Wednesday, 31 March 2010
Kcal 571 Fat 38.3g Fat(sats) 20.5g Carbs 47.8g (per 100.0g)
You guys should know by now that if you ask for something ... I deliver ... albeit eventually some may say :D Indeed, for months now several readers have been contacting me both by e-mail and on the requests page (HERE) asking me to review some chocolates made by Galler. For those who are unsure who Galler are, I can tell you that they were founded in 1976 by a man called Jean Galler, who originated from Liege in Belguim. The brand is positioned with a premium proposition and they market their chocolate as 'all-natural and high quality', for more information I would suggest taking a look at their website (See HERE).
After dropping the kind people at Galler an e-mail recently, their PR team kindly sent me along some samples to try. Included in the box they sent me was this Piemontais chocolate bar, which came in a 70.0g ingot like form. On the packaging this bar was described as 'milk chocolate filled with a crispy filling nut centre' which sounded like a sensible way for me to introduce myself to their range. Looking at the presentation, I thought the wrapping did a very good job at getting across the premium nature of the brand with the outer layer establishing sense of sophistication with it's simplicity. Inside the inner gold foil went on to only reaffirm it's sense of classiness, and the cross-section looked very tempting with a clear distinction between the chocolate and inner filling.
Creating a chocolate that looks good and talks a good game is one thing, but making one that tastes just as good is a different matter altogether. Luckily for me (and Galler obviously!!), this chocolate didn't pull any punches when it came to the taste test and I can thankfully confirm that it very much backed up all that had gone before. Taking in the aromas of the chocolate before eating it, it was quite clear that this was going to be a creamy milk chocolate, and that was very much what came through in the taste. The outer milk chocolate broke with a delightful snap when bitten in to and it melted with a wonderful smooth, velvety texture on the tongue. In terms of flavours it was very similar to Lindt's Extra Creamy Milk Chocolate in that it was a taste heavily rooted in cream, but with a sweet edge that grew stronger in terms of cocoa volume as the melt developed in the mouth. Sitting below the milk chocolate, the filling was similarly delicious, and it delivered both the hazelnut and cereal elements to the party with great conviction. The filling was well textured due to the crispness of the rice cereal, whilst the hazelnuts really brought an extra flavour dimension with a really fresh tasting woody nut influence. This was a bar that was split into four large size blocks which I have to say wasn't ideal. I personally would have preferred smaller bite sized pieces as biting in to each block wasn't too kind on the teeth due to their firmness.
Overall my first experience with Galler chocolate has been an overwhelmingly positive one. This Piemontais bar delivered on everything I had come to expect about the Galler brand having had so many readers contact me saying how wonderful it is. The presentation was classy and the chocolate delivered the goods when it came to the taste - of course that is always a good start for any chocolate product. Judging from what I have experienced today, on the face of things Galler seem to have a lot of consistencies with Hotel Chocolat. They are high end brand that don't market their chocolate in an over the top or pretentious manner, and they use high quality ingredients to make chocolate that tastes fresh and mostly importantly great. This bar in particular should be one that praline and hazelnut fans should take note of. It might perhaps be a little stretching to say it is best in class, but I tell you what it isn't that far off. Thankfully I can say that there is more Galler coming very soon to a ChocolateMission near you!
8.5 out of 10
Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Monday, 29 March 2010
With our Easter holidays well in sight now, it is about time you guys got around to thinking about what you will be treating your nearest and dearest to this year. As you will have hopefully seen over the last few weeks I have already touched upon Hotel Chocolat's Eggs and Soldiers, Less Sweet Selection and their Tipsy Scrambled Easter Egg. Today I bring you another review from their Scrambled range in the form of this 'White' variant.
Just like the 'Tipsy' variant this 'White' offering can in a 220.0g package that included one 'white chocolate egg, served with a collection of praline chocolates'. In terms of presentation I personally think this product was aimed a younger, feminine consumer judging by the electric pink colours that lit up the cream coloured background and inner egg. I had no real problems with that myself and I thought the pink and orange swirl patterns incorporated on both the egg and truffle pieces added a well needed bit of interest to the predominantly white coloured chocolate and outer packaging.
According to the website this White Scrambled Egg is for 'fans of laid back dreamy textures with exciting flavours' ... lets take a look to see if I fell in that category :D
Anyone who has been reading this site for a decent amount of time will be aware that I would probably never choose white chocolate over a milk or dark one. That is not to say that I can't appreciate a good white chocolate when I taste one, in fact Hotel Chocolat' Praline White slab takes pride of place in third position on the leader board. With that in mind it wont surprise you to hear that this white chocolate egg was delicious. It was noticeably more sugary than their milk and dark chocoalte recipes, however it had a wonderful cream based, heavily vanilla noted taste that melted softly into a double cream like consistency in the mouth. It was sweet, but very enjoyable, and best eaten in smaller quantities than you would their dark or milk chocolates.
What I love about these Scrambled Eggs is that you get the small collection of truffles to go alongside the plain chocolate egg which I think brings a nice bit of variety. This White Scrambled Egg included six truffles - two chocolate brownie, two smooth praline and two orange praline. As you can see from the photo above all of them were formed of an outer thick layer of white chocolate with milk chocolate and praline centres. If I was to rate them on my famous Awful-to-Superb rating system I would go for Very Good for the smooth praline and Good for the chocolate brownie and orange praline pieces. My reasoning for this would be that the hazelnut flavours had far more cut through in the smooth praline than they did in the orange praline where I felt both the fruit and nut elements suffered to overcome the sweetness of the white chocolate exterior.
