May 31st: Hotel Chocolat Banoffee

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

Not only is it the last day of the month, but it is also the last of my reviews from Hotel Chocolat's Summer Peepster Selection. Having covered off the Tutti Fruitti last year (See HERE), and Cookie Creme and Eton Mess slabs over the last few weeks, the last remaining slab left to try was this Banoffee one. Having heard good things from other review sites and my readers (namely Lottie and Richard) I was really looking forward to seeing how this 'milk and caramel chocolate, with crushed cookies and banana slices' would fair on the rating system. What with my mother being a bit of a chocolate banana connoisseur there was no way I was going to be able to sneak a review up on the site without her noticing - watch out for here candid opinions.

Quelle surprise this slab also came in 100.0g form and it lasted around a day in our household with us all snapping bits off to eat every now and then. In fitting with the rest of the varieties from this summer selection box, the slab looked very appetising and the dried banana pieces were a nice decorative touch to the already grand looking two tone chocolate swirl pattern. Something that is probably worth mentioning about these 100.0g slabs is the difficulty that I had breaking them apart. As I have written about previously, its not often that I can fault Hotel Chocolat slabs aesthetically, but they can sometimes prove a little hard to break up into smaller bits. This minor observation was immediately put to to one side up as I broke the plastic packet seal. Upon doing so a plethora of sweet smelling fruit and toffee scents invaded my senses - this had all the hallmarks of a great chocolate.

Reading the spiel on the wrapper it was comforting to know that a good proportion of this slab constituted of Hotel Chocolat's 40% milk chocolate recipe, and it proved to be just as good as ever but with an additional banana twist. Indeed, the chocolate maintained all of it's standard cream based cocoa flavours, but had a lovely note of very real tasting banana which came through strongly in latter stages of the thick melt. Although my mother was especially loving the banana chocolate, I personally thought that the bites where both the caramel chocolate and the banana flavoured milk chocolate were swirled together were the best. In these mouthfuls the buttery, salted toffee influences of the caramel further enhanced the depth of the flavours making the resulting taste even more varied and enjoyable. The cookie pieces that lined the bottom of the slab failed to create much of an impact on the taste, however the same can't be said of the banana chips which further went to reinforce the banana flavours. Although in the context of the taste the cookie bits didn't add much, they did at least bring a a decent crunchyness texture wise, which contrasted nicely from the soft melting chocolate.

Overall this was another very well executed flavour combination from Hotel Chocolat and it certainly met all my expectations. It would have been easy to have forgotten about the caramel element to Banoffee Pie and just focused on the banana flavours, but it was great to see Hotel Chocolat recognise the importance of both and combine them to such great effect. Being the big banana chocolate fan that is she is, I knew that this chocolate was going to be good when my Mother did the honours eating the first bit and then exclaiming it was 'the best ever'. Personally I don't think this is the best chocolate I have ever tasted, but believe me when I say that is very good indeed. If you have little interest in bananas then I don't think this will be your sort of chocolate, but on the other hand if you have just the smallest urge to try this chocolate I very much recommend you do so. This is definitely one for you banana lovers and has proved to be a fitting end to my reviews from this delicious Summer Peepster Selection.

8.7 out of 10

May 30th: 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp

Kcal 170 Fat 9.0g Fat(sats) 6.0g Carbs 20.0g (per double finger bar)

Following on from my Oreo Brownie review last week, I have great pleasure in bringing you another American product review courtesy of my pals at Yankee Soda & Candy. One of the first ever American products I reviewed on this site was Mars' 3 Musketeers bar, which I wrote about way back in Fenruary 2008. To this day it still remains at number three on the ChocolateMission leaderboard, and is a bar that I sometimes go out of my way to import in to the UK from time-to-time. This long winded introduction leads me nicely on to the focus of todays review - the 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp. Available in the US and Canada, this bar is positioned as a lighter option to the nougat heavy original, and comes described as 'whipped-up chocolate truffle on a crisp layer enrobed in milk chocolate'.

This bar came in a 31.2g size that was split in to two separate fingers. On the packaging the bar brought attention to that fact that it contained only 85 calories per finger, but made little reference to it containing 6.0g of saturated fat within it's light-weight constituents. I'm not complaining that this was overly high, however I was surprised to see that it was more than the original 3 Musketeers given that it gives the impression it is a lighter alternative. Boring nutritional details aside, I was still very impressed by the quality of the packaging, and I liked the standout of the silver foil and non-cluttered nature of the branding and on-pack visuals. Inside the finger pieces were similarly impressive, with the bottom crisp and upper truffle layers very pronounced in their distinction.

Having been kept in a nice foil packet the malty chocolate smells that emerged were pleasantly forthcoming and reminded me of hot cocoa powder. Snapping one of the fingers in half I was a little surprised at the consistency of the lower crisp layer, which appeared to break apart like a cross breed between a wafer and rice cereal base. When bit into the base broke with a satisfying crunch, whilst the upper truffle layer conversely yielded far more easily providing a nice bit of variance texture wise. In regards to the taste test the outer milk chocolate did the fair standard job I was expecting it to, with the taste heavily rooted in sweet condensed milk like flavours. Out of the truffle and base crisp layers the truffle element was the first to contribute flavour wise, and it added a further raft of cream and minor vanilla fudge like hints to the taste. The lower crisp layer provided a fitting end to each bite, and brought strong notes of malt and honeycomb, which went nicely with the creamier chocolate and truffle components. For such a light weight bar the satisfaction it delivered was brilliant, and it was a fantastic size and amount for an afternoon snack.

Overall my love affair with the 3 Musketeers brand continues to roll on - this was a product that I savoured from beginning to end. What I really appreciated about this bar, was that despite it being an altogether different proposition to the standard 3 Musketeers bar, it still managed to remain some of the originals qualities. Just like the normal 3 Musketeers offering, the variance in textures from outer milk chocolate, inner filling and crisp base were nicely differentiated, whilst the taste still played off the decent combination of cream based chocolate and malt. Here in the UK I think this bar would be tremendously successful, and would appeal to Malteser and MaltEaster lovers especially. Looking across other review sites it appears I'm not the only blogger to rate this bar - take a look at GiGi's review HERE and Jess's review from Foodette Reviews HERE. I really wish that Mars UK would get off their backsides and treat us to the 3 Musketeers bar here in the UK - I'm sure it would go down a storm.

8.7 out of 10

May 29th: Cadbury Old Gold Dark Chocolate Toffee Crunch

Kcal 494 Fat 27.7g Fat(sats) 17.5g Carbs 54.7g (per 100.0g)

As I told you guys all last Saturday, the reviews are really starting to mount up in terms of my backlog, so this week you are getting another bonus Saturday review. Over the past month or so packages have been flying in from all corners of the globe: from the US, Canada, Germany and most recently from New Zealand. It has been a while since I last reviewed something sent to me by friends from ShopenZed (a Southern Hemisphere sourcing food exporter - Website HERE), but since last year a number of new products have appeared on their market. The main contributor to all this new product development is Cadbury, and today I bring you the first of many upcoming reviews - the Cadbury Old Gold Toffee Crunch.

