Friday, 5 March 2010
'Bits n Bobs' posts will feature on the site every months and will be full of mini 'reviews' of products that I have accumulated over the course of time. These 'reviews' wont always include score charts (only as and where appropriate!) and will be light on words ... the idea for these posts are that they are more picture based. Let me know what you think about the new style ... don't worry they won't be replacing the traditional product reviews.
This first 'Bits n Bobs' review will focus on products from Japan that I have been sent by both J-List and ChocolateMission reader Rachel (Thanks again!!)
Meiji Mini Chocolate & Sweet Assortment:
These were a cute little gift sent to me by J-List and were included in one of their last chocolate packages. These five little boxes included all different kinds of small candy sweets, ranging from mini popping candy pieces (yuck!) , fruit jelly beans, lemon flavoured candies, grape flavoured candies and lastly some strawberry chocolates (the dome shaped things!). If you ever looking to bolster the size of your J-List order with a small little addition I would suggest these as a nice snapshot of traditional Japanese sweets.
Meito Air in Banana Fish:
This was yet another curious item sent to me by J-List. This Meito Air in Banana Fish constituted of fish shaped ice cream wafers filled with a sweet banana mousse type substance. To be honest I didn't think that much of it - the wafers were pretty bland and the banana flavoured mousse filling tasted more artificial than fruity. I wouldn't go out of my way to have another ... it did look intriguingly bizarre though :D
Glico Caplico Cones:
These were sent my way by ChocolateMission reader Rachel who acquired these Glico Caplico Cones at a Japanese market in Central London. These were formed of wafer cones, with different flavoured mousse fillings which had '99 chocolate flake' bits running down the centre. Rachel was kind enough to send me three different flavours - vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Out of all of them by far my favourite was the chocolate as it was the strongest tasting. The vanilla was also pretty fair, but unfortunately the strawberry was similarly artifical tasting like the fruit flavoured Meito product above.
Fujiya Milky Chocolate:This one does get a rating because it was a pure chocolate product :D This Fujiya Milky Chocolate was another item picked up for me by Rachel in the Japanese market in London.
This product was presented fantastically and came in a mini envelope style cardboard packet that flipped open at the front. Inside a film packet contained several mini chocolate blocks which smelt strongly of sweet condensed milk. Taste wise the smell was very indicative, and the outer chocolate had a very distinct milk rooted taste that was only further reaffirmed by the white coloured milky centres. The aftertaste of each piece left a nice note of vanilla in the mouth and the melt was relatively pleasant smooth experience.
Overall I wouldn't say this was the best chocoalte in the world by any means but if you are after a sweet tasting Japanese milk chocolate that isn't far fetched from Kinder you might want to give it a try.
7.4 out of 10
Thursday, 4 March 2010
Kcal 237 Fat 16.2g Carbs 20.4g
I have tried many bizzare looking chocolates from Japan in the last few years but nothing quite prepared me for this Meiji Rich Matcha Chocolate that I tried today. As you will be able to tell from the adverts placed in the review above this was yet another treat sent to me by the good chaps at J-List, and it just so happened to be one of the most opinion splitting products that my family have tried from them yet. Matcha for those who don't know is a variety of green tea which of course originates from Japan. Admittedly I am not the greatest fan of green tea and it is not like I frequent the stuff by any means, but luckily for me I had some willing assistants who were more than happy to help give this a try.
This Meiji bar came in a 40.0g serving size that I divided up between three of us to share. In regards to the packaging I really liked the way the product was presented. The wrapper was bright and vibrant, whilst it would of taken a real idiot to miss what sort of flavour it was with all green tea leaves. Although the wrapper was pretty crazy itself, the chocolate was really something else and it's bright green colour added further intrigue and a real WOW factor when it was undressed from the silver foil. As if the chocolate's aesthetic credentials weren't enough, the aroma that emanated only further provoked curiosity with it's startling array of herb and tea scents.
Breaking my first chunk off the piece separated with satisfying snap and broke into a size well suited to consume one mouthful. Placing the block on my tongue I was greeted with one of the oddest mixture of flavours I have ever experienced and unfortunately I can't say I enjoyed all that much. In the initial parts of the taste a fine undertone of sugary, milk based white chocolate substantiated a sweet start, though it wasn't long in to the melt that the tea flavours joined the party. Just as the smell of the chocolate suggested the green tea was herby, with notes of grass and earth evident in the tea flavours that got stronger as the melt progressed. These tea flavours left a harsh bitterness in the aftertaste, leaving a strong imprint of green tea in the mouth once the chocolate had been swallowed. Personally I just didn't like it - it wasn't 'spit out the mouth bad', but I didn't find it enjoyable eating nonetheless ... simple as that!
Overall this was the most 'Marmite' of chocolates I had ever come across before and it split opinion with those who helped me taste it. As I have alluded to above, I myself didn't like the bitter aftertaste it left in my mouth and one of my fellow taste testers concurred with this opinion entirely. Conversely the other member of family who tried it absolutely loved it and was quick to hoover up the portions that we didn't eat at the time. Judging this bar by what it is and not what I thought of it personally, I have to say it was very good at what it was supposed to be. The Matcha flavours were implemented well and it came through very distinctly amongst the white chocolate base. Because of this I very confident in saying that if you are a green tea fan it safe to assume that you would get a heck of a lot of enjoyment from this chocolate. I can't say I will ever be trying it again myself but for all you green tea lovers it could well worth giving it a try.
6.0 out of 10
Wednesday, 3 March 2010
In a bid to carry on with tradition I have been trying out some more chocolate egg offerings that are on the market this year. Lets get down to business already - below are my brief thoughts on the following three eggs.
Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Egg
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
Having tried the dark chocolate Lindor egg last year I thought it only right I give the milk chocolate variant an appearance on the site. This egg cost me 59p from Tesco and came in a 28.0g form. Aesthetically it looked pretty smart and Lindor red branded foil and gold fonts made it stand out from some of the other cheaper egg alternatives giving it a nice premium look.
In regards to taste the flavours were delicious yet very short lived. As expected the both the outer chocolate and truffle filling were wickedly creamy and wonderful but didn't leave the same lasting chocolaty impression than I think the truffles do. One of the things I commented on last year about the dark chocolate Lindor egg was that it didn't deliver the bite sized convenience of the original truffles, nor did it have the same sensual feel biting into the crisp outer shell into the smooth, butter like centre.
Overall in some regards this was a better than average Easter Egg but in another light it wasn't anywhere the quality of the original Lindor Truffles. If you are asking me the truffle format is the perfect choice for your Lindt Lindor fill - as experienced with the egg and bar alternative offerings they simply don't match up in terms of total experience.
7.4 out of 10
Thorntons Praline Egg
Similarly to the Lindt egg above I bought this Thorntons Praline Egg from Tesco for the price of 59p. It is worth mentioning that although they were the same in price, this Thorntons egg was actually considerably bigger at 35.0g and came described as a 'milk chocolate egg and crunchy sugar almond bits with a hazelnut praline filling'.
Despite this weighing more than the Lindt egg both were actually the same size and it was just the denser filling that added the extra bulk. Biting in to the egg the first thing I noticed were the crunchy pieces of almond in the outer coating and I liked the variation they brought texture wise. In terms of taste the chocolate was already pretty sweet, so I am not sure their sugary nature was that all that welcome - put it this way I would have preferred them to be nuttier! In regards to the praline filling I can pretty much reiterate the same thing ... it was more sugary than it was nutty which was of great disappointment to me.
Overall if you were to eat this egg I don't think you would either be massively impressed or massively disappointed - it was just a real middle of the road offering. The quality of the milk chocolate was by no means bad but it wasn't helped by either the almond or praline constituents which were both in my opinion under par.
6.9 out of 10
This was the real wild card of the selection! Has anyone even heard of Kinnerton Confectionery Limited before!?? ... no me neither!! These Kinnerton Shake 'ems Eggs are available in several different packaging alternatives featuring our *ahem* favourite *ahem* kinds TV heroes ... Toy Story, The Simpsons, High School Musical etc.
Shake 'ems Eggs constitute of 'hollow milk chocolate shells with plain chocolate pearls' and weigh 19.0g each. Price comparison wise I can't say they stack up to well - 65p for one (OneStop) makes them more expensive than the average competitor, yet they are significantly smaller ... hmmm! Frankly price is the least of the problems with these eggs - to sum the taste in four words I would use the phrase 'cheap advent calendar crap'. Indeed the outer milk chocolate shell lost all of its appeal after just the second mouthful upon where the sugary nature of the chocolate was horribly evident. Of course the inner candy pieces did very little to stem the sugar rush in my mouth - to be honest I threw most of them away.
Overall given the kiddie target market it was unsurprising I thought so little of this egg taste wise and I guess it was almost inevitable that it was going to be sugar overkill. That is something I can understand - lets be honest kids appreciate their chocolate like that! What I don't like is the fact that Kinnerton think that by sticking a picture of a TV character on the front of the pack they can charge a premium price. Parents do yourselves a favour and treat your kids to a Cadbury Creme Egg whilst you still can - all the sugar but a price worth paying in my opinion.
5.6 out of 10
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
Having tried so many products from Thorntons' ambient cake range with great success over the past few weeks I needed very little encouragement giving these Mini Chocolate Brownies a run for their money on the ChocolateMission rating scheme. Given how tasty the Thorntons' Chocolate Cake Bars were I really had high hopes for these Brownies which came with the tantilising description of 'chocolate brownies sprinkled with Thorntons chocolate fudge pieces, dipped in milk chocolate'. Moving on from my scoping out of the cake bar market, brownies are my new area of interest so if you have any suggestions of products I might want to be trying please send a me a note on the request page.
I found these brownies sitting in the same part of the supermarket as all the rest of the Thorntons ambient products just next to the fresh bakery section in Tesco. £1.29 of my hard earned money bought me a pack of 12 brownies which struck me relatively good value for money, especially considering they lasted me just over a week. Aesthetically I thought the product was presented well and again I could appreciate the realistic looking product photos on the front of the packaging. Opening the foil packet up I was immediately met with a waft of chocolate cake like scents which really put me in the mood for what lay inside.
At first glance the brownies looked pretty underwhelming and way too small to satisfy the hunger of such a mighty man like myself *ahem*. Thankfully just like the Millionaire's Shortbread what these lacked in presence they made up for in taste and these similarly delivered a great deal of flavour in just the two bites it took me to eat a single one. One thing that definitely can't be disputed is that these packed a real chocolate punch and the combination of the outer coating, cake and inner fudge pieces really hammered this home with real quality. The outer chocolate established a sweet milky taste and I enjoyed the way it melted in to a liquor state to moisten the dry inner brownie base. Despite the cake already feeling quite dense it was further firmed by the chocolate fudge pieces which brought a slight chewiness to the bite as well as a pleasant burst of sweetened cocoa flavours noted with just a subtle hint of treacle. One brownie at a time wasn't quite the same rich experience as the Millionaire Shortbreads, however two certainly felt like an indulgence.
Overall chocolate brownies have never been the first port of call for me in a bakery but I am pleased to say that these were yet another product from Thornton's cake range that I enjoyed. In fact if you look back at all my reviews of Thornton's cakes you will see that they are a lot more consistent with their scores in this sector than they are with their actual chocolate ranges. These brownies were not the most complex of products I have ever tasted but they did their job exceedingly well and they went very nicely with a mid morning/afternoon coffee. On reflection I probably wouldn't buy these over many of the other products from Thornton's cake range (e.g. Toffee Cakes, Chocolate Cakes & Millionaire's Shortbread) but I would recommend them if you are partial to the odd brownie. I can imagine that these are one of those products that are consumed within a matter of a few days in a household environment.