Overall given my preference for dark or milk chocolate this White Egg has managed to still score pretty well on the ChocolateMission rating system. If you can rely on one thing with Hotel Chocolat it is that you know they are always going to deliver a high quality packaged and presented product, and things were no different here. Everything from the cardboard box, egg and truffles cut both a suave and colourful look, which when you think about it isn't the easiest thing to achieve. In terms of white chocolate the standard was very good, and this was by and large due to the taste being more notable for it's creamy vanilla flavours than it's sweetness. The truffles weren't the greatest I have ever tasted from Hotel Chocolat, but they were still of a reasonably high quality and it is probably more that I have spoilt by too many incredible Hotel Chocolat truffles previously. If you know a white chocolate addict you would seriously do well looking at this an option for their Easter gift this year.
8.1 out of 10
Sunday, 28 March 2010
Back in July 2009 I posted my review of Ferrero's Duplo bar ... or so I thought! Indeed, up until some readers commented on that review it was unbeknown to myself that Ferrero make two variations of the Duplo bar - quite why they use the same branding for two fundamentally different products I do not know! Of course upon hearing that there was a second variation I simply had to get hold of one to see which was better and this was where ChocolateMission reader Susie stepped in kindly sending me a bar across from Germany. On the wrapper this bar came described as milk chocolate with a wafer and hazelnut creme filling which sounded only a little different to the other Duplo which had a cocoa creme centre and wholenut piece.
Despite weighing only 18.2g a single Duplo finger complimented a mid-morning coffee nicely and was almost the perfect amount to tie over a bout of the mid-morning munchies. Looking at the packaging it looked almost no different to the other Duplo with even the Duplo branding looking exactly the same aside from being a different colour. The differentiation between the two came in the look of the inner product itself with the bar in the line of fire today having a flatter, thinner appearance. Although it might have not looked as spectacular the product was fundamentally easier to eat and had some appetising chocolate and hazelnut scents.
One thing I have always criticised Ferrero for is that amount of chocolate they use on their products is often under portioned but this is something I couldn't levy at this Duplo bar. In comparison to say the Kinder Bueno the milk chocolate coating for this bar was a lot thicker and thus had far more relevance in the taste. As you would expect from Ferrero milk chocolate the taste was quite sweet with strong tones of milk making for a smooth, friendly taste. As enjoyable as the chocolate was the constituents that I enjoyed most about this Duplo were the wafer and hazelnut creme layers. These two elements complimented each other wonderfully and were implemented similarly to what you would find in a Kit Kat with several layers sandwiched together. Although the wafers added little more than a minor note of malt to the taste they had a wonderful crispness and allowed the hazelnut flavours to come through nicely. The creme itself wasn't portioned overly generously but the amount was still enough to provide a delicious creamy taste that had a real nutty edge which cut through the chocolate and wafers flavours nicely.
Overall I think we are all aware by now that Ferrero are pretty competent when it comes to milk chocolate, hazelnut and wafer combinations and this was yet another fine example of how they do it so well. Despite being smaller than many of their other products the thicker milk chocolate coating made it seem like more of a fulfilling product and although I could have easily eaten two I was more than happy with just the one as a light snack. Now although I have managed to give both variants a review I am still a little confused as to why we have two products with the same name!? Can any reader please give some clarity on this!? Although we still have this area of confusion one thing I can be sure of this is that you can add this to the ever growing list of Ferrero products that are worthy of trying if you are a fan of their range.
8.1 out of 10
Saturday, 27 March 2010
Despite only taking a few days off I am still catching up with things on the site - I will endeavour to answer your remaining comments by tomorrow, please bare with me.
I know I say this every week but there is some good stuff coming up this week ... Galler's first appearance on the site, new Ritter Sport spring variant, more Hotel Chocolat Easter goodies and many more. I have also been updating more of my old reviews with new pictures and some major instances of rewriting.
Do remember you guys can get 10% off Hotel Chocolat using the code JIMEGG10.
Have great weeks in the build up to Easter.
News from the Chocolate Market:
* If you haven't seen them already Premier have launched several Easter themed cake products under the Cadbury, Mr Kipling etc brands ... See HERE
* Join the Lindt gold bunny hunt ... See HERE
* If you missed it there was a great BBC programme this week about cocoa farming and child labour - article version ... See HERE
* There is seemingly one of these a week - Chocolate is a superfood ... See HERE
Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week:
* Ritter Sport - Not so much a post but just a heads up for a cool new desktop calendar application that my pals at Ritter Sport will be launching next week. Keep an eye on their facebook page ... See HERE
* GiGi Reviews - Gi got around to reviewing the Cadbury Picnic this week. Seemingly she liked it a little more than I did - a great review with awesome pics ... See HERE
* ImpulsiveBuy - Seemingly like myself, Marvo has been munching through some cereal bars this week. These chocolate peanut butter bars sound better than anything we get in this country ... See HERE
* Jen Ken's Kit Kat Blog - Jen got hold of some new fruity flavoured Kit Kats from guess where!??? Japan of course ... See HERE
* Foodstufffinds - Cin got hold of the new Magnum Gold this week in her local Waitrose. I really want to try one of these ... See HERE
You know the drill ... new pictures + a bit of spell checking ...
