Sunday, 14 March 2010
Coming right off the back of my flirtation with The Chocolate Truffle Co.'s Lait Collection (See HERE) I am going to kick start things this week with a review of one of their dark chocolate bars. Similarly to the Lait Collection offering from last Wednesday, this was a bar that was produced using cocoa beans sourced from a Rainforest Alliance certified farm, which the on-pack label tells me will help protect the environment and improve the lives of cocoa growers. The cocoa here was again from Costa Rica and had been handmade in to a bar here in the UK. Having shared my feelings about the Rainforest Alliance certification last week I can only reiterate my views that it is all well and good having a chocolate that is ethically moral, but it also has to pass the taste test to make that all worthwhile.
Just like the milk chocolate bar this came in a 48.0g size which lasted me a course of three separate sittings. As you can see above in the photo the packaging was consistent from the other bar, and despite being more clued up with the knowledge that The Chocolate Truffle Co. are somewhat limited financially in this area, I still think this is an issue that need to address going forward. Inside the chocolate bar itself was again lacking personality visually but not so much aroma wise. The scents being emanated from the plastic packet were unsurprisingly very cocoa heavy but they were fresh and had a subtle red fruitiness that added a good degree of intrigue.
I always like to eat my dark chocolate with a fresh black coffee and I have to start off by saying that a few squares of this went down extremely well as an accompaniment. Letting each block slowly melt on the tongue the taste that developed wasn't anything I would describe as unique or differentiated from what I have consumed previously, but that is not to say it wasn't of a good quality. Much like the smells indicated the taste was very cocoa rooted and the unsweetened cocoa flavours were immediately established from the outset. The cocoa volume increased with the progression of the melt, though the aftertaste was somewhat of a tipping point and there was slightly sweeter milkier note left in the mouth with each block. If I was being fussy (like I am) I would say that I would have liked to have some other type of flavour influence to come to the party, like say a a minor hint of coffee, nut or tobacco etc. In reality the taste was perhaps what you would describe as slightly one dimensional, but luckily that one dimension of really fresh tasting, raw cocoa was very nice.
Overall this dark chocolate wasn't as unique tasting as the vanilla noted milk chocolate I tried last week, but it was still a good quality dark chocolate that I would was noticeably of a better quality than an average mass produced dark chocolate. Personally speaking I would have welcomed an additional depth to the taste and would possibly have liked it a touch stronger. However I think the 67% recipe will probably be about spot on for most dark chocolate fans sp I wouldn't advise them to make ammendments to their recipe there. Putting aside my usual grumbles about the packaging and claims etc, I think that The Chocolate Truffle Co. have really solid foundation of dark chocolate on which to build something special. What I would love to see is this chocolate used in some form of truffles and/or a few flavoured dark chocolates etc. I think with the added enhancement of say something like macadamia nuts or fruits sourced from these rainforests they could build a more compelling proposition, and one that might excite the average consumer more than just with the plain dark and milk chocolate bars they have currently. My own view is that this is a line of products to keep an eye on, as I can imagine special things might be round the corner.
7.7 out of 10
Saturday, 13 March 2010
The sneaky people at Cadbury didn't even seem it appropriate to announce these new biscuits to the trade, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw these Caramel & Crunchie biscuits gracing the shelves of my local Sainsbury's.
On an introductory offer of £1, these 130.0g packs contained eight biscuits in each (roughly 12.5p each a biscuit if you're wondering!!) and came in foil packets that looked none to dissimilar to the actual bars their concepts originated from. Aesthetically speaking I thought that both the wrappers looked awesome, but it was the Crunchie variant that looked the more interesting comparing the inner contents ... the Crunchie took the biscuit so to speak.
With the Crunchie variant catching the eye it was now down to the taste test - below are my thoughts on the two variants ...
Cadbury Caramel Biscuits:
Kcal 70 Fat 3.8g Fat(sats) 2.2g Carbs 6.2g
'Cadbury milk chocolate biscuits with a caramel centre'.
Out of the two these were the ones I was most looking forward to trying. Now although the outer milk chocolate wasn't the Dairy Milk recipe I was hoping for, it still established a very Cadbury like sweet, milky taste as soon as soon as the biscuit entered the mouth. The shortcake biscuit base melted with ease on the tongue and displayed a fine degree of butter and brown sugar flavours. As disappointing as it was to find that this wasn't standard Cadbury chocolate per se, it was very encouraging to see that Cadbury implemented their usual caramel, and it brought all the delicious sweet toffee flavour elements that you get with the standard bar. Importantly the salt kick of the caramel was still present, and nicely contrasted the sweetness of both the sugary chocolate and biscuit base, making for a incredibly moreish overall taste.
