Tuesday, 19 January 2010

January 19th: Hershey's Milk Chocolate

Kcal 210 Fat 13.0g Fat(sats) 8.0g Carbs 26.0g

What with all the talk of Hershey being linked with take over bids for Cadbury in the past few months I decided to give their standard milk chocolate bar another look at on the ChocolateMission rating system. In the past I have reviewed many a product containing Hershey's milk chocolate including the standard Hershey's Milk Chocolate Kisses and Hershey's Creamy Milk Chocolate - a bar that I described as 'lacking a distinct taste'. After a bit of digging around I found out that the Creamy is not made by Hershey's USA but is in fact made in Canada. I thought it was about time I gave the only and only original recipe a try.

Despite the Canadian Creamy Bar being more widely available here in the UK I managed to track down one of these US made 43.0g bars in my local newsagents. Looking at the shrink plastic pack I have to say I liked the presentation of the wrapper and felt immediately at home with the bold Hershey's branding that has become so iconic since the brand first came to be way back in 1984. Inside the wrapper the very thin chocolate was segregated into several blocks with branded cleanly with the Hershey logo. Whilst I thought it looked smart aesthetically I was far less impressed with the smell of the bar which had a strong cheesy hint to the sweet smelling dairy scents.

Now if you're expecting this review to take a turn for the 'this bar contains less cocoa butter than it used to ...' etc than I am sorry but I am going to disappoint you. I hold my hands-up folks I am no expert when it comes to that sort of thing ... this review will be far more insightful if I just describe to you what I tasted and let the experts like Cybele at CandyBlog to inform you about all of that (see HERE).

So what did I perceive!? ... Well this bar was certainly more distinctive in taste than the Hershey Creamy Milk Chocolate but unfortunately this wasn't necessarily a good thing. Placing the first piece in my mouth the first thing I noticed was the slightly waxy texture that seemed to coat the bar. To be honest I think it was lucky the chocolate was as thin as it was, as the waxiness delayed the melt and initially prevented the chocolate from substantiating a strong set of flavours. Once it had been in the mouth for quite a substantial time the chocolate finally starting changing form into a liquor state and it was at this point the true flavours were revealed. The chocolate started off rather sweet with shallow notes of cocoa that developed a sourer yogurt like taste in the latter stages. In comparison to the Canadian bar the tangy aftertaste certainly came through a lot stronger and if I am being honest I would have preferred a far creamier end to the experience.

Overall I can see why so many people here in the UK aren't fans of Hershey Milk Chocolate as it not like any of the milk chocolates that we have over this side of the pond. Unlike the Canadian Hershey Creamy Milk Chocolate I can't accuse this bar of lacking a distinctive taste as this was about as distinctive as they come. If I was given this chocolate in a blind taste test I think I would have absolutely no problem distinguishing Hershey Milk Chocolate from a selection of other mass produced brands as the aftertaste and smell would give it away immediately. Speaking of my own personal preference I can't say this was a chocolate that I enjoyed very much, thus why the overall score is slightly lower than average. In my opinion both the melt and taste weren't to my liking and I think this is most likely down to me being more used to Cadbury chocolate which is creamier and thicker melting. Given the history behind this chocolate I think you have to try it at least once so you can make your own mind up on the matter. It would be great to hear your thoughts on one of the world's most iconic chocolates.

6.0 out of 10

Monday, 18 January 2010

January 18th: Kit Kat Ginger Ale


Kcal 100 Fat 5.8g Carbs 11.4g (per 18.0g stick)

Unfortunately there will be no prizes for guessing where I got this Ginger Ale flavoured Kit Kat. This was indeed yet another product sent my way by those chaps at J-List - a Japense goods exporter who provide a global service (check them out HERE). If you have been checking the site over the last month you will have noticed that I have been lucky enough to get my hands on several of the latest Kit Kat flavours to have graced the Japanese market. Now having tasted recent flavours such as the Sweet Potato Kit Kat I guessed nothing should really have shocked me, but to be honest I was admittedly a little taken back by this very Western sounding ginger ale flavoured white chocolate Kit Kat.

This Kit Kat came in two separate packs that contained two finger pieces - just like the ones we get in the supermarket multipacks here in the UK. I seemingly say this in nearly every review I do on products from Japan but the packaging was once again superb and I loved the outer cardboard box that contained the two inner foil packets. The Ginger Ale flavour was communicated nicely through the on-pack visuals, whilst the core Kit Kat branding was still very focal. Unwrapping the foil wrapper the first thing I noticed was that the quite strong chemically derived citrus smell. On one hand I would say it didn't smell bad at all, on the other I would say it was almost reminded me of an air freshener ... hmmm!?

Judging by the smell this was going to be one unique tasting experience and boy I was not wrong! Now although the Kit Kat itself was white chocolate coated the actual chocolate featured very little in the overall taste. As soon as I bit in to the first finger I got an initial wave of milk flavours though these were soon dominated by some stronger tasting lemon and ginger influences. In my opinion these lemon and ginger elements were not fitting with the wafer and milk flavours as they were both quite fake tasting and startlingly sweet. To be quite frank about the matter I simply didn't enjoy the taste - it was one dimensional, non-progressive, artifical tasting and simply not what I wanted from a Kit Kat. After finishing a single finger I felt like I had tasted it all and experienced everything the bar had to offer. Despite my hunger not being satisfied I just didn't want to eat the other three fingers as I just didn't see the point of consuming something I wasn't enjoying.

