Friday, 30 April 2010

April 30th: Meiji Meltykiss Creamy Milk Chocolate / Caramelized Almond





Some of my favourite reviews this year have been Gianduja based products, with Hotel Chocolat's leading the way in terms of quality (See HERE). Up until this year I was frankly pretty oblivious that this sort of product even existed, though it seems even over in Japan that this kind of melt in the mouth confection has some sort of existence.

Meiji's Meltykiss brand has long been in existence, and in true Japanese style there have already been several different flavour variants available on the Japanese market down the years. Thanks to my friends over at J-List, I today got the chance to try two of the Meltykiss varieties - namely the 'Creamy Milk Chocolate' and 'Caramelized Almond' flavours.

If my research is correct then the Meltykiss brand is positioned at the more premium end of Japanese mass confections - the packaging would certainly go as far to suggest this. Both variants came in 100.0g boxes which contained several small cubed pieces that were held in thick foil wrappers. The outer packaging was sublime with the gold colour fonts and intricate sealing mechanisms (god that sounds geeky!!) really communicating that these were a more sophisticated option than your standard Japanese offering. Below are my brief thoughts on each variant ...


Meiji Meltykiss Creamy Milk Chocolate

Kcal 377 Fat 28.6g Carbs 25.8g (per 60.0g)

I guess it can be argued that if a product is to be classified a Gianduja then it has to contain some form of nut - hence you could say these don't fit that requirement. Although these Meltykiss Creamy Milk Chocolate contained no nut content whatsoever and were rather just cubes of soft milk chocolate, it was hardly liked they lacked flavour. Placing the first cube in my mouth a dry sensation was immediately brought to my tongue as the outer lining of cocoa powder brought about the first texture interaction. Within seconds this dryness turned to a wonderful cooling sensation, as the gloriously soft melt kicked in, and the cube melted like butter and with infinite ease. As the cube did this an explosion of double cream like flavours were released and created a delicious sweet chocolatey flavour hit. Each piece only lasted a matter of seconds on the tongue, but every last moment was immensely enjoyable.

8.4 out of 10



Meiji Meltykiss Caramelized Almond:

Kcal 377 Fat 28.7g Carbs 24.7g (per 60.0g)

Out of the two these sounded like the more exciting flavour but they were going to have to really go some to trump the Creamy Milk Chocolate variant above. Cutting the long story short like I usually like to do, I will say right now that they were simply equally as good - not better, not worse, just a little different flavour wise. One area that both variants didn't differ was in the texture delivery - these Caramelized Almond pieces felt just as amazing in the mouth and their melt was every bit as luxurious. Where they did offer something different was in the taste, as the creamy flavours of the aforementioned variety were unsurprisingly replaced by a more buttery tasting nut influence. The more savoury slant on the taste was abided somewhat by the minor note of the toffee, though it was the almond nut element that definitely came through the strongest, and it similarly just as delicious.

8.4 out of 10


Overall I have once again metaphorically 'bottled it' when it has come to picking a favourite out of the two flavours, but I genuinely couldn't separate one from the other. To get one thing straight these MeltyKiss didn't quite deliver the same rich experience that the Hotel Chocolat Gianduja do, but as products in their own right they were still incredibly moreish, and were genuinely a joy to both eat and review. If I was to live in Japan I could see Meiji's Meltykiss being one of those brands that I would really love. Not only is the taste and texture interplay superb, but actual the concept of the product is brilliant, and it is delivered in a well packaged and sophisticated manner. If you are going to be buying confectionery in from Japan soon you shouldn't be leaving Meiji Meltykiss off your shopping list.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

April 29th: Galler Orangettes

Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???

Last month for the first (and second!) time Galler featured on ChocolateMission, with their Piemontais bar gaining a high 8.5 out of 10 rating on the score matrix. After reading that review many readers requested that I review some more of the offerings in Galler's range, and more than a handful of you suggested I try out these Galler Orangettes. Constituting of 'orange peel slowly candied and enrobed in 70% dark chocolate' these sounded none to dissimilar to the Hotel Chocolat Orange Tangs which I described last August as 'disappointing' - See HERE. The question I was pondering today was whether Galler could conquer, where Hotel Chocolat had previously failed.

These Orangettes were kindly sent to me as sample from my contacts at Galler, and they came in a 150.0g tube that I shared with a few other keen taste testers. The tube packaging was interesting in design, though I have to say it was a little on the excessive side as the contents only made up about half the inner space which made it feel somewhat empty. Inside the Orangette pieces were kept within a plastic packet, which when opened revealed a glorious orangey chocolate set of smells. The Orangette sticks were quite thin but were nicely sized and consumable in two bites.

One thing that I am yet to be able fault Galler for is the quality of their chocolate, and once again it was of a superb standard here. Despite the dark chocolate coating not being the thickest, each and every mouthful had a really tasty cocoa emphasis, and the unsweetened chocolates flavours were fresh and delivered with a divine smoothness with the glorious soft melt. Sitting below the delightful dark chocolate, I was hoping the orange centres would take centre stage but their impact on the taste was more relaxed than I was expecting. The candied orange peel wasn't as impactful in terms of it's citrus flavours than I was expecting, and was more along the lines of being sweet rather than zingy or tangy. Although I would have wanted the orange to have a little more cut through, the quality of the dark chocolate was enough to keep us all reaching back in to the tube many a time - they didn't last long in our household.

Overall these were by no means perfect in any sense, but the high quality chocolate made sure they were still highly enjoyable. In comparison to the Jaffa Cake like taste that the Hotel Chocolat Orange Tangs offered, the orange centres here were superior, yet just not quite there, and could have been better if they were a little more juicy. Going back to my point about the packaging; although I liked the way they were presented in the tube, I think it could have easily of been half the size it was and I would suggest that Galler look in to reducing the size if only to put consumers minds at ease that they haven't been short changed. On reflection this is a pretty trivial point, as I'm sure that as soon as anyone tastes the quality of the chocolate on offer, they will feel comfortable with any expense they pay. Despite there being room for improvement, I would really suggest these as a very suitable high end offering if you are a fan of dark chocolate and orange.

7.9 out of 10

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

April 28th: Glico Pakitz Original

Kcal 122 Fat 6.3g Carbs 14.7g (per 23.4g)

I really hope you guys aren't getting bored of these Japanese themed chocolate reviews, as they have not only been coming thick and fast, but there plenty more planned for the next few days. Why the rush you ask!? Sorry for repeating myself but J-List are cutting their stock of chocolate products soon in preparation for the hot Japanese summer - hence I need to get all the samples they sent me up on site before they disappear. On show today we have this Glico Pakitz Original, which is a product consisting of 'milk chocolate with tiny crispy balls of rice, coated in a layer of wafer' - you might say that this was an 'inside-out' chocolate bar'.