This bar came in a 200.0g format and came described as 'Old Gold Dark chocolate with toffee crunch pieces'. Given the large size of the bar, I shared it along with some work colleagues who were very excited to try an exotic Cadbury chocolate they had never seen before. I think one of the main drivers of the excitement was the outer cardboard box, which got many complimentary mentions for it's very premium look. The gold colours and sophisticated looking fonts struck a note with a number of my colleagues, and brought about comments like 'this looks very posh for a Cadburys product' etc. Maintaining the high quality from the exterior packaging, the inner chocolate was similarly pleasant on the eye, with the toffee pieces visually dispersed well throughout the very dark looking chocolate.

Up until breaking the chocolate in to pieces I can't say that I detected any forthcoming aromas, though upon doing so an enticing array of chocolate and sweet caramel scents overcame my senses. In terms of foretelling the taste these smells did a pretty decent job, and thankfully I can say that the Australian Old Gold dark chocolate was superior to our UK Cadbury Bournville. Long time ChocolateMission readers will be aware that I am no fan of Bournville chocolate, as I think it is bland in taste and has a poor lazy melt. in comparison I found the Old Gold to be more forthcoming with it's cocoa flavours, and I thought it had more depth with a pleasant coffee like note in it's aftertaste. Just as many mass produced dark chocolates are, this was more of a mass consumer friendly unsweetened chocolate as opposed to a full bodied dark chocolate experience. What with this being the case, I have to say it wasn't the finest of dark chocolates I have ever tasted, but it nicely complimented the toffee crunch element. Speaking of the toffee pieces, I waited until the chocolate had melted away before crunching down on them once they were left on my tongue. As soon as they were chewed on, a plethora of sweet caramel flavours were detectable, and they contrasted very nicely with the more bitter notes left by the melted chocolate. On the whole this was a richer flavour experience than your average milk chocolate, and I would say a decent sized serving (30-40g) was a more than satisfying amount.

Overall I wouldn't like to give the impression that this Old Gold is high quality dark chocolate (it isn't!), but compared to some other mass produced dark chocolates it certainly puts up a good case as being one of the better I have tried. If I was to eat this Old Gold chocolate in isolation from any flavour enhancing ingredient, I'm not sure I would have been quite so complimentary, but paired with this Toffee Crunch element it was certainly a good combination. The contrast of the unsweetened chocolate and the very sweet tasting toffee pieces worked very well, and the balance it created was probably far superior to what would have been had the toffee been paired with a sweeter chocolate like Dairy Milk. As I said in my opening paragraph this is only one of the many new Cadbury products to hit the market in Australia and New Zealand, and thanks to Shopenzed you will see many of them appearing here on the site in the near future. This Cadbury Old Gold Toffee Crunch was a great start - I hope the rest are just as good.

8.3 out of 10

May 28th: Hotel Chocolat Chocolate Macadamias

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

Hiding amongst all the seasonal summer chocolates sent to me in my last sampling package, Hotel Chocolat were also kind enough to include a pack of these Chocolate Macadamias. If you have read any of my reviews of macadamia chocolates before, you will have seen that I more often than not end my write ups by pondering the question 'why don't manufactures use macadamias more often?'. I wouldn't in any way want to infer that I had anything to do with the creation of this product, but Hotel Chocolat seem to have answered my call with these 'whole roasted macadamia nuts panned in milk chocolate'. For those unaware the 'panned' bit refers to a process where the nuts are rolled around in large heated copper pans to apply the chocolate coating.

These nuts came in a 125.0g packet that I ate intermittently over the course of a week. As you will see from the photograph above the outer packaging was straight out the book of the rest of Hotel Chocolat 'little bits' range - think the Gemstones and Puddles products etc. Like I have said in the past, the combination of the sticker and the transparent packaging isn't the classiest thing ever, however the chocolates tend to do the talking for themselves. Indeed, both the size of the nuts and the gorgeous nutty smells that were offered were more than impressive enough to detract attention - I hope my photo above has done enough to give you some sort of idea how giant the nuts were.

Before I started this rather extensive mission to find the best chocolate bar in the world I wasn't the biggest fans of nuts, but as time has passed I have really grown to appreciate the better quality offerings that some brands have to offer. Despite what some sceptics may think - nuts aren't just nuts, they can really vary in quality depending largely on their age and freshness. If Hotel Chocolat were aiming to deliver fresh, flavoursome macadamias like I think they most probably were, then they were really on the money here. Like I foretold above the nuts were huge in size, so they needed biting in to as they weren't edible in a single mouthful. Upon doing so the outer chocolate shell broke with a lovely fresh cracking, and the combination of the outer cocoa powder and creamy tasting 40% milk chocolate did a fine job of quickly establishing a rich, sweet cocoa flavour hit. The nuts that sat below similarly yielded with a clean breaking snap sound, which along with the flavoursome salted butter flavours were a strong indicator that these nuts were as fresh as they come. Personally I found they were most enjoyable eating a few at a time alongside a coffee, and were perfect as just a little chocolate treat.

Overall I don't think it was ever really in any doubt, but having tasted these I can 100% assure you that macadamia and chocolate combinations don't get much better than this. As soon as I read that these nuts were coated in the Hotel Chocolat's 40% milk chocolate I knew there was never going to any doubt whether the chocolate was high quality - I think the hundred or so other Hotel Chocolat milk chocolates reviews were assurance enough. Indeed, the real determinant of this product was always going to be the nuts and as you can tell from my previous paragraph they were very classy. Just as I wished they were packed full of delicious savoury butter flavours and they cracked in the mouth with infinite ease. If you are nuts about macadamias (groan!!!), then I can't suggest these enough to you. These are chocolate macadamias at their finest.

8.8 out of 10

May 27th: Ritter Sport Summer 2010

Some of my longer standing readership may remember that around twelve months ago I published my reviews of Ritter's Summer Sorte 2009. This was a range that comprised of three flavoured yoghurt bars made especially for the summer season - Raspberry Yoghurt, Peach & Passionfruit Yoghurt and the Wildberry Yoghurt.

If you look to the photo above you will see that one year on, the line-up for 2010 isn't much different, apart from the substitution of the Raspberry variety for a new Stracciatella variant. Below are photographs (courtesy of my father - great work old man!!) of the updated 2010 wrappers for both the Passionfruit and Wildberry variants. These aesthetic touch-ups aside, I can confirm that they didn't change from last year, and were still every bit as tasty - check out the links below the photographs for the reviews.

As aforementioned, replacing the Raspberry Yoghurt for 2010 we have this Stracciatella bar, which came billed as 'milk chocolate with a milk cream filling with crunchy milk chocolate pieces'. As well as coming in the usual 100.0g form, this new flavour is also available in the mini-squares format (photo also taken by my father) ...see below.

Ritter Sport Stracciatella

Kcal 571 Fat 38.0g Carbs 51.0g (per 100.0g)

In terms of the quality of the packaging and presentation it wont surprise you to hear I thought everything was of the usual high Ritter standards. The wrapper was modern in design, whilst the inner bar looked very appealing with the cream filling generously sandwiched between the two fresh looking branded milk chocolate layers. Aroma wise the smells were noticeably sweeter than other milk chocolate based Ritter offerings - a nice smelling vanilla essence type hint helped to further my intrigue.

