Saturday, 30 January 2010
Friday, 29 January 2010
Thursday, 28 January 2010
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
I think I made it quite obvious last year how little I buy in to holidays like Valentines Day and Halloween but despite that I feel a duty to my readers to sort the wheat from the chaff in terms of the chocolate offerings on the UK market. Starting today over the coming week or so I will be looking at Hotel Chocolat's Valentines Day range. It has probably been impossible for you all to miss but all ChocolateMission readers can receive 10% off their Hotel Chocolat orders if they spend over £15 and input the code - JIMVAL10 ... I hope some of you make good use of the code on the Hotel Chocolat Website - See HERE.
Last week I received a big batch of samples from my pals at Hotel Chocolat and with the help of my family got stuck right into these Chilli & Nibs Sweethearts. In terms of proposition these looked like a simple variation of the Caramel Sweethearts I reviewed last year, however I thought the billing of 'solid chilli flavoured dark chocolate hearts with cocoa nibs' sounded a little more promising than the previous year's effort. In terms of packaging all the usual Hotel Chocolat swagger was encapsulated by the nicely designed outer box and inner tray and padding combo and I thought the red colouring was a good choice to communicate the chilli flavouring. The hearts themselves were not quite so impressive looking as the additional cocoa nib pieces scuffed the surface of the chocolates which spoilt the intricate design work somewhat.
Although we were a little disappointed by the aesthetics of the chocolates I am glad to report that it had no ramifications on the overall product. In regards to smell they emanated some fine roasted and burnt cocoa notes which was highly indicative of the taste experienced. As soon as I read that the chocolates were formed of Hotel Chocolat's 70% recipe I knew we were all in for a treat and these didn't fail to disappoint. Each heart piece was best eaten in two mouthfuls and I loved the dexterity of the textures created by the smooth melting chocolate base and the crunchy nib pieces. In terms of flavours the unsweetened cocoa taste was substantiated as soon as the chocolate hit the tongue. The volume of the cocoa grew with progression of the melt, however the taste never became overly bitter due to the presence of some milky undertones. Speaking of the additional chilli and nib elements one had a far greater say in the taste than the other and it was the chilli adding a lovely spicy kick to some, but not all of the heart pieces . Indeed this was something noted by not only me but my whole family - the chilli was a little inconsistent in that in some pieces it quite prominent, whilst in others undetectable.
Overall me and family were in agreement that these were very tasty but were not one of Hotel Chocolat's finest offerings at the same time. In fairness to Hotel Chocolate for the average manufacture these would go down as fantastic but in relation to the rest of their range there were just a few things that weren't quite right. Firstly as my old man mentioned the name .... 'Chilli & Nibs Sweethearts' probably wasn't the best choice!? I can understand sticking with 'Sweethearts' for range consistency but I personally would have gone for a more playful name - suggestions on postcards please! Going back to more important matters whilst these were simply delicious the added chilli flavouring wasn't as consistent as it should have been - as I alluded to above some pieces were very fiery, whilst others even failed to register a hint of chilli. If you or your partner/special someone are fan of dark chocolate and chilli these are well worth a look - I have a sneaky feeling that Hotel Chocolat will have better to offer this Valentines Day though.
8.2 out of 10
Wednesday, 27 January 2010
With only four days remaining in January I am really cutting it fine in my bid to find all of you January dieters a good option to satisfy your chocolate cravings. Having sampled some awful products from the likes of Unilever's Slim Fast and Boots' Shapers range I was beginning to feel that all my efforts were going to be in vain but then my hopes were lifted when I saw these new Kellogg's Fibre Plus bars in my local Sainsbury's. Indeed I first saw these bars of 'high fibre cereal with milk chocolate' announced in The Grocer last month - (See HERE). Being a fan of Kellogg's Fruit n' Fibre I needed no second invitation to give them a try.
At an RRP of £1.79 for four 28.0g bars, in comparison to other similar options these are a price premium; luckily I managed to bag these on an introductory offer of £1 which I thought was a far fairer price. Now whenever I think of Fibre cereals I often think of bland packaging and just ...well... brown coloured cereal - it hardly sets your imagination running wild does it! With that said Kellogg's did a pretty damn good job making these bars look well ... pretty flash! As you can see above the packaging has great stand out and the inner foil wrappers maintained each bar in great condition. I happen to think cereal bars are never the most exciting things ever but aesthetically these looked pretty sharp and I liked the drizzled effect of the chocolate on top which created a nice patterned design.