Paying homage to it's own name this bar came in two separate 23.4g packs, that I shared with a work colleague over a well earned afternoon coffee break. The packaging it has to be said for a Japanese product was somewhat subdued, though the usual combination of the outer cardboard box and inner foil wrappers kept the contents in fresh shape and the bars were unscathed despite the hectic air miles. Whilst I thought the exterior design work was good, the actual product was less to my liking as it was immediately apparent that there was a problem with the chocolate not sticking to the wafer ... more on that later! Despite being well protected by the foil wrappers, the bars didn't offer much in the way of an aroma, which did little excite or raise anticipation.

As I have mentioned above there was one glaring issue with the product, with the chocolate not being in harmony with the wafer i.e. it fell out from the wafer casing straight away. This subsequently left me with two things - on one hand a random layer of pretty flavourless wafer, and the other a block of milk chocolate with small rice crispy pieces. To be honest I didn't even bother eating the wafer as soon as I realised it was just a generic and dull tasting ice cream cone like layer ... a complete waste of calories if you ask me. The milk chocolate on the other hand was a tad more exciting, and had a surprisingly strong creamy cocoa taste that I found quite enjoyable. For me the inner rice crispy pieces proved to be more of a distraction than a pleasant addition taste wise, however I will concede that brought variety in terms of textures. At the time of eating this I wasn't particularly hungry, though I guess this was pretty lucky as this probably wouldn't have done a job worth mentioning in this sense.

Overall this was far from being a disaster, however Glico have made a product that fundamentally doesn't seem to work. The idea of placing the wafer on the outside of the product may see like a funky concept, but it was flawed in it's execution as it failed to contain the inner chocolate layer like it was supposed to. When you also factor in to the equation that the actual wafer itself was just of a plain and unfancy variety (yes you can get fancy wafers), then the necessity of it's presence becomes somewhat questionable, and I for one did without it after it failed at attaching itself to the chocolate. Speaking of the chocolate, it was actually surprisingly good quality, though it wasn't like it was good enough in my mind to make up for the failings of the actual product concept. It is on this basis that I wouldn't recommend this as product that you guys and girls should bother with. There are so many options out there in the Japanese marketplace, that average products like this Glico Packitz are simply not worth wasting your money on.

6.5 out of 10


Tuesday, 27 April 2010

April 27th: Ritter Sport V.I.P Editions


I know I have been feeding you all one Ritter Sport review a week for the past month or so, but today I bring you quite a special Ritter post.

Recently Ritter opened a new chocolate themed shop in Berlin, Germany, and to celebrate their grand opening they held an auction for 11 custom made bars that had been crafted by some German celeb VIPs. All proceeds of this auction went to the childrens charity organisation 'Children for a better world', so not only was there the opportunity to try some unique Ritter Sport chocolates, but at the same time there was the chance to help a really worthwhile cause(More details HERE).

Being the Ritter Sport fan I am, I couldn't let such an opportunity pass me by - so I threw my ChocolateMission hat in the ring and went about bidding on three bars via my German friends over at Candyholics (See HERE).

Below are the bars that I managed win - one crafted by Michaela May (German actress - See HERE), another by Caroline Link (German film director - See HERE), and last but not least Amelie Fried (German TV presenter & writer - See HERE). To be honest I had never heard of any of these people before, but I am sure they must be famous enough in Germany. They even went to the trouble of signing each of the 100.0g bars!


Ritter Sport - Michaela May

'Cranberry, orange nuggets and almond'

This was a milk chocolate bar crammed full of fruit and nut pieces. The chocolate was it's usual good standard, and simply just let the inner contents do the talking in the overall taste. The nuts were plentiful and crunchy, whilst both fruits were forthcoming in their juicy sweet flavours (the cranberries were especially tasty!). I have had many good fruit and nut chocolates in my time, but this one was very nice indeed. I can see Ritter Sport releasing a bar very similar to this in the near future for their permanent range - I for one wouldn't be disappointed if that was the case.


Ritter Sport - Amelie Fried

'Chilli, orange & ginger'

Ginger is not an ingredient that I have experienced with Ritter Sport before, but if this chocolate is anything to go by, we could soon have something very special lighting up the ChocolateMission rating system. As you can imagine, with both the ginger and chilli elements this was a quite a spicy chocolate, though the sweet orange oil made sure the heat generated never became too much. The aftertaste was long and warm and really left a lasting impression in the mouth. It is funny to say, but this reminded me a lot of the Christmas chocolates you get in Germany.

Ritter Sport - Caroline Link

'Ground chilli, shredded coconut and cocoa nibs'

Boy oh boy, Caroline must be a fan of spicy food ... well either that or the Ritter chocolatier got a little happy with the chilli flakes :D This was the bar I was most looking forward to trying, as I had never had the opportunity to try a flavour combination anything like this before. As I said the chilli was at times a little overwhelming (blow your head off levels of hotness!!), however there was a delicious, cooling effect generated by the milky, sweet nutty coconut that was spread generously throughout. The cocoa nibs took a bit of a back seat in terms of featuring in the taste, though they added a nice degree of crunchiness alongside the coconut bits.


Overall you guys may have noticed that there is one (or three!) things missing from today's post - the scoring charts of course!! Well, I have decided not to put a score on these bars - who am I to critique charity work!? The crux of the matter is these bars were crafted with good intentions, and it was a pleasure for me to get to feature them on this site. Ritter Sport claim to be a 'family company', and I can do little to dispute this when they are doing good deeds like this. I hope you enjoyed the post.

JIM

Monday, 26 April 2010

April 26th: Kit Kat Sakura Green Tea

Kcal 100 Fat 5.8g Carbs 11.3g (per 18.0g)

Another week, another day and it's another Japanese Kit Kat review!! Just as I informed you guys and gals last week, J-List very kindly sent me along another box full of chocolate goodies, and over last few days I have been doing some serious snacking in order to get some reviews up on the site before they cut their chocolate supplying for the summer. Taking centre stage today is this Kit Kat Sakura Green Tea, which I approached somewhat with caution having tasted some not so great green tea flavoured chocolates from Japan before (Meiji Matcha - See HERE & Kit Kat Jasmine Tea - See HERE). According to the J-List website, this flavour is yet another limited edition, aimed at parents who want to give something to their sons and daughters to wish them good luck for upcoming exams - nice culture huh!?

The Japanese are known for presenting their Kit Kats in many different and funky ways, though this one came as a traditional 36.0g four finger product. The packaging was ... well ... damn cool looking! The lime green and pink colours on the box may appear gaudy and ugly to some, but I personally thought they were eye catching, and thought they created an aire of anticipation as I didn't quite know what to expect inside. Speaking of the Kit Kats themselves I am sure that you have already taken a second glance at the green coloured fingers in the photograph above. Again I am sure there are some people who may find the colour a little off-putting, however I found myself to be only more intrigued by the unique colour and herby, sweet smells that were on offer.