8.5 out of 10
Cadbury Crunchie Biscuits:
Kcal 80 Fat 4.1g Fat(sats) 2.5g Carbs 7.4g
'Cadbury chocolate biscuits with Crunchie bits'
Despite the Cadbury Caramel being a long time favourite of mine I also have a great fondness of the Crunchie so I was expecting similarly good things here. As you may have ascertained from the above the chocolate was again disappointingly not Dairy Milk but on a positive side the thickness of the chocolate was much greater here. The chocolate once again established the same milk rooted sweet chocolatey taste which lead nicely into the crisp biscuit inside. The biscuit initially had a more savoury wheaty taste, though it was soon nicely built upon by some bursts of honey and syrup which came about as a result of the honeycomb pieces when crunched. Out of the two I felt that the Crunchie biscuits were the more satisfying in regards to hunger fulfilment, as the meatier chocolate layer made each biscuit last longer in the mouth.
8.7 out of 10
Friday, 12 March 2010
I simply can't get enough of my Japanese chocolates at the moment, and I just love trying all the odd flavour combinations that manufacturers out there are willing to try on their consumers. The latest product sent my way by the fellas at J-List was this Lotte Crunky Crunch Chocolate Strawberry Tart (try saying that fast!), and it came described on the J-List website as 'strawberry flavoured white chocolate with crunchy malt puffs'. Looking across the web it seems that up until Nestle brought the Kit Kat to the Japanese market it was Lotte's Crunky brand of chocolates that were the 'in-thing' in the Far East, along with the timeless Pocky range of course. Today I had my own first flirtation with Crunky Crunch Chocolate, and this is what went down.
This Crunky variant came in a 48.0g size that was split into a 4x10 long thin bar. Like most Japanese products an outer cardboard sleeve protected the inner foil wrapped chocolate and I liked the style presentation with clear, colourful branding and on-pack pictures. Inside the chocolate was filled to the brim full of crispy cereal pieces and held a nice clean cut look with it's bright pink colour and enscribed Lotte branding. Like most fruit flavoured offerings from Japan this was not a chocolate that needed to be anywhere near the nose for the full effects of the aromas to be experienced. The strawberry scents were strong but a little on the artificial side to describe as truley alluring.
If you have similar previous experiences in mind like the Kit Kat Sparkling Strawberry I reviewed a few days ago I bet you are expecting me to say this was 'too sweet for my taste' right!? ... Well you're wrong, and believe me I was as surprised as anyone! Placing the first block my tongue I was expecting a strong explosion of sugary flavour influences but in contrast I was met with a laid back milky taste that a slightly cheesecake edge to it. Within seconds of being in the mouth the inevitable fruit flavours followed but the strawberry element in the taste was not the fake tasting kind I was expecting and it was far more juicy and pure in it's sweetness. As good as the chocolate was the main reason I thought this offering worked so well was because of the crunchy malt pieces which levelled out the sweetness of the chocolate bringing a more savoury, biscuit like influence to the party. This all combined made for a taste that was delicious as it was moreish, and I ended up eating far more of this bar in a single sitting than I thought I would want to before tasting it.
Overall I wouldn't say this is one of my favourite chocolates or products I have tried from Japan ever, but it was probably one of the ones that has surprised me the most. There was a very obvious pitfall that I expected this chocolate to fall in to and I really was expecting it to be horribly sugary in taste which you will all know is not something that I tend to enjoy. Reality though was quite contrary, with both the white chocolate and strawberry tasting far more subtle than expected and this really helped the resulting final taste. The cheesey edge to the chocolate (nicer than it sounds trust me!) and tart strawberry flavours were very well implemented and far exceeded everything I took for granted before actually tasting it. This was never going to be a combination that I personally was going to fall in love with, but it was certainly good for what it was and I would strongly suggest it to strawberry chocolate fans.
7.8 out of 10
Thursday, 11 March 2010
Last weekend I showed you all the contents of the Hotel Chocolat Taste Of Spring chocolate box, which you get free if you place an order in excess of £35 with Hotel Chocolat this Easter. Within that picture I am sure a lot of you noticed the chocolate that was decorated with a sunny-side up fried egg. I can reveal today that this was a piece taken from Hotel Chocolat's Easter Eggs & Soldiers. Indeed, egg and soldiers but not as we know as they came described as 'solid milk chocolate praline eggs with white chocolate soldiers'. Obviously Hotel Chocolat are no fans of Marmite - everyone knows that soldiers are best served with plenty butter and a heavy coating Marmite but before we open up that can of worms lets first consider how good these were.
This Easter Eggs & Soldiers collection contained ten chocolate pieces - five half eggs and five soldiers. Cast your minds back to the Valentines Day period and you may remember me getting rather disgruntled at a fellow British manufacturers decision to take a more humorous approach to their seasonal offering (See HERE). To be honest I think Hotel Chocolat struck a good balance here - the chocolates weren't half as goofy as the aforementioned and I thought they still maintained a decent amount of classiness despite being a more playful concept. It wasn't like I particularly stood around looking at them for that long anyway, because as soon as I had peeled away the copious layers of intricate packaging I was greeted by some dairy heavy, nut scents that certainly did their job seducting me in to getting stuck in.