Overall this was one of those Kit Kat flavours that I probably should have guessed wasn't ever going to work for me. This Ginger Ale Kit flavour me a lot of the Jasmine Tea flavour that I reviewed in 2009 in that the flavour just wasn't fitting for the Kit Kat product. As I have described above the chocolate was just completely lost from the equation and whilst I don't think the ginger ale flavour was necessarily implemented badly I just think I wanted it there in the first place. Had I been given just a white chocolate flavoured Kit Kat with a touch of lemon I can see myself having liked this a hell of a lot more. I should have probably established earlier but I am not a great fan of the drink ginger ale, but neither would I say that I dislike it - I have no real indifference to it truth to be told. That I said my own personal opinion is that ginger ale doesn't work as a Kit Kat flavour, and for that reason I can only recommend this for ginger ale fanatics - all other stay well clear.

5.1 out of 10

Click HERE to buy this product from J-LIST

Sunday, 17 January 2010

January 17th: Boots Shapers Chocolate Caramel Bar

Kcal 100 Fat 3.0g Fat(sats) 1.2g Carbs 23.0g

Moving on from the Slim Fast abominations last week I continued my search for a decent chocolate option for those currently undertaking January diets. In the coming week or so I will be trying a few bars that I picked up from my local Boots store - those of you who live outside the UK Boots is Hightstreet Health, Beauty and Pharmaceuticals chain (Wiki is your friend - HERE). Having bought myself a selection of bars from their 'Shapers' range I decided to start with this Chocolate Caramel bar which came billed as 'milk chocolate and melt away with chewy caramel' ... no folks that isn't a typo ... it really said 'milk chocolate and melt away with chewy caramel' ... I think the guy who wrote the blurb on the packaging could of done with checking his work.

This bar came in a 28.0g single bar size which I ate alongside a mid-morning coffee. The 'Shapers' range is pretty extensive with a lot of different flavours so I had to be selective when choosing just a few to feature on the site. One of the things that made this bar in particular stand out was the packaging and I actually thought it looked pretty good with its clean white and beige design work. Despite it looking rather good I was somewhat surprised when I split open the wrapper to unveil the bar underneath. Firstly I noticed that I actually couldn't detect any aroma of note aside from the slightest of chocolaty scents. Secondly the bar was not as I expected aesthetically and this was mainly due to the on-pack picture not providing a realistic visualisation.

Putting these apprehensions to one side I decided to take a bite in to the product at which point I realised that this was more akin one of those refresher sweet chew bars than it was a chocolate bar. On reflection I guess the immediate likable comparison would be the Cadbury Curly Wurly, though this bar was about ten times chewier to the point that it was verging on annoying to eat. I guess one thing that would have got the most out of the longevity that the chewiness brought would have been if the taste was suitably flavoursome - unfortunately this was jut not the case and I felt both the caramel and milk chocolate especially were lacking in flavour. Starting with the chocolate it was ultra thin and offered very little to the taste aside from some mild chocolate milk like flavours. The caramel whilst ultra chewy was very one dimensional in taste and offered nothing of the desired butterscotch or toffee flavours with just a meagre sugary condensed milk like set of flavours. Whilst this did take a long time to eat due to the chewiness I still didn't feel fulfilled having eaten it.

Overall this was again yet another disappointing diet chocolate snack option and not the best of starts for the Boots Shapers range. This was by no means the worst tasting diet chocolate I have ever tasted but at the same time I found it a tad frustrating to eat and subsequently felt that I had ended up burning off more calories from the chewing than I had done consuming the actual bar :) As I have mentioned above the comparison that springs to mind for this product is the Cadbury Curly Wurly though the Cadbury Chomp also offers up the same sort of experience. What both of those offer that this bar doesn't is relatively good standard chocolate and quite tasty caramel with just about the right amount of resistance in the chew - its as simple as that. Sorry dieters but this is yet another I can't recommend to you ... don't worry I will find a good one soon surely :)

5.7 out of 10

Saturday, 16 January 2010

January 16th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 29

### Jim's Corner ###

Hi All,

It has been another busy week on ChocolateMission - we have had Hotel Chocolat marzipan selections (HERE), Slim Fast bars (HERE), Japanese goodies from the likes of Dars and Kit Kat (HERE) just to name a few ... be sure to have a flick back through the week.

Another thing you may have noticed this week is that I updated my old Snickers review with my thoughts (and pictures!!) on the latest 'More Nuts' limited edition that I announced last week .....SEE HERE.

So what is coming up this week ... well without giving too much away we have more diet chocolate options, more Hotel Chocolat and more Japanese Kit Kats - I hope you enjoy these reviews! If you have any requests don't hesitate to drop me a note ... HERE.

I hope you all have great weeks and please keep the leaving your remarks on my reviews.

JIM


News from the Chocolate Market:

* The latest on the Cadbury story is that Ferrero have pulled out of the running for bidding, whilst Hershey have ruled themselves very much in ... See HERE

* Surprise surprise Thorntons saw a dip in their own stores sales ... this could be something to do with being able to buy their chocolate ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE!!! ... See HERE

* How awesome is this ... The Great Wall of Chi....Chocolate ... See HERE

* A Glaswegian curry house has put chocolate curry on the menu ... See HERE


Posts from other Blogs I enjoyed this week:

* GiGiReviews - Gi has reviewed several awesome products for Brit Week in the past few days ... Check it out ... See HERE.

* CandyBlog - I really want to try some of these Q.Bel bars that Cybele keep raving on about ...See HERE.

* Foodstufffinds - Cin also found the More Nuts Snickers bar this week ... See HERE.