Cadbury Fudge ... See HERE
Kinder Bueno White ... See HERE
Reese's Pieces ... See HERE
Reese's Nutrageous (US) ... See HERE
Mars Delight / Galaxy Senzi ... See HERE
Cadbury Picnic ... See HERE
Friday, 26 March 2010
Well its taken me long enough to get around to this one hasn't it!? Despite trying bars from as far away as New Zealand and Japan this Cadbury Dairy Milk with Crunchie Bits has managed to escape my attention for over two years and has dodged the bullet many a time when it has come to receiving its all important ChocolateMission review. To be honest I really don't know why it hasn't been done before today - the Cadbury Crunchie is one of my favourite bars of all time and I remember as a kid I used to eat a very similar version of this bar all the time (who can name that bar?? Cadbury Blast was it!?). Anyway, this bar could elude me no more and I today got around to finally rating this bar on the ChocolateMission rating system.
In the UK this bar is only available in its 230.0g format ... no don't worry this isn't going to be one of those reviews where I start ranting about how we have been cheated out of 20.0g of chocolate :) What with all the different bars I have to review this was again another product I brought into my work office, though I managed to tuck into my fair share during its short lived life once it was opened. Do I have to comment on Cadbury packaging again!? Probably not but I will ... I personally love it. The matted appearance gave it a nice shiny, premium look whilst also maintaining the chocolate below in fine condition. Cadbury packaging is designed to be anything over elaborate but you have to love it for the strength of its branding which is reassuring of quality but over the top or in your face. The chocolate itself also looked pretty stunning with the blocks a sensible size to be consumed in one mouthful each. I needn't probably tell you how great the chocolate smelt as I opened the packaging - it was stunning with its usual chocolaty scents mixed with just the slightest bit of extra sweetness emanating from the golden honeycomb pieces that glistened in each block.
The Cadbury Crunchie was one of the first ever products I reviewed on this site and it is still one of my favourite products that I have every now and then on days when I am not reviewing anything else. Personally I think the one minor flaw with the original Crunchie is the thickness of the outer chocolate - I think it could be just a touch thicker. With this product the roles were obviously reversed with the chocolate far outweighing the inner honeycomb pieces (16.0%) and I have to say it was still every bit as good as the original bar. The Cadbury Dairy Milk was its usual wonderful self - thick and smooth in melt and with a level of creamy, cocoa flavours to die for ... utterly fantastic. What I liked so much about this chocolate was that the eating experience involved two stages. The first - letting the chocolate melt away on the tongue which led nicely on to stage two - the remainder honeycomb pieces. Crunching and chewing the honeycomb made for a nice change up in textures and brought lovely sweet, caramel like honey bursts to the taste that was in a word delicious. Like most Cadbury Dairy Milk products just a few blocks made for a wonderfully satisfying treat that I savoured from the very first piece to the very last.
Overall this is yet another Cadbury product that gets two thumbs up from me, though I am still undecided as to whether I would prefer it to a normal Crunchie. On reflection I guess the comparison is a little silly ... you would have the Cadbury Crunchie if you were 'on the go', whilst you would probably choose this bar in the instance of a sharing occasion or in home consumption. Is it as good as the Cadbury Dairy Milk Honeycomb Crisp from Ireland!? There is such little between them they are probably just as good as each other, though I would probably choose the Irish bar as the thicker melting chocolate made the flavours last just that little bit longer in the mouth and the honeycomb was just a little bit softer. Whatever lets stopping comparing this chocolate to other things as by its own merits its a great tasting bar that I immensely enjoyed - yet another tick in the box for Cadbury.
8.7 out of 10
Thursday, 25 March 2010
If you missed Part 1 of this review I suggest you scroll down to yesterdays post before you spoil the surprise of the final score big reveal.
Today I firstly bring you my thoughts on the last five flavours from this selection box - as yesterday working left to right, and using the Awful-to-Superb scoring system. At the end I will sum up my thoughts and give you the overall score.
Orange Truffle Egg - This egg was formed of a white chocolate outer coating with a Valencia orange essential oil centre that had a splash of Cointreau. Woops .. when I say a splash I really mean a throat burning shot! The white chocolate was creamy and sweet, and the orange element was suitably juicey and natraul tasting. Unfortunately this solid foundation was somewhat spoilt by the overwhelming alcohol hit - I would have much preferred it without. Poor.
Caramel Egg - This without question was my favourite from the entire selection. This egg was amazing in every sense - everything from the super creamy outer milk chocolate, to the runny salted caramel centre was nothing short of phenomenal. You see those Cadbury and Galaxy bars on the leader board!? Well they should be quaking in their boots if Hotel Chocolat finally pull their fingers out and make a box full of these. Super-Duper Superb.
Zesty Praline Egg - This is egg was pretty much the same as the white chocolate orange truffle above, but obviously with a dark chocolate coating and thankfully no Cointreau kick. The combination was simply superb - the chocolate was rich tasting and full of cocoa flavour, whilst the centre had a delightful juicy orange fruit taste. Both my mother and sister really loved this one. Very Good.
