Wednesday, 14 July 2010
Ever since the Kraft takeover of Cadbury was announced it has felt like Milka has gone from strength to strength here in the UK. With the Milka UK range expanding by the minute with new impulse options such as the Milka with Daim bar, consumer awareness of the brand seems to be slowly ever increasing. Whilst UK consumers are slowly getting to grips with the basic Milka offerings, back in Germany there seems to be no let up with the amount of 'new' flavours being brought to market. One of the latest Milka varieties to hit the shelves in Germany is this Kakao Genuss, which translates into English as 'Chocolate Pleasure'. On the back of the wrapper the bar came described as 'Alpine milk chocolate with a chocolate raspberry creme filling', which was self evident from the wrapper.
This Kakao Genuss flavour came in a 100.0g format that was split into the stand 3x5 branded block format. Nothing about the wrapper particularly stood out to me in the context of the rest of Milka's range, though the raspberry element was at least communicated well with a decent amount of the on pack visuals indicating the fruity twist. Upon unsealing the plastic packet a very forthcoming set of sweet red fruit smells made their presence felt. To be honest they weren't the most genuine of fruit smells ever, but they did grab my attention, and they at least made the chocolate feel a little more exciting given it's placid look.
Without the raspberry fruit smells this bar would have appeared to be no different to a standard Milka Chocolate Cream bar, as aesthetically there was no indication whatsoever of the raspberry influence. Despite it's lacking visual impact the same couldn't be said for the taste, as the fruit established itself as soon as the chocolate entered the mouth. Although the raspberry flavouring was contained mostly in the creme filling, it didn't hang about and the flavours were partially detectable within the milky sweet cocoa flavours of the exterior Alpine milk chocolate. In terms of taste there was little differentiation between the chocolatey flavours of the outer chocolate to the inner creme filling, however as the smoother melting centre melted away the raspberry element became louder and louder taking a firmer grip on the taste. Against my expectations the raspberry fruit flavours were pretty nicely balanced and came across as more red fruit sharp than sugary sweet. Due to the fast paced melt this wasn't the most satisfying chocolate bar ever, Milka bars seldom are though.
Overall this wasn't perhaps the most 'genuine' tasting fruit flavoured chocolate ever, but I enjoyed it for what it was nonetheless. To be honest this wasn't a flavour that excited me all that much given how there have been so many similar bars coming out of Germany recently, but it did a more than adequate job of delivering on it's promised enhancing flavour. When I first smelt the aromas emanating from the wrapper when I unsealed it, I was a little wary that this was going to be one of those ghastly, sweet tasting cheap chocolates. To my pleasant surprise the chocolate tasted better than it smelt - again I will reiterate the point it wasn't the 'realest' fruit influence, but it wasn't half as sugary as I thought it was going to be. If you are a raspberry lover then this is a chocolate well worth you taking a look at. If you are more just a fan of Milka chocolate then I would suggest you take a look at some of their other offerings before getting stuck in to this one as a matter of urgency.
7.5 out of 10
Tuesday, 13 July 2010
First off I must start by bringing your attention to the Heavenly Cakes competition - as announced on Saturday the deadline has been extended by one week due to the mini heatwave we are experiencing! In the mean time be sure to familiarise yourself with some of my latest Heavenly Cakes reviews: if you have missed out on them be sure to check out my Toffee Crisp, Milk Chocolate Brownie or Lumpy Bumpy Brownie posts HERE. To round off my latest batch of reviews from my most recent sampling package I had this Rocky Road cake to try. On the Heavenly website the Rocky Road is described as 'Belgian chocolate mixed with squishy marshmallows, pistachio nuts, natural cherries and crunchy biscuit' - seemingly the less is more approach was out the window for this one :D
Despite coming in a single serve form this was beastily sized portion. Inside it's plastic wrapper the thick outer coating of chocolate made the cake look innocent enough (if a little on the bumpy deranged side!), however when it was cut in to things got very interesting indeed. Take a look at my photograph and judge for yourself - does that look appetising!? Well I thought so! The cross-section revealed a total mish-mash of colours, ingredients, and smells. The things that stood out aesthetically were of course the cherries, the green pistachios, the huge chunks of biscuit and of course the marshmallows. Compared to some of the brownie products I have eaten recently the aromas radiated weren't half as strong in their chocolatey impact, though they were still relatively tempting nonetheless.