After some of the shortcomings that I experienced with some of the 2010 spring limited editions I was hoping Ritter Sport weren't going to let us down with this flavour, as Lindt had previously proven how tasty Stracciatella could be when done right. From the very first piece it became evident that this chocolate was pretty much everything I had hoped for from the Spring Vanilla Bourbon flavour, and was perhaps just a little bit better. The milk chocolate as always did a sterling job of carrying the inner filling, and provided the standard no frills chocolate flavour hit for each block. The nature of the chocolate allowed plenty of room for the expression of flavours from the milk cream centre, which melted with a slightly softer texture than the outer chocolate. The flavours were predominantly sweet and creamy, almost like condensed milk and finished with a delicious real tasting vanilla note. The difference between the quality of the vanilla influence from this bar and the Vanilla Bourbon spring bar was night and day - the vanilla in this Stracciatella chocolate tasted far more genuine and fresh. Whilst the vanilla flavours were the ones left lingering in the mouth at the latter stages of the melt, the small remnants of crunchy cocoa pieces further compounded the chocolatey flavours established by the outer coating. On reflection this wasn't the richest chocolate I have ever tasted due to the quickness at which it melted, but it was as satisfying as your average chocolate bar when eaten in a 50.0g portion.

Overall Ritter deserve a pat on the back for not only making a very fine Stracciatela chocolate, but also making a good decision when it came to their range. Considering I scored the Raspberry bar the lowest out of the three summer offerings last year, it was great to see Ritter chose that flavour as the one to make way for the new variant for 2010. I guess that shows that the average consumer must have also thought it was the weakest ... aren't I just brilliant :D Somewhat more importantly I guess, having picked the right one to replace, it was also going to be of up most importance that the new bar coming in was going to have to be even better. Those at Ritter Sport HQ can now take another bow, as this Stracciatella chocolate was one of the better bars I have had from them for a while. Just as the wrapper suggested, the filling delivered a chocolate chip, vanilla ice cream experience that was far superior to the disappointing Vanilla Bourbon of the season before. This summer 2010 range is one very much worth looking at and there is no better place to start than with this Stracciatella bar.

8.4 out of 10

May 26th: Zotter Labooko Nicaragua 60% / Peru 40%

In previous Zotter reviews I have brought you all my views on some of their weirdest and wacky flavour combinations. From their Bacon Bits bar to their Walnuts & Cheese offering, I have covered a decent amount of ground when it comes to their 'Handscooped' range, but up until today I hadn't touched upon any of the other parts of their portfolio. This leads me up nicely to introducing you to the first of their Labooko bars that I will be featuring on the website in the coming weeks.

These Labooko bars are described on the Zotter website as being 'two pure "bean to bar" chocolates in one pack, and today I was trying out a milk chocolate duo. As you can see from the photo above, both came packaged in a single paper wrapper, but were segregated by thick layers of branded gold foil. I can't say I have managed to make the link between the characters on the wrapper and the actual chocolates (hmm!?), but I thought the arty design of the wrapper combined with the delicate pattern work on both the chocolates ensured the Zotter premium brand feel carried through from the Handscooped range.

Nicaragua 60% - According to Wiki Nicaeagua is the largest country in Central America (knowledge eh!?). I hadn't heard of many 60% cocoa milk chocolates before, but according to the wrapper this bar was billed as exactly that. If you look at the photograph above you will be unsurprised to hear that this bar was the darker of the two you can see, and it was not only more imposing in this sense, but also in regards to smell as it had a more pungent cocoa fragrance. When it came to the taste the flavours were very smooth, but the cocoa flavours were stronger and more forthcoming than your standard milk chocolate. During the latter stages of the soft melt suggestions of red fruit came through, which did bring a decent bit of variance to the overall taste. In a perfect world it would of been nice for the melt to have been a little bit slower in the pace so the flavours could of been enjoyed just a little bit longer.

8.2 out of 10

Peru 40% - According to the on-pack blurb this chocolate was formed of beans hailing from the South American country Peru, which has a population of over 29 million people (ok ok I will stop with the wikipedia now :D ) This was the lighter coloured of the two bars and was a little more subtle when it came to aroma and taste. In comparison to the Nicaragua I did find this chocolate a touch less flavoursome, and although the more dairy rooted flavours were just as smooth flowing, they didn't quite have the same depth. In terms of melt the chocolate was similarly soft and easy melting in the mouth, but I felt again that it could of done with a touch more grip, which would have made the total flavour experience that little bit richer.

7.9 out of 10

Overall these both fulfilled my expectations and were some very fine tasting chocolates. As you will have read in my previous Zotter reviews, whilst I have sometimes doubted some of their flavour combinations, I have never been able to fault their core chocolate, so it was no surprise that I found both of these bars as pleasant as I did. Out of the two, I found the Nicaragua bar more flavoursome as it had a bit more depth and variance in it's taste, though this was purely down to personal preference. I'm sure other people who like creamier, sweeter chocolates will more prefer the Peru chocolate with its more milk based taste - it really is down to what you want from a chocolate as to where your preference will lie. This has been a good start for the Labooko range on ChocolateMission - bring on the next few double acts!

May 25th: Heavenly Cakes Billionaires Cakes

Kcal 512 Fat 28.8g Fat(sats) 13.9g Carbs 63.5g (per 100.0g)

I don't know about you, but when it comes to food I am one of those people that always likes to save the best bit until last. Whether it be the last bite of toast with the thickest bit peanut butter on, or the orange jelly filling in the middle of each and every Jaffa Cake - it's just way I work. Long time ChocolateMission readers will have noticed that I approach my review writing in the same manner, in that whenever I get a box full of samples from anyone, I always try and leave my favourite product until last - it's always nice to end on a positive note if at all possible. Apologies if I have given the game away already, but there was no point trying to contain my love for these Heavenly Cakes Billionaires Cakes (See Website HERE) until the end of this review. If you don't like reading reviews where the writer repeats superlatives over and over, I strongly suggest you stop reading now.

Having brought Millionaires Shortbread, Chocolate Falpjacks and Toffee Tiffin cakes in to the office over the last month, my work colleagues were no doubt anxiously waiting to see what they would be treated to this week. Obviously I couldn't disappoint them, so I brought in a 650.0g gift pack of these Billionaires Cakes, which came described as 'Belgian milk chocolate brownies, covered with rich caramel & Belgian milk chocolate with white chocolate drops'. I have already commented on the packaging and presentation standards of Heavenly Cakes products previously (See HERE), and things were again of a very high standard. As with all the previous products I have reviewed from Heavenly Cakes, aesthetically the Billionaires really created an impression on all that tried them.