* ImpulsiveBuy - I oddly really want to try these Spam flavoured Macadamia nuts that Marvo reviewed ... See HERE.

* YumYucky - Josie seems to having far more lucky finding some tasty diet foods for her readers ... See HERE


*** Stars & Their Bars ***

TV personality - Davina McCall

English PGA Golfer - Paul Casey

Friday, 15 January 2010

January 15th: Hotel Chocolat Ultimate Marzipan Selection


If you were reading ChocolateMission over Christmas you would have seen that I reviewed my first ever marzipan product from those lovely people at
Hotel Chocolat in the form of their lovely Marizpan Ignot slab (See HERE). To be honest I was surprised at the standard of the marzipan involved, though admittedly less so when one my readers informed me that they actually used to be in cahoots with the masters of marzipan Niederegger.

After reading my review of their Ignot slab the chaps at
Hotel Chocolat sent me along this 'Ultimate Marzipan Selection' - a box consisting of six different flavoured almond marzipan chocolates, all of which were portioned three times.

As ever with
Hotel Chocolat products the presentation was wonderful - some might think the double box packaging is excessive but I was more of the thinking that it looked swish. Another touch I liked was the inner menu which distinguished the flavours nicely and thankfully quite accurate in the description of each of the six flavours.

Below are my brief thoughts on each flavour - working from left to right and using the usual
Awful-to-Superb rating system ....


Rum & Raisin - This piece actually had the thickest chocolate of the selection but I still thought it was disappointingly thin. The inner almond marzipan was tasty as expected but I think the rum and raisin influences were both minimal and I was especially expecting more of an intensive rum heat to the texture. Standard.


Walnut - This was without doubt the best in the selection. Despite being very thinly portioned the blend of the dark and white chocolate was superb but that said the walnut element was what took centre stage. The added chopped walnut to the inner almond marzipan was delightful and enjoyed the extra buttery flavours it brought to the party. The walnut on top was fresh tasting and very crunchy. Superb.


Amaretto - Personally I think Hotel Chocolat struggle a bit when it comes to adding liqueurs to their chocolates. Sometimes they are overpowering and sometimes they are non-existent ... this belonged in the latter group. The white chocolate coating was wonderfully creamy but again under portioned. The marzipan was again very tasty but lacked the telling amaretto flavours I thought it would have. Standard.


Pistachio - This was the one I was most looking forward to with its dark chocolate coating and pistachio flavoured marzipan. As you can see by the picture the dark chocolate was criminally thin which disappointing. Despite it's green coloured appearance the pistachio didn't come through strong enough to displace the almond dominant flavours in the marzipan. The pistachio on top brought a nice salty element but this could have been much better. Standard.


Orange - The menu here promised a tangy orange almond marzipan but again I thought the enhancing flavour was lacking in cut through. The milk chocolate outer coating was again very tasty but very thin in portioning. By far and away the dominating flavours from the centre were the almond influences ... hey not a bad thing but not what I expected either. Standard.


Classic Almond - I guess you would have to class this chocolate as the plain one in the selection but it was also one of the best. I understand I have stressed the point already but the chocolate was again too thin and I would have preferred it to be thicker. I have no complaints whatsoever about the almond marzipan filling though, just like it was across all the other chocolates it was extremely tasty and the almond piece on top further compounded the nutty flavours with a delightful crisp freshness. Very Good.


Overall I think a great way of describing this Ultimate Marzipan Selection would be to say that it had was 'Snap, Crackle ... but no Pop'. Everything was in place here for a fantastic product - the presentation was very good, the selection of flavours was sound and the actual base almond marzipan was of a high standard. Unfortunately I didn't think the execution was up to Hotel Chocolat's very high standards as the chocolate was too thinly implemented throughout and I felt the majority were under powered in terms of their enhancing flavours. The real stick out chocolate for me was the walnut though the Classic Almond is also very much worthy of a mention. To be honest I probably would recommend to anyone apart from a real marzipan lover - even then I would probably point you the direction of the remaining Marzipan Ignot slabs which they are selling at 50% off in their sale. Some great idea here but they could have been done much better.


7.8 out of 10


Check out the Hotel Chocolat 50% off sale

Thursday, 14 January 2010

January 14th: Kit Kat Salted Caramel Little Mini Bites

Kcal 186 Fat 10.4g Carbs 20.7g (per bag)

Kit Kat Salted Caramel Little Mini Bites ... that is one long name for a product that ultimately wants to be associated for being of miniature stature. My roll out of the Japanese themed January reviews continues today with me taking a look at yet another Kit Kat offering sent to me by my pals in the Far East J-List, the Salted Caramel Little Mini Bites. A few years back I can recall Nestle offering a similar product here in the UK under brand name Kit Kat Kubes (I could be wrong!?), but to my knowledge these were pulled from the market sometime during the Noughties. Having been starved of mini-Kit Kat goodness for a while now, the prospect of 'mini Kit Kat wafer balls flavoured with salted caramel' sounded like an idea from a bright spark to me.

My pal Peter from J-List sent me a few bags of these, each of which weighing 32.0g which I felt was a little short on what I desired from a single sitting. In regards to packaging it was all common fair when it comes to Japanese goodies with the outer foil packaging looking vibrant and colourful with some appropriate orange caramel colours and fun looking fonts. Inside the chocolate pieces were about the size of Malteser though looked pretty funky when bitten in to with the layering of the wafer and cocoa creme as clear as in a normal Kit Kat. Another pleasant thing worth mentioning was the delightful smell that greeted me when I opened the pack as it encapsulated both chocolate and toffee.