I ate these bars across a working work and substituted them in for my traditional mid-afternoon chocolaty snack. Given that I am reviewing these for dieters it is probably worth considering the nutritional information - 111 calories, 3.5g of fat and 20% of your daily fibre requirements ... not bad huh!? The first thing that struck me when opening one of the wrappers was the mild chocolate biscuit like smell that emanated from the bar - it hardly bowled me over but at least it was there! From the very first bit I noticed how dense these were in texture - they were very chewy in the mouth. In regards to flavours I have to say that the cereal constituents were quite bland with only the rolled oats bringing hints of wheat and flour to the party. In addition to these base flavours the syrup that acted as the bind brought a nice sweetness to the taste which was further compounded by the intermittent influences of milk chocolate. In regards to the actual milk chocolate involved it was actually surprisingly well portioned and had a say in the taste of each and every bite. Was it high quality milk chocolate!? ... of course not! Did it provide an adequate chocolate flavour hit!? ... Yeah for me it did!
Overall I think this is best I am going to be able to do for you dieters out there! These Kellogg's Fibre Plus Milk Chocolate bars were a way off being what I would deem as a high quality chocolate offering, yet at the same time they were damn good for what they were. They weren't the most flavoursome of things I have eaten but I was actually pleasantly surprised by how much of a say the chocolate had in the taste and I was equally impressed at how much they satisfied my hunger. Having tried some damn horrible dieting options recently I am very surprised that I feel in the position to actually go as far as recommending these. I am not sure people who are used to sugary cereals will have much love for them but personally I think the syrup and milk chocolate more than liven up the taste to suitable levels. Dieters this is the best I can do for you I am afraid - they aren't the perfect chocolate snack option but if you are getting desperate I suggest you try mini versions of the real McCoy (mini Snickers etc!). In my opinion nothing can replace the real thing, but these are at least worth a try.
7.8 out of 10
Tuesday, 26 January 2010
January has been a month for Japanese chocolate reviews here on ChocolateMission and I can't think of a better way to end them than with yet another Kit Kat. If you have read the title and find yourself wondering what the hell Kinako Ohagi is please don't worry - I am sure you are in plenty of company! Luckily you for you guys you have me ... and luckily for me I have google :) From what I can gather Ohagi takes it name from a fall flower called Hagi, and is a rice-based cake which is traditionally covered in kinako (roasted soy flour) powder and is filled with red beans. Your probably better off forgetting trying to piece this together in your mind - just squint your eyes and take a look at the picture on the box.
Getting down to business this was a Kit Kat that was split into two packs of two finger biscuits. The packaging was again pretty awesome but hey what did you expect from a Japanese Kit Kat. Some may think that the outer cardboard packaging is excessive but I personally love it and I think it just makes the product feel all the more special. That said the inner Kit Kats themselves weren't exactly scintillating as they looked no different at all too a normal milk chocolate Kit Kat. Although they may have looked a little placid there was no escaping the lovely roasted biscuit smells that emanated when the foil wrappers were broken into and the fingers snapped.
Taking my first bite into the Kit Kat the first thing I noticed was the glorious fresh snap of the wafers. Indeed the wafers seemed to be just a touch crisper than normal and the wheaty flavours seemed just a little bit more malty and came through just a little firmer than normal against the sweet, milky outer chocolate. Although the wafer took a greater hold of the taste the flavours that were most influential were that of the Kinako Soy and that absolutely delightful. Reminding me a touch of the Kit Kat Kinako Soy I reviewed a year or so ago the taste was influenced by a strong roasted nut element that brought peanut like flavours to the party. This varied the taste wonderfully bringing a beautiful contrast of salt and sweet elements. This contrast was simply delicious and so very moreish in every which way. Personally there was just no way I was going to be able eat just a single two finger packet in one sitting, though I definitely got a great deal of satisfaction from all four.
Overall this was one of the better Kit Kats I have from Japan in a long time especially after such hit-and-miss flavours of the Ginger Ale and Sweet Potato. As with every Nestle milk chocolate Kit Kat the standard of the chocolate wasn't sublime but it was certainly passable and it did at least allow the crisper wafers and kinako elements to take centre stage. With the kinako bringing a very peanut like influence to the taste this bar reminded me very much of our once beloved Kit Kat Chunky Peanut Butter .... oh the memories! If like me you miss that bar and want to try an authentic Japanese Kit Kat I would really suggest you consider tracking this Kinako Ohagi bar down at some point. This is a Kit Kat I would definitely have again.