Caramel Praline Egg - This egg combined hazelnut praline and caramel for the inner truffle filling and just as I expected it was delicious. I perhaps would have liked the outer chocolate to have been dark, but there was still no denying that the milk chocolate did more than adequate job. The praline and caramel played off each other nicely with the nut element coming through the stronger out of the two. This egg wasn't as good as the praline or caramel eggs separately but it was still extremely tasty. Very Good.
Amaretto Truffle Egg - Out of all the liqueur egg truffles this was the best out of the three. The milk chocolate again did it's job nicely melting smoothly into the soft ganache that lay below. Compared with the other liqueur truffles the hit of the alcohol was far less jolting and this allowed the taste to maintain it's soothing nature. Whilst this was of course favourable, again the Amaretto spirit flavour wasn't that obvious and it could of really been billed as any liqueur as it was quite a generic alcohol taste. Standard.
Overall if you look across the two days of this review, I think you will understand my reasoning for giving this selection such high marks. Starting with the 'gimmes' that come with the majority of Hotel Chocolat products the presentation and concept was first class. The idea of using eggs as the theme isn't exactly groundbreaking, but it was well executed and the eggs were well crafted and were a great size to consume in two bites. Selection wise, like many selection boxes that have gone before the variety wasn't perfect, but it offered a great amount of assortment and all four members of my family had their favourite flavours represented. The real standout chocolate for me from this collection was the Caramel Egg, but there must be notable mentions for the Milk/Dark Praline, plus the Berry Mousse flavours. If you are looking for a box of chocolates that has a varied and great tasting selection, I would suggest these as a terrific option for you this Easter. Hotel Chocolat are quickly establishing themselves as kings of the selection box sector.
8.9 out of 10
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
It wouldn't be a proper holiday season without a Hotel Chocolat Sleekster selection box would it now? This Easter Hotel Chocolat are offering us this Egg box, which offers us all 'a cracking collection of irresistible filled mini eggs'. I have to admit that doing the photography for the review like this is a real pain in the backside with all the different pieces that need photos done. Although it is a little painstaking, previous evidence from the White, Dark and Valentines Sleekster collections would suggest that the effort is well worth, so I shan't grumble too much :)
This Egg Box selection included ten different flavoured eggs, each of which were portioned three times. As I have come to expect from Hotel Chocolat Sleekster collections, the quality of the packaging and presentation was first class. The outer box looked very cool indeed and didn't go over the top with it's Easter connotations, whilst the inner eggs were easily identifiable thanks to the menu road map and well crafted egg pieces.
Due to there being so many flavours I decided to space the review over two days. Below are my brief thoughts on the first five pieces based on the usual Awful-to-Superb rating scale. I shared these with my family so they have added their input where necessary. Below I will be working from left to right.
Milk Egg Praline - This egg was formed of a 40% outer coating and smooth hazelnut praline centre. This seemed like a chocolate I had tasted many times before from Hotel Chocolat, but that was very much a good thing. The outer chocolate was creamy and melted like a dream in the mouth to reveal the slightly grittier praline centre. The hazelnut came through superbly in the taste making for a delightful woody finish. Superb.
Banana Split Egg - This was hard one to rate as the 40% outer milk chocolate again melted gloriously to reveal a caramel like centre that was simply outstanding. The inner centre was amazingly buttery and provided an amazing toffee taste that I couldn't get enough. Unfortunately the banana element in all three truffles was AWOL, which was massively disappointing for my banana mad mum. For that reason I have to downgrade it. Very Good.
Advocaat Truffle Egg - Whenever Christmas comes round in my family we are always pretty partial to a few 'Snowballs', so we actually fought over who was going to try this one. The milk chocolate casing was of a great standard and the centre was suitably soft in the mouth. Despite the alcohol hit being favourably more mild than previous experiences with Hotel Chocolat truffles, I would have struggled to have placed the liqueur as Advocaat, thus it didn't quite deliver the experience I hoped for. Standard.
Dark Praline Egg - This piece was pretty much the same as the milk praline egg above, however it had the obvious difference that it had an outer shell of 70% dark chocolate. For dark chocolate lovers this was nothing short of a dream - the chocolate was rich in taste and inflated in cocoa volume, whilst the hazelnut still had great cut through in the taste providing an even longer presence in the mouth. Superb.
Berry Mousse Egg - This egg was formed of white chocolate with a strawberry and raspberry flavoured mousse centre. Both my mum and my sister demanded I give this a superb and I needed very little convincing. The white chocolate was amazingly sweet and creamy, whilst the centre was tremendously forthcoming in red fruit flavours which were delivered with a strong, natural tasting tartness that contrasted wonderfully with the sweeter chocolate. Superb.
A pretty good start for this Hotel Chocolate The Sleekster Egg Box Selection huh!? Be sure to check the site out tomorrow to see how the other flavours get on, and of course the all important scoring chart.
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
It is a matter of fact that ... I love Oreos, I love Peanut Butter and I love Oreo Cakesters (See HERE). Suffice to say when I first heard about this flavour of Cakesters I literally couldn't wait to try them, and despite reading some disappointing reviews from the likes of Marvo at the Impulsive Buy I was extremelly excited when a friend of mine managed to bring some back from a recent trip to the US. Reading the on-pack description of chocolate cake and peanut butter filling I was sure these Oreo Cakesters Peanut Butter were going to be a match made in heaven!? Seriously what could be better than combining two of my favourite junk food ingredients in one single product ... read on and find out!
