March 18th: Thorntons Milk Chocolate with Pistachio

Kcal 551 Fat 35.7g Fat(sats) 19.2g Carbs 49.3g (per 100.0g)

If you think back about a month or so to the end of last year you may remember that the Thorntons Milk Chocolate with Tonka Bean bar won a lot of praise in the end of year ChocolateMission 2009 Awards, picking up 3rd place for overall product of the year. Well the folk over at Thorntons were obviously pretty happy about this so they sent me along another chocolate from their award winning range, this time their Milk Chocolate with Pistachio offering. As a recent pistachio nut convert I was looking forward to seeing what Thorntons could do with this combination - surely they couldn't go wrong with a recipe of 'milk chocolate with roasted, salted pistachio nuts'.

Like all of the 'award winning' bars from this range Thorntons felt it ok to strip away 10.0g leaving us with 80.0g of chocolate (not quite as cheeky as the Tonka where they only give you 70.0g!). A quick glance at the packaging tells you that Thorntons appear to be running out of colours to use when it comes to this Square Bars range and with branding aside the outer box looked ridiculously similar to both the Tonka and Mint chocolates ... perhaps Thorntons could have done a 'premiuim line' with different packaging for the award winners!? Inside the chocolate looked and smelt good with the green coloured pistachios bringing a lovely savoury nutty smell and bit of interest in terms of aesthetic appeal.

Unfortunately for Thorntons all milk chocolate I taste from them from now on will be compared to the Tonka Bean bar. This 32% recipe was still tasty but it noticeably lacked the strength in the taste of the aforementioned with a slightly less pronounced cocoa edginess and honey influence. In the effort of trying not to be completely condescending the vanilla undertones were still pretty prominent and the lack of strength of the chocolate was somewhat made up for by the added pistachios. Much as the packaging suggested the nuts themselves brought hints of salt and savoury nut to the experience, though I do have again have to somewhat question the decision to chop them in to smaller pieces rather than keeping them as wholenuts. They were not as clumsy or annoying as hazelnuts can be when chopped (no bits getting stuck in teeth etc!) but I still feel the crunchy effect and savoury nut flavours explosions would have been grander had had they been implemented whole. Together the combination of sweet and salt worked very nicely but I had that nagging feeling it could have been executed just a little better.

Overall I would rate this as another pretty high standard offering from Thorntons but at the same time I wouldn't say it was one of the finest they have produced. Pistachio nuts themselves are not the strongest tasting nuts so I think their chopped nature in this bar came at detriment to the overall product. Perhaps manufactures think that consumers are of the mindset that 'more small bits' look like more in totality than 'fewer bigger bits', but I for one would rather see the latter if given the option of either/or. Criticisms aside pistachio chocolates aren't one of the most common flavours around so if you fancy trying it out for yourself you can do very little wrong opting to give this Thorntons offering a try. I don't think 2010 will quite be the year of the pistachio, like 2008 was for Chili but it would be interesting to see a few more manufactures give this nut a crack.

8.2 out of 10