Wednesday, 23 June 2010
Over the past few months the brand Zotter has featured pretty frequently on this site, with me reviewing numerous offerings from their Hand-Scooped bars range. With varieties ranging from the likes of the 'Honey Trio', to the more bizarre 'Organic Beer', the flavour combinations have proven to be consistently high quality, so when asked if I fancied trying some of the newer bars, I certainly wasn't going to let the opportunity slip by. One of the newest flavours to make its way over from Austria, was this Zotter Olives with Lemon bar, which came described as 'dark chocolate filled with olives and lemons'. Admittedly this did sound like another odd pairing, but given some of my previous experiences I wasn't ruling out Zotter pulling something out the bag.
As per usual this Hand-Scooped bar came in the standard 70.0g format that I shared amongst a few fellow taste testers. You may have noticed in my previous reviews that I haven't always understood the artistic design work that Zotter use on their wrappers. Having done a little research I have discovered that the wrappers are actually designed by a boyhood friend of Mr Zotter, Andreas Gratze (a trained gastronome and later art school graduate). According to Mr Gratze the designs are supposed to be "witty and artistic" - though I can't say I always 'get' the humour, I have to admit they do make each of the bars very classy and unique.
Back to more important matters, the actual chocolate bar looked pretty similar to several others within the Zotter range, though there was a thin but visible layer of cream filling sitting just below the outer shell on the topside of the bar. When it came to the aromas, the scents on offer were noticeably weaker than previous Zotter chocolates I have tried, and I was very surprised that there was no citrus influences detectable. Before tasting the chocolate I took a quick glance at the ingredients list to get a gauge as to what was going to be in store in the taste. Fourth on the list were the words 'olive oil & olives', followed then by 'lemon & lime concentrate', whilst additional things like chilli, honey and hazelnuts were all listed some way down. At the point I was expecting a very unique and variable flavour experience, however what I tasted was really rather placid. The initial part of the taste showed real promise, with the outer 60% dark chocolate establishing a firm flavours base of rich tasting cocoa. As the soft melting chocolate developed into the smoother centre, the taste unfortunately took a turn for the worse, with an odd bitter tasting fruit influence coming to the fore. The mixture of the savoury tasting olives and the sharp, unsweetned citrus juices just didn't taste that pleasant, and given all the added flavour enhancers stated in the ingredients it was surprisingly one dimensional and left a bitter aftertaste in the mouth.
Overall I guess it is inevitable that with Zotter's willingness to try out of the ordinary flavour combinations there are always going to be a few that aren't the usual high quality. Amongst all of three of us that tried this chocolate, it was unanimously agreed that it simply wasn't very good. I don't know what they were expecting, but I personally was hoping for a sweet lemon curd like filling that was going to nicely play off the richer tasting flavours of the plain dark chocolate. Unfortunately what I experienced with this chocolate was just a bitter tasting fruit hinted centre, that left a pretty unpleasant taste in the mouth. Had it not been for the high quality chocolate that was on offer from the outer proportion of the bar, I think I would have had to have rated this chocolate very low indeed. Normally when I taste chocolates that I don't like as much as I did this one, I usually get rather annoyed at wasting my time reviewing them. This isn't so much the case here though, as I think we can forgive Zotter for getting it wrong on the odd occasion given their willingness to experiment.
6.0 out of 10
Tuesday, 22 June 2010
It feels like it has been way too long since my last Hotel Chocolat review, but fear not ChocolateMission readers I had a fresh batch of samples land on my doorstep this week. Amongst my latest batch of goodies I have been sent an assortment of new and old, including some more of their latest summer releases, as well as some of their more classical offerings. Starting off the latest round of Hotel Chocolat reviews, today I will be reviewing a slab that falls somewhere in the middle of this 'new' and 'old' categorisation. This Vanilla slab has been around for a while, but in the context of the market it is in line with the summer flavour trends with the likes of Ritter Sport and Lindt recently releasing Stracciatella chocolates.
This Vanilla slab was included in a Peepster Selection Box and came in a 100.0g package that was split into two separate bars. On the cellophane wrapper the product came described as simply 'solid white chocolate with vanilla' and listed only seven ingredients. Aesthetically I don't think you could put this slab up there with the more interesting of Hotel Chocolat offerings, but the presentation was of a good standard nonetheless and the chocolate cut an imposing figure with the black dots of vanilla seeds dispersed consistently throughout each slab. Upon breaking the plastic packet open I was greeted with some strong dairy based vanilla scents which resultingly set the tone nicely for the taste.
Some of you may remember (if you do you are very sad haha!) that I have tried this Vanilla offering before from Hotel Chocolat, in a mini sized slab form from their White & Light Selection (See HERE). Given my aforementioned love for all things vanilla I'm not quite why I allowed this this large slab version to allude me for so long - having tasted it now I can only say that this was an even grander error on my part than I first thought. From the very first moments this chocolate entered my mouth the experience was sublime. Breaking the thin slabs into pieces the chocolate broke with a crisp snapping sound - always a great sign! Placing the first piece of my mouth the chocolate created a delightful cooling sensation and began it's slow, soft transitional melt. One fear I did have for this chocolate was that the vanilla seeds would roughen the soft melt of the chocolate like I have experienced with other vanilla chocolates in the past. Fortunately this was no cause for concern here - it melted like a dream and increased in flavour volume as it did so. The taste itself started off very cream based and became increasingly strong in it's glorious vanilla flavours as the melt progressed. This synergy of creamy milk and natural vanilla was nothing other than totally delicious, I just couldn't stop myself breaking bits of and devouring them. It's not often that I feel like consuming a portion size as plentiful as 50.0g of white chocolate in a single sitting, but I just couldn't help myself with this vanilla slab.