This Kit Kat was made up of white chocolate that had been flavoured with 0.5% matcha tea, with the inner contents constituting of wafer and an inner creme. As I have found with previous white chocolate Kit Kats before, the main crux of the taste was a combination of sugary sweet flavours that had a consistent milky undertone. In the latter stages of the chocolate melting in the mouth, a herby, grass like note came in to the taste, which I thought brought the green tea element to party nicely. Where other green tea flavoured chocolates have failed in that past, is that many have left bitter flavours in the mouth, which has made for undesirable aftertastes. I am pleased as punch to say though, that this wasn't the case with this Kit Kat at all, as the fruity, creamy taste of the inner creme combined with the brown sugar hinted wafer layers to provide a nice finish to each bite. I ate all four fingers over the course of one single sitting, and as many other Kit Kats have proven previously it was just about right to be eaten as a light snack with a coffee.

Overall I was surprised at just how much I liked this Kit Kat, as I was almost certain it was going to run in to exactly the same problems as all the other green tea flavoured chocolates have done previously. These inaccurate preconceptions were my own fault entirely - had I not been in such a rush to get this review up on the site, I probably would have looked up the meaning of the word 'Sakura' before I tucked in. For those unaware (as I was until I looked it up!!) 'Sakura' means 'cherry blossom', which would go some way to explaining the fruity sweetness that I experienced with the inner creme. Although it may sound insignificant in the grand scheme of the green tea element, I would go as saying that it was this simple addition that made this Kit Kat as delicious as it was. I was not expecting to reflect so positively about this Kit Kat, but I have to say it was hugely enjoyable, and it would definitely be one I would both recommend and have again if given the opportunity. This was one of the better Japanese Kit Kats I have had this year.

8.4 out of 10


Fancy trying this Kit Kat Sakura Green Tea for yourself? Please CLICK HERE!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

April 24th/25th: 1,000th Post Spectacular + Competition

***** 1,000 POSTS *****


Hi All,

As you may have guessed, today marks the day that I post my 1,000th post on this site, and I am running a huge competition to mark this historic triumph.

Before we get in to the mix with the competition, please allow me two minutes to bask in this glory. When I first set out creating this site almost two and a half years ago, I had no idea that it would quite go so far. Having now reviewed well in excess of 1,000 products I have to say I am nowhere telling you what the best chocolate bar in the world is (although the Hotel Chocolat 85% still holds the lead of course!), but I guess that is half the fun and it is a never ending process.

Going forwards, I want to make the site even bigger, even better and that can only happen with your continual input. Your requests and comments are what make the site so enjoyable to run - so please continue to contribute to this ongoing project.

It is at this point I would ask for you to do two things for me, through any method you wish, be it e-mail, comment, smoke signals, twitter ... can you please tell me two things ...

1. What you enjoy about the site
2. How you think I can improve it


Thanks for all your contributions to the site so far - I appreciate each every one of them. Please keep reading and adding your input. Now I have blabbed on for long enough let's get on with the competition.


JIM


**** COMPETITION TIME ****

Tasting Club_468x60


Over the past 2.5 years Hotel Chocolat have been a key supporter of this website. They have sent samples of their latest products for the majority of this project, and given me the license to say what think whether it be bad or good.... it has to be said it is mostly good :D

In yet another example of amazing goodwill, Hotel Chocolat are sponsoring this 1000th post spectacular competition, and are offering a Mini Chocolatiers Table as 1st prize (See HERE), as well as three boxes of Sleekster Chocolate Selections (See HERE) for three lucky runners-up.

All you have to do is send an e-mail to Jim{@]Chocolatemission.net with the answer to the following, please include 1000th post competition in the subject, as well as your address for potential prizes to be sent ...

Q. Hotel Chocolat have recently just released a product named the 'Peepster - Summer Sizzler'. What four mini slabs are contained within this selection?

Winners are to be drawn at random from all correct entries. Please ensure entries are received by May 8th 2010. Please lets make this as big as possible so plaster this competition over facebook and twitter ... there will be an extra special small prize for the person who best exemplifies that they have got the competition message out there :D

Usual competition rules apply...

1) One entry per person
2) UK entrants only
3) Anything I say goes :)



GOOD LUCK!!

JIM

Friday, 23 April 2010

April 23rd: Lotte Crunky Crunch Chocolate Banana & Cereal

Kcal 269 Fat 16.4g Carbs 27.3g (per 48.0g)

ChocolateMission readers beware!!! Brace yourselves for a deluge of Japanese themed reviews over the next week! J-List have just sent me another huge box of samples full of chocolate goodies, which I have to get reviewed and up on the site before they shut down the chocolate part of their business for the summer. With the help of my very willing family, today I started my latest sample box off by trying this Lotte Crunky Chocolate Banana & Cereal bar. Those with long memories may remember that it was the Strawberry Tart variant of the Crunky brand that I reviewed last from Lotte (See HERE). Given their expertise with fruit flavoured chocolates displayed there, I was really looking forward to see what they could do with this Banana & Cereal flavoured chocolate. It was going to be interesting to see if they could outdo Meiji's attempt at a banana chocolate (See HERE).

This bar came in a 48.0 size that we ate across just the one sitting. The packaging and presentation was very much to my liking, which has to be said, isn't that unusual for me to say about products from Japan. It was bright, welcoming and exciting looking with it's funky fonts and pictures, whilst it was also very functional, as the combination of the cardboard box and inner foil wrapper kept everything in immaculate condition. Unwrapped from the branded silver foil layer the chocolate was both visually striking and noteworthy for it's smell. In terms of looks the bumpy surface told me that the chocolate was packed full of cereal, and I thought the golden cream colour looked pretty appetising. The aromas emanated were very forthcoming, but I couldn't quite decide whether I thought the sweet fruity banana scents were enticing or just artificial smelling.

As I mentioned above I did have two fellow taste testers - one of which was my mother who goes absolutely 'head-over-heels' at just the prospect of trying banana flavoured chocolates. After not being totally convinced by the fragrance of the chocolate there was one way to gauge how good it was, and that was of course through tasting it. Despite the bar constituting quite heavilly of rice cereal, the blocks were easy to break up, and they did so with a nice snap each time. Placing the first block in my mouth, I was immediately rid of all wariness around the banana element tasting artificial, and it soon became apparent that fruit had actually been implemented very well. At the heart of the taste the white chocolate wasn't anything that exceptional, but it melted at nice rate and was the sweet, milk rooted base tones were relatively ok. Similarly the puff cereal was equally average with it's mild malty taste, however I understood that it was more there to bring excitement to the texture. Where this bar really picked up the points was the fruit element, which was immediately detectable and delivered some delightfully fresh tasting banana flavours that left a real lasting impression in the mouth. Between three of us this bar lasted no time at all, though I am sure that if a single person was to eat the whole thing it would seem like a decent sized snack.