8.4 out of 10
Monday, 1 March 2010
The Japanese Kit Kat reviews have been coming thick and fast over the last few weeks and today I bring you the final flavour that was included in the last sampling package sent to me by those kind chaps at J-List. If you have made the assumption that this was the flavour that appealed to me least out of the recent batch sent because I left it until last to review, you probably aren't too far away from the reality. Truth be told this Sparkling Strawberry variant wouldn't have been a flavour I would have picked out to review myself, though it wasn't like I was going to be turning down a free Kit Kat and I was more than happy to give it a try along with a willing work colleague.
Just like all the Kit Kats that have featured on the site recently this flavour came in a 36.0g size that was split into two seperate double finger portions. Looking at the packaging the flavour was clearly communicated through the use of small mini air bubbles and strawberry pictures which decorated the outer box. Inside the inner foil packets had real stand out and the bright pink coloured foil glistened vibrantly and catching the eye. In addition to catching my attention with it's jazzy packaging, the smells that emanated from the packets also made me take notice as strong, sweet strawberry milkshake like scents wafted out as soon as the seals were broken.
Despite me not being completely taken in the by the aromas I must say they were highly indicative of the taste which is always a nice and reassuring thing. Indeed, much like the smells suggested the white chocolate coating was very sweet and substantiated a deeply sugar rooted milk based taste as soon as the chocolate entered the mouth. Unsurprisngly the strawberry element wasn't late in its arrival to the party and within a matter of seconds the sugary sweet taste had a strawberry fruit flavour edge that was surprisingly sharper than I first thought it would be. The strawberry fruit was a little a little artifical tasting for my liking, however it didn't hamper my enjoyment that much as I was expecting it to be just that anyway. It probably won't surprise you to hear that with the taste of the outer coating being so strong and dominating the wafers had very little say in the taste, though they at least retained their usual crispness. Sat in the middle of the wafers the creme seemed to have an added touch of strawberry sherbet which probably sounds a little more exciting than it actually was. The slight fizz it brought to the experience was pretty unspectacular and I have to say it didn't do all that much for me - at least it wasn't popping candy!
Overall on the balance of things I probably enjoyed this Kit Kat a little more than I thought I would. The two fingers I ate didn't go all that well with my afternoon coffee though the colleague I ate these with said the two fingers they had went nicely with their hot chocolate. Personally speaking the taste for me was a little on the sweet side, but I liked the fact that the strawberry fruit was a little sourer and juicier than I expected it to be beforehand. Being overly critical I would say the sugary taste of the outer coating was just a tad to harsh and it was slightly disappointing that it dominated the taste so much it left the inner wafer somewhat redundant. The person who I shared this with said that this wouldn't be a Kit Kat that they would replace their usual milk chocolate flavour with, but they did say that it would be a nice option to have for a change up every now and then. I myself don't think I would ever buy this variant myself but those who like strawberry flavoured chocolates will probably really enjoy this. For the time being I have run out of Japanese Kit Kats to review but fear not I have a few more chocolates from the Far East that are due up on the site very soon.
7.4 out of 10
Sunday, 28 February 2010
Below you will find my brief thoughts on both the 'Dark' and 'Caramel' variants - both of which I picked up in Tesco recently on an introductory 99p offer.
Werther's Original Chocolate Dark:
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
Described as 'dark chocolate marbled with the comforting taste of Werther's' these were simply just a dark chocolate version of the milk chocolate variant I reviewed previously and my positive thoughts around the packaging, presentation did not differ in the slightest.
As experienced with the milk chocolate variant these dark chocolate similarly smelt glorious when I opened the packet and a rich butterscotch aroma didn't fail in raising my anticipation. In regards to actual cocoa content I was surprised to see that Storck didn't go for a bolder recipe than the 42% implemented, but saying that the taste was noticeably less sugary than the milk chocolate and initially substantiated less of a sweetness in the mouth. Because the dark chocolate was more impactful in it's cocoa flavours the taste did last a little bit longer in the mouth, and I felt it's unsweetened nature went better with the sugary, butter flavours of the caramel white chocolate that was swirled inside. Unfortunately where this dark chocolate surpassed the milk variant in taste it was disappointing that the same disgusting waxy texture was present and it yet again really hampered my overall enjoyment.
7.5 out of 10
Werther's Original Chocolate Caramel:
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
Unlike the other variants this Caramel flavour was billed as a completely different proposition - 'milk chocolate with a soft caramel centre'. Despite being fundamentally another sort of product altogether these Caramel chocolates came in the same style packaging and wrappers and it wasn't until they were bitten into that the different style centres were evident.
In contrast to the other solid piece chocolates these had a noticeably less strong aroma when the pouch was opened and had a lighter toffee smell. The first thing that came to my attention when I placed the first one in my mouth was that thankfully the texture of the outer chocolate wasn't half as waxy and it actually initiated it's own melt without any need chewing. Inside the caramel centre was as billed and had a nice soft, smooth feel in the mouth. However, whilst it felt nice on the tongue it was distinctly lacking in flavour, so much so that the very mild milk chocolate completely dominated the taste with it's very unspectacular sugary condensed milk focus. Sadly taste wise the caramel lacked pretty much everything a good caramel should have, and was absent of the desired strong buttery notes or salt licks, leaving just a bland tasting sugar based substance.
