the chocolate tasted far stronger with coffee and red wine notes complimenting the underlying cocoa flavours nicely, leaving a lasting impression in the mouth. Admittedly the chocolate wasn't the most rounded in terms of taste and was about to verge on what I would describe as bitter until the mint fondant came to the party. The mint fondant itself was of a pretty good quality and it blended nicely into the melt of the chocolate without a grainy texture like many fondants I have had before. The fondant was sweet but never poweringly so and delivered a fresh tasting peppermint flavour element that complimented the dark chocolate nicely. This was a chocolate best eaten in small quantities and was a nice to eat just a few blocks at a time after an evening meal.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this Green & Black's bar and I am pleased I can finally write something positive about a bar from their range. I guess the best way to sum this bar up would be to describe it as a posher version of Nestle After Eight. I would say that in comparison both the dark chocolate and mint fondant were of a better quality and combined made for a nicely rounded overall taste. One of the things I was most pleased to see was that the 70% dark chocolate was far greater in terms of taste in comparison to some of the milder G&B's dark chocolates that I have reviewed recently. As I have commented above this was a chocolate that was best enjoyed in small portions and I would not recommend it as one that should be eaten in vast quantities at a time. In comparison to some of the dark chocolate and mint fondant combinations I mentioned at the start of the review this wasn't the best out of the lot but I would certainly say it was in the same league and worthy of a try if it takes your fancy.

8.0 out of 10

November 18th: Montezuma's Acid Zest

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

With scores ranging from 6.6 to 8.6 you wouldn't be far off the mark describing Montezuma's chocolate as variable at the best of times. Whereas some of their offerings like their 'Surf Nut' and 'Culture Shock' bars have been fantastic they have almost always followed these up with a chocolate that has been no better than average or worse (e.g. 'Space Hopper' etc). With really no idea what to expect the day came for me to try yet another from their 'Speciality Range' - the 'Acid Zest' bar. The 'Acid Zest' was described on pack as 'white chocolate with orange nibs and lemon' and offered up a pretty unique sounding proposition. Unique sounding it may have been, but more importantly was it any good?

If your already 99% sure how much this bar weighs chances are you read this site a little too much :) As expected the 45.0g bar split into six separate blocks which I shared out between a few members of my family during a mid afternoon coffee. Aesthetically all was well with the outer packaging with its bright vivid colours, though once again I have to pass comment on the cheap looking inner plastic wrapper that spoilt the effect of the premiumness somewhat. Despite my hatred of the plastic packet one part of me makes me wish I didn't open it and that was the god awful smell that was revealed once opened. With the fruit completely lacking presence I would personally have described the smell as 'slightly gone off milk' but one of my family went for the slightly more vulgar 'baby sick' description. With the smell proving more than a little unsettling the clean cut nature of the blocks provided little in the way of piece of mind.

The bar thankfully tasted better then it smelt ... but truth be told it was still pretty poor. With name 'Acid Zest' I was really expecting something very strongly flavoured but this just sadly wasn't the case. I have had Montezuma's white chocolate before but never have I perceived it to be lacking flavour to this degree. As soon as the piece entered the mouth I was instantly alarmed at the lack of flavour the chocolate was delivering as it melted on my tongue. To be honest it is very hard to describe the taste as it is wasn't almost non-existent due to the fruit influences adding very little aside from a subtle lemony background note throughout. The white chocolate itself was unfortunately no better and offered a dried milk like sweet taste that never generated any telling or lasting impact. Although I didn't enjoy the dry, lacklustre melt of the chocolate all that much I did enjoy the texture brought to the party by the chewy orange nib like pieces which at least brought some interest to what was a dull taste. A 45.0g bar shared between a few of us was never intended to make for a fulfilling but it also failed in its job of offering a small indulgent chocolate flavour hit.

Overall despite this bar scoring a lowly 5.5 I would say I have been kind score wise. This chocolate couldn't possibly have tasted as bad as it smelt so it was never going to score as bad in taste category as it did the aroma one. To put it in perspective how 'off' this bar did smell I guess it gives a little insight when I say that had consumption not been for review purposes I probably wouldn't have even contemplated eating it. Looking at the scoring chart the only thing that saved this chocolate from getting a truly dismal score was the fact that the orange nibs added a little bit of interest to the texture, whilst the outer packaging gave it a slightly funky look. Just as I opened this review saying Montezuma's range has it good'uns and it's duds and this one just so happens to be the worst of the lot I have tried yet. Even if your the biggest white chocolate fan I would tell you to avoid this one -I can assure you that it will do nothing for you whatsoever.