Overall credit where credit is due, I think this is another well manufactured fruit flavoured chocolate by Lotte. My banana chocolate loving Mother similarly thought that this was a tasty bar - she said wasn't perhaps the best banana chocolate she had ever tasted, but she thought it was decent nonetheless and said that she would have it again if given the chance. Looking back at my review of the Crunky Strawberry Tart it seems like I came to some very similar conclusions about this bar than I did with that one. The white chocolate base wasn't the greatest, and the cereal element was unspectacular, however the integration of the fruit into the chocolate was well done and it took my perceptions that this was just an average product and made me think that it was a pretty decent one. As far as recommendations go I don't think this is a 'must try' for the average person, though I would say if you like your banana chocolates I am very confident you would really enjoy it.

7.8 out of 10

Fancy trying this Lotte Crunky Crunch Chocolate Banana & Cereal for yourself? CLICK HERE

Thursday, 22 April 2010

April 22nd: Wonka Exceptional Scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolate Bar

Kcal 170 Fat 10.0g Fat(sats) 6.0g Fat 19.0g (per 33.0g serving)

Rounding off my reviews of the Wonka Exceptionals range, I today bring you my views on the Scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolate bar. If we get this out there from the start - if this was a site rating chocolate bars out of ten for the ridiculousness of their names, I think we can all agree now that this bar deserves a 10 out of 10. Unfortunately for Mr Wonka and Co this isn't quite the case, and this bar formed of 'milk chocolate, with toffee, cookie and peanuts' will be rated on the same basis as all the others. Out of the three Wonka bars I have reviewed over the last couple of weeks, this bar Scrumdiddly (see what I done there!), sounded the most exciting, thus why I saved it until last.

Despite containing several added ingredients Nestle ensured that this bar made their stringent weight cap of 99.2g - why not just make it 100.0g guys!? Apart from having a very silly name, the actual presentation of the bar was very little different to the other variants, and came in a stunning looking purple and silver foil wrapper. Where this Scrumdiddly bar did vary somewhat from the other two flavours was the size of each blocks, as they were a bit smaller, which positively made them easier to consume in a single mouthful. Speaking of the actual chocolate, each piece was branded with the Wonka W, and was visibly brimming with small golden bits filling. The nutty, sweet scents that emerged from the wrapper also went on to only further my intrigue and by the time came around to it, I couldn't wait to taste it.

To be 100% clear from the outset this was not the highest quality chocolate I have ever had in my life, though we have to approach this with a mass produced chocolate mindset. In comparison to the standard offering on the market, the milk chocolate on offer was just about better than average, but it was the inner fillings that took it many a level above. Just like I experienced from the Wonka Waterfall bar, the milk chocolate base had a sweet and creamy taste that had an element of fudgenyess in that latter stages of it's soft melt. Whilst the milk chocolate in isolation was pleasant, it was the way the additional elements of the peanuts, toffee and cookie combined to deliver what was a wonderfully enjoyable and friendly taste. All the above were implemented generously, and were dispersed well which made sure that each brought their different flavour enhancement to the party. The toffee pieces added delightful bursts of buttery, caramel flavours, whilst the peanuts brought savoury notes of nut and delicious licks of salt to the aftertaste. Out of three the biscuit was probably the least powerful in terms of flavours, however the crunchy and crisp texture variations it brought were equally as important to the experience. Being the greedy guy I am, I couldn't help but gnosh away half a bar at a time. Generally I eat chocolate in far smaller amounts than this, but this was some seriously good stuff and I found that I just couldn't help myself.

Overall I have to take my hat off to Nestle here - this was one great bar of chocolate, and certainly my favourite out of all the three Wonka Exceptionals flavours I have reviewed over the last few weeks. As I talked about above, this wasn't a chocolate that was exceptional for the quality of ingredients - this was a product that was superb because of it's use of flavour combinations. Of course with any chocolate it always helps have a fair quality base of chocolate, and the milk chocolate on offer here, was again like I said in the Wonka Waterfall review, comparable to the likes of Milka in taste (certainly a step up from other products in Nestle's portfolio thats for sure). Where the milk chocolate was solid in quality, the added peanut, biscuit and toffee pieces were all superb, and each played a great hand in the prestige of the overall profit. The contrasting flavours of the sweet toffee and salty nuts, were wonderfully delivered within the crunchiness brought to the party by the biscuit. If you look at the score I doubt it will surprise you to hear that I would recommend this Scrumdiddly bar above the Waterfall and Domed Chocolate varities - it is well worth trying for yourself.

8.5 out of 10

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

April 21st: Ritter Sport Milchcreme Mandel


Kcal 578 Fat 40.0 Carbs 47.0g (per 100.0g)

Coming straight off the back of my reviews of Ritter Sport's 2010 Spring range, I today have the pleasure of bringing you all my thoughts about their new 'variety of the year'. I understand that some of you may be starting to think that Ritter are making flavours for almost every day of the year, but if you think back to last years 'variety of the year', you may remember that the Ritter Sport Karamell Nuss proved to be a really fantastic limited edition that won several prizes in my 2009 awards. With that top of mind it wasn't like this Ritter Sport Milchcreme Mandel had a lot to live up to then did it ... no pressure :) ... at least the prospect of 'milk chocolate with a milk cream and almond nut filling' sounded like it had a chance of matching up.

Just like last years special edition this bar came in the usual 100.0g, sixteen chunk format that I devoured (with some help!!) over the course of two separate sittings. Looking at the wrapper it is was exactly what you would expect from Ritter Sport. It was clean cut in design, and simply presented with the inner milk cream and almond nut flavour well communicated through both branding and pictures. The chocolate itself was also pretty pleasing on the eye, with the light coloured cream centre visibly studded with small golden pieces of almond nut. Taking in the aromas on offer I detected the usual sweet chocolatey scents - as nice as these were I was a little disappointed that the nuts didn't have a presence at this point.

I always say that the smell of a chocolate is often indicative of the taste, and this particular bar would further strengthen my hypothesis. If you want to read about what I think about Ritter Sport milk chocolate in great detail I suggest you take a look at any of the 25+ Ritter Sport chocolates that I have reviewed which have included the stuff (to be more precise look - HERE). Long story cut short it was it's usual sweet, milky self - it wasn't really distinctive in any manner, but it did the job nicely of delivering a fair standard chocolate flavour hit with every chunk. Sandwiched in the centre of the outer milk chocolate the milk cream and almond centre did little but further compounded the creamy nature of the chocolate. At times the almond nuts did cut through adding a further buttery, nutty hints to the cream flavours, however these instances were few and far between and I would much rather the nuts of had a grander say in the taste. The work colleague I shared this bar with was not half as disappointed at the mildness of the almonds, but they did admit that they would have liked the nut pieces to have been larger in size.

Overall compared to other Ritter Sport flavours I would have to say this Milchcreme Mandel would be verging more towards being a 'miss' rather than a 'hit', but put in the perspective of the whole chocolate market it has to be considered a sound offering from our German friends. Fundamentally there was nothing wrong with this bar whatsoever - the chocolate was of a fair standard, the milk cream was ok and the nuts didn't detract from the experience in any manner. Unfortunately when I compare it to other bars in the Ritter range I wouldn't say it delivered the same impact with it's flavours that others have done in the past. I guess what I am trying to get at here is that if you want a pretty 'safe' tasting chocolate, that isn't overly elaborate in flavour then this would be a fairly decent option. However, if on the other hand you want a more exciting, hard hitting taste I think you are best off looking at other Ritter Sport alternatives.