My friend gave me two packs of 75.0g Cakesters which both included three individual Cakesters inside. Just as I have thought with the other Oreo Cakesters packaging I thought the presentation was very good and I liked the combination of the foil fresh wrapper and inner cardboard tray which kept everything in very good condition. If you look at the picture above I hope you will agree that the Cakesters themselves looked very appetising and I especially thought the orangey creme filling looked particularly tempting sandwiched between the cake pieces.
Having finished admiring the appearance of the Cakesters one thing I did pick up on was the lack of a differentiated smell for these Peanut Butter Cakesters vs the Original ones I reviewed almost a year back. The sweet cookie like smell that emanated was by no means horrible but at the same time I was wary at the lacking nut influence. Unfortunately these early signs were much indicative of the actual taste and my greatest fears were soon realised upon biting into the first Cakester. Indeed just the smell suggested these Cakesters retained some very familiar Oreo like flavours in the taste of the outer cake pieces but disappointingly the centre filling was almost completely devoid of a peanut influence. There were minor notes of nut buried below the dominant sugar flavours, however the overall taste was more like a peanut fondant rather than a peanut butter filling ... sigh ... what a shame - these sucked!
Overall I can't recall having been as disappointed with a product in long than I was with these Oreo Cakesters Peanut Butter. If you have read the paragraph above it doesn't take a genius to work out what my fundamental problem with the product was and 100% of the blame lies with the idiot who decided to make the peanut butter filling so ridiculously weak in it's peanut flavours. Annoyingly the packaging doesn't actually state what percentage of the product is made up by actual peanuts but I would hazard guess at it being substantially low. With the products such as this I always think that the taste has so outweigh the sin (these are pretty high calorie/fat wise!), and these Oreo Cakesters Peanut Butter just don't do that in any manner. As much as I would have loved to I just can't recommend these on any basis. Someone send me the address of the guy who screwed these up ... he deserves to hear how much these blow :)
5.8 out of 10
Monday, 22 March 2010
Sunday, 21 March 2010
As soon as I started reviewing all those cake bar products (Cadbury Mini Rolls etc) last year, I was immediately inundated with requests for me to review some other cake based products. One of the more popular requests was for me to take a look at some of the offerings from The Fabulous Bakin' Boys product range which boasts products such as flapjacks, brownies and of course these Chocolate Cupcakes. Described as 'moist vanilla sponge with a chocolate flavour topping' they seemed like a pretty simple proposition though obviously had quite the cult following given the amount of people asking for a ChocolateMission review. Given the demand I could hardly turn down the opportunity of a £1 a pack offer in my local OneStop.
The Cupcakes came in a 192.0g box that contained 6 individually wrapped cakes inside. To be honest I didn't really form an overall opinion on the presentation of the product as it neither struck me as being all that appealing or anything to the contrary. The cupcakes themselves were reasonably nice looking with the chocolate topping catching the eye with a noticeably glossy looking finish. As already mentioned each cupcake was contained within a plastic packet which kept each reasonably fresh and released a pleasant sweet cake smell when opened. One thing that was a slight annoyance though was that a large majority of the cake and outer chocolate topping rim stuck to paper cupcake wrapper when I tried removed it.
Before I ate these I have to hold my hands up and admit that I hadn't ever tried a Fabulous Bakin' Boys product so I wasn't quite know what to expecting. Like any normal person would (I use this term loosely) I decided to eat the Cupcakes in two parts - first eating the bottom layer of sponge and then the chocolate coating that lay on top. My initial impression of these thanks to the sponge was that they were pretty taste, and I really enjoyed the sweet cake that had a buttery taste that came off as being surprisingly fresh with a nice note of vanilla essence in the aftertaste. Where these cupcakes unfortunately fell down was in the quality of the chocolate topping ... or the 'chocolate flavoured topping' I should more correctly state. Quite frankly the chocolate element to these cupcakes was woeful - it was waxy and slow melting in texture and added hardly anything in regards to taste. Of course it did bring a mild chocolate influence to the mix but the flavours were predominantly sugar based and the texture just left an awful greasy feel in the mouth that pretty much spoilt the experience completely. Out of the six cupcakes I could only stomach two in total which left the rest resigned for the bin.
Overall these were an odd product in that in one way they were excellent, yet in another utterly awful. As you many have gathered from the above paragraph the cake element to these cupcakes was really well executed and I loved the sweet, light taste on the sponge. What I found so utterly incredible about these cupcakes was that the fact Bakin Boy had the cheek to stick the slogan 'contains no artificial colours or flavours' on the front of the cardboard packaging box! What this should actually say is 'contains no real chocolate'! Formed of the appetising concoction of 'sugar, vegetable oil and reduced fat cocoa powder' it was little surprise that the chocolate element to these cupcakes was carried off rather poorly. The topping lacked lacked a chocolate flavour hit and felt horrible in the mouth with an awkward wax like texture. I personally wont be having these again and unless you already a fan I wouldn't recommend them either.
5.9 out of 10
Saturday, 20 March 2010
The post today is a little rushed I am afraid as I heading off for a few days holiday.
For this reason I envisage I wont be able to answer any e-mails or posts until Thursday, but upon my arrival back into the country I will be sure to catch up with everything that has been sent my way. Despite me not being around there will be posts appearing on the site (wonders of technology eh!?), so you probably wont even notice my absence.