8.5 out of 10
Monday, 25 January 2010
Having bought a fair few of packs of these Hotel Chocolat Ginger Canapes before I finally this time got the chance to take a few snaps so I could get a review up on the site. Indeed, these Ginger Canapes are a long time favourite amongst my family and whenever a pack is opened in our household we seem to suffer at the hands of those magical chocolate nicking pixies who spark the all to familiar conversation of ... 'who's eaten all the chocolates!?' ... 'not me' ... 'no definitely not me' ... 'I've had one' etc etc :D So what causes all this fuss I hear you asking!? ... 'Dark chocolate bases blended with essential oil of ginger and topped with crystallised ginger'.
£6.50 of your money will buy a box of 16 mini canapes pieces which together weigh 100.0g. In regards to the packaging I don't think the outer box is some of Hotel Chocolat's finest work, however I think you will agree that the canapes themselves look stunning and it was nice to see that the crystallised pieces on each piece were always evenly distributed which I think is something that paid dividends to the taste as well as the aesthetics. Removing all the padding and inner film layers I was met by a nice array of cocoa and spice scents. I perhaps expected the ginger to have a bit more of presence though it was still enticing nonetheless.
You may have been able to tell from my opening paragraph that I really like these so I won't beat around the bush so to speak. Each piece had a base of 70% dark chocolate which was about the perfect size to consume in two bites. Breaking each piece in two was of course the only time when any sort of biting or chewing was necessary when it came to the chocolate, as it was of course best enjoyed when simply left to melt on the tongue. Speaking of the melt it was as you would expect with Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate - perfectly paced and as soft as butter once warmed for a few seconds. When first placed in the mouth the cocoa came to the party incredibly quickly and initially brought small notes of coffee, red wine and charcoal. On it's own I personally would find that to be quite enough, however the ginger influences soon made for a taste that was wonderfully progressive. The ginger oil swirled into the chocolate brought a heat to the texture and spicy hint to the taste. What with the chocolate already being quite strong tasting the crystallised pieces of ginger wonderfully tempered the spiciness bringing a dose of sweet sugaryness. I won't lie and say that one canape was a satisfying amount, but just two at a time felt like quite a rich experience.
Overall I think that these Ginger Canapes are up there with some of the finest products I have tried from Hotel Chocolat. That is a pretty big statement to make when you consider just how many different products of theirs I have tried over the past two years. If you have read the above it isn't hard to see why I think so much of them, but to summarise all that I simply think it is the way that the dark chocolate is blended with the added ginger elements which makes for both a variable and delicious taste. I am sure it won't surprise you to hear that the dark chocolate is simply superb - to be honest I expected it to be myself. What I think makes this product stand out from others is the ginger, which I think takes the taste to a whole another level. If you love your dark chocolate and ginger combinations this is a product that I really think you need to try - it is absolutely fantastic.
9.2 out of 10
Saturday, 23 January 2010
It has been a pretty crazy week what with the announcement of the Cadbury takeover on Tuesday. I posted my initial reaction on the in the Hershey Milk Chocolate Review discussion, however having had further time to think about it I have some additional comments so 7Days of Chocolate Reviews is a little different this week.
The general consensus here in the UK is one of doom and gloom with pessimistic POV's strife amongst the media. To be honest I can see where a lot of this pessimism is coming from - the takeover not only brings uncertainty for the future of one of our most beloved and successful British brands but it also brings job insecurity for the majority of Cadbury workers (which in a recession is never a good thing!).
If we for one minute we forget all the negativity and look on the bright side of things we could possibly look at it from this slant. If Kraft were to create synergies with some of their own and Cadbury products there is a potential for things like Cadbury Dairy Milk Dime, Cadbury Dairy Milk Toblerone, Cadbury Dairy Milk Terry's etc. Another positive thing could be the upscale in production of Milka chocolate here in the UK if old Cadbury assists are used - hardly a bad substitute eh!?
Overall although I would love to look at things like that I ultimately think it is a sad day to see one of our proudest manufactures sell up in what can only be a decision made by corporate greed. As I said on Tuesday, business is business and there is little space for sentiment in times of global economic difficulties so the decision by the Cadbury shareholder is somewhat understandable although bitter to swallow.
Given how long these takeover processes take I wouldn't say it is quite time to go out and hoard your Cadbury Wispa Golds just yet, I am sure it will be a long time before we start seeing any significant changes what with the legalities that will have to be worked out in the courts before a full takeover takes place.