Overall this may not strike anyone as the most visually inspiring Hotel Chocolat slab, but in terms of white chocolate quality this is about as good as they come. I'm a self confessed vanilla flavour lover - everything vanilla flavoured, be it ice cream, milkshakes etc - quite simply if it is vanilla flavoured I generally like it. With that fact in mind, I hope that gives you some sort of perspective as to what sort of quality this chocolate would have to be to really impress me - and that it very much did. In terms of looks, ingredients and descriptor this isn't one of Hotel Chocolat's 'bells and whistles' offerings - apart from the pure chocolate slabs this is probably one of their plainest offerings. Pardon me for beating the same drum again, but this needs saying one last time - 'less is sometimes more'. This slab was the perfect example of that very theory, as it was perfect in it's simplicity. The combination and flow from the luxury cream flavours to the delightful tasting vanilla was sensational - it was one of the chocolates that begged you just to eat a little bit more. White chocolate fans do yourself a favour and make sure you treat yourselves to one of these slabs, it comes highly recommended.
9.0 out of 10
Monday, 21 June 2010
Heavenly Cakes (Website HERE) came bursting on to the ChocolateMission scene last month with a number of their products breaking the elusive 9.0 out of 10 barrier on the scoring chart. With offerings such as their Billionaires Brownies and Millionaires Shortbread proving to be some of the best cakes I have ever tasted, I wasn't going to pass up the opportunity to try a few more cakes from their wide selection. In the spotlight today we have the Heavenly Cakes Toffee Crisp, which is described on the website as 'a grown-up version of a kid's rice crispie cake'. If the prospect of this cake has you licking your lips with anticipation as it did me, then you might want to check out the site this weekend when I launch a Heavenly Cakes competition!!!!
If you remember back to my first few Heavenly Cakes reviews you may recall that I received all of their products in giftpack form, which included six giant sized servings. In order to get to gauge as to how their cakes would fare in their single portion packs I requested the guys send my latest sampling batch in this form - hence the packaging you see above. As stand alone portions the cakes still looked equally as tempting, and the clear plastic packs did a fine job of keeping the contents fresh whilst also totally visible. Given how terrifically Heavenly Cakes present their products, it was a wise choice picking a packaging material that allowed the cakes to be on full show. Once again with these Toffee Crisp, I couldn't help but find myself marvelling at yet another beautifully crafted cake.
When the time finally came to ripping open the plastic packet I was met by a pleasant burst of sweet smelling chocolate cereal scents. As I have mentioned before, Heavenly Cakes are ridiculously generous when it comes to their serving sizes, so I called in some assistance to help me consume massive cake slice. Keeping with true British tradition, me a fellow colleague consumed with this with a spot of tea :) - and what a delightful tea and cake break it was. Before we sat down for this break I had the genius idea of sticking the cake in the fridge an hour or so before which I think made it all that much better. Despite being chilled, both the upper layer of Belgian chocolate and caramel still yielded with a delicate softness and melted at supreme rate delivering all of their delicious flavours. The milk chocolate topping was wonderfully creamy, yet maintained a firm underlying cocoa delivery that grew in stature with the increased chocolateyness of the crispy cereal base. The caramel sat below it was as sinfully rich and sweet tasting as ever, and brought lashings of butter, toffee and salt to the fore. Compared to the two layers that sat on top, the chocolate rice cereal base contributed the least to the taste, but as mentioned it did reaffirm the chocolate flavour of the aforementioned topping. The crunchiness of the rice cereal was also a very welcome contrastive texture against the softer chocolate and caramel.
Overall this wasn't my favourite Heavenly Cakes product I have ever reviewed, but it was still one of the best rice crispie cakes I have ever had. Heavenly Cakes have hit upon a pretty successful formula with their Belgian milk chocolate and caramel toppings, it seems to be that anything they coat this stuff in is going to go down well whatever the quality of what it sits on top on. I hate using this word because it implies that something about these cakes were average (believe me they weren't!), but there was something about the rice cereal base that was a little generic. Don't get me wrong it was still very tasty, but if it hadn't been for the caramel and milk chocolate layer sat on top, I doubt I would be raving about these Toffee Crisp cakes as much as I did above - lets be frank there is only so much you can make of a rice cereal base after all! I personally think there are a few better things on offer in the Heavenly Cakes range, but if rice crispie cakes are your thing then I pretty certain you won't find better than these. Hands up whose entering the competition this Saturday :D
8.3 out of 10
Sunday, 20 June 2010
Today I bring you my third and final review of the three newest Lindt Lindor truffle flavours, which were kindly provided to me by ChocolateMission reader Lauren. Looking back at the previous two reviews, I rated the Stracciatella white chocolate truffles above the Giandjuas variety, which is something I definitely would not have predicted prior to trying them (See reviews HERE). The remaining flavour out of the three left to pass through the rating system were these Roulette Lait truffles, which if my research is correct, are most widely available in France. These Roulette truffles were comprised of 'milk chocolate truffle fillings with crispy rice cereal, and were coated in milk chocolate shells'.
As with the other new flavours I have reviewed recently, Lauren was kind enough to send along half a dozen truffles that she picked out of a Lindt 'pick-a-mix' selection in her local Whittards tea shop. Looking at the wrappers, at first I thought these were the Raspberry Lindors, however closer inspection revealed the words Roulette Lait written in gold, wispy font. Cutting in to the truffles, the rice cereal didn't immediately jump out at me, though upon closer inspection there were a few particles present between the outer shell and truffle filling. In terms of aromas, I couldn't detect anything that was out of the ordinary from original Lindors with the smells predominantly dairy led with strong chocolaty undertones.