7.0 out of 10

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

April 20th: Thorntons Mini Caramel Flapjacks

Kcal 78 Fat 4.3g Fat(sats) 2.3g Carbs 8.2g (per flapjack)

Before I launch into this review today, if I could quickly draw your attention back to the ChocolateMission 2009 awards, you may remember that Thorntons took home the prize of 'Best Misc Product of 2009' with their Mini Caramel Shortcakes (See HERE). Since reviewing them (See HERE), those Caramel Shortcakes have featured many a time on my weekly shopping list, but this week when I got to the cakes section it was these new Mini Caramel Flapjacks that caught my eye in my local Sainsbury's. Described on pack as 'flapjacks blended with caramel and dipped in Thorntons milk chocolate' I couldn't help myself and I had to give them a try.

As you see above these flapjacks came in a 12 piece pack, and I greedily kept them all to myself to consume across a working week. The packaging was very similar indeed to all the other varieties in Thorntons' Mini cake range, but this was not a bad thing at all as the combination of the thick foil wrapper and inner plastic tray both looked impressive and kept the inner pieces in immaculate fresh condition. Before admiring them for their aesthetic prestige, the first thing that struck me was the immensely enticing smells that emerged from within the foil packet. The strong hints of sweet honey and chocolate smelt totally dreamy - if you read on you will find that the taste was thankfully just as good.

Having given the game away already (I know you all look at the scoring chart before you read anyway haha!) please allow me to run through every superlative available in the English dictionary to describe how good these were. Putting the flapjack constituents under the spotlight first, I couldn't quite believe how fresh they tasted - it was almost as if they were fresh out the bakery. The flapjacks initially tasted very oaty, though wasn't long before strong flavours burst of sweet golden syrup, toffee and butter exploded onto the scene. I have often found that most good flapjacks have a small element of salt somewhere in the taste, and there was a definite lick right in the aftertaste which made them horrendously moreish. The chocolate at the bottom of each piece looked very thin, though the Thorntons better than average quality shone through, and every bite was supplemented by a burst of cocoa and cream flavours. In regards to hunger fulfilment, the richness of the taste meant that just one piece felt like a sensible sized, yet indulgent treat. This didn't stop me consuming two at a time on most occasions though - they were just too wonderful.

Overall I have once again bottled it on the scoring chart and have chosen to plump myself right on the middle of the fence trying to choose a favourite between these and the Mini Caramel Shortcakes. The word delicious is the only one that I think is worthy of describing these - it is that simple! In terms of size I probably would have welcomed them being a touch bigger (perhaps eight per pack!), but as I have said above, just the single flapjack piece delivered a great deal of satisfaction. For a mass produced product that cost me just over £1.50, these were outstanding in terms of quality and it is of great credit to Thorntons that they have managed to produce flapjacks that so fresh and full of flavour as they do. If you are a lover of the Mini Caramel Shortcakes, or are generally just a fan of flapjacks I really do recommend that you buy yourself a pack of these sooner rather than later. They look great, taste superb and are available at a more than sensible price - you really have no excuse.

9.0 out of 10

Monday, 19 April 2010

April 19th: Barratt Lovely Mini Eggs

Kcal 195 Fat 8.4g Carbs 28.5g

First off I have to apologise for my failure to deliver what was no doubt one of the most highly anticipated showdowns for Easter 2010 for ChocolateMission. Indeed my epic failure in securing a bag of Barratt Lovely Mini Eggs during the Easter period meant that 'battle of the Mini Eggs' never came to light. I don't know if Barratt had supply issues at all, but I couldn't find a pack of these 'Lovely Mini Eggs' for love nor money. Now three weeks after the event my local shops seem to have tons and tons of packets overflowing their shelves, and I managed to pick up a pack from my local OneStop discounted down to 20p! On the bag these came described as 'solid milk chocolate eggs in a crisp sugar coating', basically they are Barratt's attempt at Cadbury Mini Eggs.

My 20p bought a 40.0g pack, which contained about 12-15 small egg pieces. Looking at the packaging and presentation I think it is safe to say that these were nothing short of a shameless copycat product. The outer packaging was reasonably friendly and inviting with it's pastel colours, but the inner mini eggs looked absolutely identical to the Cadbury ones. They saying is all is fair in love and war and that imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but I have had to knock off a few points for unoriginality here. Not to my surprise, like it is often the case with sugar coated products there was a distinct lack of aromas that emanated from the packaging, with nothing registering aside from a generic sugary sweet scent.

If you have read my previous Cadbury Mini Eggs review you will know that I am not the greatest fan of the things, so I guess it will come as no surprise that my enjoyment of these was pretty lacking. I don't wish to spend too much of my time jabbering on, so I will cut the story short. The outer shells were about the same thickness as the Cadbury Mini Eggs, though they were a little less spiky and sharp in terms of their sugar flavour delivery. Whereas this initially made the taste preferable to the Cadbury eggs, the taste took a turn for worse upon encountering the inner milk chocolate. The chocolate was noticeably more grainy and lax in melt, and it didn't have the creaminess in it's flavours that the Cadbury chocolate does. Ultimately it was a shame that the inner chocolate didn't build upon the more subdued flavours of the outer crisp shells. With the taste being so incredibly sweet, and not particularly enjoyable I wasn't inclined to eat the whole packet in one, and I ended up eating them across a few days.

Overall these Barratt Lovely Mini Eggs can only go down as poorer imitation product, which I guess from my point of view makes them pretty abysmal considering I don't enjoy the originals all that much. Despite the Cadbury Mini Eggs changing in recipe, and becoming increasingly sweeter this year, these Barratt Lovely Mini Eggs couldn't succeed in topping them as in my opinion the quality of the chocolate was even poorer than it was in the Cadbury equivalent. When you add in to the mix that Barratt didn't even try and differentiate the product at all from the Cadbury Mini Eggs then what you are left with isn't too endearing. I never saw these eggs at RRP so I am unsure what how competitive they were in price, perhaps a well informed reader can help me out with that ;) Unless they are significantly cheaper than the Cadbury Mini Eggs I simply can't make a case as to why you would choose them over the well established equivalent. They may not be my favourite product ever, but for me there is only one winner - Cadbury Mini Eggs.

5.8 out of 10

Sunday, 18 April 2010

April 18th: Lindt Dark Mousse Fig-Caramel

Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???