Sorry to keep things short this week, coming up in the next few days you will be seeing more Hotel Chocolat reviews, Cadbury Turkish Biscuits and some products sent my way all the way from Australia.
Have great weeks - catch up with you all soon.
**** COMPETITION WINNER ****
I had thousands (yes thousands!!) of entries for this latest competition, thanks to all who entered!
Congratulations to the winner of the Hotel Chocolat Easter Scrambled Egg winner .....
....... Emily Hutchinson
I have sent your address to the guys at Hotel Chocolat who kindly sponsored this competition. Your prize is on the way.
Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week:
* Foodstufffinds - Cin did an investigation looking at the change of recipe for Cadbury Mini Eggs - I added my own two cents on my own review in the form of an update - See HERE
* GiGiReviews - GiGi stuck it to the Girl Scouts with a review of their Dulce de Leche cookies - See HERE
* ImpulsiveBuy - I love peanut butter ... but I have never tried almond butter before! Sounds awesome - See HERE
* FoodetteReviews - This post by Jess gave me a real hankering for some pretzels. Why do we no get those big fresh ones here in the UK? See HERE
* Snackspot - People are seemingly already hunting down the new Magnum Gold - Magnum coated in Caramac white chocolate ... must have!! See HERE
** Updated Reviews **
Same old reviews but new pictures ...
Fry's Chocolate Cream - See HERE
Cadbury Double Decker - See HERE
Cadbury Chomp - See HERE
Cadbury Mini Eggs - See HERE
Daim Bar - See HERE
Friday, 19 March 2010
Back last April Kraft brought Mikado to the UK market, at which point I was literally inundated with requests to give them a ChocolateMission review. Although they were new to most UK residents, I had actually had Mikado many times before during my holidays to Europe when I was younger. Just as I had experienced back in the day I found the original Mikado to be 'Utterly delicious' (See HERE), and seemingly the majority of the UK population must have agreed with me given that we now have some new variants gracing our supermarket shelves. Although they were released just a few weeks ago, I have already tried these Mikado White Chocolate several times as my work colleagues have gone mad for them. Take a look at my review below to see how they stacked up on the scoring system.
As I stated above my workplace has been been consuming 70.0g packets of these faster than you can say Mikado. In terms of presentation this white chocolate variant stays very closely aligned to the original milk chocolate which is obviously no bad thing whatsoever. Personally I think the outer cardboard box is cleanly branded and communicates the white chocolate flavour well, whilst most importantly keeping the fragile stick pieces in good condition. Inside a nice set of sweet, dairy smells emanated once the bright silver foil packet was pierced revealing the very cool looking white coated biscuit sticks.
When I wasn't fighting my work colleagues off the several packets I brought in to the office, I eventually got around to trying a fair number of these for myself. Starting off with the biscuit constituents much like I expected the sticks held up their end of the bargain, providing a wheaty, buttery, brown sugar noted taste which was delivered with a satisfying fresh crunchiness with every bite. The white chocolate that coated them, melted at a similar pace to the milk chocolate of the originals, and was enjoyable to suck on before crunching down on the inner biscuit centres. It must be said that I generally find that great quality white chocolate is very rare to come across and I can tell you now that it wasn't the best quality used here. Whilst I can say it wasn't fantastic, on the other hand it wasn't awful at all, and luckily the combination of the biscuit and the chocolate made it taste an heck of a lot better than it would of done had it been eaten solus. In terms of flavours the white chocolate was very sugary, but at the same time it did have a friendly well rounded whole milk undertone which was present throughout the duration in the mouth. Just as I found with the original Mikado these were incredibly moreish but I found as I consumed them they became less and less pleasurable as the overall taste was incredibly sweet, thus they quickly got a little sickly.
Overall I know these have a strong following already so I am sure there are going to be a lot of you that will be less than happy with them scoring less than the original Mikado milk chocolate. To those people I apologise, but I have to call it as I see it, and for me personally I just didn't enjoy them as much as the originals. Whilst I could still appreciate the combination of the sweet, creamy chocolate and the enjoyable biscuit bases, the taste was just a touch sugary for me. This made them not so pleasant to eat on mass and often left me feeling quite unsatisfied in terms of fulfilling my hunger. Many of the people I ate these with said the white chocolate reminds them of Nestle's Milkybar which I would somewhat agree with. For me personally it didn't evoke as many nostalgic feelings as the aforementioned does, but it is probably a fair description given the dominance of the sugar in the taste, which makes it a reasonable comparator. This may read like a none to positive review but I will willingly concede that the synergy the chocolate has with the biscuit bases makes these a product that I have no qualms recommending to white chocolate fans, however myself I would pick the milk chocolate variant every time. Let me know your views on these white chocolates ones it would be great to hear your views. Has anyone spotted the dark chocolate version that is supposed to be coming out yet?
7.8 out of 10
Thursday, 18 March 2010
If you think back about a month or so to the end of last year you may remember that the Thorntons Milk Chocolate with Tonka Bean bar won a lot of praise in the end of year ChocolateMission 2009 Awards, picking up 3rd place for overall product of the year. Well the folk over at Thorntons were obviously pretty happy about this so they sent me along another chocolate from their award winning range, this time their Milk Chocolate with Pistachio offering. As a recent pistachio nut convert I was looking forward to seeing what Thorntons could do with this combination - surely they couldn't go wrong with a recipe of 'milk chocolate with roasted, salted pistachio nuts'.