Putting my aesthetic admiration to one side it was time for the taste test. Starting with the quality of the chocolate flavours, the Belgian chocolate was a prominent feature in each bite as it had been generously coated across the whole piece. Compared to some of the chocolate constituents on other Heavenly products this Belgian recipe wasn't quite as sweet and was marginally louder in it's cocoa volume. Given the sweetness delivered by the marshmallow and biscuit elements, this switch to an unsweetened chocolate was a welcome change as it maintained a nice sweetness balance. Speaking of the marshmallow and biscuit pieces, both were nothing short of fantastic in regards to the variation they brought to the experience in terms of textures. The marshmallows had a far grander presence than I was expecting, and were far chewier and dense than I was expecting. The biscuit chunks constituted a large part of the total cake, and contributed nicely with their light, crunchy explosion of salty digestive biscuit flavours. Just as I wrote in the Lumpy Bumpy Brownie review I wasn't all that excited by the presence of the cherries, however they again were pleasant addition and added fine juicy, fruity bursts of red berry flavours when encountered. The only disappointment with this cake for me were the pistachios, as once again yet another nut type failed to cut through in the taste as they weren't as generously portioned as the other elements.
Overall I have never been a great lover of Rocky Road cakes, but I have to say these were very much to my liking. Sometimes in the past with Rocky Road cakes I have found that manufactures have included some of the ingredients as token gestures, with little thought given about how they combine with one another. With the exception of the pistachio nuts, it felt to me like Heavenly were very particular in their selection of ingredients, with the choice of chocolate recipe being a fine example. The Belgian chocolate coating on these wasn't 'dark' chocolate, but it was noticeably less sweet than the milk chocolate used in some of their other cakes. This recipe of chocolate was key in allowing the marshmallows, cherries and biscuit elements have a grander say in the taste - so a big thumbs up there. If I was to improve these Rocky Road cakes, I would again offer similar recommendations to what I said in my Lumpy Bump Review - more nuts please! Rocky Road fans will no doubt love these - I suggest you try eating a slice with a spoonful of ice cream as the biscuit chunks nicely suck up the ice cream as it melts - trust me its really something special!
8.5 out of 10
Monday, 12 July 2010
Not only are we being treated to some glorious weather at the moment here in the UK, but the likes of Hotel Chocolat are us treating us to their summer ranges. Over the past few months I have brought you all several reviews of their summer offerings - including their fantastic Eton Mess and Banoffee Slabs (See HERE). After those initial reviews, several of you asked me if I could take a look Hotel Chocolat's Marbles range, and my contacts obliged by quickly sending some along. See Hotel Chocolat's site HERE
Both these Marbles varieties came in 140.0g servings bags which I would say included around 20-30 pieces within each. Whenever there are Hotel Chocolat products around, the rest of my family seem to never be far away - you can expect some of their opinions in my write ups below :D
Hotel Chocolat Blueberry & Apple Marbles
'Blueberry chocolate and apple flavoured white chocolate balls'
These looked the more visually striking out the two and looked wonderful with half light and half dark coloured layers. Their fruity sweet scents were a little less to my liking compared to the Caramel & Praline marbles, though they still provided good insight in to the taste that followed. Speaking of the taste, these marbles started off very cream rotted with a smooth milky set of flavours. As the nicely sized ball melted softly in the mouth, the red berry elements came through with increasing strength, fast establishing a fresh and fruity flavour base. My only slight disappointment with these was that the apple element didn't come to the party. When I fed these to my other family members in a blind taste test none of them managed to pick the apple flavours out. Despite this they were still very much enjoyed by all that tried them - Hotel Chocolat sure do make some fantastic white chocolate.
8.4 out of 10
Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramel & Praline
'Salted caramel chocolate and milk chocolate praline balls'
The packet of these lasted a matter of minutes once opened - we loved them! Formed half of 40% house milk chocolate and half caramel chocolate it wasn't like they were ever not going to go down well was it!? Although these weren't as interesting aesthetically, the aromas of cocoa and toffee that emanated from the packet were simply divine. Upon placing the first piece in my mouth I was instantly impressed by the instant cocoa and cream flavours that came to the fore. As these flavours developed the taste took several turns with notes of caramel, hazelnut and butter all taking the opportunity to make an impression. The melt of the lighter coloured chocolate was noticeably faster than that of the darker side, the latter of which left a deliciously moreish salt lick in the mouth with each finish. These were insanely tasty, but not the richest of chocolates ever - a very dangerous combination.