It has been a long while since I last got stuck into a fig flavoured chocolate bar - the last being the Conscious Chocolate Fruit Fantasy. In the UK figs seem to be a bit of an old fashioned fruit and it is only very rarely that I see them implemented in any modern day foodstuffs. This is of course was never going to stop Lindt, they seem to have a flavour combination for any ingredient under the sun and thanks to ChocolateMission reader Susie I got to try this Lindt Dark Mousse Fig-Caramel bar which she included in a sampling package she sent me at the back end of 2009. I must admit it was one of the bars I left till last as it didn't really take my fancy all that much.

This product is part of the Lindt Dark Mousse range which meant it came in a 150.0g format. Despite not being all that excited by the prospect of a fig caramel filling I thought the presentation of the bar was still pretty first class and liked the golden fonts and borders on the black background. Aesthetically the chocolate itself looked rather good as well. Despite the blocks being a little too large for my liking there was no denying that the imprinted logos on the and plentifully portioned fillings didn't look appetising. Another thing of merit in regards to the presentation of the product was the smell which was a mixture of rich cocoa and sweet fruity scents.

Before eating this bar I wasn't all that familiar with the taste of figs - now having eaten it I can't say that this bar provided much of an education. The dark chocolate that formed the outer chocolate and mousse filling was of a 70% recipe and it was the usual Lindt high quality. It was noticeably lacking sweetness but never ever verged on what I would say was bitter due to an underlying milkiness in the taste. What I like about Lindt dark chocolate is that the cocoa flavours are always strong from very early on in the melt and never take all that long to establish themselves. Things were no different here and the cocoa flavours built up nicely with notes of coffee and red wine evident in the aftertaste. The melt of the outer chocolate to the softer mousse base meant that the texture became increasingly softer and was resoundingly pleasant until the jam like fig-caramel came into play. Unfortunately where the dark chocolate was most impressive the inner fig-caramel filling was not. Frankly it was nothing special at all - it was like a dull flavoured fruit jelly with a grainy, gritty texture. On some levels its sweetness contrasted well with the more reserved dark chocolate, but I couldn't help but feel that I would just preferred the filling to have been absent and just enjoyed the dark chocolate solus.

Overall this was hardly a repulsive bar by any means but as Lindt's standards go it lacked the usual high quality and distinctiveness of other fruit flavoured chocolates from their range. The fig caramel was not bad tasting at all but I just didn't enjoy the clumsy gritty texture and thought it took away the prestige from the smoothness of the chocolate. Had it not been for the sheer wonderful nature of the Lindt 70% dark chocolate this bar would have scored far lower on the ChocolateMission rating system and I think if you are really after a fig flavoured chocolate there simply has to be better out there. The dark chocolate element of this bar was no doubt enjoyable, but if it is that your after your best off enjoying it without this filling.

6.9 out of 10

Saturday, 17 April 2010

April 17th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 40

### Jim's Corner ###

Hi All,

Edition 40 already!? It seems like only yesterday I was writing the first one of these!!!

Incase you all missed it I announced the winner of the Galaxy Counters competition a few days back - See HERE. Well done again to Jane - bad luck to all of the entrants, but don't worry there is a MASSIVE competition starting on this site next weekend to celebrate my 1000th review! More details are to follow, but I can reveal now that there are going to be multiple prizes, which are being supplied by none other than Hotel Chocolat.

I hope you enjoyed the reviews this week, it has been pretty varied in terms of success ... Wonka Exceptionals Domed Dark Chocolate (See HERE), Ritter Sport Cashew Milk Chocolate (See HERE), Cadbury Dream & Bournville Fingers (See HERE) to name just a few.

As always I am open to requests so please keep them coming in - See HERE. Let me know what sort of prizes you would like to see from Hotel Chocolat in the competition next week.

Have great weeks

JIM


News from the Chocolate Market:

* Have you ever heard about chocolate being good for us :D ... See HERE

* Easter chocolate says have done wonders for the retails sector - lets eat our way out of this financial crisis ... See HERE

* This is bizarre - chocolate flavoured haggis ... See HERE

* This will be amazing - John Barnes is recreating his famous 'football rap' in the next Mars advert - See HERE

* Kinder are introducing 'new faces' to the front of their packs - See HERE

* Cadbury are launching even more variants of their Mini Rolls - See HERE

* Kraft have started spring cleaning their newly aquired Cadbury assets - See HERE


Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week

* Impulsive Buy - Just the sound of this had me drooling ... Peanut Butter Chocolate Klondike Sandwiches! Check it out - See HERE

* Foodette Reviews - This Japanese Noodle Yakisoba review took me back to my Uni days - See HERE

* Snackspot - Have you guys heard about Walkers' latest flavour promotion? Some of the flavours sound very weird - See HERE

* Chocablog - Cheese, walnuts & raisins chocolate! This could only be from Zotter! Speaking of which more Zotter reviews inbound on ChocolateMission soon - See HERE

* Foodstufffinds - Cin found the new lemon flavoured Jaffa Cake Bars. Sounds good to me - See HERE


*** Updated Reviews ***

New photographs + a brief spell check! Magic!

* Reese's Peanut Butter Cups - See HERE
* Fry's Turkish Delight - See HERE
* M&M's Crispy - See HERE
* Terry's Caramel Bite - See HERE


* Please note that there will no longer reviews posted on Sundays except in exceptional circumstances.

Friday, 16 April 2010

April 16th: Wonka Exceptionals Domed Dark Chocolate


Kcal 200 Fat 13.0g Fat(sats) 8.0g Carbs 24.0g (per 40.0g)

Just as I promised I will be feeding you guys one Wonka review a week for the foreseeable future, and today I bring you my views on this Domed Dark Chocolate bar. Before I launch in to the review I have to once again thank my pals over at Yankee Soda & Candy for providing me with the sample for todays review - if you want to try these Wonka Exceptional bars for yourself be sure to check out their site (See HERE). Moving swiftly onwards this Domed Dark Chocolate flavour promised 'dark chocolate with milk chocolate medallions'. Before anyone asks - NO there wasn't a gold ticket in my wrapper :(

Just like the previously reviewed Waterfall variety, this Domed Dark Chocolate bar came in a very precise 99.2g size, which was split into twelve blocks. Aesthetically speaking the wrapper was similar in style and had real stand out with it's crazy silver, purple and gold foil colour scheme. From a marketing point of the view the branding isn't that well implemented and it is a bit cluttered, but I don't think it can be argued that it doesn't look cool. Inside the chocolate wasn't quite as mad looking as the Waterfall variety, though the chocolate had a very smooth and fresh looking appearance, and there were no branding problems here as the Wonka 'W' logo was nicely scribed on each medallion.