6.7 out of 10
Overall as you will be able to tell from my scores and write ups, I was pretty disappointed with this new range as a whole. What I find most frustrating about this range is that Storck managed to get many parts of these chocolates right - the packaging and presentation is good, the propositions are exciting, and the Werther's element is implemented in a interesting way in the 'Milk' and 'Dark' variants. Unfortunately Storck got it wrong in some very fundamental departments with two of the flavours having truly horrid waxy textures, and the other having a poor tasting soft filling. If I had to recommend one of the three to you I would suggest you try the 'Dark' flavour as it offers a genuinely delicious taste despite the really poor feel it has in the mouth. Frankly speaking I think Storck have really missed an opportunity here and I wouldn't be surprised if these were to all disappear from our shelves quite quickly given the other higher quality alternatives already available and established in the UK market.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
You may have noticed this week that a few backlogged reviews from around Chritmas time finally it made it up on the site this week.
A few of the reviews that had been waiting a while in the queue were the Terry's Twilight (See HERE), Nestle Baby Ruth Crisp (See HERE) and the Lindt Strawberry-Rhubarb Yogurt (See HERE). What with Valentines Day and new product launches getting in the way these one had to waite to their turn for months, but I have managed to sneak them in before all hell breaks loose for Easter and Mothers day.
Sandwiched in between those guys I brought you yet another Kit Kat reviews with Monday's Milk Coffee (See HERE), and on Wednesday the Kit Kat Little Chilli Powder Mini Bites (See HERE) - I hope you guys aren't getting bored of the Japanese goodies because I just recieved another box from J-List .... which leads me to question of the week ...
'Which region would you like to see better represented on the site i.e. do you want me to do more reviews for products from the US? UK? Japan? Europe? Are things just about right?'
Let me know what you think. Thanks for all the comments again this week I am still endeavouring to answer each and every one of them.
Have a great week
News from the Chocolate Market:
* Mars have launched their new World Cup campaign with the help of some England 'legends' ...ahem ... See HERE
* Guylian has some nice sounding products coming out this Spring ... See HERE
* Nestle are sticking £2.5m behind a new Aero campaign ... See HERE
* Cadbury has made more of its portfolio Fairtrade aligned ... See HERE
* Mars are bringing back Galaxy Counters!? Can someone tell me what these were please!! ... See HERE
* Given up chocolate for Lent!? Take a look at this ... See HERE
Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week:
* Foodstufffinds - Cin has giving her two cents on the Cadbury Bar of Plenty range this week ... See HERE
* ImpulsiveBuy - New contributor Kelley posted her review on the new Jack in the Box grilled sandwiches ... See HERE
* GiGiReviews - Similarly to Kelley, Gi reviewed another artery clogging burger - Carl Jr's Grilled Cheese Bacon Burger - See HERE
* ChocaBlog - These guys went all out with the Japanese reviews this week - cracking stuff and well checking out all of Dom's and Simon's reviews for Japanese Week ... See HERE
* YumYucky - Josie got her lips round some awesome sounding Little Debbie Peanut Butter & Jelly Oatmeal Pies ... See HERE
Again this week I spent more time updating some old reviews with new photos ... please check them out.
* Kinder Bueno - See HERE
* Kit Kat Senses - See HERE
* Cadbury Crunchie - See HERE
* Nestle Lion Bar - See HERE
Friday, 26 February 2010
It seems like decades ago when I first reviewed the Nestle Baby Ruth on ChocolateMission - Ok it wasn't quite that long ago but it was one the first ever few bars to feature on the site. Since that time back in March 2008 I have actually had the bar quite a few more times and I still stand by the score of 7.6 out of 10 that I awarded it back then. In the US market the Baby Ruth is very established and it surprises me that Nestle haven't made more of the brand given it's popularity. Given how many limited editions and line extensions we see on the likes of M&M's and Snickers I find it somewhat odd that this 'Crisp' option is currently the only extended offering from the Baby Ruth brand.
This Baby Ruth Crisp came described as 'baked wafers, caramel, peanuts and creme' and came in 50.0g size. In terms of presentation the bar looked pretty good and I liked the way that the packaging communicated the new news of the Crisp offering whilst still maintaining some of the core Baby Ruth brand credentials using the same logo and font styles. In terms of what was inside I liked the way the product was split into two bars as this was certainly more convenient than it would have been had it just been one single piece. In regards to aromas I found the milky sweet smells pretty enticing and I liked the small hint of nut that was also on offer.
If you look at the photo above you will be able to see that the outer coating of milk chocolate wasn't exactly dominant in terms of portioning and I am sure it won't surprise you to hear it took quite a back seat in the overall taste. Just as you will find in all Nestle milk chocolate products the chocolate was predominantly milk rooted in flavours and had quite a sugary finish in the latter stages of it's melt. Sitting below the outer coating of milk chocolate the intermittent layers of peanuts, wafers, caramel and peanut butter all combined to bring a fantastic synergy of sweet and salty influences. The peanuts and wafers were crisp, crunchy and fresh and brought wonderful nut and malt flavours to the party. The gooey caramel and peanut butter layers perfectly complimented the aforementioned bring a delightful moistness to the drier elements. Speaking of the bars hunger fulfilment credentials I have to say it wasn't quite as satisfying as the larger original Baby Ruth, however it was still pretty hefty as an afternoon snack.
Overall as controversial as this may be I have come to the conclusion that this Baby Ruth Crisp actually works a hell of a lot better than the original Baby Ruth bar. The ongoing problem I have with the original bar is that I think the layer of fudge flavoured nougat dominates the taste and brings an overwhelming dryness in terms of texture. What this Crisp variant does so well is that the peanut creme and caramel layers bring a much needed moistness to each bite and they more enhance the taste rather than dominate it. If you are a fan of the original Baby Ruth or Reese's products I would strongly suggest you give this bar a try. It isn't the strongest peanut butter bar I have had on ChocolateMission but I was impressed with it nonetheless. If you get the option to try it I would definitely give it a go - I will certainly have it again in the future.