Starting off with the eggs I straight away felt very at home with the 40% milk chocolate recipe that formed their main constituents. The chocolate was flavoursome from the very first minute it was in the mouth and double cream like base tones were as usual complimented by a friendly volume of sweetened cocoa flavours making for a moreish, yet rich taste. What was slightly different from normal was the additional minor hazelnut note that became apparent as the melt developed leaving a very welcome wooden hazelnut hint in the aftertaste - Yum! Although I thought the white fried egg decorations looked cool on the milk chocolate eggs I couldn't really pick the flavours out from the stronger milk chocolate, so it was up to the soldiers to bring the white chocolate to the party. As you may all well know I am no great fan of white chocolate but I can still appreciate a good one when I taste it - the soldiers were nothing short of superb. They melted with infinite ease in to a soft liquor state and the taste was majority led by dairy cream that had a delightful vanilla edge. Combined one egg and one soldier made for a good snack but I think there was scope for more soldiers to be included considering they were only half the size.
Overall if there were ever any rumours that chocolate can't be presented in a less serious manner without hampering on the quality then Hotel Chocolat did a great job dispelling that myth compltely. On the face of things these were presented in a playful way, but from what I tasted this didn't impact at all on the usual phenomenal standards that this manufacture set themselves. The 40% milk chocolate was simply delicious and the additional praline influence arguably made it better than it ever has been. Had the only white chocolate influence of been the fried egg decorations it could have been argued that it was mere token gesture, however the soldiers held up their end of the bargain completely and the creamy taste is something that I would suggest all white chocolate fans would die for. If you are looking to gift something a little different to the usual chocolates eggs this Easter I would seriously consider these as a great option.
8.7 out of 10
Wednesday, 10 March 2010
With the likes of Mars, Nestle and Cadbury all recently blowing their own trumpets about their chocolates now being Fairtrade or Rainforest certified etc I am starting to get a little a sick of hearing how eating chocolate will help save the planet. What ever happened to chocolate being solely about enjoyment, and indulgence!? ... Those were my first thoughts anyway when I opened up a package sent to me by The Chocolate Truffle Company (website - See HERE) which included some samples of their Rainforest Alliance Certified Lait Collection range. This was to be my first experience trying anything from this company and I was damn sure hoping that this was going to be a chocolate that I would more remember for it's taste rather than the token green emblem on the front.
As you will see from the picture above the chocolate came in a pretty undignified fashion and I wasn't all that impressed with it being solely kept in a plastic packet that was only sealed by the on-pack label. The 48.0g bar was divided into 15 block pieces which disappointingly were not branded or decorated in any manner giving them a somewhat understated appearance. Despite the plastic wrapper being the only layer of packaging the smells that emanated once the seal was disturbed were really very pleasant. Strong hints of cocoa, earth and even coffee beans wafted from the chocolate and gave good insight in to the taste that was to follow.
If you had read the first paragraph and a half you probably would have guessed that this was going to turn out to be a none to positive review but I gladly say that I only have good things to say from now on. Breaking the chocolate apart I was instantly met with a sound that all chocolate fans like to hear and a wonderful 'SNAP' immediately confirmed that this was a very fresh chocolate. As you may have gathered from the name this was a 38% cocoa recipe with the cocoa beans sourced from a RA certified farm in Costa Rica. As much as that was good to know, it was really the taste I was interested in and it thankfully fantastic. Placing a piece on my tongue I was straight away met with a full bodied taste with the cocoa establishing a really chocolatey rich flavour base under the creamy undercurrent that had a honey like sweetness to it. As the chocolate softly melted into it's liqour form a delightful note of vanilla rounded the cocoa edge on the taste, leaving a longing bourbon note in the mouth. For a milk chocolate this was a very flavoursome experience and although I would of happily eaten more, half a bar at a time made for a decent serving size.
Overall this was one of the nicest milk chocolates I have had in a long in time, and in terms of taste I would put it up there with the likes of the Thorntons Tonka bean bar which remains of my favourites to this very day. To be honest I couldn't have cared less where the ingredients came from, and had the cocoa been farmed in Bognor Regis I wouldn't have thought anything more, or anything less of it before tasting it. I understand sticking the product in a cardboard box would of been a bit self defeating given the Rainforest Alliance connection, though I would have liked to have seen more effort made with the presentation of the product, as the actual chocolate deserved a lot more given how outstanding it tasted. Given the volume of milk chocolates that I try you guys will probably understand that for something to get a mark as high as 9 on the taste test it has to be something special. This chocolate was exactly that, and the long vanilla and cocoa flavours made a big impression on me and left me wanting more - definitely worth trying.