It is probably best starting off by saying that I can be pretty sceptical when it comes to including rice cereal in chocolate, and I thought it was going to be interesting to see if the inclusion of the cereal here was going to compromise the usual soft filling texture. Biting in to the outer shell, the chocolate broke with the usual fresh snap, though there was a noticeable additional crunchy element from the small cereal bits. To my surprise the inner truffle filling wasn't effected by the cereal whatsoever, and delivered it's usual luxurious feel as it melted in the mouth. What was also proved to be a pleasant surprise was that the cereal contributed rather nicely in terms of flavours, and brought an initial raft of malty biscuit notes to the party, amidst the usual cream rooted chocolate flavours. As always with Lindt Lindors I felt the longevity of each truffle was a little rushed with the rapidness of the melt, however the taste was suitably rich, which made them somewhat satisfying eaten in small quantities.
Overall the least exciting out of all three of the new flavours proved to be the best one, and this is of course reflected in the higher score achieved. If I had to liken this particular flavour to another mass confection product, I would probably choose Maltesers as the malt hints of the cereal in these Roulette Lait, wasn't unlike the experience that you get from the centres of the Mars product. This may be some what of an unbalanced comparison, given that these have tastier chocolate and a glorious textured truffle filling, though the price differential cannot be ignored. In terms of a more reasonable comparison, I'm not sure I would say that these were any better than normal Lindt Lindor truffles, however they proved themselves to be a decent enough alternative, and are certainly worth a try if you are a fan of the Lindor brand. The addition of rice cereal to the mix may not sound to exciting, but this was a rare instance where its presence was definitely favourable.
8.5 out of 10
Saturday, 19 June 2010
Replacing the usual '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' I today bring you a special review of a product 'recommended' (word used in the loosest fashion!) to me by my friend Cinabar from Foodstufffinds. Le Whif 'breathable chocolate' inhalers are a product originating from France, and can be purchased from Amazon (See HERE). The basic premise behind these inhalers are that they are supposed to deliver the same taste sensation as a normal chocolate bar, but in a calorie light form - with less than one calorie per inhalation. The pack that I bought off Amazon contained three separate 3 Whifs, or three separate flavours if you will: chocolate raspberry, chocolate and chocolate mint. This was certainly going to be an experience.
Reading the on-pack blurb the net weight was stated as 0.9g, hence me saying there was less than one calorie per puff. Looking the ingredients list it was not surprising to see that it was relatively short - cane sugar, cocoa solids and natural flavourings. The packaging itself was pretty smart looking and contained a decent amount of information about the actual product. It was also nice to see some instructions of how to inhale the product inside amongst the three different containers. In regards to aromas there was nothing aside from the most minor of sweet scents offered by any of the inhalers ... on to the taste test:
Chocolate (brown coloured inhaler) - This pure chocolate variety registered a brief sugary flirtation of chocolate when the powder mixed with the saliva in my mouth. The sensation lasted only a second and left a pretty horrible bitter aftertaste in my mouth.
Mint (light green coloured inhaler) - I tried this one next as I thought my breath needed freshening up from my experience with the chocolate flavour. All in all it delivered the same dirty tasting cocoa soundbite as above, but with just a minor hint of menthol added to the mix. Again the flavours lasted no longer than a second (thank god!).
Raspberry (light red coloured inhaler) - This flavour was definitely the strongest tasting out of the three ... shame it tasted just as awful mind you :D The flavours lasted a little longer in the mouth compared to the other two variants (part of me just wish they hadn't) and they created a fake red fruit, bitter chocolate taste sensation. The raspberry element was terribly artificial.
Overall I hated how these tasted, I hated how they made me choke and cough when I inhaled them, and I hated how they made me more hungry than before I ate them. There is no two ways of putting this - these sucked BIG TIME. In fact Le Whif have created ChocolateMission history as the worst product ever to feature on the site, they were so bad I have even rated them lower than the truly terrible Hannah's White Mice (leaderboard HERE). What can say about these that I haven't already? They failed in getting anywhere near delivering a chocolate flavour hit, they created a poor/disgusting/bitter taste in the mouth, and they left me yearning for some real chocolate more than I was before I inhaled them. Are they a novelty? ... Yes ... Are they a novelty worth paying £7.00 for? ... No, No, No!! You have been warned ChocolateMission readers - Le Whif seriously aren't worth your money. Be sure to let me know your thoughts everyone.
2.0 out of 10
Friday, 18 June 2010
As with the other Aussie Bubbly variants this bar came in a 175.0g size, and came described as 'Dairy Milk milk chocolate with an mint flavoured aerated centre'. In terms of packaging the outer box was nicely aligned to the rest of the Bubbly range, with the predominant Cadbury Purple colour scheme nicely decorated with an appropriate splash of peppermint green. Despite the green secondary colours on the exterior box, nothing quite prepared me for the krpytonite green colouring of the inner filling within the chocolate. Personally it didn't bother me all that much, but admittedly it was a little fake and artificial looking, and some of my family did find it a little off putting.
After there had been much discussion around the startling green coloured centres, the next thing I took notice of were the fresh smelling minty scents that were being offered, and they were a nice distraction from the garish aesthetics. The most obvious thing of course that I am going to have to compare this Mint Bubbly to, is of course the Nestle Aero Mint (See HERE), which is a long standing family favourite in our household. Cutting the long story short, it was unanimously thought that this Mint Bubbly was on par with the Aero equivalent in the mint flavour delivery, but superior in terms of the quality of the chocolate. This Mint Bubbly was somewhat backwards in terms of taste, with the mint element coming through first before the chocolate which constituted the outer coating. The peppermint centres had a nice balance, and brought refreshing, sweet minty flavours to the party as soon as each block was placed in the mouth. As the chocolate melted and fizzed away with it's pleasant aerated texture, the chocolate hit came through later in the taste and nicely finished each mouthful with a end note of creamy sweet, cocoa flavours. The progression from the initial raft of mint flavours, to the rich chocolatey finish made for a satisfying chocolate that was very much enjoyed by all that tried it.