I would love to put a positive spin on all of this but frankly I fear the day when we are all tucking in to our Kraft chocolates and saying .... 'do you remember when Cadbury used to make Dairy Milk'.
Thanks Everyone - I would love to hear your views so this post will be left on the site throughout the weekend for you all to discuss - feel free to leave a comment.
* BBC for their comprehensive round up ... See HERE
Friday, 22 January 2010
With thanks once again to ChocolateMission reader Susie I today got my hands on yet another offering from Germany's Moser Roth brand. Moser Roth were one of the pleasant surprises of 2009 as time and time again they served up some great tasting offerings at a fraction of the going market rate. Exclusively produced for Aldi, Moser Roth has previously proven that great quality and an affordable price can be obtained so you can imagine I was relatively excited by the prospect of 'milk chocolate filled with hazelnut milk cream'. This is the first review of Moser Roth's Mousse range you will see in the next few weeks, as I have another two variants awaiting their run at the rating system.
This chocolate came in an odd sounding 187.5g size that was split into five nicely sized smaller 37.5g servings. As I have said in previous reviews Moser Roth do a great job with their packaging and this bar was yet another fine example of how good they really are. The outer box was a glorious marine blue colour and was decorated with some tempting looking pictures of chocolates and whole hazelnuts. Inside the the smaller bars were kept within some sleek looking paper sleeves and looked particularly appetising when cross-sectioned with the inner hazelnut creme having real stand out against the darker coloured chocolate. As great as the inner chocolate looked I have to admit I was little disappointed by the aromas that emanated from the wrappers which generated no more than average amounts of interest with some dairy chocolate scents.
One thing that Moser Roth continually impress me with is the quality of their chocolate, which at times I would say is getting close to being as full flavoured as brands such a Lindt. Although I wouldn't say the cream influences are quite as profound the taste was still wonderfully smooth and flowed with strong milk tones that were ever present throughout the duration on my tongue. Sitting below the crisp outer chocolate the inner hazelnut cream filling had a delightfully soft feel in the mouth with its differentiated drier, almost nougat like texture. Whereas I would day the feel in the mouth was pretty much spot on the flavours of the inner filling unfortunately not as grand as I had hoped. Indeed when the centre hazelnut creme was encountered the taste took a sweet turn, flipping from a fresh milky taste to a more powdery dried milk focus. What was disappointing was that the hazelnut element was really lost in the grand scheme of things, with only a mild note of nut detectable amongst the dominant dairy influences. The taste was by no stretch of the imagination bad in any manner but at the same time I was left disappointed by the lacking presence of the hazelnut. Despite the lacklustre nut flavours on offer I still felt like that a single 37.5g bar made for an entirely adequate snack and made my way through the whole five bars in about a week with some help from some colleagues.
Overall this wasn't the best Moser Roth chocolate I have ever tasted but if this is a case of them getting the enhancing flavour wrong then it was still better than the poorer efforts of some other well known manufacturers. On the positive side the quality of the chocolate was still pretty high and it made for a decent coating for what was a centre filling that didn't deliver what was desired. To avoid me moaning too much another thing I have to mention is the fact that the product was presented gloriously and I was once again impressed with the care that was given to the construction of the packaging and the crafting of the inner branded bars. I guess if you place this bar in the context of a direct competitor such as the Lint Mousse au Chocolat range than it does pale a little in comparison but this would be comparing it with a real high quality Lindt offering. With two other Moser Roth Mousse bars left to review I am hoping for greater things.
7.5 out of 10
Thursday, 21 January 2010
With both bars registering under 100 calories these both sounded like a dieters dream ... well I guess they had to taste alright to completely fit the bill. Below are my thoughts on both ..
Boots Shapers Double Chocolate Bar:
Kcal 98 Fat 2.7g Fat(sats) 1.6g Carbs 18.0g
This bar came described as 'chocolate heaven times two' and weighed 23.0g. Looking at the on pack blurb it sounded like a decent enough product, combining an outer layer of milk chocolate with a chocolate flavoured nougat below. The wrapper itself looked relatively nice though I was a little underwhelmed by both the lacklustre aromas and boring aesthetics that were revealed once it was opened.
To say this bar tasted one dimensional would be paying way too much respect to it. Having eaten it I was dreading writing this review as I knew I was going to have a hard time describing the taste. Why you ask!? Well because it mostly tasted of absolutely nothing ... seriously zip, zero, nada ... NOTHING!! As you can see from the pictures above the outer coating of chocolate was paper thin but at least it at least still managed to bring a small hint of sweet milk chocolate to the taste. In comparison the nougat was chewy and completely devoid of flavour. With the bar tasting of pretty nothing I found it completely unsatisfying.