5.5 out of 10

November 16th: Hotel Chocolat Orange Nice Spice

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

I am pleased to announce that from now until Christmas you will get no fewer than one Hotel Chocolat review a week thanks largely to the fact they sent me a big box full of festive samples to get stuck into. It has been a fair while since I last reviewed a Hotel Chocolat slab product so it was nice to see that the chaps in the HC innovation department come up with no less than four new flavours for Christmas this year. Starting off in no particular order I first decided to try out this Orange Nice Spice flavour which consisted of '70% dark chocolate with orange and a dash of chilli'. As I have said I was not particularly drawn to this slab over the others or anything but it sounded like quite a nice one to start this years Hotel Chocolat Christmas reviews off with.

Out of the four slabs this was the only one to come in the conventional 100.0g size and was split into two smaller 50.0g slabs. Aesthetically speaking Hotel Chocolat have done well with the outer packaging of the slab products this year and I thought that the box for this Orange Nice Spice variant looked clean in design whilst bringing a nice bit of glamour with some sparkling red and silver snowflake patterns. Inside the slabs were protected by a thick foil wrapping which further maintained the outer sophistication with another sleeking looking pattern. The slabs themselves looked and smelt as if they were fresh out the factory with some dark smelling cocoa scents that had hints of spicy fruit emanating whilst the surfaces gleamed, sharply reflecting the light with the sugar coated orange pieces also catching the eye.

As good as this chocolate looked and smelt it tasted absolutely abysmal .... only joking ;) haha it tasted delightful! The dark chocolate base incorporated everything that usually makes Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate so great and its clean tasting earthy cocoa flavours established themselves as soon as the chocolate hit my tongue. Having reviewed so many other products aside from Hotel Chocolat recently it was wonderful being reunited with the rich taste of their dark chocolate and the flavours of the ebbed and flowed with the thick, longing melt as it developed on my tongue. If I have heard one criticism of Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate before it is that it is a little on the strong side for some people but I think the critics would be hard pushed to apply generalisation here as there was ever present sweet, juicy orange undertone throughout the taste. In addition to the orange oil present in the chocolate the sugar coated orange peel pieces further brought an added fruity sweetness to the taste and were best enjoyed once the hint of chilli had developed in the mouth which unsurprisingly in the latter stages of the melt. With the orange pieces bringing a minor note of coolness to the feel in the mouth this did slightly offset the heat brought to the party by the chilli, however this would be the smallest of small criticisms and was not something that bothered me in the slightest at the time.

Overall this was a splendid way to kick off my Hotel Chocolat reviews this year and the guys there have done themselves proud once again formulating yet another delicious tasting chocolate combination. One of things I was most pleased to see when I first opened my box of goodies this year was that Hotel Chocolat have done a great job with the packaging and presentation which immediately gives their range huge gifting potential. What makes this gifting potential even grander is that fact that you get chocolates likes this one on display today. With the dark chocolate at its usual high quality and the orange and chilli flavours added in correct proportions this was always going to be a chocolate I was going to savour from beginning to end. If your a dark chocolate orange fan I can assure you that this is one you won't feel let down by if you invest in it. Cracking start ...bring on the next slab!

9.1 out of 10

December 15th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 23



I'm going to keep my ramblings short this week as I want to run a small competition giving you all the chance to win these fabulous prizes ....

1 x Ritter Sport Karamell Nuss
1 x Galaxy Amicelli
1 x Storck Riesen
1 x Schogetten Tiramisu

So the Question ....

'As of the 15th of November how many product reviews have there been on ChocolateMission?'

All answers that are +/-10 within the correct answer will be entered into the prize draw. Answers on e-mail to the usual Jim[@] .... the winner will be revealed in the November 29th edition of '7Days of Chocolate Reviews'. Unfortunately this competition is only open to my UK readers.