Overall this was one of the nicest Cadbury chocolates that I have ever tried from outside the UK, and the rest of my family seemingly agreed, as every last piece had been eaten within 24 hours of it being opened. Although I have mentioned that the Aussie Dairy Milk recipe is marginally less to my preference compared to the UK version, this mattered very little here as it was really more about the quality of the mint filling which took up the majority of the taste. Thankfully the mint flavoured centres were pretty superb, and delivered a friendly peppermint edge to each and every block. The high quality mint element coupled with the creamy Dairy Milk chocolate finish was a real match made in heaven, and the culmination was a product that was as delicious as it was moreish. If you are a fan of the Nestle Aero Mint I would very much suggest that you give this bar a try sometime in the near future. If mint chocolate is your thing you are seriously missing out if you deny yourself the opportunity. As for Cadbury UK ... do the right thing guys ... bring back the Cadbury Wispa Mint!!!
8.7 out of 10
Thursday, 17 June 2010
Cast you minds back a week or so ago, and you may recall me informing you all that ChocolateMission reader Lauren had contacted me, asking if I could review the three new Lindt Lindor truffle flavours. Not only was Lauren kind enough to break the news of these new varieties to me, but she was also generous enough to send some my way in the post. Last week I kicked off these reviews by firstly casting my words of wisdom over the Stracciatella flavour, which managed to obtain the a decent 8.1 out of 10 score. Today I will be checking out the second of the new flavours, these Lindt Lindor Giandujas.
Given the quality of some of the previous gianduja products that have made it on to the site (need I say more than Hotel Chocolat Gianduja Cubes), it was going to be interesting to see what sort of quality Lindt were going to provide. Looking at the packaging and presentation I was filled with confidence that this was going to be yet another wonderful Lindt offering. The green colour may not have necessarily been my own personal choice to communicate the gianduja flavour (I was thinking more bronze!), but they still looked smart nonetheless and it was at least nice to see Lindt state the variety on the wrapper. The truffles themselves looked no different to the Lindt Lindor Dark which was no bad thing, but what was surprising was that they didn't offer anything that suggested they were nut flavoured when it came to aromas.
Although I was a little bemused by the lack of nutty scents, I didn't let this concern me that much as I have come to learn that Lindor truffles are never the most forthcoming when it comes to revealing their taste through their fragrances. Having not been put off in the slightest I bit into the first truffle and experienced the usual wonderful contrast in textures from the crisp, fresh outer chocolate shell to the smooth, velvety inner filling. The feel of the truffle filling on the tongue was as gloriously soft as ever, however some part of me was a little surprised that it did not feel a little rougher given the gianduja proposition. In regards to taste, if I was to have to bet my house on the chocolate being a certain strength, I would feel pretty confident in saying that it was Lindt's 50% recipe. It was very forthcoming in it's clean, unsweetened cocoa flavours, but it never verged on any type of bitterness due to a consistent note of brown sugar present throughout. Of course the key determinant of this product was going to be the delivery of the gianduja filling, and to be honest I was underwhelmed by what I experienced. Firstly I was a little surprised that the nut influence didn't come to the party until the latter stages of the truffle filling melt. More importantly, not only did the nut element seem late, but it also tasted a little odd. It is hard to describe but it tasted a little artificial, and the woody, buttery flavours of the hazelnuts didn't really come through, with only an awkward savoury note offered.
Overall these were not awful truffles by any means, but they certainly didn't deliver on either my expectations or what I have come to expect from Lindt quality wise. One thing that saved these truffles from being really under par was the the dark chocolate, which actually made up quite a bit for the poorness of the hazelnut gianduja filling with it's full bodied taste. Having tried previous Lindt Gianduja bars to great success (See HERE), I was a little annoyed at how poorly Lindt implemented the gianduja element here. I can excuse the lack of gianduja texture given the melty smooth Lindor proposition, however what I cannot look past is the lack of quality in the taste in regards to the hazelnuts. There is no doubt that fans of Lindt Lindor truffles will want to try these, but I would certainly wouldn't want you guys to build up your expectations. When it comes to Lindors, there are far more flavours in the range that warrant your purchase before these gianduja flavoured ones do.
6.8 out of 10
Wednesday, 16 June 2010
My next foray in to Cadbury's range from the land down under sees me cast my eye over this Cadbury Old Gold Liqueur Flavoured Selection. This was yet another bar crafted by the folk at Cadbury Australia, and was sent to me in the latest box of goodies from my pals over at ShopenZed. Comprising of 'Old Gold dark chocolate with a selection of liqueur centres: coffee, Irish creme, hazelnut and orange', it sounded like a nicely varied collection of different flavoured fondants. Despite my scepticism at this chocolate actually containing any alcoholic content, a quick glance at the ingredients list revealed the word 'ethanol'. Before you all get too excited it came pretty far down the list - I don't think anyone will be getting merry from this chocolate :D
The bar came in a 220.0g size that was split into nicely formatted blocks. How can a chocolate bar be nicely formatted!? Well, the bar ran four blocks across, and eight down - in a 4x8 grid with the flavours segregated length ways. This may not sound anything special, but it made very easy to tell which of the four centres was which. If you look at the photographs closely above you may also notice that each flavour also had a small indicative image etched in to the surface of each block - doubly handy! Just like I said about the Old Gold bar the other week, the outer box looked pretty sophisticated for a Cadbury product, though I perhaps might not have chosen the purple colour as the secondary colour as I don't think it quite matched the gold.