Like all of the 'award winning' bars from this range Thorntons felt it ok to strip away 10.0g leaving us with 80.0g of chocolate (not quite as cheeky as the Tonka where they only give you 70.0g!). A quick glance at the packaging tells you that Thorntons appear to be running out of colours to use when it comes to this Square Bars range and with branding aside the outer box looked ridiculously similar to both the Tonka and Mint chocolates ... perhaps Thorntons could have done a 'premiuim line' with different packaging for the award winners!? Inside the chocolate looked and smelt good with the green coloured pistachios bringing a lovely savoury nutty smell and bit of interest in terms of aesthetic appeal.
Unfortunately for Thorntons all milk chocolate I taste from them from now on will be compared to the Tonka Bean bar. This 32% recipe was still tasty but it noticeably lacked the strength in the taste of the aforementioned with a slightly less pronounced cocoa edginess and honey influence. In the effort of trying not to be completely condescending the vanilla undertones were still pretty prominent and the lack of strength of the chocolate was somewhat made up for by the added pistachios. Much as the packaging suggested the nuts themselves brought hints of salt and savoury nut to the experience, though I do have again have to somewhat question the decision to chop them in to smaller pieces rather than keeping them as wholenuts. They were not as clumsy or annoying as hazelnuts can be when chopped (no bits getting stuck in teeth etc!) but I still feel the crunchy effect and savoury nut flavours explosions would have been grander had had they been implemented whole. Together the combination of sweet and salt worked very nicely but I had that nagging feeling it could have been executed just a little better.
Overall I would rate this as another pretty high standard offering from Thorntons but at the same time I wouldn't say it was one of the finest they have produced. Pistachio nuts themselves are not the strongest tasting nuts so I think their chopped nature in this bar came at detriment to the overall product. Perhaps manufactures think that consumers are of the mindset that 'more small bits' look like more in totality than 'fewer bigger bits', but I for one would rather see the latter if given the option of either/or. Criticisms aside pistachio chocolates aren't one of the most common flavours around so if you fancy trying it out for yourself you can do very little wrong opting to give this Thorntons offering a try. I don't think 2010 will quite be the year of the pistachio, like 2008 was for Chili but it would be interesting to see a few more manufactures give this nut a crack.
8.2 out of 10
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
In and amongst all the Easter goodies Hotel Chocolat sent my way this year they were also nice enough to include this Less Sweet Selection Box. Described as a collection of 'less sweet recipes so that the authentic flavours of cocoa and praline shine through' it sounded like a decent enough proposition to me, and I eagerly read the handy menu included inside which handily identified the chocolates inside.
The collection comprised of 21 pieces - milk and dark batons, gianduja cubes, mellow caramel truffles, hazelnut praline truffles and lastly some orange praline truffles. The presentation was was pretty familiar looking in style, and combined sleek and sophisticated outer packaging with several protective inner layers that ensured the freshness and high maintenance of each of the different pieces. As you will see from the chocolates below all of them looked pretty appetising, but it was the caramel piece that really stood out with some intricate swirls on the surface of each chocolate.
Below are my thoughts on each of the different chocolates rated from Awful-to-Superb ...
Milk & Dark Chocolate Batons - These were both excellent as I expected, with the milk chocolate batons formed of the 50% house recipe and the dark chocolate batons formed of the 74% house recipe. The milk chocolate was noticeably a little less sweet than the normal 40% cocoa recipe used across the majority of Hotel Chocolat products, though the dark batons really stood out taking the depth of flavour that stage further and had a richer, longer lasting taste. Both chocolates melted with infinite ease into their liquor states and provided an experience that was not only luxurious in taste but also wonderful feeling in the mouth. They were a real joy to eat. Superb.
Mellow Caramel - This pieces was the best looking in the selection and was the one that I was really looking forward to trying. Much like the dark chocolate batons the outer chocolate was superb and had a nice long, rich taste that grew in flavour volume as it melted. The inner caramel praline centre did bring a small notes of sweet toffee and butter to the party, however I was expecting more and would have really welcomed a minor hint of salt to play off the sweetness of the caramel flavours which would have made it truly outstanding. Good.
Hazelnut Praline - The outer 50% chocolate was super smooth in melt and established a creamy, rich cocoa taste as soon as it was placed on the tongue. Sitting below this glorious outer chocolate layer a drier filling of hazelnut praline provided strong woody hazelnuts which further reaffirmed the fresh tasting, crunchy whole hazelnut pieces that lined the top of each truffle. As hazelnut chocolates go this was absolutely fantastic, so much so I made a point of swagging all three before my family could nab them :D Superb.
Orange Praline - out of everything in the selection this piece appealed to me the least, however I am glad to say it wasn't out of place amongst the other fantastic chocolates. The outer 74% dark chocolate brought strong, unsweetened cocoa flavours to the party straight away and melted with a pleasant smoothness to reveal the soft, smooth filling below. Conversely to the outer chocolate the orange filling was sweet tasting, with some zingy citrus flavours that contrasted well with the dark chocolate. Orange chocolates are never my first choice but this was up there with the best of them. Very Good.
Gianduja Cubes - Well I have reviewed these on their own before (See HERE) so I need say very little apart from refer you that previous review. These are among the very best of all the great things that Hotel Chocolat make, if you haven't tried these already and love praline you really need to do yourself a favour and buy some. Superb.