Now having tried milk chocolate Kit Kats from the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and probably even more countries that I have forgotten about, one thing I have come to learn is that the quality of the milk chocolate simply doesn't fluctuate. What you get in the UK Nestle milk chocolate ... you get in the Japanese stuff - sweet, milk rooted in taste and just enough of a cocoa edge to deliver the chocolate flavour hit. No it isn't spectacular by any means but hey it does the job and for that I for one won't be complaining to much. So how was the salted caramel element!? ... well it was utterly superb! Present in the creme sandwiched in the light wheat tasting wafers, every single bite sized piece included a delightful dose of buttery sweet toffee flavours that had the most wonderful of salty licks. The sweet and salt combination made for one of the most moreish tasting Kit Kat products I have come across and it was just a pity that each bag was so small meaning the packets were finished remarkably quickly.

Overall I have today found yet another imported caramel flavoured Kit Kat that manages to put both the supermarket multi pack and Chunky UK caramel editions to shame. Falling short of including actual caramel (which probably wouldn't have worked with this format anyway!) these Mini Bites were one of the most enjoyable mass produced chocolates I have eaten for a while and I simply couldn't get enough of the sweet and salty butterscotch taste that complimented both the chocolate and wafer elements so terrifically. Personally I am not much a fan of the Little Mini Bites format and would have loved to have tried this flavour as just a standard bar, though I am sure there are just as many people who differ in opinion and would welcome the change up of format. Given the smallish size these are not the most fulfilling of snacks but I strongly suggest you give them a try if your are thinking of importing from Japan soon ... if only the caramel Kit Kat options in the UK were half as good as these!

8.7 out of 10


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

March 6th: Snickers (UK) ... Updated ** January 13th 2009 - Snickers More Nuts

Kcal 299 Fat 16.9g Carbs 30.6g

Whats going on!? Well rather than write a whole new review for the Snickers More Nuts limited edition bar I decided to simply add my thoughts to the original and include some new pretty pictures.

The Snickers More Nuts includes 10% more peanuts than normal Snickers bars and is currently in distribution throughout the UK. Since I first reviewed the Snickers 2 years ago the bar has decreased slightly in size (damn you Mars) to 58.0g though personally I still think it is as satisfying as they come in relation to other bars on the market.

To be honest had the packaging not been shouting out the fact it contained more nuts than the original I might not have picked up on it, however I did notice that the nuts were also included in the nougat when I took the cross-section picture.

The peanuts unsurprisingly came through a little stronger in the taste but to be frank the difference was pretty minimal. I guess some may be a little disappointed that this bar lacks originality when compared to some of the limited editions they get in the US but personally this is still one of my favourite bars of all time and I still think that the way each of the different caramel, chocolate, nougat and peanuts components combine to provide a variable taste is nothing short of delicious.

Overall this limited edition doesn't take this bar any further in my estimation though neither does it detract from it's original excellence - it would be great to hear your views! Please see below for my original review and scoring chart.

****

Kcal 319 Fat 17.8g Carbs 34.1g

The Snickers bar (originally named Marathon) has been around since well..forever. It has appeared in many variations (including the Almond version which I have previously reviewed) though today I have reviewed the original UK version.

Currently on TV and wrapper the bar is being endorsed by the one and only Mr T; and there is a reason for that - this is one manly bar. Weighing in at a hefty 62.5g and containing a whopping 319 calories this bar certainly packs a punch; luckily for Mars Inc this becomes all but insignificant as this bar is truly delightful in every manner.

Upon opening the bar you are greeted with the sweet smell of peanuts and chocolate; in a word it smells glorious - and it has the taste to match.

The bar is formed of a thick layer of chocolate flavour nougat, with a generous helping of peanuts and caramel - all covered in milk chocolate. Taste wise the nougat is extremely flavoursome, its sturdy texture compliments the gooey yet crunchy mix of the nuts and caramel yet still holds a creamy compelling taste of its own. The nuts provide a delicious slightly salty nutty taste which didn't leave my mouth for ages after eating. The Chocolate although taking a bit of a back seat compared to the other flavours was still delicious and smooth. Mars really have done a great job with making sure each component of the bar is near perfect and right in proportion - it is no wonder why this is an all time classic.

Overall this bar is easily on a level with the best I have tasted whilst on 'The Chocolate Mission'. As I have described above, each flavour of the bar is delivered expertly and the different elements work together in both taste and texture to deliver an ultimately tasty and fulfilling experience. I don't expect many bars to reach the level of this bar - cracking stuff.

9.4 out of 10

January 13th: Cadbury Cake Bars Jaffa / Vanilla

Just when I thought it was safe to take my hands off the keyboard and stop writing about cake bar products Cadbury just had to bring out two unannounced limited edition variants didn't they!? Gracing supermarket shelves across the country these 'Jaffa' and 'Vanilla' cake bars are being promoted to hell by Cadbury - I managed to pick these up on a £1 a pack, BOGOF deal ... at 10p a cake bar they might as well be giving them away.

As with the rest of the range these multi packs came in the usual packs of five. As I sometimes do I nabbed a few from each of the packs for myself before leaving the rest of my work office to help themselves to what was left - the only thing to report here was that uptake on the Jaffa flavoured bars was a lot quicker!

In regards to presentation my thoughts were pretty so-so! Both variants looked like I expected with the Jaffa having a orange jelly filling, whilst the vanilla had a fluffy looking white centre. Below are my quick thoughts on each. To save time blabbing on about the quality of the golden sponge in each I think you will be unsurprised to hear that it was of a pretty average quality across both variants, so let me just focus on the fillings!