8.2 out 10
Thursday, 25 February 2010
I don't know if anyone else picked up on this but Christmas last gone it seemed like all out warfare in the after dinner chocolate mint sector with the likes of After Eight, Green & Black's, Elizabeth Shaw and Bendick's to name a few thrashing it out in our local supermarkets. The selection was massive and almost seemed to double over night with the emergence of the Christmas aisles that started appearing last September. Seemingly this abundance of chocolate mint offerings was just a little too much for the UK market as the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury's are now flogging off their surplus stock at next to nothing. With these tempting deals on offer I couldn't help myself from picking up these Terry's Twilight chocolates which came billed as 'dark chocolate with a crisp mint centre and crisp sugar pieces'. This wasn't the first time that I had seen the Terry's brand used on a mint flavoured chocolate but for me it still didn't seem very fitting.
These chocolates came in a 150.0g box that contained around 30 or so individually wrapped pieces. Looking at the box the colour scheme was hardly original with the green and gold colours but I thought it looked pretty respectable nonetheless and did the job adequately. Inside I was more impressed with what was on offer and I thought that the plastic sleeved chocolates smelt fresh and minty though perhaps a little boring in terms of looks. These Terry's Twilight possibly didn't quite measure up to the classically designed Nestle After Eight but on the other hand they weren't horrible presented either.
With the aesthetic proposition being a little on the average side the ultimate determent was going to be the standard of the actual chocolates. To save beating around the bush these tasted similarly average, neither surpassing or falling below expectations offering a sound experience of flavours. Starting with the dark chocolate it was very much what I was expecting with the 40% cocoa solids min outer layer providing more of an unsweetened milk chocolate taste rather than one that was amplified in terms of it's cocoa flavours. The dark chocolate was pretty smooth in melt and nicely transcended in to the drier middle layer of mint fondant when simply left to melt on the tongue. In terms of taste the mint fondant perhaps was a bit of a halfway house between the extremely strong flavoured Bendick's and the more sugar focused After Eight Mints and but had a fresh, cooling peppermint kick. Like I find with most of these offering these Twilight chocolates were not ones that I wanted to consume on mass but more rather in their intended time of after meals, with coffees etc.
Overall without being anything spectacular these were yet another solid offering from the dark chocolate and mint part of the market and though I wouldn't say they matched up to competitors like Nestle After Eight for looks they certainly competed in the taste department. I wouldn't necessarily say that the chocolate on offer here would be enjoyed by dark chocolate connoisseurs but it was at least average with it's unsweetened tasted negating the usual onslaught of sugar that is synonymous with most Terry's milk chocolate offerings. I have only just realised that the mint centre lacked the 'crisp sugar pieces' promised on the packaging though I personally wouldn't say this was a bad thing as I felt the balance of mint to sugar was just about right. Whereas I would personally choose a classier looking after dinner mint product like the Bendick's chocolates if you see these on an offer you could do worse rolling these out after a dinner party.
7.4 out of 10
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Cast your mind back a month ago to my review of the Kit Kat Salted Caramel Little Mini Bites and you will remember that they were awarded one of the highest ratings given out for a mass produced chocolate product in the last 6 months on ChocolateMission (8.7 out of 10 - See HERE). After enjoying those so much I was literally chomping at the bit to try the other variant from the range and thankfully J-List obliged by sending me along a sample of these Chilli Powder flavoured Little Mini Bites. It will come as no surprise to you that this variant constituted of 'milk chocolate covered wafer bites filled with creme and a touch of chilli powder' which sounded like a promising combination if done correctly.
Just as with the Salted Caramel variant these Mini Bites came in a 35.0g pack that I ate across the course of a single sitting. Now if these a product you are thinking of gifting to someone who isn't literate in Japanese there is potential for a little fun to be had here as the actual chilli element of the product wasn't that clearly communicated visually on the pack. Indeed only the small, faint chili pictures down the bottom of the packet would give the game away and even they aren't exaclty that clear to make out. In addition to the lack of communication of the chilli flavour on the packaging it wasn't as if the aromas offered any clear insight in to the chilli contents as the pack only offered up the typical sweet, wafery Kit Kat smells.
After seeing both the lack of presence of the chilli on both the wrapper and in the smells I was totally unprepared for lay ahead and it certainly turned out to be a surprising experience. Placing the first few pieces in my mouth I let the chocolate melt off the centres before crunching down on the crisp wafer fillings and nothing about this at all seemed untoward. The milk chocolate was the usual Nestle standard with it's sugary chocolate milk like taste, whilst the wafers offered up the typical brown sugar noted wheat flavours. To be honest the I couldn't taste the chilli whatsoever and after a few seconds of swallowing my first mouthful I was disappointed by the lack of presence from the chilli ... and then it hit! A few seconds after swallowing I hate a distinct scratchy, hot feeling at the back of my throat which I have to say wasn't all that pleasant. The delay in the reaction of the swallowing to the burning sensation in my mouth felt a little unnatural and it was odd that I couldn't sense any enhancement to the actual taste. By the end of the pack the back of my throat felt really quite raw which as you can imagine really wasn't that nice.
Overall I think it is a fair conclusion to make that Nestle were of the mindset here to create novelty product rather a great tasting one. At the heart of things these Mini Bites didn't taste bad whatsoever as they were pretty much just small original Kit Kat bites. Unfortunately the chilli element was more about getting a reaction from the consumer and the startling spicy kick at the back of the throat wasn't actually flavour enhancing in any manner. Towards the end of the pack I really started to feel like eating these were a chore as my mouth was bordering on being overrun by the spice and it was making the taste all the less enjoyable for it. Tasting these once was enough for me and I can't imagine me ever buying these in the future for my own personal consumption. As a joke gift they might get a cheap laugh but I would suggest you give the Salted Caramel a try if you are buying for yourself.