Looking at the nutritional guff on the packaging and taking in the scents emanating from the chocolate, I was fully prepared for a very sweet tasting fondant experience. At this point I think it is worth congratulating Cadbury for their choice of dark chocolate over their Dairy Milk recipe, as I think the latter would have been way too sweet if paired with these centres. The Old Gold here was well matched to the fondants, and it's unsweetened cocoa flavours brought a bit of balance on the sweetness front. In terms of the different flavoured centres here are my thoughts, in brackets are where they are placed in the photograph above:
Coffee (top left) - As I ate my way through the bar I got used to the sweetness of the coffee flavours. It was very reminiscent of the Coffee Creme chocolates that you used to get in Cadbury Roses. The coffee delivery wasn't the finest ever, but it was decent enough. This was my second favourite.
Irish Creme (top right) - Again the more I ate of this flavour, the more I grew to like it. The Bailey's like influence came through very late amongst the sugary fondant flavours and was only really detectable when fully concentrating on the taste. This was my third favourite.
Hazelnut (bottom left) - This was really disappointing. I don't think I have ever come across a hazelnut fondant before, and having tasted this one I hope it is a while before I do so again. The fondant was completely sugar dominated with no nut influence. This was the worst out of the four.
Orange (bottom right) - Definitely the best in the selection. The unsweetened flavours of the plain chocolate complimented the fruity flavours of the sweet centre very nicely indeed, and there was a longing refreshing note of orange left in the mouth. It reminded my of the Fry's Orange Cream, but in a manageable mouth-sized portions. This was my favourite.
Overall these centres were really mixed in terms of quality, with one very good flavour, two average and one very poor flavour. To be honest if it is the liqueur billing of this chocolate that is putting you off potentially trying it, then I wouldn't worry as it was only the Irish Creme centre where I could detect the remotest amount of alcohol present in the taste. In that sense you might say the bar didn't deliver, but to be honest I think you would have to be pretty naive to think that a Cadbury product was going to deliver an alcohol kick with any great ferocity. If you do end up buying this chocolate to share with others, I would strongly suggest you make a beeline for the orange flavoured centres, as it will soon become apparent to all that those are by the tastiest blocks out of the lot. What with the variety of quality amongst the different flavoured centres this was a hard bar to rate, though I think an average mark of 7.0 out of 10 for taste is a good compromise. It wasn't the finest bar of chocolate I have ever tasted and I'm not sure I would buy it again, but it was certainly interesting trying out all the different flavoured centres.
7.5 out of 10
Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Now I am not going to start out this review by boldly claiming that I have a great understanding of the Canadian confectionery market because I simply just don't. Being all the way over the pond, it is a market I feel quite removed from, however one thing I have noticed is that dark chocolate is becoming increasingly more popular in Canada if their NPD (new product development) is anything to go by. If you look at the latest products to be released by Nestle you will see that all of them follow quite a consistent theme, and this dark chocolate Aero is a perfect example of what is now on offer. After pulling a few strings I was able to track down a sample to try for myself and I was intrigued as to what sort of quality this dark chocolate was going to be.
On the face of things this Aero 70% cocoa looked no different to either the original or mint variants that are readily available here in the UK and it weighed exactly the same at 42.0g. Indeed even the packaging was remarkably similar with only the bold looking 70% gold logo providing an aspect of differentiation from the other two flavours in this medium bar range. Conversely the actual chocolate itself was slightly different and the patterns etched into the surface of the bar indicated that the chocolate should be consumed in smaller blocks. Given this was a dark chocolate bar this did make sense, however the bar wasn't easy to split up into the sizes indicated which was more than a little annoying.
Once I had mastered the task of breaking the chocolate up I took a smell of the chocolate and it was at this point I started taking its potential seriously. In terms of aromas the chocolate smelt far stronger than I expected and it really gave an insight in to the taste that I was about to experience. Getting straight to crux of things this chocolate really surprised me in the quality of the flavours I experienced. The taste was far deeper than I was expecting and whilst it didn't provide the progressiveness of flavours of some of the more premium chocolates it was still relatively tasty nonetheless. Far removed from the mass consumer friendly experience I was expecting the taste had a fair volume of unsweetened cocoa flavours with notes of coffee, smoke and a dash of sugar to round of the taste nicely. In terms of the aerated texture it really delivered in line with expectations and it provided the desired bubbly experience to further spicen things up a bit. All in all, despite the quick melting nature of the chocolate it still served to be a satisfying snack - one might want to check out the nutritional values though as they don't happen to make happy reading for dieters.
Overall I have to admit before I ate this chocolate that I was very sceptical indeed as to what sort of quality Nestle were going to produce here. If you look at some of the products currently on the global market there isn't much to inspire confidence in a mass produced dark chocolate. More often than not these products end up simply being unsweetened versions of milk chocolate predecessors but thankfully Nestle didn't hold back in terms of flavour strength half as much as what I expected and to my surprise they have produced a good dark chocolate. As I described above the taste was far more complex and rich than I thought it would be and it was so much the better for it. There isn't much in the way of true innovation or 'new news' here, but if this 70% bar is price aligned with the rest of the Aero range (which I think it is!) I would strongly suggest you give it a try.
8.3 out of 10
Monday, 14 June 2010
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
The brand Zotter has really been making waves with ChocolateMission readers lately, as no sooner does one review get published, I received vasts amounts of requests asking me to check out some of the other crazy flavours from their range. Following my review of the Muscat Wine & Grape Hand-Scooped bar (See HERE), one of the most commonly mentioned bars was this Zotter's Organic Beer offering. Sad though it may seem, a large proportion of my alcohol consumption nowadays seems to come from Zotter chocolates. Indeed, that may be a bit of an overstatement, but when you consider the last three products I have reviewed from Zotter have included wine, whisky and now beer, you do start to wonder whether Mr Zotter is a tad partial to the odd drink.