Cadbury Cake Bar Jaffa:

Kcal 120 Fat 4.9g Fat(sats) 2.8g Carbs 18.4g (per bar)

'Golden sponge with a jaffa flavoured topping' ... sound familiar!? ... 'covered in milk chocolate' ... ok maybe not quite a McVitie's Jaffa Cake bar rip off then!

It may not be a complete like-for-like comparison but I can't help benchmarking this Cadbury Jaffa to it's McVitie's opposite. Truth be told it simply work as well as the McVitie's as the outer milk chocolate was just a little too sweet when combined with the sharp sugary flavours of the orange jelly centre. I am not saying I am a great admirer of the standard of the dark chocolate the lines the McVitie's bar but I have to say it's unsweetened nature works better than the sugary Cadbury milk chocolate did in this bar.

7.0 out of 10



Cadbury Cake Bars Vanilla:

Kcal 155 Fat 8.7g Fat(sats) 4.7g Carbs 17.7g (per bar)

'Golden sponge topped with a vanilla flavour creme, covered with milk chocolate' ... hmm the more I think about this the more I am starting to believe Cadbury released both of these to piss off McVitie's .... MilkyWay Cake Bars anyone!?

These were pretty bad to be honest! They weren't near being inedible but they were probably one of the worst variants of cake bars I have reviewed over the last six months. The outer chocolate was standard Cadbury quality with it's sugary, milky taste but things went awfully down hill from there. The centre had a pretty nasty sweet taste that had an undertone of artificial sweetener bitterness. It had a hint of vanilla to it but I was more distracted by the strange bittersweet concoction of salt, sugar that dominated my tastebuds. It was odd to say the least and it in no way left me wanting to experience it again.

6.1 out of 10

Overall so what have we learnt here!? Well having thought it through it looks to me like Cadbury wanted to throw their weight around by bringing out two flavours of cake bars that are pretty much direct competition for two of McVitie's products ...*slow clap* for Cadbury!! Personally I thought both of these variants were below the standard of others from Cadbury's Cake Bar range such as the Mint, Original and Caramel flavour bars and it was pretty obvious how quickly these had been rushed to market with very little attention paid to the issue of quality. Now I don't even like Bournville dark chocolate ... but here is an idea for you ... Cadbury Cake Bars Jaffa but with Bournville dark chocolate! Any genius could of thought of that! Not only is dark chocolate and orange a better combination but it creates 'new news' for the Bournville brand of Cadbury and stops Cadbury looking so pathetic ripping off their competition so indiscreetly!! Readers thoughts are most welcome ...

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

January 12th: Milka Nussini Haselnuss

Kcal 205 Fat 13.0g Fat(sats) 5.5g Carbs 19.5g

Once again I have to thank ChocolateMission reader Susie for making this review possible as she so kindly sent me this bar to review all the way from Germany last year. Milka is one of the biggest chocolate brands in Germany and they have a portfolio that is as large as anyone with several sub brands supporting the main line of chocolates that they produce. Having recently dug into their 'Tender' cake bar range I today got my first chance to try their Nussini wafer offering in the form of this Haselnuss variant which was comprised of 'hazelnut flavoured wafer, with hazelnut creme, covered in Alpine milk chocolate'. The king of the wafers for me has to be the Nestle Kit Kat, but I was interested to see if Milka could put up some reasonable competition.

This bar came in a surprisingly large looking size and wasn't half as light as I was expecting with it weighing in at 37.0g. Aesthetically the packing incorporated all the usual Milka characteristics with the purple colour and Milka cow logo giving the wrapper a familiar looking design. Splitting the packaging open I was pleased to see that the inner lining was foil based and it kept the bar looking and smelling in a great condition with some nutty scents immediately evident. Splitting the bar in half it was nice to see the distinct layering of the hazelnut creme and wafers sitting below the nobbly milk chocolate surface which was lined with chopped hazelnut pieces.

Biting into the bar one thing that was straight away confirmed was the expected pleasantness of the outer milk chocolate which displayed its usual creamy, milky taste. Normally Milka milk chocolate is noted with a hint of hazelnut anyway but with the added chopped nut pieces in the coating the usual hint of woody nut was accentuated and more pronounced in taste. One thing that I love about the Nestle Kit Kat so much is the crispness of the wafer though this was not quite the same case here with this Nussini bar. In comparison to the Kit Kat the wafer layers in this bar were a little softer and even felt a little chewy when bitten into. As I expected the wafers didn't offer much in terms of taste, however the inner hazelnut creme further supplemented the outer nutty flavours leaving a lasting hazelnut note in the mouth long after chewing. As aforementioned this bar was surprisingly large in size and by the time I had finished it I did feel somewhat satisfied with my hunger subsided.

Overall I think the score below is possibly a little on the harsh side but I did have to punish this product for its lacklustre wafer textures. I am not the biggest fan of wafer generally, however one thing I just really don't like is when they are soft and lacking in crispness as it just gives me the impression that the product is over its best before date (it was still 6 months inside!). Although the softness of the wafers hardly spoilt this product it still made it pale in comparison to a bar like the Nestle Kit Kat whose wafers are normally so crunchy and offer a little more in terms of taste. One thing I did really enjoy about this product was the addition of the hazelnuts, which really brought a bit of life to taste even in their chopped and creme formats. If your a fan of Milka I think this would be a product you would get some pleasure from. This is nowhere near what I would describe as a 'must try' chocolate but it was a fun change up from the Milka norm.