Once I had divided the giftpack in to sensible sized slices, the 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' quickly changed focus on to the absolutely amazing smells of freshly baked brownies that emanated from each slice. As good as the aromas were, it wasn't as if any of us waited around long before putting these cakes through the all important taste test - the two words 'simply delicious' would best describe what we were in for. The brownie base tasted just as good as it smelt, with it's crumbly soft texture supplementing the amazing buttery, rich chocolate cake taste outstandingly. I probably needn't tell you all about how brilliant the layers of caramel and Belgian chocolate were, as I have hammered this point home on previous reviews, but again they were absolutely glorious. The caramel was chewy and viscous in texture, and totally delectable with it's creamy sweet, salted hint flavours. The milk chocolate sat on top just rounded each bite off wonderfully - with the cream based cocoa flavours delivered smoothly and fluently throughout the duration of the soft melt. All three layers combined made for one of the richest, flavoursome cakes I have ever tasted. It wasn't anything you needed, or would want to eat in large quantities, but it was totally satisfying and left one and all feeling very content.

Overall if you told me three weeks ago that I would be awarding a cake product a higher mark than I gave the Heavenly Cakes Millionaires Shortbreads, I would of thought you had gone a bit lala, but these Heavenly Cakes Billionaires Cakes managed to do just that. Everything about them was magnificent, and the combination of the presentation, the aromas and sumptuous taste just left me with a feeling of grand satisfaction. Like I have said about pretty much everything Heavenly Cakes have sent me over the last month, I wouldn't recommend for the sake of your health or wallet that you make these an everyday purchase. For any special occasion, or just if you feel in need of a real treat, I can't recommend these enough. Those who want to believe I have a vested interest in saying a sponsors product is good, I would love for you try these and let me know what you think - I think after your first bite of these Billionaires Cakes you would harbour those feelings rather quickly. I am still a huge advocate of the aforementioned Shortbreads, however I have to say that these Billionaires were quite possibly some of the best cakes I have ever tasted. That is a pretty statement to make, but I feel pretty confident saying it considering a good proportion of the other ten people I shared them with thought similarly. When it comes to money being a Millionaire is great, but being a Billionaire is even better - the same can be said about Heavenly Cakes.

9.2 out of 10

May 24th: Hotel Chocolat Cookie Creme

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

My reviews of the slabs from the Hotel Chocolat Summer Peepster Selection box continue today with me taking a look at the Cookie Creme offering. If you haven't yet checked out my reviews of the Tutti Fruitti from last year (See HERE) or the Eton Mess from last week (See HERE) they are well worth looking at, as both scored pretty highly on the ChocolateMission rating system. Whilst both of the aforementioned slabs were chocolates that had a fruity twist, this Cookie Creme slab today was of a more a original variety, and came billed as 'milk chocolate stirred with little cocoa cookies and pieces of shortbread'. I guess in the context of the other flavours in the selection, this didn't sound the most exciting, however as past experiences have proven sometimes it is the simpler things that are the best.

This slab was another that came in a 100.0g size, and I ate it over the course of a few sittings. I have always been a big advocate of the Hotel Chocolat slab format but I have to admit I was somewhat annoyed by the way that this slab was impossible to break apart without causing a right old mess. In terms of aesthetics there was no doubting the slab looked good with the two different colour biscuit bits decorating the top nicely. When attempting to snap bits off, these cookie pieces unfortunately couldn't help themselves from flying all over the place - this made was not only a little irritating because of the mess, but also because it limited their subsequent involvement in the taste.

One thing that continues to amaze me about Hotel Chocolat chocolate is how it always smells so fresh, and how it continues to do so even when left out to air for days (not that this happens all that often). The smells offered by this chocolate were very tempting in terms of the strength of the chocolatey scents, and there were even a few biscuit hints evident when really searched for. Once I had stopped enjoying smelling the chocolate, and finished picking up the several cookie bits lining my Kitchen floor (Doh!!) I finally got around to tasting it. People who have been reading this site for any extended time will probably be able to repeat what I am about to write word for word about Hotel Chocolat's 40% milk chocolate, as I have said it so often in the past. You will be unsurprised to hear that the chocolate was nothing less than delicious with it's nicely balanced cocoa taste wonderfully supported by strong undertones of sweet, double cream flavours. As ever it not only tasted superb, but it also felt wonderful in the mouth in terms of melt, and had a transcended from a solid to liquid state with an elegant, smooth softness. Whilst the viscosity of the chocolate was undoubtedly pleasant, it does have to be said that it meant the cookie pieces struggled to create an impression in terms of flavours due to the thickness of the melting chocolate. As a result I couldn't pull apart the flavours of both of the different cookie types, though at times there were subtle buttery shortbread suggestions. Despite the cookie pieces not offering a great deal to the taste, the quality and richness of the chocolate still made a 50.0g serving seem like a terrifically satisfying serving.

Overall I wouldn't say this was either one of Hotel Chocolat's most inspired or well executed chocolates, however the fantastic quality of the milk chocolate can't be denied. As I mentioned previously in the review, the cookie element on this slab wasn't implemented probably as well as it should have been. Although there were also shortbread cookies bits in the base of the chocolate, a lot of the bits placed on top of the slab broke away when it was being snapped. This is probably me being ultra fussy, but this was somewhat annoying, and I am certain that it hampered the resulting impression that the cookie pieces had on the overall taste. Putting my minor grumbles to one side, the 40% milk chocolate was again delightful. You would have thought I would be getting a little tired of it now having written so many reviews where it is used, but it is still one of my favourite milk chocolates and I have no problems reiterating just how good it is. If you are one of those people that hasn't indulged themselves in Hotel Chocolat yet this would be a safe chocolate of theirs to start with. I would also say this one is a pretty safe gifting option - after all who doesn't like milk chocolate and biscuits!?

8.2 out of 10

May 23rd: Lindt Excellence Caramelised Hazelnuts / Roasted Almonds

Eagle-eyed ChocolateMission readers will have seen that Lindt have not only redesigned the packaging for their milk chocolate Excellence bars, but they have also introduced two news varieties. If you are wondering what the other two flavours in the range are, you might want to See HERE for the original Extra Creamy variant, and See HERE for the Crunchy Caramel.

If my UK readers take a look in their supermarkets, it is likely they will see the entire Lindt Excellence milk chocolate range on some sort of offer. Lindt seem to be coupling this relaunch with some very welcome in-store discounts to entice consumers. In the FMCG business we call this a penetration drive (basically discounting products to get people to trial them!), and in my local Sainsbury's both these bars on show today were priced at a very affordable £1 each.

Before I launch give you my opinions on how these two new ones tasted, I should first pass comment on the new packaging. The actual changes are very subtle, but I think the cleaner background makes the range look more modern. Long story cut short I think the new designs are every bit as good looking as the previous, and they give the same premium brand feel of the previous with just a little bit of reinvigoration.

Lindt Excellence Caramelised Hazelnuts

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

'Lindt milk chocolate generously blended with caramelised roasted hazelnuts'

Seasoned readers will know that when it comes to hazelnuts I always prefer them to be implemented in a whole nut style rather chopped in to smaller bits. This particular chocolate was a perfect example of why I am of that way of thinking, as the small, granule like pieces of nut failed to cut through in the taste. Admittedly the cream based sweet cocoa flavours of the Lindt Excellence chocolate are stronger tasting than your average milk chocolate, but the smallness of the nut pieces hampered their input in to the taste, and they more just spoilt the texture by giving it an unwelcome grittiness. Despite the hazelnuts not having great cut through, there was still a terrific milk chocolate at the base of this bar which still made it a very tasty offering.