8.5 out of 10
Sunday, 11 July 2010
Back in May when I read this press announcement from United Biscuits, I was pleased to hear that they were going to be launching a new range of on-the-go chocolate snacking bars' utilising my all time favourite biscuit, the Hobnob. Although the article also revealed the name 'Medley', further details were pretty sketchy, and it wasn't until more recently when I was able to track them down that I learnt more. On the wrapper these bars came described as 'biscuit and cereal bars with raisins and milk chocolate'. This didn't sound like the groundbreaking product I was really hoping for, but they showed promise nonetheless, so I duly obliged and forked out £1.49 for a multipack in my local Co-Op.
My multipack contained six individually wrapped bars that each weighed in at 30.0g. In terms of size they weren't the largest looking bars ever, but they did nicely as an afternoon snack and they were easy to transport and eat on-the-go at work as they intended to be. When it came to the wrappers and packaging I have to say that there was nothing about it that stood out as being different from any other cereal bar. In fact, if you compare them to the Kellogg's Crunchy Nut cereal bars they look no different at all, aesthetically this isn't a bad thing by any means, but in the name of differentiation it has to be regarded as poor. Luckily the bars themselves looked pretty appetising with chunks of biscuit and plump looking raisins clearly visible amongst the oats.
Each of the bars came in foil based wrappers so they were all maintained in good condition and radiated reasonably nice aromas of biscuit and honey. As I mentioned in my opening paragraph, Hobnobs are up there as amongst my all time favourite biscuits so I was hoping that this bar delivered the usual Hobnob experience, but with an added chocolate and fruit twist. Biting in to the bar I was pleased to find that the texture was somewhat denser and chewier compared to an average cereal bar, with the golden syrup binding and raisins providing a greater than average resistance to normal. As I chewed the different cereal constituents came to the party intermittently - the oats were obviously the strongest tasting due to their greater portioning, but there were also sporadic hints of toasted cornflakes and rice that came through. Although the cereals dominated the majority of the initial flavour delivery, later on in the taste the chocolate, and Hobnob biscuit elements also added further interest. The milk chocolate didn't offer anything other than an average quality, sweet milky cocoa flavour burst, but it was at least there which was the main thing. During the latter stages of chewing, the Hobnob flavours were also detectable with suggestions of butter, brown sugar and a further compounding of the oats influencing the taste. In it's entirety the bar was about about right as a suitable sized snack, at a push I could probably have eaten another though.
Overall after eating these Medley bars I was disappointed, but content with what McVitie's had to offer. My disappointment with these was chiefly born out of what was I was initially hoping for. Prior to seeing the actual product I was hoping for a chocolate bar that had an added Hobnob influence - that it was I ascertained from the press release anyway! Of course what we got in reality was the product I have described above - a cereal based bar with a chocolate and Hobnob influence. That may sound like I'm saying that from a negative view point, and I guess in one way I am, and in another I'm not. In the vast spectrum of the cereal bars market this is a pretty decent offering, and one that I would recommend to Hobnob fans who wish to enjoy their favourite biscuits whilst out of home. On the other hand though, I can't help but think how great it would be to try a proper normal chocolate bar flavoured with Hobnob biscuit. I think Mars and McVitie's need to get their heads together and make it happen.
7.3 out of 10
Saturday, 10 July 2010
Friday, 9 July 2010
Over the past few weeks you will have seen that I have been treated to a number of Galler's filled chocolate bars. Ranging from their 'Manon' to their 'Amandes' offerings I have pretty much enjoyed every single one of them, so I approached this last Pistaches Fraiches flavour with feelings of both excitement and sadness (it was the last in my latest sampling package! Boo!!). This Pistaches Fraiches bar is another from Galler's white chocolate range, and combines an outer exterior of white chocolate, with a hazelnut and pistachio creme centre. I'm not one for hiding my preferences, so I will willingly admit that I saved this bar until last because of my love for pistachios - my hopes were pretty high.
Unlike the other three bars you have seen over the last few weeks, this came in a marginally smaller 65.0g size, though it was still split into the same four chunky block format. I will save you the spiel on the packaging - as you can see above it looked just as classy as ever, and the choice of light pastel green was fitting for the pistachio flavouring. Much like I thought with the other bars, the size of the blocks was a slight issue and I would have preferred them smaller. That gripe aside the chocolate still looked very appetising when it was cut in to, with the bright green coloured nuts shouting out for attention amongst the beige coloured filling.