7.0 out of 10

Monday, 11 January 2010

January 11th: Morinaga Dars Crea - Chestnut & Caramel / Noisette

Buy this product HERE from J-List

The Japanese stuff just keeps on coming doesn't it :) Today I decided to cram two products in to the one review so I will try and keep things as succinct as possible.

Making it's ChocolateMission debut, Morinaga is the manufacture in the line fire today and over the last few weeks I have been trying out some of their chocolates from their Dars Crea range. According to the J-List website Morinaga was the first ever confectionery company in Japan, and Dars are one of their most popular brands.

The two flavours I have been trying out were two
latest limited edition Dars - the Chestnut and Caramel & the Chocolate Noisette variants. Both came in boxes that contained several foil wrapped chocolate coated nuggets - I would hazard a guess that there were about 15-20 pieces which lasted around a week or so during our household over Christmas.

In regards to presentation these were distinctly Japaense and I mean that in a good way. The outer boxes were made from high quality material and were decorated with enticing pictures of nuts being draped in chocolate in addition to the bold branding and and Japanese writing. I thought the chocolates themselves were surprisingly small but they looked and smelt impressive with chestnut variant particularly standing out in regards to the latter.

Below are my thoughts on both the flavours ...

Morinaga Dars Chestnut & Caramel:

Kcal 325 Fat 24.8g Carbs 22.4g (per 52.0g)

I can't say I am all that experienced with chestnuts myself but as soon as I revealed to my old man (my dad haha) what these were I knew he was going to be able to determine whether these encapsulated the flavour nut well given how far his eyes lighted up :)

Combining a outer layer of milk chocolate with a chestnut cream and caramel centre these bite sized chocolate nuggets proved to be very tasty indeed. Although I was somewhat sceptical at their small size at first by the time I had tasted one I thought they were just about the right size given how sweet they were. Popping the first piece in my mouth the first thing I noticed was how similar the outer coating was to Kinder chocolate. It was smooth in melt and substantiated a sweet chocolate milk like taste before the flavours of the centre came to the party. The inner creme was exceedingly smooth and had a nutty taste which had sweet floral undertones with just a minor fruity influence. If I had to compare it to anything it would be like Kinder Bueno but less nutty and more buttery. I thought they were simply delicious.

8.2 out of 10


Morinaga Dars Crea Chocolate Noisette:

Kcal 330 Fat 25.1g Carbs 22.4g (per 52.0g)

Out of the two this sounded the more familiar sounding product and came described as 'chocolate nuggets with a hazelnut creme centres'.

One thing that immediately noticeable was that aesthetically the outer chocolate was darker coloured than the Chestnut & Caramel and this came through in the taste as well. Indeed, the outer chocolate was a tad less sugary with these Chocolate Noisette though I wouldn't say the cocoa flavours came through all that much stronger. The chocolate was still pretty fine tasting, though the filling really took hold of the taste here with the hazelnut and cream flavours coming through strongly from the outset. In comparison to the above the filling was more savoury tasting and a touch saltier which is something I can see many preferring.

7.9 out of 10


Overall this has been a pretty successful first outing for Morinaga on ChocolateMission and both myself and the rest of my family would give both of these flavours a thumbs up. Out of the two I would say the most distinctive and interesting was the Chestnut & Caramel chocolates which both me and my dad thought were delicious with their sweet nutty centres. I wouldn't say that they are the sort of thing that you would want to eat with the aim of having a satisfying snack but it if it is just a sound bite chocolate flavour hit you are after I would say both are delightful options.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

January 10th: Slim Fast Heavenly Chocolate Delight

Kcal 95 Fat 3.0 Fat(sats) 1.0g Carbs 14.0g

I know what you are all thinking ... 'Jim why on earth are you reviewing another Slim Fast chocolate bar after last weeks abomination!?' Well despite not being sucker for punishment I do believe that if you are going to do a job you should it properly - so if I say I am going to review the Slim Fast range ... I'm gonna review exactly that! That said I introduce to you today the other chocolate option in the Slim Fast snacks collection - the Heavenly Chocolate Delight. Just like the Nutty Nougat this variant didn't have an on pack description but I can reveal it was a bar formed of predominantly chocolate and rice crispie pieces.

Shock horror this Heavenly Chocolate Delight was a whole 1.0g smaller than the Nutty Nougat and not surprisingly was similarly inadequate hunger fulfilment wise. On the whole I thought the presentation was a bit of a step up from the previous Slim Fast offering and though I was still not entirely impressed with the lack of information on the wrapper I thought the bar itself looked a lot more appetising. In fact upon opening the wrapper I have to admit I was pretty surprised at the tempting chocolaty scents that emerged ... hmm maybe this was too surprise me after all!?

To answer my pondering question of above in short - yes I was even further surprised at how much better this tasted than the Nutty Nougat. Just as I expected the main constituents of the bar the rice cereal took centre stage in the taste and they established a sound base set of flavours that added sugar, flour and salt influences in to the bargain. Playing somewhat of a background role the cocoa came through in waves, with some bites having stronger chocolate bursts which only guess was down to them containing some small chunks of plain chocolate. Just as with the Nutty Nougat I had eaten the thing before I knew it and it did very little to satisfy my raging hunger at the time - back to the biscuit tin it was!