This Hand-Scooped (still don't get what that means!) bar came in a 2.47 Oz size (I thought I would try something different than my usual 70.0g sentence haha!), which I ate across the course of two sittings. The on-pack artistry was as always lovely looking on the eye, though again I wasn't too sure about the relevance of a stripey shirted fellow on a bike - regardless it looked classy as ever anyway! Something some readers have started mentioning on previous reviews is how many of Zotter's chocolates look the same, and I have to agree that I am starting to see what they mean. Aesthetically I don't think I would have been able to tell this bar apart from the likes of the Scotch Whisky etc, it looked finely crafted in form but there was nothing that differentiated it from many others in the range.
Although the bar wasn't particularly striking visually, the smells that emanated from the chocolate suggested the taste was going to nothing short of compelling. The actual aromas weren't the most enticing ever, but there were interesting hints of booze and toasted bread, which nicely set expectations of the remarkable experience that was to follow. Speaking firstly of the chocolate, the base constituent of the bar was Zotter's 70% dark chocolate recipe, and it as ever provided a perfectly balanced taste that was full or rich, tasting cocoa flavours, yet still allowed expression of the enhancing beer element. The Organic Beer influence itself came to the party as the chocolate progressed from it's solid to liquid state during the melt, and it brought a wonderfully unique set of flavours. Indeed, notes of malt, wheat, and caramel, all became detectable and made for a taste that was terrifically variable and very progressive. One minor area of disappointment was the slightly bitter alcohol aftertaste left in the mouth, though even that to a degree added to the 'beer' flavour experience.
Overall chocolate and beer are not two things I would immediately think of pairing together, but Zotter somehow crafted yet another fine tasting dark chocolate combination. Now I think about it, I would never even contemplate of eating chocolate with beer, as previous experiences have told me that they two just don't mix. Somehow, and I'm not quite sure how!? Mr Zotter and co have managed to craft a bar that combines both these fantastic ingredients superbly. The progression of the taste from the rich dark chocolate, to the beer flavours generated by the soft centre was nothing short of delicious and totally unique. Looking at the ingredients list, the organic beer used is one called 'Lava Rossa'. I think it would be great experiment to try the actual beer to see how well the taste has been translated through to the chocolate - any excuse eh? :D. I don't think this is a chocolate that would be enjoyed by everyone, but for beer lovers this is one you should try first-hand to appreciate the beer and chocolate synergy Zotter have created.
8.1 out of 10
Sunday, 13 June 2010
Overall I am going to give up trying to predict what chocolates I am going to prefer over others, because once again I was proven totally wrong when it came to these two. Speaking of the original Chocolate variant first, in comparison to the UK Dairy Milk Bubbly chocolate it was slightly less to my preference due to there being a touch less creaminess in the taste and it having a thinner melting texture. In regards to the White variant, it seems a little funny to say how having less of something can actually be beneficial, but this was very much the case with the Dream white chocoalte in this Bubbly format. It is going to be interesting to see what I make of the third flavour from the Aussie Bubbly range - expect that review in the coming weeks.
Saturday, 12 June 2010
I'm currently revelling in World Cup fever - so please excuse the short nature of this update today!
To bring you all up to speed on things I have recently recieved packages from Heavenly Cakes, Hotel Chocolat, Zotter, Galler and one from Germany which has several of the latest Milka and Lindt flavours. Be sure to watch out for all the reviews coming up on the site - remember I am always open to your requests.
The question(s) of the week: 'which is your favourite world cup themed advert? Are you getting annoyed by them all?'
Personally a lot of them are starting to grate on me, but from a marketing perspective the Carlsberg ad we have here in the UK has been brilliant. It would be interesting to hear from countries other than the UK to see if things have gone quite as mad.
Have great weeks .... COME ON ENGLAND!!!!!!!!!!!!
News from the chocolate market:
* Twix are bringing out a new bar called the 'Fino' (credit goes to Nick for finding this) - See HERE
* Cadbury Flake has a new advertisment ... personally I think it is absolutely terrible - See HERE
* Hershey have created a new create your own chocolate bar attraction - See HERE
* Chocolate is good for you ... post excercise this time :D - See HERE
Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week:
* GiGi Reviews - Booooo Hissssss American (jokes!!) GiGi reviewed my favourite biscuits ever (chocolate covered HobNobs!) ... See HERE
* Foodstufffinds - Cin somehow found this curious looking Kit Kat Pop Choc Dessert. The Kit Kat bits look like they are similar to the Kit Kat Minis you get in Japan ... See HERE
* ImpulsiveBuy - Boooo Hissss American :D ... Marvo reviewed this awesome sounding Ritz Cheese & Bacon crackerfuls ... See HERE
* CandyBlog - Cybele has been reviewing many awesome things from the Candy Expo 2010, but these really chaught the eye ... Reese's Peanut Butter Cups Minis ... See HERE
* SugarPressure - This got me drooling - Snickers Peanut Butter Squared. I'm going to need to get me one of these soon ... See HERE
Thanks to Yankee Soda & Candy I have been able to update some of my reviews of old. Be sure to check them out.
* 3 Musketeers
* Reese's Fast Break
* Hershey's Zero Bar
Friday, 11 June 2010
My tireless investigation of Zotter's Handscooped bars range continued today with me checking out their Scotch Whisky chocolate. You may recall that it was only few weeks ago that I reviewed Zotter's Muscat Wine with Grapes bar, and it managed to score pretty well on the ChocolateMission rating system (See HERE). As I stated in that last review, I am no big drinker but even I was curious to see what Zotter could do with a bar combining 'dark chocolate filled with whisky cream'. Looking at the ingredients list, the 6% whisky content came across as plentiful to me, so I was expecting it to really be brought to life in the filling.