7.8 out of 10

Lindt Excellence Roasted Almonds

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

'Creamy milk chocolate with slivers of roasted almonds'

I should probably stop myself from trying to second guess these things, but this was one out of the two variants being showcased today that I fancied the least. As I hope you can see in the photo above these almonds nut pieces implemented in this bar were few in number, but were actually bigger in size, which surprise-surprise made them have a better influence on the taste. Just as with the previous bar the chocolate was still as gorgeously creamy, but there was an extra raft of savoury butter nut hints in the latter development of the melt. Unlike the hazelnut bits in the last bar, the smoother cut almonds didn't hamper the softness of the melt, and in comparison were pleasant to crunch on once the chocolate had melted entirely. This was a great quality milk chocolate, with a very tasty nut influence - big thumbs up!

8.8 out of 10

Overall I was never expecting to write this, but when it came to these two bars my preference firmly lay with the Roasted Almonds flavour. In the past I have tended to find hazelnut chocolates to be more flavoursome than almond ones, however this just wasn't what I experienced here. Although the hazelnut bar was disappointing, I must stress the credit that the almond bar deserves, as it was certainly one of the better almond bars I have ever tasted in the last few years of writing this site. One thing that can be said about both chocolates is that the quality of the milk chocolate is absolutely superb for the price you pay. It might not be quite as rich as some of the up market offerings like Hotel Chocolat etc, but the double cream lead taste has a terrific vanilla hinted finish, quite simply it isn't a million miles away in terms of quality. For what it is worth my recommendation would be to go for the Roasted Almond flavours if you are picking between the two - it would be great to hear some of your opinions if you have tried either.

May 22nd: Orero Brownie

Kcal 340 Fat 13.0g Fat(sats) 4.5g Carbs 57.0g (per brownie)

The review backlog is getting increasingly larger here on ChocolateMission so this week you are being treated to an extra review instead of the normal '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' post. The reason why the reviews are stacking up so high at the moment, is because I have recently received several deliveries from various site sponsors. One of these companies, Yankee Soda & Candy (a UK based merchant who sell American goods - See website HERE), were the providers of today's product - Kraft Nasbisco's Oreo Brownie. Informing you guys of the product description seems a bit of a pointless task given it's simplicity, but what the hell, it was billed as a 'brownie baked with real Oreo pieces' ... oh really now!?

The brownie came a largish 85.0g format, which I split with a fellow taste tester. From the outset the packaging created a real impression on me, and I was drawn in by both the cool looking Oreo branding on the wrapper, as well as the cheeky areas of transparency which showed off the inner brownie. Removing the brownie from the packet, an array of pleasant baked cake and Oreo biscuit smells became evident. These aromas managed to further my intrigue, which was already sky high thanks to the rather cool aesthetic effect created by the chunks of Oreo cookies visible in the brownie.

Getting straight in to details of the taste test, this product didn't give a freshly baked, straight out the oven brownie experience, but it would have been unrealistic to think it would do so. The chocolate and sweet cake flavours it did deliver were of a more than satisfying quality, and the Oreo pieces brought the cookie flavours to life in nearly every single bite. At this point I would love to continue to lavish the praise on this brownie, however from the outset it was apparent there there was a pretty glaring issue with this product, and it became increasingly detrimental with each mouthful. My main issue (that my fellow taste tester agreed with I may add) was that the texture of the brownie was just way too dry. The brownie needed some sort of icing, or inner filling to balance the dryness of both the brownie and the cookie pieces. The combination of them both created a saliva sponge, and even though I a glass of milk on standby, it still felt like it created a vacuum in the mouth. On reflection, I think I would have struggled to eat one of these by myself if I was faced with that prospect - half provided a more than substantial snack.

Overall Kraft Nabisco got a lot of things right with this product, but the texture and feel of the brownie in the mouth stood out like a sore thumb, and thus has limited it's score on the ChocolateMission rating system. In regards to taste this brownie wasn't the best tasting one I have had recently (check back Tuesday for that haha!!) but it certainly more than held up it's part of the bargain in delivering a fair standard base brownie with an extra cookie punch from the Oreos. Considering the product in that regard, and in light of the packaging and proposition, it would almost certainly be something I would recommend you all try. Unfortunately the texture inhibits me from being able to do just that, as for me it did somewhat spoil the overall experience. What is really frustrating is that this could have been so easily avoided had they just included a layer of Oreo cookie creme running through the middle of the product - why on earth didn't they do this? If you are a fan of Oreo cookies and are a lover of brownies you will probably want to try this and I don't blame you. Just make sure you have a couple of pints of milk to wash it down with.

7.3 out of 10

Fancy trying this for yourself? Visit Yankee Soda & Candy CLICK HERE

May 21st: Zotter Muscat Wine with Grapes

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

Last week I told you all that Zotter had sent me a new box of samples, and I kicked off my latest round of reviews last Friday with my look at their Honey Trio hand-scooped bar. Buoyed by the unanimous success of that honey flavoured chocolate, this Muscat Wine with Grape variety was the next one I picked out of my box. Given that I am not the keenest wine drinker, I called in some reinforcements (aka my family) who were all as keen as ever to help me out. On the wrapper this bar came billed as 'mountain milk chocolate, filled with milk-cream and raisins'. The words that followed 'raisins' made me laugh - 'contains alcohol' ... indeed this bar was flavoured with Muskat Ottonell wine - it was going to be interesting.

Aligned to the rest of the hand-scooped range, this bar came in a 70.0g size that I split into three slices for each of us to try. I have said this in many a Zotter review previously, but I just have to reiterate my love for their packaging. The artistic designs on the wrappers always strike me as being the correct side of outlandish, in that they have a nice uniqueness, yet never seem to go overboard, and always strike me as looking very sophisticated. The bar itself was coated in the usual gold foil wrapper, which kept it conditioned very well. Aesthetically the chocolate looked quite similar to a number of other Zotter bars I have reviewed and eaten previously, however the boozy, cocoa scents that were on offer gave great indication of what the taste was going to have to offer.

Although I have reviewed a decent number of Zotter chocolates in the past, they have all tended to have been made with stronger tasting dark chocolates, so I was interested to see how well their milk chocolate would stack up in comparison. Amongst the three of us that tasted this chocolate, what we found most pleasurable was the way the flavours developed over the course of the melt. From the very first seconds in the mouth, it was straight away evident that Zotter's milk chocolate competency was just as high as their dark chocolate, as the milk, cream and sweet cocoa flavours were quickly forthcoming and started the taste off terrifically. Sitting below the crisp outer shell of milk chocolate, the milk-cream layer started off very buttery and vanilla noted, however it wasn't long before the promised wine and raisin elements came in to play. Contained within the milk-cream layer, strong notes of sweet fruit, and alcohol came through nicely in the middle stages of the smooth, soft melting filling. Unlike previous alcohol flavoured chocolates, the fluency of the taste was not disrupted by the alcoholic element, and the flavours were non-compromising with the wine nicely rounding of each bite delivering a pleasant warming sensation at the back of the throat amongst all the sweet grape fruit flavours.

