December 1st: 'Bits n Bobs' Christmas Cake Bar Special

What better way to really get in the festive mindset than by kicking off December with a 'Bits n Bobs' post focused on all the different Christmas themed cakes available to us in the UK supermarkets this year. Indeed, for the last few weeks I have been doing some very thorough research looking at the quality of the Christmas Cake offerings from both Cadbury and McVitie's for 2010.

Below are my thoughts on four different products. These have each been given mini reviews based on my own thoughts and input from some of my work colleagues who I shared them with. If you have tried any of them for yourself I would really welcome your views so drop me a comment.

McVitie's Jaffa Cakes Orange & Cranberry Cake Bars

Kcal 95 Fat 3.5g Fat(sats) 1.8g Carbs 10.1g (per bar)
'Bittersweet dark chocolate, light sponge and a orange and cranberry centre'

Breaking the Cadbury monopoly today I found these McVitie's Jaffa Cakes Orange & Cranberry Cake Bars on a £1 deal in my local Sainsbury's supermarket. In terms of their packaging and presentation they looked none to different to the standard Jaffa Cake Bars, though McVitie's at least went to the effort of placing some snowflakes on the wrappers. When it came to the taste there was no differentiation from the normal bars in regards to the outer 'dark' chocolate or sponger layers. When it came to the filling however there were some noticeable, yet pretty minor changes, with the usual zingy orange taste of the originals taking more of a sweeter flavour stance. The filling in these bars had a forthcoming red berry flavour note that took the edge away from the more acidic orange. The panel were when it came to these - some prefered them, some didn't and some thought they were just equally as nice as the originals.

7.5 out of 10

Cadbury Merry Mini Rolls Sweet Cranberry & Vanilla

Kcal 120 Fat 5.6g Fat(sats) 2.8g Carbs 13.3g (per Mini Roll)
'Golden sponge with cranberry jam and a vanilla flavour filling, covered with milk chocolate'

The second of our two cranberry flavoured cakes came in the form of these Cadbury Merry Mini Rolls which I found on sale in Tesco. £1.50 of my pennies bought me a multi-pack of 6 wrapped rolls that I shared amongst another load of workmates. First impression from my panel were that they were confused by the packaging. With the 'Merry' wording aside there wasn't really anything else to give these any sort of festive feel!? What happened here Cadbury!? Moving on, when it came to the taste test these were more to the approval of my panel. You may recall that the blackcurrant limited edition flavour from Halloween have gone down as my favourite Cadbury Mini Rolls to date. Well in my opinion these Cranberry flavour rolls weren't as good as those, but they were at least a step up from the Strawberry Mini Rolls which I later tried and found excessively sweet. To be honest the cranberry jam filling here was a bit of a half way house between those two aforementioned variants. The sweet red currant flavours weren't quite as fruity or 'real' tasting as the blackcurrant, though they at least avoided the sickening sweetness of the strawberry. Fair but not the best.

7.0 out of 10

Cadbury Frosty Snow Star Cakes

Kcal 140 Fat 7.3g Fat(sats) 4.5g Carbs 14.2g (Per cake)
'Chocolate flavoured sponge layered with vanilla flavoured buttercream, covered in milk chocolate, decorated with a white chocolate star and a sweet dusting'

Phew what a long product description :D These were the most expensive of all the cakes I bought for the reviews today, and they cost me £2.00 from Tescos. Once again I tried these out with the help of some handy taste testers, who were all very approving of the very festive looking packaging and appetising look of the cakes. Fundamentally these were large slices of Cadbury chocolate roll, dusted with icing sugar and filled with buttercream. Two out of these three components got the seal of approval all round from everyone, the chocolate cake was tasty and the dusting of icing sugar was a nice touch to create a cooling mouth sensation with every bite. Unfortunately a lot of of people felt that the vanilla buttercream was overly sweet and it's combination with the horrible Cadbury Dream star on top created an overly dominant sugar led taste in the bites where it was most present. It was a shame that these didn't quite live up to expectations - they were the most disappointing out of all the cakes featured for this 'Bits n Bobs'.

6.7 out of 10

Cadbury Mini Yule Logs

Kcal 130 Fat 6.5g Fat(sats) 4.0g Carbs 13.0g (per Yule Log)
'Chocolate flavoured sponge with chocolate flavoured buttercream, covered with milk chocolate and sprinkled with light dusting'

Last but not least these Cadbury Mini Yule Logs were promising a triple chocolate experience - expectations were high :D By putting them last out of all four I have probably given the game away already so I can indeed confirm they were mine and panel's favourite from the selection posted today. Just like most of the others I bought these in my local Tesco for £1.50 - a sum which bought me six cakes. The presentation of the packaging and cakes were both very attractive looking - my only slight annoyance being with the fact they didn't come in individual wrappers, so consumption outside of the home wasn't possible. Forgetting that minor negative, these got a big thumbs up from everybody that tasted them. The outer chocolate layer was fantastic, and far ticker and crisper than standard Cadbury Mini Rolls. The cake inside was rich and chocolatey, whilst the chocolate flavoured buttercream was far superior to the vanilla variety in the cakes above, and provided an additional raft of Cadbury chocolatey flavours aswell as a much needed sense of moistness to every bite. Following me bringing an initial pack of these into the office they have already been repurchased by some of the people that tried them. That is always the ultimate test for any product - I have no qualms recommending them.

8.0 out of 10