Aligned with the rest of the Handscooped range this came in a 70.0g bar, and I shared it with my father who just to happens to enjoy the odd drop of fine whisky. In terms of the wrapper, the bar still looked like a premium proposition, but I don't think the artwork was the best looking I have ever seen. My main issue was that colours were all very similar, thus I wouldn't say the packaging stood out particularly strongly in any manner. When it came to the actual chocolate the usual lack of branding was again noteworthy, though the distinction between the outer layer of chocolate and smooth looking truffle filling did manage to ignite my excitement to a reasonable degree.
Taking in the smells on offer this was obviously going to be a very rich tasting chocolate as the cocoa scents emanated were very forthcoming. Biting into the chocolate the visual presentation of the chocolate was nicely indicative of the textures on offer, with the outer layer breaking with a nice crispness to reveal the softer truffle layer below. Just as promised from the aromas, the 70% chocolate was indeed very flavoursome and it straightaway brought strong unsweetened cocoa flavours to the party with it's smooth flowing taste. Having read about the plentiful contents of the scotch whisky in the ingredients, I was expecting the filling to bring a strong set of malty alcohol fueled flavours to the taste, and a pleasurable warming sensation to the mouth. As is often the case what I expected, and what was reality were two very different things. Whilst there was an undeniable alcohol element detectable it never came through with any great strength, and it more lingered in the background as an odd sweet, fruity tasting undercurrent. On the whole this added flavour dimension wasn't bad tasting, but it certainly wasn't what I expected, and thus it didn't particularly satisfy my expectations - neither my Father's.
Overall this Zotter Scotch Whisky bar was really saved by one thing, and that was the undeniable high quality Zotter dark chocolate. If this was a product just to be viewed in a light of being a dark chocolate bar, the scores would be a lot more favourable because the chocolate was both rich tasting and very flavoursome. Unfortunately though this came billed as a scotch whisky flavoured chocolate, and when looked upon in this regard it has to be said that it failed to deliver on what it promised. I'm no experienced whisky drinker, but even I could tell that the flavours on offer from the Whisky Cream centre were not what you would expect. One of the other glaring errors for me with this chocolate was that it was also lacked the warming heat feeling that you get from drinking whisky. It wasn't like I wanted a throat burning sensation, but I personally see it as a key part of the whisky experience and this was sadly lacking. Having tried so many really high quality Zotter products previously I would suggest you are best off looking at another one of their offerings. I can't imagine even the fondest of whisky drinkers would enjoy this all that much.
6.5 out of 10
Wednesday, 9 June 2010
As we all know in the US they don't shy away when it comes to releasing limited edition products. Snickers, M&M's, Reese's all tend to release at least a few a year, and more often than not they usually get linked in to the latest blockbuster movie releases. If you cast your minds back to the 2008 Batman film 'The Dark Knight', you may recall that it was the Reese's Dark Bats which were the candy to get tied in to the film. If you haven't ever seen my reviews of either the Reese's Dark Bats Minis, or later on the large sized Reese's Dark Bat you can see both HERE. One thing that we don't commonly see from these limited edition movie themed candy is them become a part of the original ranges, but this is where these Reese's Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups bucked the trend. Released later in 2009 these Dark Cups emerged not long after the flow through of the Dark Bats, and it was my task today to see if they were just as good.
From the outset the Dark Cups immediately chalked up a victory over the previous Bats formats as they were larger in size and weighed in at 42.0g. In regards to packaging the dark chocolate theme was communicated well by the subtle on pack sub branding, but the wrapper still maintained the usual Reese's glory with the orange colour background prominent amongst some of the bolder looking black coloured fonts. The cups themselves were typically well crafted and were kept nicely protected by the inner cardboard sleeve that accompanied them. Aesthetically the chocolate was noticeably darker in tone, though it still had little say in the aromas on offer. To be honest I wouldn't want it any other way - I don't think there is anything quite like the tempting nutty smells you get from Reese's products.
At this point there were ticks in two very important boxes - Did they still look as good as the Dark Bats? ... Yep! Did they still smell just as good as the Dark Bats? ... Yep! The only question that remained was did they taste just as good? ... and I'm glad to report that Yep - they did! Just as I reported with the Dark Chocolate Bats the chocolate on offer was far more flavoursome than the standard milk chocolate we are all used to getting from Reese's. The nature of the 'dark chocolate' was as expected very mass consumer friendly (i.e. it didn't really ramp up the volume of the cocoa to a great extent), but the unsweetened chocolatey flavours it contributed to each bite far outstripped the passive, waxy taste and texture of original Reese's milk chocolate. The relaxed sugar emphasis in the taste of the dark chocolate, nicely contrasted with the peanut butter, which delivered all the usual Reese's pleasantries. It was buttery, creamy and delightfully finished with a lick of salt and sugar. What with the chocolate contributing more to the taste, the two cups felt like an extremely satisfying amount to eat in one sitting - there was no way I was going to able to eat one and leave the other.
Overall these Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are up there amongst my all time favourite Reese's products and were every bit as good as the limited edition Dark Chocolate Bats I tasted a few years ago. In fact if you look at the scoring chart below they have even managed to notch up a few more points on the scores I gave those Batman limited editions a few years ago, as they were bigger in size and thus more satisfying when it came to fulfilling my hunger. What is slightly annoying is that we aren't likely to see these Dark Chocolate Cups appear in the UK anytime soon, which means that whenever I have an impulse desire to buy a Reese's chocolate I will have to settle for a milk chocolate product that I know is inferior. These Dark Chocolate Cups don't deliver the grandest of dark chocolate experiences, but in comparison to the quality of the pretty rubbish milk chocolate you get from Reese's normally, they are no doubt in my mind suprior. If you then factor in to the equation the deliciousness that is Reese's peanut butter you hopefully start to understand where I am coming from with my high rating. It would be great to hear some opinions from my US readership as to which they prefer.