Overall this Less Sweet Selection provides a good insight into some of Hotel Chocolat's capabilities, however I wouldn't rank it alongside some of their other finer selection boxes. The quality of the chocolate involved here is unquestionable - the 50% milk chocolate and 74% dark chocolate are amongst the best out there and I think it is a very safe bet to say you will get undoubtedly get a lot of pleasure out of the plain chocolate batons. The Gianduja Cubes are quite simply in a league of their own - I can't say anything more positive about them than that, you simply need to try them for yourself to really understand how good they are. Personally I think the truffles are what hold this selection back somewhat. Although I have classified all of them as Good or above, you have to consider the fact that if someone doesn't like orange, nuts or caramel the options are a little limited. This collection isn't the most varied that Hotel Chocolat offer but if you are looking for a small selection of fine chocolates you do well looking at this Less Sweet Selection.
8.3 out of 10
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
Rewind a few days and you will remember that it wasn't long ago that I was revelling in the gloriousness of L'Artisan du Chocolat's No.1 Salted Caramels (HERE). What I failed to mention in that review then was that L'Artisan had also sent me three of their latest Limited Edition dark chocolates, all of which I have been sampling with some fellow dark chocolate lovers.
These Jamaica, Bali and Congo are were all 72% cocoa recipes, and were formed using cocoa that were farmed and and fermented from these locations (more info on the website).
Looking at the net weight of the bars on the packaging I was surprised to see that each of the bars only weighed 45.0g, despite being packaged in boxes big enough to fit your average 100.0g chocolate bar. Given the premium nature of the brand and the chocolate, the size wasn't so much a surprise to me, and that said I did appreciate the clean graphics on the outer cardboard and liked it for it's simplicity. Unfortunately what I didn't think was so great was the style of the inner wrapping and design work on all three of the variants. I thought the plastic packets didn't really carry through the sophisticated brand positioning, and I felt that it cheapened the presentation considerably. Similarly the lack of branding and pattern work on the chocolate was something that was sorely missed and I felt this was also a missed opportunity to add some uniqueness to each bar.
Below are some collective tasting notes on each variant that I sampled with a group of friends. Apologies if the terminology comes across as pretentious, trust me I think I am no expert. It has been written in this manner to try and give you the best understanding of how each tasted.
L'Artisan du Chocolat 72% Bali
This flavour had pretty neutral, yet strong cocoa smell which was nicely indicative of the taste. This variant in particular broke with a wonderful snap sound which suggested that it was as fresh as they come. The taste was very smooth and had strong hints of fruit and banana which gave the cocoa flavours a consistent sweetness. The aftertaste had a little element of spice to it and generated a minor note of chilli in the mouth which further added interest to the overall experience. It was unanimously voted the favourite amongst the group with the main reason cited being it's non-bitterness and moreish sweetened cocoa stance.
8.4 out of 10
L'Artisan du Chocolat 72% Jamaica
Again here the smell was very indicative of the taste, and the bar emanated a smokey set of cocoa scents. The chocolate was similarly fresh to break apart but this chocolate seemed to melt at a slower rate to the others. As the smells suggested the taste was dominated by an undercurrent of tobacco like influences, with hints of woodiness and red fruits also coming through in the latter stages. The aftertaste was noticeably stronger than the other two variants and was the most bitter out of all three. The taste of this chocolate didn't suit everyone in the group and it did really divide opinion more so than the others.
7.2 out of 10
L'Artisan du Chocolat 72% Congo
This smelt similar to the Bali variant, though on balance was just slightly less pungent. In terms of taste this chocolate was screaming out Lindt 72% as soon as I placed the first piece on my tongue. The cocoa taste was less distinctive than the other two variants and maintained a familiar milky undertone throughout the entire experience. Whilst it wasn't quite as sweet or as variable as the Bali, it wasn't as harsh as the Jamaica and had a relatively nice, fresh cocoa taste. Both the feel and the flavours were smooth, whilst the melt was well paced. In all it was a solid, but safe dark chocolate.
7.8 out of 10
Overall these were some good quality dark chocolates, and me and fellow taste testers really enjoyed tasting the different experiences that all three offered. A look at the scores would suggest that probably only the Bali could be deemed as 'better than average' but if you look closely all three were hampered by the average score of 7 for presentation. The reason I gave them that score was because I didn't get the same feel of classiness from these bars as I did from the wonderful presented No.1 Salted Caramels a few days ago. If you compare them like-for-like I think you will agree that those Caramels look a class above these bars, though granted that is more about the quality of presentation of the Caramels. Presentation aside the quality of the chocolate here on the whole pretty good and it was really interesting the way that each offered up a different sort of taste. There was a clear favourite amongst the group in the form of the sweeter Bali variant, though this could be down to our personal preference and it is likely your own opinion would differ. To sum up I think L'Artisan du Chocolat could work a little on the packaging to align themselves in terms of quality with some of their other brand offerings. As far as chocolate quality goes though, they need do very little work there.
On a unrelated note what really surprised about reviewing these chocolates was how fun it was to do it amongst a group. Three of us enjoyed these over a few drinks and it was great comparing thoughts on how we thought the flavours developed. I would seriously suggest you guys grab a few of friends and try something similar in the near future - it is a lot of fun.