Overall I guess I have to throw some congratulations in the way of Slim Fast here as at least they didn't create another bar quite as bad as the Nutty Nougat. To be honest that wasn't exactly ever going to be hard to achieve given how awful the last bar was, but to more positive about things this was approaching being relatively good. The rice crispie cereal and chocolate combination wont exactly be new on anyone and the bar was still criminally small but in regards to taste I thought it didn't do anything too wrong. If I had to improve the bar I would have made the chocolate stronger tasting and would have ramped up the thickness of the outer coating to make the initial bite into the thing more pleasurable as it would have had that fine crispness. Of course all these improvements would have ramifications on the calorie column which I guess is the whole point of the product. One can't help but ask though - doesn't a single chocolate biscuit have less calories and fat but give ten times the taste .... hmm I will leave you to ponder that one!

6.5 out of 10

Saturday, 9 January 2010

January 9th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 28

### Jim's Corner ###

Hi All,

I hope you all my UK readers have survived the big freeze this week and have stocked themselves up on their favourite chocolate bars .... you have to think about nourishment in weather like this people :)

What went down this week!? Well nothing really apart from the start of a month of Japanese and Diet themed chocoaltes. Japanese wise we had the Kit Kat Sweet Potato and the Lotte Sasha Original Chocolates ... which can both be found at J-List - HERE. I also kicked off my yearly look into the world of diet friendly chocolate with the Slim Fast Chocolate Nutty Nougat - HERE.

Coming next week we have more of the Japanese and diet chocolate markets, aswell as the latest Cadbury cake bars ... be sure to check the site.

Have great weeks and please keep the discussions on the posts.

JIM


News from the Chocolate Market

* Mars are bringing out a limited edition Snickers bar that has 10% more nuts in than a standard bar ... See HERE

* Werthers (makers of Werthers Originals) are bringing out a range of bagged chocolates ... See HERE

* The latest from the Cadbury take over bid can be read up on HERE


Post from other blogs I enjoyed this week:

* CandyBlog - Cybele recently did a fantastic post detailing the 110 Essential Candies for Cadivores ... check it out ... See HERE

* TheImpulsiveBuy - Marvo reviewed some wonderful looking McDonald's Frappes ... not that I could seen dead in an establishment like that of course :) ... See HERE

* GiGi Reviews - Gi geared up for her upcoming British week by reviewing the Terry's Chocolate Orange ... See HERE

* Foodstufffinds - Cin has been seeking out all the latest Walkers Crisps flavours on the UK market ... found out what they are ... See HERE

* ChocaBlog - Dom reviewed a Guiness flavoured chocolate bar ... yes you read that right GUINESS flavoured ... See Here


*** Stars & Their Bars ***

Rather than do big Stars & Their Bars posts I have decided to incorporate two answers into the 7 Days of Chocolate Reviews posts each weekend. So what did these Celebs say to the question ... 'What is your favourite chocolate bar?'

Will Carling - Ex England Rugby Union International


Matt Horne - Comedian / Actor from BBC's Gavin & Stacey

Friday, 8 January 2010

January 8th: Montezuma's Milk Chocolate & Butterscotch

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

A Montezuma's product that isn't from their 'Speciality Bars' range? What am I up to!? Indeed, even I was surprised when I saw this latest bar turn up from Montezuma's as it was at last a bar that offered something just a little different from the twelve other Montezuma's products I had reviewed previosuly. This bar came described as 'dark side milk chocolate with butterscotch pieces' and like every Montezuma's bar that had gone before was formed of totally organic ingredients. Although I don't buy much into the whole organically produced claims I think it is worth noting the business principles that Montezuma's operate as according to their packaging they operate through 'trading fairly' regulations with all their business partners from beans to bar. I think that is always nice to hear especially from some of the smaller companies whose profit margins have to be pushed already.

As I have already mentioned it was nice to finally try a product that was a slightly different proposition to the Speciality Bars range and this product came in a 100.0g size. Unfortunately just like every Montezuma's product I have reviewed before I had the same mixed feelings when it came down to the presentation. On one hand the outer cardboard packaging looked fantastic with the black background setting a sophisticated tone with some clever use of nicely styled fonts. Inside though the chocolate itself was a different story altogether as it kept within one of Montezuma's famous tacky looking plastic wrappers whilst also looking boringly plain with no patterns or branding on the blocks. Of course my preference would have been for the chocolate to be kept within a foil packet but at least a fairly strong aroma of cocoa was evident once the wrapping was split.

Over the last few years I have often criticised Montezuma's milk chocolate for being unremarkable and lacking a distinctive taste but I was pleased this wasn't quite such the case here. As the description suggested ('dark side milk chocolate') the level of cocoa solids used for this bar was relatively high (54%) and this was thankfully truly evident through the taste. Unlike previous Montezuma's milk chocolates I have tasted the flavours were evident as soon as the chocolate hit the tongue and a cocoa centric taste was immediately established supported by a strong under current of creamy milk flavours. The chocolate hit was strong with a slight smokey note, however still remained relatively sweet with a dried milk undertone that was present throughout the taste. The butterscotch element was perhaps not implemented quite as generously as I might have hoped though in almost every bite a small hint of caramel and toffee could be detected whenever a small crunchy crystallised piece was found within the smooth melting milk chocolate. With the chocolate really packing a punch in the flavour department this wasn't a bar that needed to be eaten in vast quantities and a 30.0g serving was more than satisfying.

Overall this was definitely one of the better Montezuma's products I have had in awhile and it was at last nice to see a bit of boldness from their milk chocolate. I thought that the 'dark side milk chocolate' concept really worked and much preferred this recipe to their standard milk chocolate which I personally think lacks a distinctive taste compared to some of the other more massed produced chocolates on the UK market. Although I really enjoyed the execution of the chocolate in this bar I sill think that the butterscotch element could have been done just a little bit better and I think it could have been portioned a bit more generously as some bites lacked the presence of butterscotch completely. Having tried my fair share of disappointing products from Montezuma's it was nice to finally see them step up and their game and I will definitely be trying more from this standard bar range. If you are a person looking to dip their toes in the dark chocolate market without being too adventurous I think this would be a great bar to start off with.