8.9 out of 10
Tuesday, 8 June 2010
As you may have guessed from the title I have a two-for-one Thorntons review for you today, with both the Thorntons Continental Cappucino Truffles and the Thorntons Classic Coffee Creams facing the ChocolateMission rating system. If you have been reading the site for any time whatsoever you will be well aware that coffee and chocolate is one of my favourite combinations - lets see which I rated better out of the two.
Thorntons Continental Cappuccino Truffles:
Kcal 68 Fat 4.5g Carbs 6.4g (per chocolate)
'white chocolate with a coffee mousse centre finished with a sprinkle of chocolate powder'
Who remembers me reviewing the Thorntons Continental Cappuccino Bar before?? If you do ... get out more :D ... See HERE! These truffles came in a 95.0g bag that I purchased for a mere £1.69. The plastic packet packaging was nothing too spectacular, but the truffles themselves certainly looked the more appetising out of the two of view today.
It isn't often you find that a chocolate that's description doesn't do it justice, but these truffles were a little more intricate than I was first led to believe. As expected the outer white chocolate was of a good standard and had a pleasant vanilla hinted taste that made for a creamy experience from the outset. Inside the mousse filling was soft in texture and had a fine coffee hinted taste that led nicely onwards from the white chocolate exterior. What the on-pack description failed to state, and what I was talking about earlier, was the fact that each truffle had a small disc of dark chocolate that sat under the mousse filling - it is just visible in the photo above! What this did nicely was ensure a pleasant unsweetened cocoa flavour hit to the latter stages of the melt of each truffle. It perhaps did overshadow the coffee flavours a little, but it was a nice touch to finish off each piece.
8.1 out of 10
Thorntons Classic Coffee Creams:
Kcal 61 Fat 2.9g Carbs 8.3g (per chocolate)
'Milk chocolates with white chocolate decoration and a creamy coffee centre'
If someone had presented me with both these packets of chocolates without telling me the price, I don't think I would have been alone in thinking that the above Continental truffles would have been the more expensive. Well I would have been wrong!! Seemingly we all have to pay a little extra for the 'Classics' as these Coffee Creams set me back £2.49 for a 109.0g bag.
My experience of Coffee Cream chocolates in the past have been limited to the coffee chocolates we used to get in Cadbury Roses tins, though now even they have been cruelly taken away from all us coffee lovers. If I had to describe the taste I would say that these were a lot less complicated in terms of flavours than the Continental Cappuccino truffles, and were certainly less progressive. Despite being made with 'real double cream' (as the packaging cared to tell me), the taste was a whole sweeter and more sugar routed than the creamier Continental chocolates. The outer milk chocolate was nice tasting with it's sweet cocoa taste, and it let nicely into a drier, whipped fondant like centre. The filling was very sugary, but the coffee note was detectable and made for a decent enough experience.
7.0 out of 10
Monday, 7 June 2010
Sunday, 6 June 2010
I guess one of the reasons I was never drawn to the Blue Riband brand as youngster was because of the packaging. If you look below at the photos of both the variants you will see that both have pretty generic looking wrappers, and it can't really be said that either stand out in the visual stakes. Don't get me wrong I don't think there is anything wrong with either variety aesthetically, but lets face it they hardly inspire any great excitement.
Nestle Blue Riband Milk
Kcal 99 Fat 4.9g Fat(sats) 3.1g Carbs 12.9g (per bar)
'Crisp wafer biscuits covered in real milk chocolate'
This was the first of the two I tried, and I ate it like I did the dark with an afternoon cup of coffee. When handled the chocolate was noticeably quicker to melt my fingers and not surprisingly this was the case when it was in the mouth. In terms of taste both the chocolate and wafer offered exactly the experience I was expecting. The milk chocolate was thin in nature, but quickly established a sound typical Nestle, sugary, milky cocoa taste. Below, the wafer was crisp in texture and mild in terms of it's wheaty, brown sugar flavours. The layers of creme between the wafer didn't offer much in relation to the taste, however they provided a much needed moistness to the dry wafer constituents. The 99 calorie bar was reasonably satisfying for what it was.
7.0 out of 10
Nestle Blue Riband Dark
Kcal 99 Fat 5.2g Fat(sats) 2.9g Carbs 11.8g (per bar)
'Crisp wafer biscuits covered in dark chocolate'
To honest I could pretty much cut and paste a lot of what I wrote above to cover off the majority of what this bar offered. Focusing more on that actual differences, like I aforementioned the dark chocolate was slower paced in melt, which I personally preferred as it added a touch of longevity to the flavours in the mouth. The flavours themselves were again pretty much like I expected them to be for a mass produced 'dark chocolate' offering. The chocolate wasn't particularly ramped up in terms of it's cocoa emphasis, but it was noticeably less sweet. The lesser emphasis placed on the sugar from the chocolate was actually beneficial to wafer and inner creme constituents, as it allowed them to have more of an impact on the taste as they came through more strongly. On balance I felt the dark chocolate came across as cleaner and fresher, and just offered something a little different to the more generic tasting milk variant.
Overall the feeling I got from the people that requested I review these bars was that the new dark variant was superior to the original - having now tasted both I would sign up to this consensus. As you will have gathered from my thoughts above the mains reasons I preferred the dark chocolate variant was because the wafer and dark chocolate complimented each other a little bit more, and the unsweetened chocolate flavours seemed to have better longevity than the milk chocolate did. To be totally straight with you, neither of these bars are going to be lighting up anyone's world, but for the price you pay they are pretty good for what they actually are. If you offered me either one of these or a Kit Kat, I would still pick the latter based on the fact the Kit Kat is visually more appealing, more exciting and plays the chocolate to wafer ratio a little better. If you do love your Blue Riband bars though and you haven't tried the dark chocolate variety yet, you should check it out - I would love to hear what you all think!