6.6 out of 10
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Just when I thought I had escaped (term used very loosely) from all the fruit flavoured yogurt chocolates from Germany, Dean-German-Grocery found it within themselves to send me one final bar from Lindt's summer 2009 range. Taking the honour of being last of the season was this Lindt Strawberry-Rhubarb Yogurt bar, which you wont be surprised to hear constituted of a strawberry and rhubarb yogurt filling covered in white chocolate. Considering that homemade rhubarb crumble is one of my all time favourite desserts I was pleased to see the fruit make an appearance for the first time in chocolate bar reviewed here on ChocolateMission.
Just like most of Lindt's summer yogurt bars this one came part of the 'pods' range and came in a 100.0g size. In line with my comments on the other Lindt yogurt bars I can tell you my perceptions of the packaging and overall presentation were equally as positive. The wrapper was cleanly designed with clear branding and communication of the flavour, whilst the chocolate itself looked appetising with a gleaming surface and visible fruit bits in the fluffy looking pink filling. What was also nice to see was that whilst everything was aesthetically good, the chocolate also smelt appetising with a wild fruit influence coming through the dairy scents strongly.
One of my pet hates with products like this is that sometimes the fruit centres can flavour the outer chocolate meaning the taste is often really one dimensional and lacking in progressiveness (have I just made that word up!?). The reason I have mentioned the previous annoyance is because I am glad to report this was not what was evident here and it ultimately made for far better tasting experience because of it. As with most Lindt white chocolate the taste was predominantly cream based with strong milk and vanilla influences established as soon as the melt began. With the chocolate establishing a dairy rooted taste it was further reaffirmed by the yogurt filling which was softer in texture in comparison and built upon the cream based taste with some strong fruit influences. At first the sweetness of the strawberry fruit was the only detectable, however in the latter stages there was a rhubarb tartness which offset the sugary nature of the strawberry wonderfully. With the filling being reasonably sweet this wasn't a chocolate I wanted to eat in great quantities and I found 30.0g more than a fulfilling amount.
Overall this is yet another Lindt yogurt bar that gets a ChocolateMission thumbs up. Just as I expected the white chocolate was of a great quality though I never really thought this was going to be otherwise. The all important factor with this bar was of course always going to be how well the inner strawberry and rhubarb was executed and having tasted it I would say that the choice of fruit was quite well thought out. As described above the slightly sour rhubarb nicely contrasted with the sugary strawberry which made the taste more balanced even though it was perhaps just a touch still on the sweet side for me. If I was offered either this bar or some of the other Ritter Sport citrus yogurt bars I would have to chose the Ritter though that of course doesn't make this a poor option in its own right. This was certainly a nice way to end my reviews of these fruit flavoured yogurt bars ... for a few months anyway :)
8.1 out of 10
Monday, 22 February 2010
Coming off the back of last weeks review of the disappointing Kit Kat Royal Milk Tea I was hoping that my next dip into my box of goodies from Japan would prove to be more fruitful. My love for chocolate coffee combinations in mind I decided that I might have some luck with this Kit Kat Milk Coffee flavour so I indulged myself in one with my mid-afternoon coffee today. Given the craziness of some of the Kit Kat flavours I have tried recently this Milk Coffee flavour didn't seem all that out the ordinary especially considering we have a very close comparator bar here in the UK the Kit Kat Cappuccino (review coming soon!).
Like most the Kit Kats I have reivewed from Japan in the last year this variant came in a 36.0g size that was split in to two packets of double fingers. My initial reaction to the packaging was one of bemusement - what on earth were all those pink flowers!? A little research on google revealed that this Kit Kat was a special edition created for gifting to children for good luck with their exams (pink flowers being a symbolism of good luck in the Far East!). With this knowledge for context I thought the packaging looked overall pretty good though I unfortunately can't say the same about how the smelt. Unfortunately just like the Royal Milk tea the white chocolate emitted some odd warm milk like aromas that certainly didn't inspire any great deal of confidence in how they would taste.
Putting my reservations about the aromas aside I went straight about eating this and I am glad to say it tasted about a hundred times better than it smelt. Much like the name suggested the milk flavours came through strongly in the taste and they were substantiated early in and amongst the sweet taste of the outer white chocolate coating. Much like you would expect from any Kit Kat product the inner wafers were very crisp and supplied a nic crunchiness when bitten into giving the usual brilliant variance in textures. Conversely what did come as a surprise mind you was strongly the coffee element that came through in the taste. Although the flavours were not perhaps as prestigious as being like full blown roasted fresh coffee beans, the instant coffee like hit came through nicely and it's bit edge contrasted wonderfully with the sweet, creamier outer chocolate. This combination of flavours made for a pretty satisfying and rich taste and I felt content just eating one double finger in the morning and the other in the afternoon.
Overall having eaten this I think it is far to say that if their Kit Kats are anything to go by the Japanese are far better at making milky coffees than they are making a British cup of tea. As I have alluded to above whilst the coffee element involved here possibly wasn't the grandest or most authentic it contrasted superbly with the sweeter chocolate coating. Had it not been for the poor aroma credentials this would have been a Kit Kat that would have scored far higher and I would strongly suggest to you all that you look past the unappetising scents if you are lucky enough to try this one yourselves. With this Japanese Kit Kat Coffee Milk setting a pretty high standard it is going to be interesting to see how the British Kit Kat Cappuccino fairs in comparison when I give it a review in a couple of weeks. This was one of the better Kit Kats I have tried in a while so the benchmark is certainly pretty high.