If you have managed to catch either my Noix de Coco or my Manon Galler reviews you will have seen that I had very nice things to say about the quality of Galler's white chocolate. To save repeating myself I can rather just quickly confirm that this offered up much the same experience. The white chocolate was creamy in taste and had a pleasant vanilla noted flavour progression that never flirted with becoming excessively sweet. One of the first things I noticed when photographing this chocolate was how strong the hazelnuts came through in the tremendously alluring aromas. Looking at the ingredients the pistachios were actually portioned more greatly, though I guess it was little surprise they didn't come through as strongly in regards to the smells as they generally aren't the strongest scented nuts anyway. Whilst they lacked presence in the aroma, the pistachio nuts certainly didn't hold back when it came to the taste. Unlike the softer melting chocolate, the inner filling was far more variable in terms of texture and had several crispy, crunchy influences what with the various nut and cereal elements. Whilst variable in texture, the centre also brought several flavour enhancements to the taste, with intermittent inputs from the cereal, woody hazelnut creme and of course the salty pistachio nuts coming to the fore. In relation to some of Galler's milk and dark chocolates this wasn't the richest offering of theirs' - two blocks at a time felt like a more than adequate serving size.
Overall the constant progression of flavours made this a chocolate that was exceptionally fine tasting, and probably one of the best Galler chocolates I have ever tasted. As I have said in my Galler chocolate reviews before, had I the choice between their white, milk or dark chocolates I would probably choose one of the two latter, though I was again still very impressed with the quality of their white chocolate here. As good as the chocolate was, what really made this bar stand out to me was the quality of the inner filling, as the hazelnut and cereal constituents managed to nicely carry the pistachios without overbearing them in the overall taste. I have always thought that one of the best flavour combinations is to pair salt and sweet ingredients - chocolate and peanut butter, salted caramels etc. Pairing white chocolate with pistachios is another fine example of how ingredients like this can bring out the best in each other. Galler deserve a great deal of praise for crafting yet another delicious chocolate.
8.6 out of 10
Thursday, 8 July 2010
In true 'Bits n Bobs' fashion I will be running through each of the three bars below at a rate of knots :D I hope you can keep up! Be sure to share your thoughts on each!
Weetabix Oaty Bars Milk Chocolate
Kcal 67 Fat 1.5g Fat(sats) 0.5g Carbs 11.8g
'Milk chocolate flavoured cereal bar, drizzled with milk chocolate'
You may recall me reviewing the white chocolate variant from the Oaty Bars range in my first 'Bits n Bobs' cereal bar round up. On offer here we had pretty much the same proposition, with a golden syrup noted oaty base topped with a fairly unsubstantial sprinkling of milk chocolate. In comparison to the flavourless white chocolate topping on the other variety, the milk chocolate did come through in the taste somewhat better, however it was still a way off providing a satisfying chocolate flavour hit. The size of the bar was again way too small to satisfy even the smallest of tummy rumbles. On the whole better, but still not worth seeking out.
6.6 out of 10
Green & Black's Dark Chocolate Dipped Fruit & Nut Cereal Bar
Kcal 229 Fat 11.8g Fat(sats) 5.2g Carbs 26.7g
'Whole almonds with cherries and dried apricot, in a oat based cereal bar, dipped in 70% dark chocolate'
This without doubt is one of the best cereal bars I have ever had. I'm not generally crazy on the things anyway, but this stood out as product really packed full of variable flavours. The most prominent features in the taste were the tart cherries and buttery almonds, which really stood out from the sweet honey noted flavours of the oat base. Additionally the unsweetened cocoa flavours of the chocolate were also very forthcoming, and ensured that a swift chocolate flavour burst was present with each bite. The nutritional values may put some people off as they are hardly within the expectations of the average cereal bar consumer's limits, however I would really recommend this to anyone who is a fan of Green & Black's products. I rate more highly than a lot of their stand alone chocolates.
8.6 out of 10
'Cappuccino and chocolate flavoured rolled oats'
So you saved the best until last right Jim? Err no not quite! This bar caught my eye in my local Holland & Barrett store, and came with the promise of keeping me feeling fuller for longer. Now I can't deny that this bar had the potential to leaving my hunger feel satisfied for longer than the average chocolate or cereal bar, but in order for this to be a reality it would of had to have made me want to eat it. Unfortunately this just wasn't the case! This bar was nothing more than a bland, tasteless slab of rolled oats, with no hint of coffee or chocolate detectable at any point. To put it in to context I had to do the awful thing of checking the back of the wrapper after the first bite to see if it was still in date ... it was by nearly 6 months!! This bar just tasted awful, and I threw most of it in the bin. AVOID!!