4.0 out of 10
Having eaten the Double Chocolate Bar above the day before you could say expectations were pretty damn low when it came to eating this Chocolate Coffee Nougat Bar. Billed as 'coffee and chocolate in a dreamy nougat bar' I was praying this was going to offer a little more than the previous days travesty.
The packing and presentation ... meh it looked exactly the same. The wrapper was ok, the bar was lacking personality and just boring and generic ... at least it offered a more exciting aroma with a touch of coffee thrown in the mix. This minor coffee influence to the smell was pretty indicative of the taste. Just as I experienced with the above the chocolate was only really brought to the party by the wafer thin outer coating and lacked any presence in the nougat below whatsoever. Rather than completely lacking in its contribution to the taste it must said that there was a small of hint of coffee detectable in soft, spongy centre but being totally truthful I didn't find it anymore satisfying that the above.
4.7 out of 10
Overall .... (are these even worthy of an 'Overall!???) ... these sucked pretty bad! Now when I said I was going to do my best to find some 'easy on the calories' chocolate treats for you January dieters I honestly didn't think it was going to be this hard. Indeed, both these bars lacked flavour, excitement, character ... they were just ... well ... BAD!! Like I said in my review last Sunday, when you compare these bars to say other 100 calorie options like mini Mars bars, Cadbury Chomps, Cadbury Curly Wurlys etc there just really no competition when it comes down to what is superior. Dieters do not worry I will persist trying to find you some decent diet chocolates. On todays evidence this is going to be harder than I thought though.
Wednesday, 20 January 2010
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
These Gianduja Praline Cubes came in a box weighing 300.0g which was split into 42 small bite sized pieces. As I so frequently say with Hotel Chocolat products the presentation was first class once again and everything from the on-pack design work to the inner trays and padding radiated all the usual classiness that I have come to expect from the brand. Speaking of the chocolates themselves I have to admit that at first I thought they looked a little on the small side sitting in the tray though my opinion on that soon changed upon experiencing their richness. Although perhaps sceptical at their size initially, one thing that I was more impressed with was how they smelt and I immediately felt enticed by the raw and fresh nutty smells that wafted out of the box.
Picking my first piece out of the tray the first thing I noticed was the velvety feel of the chocolates on my fingers and I have to admit that I was impressed by the way that the chocolates left no stickiness or residue left on my fingers despite the ease at which they melted in the mouth. Speaking of the melt it is actually difficult for me to fully put in to words how luxurious it felt in the mouth. Allowing myself to go well over the top here it was simply sensuous and an utter delight feeling the cool, melty feel of the chocolate transform into it's silky liquid state .... it was just wonderful. Of course just as importantly the taste was also of a very high standard and the delicious blend of woody hazelnut and rich tasting creamy cocoa flavours delivered a smooth elegance that was demanded by the sublime melt. Contrary to my initial thoughts each block was sized to perfection. One cube was the perfect treat to compliment an after dinner coffee, whilst two cubes was enough to feel like a sinful indulgence that was so totally worth it.
Overall I feel like I have said everything in my above paragraph - if I haven't managed to put this over as a product I absolutely loved I should probably just give on this whole reviewing thing now. Pretty much everything about this product was spot on and I can only think of one minor thing that they could change to make it a real contender for the top place on ChocolateMission. Before I reveal that speaking of the actual product at hand I have nothing but positive things to say about it - the presentation was first class, the taste rich and flavoursome and lastly the melt was simply out of this world ... this is how Gianduja should be done! Where they could they improve it!? Well for me I would to try an even stronger, more intensive cocoa solids Gianduja. I am not to sure a 'darker' Gianduja would work as it may detract from the hazelnut flavours ... but hey I think it would be worth a go given the prestige at which Hotel Chocolat handle their darker chocolate recipes. For the time being I simply insist that all you praline and hazelnut chocolate fans doing yourselves a favour and indulge yourselves in a box of these Hotel Chocolat Gianduja Praline Cubes. This is a product well worthy of being recognised as being one of the best ever tasted on ChocolateMission and is well worthy of it's tremendous score.
9.4 out of 10
Tuesday, 19 January 2010
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
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
Sunday, 17 January 2010
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
Friday, 15 January 2010
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