Overall Zotter have surprised me yet again with another chocolate that I admitedly wasn't all that excited about trying. As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, I am not a big drinker of wine, so the appeal of a wine flavoured chocolate wasn't as great as some of the other varieties that Zotter have to offer. You can probably tell then, that it was to my great surprise how much I liked this particular chocolate, and it has to go down as one of my favourite alcohol flavoured chocolates ever. I am also glad to confirm that it wasn't just myself who was of this way of thinking. The keener wine drinks amongst my family were similarly impressed at how well integrated the wine and raisin flavours were interwoven in to the creamy filling. One thing I am always very keen on with chocolate, is that they are progressive in their flavour delivery whilst they are melting the mouth. This Zotter Muscat Wine with Grapes did this in spades, and for this reason I would recommend it as an exciting and unique tasting chocolate. It is well worth a try if you get the chance to do so.

8.4 out of 10

May 20th: Lindt Excellence Coffee Intense

Kcal 500 Fat 31.0g Fat(sats) 19.0g Carbs 49.0g (per 100.0g)

Having tried a ridiculous amount of chocolates over the past two years I sometimes lose track of what I have/haven't reviewed. This is exactly the reason why it has taken me within the region of two plus years to get around to trying this Lindt Excellence Coffee Intense - I simply thought I had reviewed it before. Well after a request from ChocolateMission reader Mark I realised this wasn't actually the case so I went about seeking one out in my local Tesco supermarket. Long time ChocolateMission readers will be all to aware that I am a big fan of coffee flavoured chocolate, thus the prospect of 'fine dark chocolate with an aromatic taste of Arabica coffee' sounded right up my street.

Forming part of the standard Lindt Excellence range this bar came in a 100.0g format that was split into twelve medium sized blocks. The packaging varied very little at all from the other Excellence variants incorporating the familiar gold font and clean design work that radiated the usual Lindt quality. The chocolate inside looked immaculately formed and separated with a terrific cracking sound when separated into smaller pieces. As much as it was enjoyable to look at the intensely dark coloured chocolate I couldn't help but also be consumed with the strong aromas I detected, with rich scents of cocoa and roasted coffee beans on offer.

Being the Lindt Excellence geek I am I tried guessing the strength of the chocolate by tasting it before looking at the back of the packaging. I tell no lie - I was only 3% out (sad eh!?) with my guess of 50% cocoa being marginally above that of the proclaimed 47% on the outer cardboard box. In terms of strength this was not the most intensely flavoured dark chocolate I have ever had but it was still full of flavour and wonderfully progressive - especially when it came to the introduction of the coffee element to the party (most over used phrase ever!?) later on in the taste. Eating each block in halves this chocolate was best consumed when placed on the tongue and left to melt as it allowed the initial milk softened cocoa flavours to fully develop and express themselves before the aftertaste kick of the coffee came in. Indeed, in the latter stages of the melt the roasted bean flavours of the coffee kicked in nicely and became increasingly stronger as the chocolate smoothly melted away leaving the small coffee granules on the tongue. As you may have guessed from the scoring chart below this was a rich tasting chocolate and as enjoyable as it was I felt no need to eat more than 2 blocks per sitting.

Overall this is another fine example of great quality from the Lindt Excellence range and was one of the tastiest chocolates I have had since the my reviews of the Hotel Chocolat offerings last month. A common problem with the majority of coffee flavoured chocolates is that often the coffee element is understated in the taste, however this was not the issue here where the 'Coffee Intense' name was really a reality. If I was being picky I would have perhaps liked to have seen Lindt use one of their stronger dark chocolate recipes - perhaps their 70% or 85% recipes would have made this chocolate even better? Maybe not? One thing I can conclude for certain though is that if you like your dark chocolate and coffee chocolates this is definitely an option I would recommend you try. One thing I really appreciate is consistency with quality and I believe this is one thing the Lindt Excellence range always delivers on. This Coffee Intense is just yet another fine example of what they can offer.

9.0 out of 10

May 19th: Hotel Chocolat Eton Mess Slab

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

The summer sun may not be shining quite yet, but Hotel Chocolat have already launched their seasonal range. To celebrate my 1000th product review on this site, a few weeks ago I asked you guys the question 'what four slabs comprise the Hotel Chocolat Summer Peepster Selection Box'. Just as so many of you answered, the correct answer was of course 'Tutti Fruitti, Eton Mess, Cookie Creme & Banoffee', and it has now come round to the time that they all have a crack at the ChocolateMission rating system. ChocolateMission addicts will know that last year I reviewed the Tutti Fruitti Giant Slab - to read that review See HERE. Today it was the turn of the Eton Mess Slab, which came described as 'a timeless summer favourite, with strawberry and vanilla chocolate, cookies, meringue and strawberry pieces'.

This slab came portioned in a 100.0g single piece that I shared amongst a few willing taste testers aka my family. It has been a while since I had one of Hotel Chocolat's Peepster Selections but the presentation was every bit as good as I could remember, and the exterior cream and lime coloured cardboard packaging cut a fitting fresh and summery look. Additionally I thought the Eton Mess slab looked every bit as wonderful - with the two tone white and red colour chocolates magnificently decorated by the pieces of meringue, dried strawberries and cookies that lined the surface. Whilst looking the part, the slab also smelt gorgeous, with a waft of fruit and cream rooted scents emerging once the plastic packet was opened.

My expectations of this slab were sky high given the quality of the presentation and the evident smell, but I was most hopeful due to my previous experiences with Hotel Chocolat's Eton Mess truffles (See HERE). Transferring the elegance of those individual chocolates, to this slab was going to be no easy task, but I am glad to say Hotel Chocolat did a cracking job. Hearing the words strawberry white chocolate always gets the alarm bells ringing in my head, as it is very common that the mixture of the sugary chocolate and sweet fruit and can prove to be a little too much. This consequence was nicely avoided here, as the vanilla flavoured white chocolate had a fluent, cream based taste that had just a touch of a yoghurty tang to it. This yoghurt like influence nicely contrasted with the red berry sweetness of the strawberries, which came through in the taste as a very genuine fruity influence. The realness of the strawberry flavours were of course helped no end by the pieces of frozen dried fruit placed on the top of the slab, which alongside the meringue and cookie pieces created a pleasant crunchy element within the smooth, thick melting chocolate base. Shared amongst three other family members, a third of a slab in a sitting was just about the right amount to provide what I felt was a plentiful serving.