At this point I feel the need to tell you that I ended up sharing the majority of this bar as most of it was consumed whilst I was visiting my family for Easter holidays, so this review is written with several different point of views in mind. The thing that we all agreed on was that it didn't really smell like dark chocolate. The smells that emanated from the wrapper were sweet and sugary and I guess in a way this did see nicely set expectations for the taste. As you will see from the photo above the dark chocolate was the key constituent of each block, as it formed the base of each piece. Starting with the dark chocolate I personally found it very under strength in terms of flavour, and thought the melt was more laboured and slow in comparison to the Waterfall bar. It wasn't as if the mild, unsweetened chocolatey taste was bad, but it wasn't like it contributed much to the taste, and by the time the sweet and sugary milk chocolate medallion came to figure in the experience, it's presence was became very much pointless for me. On the contrary, the members of my family who aren't dark chocolate fans, much preferred the mildness of the dark chocolate, as it allowed the more flavoursome milk chocolate to have the grander say in taste. The shallow depth of flavour from the bar's main constituents meant that I didn't find the chocolate all that satisfying - especially when I compare it to some of the other dark chocolates I have had in the past.

Overall I certainly wasn't the first, and I don't envisage it being the last mass produced dark chocolate bar that I find not all that great. The crux of the matter was this chocolate wasn't awful in any sense, but I felt it was inhibited by the fact that the dark chocolate was made for the mass consumer, and thus was woefully under strength and lacking power in it's cocoa volume. I guess if we look at it from the perspective of the members of my family who aren't the biggest dark chocolate fans, this bar was received quite well, though for them it was more about their enjoyment of the milk chocolate, with the dark chocolate not being strong enough to engage or distract them in the taste. Unfortunately I won't be recommending this bar, as in my opinion there far better dark chocolate products at this price point. It isn't uncommon for me to write reviews about mass produced dark chocolates being under strength for my taste. I do like my sweet chocolates, but I think if you are going for a dark chocolate it is worth going for a really high quality one.

6.7 out of 10

Thursday, 15 April 2010

April 15th: Ritter Sport Cashew Milk Chocolate

Kcal 550 Fat 34.0g Carbs 51.0g (per 100.0g)

Today we complete the full circle of Ritter Sport 2010 Spring limited editions with this review of the Cashew Milk Chocolate offering. Over the past few weeks you may recall that both the Bourbon Vanilla and Hazelnut Krokant bars failed to leave up to the usual impeccable Ritter Sport standards, however I was hoping for much more from this Cashew Milk Chocolate variety. On pack this offering came described as 'Alpine milk chocolate with chopped cashew nuts', which struck me as yet another no frills, but appetising proposition from our friends in Deutschland.

Who wants to have a guess at what size this bar came in!? DING DING we have a winner ... indeed it was yet another 100.0g square block that was divided into the usual 16 chunks. Take a look at the packaging shot above and you will see that this variant incorporated the same cool looking spring themed wrapper as the other vanilla and hazelnut variants, though the cashew flavouring was also well communicated with the subtle nut pictures. Unsealing the plastic wrapper a pleasant array of nutty, chocolatey scents emerged ... all was good up until this point at least.

Who wants me to talk about Ritter Sport milk chocolate again :D Haha I thought not. Suffice to say the taste was pretty much the same as normal, though I did sense a slight change in the pace of the melt and overall texture. Flavour wise it was possibly a touch creamier than other Ritter Sport milk chocolate bars, but this may have just been a consequence of the softer, smoother texture which obviously came about due to the oil being released from the nuts. Whilst the chocolate was faster paced in melt, the nuts were fresh to the bite and despite yielding more easily than your normal hazelnut etc, they still maintained a satisfying crunch. I am glad to say that after the disappointment of the last Bourbon Vanilla and Hazelnut Krokant chocolates, the inner cashew nuts proved to be a far better additive to the chocolate, and they brought a delicious buttery, savoury nut dimension to the chocolate. Due to the melt being a touch on the faster side this wasn't the most satisfying or fulfilling Ritter Sport chocolate ever but I thought that a quadrant of blocks was a decent amount serving size to accompany an after dinner coffee.

Overall I actually didn't do this on purpose this time, but it seems like I saved the best until last in regards to the flavours on offer from the Ritter Sport Spring 2010 collection. It wont surprise you to read that where this bar excelled was in the enhancing additive flavour, the chocolate was as usual of a sound quality but it was the cashew nuts that made this bar what it was. The extra dimension the cashews brought to the softer texture was only outshone but the tasty nutty flavours they brought to the taste. I am not quite sure I would say the cashews proved to be preferable versus the Ritter whole hazelnut bars (of which I rate extremelly highly - See HERE), but this bar does back up my view that cashews are criminally under utilised by chocolate manufacturers, and that more should try using them in the future. If I was to suggest you try one flavour from the Spring 2010 range from Ritter this year it would have to be this Cashew Milk Chocolate flavour.

8.0 out of 10

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

April 14th: Galaxy Counters Competition Winner

*** COMPETITION RESULTS ***

Hi All,

Today was the deadline day for entries in to my Galaxy Counters competition, and I can reveal that the winner is .........

.....

...

..


Jane Willis from Hampshire!!!

Congratulations to Jane - your Counters are on the way.

So I am guessing the rest of you are disappointed huh!? Of course you are, but fear not!!

A far bigger competition will be up on the site very soon, as I will soon will be celebrating my 1000th post on this site! I will give an update with further details this Saturday!!

JIM

April 14th: Cadbury Dream / Bournville Fingers

As I am sure you are all well aware, one of my favourite everyday milk chocolates is Cadbury Dairy Milk. If you are a regular visitor to the site you may also know that my love for Cadbury UK begins and ends with their milk chocolate - my reviews of the Cadbury Dream and Cadbury Bournville are evidence that I really don't think all that much about their capabilities in the arts of white and dark chocolate.

Despite me having previously poor experiences with the Dream and Bournville sub-brands, I couldn't help myself when I saw these Cadbury Dream & Bournville Fingers, as it was my turn to bring some biscuits into my work office this week. On the packaging both the boxes claim these are new, though anyone with any common sense will know that they are just the old dark and white fingers rebranded.

As I said above I bought these 125.0g packs to bring in to work, and co-workers were more than happy to share their views.


Cadbury Dream Fingers


Kcal 120 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 3.2g Carbs 12.8g (per 4 fingers)

'Crisp biscuits covered with white chocolate'.

Had you asked me which of the two I was least looking forward to trying, these Dream Fingers would have been my answer. In my opinion Cadbury's Dream white chocolate is god awful - it is a sugary, bland substance that I'm not even sure deserves to be called chocolate. Now having said all that I quickly have to retract it all, as to my own surprise I actually really liked these. The outer chocolate wasn't great, but it benefited massively from being so thinly implemented. The taste generated was sweet and sugary, but it had a nice milkiness and allowed the crisp, buttery flavours of the shortbread biscuit centres to shine through. I didn't think they were incredibly satisfying, but they had a real moreishness about them and were nice to eat in small amounts with a coffee.