7.8 out of 10
Tuesday, 9 March 2010
Sons and daughters I hope you all haven't forgotten that it is Mothering Sunday this weekend! Indeed, it has come around early this year with the 14th of March being the date to mark in your diaries. To be honest up until a few weeks ago the day had slipped my mind completely (sorry Mum!), but thankfully a timely reminder and some samples later from the guys at Hotel Chocolat and I now look like son of the year as I gave my gifts a few weeks early :D score! One of the box of chocolates my Mum was treated to this year were these Hotel Chocolat Rose & Violet Cremes which came billed as 'fondant centres with natural essence of rose & violet in dark chocolate shells.'
I guess it is a bit cheeky that I have managed to review something I have gifted but given that there were twenty pieces (net weight 200.0g) there were plenty to go around. As you can see above the style of packaging was pretty similar to a lot of other Hotel Chocolat products I have reviewed in the past, and it was once again agreed all round that the glossy outer box and several layers of inner padding created a sense of sophistication and premiumness. As good as the outer packaging was the chocolates also managed to catch the eye, with the whiteness of the inner fondant really sparkling against the dark coloured chocolate.
Moving on to more important matters it would be no understatement saying that these Rose & Violet Cremes really divided opinion and this all started with the smell chocolates. Had this been a blindfold test I would have struggled to tell you these were chocolates at all as the flowery, sweet smells these emanated would have thrown me straight off course. On one hand I will admit that these aromas were indicative of the taste, though I personally didn't find them appealing in the slightest. For me the excellence of the outer chocolate was upset by the rose and violet fondants which completely dominated things as soon as they were encountered. Conversely (and luckily!!) my Mother loved how they smelt and tasted, and said that both filled her with warm nostalgic feelings of sweets that she used to have as a child. Out of the two I thought the flowery taste of the rose fondant was superior to the perfume like taste of the violet centres, but my Mum said both were as good as each other. After revealing that they weren't to my taste I was quickly banished from wasting anymore ... she liked them so much I had to sneak some from the box for the photos :D
Overall it was hard scoring these today because if was up to me I would probably have given them a 3 for both taste and smell, yet my Mum said I should give them a 10 ... 7 it is then!! I think it is very much a case of either understanding or expecting the taste, or simply just not (like me!!) Looking at the back of the box this probably shouldn't come as any surprise given that Hotel Chocolat proclaim that these are a 'British recipe that dates back to the early 1900s'. On reflection I guess they are pitched at a very targeted audience that isn't anywhere near myself. If my parents are anything to go by Hotel Chocolat did a very good job as they absolutely loved them, and said they would to have them again in the future. What I am being very careful trying to say here is that these Hotel Chocolat Rose & Violet Creme are probably more for a 'mature' consumer than they are for a young guy like myself, and if it is on that basis that these get scored on it looks like they are a very good product. If you are struggling to think of a gift for Mothers Day this year then I think these are good option for you to consider ... just don't be gifting them to me anytime soon thanks :D
7.2 out of 10
Monday, 8 March 2010
Saturday, 6 March 2010
My chums at Hotel Chocolat have given me the opportunity to offer my lucky UK readers the chance of winning a Hotel Chocolate Milk Chocolate Scrambled Easter Egg (See HERE).
To enter all you have to do is send an e-mail to Jim@Chocolatemission.net with the answer to the following question ...
'Approximately how much does a Hotel Chocolat Large Dark Chocolate Ostrich Egg weigh?'
The winner will be drawn/announced on March 20th. Usual small print rules apply.
1. Only UK entrants 2. One entry per person 3. Whatever I rule goes.
Offer #1 - 10% off Hotel Chocolat orders for ChocolateMission readers ...
Reading this site was going to pay off eventually wasn't it!? :D :D
If you are looking to slash the prices on your Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg Extravaganza this year then input the code JIMEGG10 at the checkout to get 10% when you spend £20. Offer ends 4th April.
Offer #2 - Spend £35 and get a free Hotel Chocolat Taste of Spring gift ....
The guys at Hotel Chocolat sent me a long a sample of the free gift that you receive and I can confirm it includes 2 x milk chocolate batons, 1 x milk chocolate chocolate, 1 x billionaires shortbread truffle (amazing!!), 1 x sticky toffee flavoured dark chocolate egg, 1 x milk chocolate praline egg, 1 x key lime flavoured dark chocolate truffle and 1 x orange praline milk chocolate. I have saved doing a proper review on the selection as many of the pieces fall in to reviews that will coming up on the site in the next few weeks. What I can say though is that it is a wonderful little collection, take a look at the pictures below.
Good luck in the competition - if you have any questions don't hesitate to drop me a comment.
Remember you can do all your Hotel Chocolat Easter shopping HERE
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