Overall this was a product that not only encapsulated that summer feeling perfectly, but also proved to be a great tasting chocolate. During the summer I like my chocolates on the lighter side (i.e. not heavy dark chocolates!), so nicely balanced fruity, white chocolates are very much the thing that are in order. In terms of meeting this criteria Hotel Chocolat are completely on the money with this Eton Mess Slab. The white base was devilishly creamy and not too sweet, whilst the strawberry element was incorporated well, and in a non-artificial tasting manner. In terms of the meringue and the chocolate cookie pieces, neither created a great impression on the taste, however they did bring enjoyable variances texture wise, and they certainly added colour and intrigue when it came to visual impact. I probably needn't say this as it must be blindingly obvious, but I would very much recommend this slab for white chocolate and strawberry lovers - the summer has arrived!

8.7 out of 10

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May 18th: Heavenly Cakes Toffee Tiffin

Kcal 484 Fat 27.4g Fat(sats) 16.9g Carbs 59.1g (per 100.0g)

Ever since I posted my first Heavenly Cakes review two weeks ago, readers have been e-mailing me almost daily asking me when I will be reviewing certain products that they have obviously been tempted by on the Heavenly Cakes website. One of the most commonly mentioned cakes that I keep being asked about is the Toffee Tiffin, which on the website is described as a sinful concoction of 'crunchy biscuits, sweet sultanas, topped with caramel and smothered in Belgian milk chocolate'. Given the fantastic proposition I guess it should come as little surprise that this was one of the products to catch many a ChocolateMission readers eye. My job today, along with some ever willing taste testers was to see whether it lived up to the high expectations.

As with the other Heavenly Cakes products I have reviewed over the past few weeks, this batch of Toffee Toffin came in a giftpack sized amount which weighed in at a monstrous 750.0g!!! Having commented on the exterior packaging twice already I will spare you the finer details - see previous reviews HERE. One thing I will not be glossing over however, was how gorgeous the Tiffin slices looked - again I hope my photos have done justice to this. Once removed from the silver tray the layering of the slices was in full view, and boy did they look tempting. The base of each slice had visible chunks of biscuit and raisins, whilst the caramel and chocolate layers placed above looked plentifully portioned. Aesthetically they were begging to be bit into - believe me we all very much obliged.

In comparison to the Millionaires Shortbread and Flapjack cakes, these Toffee Tiffin slices emanated some very strong chocolatey aromas that straight away set the tone of the taste. Biting into the slice, the first raft of flavours that came through were of rich, unsweetened cocoa, which immediately delivered a substantial chocolate flavour hit. Supplementing these base chocolatey flavours, elements of butter, vanilla and brown sugar came to the party thanks to the crunchy digestive biscuit pieces that were dispersed throughout. In addition to the biscuits, the sultanas were equally well distributed, and they brought sweet, fruity hints that contrasted nicely with the plain chocolate flavours. This delicious Tiffin base on it's own would of frankly been indulgent enough, however the the experience was taken a few dimensions further with the presence of the caramel and upper chocolate constituents. The caramel layer especially was very welcome, as it's chewy, sticky viscosity gave the texture some added denseness, whilst the sweet butter flavours further enhanced the incredible taste. I needn't probably reiterate that the 33.6% Belgian milk chocolate was again gloriously smooth in melt, and superbly creamy in taste just like it was on both the Flapjacks and Millionaires Shortbreads. On a side note we split the 750.0g package in to twelve slices, which was a nice serving size despite being half the amount suggested by Heavenly Cakes originally.

Overall these Toffee Tiffin slices not only met my expectations, but also managed to exceed them, and thus have to go down as another superb Heavenly Cakes offering. If this hadn't been the case, this would of been a hard review to write given the amount of interest these seem to have generated with ChocolateMission readers. Luckily writing this post wasn't hard at all as they were every bit as good as they looked, and subsequently have definitely earned my seal of approval. The only issue I had writing this review was that I was running out of superlatives - as nearly every single element of this product warranted one. At the heart of the product, the Tiffin base was terrific, with the plain chocolate straightaway taking a firm grip on the taste within the light and crumbly texture that was studded generously with biscuit and fruit pieces. Supplementing this base quite superbly, the additional layers of caramel and Belgian chocolate just further took the taste a stage further by compounding the rich chocolate flavours and bringing a nice degree of chewiness to the lighter Tiffin foundation. If Tiffin is your cake of choice then I would strongly recommend you try these from Heavenly Cakes - more to come next week!

8.7 out of 10

May 17th: Hotel Chocolat Chocolate Gemstones

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

Summer is nearly upon us, and there seemed no better way to warm up for my Hotel Chocolat Summer 2010 reviews, than by checking out one of the few remaining products I am yet to try from their standard range. After receiving e-mails from ChocolateMission readers Rachel & Chloe, I let their requests be known to my contacts at Hotel Chocolat, who were more than happy to send me some samples for a review. The product requested for a run through the ChocolateMission rating system were these Chocolate Gemstones, which Hotel Chocolat describe as 'individual little white and dark chocolate drops, which are fused together to create rather beautiful glossy gems of marbled chocolate' - no understating there then :D

The Chocolate Gemstones came in a 150.0g bag that I shared amongst my ever willing taste testing family. As I have mentioned above, Hotel Chocolat describe these as 'beautiful', and I can do little but agree. As commented on in previous reviews, I wouldn't say that the transparent film packaging looks all that prestigious, but what it did allow was visibility of the splendid looking inner pieces. One thing I do hope is that my photograph above has done these justice, as up close the sparkling marble effect created by the blended dark and white chocolate looked nothing short of magnifecent. Putting aesthetic observations aside, a thing of real note was the lack aromas emanating from the packet. Aside from a very minor hint of sweetness, these offered little in the way of true smells, which is not something I would usually attribute to Hotel Chocolat products.

Nowadays, whenever I review something from Hotel Chocolat I often have to remind myself (and my family!!) that I have ti judge the taste based on the average chocolate offering, and not on what I have come to expect from Hotel Chocolat. Despite this grounding context, I unfortunately have to report that these Gemstones didn't deliver anywhere near expectations, and they proved to be really disappointing. The main problem cited by all four of us that tasted them, was that they were really, really poor at generating a substantial volume of flavour. My own conclusion was that this issue was driven predominantly by the outer coating, which seemed to have a glazing agent like finish, despite nothing of the sort being stated in the ingredients. This glossy outer layer gave the Gemstones a waxy feel in the mouth, and made the melt initially feel really laboured and unlike any Hotel Chocolat chocolate I have ever had. Once the melt was underway it was extremely fast paced, which meant there were only suggestions of cream and cocoa offered taste wise before each mouthful sizzled out. To be frank it took a really large handful of these Gemstones to be eaten at any one time for a meaningful flavour impact to be created. In turn this made them feel very unsubstantial - my sister even exclaimed they seemed like a 'waste of calories'.

Overall simple maths would tell you that Hotel Chocolat white chocolate + Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate = Hotel Chocolat amazingness, but this unfortunately just wasn't the case with these Gemstones. Thinking about it now, Hotel Chocolat chocolate doesn't strike me as the sort of thing that would be best suited for this type of product. One thing we all know is that Hotel Chocolat chocolate is usually bursting full of wonderful flavours - this product format just simply didn't let them come to light, and put to waste all the potential of the chocolate they were formed with. As I have written above, a lot of the blame has to lie with odd outer texture which each and every piece had. Yes the glossy finish made them look good, however it spoilt them in regards to balance of taste and texture, as the melt began laboured with very little on offer in terms of flavours, but then suddenly quickened, melting away entirely before the true taste could be substantiated. Hotel Chocolat produce so many other outstanding chocolates in a whole variety of different formats. This sadly was just not one of them, and I would strongly suggest you are better off looking elsewhere in their range.