Good luck to you all and have great weekends


News from the Chocolate Market:

* Divine Chocolate is supposedly the chocolate of choice for all top chefs ... SEE HERE

* Cadbury Caramel Bunny vs Nestle Kit Kat Bunny ... lets get ready to rummmmble ... SEE HERE

* Sugar Puff chocolate cereal bars have been launched ... SEE HERE

* A closer look at the new Cadbury Flake ad ... SEE HERE

Post from other Blogs I enjoyed this week:

* Impulsive Buy - Not only has it been Marvo's birthday this week but he has also been treating himself to some cool looking 'make-your-own' smoothie products ... SEE HERE

* GiGi Reviews - Reviewed a really unique looking chocolate bar that was made of dark chocolate, pepper, vanilla and pumpkin seeds! It got an 11 out of 10 rating so it must be good ... SEE HERE

* Foodstufffinds - Found an instant coffee that contains added antioxidants - Green Coffee! Could be worth a try! SEE HERE

* Chocablog - A guest writer from Canada got their mits on some new 70% Kit Kat and Aero products from Nestle. I hope they bring them out here in the UK... SEE HERE

* CandyBlog - Following my own G&B review this week Cybele reviewed a Peanut variant that I haven't ever seen here in the UK ... SEE HERE

November 14th: McVitie's Penguins

Kcal 113 Fat 6.1g Fat(sats) 3.4g Carbs 13.4g (per bar)

A few weeks ago during my search of the UK's best chocolate cake bar I reviewed McVitie's Penguin offering and noted that I hadn't actually given the original bar a ChocolateMission review yet. Given how often I used to have these tucked into my lunch box during my school days I felt obliged to sort this sooner rather than later, thus today is the day! For those who live outside the UK wondering what the devil a McVitie's Penguin bar is I can tell you that they are produced by McVitie's (firstly in 1932) and are formed of chocolate biscuits, with a milk chocolate creme covered in milk chocolate.

Although I was going to buy a pack anyway I managed to stumble across a these on a half price offer in my local Tesco at the price of 54p for a pack of 9 separate bars, that is 6p a unit for the mathematically challenged! One thing I have always loved about Penguin bars is the look of the product as down the years it has managed maintain a modern look yet still kept it's branding and colour schemes consistent from since I can remember. One of the first things I think about when Penguin bars pop in to mind are the insanely awful (but wonderful!!) jokes that appear on the film packaging of each bar ...'where do penguins keep their money?' .... 'in a cold bank' ....groan :) Terrible jokes aside the actual chocolate bars look rather good with the three distinct layer clearly visible when cross-sectioned. Apart from a minor sweet smelling chocolaty aroma the bars didn't offer much in the way of smell though at this point I was still more concerned with trying to figure out the on-pack joke.

One thing that McVitie's must commended on is the fact that a few years ago they removed all the hydrogenated fat from the product. I guess the argument is they should never have been there in the first place but in 2007 United Biscuits removed them from the product entirely, I just wish a few more manufactures would do this. One thing I think we could all take from the Penguin Cake Bar review was that the standard of the chocolate wasn't all that high and I am afraid to say nothing about this bar changed my mind whatsoever. The outer milk chocolate layer was noticeably thin and failed to generate the degree of flavour of even the most standard of milk chocolates (Nestle etc) before it melted away revealing the biscuit layer. The biscuit below was thankfully more giving in terms of its flavours establishing a corn cereal taste that had touches of brown sugar and salt. Sat in the middle of the biscuit the final chocolate creme element brought a softer element to the crunchy biscuit as well as bringing a much needed touch of chocolate to the overall taste. Although I wouldn't say that these Penguin bars were the most flavoursome they were relatively good size for a mid afternoon snack.

Overall my feelings are pretty mixed about these McVitie's Penguins. One part of me wants to criticise them for their lack of telling flavours but another can't help but love the heritage of the product and the way that it is presented. One thing that I think has to be considered here is the price - for my money I would have struggled to buy even one Cadbury Dairy Milk bar for what it cost to be a nine bar multi pack of these Penguin bars. Granted these were on a half price offer but even then you would still be getting four times the amount. As far as chocolate quality goes these are certainly nothing to shout about but they do offer a relatively nice biscuit based option. Penguin bars have been around since I can remember and hope they don't go disappearing anytime soon - if only so we can still moan about the awful jokes on the wrappers.

7.2 out of 10