8.0 out of 10
Sunday, 21 February 2010
No sooner had I published my review of GU's Naughties Millionaires Flapjacks last month I received a review request from ChocolateMission reader Rachel to take a look at the Rocky Road variant. This week it was my turn to bring cakes into the office so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and a bought a tub of these in my local Sainsbury's supermarket. Constituting of all the traditional Rocky Road ingredients of 'milk chocolate, cherries, marshmallow, raisins, biscuit and caramel' it sounded like GU has at least not skimped on the recipe anywhere.
Unfortunately I couldn't find these on offer anywhere so I ended up parting with £2.99 for a pack of 16 pieces. Personally I don't like the idea of the 'tub' packaging format but I thought that the simplicity of the on-pack design work made these look suitable premium next to the other less expensive options they sat next to on the shelf. Once I looked inside the tub I was a little less impressed as the pieces didn't look any different to the Millionaire Flapjacks aside from the obvious ingredients differences (same shape etc!). A thing I did find more promising though were the aromas that emanated which were a mixture of fruity, biscuity, chocolaty scents.
Just as I found with the Millionaire Flapjacks these were pleasant when eaten at room temperature, but about a hundred times nicer when left to chill in the fridge for an hour or two before consumption. When left to chill the middle filling became denser and chewier in the mouth which meant that all the different flavours lasted longer in the mouth. My preferred method for eating these was to first bite of the side chocolate bits, then eat the middle bit before finishing off with the upper layer of chocolate. The chocolate itself wasn't of the highest standard but it did a sound job of establishing a fair strengthened milk controlled cocoa taste. As you can imagine the flavours generated by the centre were variable though more often than not the fruitiness of the raisins, the wheaty biscuit bits and sweet toffee flavours of the caramel were the dominant aspects. Personally I found that two of these Rocky Roads bits were a pretty satisfying portion - especially when they were taken from the fridge.
Overall GU surprised me here with yet another decent showing for their Naughties range. Why was I surprised!? Well truth be told I am normally not that bigger fan of Rocky Road products as I often find that with the plethora of ingredients the taste normally loses itself under the influence of so many different elements. Thankfully I don't have such complaints here - the taste was well managed and I really enjoyed the different flavour experience that I got with each individual bite. Like I stated above the quality of the chocolate wasn't exactly great and on some bites the portioning was a little skimped on, but to be honest these Rocky Road bites were always going to be determined by the quality of the inner filling which I am glad to say was pretty good. I am not sure I can 100% recommend these at their full price but if you fancy them I would suggest you give them a try.
8.0 out of 10
Saturday, 20 February 2010
The reviews have come from all around the world this week starting off with none other than the **NEW** Cadbury Bar of Plenty range than I reviewed back on Monday - See HERE. Looking at some of the feedback there has been about these bars already I am going to hazard a guess at the Shortcake variety sticking around the longest, though the Toffee Apple may evoke some initial intrest from the more curious chocolate consumers.
This week also brought about two reviews of Guylians selection box range. First I took at look at their Trufflina collection (See HERE) and then on Friday I posted my review of their Opus box (See HERE). In between those reviews I also managed to make time for yet another Kit Kat from J-List in the form of the Royal Milk Tea flavour (See HERE).
You will see below that replacing Stars & Their Bars for a limited period you will find some links to some old reviews that I have updated with new pictures. This is an ongoing thing I will be doing in 2010 - I hope you think the reviews now look a bit nicer than they did before.
In other news I am incredibly coming close to writing my 1000th post on this ... once I hit the landmark I think it is about time that we ran competition :D
I hope you have great weeks - please keep leaving your feedback it is great hearing from you.
News from the chocolate market:
* Researchers say eating a small amount of chocolate might actually reduce the risk of having a stroke ... See HERE
* It looks like Kraft are going to be upping their distribution of Milka here in the UK ... See HERE
* Thorntons recorded a rise in profits in 2009 ... See HERE
* Kit Kat are relaunching their perfect break competition ... See HERE
* Cadbury replacing Purity with Plenty? What was the Cadbury Purity range? ... See HERE
Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week:
* GiGi Reviews - Gi reviewed a dark chocolate bar that had bits of bread in it!! Now that is a filling I have never heard of before ... See HERE
* JapaneseSnackReviews - These guys got in the mood for the Winter Olympics by trying the Kit Kat Maple Syrup flavour ... See HERE
* TheImpulsiveBuy - Marvo tried out the new Special K low fat Granola cereal from Kellogg's... See HERE
* Second Rate Snacks - Had a head-to-head pitting Campbells canned spaghetti against our very own British Heinz stuff - there could only be one winner ... SEE HERE
* ZOMGCandy - Rosa reviewed a Kiwi flavoured bar that from new Zealand that looked like it was filled with Kryptonite ... See HERE
* TheBewilderedBrit - This is a new everyday visit site for me ... follow Richard on his adventures through America ... See HERE
***UPDATED REVIEWS OF OLD***
* Galaxy Caramel - See HERE
* Mars Bar - See HERE
* Cadbury Dairy Milk - See HERE
* Nestle Caramac - See HERE
Friday, 19 February 2010
The Guylian Opus collection came described as an assortment of the finest Belgian chocolates and contained 8 different truffle pieces which were all portioned twice. Looking at the outer box just like the Trufflina selection the presentation was absolutely fantastic with the box cutting clean, sophisticated look making good use of the gold fonts and clear branding. Inside as you will see below most of the chocolates looked utterly fantastic and looked wonderfully crafted.
Below are my brief thoughts on each of the eight pieces (working from left to right in each picture) - ratings are from Very Poor to Superb.
Massenet - Unfortunately this piece was rather like the Trufflina chocolates I reviewed last week and had a really disappointing filling. The outer white chocolate substantiated a fine set of vanilla hint cream flavours however the inner milk chocolate mousse filling was dull and lacklustre in flavour. Poor.