5.8 out of 10

May 16th: Cadbury Crunchie Rocks

Kcal 235 Fat 10.5g Fat(sats) 6.4g Carbs 32.7g (per 1/3 bag)

Just last week Cadbury sent out a press release which announced the launch of three new products for the UK market (See HERE). The first two were inevitable new pack sizes for existing products which we have been expecting for some time - the Cadbury Wispa Duo and the smaller 39.0g sized pouches of Cadbury Nibbles. The third product talked about in the announcement however, was an entirely new one called Cadbury Crunchie Rocks, which were described as 'Crunchie honeycomb pieces, with golden cornflakes, tumbled in Cadbury milk chocolate'. Only a few days after reading that article, I found them on sale in my local Co-operative store for the pricey sum of £2.00 - I guess that is what you have to expect buying things from a convenience store in central London.

Just as they did with previous products like the Nibbles and the Clusters, Cadbury have launched these Crunchie Rocks in a 145.0g pouch, so this gave me opportunity to get some second opinions from some of my work colleagues. Packaging and presentation wise I thought these were a mixed bag - apologies for the awful pun! In terms of the pouch, the presentation is first class. The Golden Crunchie colours and branding are captured superbly and I think the matted pouch material gives the pack great stand out like it does with both the Clusters and the Nibbles. Whilst the packaging gets a thumbs up, I can't say the same about the aesthetics of the product. Just like I observed in my Clusters review, the inner pieces had dirty looking scuffed surfaces that didn't strike as looking all that fresh.

My disappointment at the poor looking chocolates didn't last all that long, as my mind was soon distracted by the gorgeous Cadbury chocolate scents that filled the air as soon as I ripped open the pouch. I have said it many a time before, but I just love the smell of Cadbury chocolate - I just get a comforting familiarity from the sweet dairy chocolate smells. Speaking of familiarity, it was also very much the name of the game when it came to taste, as the Cadbury milk chocolate took the lion share of the focus. The chocolate on offer here was Cadbury's 14% cocoa recipe, and it certainly did the job delivering the milky cocoa flavour hit for each mouthful. As I have previously reported, I think this secondary recipe isn't a million miles off the quality of their Dairy Milk chocolate, however there is a definite difference in the taste with the sugar and cream balance tilting more towards the sweeter side of things. At the heart of each cluster piece the cornflakes and honeycomb bits did a sterling job delivering the promised crisp, crunchy textures. At the point of the pieces being chewed, the Crunchie rocks released short, sharp bursts of sweet honey flavours, though the cornflake cereal created little impact on the taste in comparison. Shared across three of us the 145.0g bag only lasted a matter of minutes, but I felt a decent amount of satisfaction having consumed my fair share.

Overall I don't think Cadbury Crunchie Rocks are going to be shaking up the confectionery landscape anytime soon, but I think they are a relatively nice addition to the Cadbury range. In comparison to the now departed Cadbury Crunchie Nuggets (See HERE), I found them a more satisfying and fulfilling product, which was definitely a result of the cluster like format they came in. The Cadbury Crunchie bar itself is a product I enjoy on a very sporadic basis, but I like the idea of the Crunchie brand being extended in to sharing occasions. I think this new format is a sensible addition for the brand given that the normal bar isn't suitable for anything other than single person consumption - just think about how messy breaking apart a Crunchie is! For that reason, and more importantly because they taste pretty damn good, I give these a ChocolateMission thumbs up. They aren't the most exciting or innovative product we will ever see, but like the Cadbury Nibbles I think they have a purpose - its good to share after all :D

7.8 out of 10

May 15th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 44

### Jim's Corner ###

Hi All,

Today we have a special edition of '7Days of Chocolate Reviews'. You get an extra special mini rant alongside all your usual chocolate news and posts from others blogs. I would really welcome your comments.

Coming up this week - more Heavenly Cakes, Hotel Chocolat and Zotter to name a few!

Have great weeks.


News from the chocolate market:

* A company called Paterson's are launching a new line of cookies ... See HERE

* Cadbury are launching three new products ... See HERE ... my Crunchie Rocks review is up tomorrow.

* Naughty Ainsley Harriot and his unhealthy chocolate bars ... who would of thought chocolate could be bad for you ... See HERE

* These new McVities biscuit cereal bars have got my attention ... See HERE

* Victoria Beckham has banned Goldenballs from chocolate ... man up David ... See HERE

Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week

* GiGi Reviews - Gi tackles the 3 Musketeers Truffle Crisp bars - my review is coming shortly ... See HERE

* Foodstufffinds - Cin has tried the new limited edition caramel flavoured Frijj - its not as good as the Cookie Dough in my opinion ... See HERE

* Impulsive Buy - I don't approve of anyone consuming Haagen-Dazs but this was a nice review of the new Banana Forster flavour ... See HERE

* Jen's Kit Kat Blog - Jen reviews the latest Semi-Sweet flavour Kit Kat from Japan ... See HERE

* Candy Blog - whilst we are on the Kit Kat thing it is very much worth reading Cybele's reviews of a number of flavours I have featured recently. Great pictures and a wonderful read ... SEE HERE


Once upon a time brands here in the UK actually stood for something, but increasingly we are seeing them widdle away all their heritage and equity.

A prime example of this would be these Cadbury Jaffa Cakes priced at 45p in my local Tesco - thats bettter than a 50% discount on the equivalent McVities Jaffa Cakes which cost £1.19. Out of curiosity I bought some to see how they compared. The packaging looked ok and Cadbury is a brand I trust - so why not!?

To be honest I wish I hadn't, as what I tasted was as abysmal as it was depressing. The cake bits were flavourless and felt stale in the mouth, whilst the chocolate was nothing like as flavoursome as usual Cadbury standards. Compared to the McVitie's Jaffas the orange filling was not as zingy or impactful ... the whole thing was just sub-standard.

So what on earth are Cadbury doing? What is the point releasing a product that is so obviously below the standard people expect? Not only has this made me rethink buying such Cadbury products in the future, but it has also made me think twice about whether they care about quality as much as they used to. I can understand to an extent getting a quick, cheap win agaisnt a competitor in the market, but is that really worth risking what consumers think about your brand? Its shorttermism to the extreme.

This isn't just an isolated incident, working in FMCG I see this happening all around our UK supermarkets. Another example is Hellmann's Ketchup and Heinz Mayonnaise, both are half of the price of the others core brand offerings, whilst they are also completely inferior.

I could whittle on all day with examples, but it seems pointless as our most loved brands seem content in throwing away years of brand heritage. My advice to consumers is to stick with what you know - half price products may look tempting, but believe me quality is always worth paying that little bit extra for.

It would be great to hear some more opinions on this matter!

Oh and just if if you were wondering here is the score chart ....nice huh!?