7.9 out of 10



Cadbury Bournville Fingers

Kcal 100 Fat 5.6g Fat(sats) 3.2g Carbs 12.4g (per 4 fingers)

'Crisp biscuit covered in dark chocolate'

The words Cadbury Bournville always send a shiver down my spine. Not everyone will agree with me, but I think the Bournville chocolate we get here in the UK really isn't that good - the only Bournville bar I have ever liked was actually produced in France (See HERE). Still I was hoping that like the Dream Fingers, these Bournville Fingers would prove to be better than the original chocolate. Getting straight to the matter, I did enjoy these Fingers more so than a standard Bournville bar, but the quality of the chocolate still hampered the overall product. The outer chocolate was devoid of real flavour and just generated a meagre offering of musty, unsweetened cocoa flavours with it's waxy and laboured melt. The biscuit element still produced the goods, however it was general consensus that they weren't as good as either normal milk chocolate or Dream Fingers.

6.6 out of 10



Overall I was half expecting to write a review saying how I didn't like either of these two offerings, but the Dream Fingers pulled it out the bag and proved themselves to be far superior product to the original Cadbury Dream bar. The office environment always offers a great opportunity to test if one product is superior to another, and this comes mainly from the ability to observe 'which gets finished first'. Well judging by the fact the Dream Fingers box was finished at the time the Bournville Fingers box was still half full, it gives you some idea which one was preferred. Out of the two I would definitely buy the Dream Fingers again, but the Bournville Fingers probably not.

Have any of you tried either of these yet? Which did you prefer?

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

April 13th: Paynes Poppets Choc Chip Cookie

Kcal 130 Fat 5.6g Fat(sats) 2.9g Carbs 19.7g

It has been over two years since I last reviewed a Paynes Poppets product and if you look back at the some of the scores I gave some of the flavours then it is debatable whether that is such a bad thing. Truth be told Paynes Poppets have never been a favourite of mine though I must say I was rather intrigued by this new Choc Chip Cookie flavour when I read Cin's review over at Foodstufffinds last year. Having finally tracked down a pack for myself I was actually relatively looking forward to the prospect of 'chocolate chip cookie pieces covered in milk chocolate'

These Choc Chip Cookie flavour Poppets came in a 28.0g pack that held several round ball pieces that were about twice the size as your average chocolate covered raisin/peanut. One thing I definitely have to comment on positively about these is the fact that Paynes have really upped their game in regards to their packaging and I liked the new Poppets logo and realistic visualisation on the front of the pack. Conversely one thing that hasn't changed about Poppets in the last two years is the fact that they still don't offer much in the way of an aroma though I did find the inner look of the cookie centres quite appetising when I went to the effort of cross-sectioning one.

Frankly given my previous experiences with Poppets I really wasn't expecting much and having now tasted these that was probably a good thing. Much like I have experienced in the past the outer milk chocolate was pretty non-descript in terms of flavours and only offered quite a mild sugary taste that lingered as the waxy melt developed. The chocolate wasn't horrible in any manner but neither was it particularly taste or left me wanting more. Of course what was at real interest here were the inner cookie centres and just like the milk chocolate they were similarly bland and flavourless. In their defence they did have the crunchy texture of cookies but unfortunately they didn't bring anything of note to the taste apart from the odd hint of wheat and brown sugar. In regards to nutrition and fulfilment it is worth noting that these were pretty light on the calorie side of things though it wasn't as if they provided much satisfaction for their 130 calories.

Overall this was pretty much a story of same-old, same-old with Paynes Poppets here. Much like I found with several of the other variants from the range these Choc Chip Cookie Poppets lacked flavour and were frankly pretty bland and limp when it came to the taste. Reflecting on this now I guess this it is all the more disappointing considering that the centres both looked and felt like cookies, but just didn't bring any sort of cookie flavours to the party. I was expecting these to taste like chocolate covered Maryland Cookies but the cookie element was just AWOL which sorta begs the question 'were these really worth eating in the first place?'. I will leave you to ponder that question but if I were to suggest a suitable replacement I would suggest some of the flavours from the Taste of Nature Cookie Dough Bites range as a great alternative. Having said that given that these are as cheap as chips it won't be like you will lose too much sleep if you buy a pack and decide you don't like them.

5.6 out of 10

Monday, 12 April 2010

April 12th: Snickers Cruncher

Kcal 206 Fat 11.4g Carbs 21.8g

Over the past two years I must have tried nearly ten different Snickers Limited Edition bars and they have all apart from one (Snickers More Nuts) hailed from outside the UK. Indeed todays Snickers Cruncher bar was produced by Masterfoods in Holland, though having googled it this variant seems to have graced the US market at some time during the mid-Noughties (See Cybele's review HERE). As I am sure you are aware the Snickers Cruncher is a variation on the original bar and it replaces the usual milk chocolate nougat with crispy rice cereal. Given how integral I believe the nougat is to the original bar I wasn't quite sure how this was going to sit with me, though of course I was more than willing to give it a try.

This bar came in a 40.0g size that you wont be surprised to hear wasn't as satisfying as a normal Snickers yet was still a sufficiently adequate snack. The outer wrapper wasn't quite as cool looking as the American Cruncher though I liked the clear communication of the rice cereal contents and consitent branding. In addition I also thought it still looked relatively appetising when cross-sectioned as the innards had a golden/bronze glint due to the plentiful caramel. As I have come to expect with Snickers bars the aromas that emanated from the foil wrapper were suitably enticing and there was a strong peanut influence amongst the milder chocolate scents.

Biting into the bar for the first time it was immediatedly evident that the milk chocolate coating wasn't quite as thick as on standard Snickers. That said it had just as much say in the taste due to the inner contents being less viscous without the nougat so I shan't complain too much. The milk chocolate was pretty standard Mars stuff - it was milk led in taste and was more sugary that it was cocoa focused - it was fine by anyones standards! Due to me not being the greatest fan of rice cereal I wasn't expecting all that much from the centre, however I was surprised to find that it was pretty damn good. The peanuts took a firm hold of the taste providing a wonderful savoury salt kick and the caramel and cereal elements contrasted nicely providing notes of honey and malt. Additionally all three components of the centre combined nicely to provide some variable textures with the nuts and cereal proving to be fresh and crunchy and the caramel adding a degree of chewiness which subsequently helped the flavour longevity for each bite. The 40.0g was finished a little too quickly for my liking but as I have mentioned above it left me feeling adequately fulfilled.

Overall I wouldn't rate this as being in the same league as the iconic original Snickers but at the same time I think if it were available to me more readily I would probably choose to have it over the standard bar every now and then. I feel I can quite comfortably say that as it is quite often that I choose to consume another snack over a Snickers bar because I don't always want the full on experience that the original offers. Despite it being marginally reduced in size recently the standard Snickers is still a pretty hefty bar which is something that doesn't always match up to my needs. This Snickers Cruncher fits such occasions nicely in that brings the majority of the taste to the party but just not in such a full on manner. Personally I think it is about time that Mars UK took notice of how other countries in their organisation play the game with the Snickers brand. The UK market is calling out for it's own proper Snickers limited edition but I won't be holding my breath. Snickers lovers this Cruncher variant is well worth giving a try despite it not being the best the brand has to offer.

8.1 out of 10

 

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