Beethoven - This was a superb looking chocolate and was one that I was really looking forward to trying once I had read the billing of 'creme cappuccino cream'. What I liked about this piece was that the top layer of white chocolate could be bitten off and eaten before tucking into the milk chocolate constituents below. Disappointingly the inner filling was lacking in coffee flavours a little though the it did display a really fine soft texture that contrasted nicely with the crisp outer shell. Good.
Gounod - If you have ever tasted the standard Guylain Seashell chocolates you would be very familiar with the taste here. Under the gold foil wrapper this piece combined a thick outer shell of milk chocolate with a wonderfully tasty hazelnut praline that sat below. It was a little no thrills and not on the adventurous side but you can hardly blame Guylian for sticking their classical recipe in the box at least once. Very Good.
Bach - On the back of the box this piece was described as Gianduja so I was really looking forward to seeing what sort of quality it could deliver. Unfortunately I have to say I was a little underwhelmed as it didn't quite offer the total Gianduja experience. To sum this piece up simply it tasted no different to the Gounod chocolate above but had a slightly smoother less gritty texture. Although this was fair it didn't have the melt in the mouth Gianduja qualities I have experienced before - I was left disappointed. Standard.
Donizetti - Once again this chocolate varied very little from Gounod in that it contained the same hazelnut praline filling, however had a disc of dark chocolate placed on top. To be honest the dark chocolate only tasted a little bit stronger than the milk chocolate that sat below, thus it tasted only a little different to the Gounod. Again this wasn't such a bad thing but it was a little disappointing to see little differentiation. Standard.
Verdi - This final chocolate came billed as having 'smooth truffle filling' ... right just like the other half of the box then! Apologies for repeating myself but this was again yet another that had fine tasting outer milk chocolate but when it came to the cut and thrust of the inner truffle filling it was undoubtedly disappointing. Indeed the taste was smooth but it lacklustre in terms of flavours. Poor.
Overall whilst these offered a little more than the tedious Trufflina box this Opus collection didn't exactly sparkle. What is really frustrating with this assortment was that all of the outer chocolate constituents were really tasty - it was just some of the fillings were lacklustre in flavour and way too many of them tasted too similar. If you look at what I say about the Verdi, Bach, Donzinetti, Massenet pieces you will see that the story is pretty much the same for all four, and simply this just wasn't good enough for me. This is a bit of a shame as there are some real stars in this collection - the Mozart and Gounod especially stood out as high quality chocolates. Unfortunately for Guylian it is hardly like I can go recommending a chocolate selection box based on the fact I thought 25% were better than average. One thing I can say is that Guylian did well with the presentation and the collection had some real stand out chocolates. As well as they did in those areas, when it came to the taste test Guylian again came up a little short and didn't quite live up to expectations.
7.1 out of 10
Thursday, 18 February 2010
It is always an exciting moment when I get a new package in the post from Japan as I never quite know what weird and wonderful samples J-List have sent my way. Having tried many Kit Kat flavours recently that have had a Far East twist such as the Kit Kat Kinako Ohagi and Kit Kat Sweet Potatoe etc I was surprised to see this Royal Milk Tea flavour gracing my latest selection and looking at the pictures of the red uniformed guards decorating the outer box it was straight away obvious that this was a British themed novelty flavour for the Far East market. Whereas some might think it suitable to launch into a tirade at us Brits being stereotyped I simply can't do this after hearing this fact last week ... 'if the rest of the world drank as much tea as the British, global consumption of tea would increase ten times' ... Wow!
Getting back to matters at hand I can tell you that this Kit Kat came in a 36.0g pack that included two separately foil wrapped double Kit Kat fingers. Decorated with red tartan cloth patterns and pictures of milky tea in a china cup I felt right at home here with the packaging and similarly thought that the inner blue foil wrappers looked smart. Unwrapping the first double finger packet the first thing I was surprised to see was that the Kit Kats donned white chocolate and not the expected milk chocolate coating that I am so accustomed to. Putting that initial observation aside the next thing that became apparent was lack of forthcoming aromas from the product. At this point I dug my nose right up and immediately wished I hadn't and I was greeted with some pretty unappetising warm milk scents - at this point I was just hoping it was going to taste better than it smelt.
Despite the smells hardly igniting my enthusiasm I immediatedly went about eating this ... after I had poured myself a cup of tea to accompany it of course :D Taking my first bite into the finger I was met with the usual combination of the crisp outer chocolate and crunchy inner wafer but this is where any sort familiarity ended. The taste was nothing like I have ever tasted before and was far far different to what I had expected. Personally I take my tea with a dash of milk and no sugar, conversely if this Kit Kat is anything to go by the Japanese think tea is best served with a gallon of milk and a couple bowls of sugar - it was insanely, and I mean INSANELY sweet. Amongst the taste that was dominated by the raw white sugar edge there were some pleasant undertones of earl grey which established a floral like background tones but frankly the milky sweetness overbeared both the chocolate and the wafer. In a single sitting the most I could eat was a double finger portion and even then I could feel the back of my throat beginning to tingle with that nasty burning sensation.
Overall I think this was a sound idea for a Kit Kat but unfortunately the execution was pretty flawed to say the least. As you will have read above the taste wasn't anything too untoward or disgusting but it was disappointing that the Japanese chose to overload the chocolate with a ridiculous amount of sugar as I felt spoilt the decent tea flavours that were present in and amongst all the sugaryness. I don't like criticising products without suggesting ways that manufacturers could make them better and if I was to offer my two cents to Nestle I think that this would have been a flavour far more suited for a milk chocolate coating as perhaps it was just the white chocolate that tipped this over in to sweetness overload. Looking at some of the Kit Kat flavours in my sample box this time I think a few of them certainly have the potential to outshine this Royal Milk Tea flavour. Being British I should know a good tea product when I taste one - this unfortunately didn't make the grade.
6.0 out of 10