8.1 out of 10

Thursday, 7 January 2010

January 7th: Slim Fast Chocolate Nutty Nougat

Kcal 95 Fat 3.0 Fat(sats) 1.5g Carbs 16.0g (per bar)

For the past two years when I have taken a look at the site traffic figures I have seen a consistent January dip in the number of visitors accessing the site. Why would this be you ask!? Well I happen to think it is the 'New Years Resolution Lose Weight' crew staying away from potential temptation. In a bid to get to these people back on board just like last year I have decided to look at some diet friendly chocolate snacks, starting with this Slim Fast Chocolate Nutty Nougat. Containing just 95 calories and only 3.0g fat the Slim Fast 'Plan' suggests that this bar should be consumed as one of three snacks to be eaten throughout the day.

The bar came in a 25.0g size and was bought for the price of 50p in my local Tesco. In hand the bar looked pretty miniature but it was about the size of a two Kit Kat. I thought the foil wrapper looked relatively smart but I would have liked the on-pack picture to have been clearer given that there was no description of the actual contents. upon opening the packet and cross-sectioning the bar I immediately noticed that the chocolate, caramel and peanut constituents were all pretty minimal. The bar did emanate a sweet smell however it did little to stir my anticipation to any great degree.

Given that this bar was formed of milk chocolate, caramel, peanuts and nougat I guess we can assume this was going to be just as good as a Snickers but only 95 calories right!? .... haha lets not kid ourselves :) As I had observed through the cross-sectioning process (very precise skill I will have you know!) the chocolate and caramel layers were extremely thin so it was unsurprising they were lacklustre in taste. In truth the overall experience was very dimensional with the main contributor in flavours being the nougat layer which dominated all the other elements. The nougat offered a very mild malty taste and was dense and extremely chewy in texture. Truth be told the toughness of the nougat did mean it offered a little in the way of sustenance, however I still didn't find it that satisfying and found myself feeling the urge for the biscuit tin soon after.

Overall I don't like criticising products but the Slim Fast Chocolate Nutty Nougat gets a ChocolateMission thumbs down I am afraid. Despite what I said above I was expecting it to be anywhere near as satisfying or tasty as Snickers but being totally blunt the thought needn't have ever been contemplated. The real problem with this product was that the chocolate, caramel and peanuts were a complete non-factor and it may just have well of been a slab of nougat given their lack of presence in the taste. Although I probably should have expected this from a 95 calorie bar, for me this doesn't make it anymore acceptable and I for that reason I can't recommend this as an option for any ChocolateMission dieters (is that even a word!?). If you have any diet friendly chocolate items you want reviewed be sure to drop me a request.

4.8 out of 10

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

January 6th: Lotte Sasha Chocolate Original



Kcal 26 Fat 1.6g Carbs 2.6g (per 1 piece)

Today we have the second little number from my latest box of J-List goodies - these Lotte Sasha Chocolates Original. On the J-List website they come described as 'a mixture of semi-sweet chocolate, woven with white chocolate' and are supposed to cater for those 'who desire more of a sophisticated taste'. Personally I normally view snacks from the Far East as being more 'wacky' and 'innovative' (especially when it comes to flavours!) and not necessarily aimed at an older target market. To keep this review true for it's intended occasion I shared these with the rest of family over the Christmas period ... this was as sophisticated as I could get :)

I probably should have counted how many chocolates there were in the box before we dug in, though I would hazard a guess that there were about 15-20 wrapped pieces. Apologies for repeating myself from my last Japanese review but the packaging was absolutely superb - everything from the outer box to the inner chocolates were immaculate hence the 9.5 rating. Contained within inner plastic packet sleeves each piece was superbly crafted and the woven two tone chocolates looked both intricate and desirable. More to the point they looked exactly like what was promised on the front of the box which frankly I was little surprised to see be a reality.

Having admired both the packaging and the chocolates for a considerable amount of time we finally got around to eating a few and I am glad to report it was a similarly pleasurable
experience. Depending on what side you placed on the tongue first the taste was a progressive experience and delivered two unique tones of different chocolate. As with the majority of mass produced 'dark' chocolate the taste was relatively mass consumer friendly in terms of strength however it was noticeably less sugar than the white chocolate and provided a fine amount of unsweetened cocoa flavours. On the contrary the white chocolate was super sweet but this was kept in check by the aforementioned 'dark'. Bringing strong milk and vanilla influences to the party the presence of the white chocolate was certainly welcome and it was a unanimous verdict made by all that both the different chocolates worked in tandem pretty well. As you may have guessed by the nutritional information each piece was pretty miniature (4.6g) but having said that just a few at a time were a satisfying experience.

Overall these a top class that I would recommend on the basis of several reasons. Firstly the product as a whole is presented fantastically with both the box and inner chocolates not only looking classy but also very unique in craft and design. More importantly backing the looks up the actual taste of the product was magnificent - I don't think the chocolates will be winning any awards as separate entities but collaboratively they provided a taste that was nicely constructed with the two tones of chocolates contrasting superbly. Comments by the rest of family went along the lines of that they were be a perfect set of chocolates to bring to a dinner party because the packaging and presentation creates a talkability factor and the taste is better than average - you can't really ask for more than that. By my reckoning these are well worth a look at if you like the more unique snacks from the Far East.

8.2 out of 10

 

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