November 25th: 'Bits n Bobs' Japanese Special

Unfortunately there aren't any points or prizes for guessing the sole supplier of all the products featured in 'Bits n Bobs' today - of course they have all come from our favourite Japanese goods and snacks importer J-List (Cheap plug wahey!!!). Indeed, everytime I get a sampling package from those guys they always 'top-up' my package with several smaller items to make the most of the shipping weight limitations. Such products never feel like they justify fully fleshed out ChocolateMission reviews, but luckily for them we now have 'Bits n Bobs' to solve that problem.

I hope you enjoy the mini-reviews below, always thoughts, recommendations and requests are most welcome.

Morinaga Bake (Baked Chocolate)
Kcal 230 Fat 15.0g Fat(sats) ??? Carbs 21.0g (per 40.0g pack)

You may have noticed that during the months of May to September, J-list doesn't feature on the site as much as it does during months either side. This is primarily because of the extremely hot summer period that they have in the Far East. Whilst J-List continue to trade in their other wacky product categories (they stock all sorts of weird Japanese stuff!!), chocolate items are mostly taken off the menu for awhile, as they simply wouldn't survive the searing heat in the post. One of the few remaining chocolate products they did continue to stock this year however, were these Morinaga Bake (Baked Chocolate), which come desrcibed on J-List as simply 'baked pieces of crumbly milk chocolate'.

What with the rather loose description I didn't know quite what to expect from these, but thankfully they turned out to be pretty tasty. Inside the bright pink foil wrapper (love it!!), the pack contained several bite-sized chocolate biscuit pieces. Texture wise they were crunchy on the outside, yet had soft innards - the mouth feel was really quite unique. Flavour wise they were initially came across as pretty rich and chocolatey, however due their miniscule size and short mouth longevity they weren't the richest or fufilling of snacks. I wouldn't go over the top and say they are a must try product, but if you are looking for a smaller, unique product to 'top-up' you J-List order you can't go far wrong with these.

7.0 out of 10

Morinaga Chocolate Caramel
Kcal 21 Fat 0.5g Fat(sats) ??? Carbs 3.8g (per 4.9g piece)

Just like with the above Morinaga Bake, these were another one of the few products that J-List continued to stock during the long chocolate drought summer. In Japan, Morinaga are a brand well known for their hard caramel sweets - if you are one of those people that tries to keep an eye on all of the flavours out in Japan you will have noticed that they bring out several varieties each year. Hard caramels aren't the sort of product I would traditionally feature on the site, but my pal Peter at J-List suggested I try these chocolate flavoured ones, so he sent on a very cute looking matchstick sized box that was filled with them.

Contained within cubed foil wrappers, the caramels offered little in regards to aromas but this was unsurprising given the product. Once placed in the mouth the buttery flavours were intially very weak, but as the pieces rose to mouth temperature they softened and offered a greater toffee led taste that was noted with a minor hint of chocolate. To be honest, like the Morinaga Bake these ultimately weren't the most unique of products I have ever tasted, but at the same time I wouldn't like to give the perception they were bad in anyway shape or form. Again they would be a product worth looking at if you wish to add a smaller item to a J-List order.

7.1 out of 10

Meiji Fran Matcha Green Tea Creamy Mousse Biscuit Sticks
Kcal 89 Fat 5.3g Fat(sats) ??? Carbs 9.1g (per 16.0g pack)

Blimey if we were handing out ratings based on the length of the product name you have to think that these Meiji Fran Matcha Green Tea Creamy Mousse Biscuit Sticks would be in with a great shout of being the ChocolateMission leader :D Anyone who has some knowledge about the Japanese confectionery market will be well aware that people in the Far East absolutely love their products like Pocky, Toppo etc. As you would expect there are plenty of these products on the market, one being a brand called Fran which I tried for the very first time today. On the J-List website these came described as 'chocolate biscuit sticks with a matcha green tea coating, filled with chocolate mousse' - sounds cool huh!? Well I have to say they looked very cool in real life to! When I got them out the packet I was pleased to see they looked exactly like they did on the very premium looking outer box. In size they were about quadruple the size of the normal Pocky, and contained a plentiful layer of mousse filling running done the inside of the extravagant looking outer green portion.

As well as ticking the boxes aesthetically, I'm glad to say they got my seal of approval when it came to the taste test. The biscuit sticks were pretty 'so-so' in their flavour contribution, but the green tea coating was very nicely balanced and established a green tea taste that wasn't overly bitter but still somewhat grassy and herby in it's flavour contribution. The balance of flavours was no doubt helped by the creamy, sweet taste of the chocolate mousse centre, which nicely took the edge of the green tea in the latter stages of chewing. In the past I have found green tea products can be a little hit or miss, but these Meiji Fran Matcha Green Tea were pretty spot on delivering the unique green tea experience. If you are willing to put up with the usual unsatisfying hunger fufilment issue you get with these sort of products, then these are a product worthy of your consideration.

7.1 out of 10