3.8 out of 10
So there we have it! Three more whistle stop reviews of some of the cereal bars we have on the UK market. If you have any requests for ones you want to see in part 3, be sure to drop me a note. It would be great to hear from anyone else who has tried one of these bars ... did you think the G&B bar was as good as I did? Is the ADOR bar as bad as I am making out?
Wednesday, 7 July 2010
ChocolateMission people you now only have a matter of days left to enter the Heavenly Cakes competition - if you have no idea what I am talking about, or haven't got around to entering yet then I suggest you See HERE for further details. Whilst you lot have all been busy looking at what Heavenly Cakes baker Betty has to say about her dark chocolate brownies, I have been feasting my way through yet another of Heavenly's marvellous cakes. Taking centre stage today is the Heavenly Cakes Lumpy Bumpy Brownie, which you can find on their site described as 'our brownie base, with a layer of Dulce de Leche caramel, with natural cherries, pecans, more chunks of chocolate brownie and drizzled with Belgian milk chocolate' ... blimey trying saying that without having to pause for breath.
Like the other cakes I have reviewed over the past few weeks I requested that Heavenly send these in a single serving form. Having consumed most of them during tea breaks at work I have been met by many sets of squinting and envious eyes, but I have managed to maintain at least a few fans by splitting the monster sized portions with a few lucky colleagues. Having read up about these on the Heavenly website, I was eagerly looking forward to seeing what these Lumpy Bumpys (haha!) looked like in real life. When I received the cakes I was glad to see that like all the others that had gone before they looked exactly like the photographs on the website - with all the bits n bobs visible when the cakes were cut in to. As well as being aesthetically visible, there were also minor fruit and nuts scents detectable amongst the delightful brownie aromas that emerged once I had ripped open the plastic packet.
Like I did with most of the Heavenly Cakes I have reviewed recently, I left this Lumpy Bumpy Brownie in the fridge for short while to before eating it. Once again this had a positive effect on several of the constituents, as it firmed up the chocolate, caramel and brownie layers, whilst it also gave the cherry juices a pleasant coolness when they were bitten in to. In regards to describing the taste I literally don't know where to start - there was just so much going on in each bite. One of the consistent features throughout was the brownie base, and it did a fine job of holding together the wealth of other ingredients placed on top. At the heart of each bite the brownie layer delivered a wealth of chocolate and butter cake flavours to the party, though the elements that sat on top where the ones that dominated the taste for most part. Some bites had more of a fruity tartness thanks to the cherries, whilst others were more caramel and chocolate focused, with the Dulce de Leche caramel coming through most strongly in places where larger amounts of it had gathered. In the shuffle of the taste the pecan nuts did get somewhat lost in the insanely rich chocolate flavours, which was somewhat disappointing. Whilst they were lost flavourwise, their presence wasn't totally lost though, as their crunchy textures were a nice contrast from the softer chocolate and caramel elements. Given the size of the serving this was a brownie that I had to share, as it was just way to rich for a single person to consume in one sitting.
Overall this was yet another satisfying and delicious cake from my pals at Heavenly, though I wouldn't say it was quite as well matched to my own personal tastes as others have been before. Speaking as a man who really loves his nutty chocolates, I was disappointed that the pecans didn't cut through in the taste a little more, perhaps on reflection it would have been better if they had used whole hazelnuts or almonds to deliver the nut influence with greater authority?That minor gripe aside, the caramel and Belgian chocolate layers that covered the top of the cake were as delectable as ever, whilst the base brownie was as expected utterly sublime. Had you asked beforehand whether I would have liked to have seen cherries included in these brownies, I would most likely have declined, though I have to admit they tasted remarkably fresh and juicy, and they balanced the sweetness of the chocolate and caramel nicely with their slightly sour fruityness. All-in-all my preferences lie elsewhere within the Heavenly Cakes range, however if you like your brownies to be a little more adventurous, you really can't go wrong with these Lumpy Bumpys.
8.1 out of 10
Tuesday, 6 July 2010
After the last few weeks it wouldn't seem right to go without a Galler (Website - See HERE) review, and I haven't let you guys down. In my last two Galler features I reviewed a few of their white chocolate bars - the Noix de Coco and the Manon, with both scoring in the region of 8.0 on the ChocolateMission rating system. Over the past few days I decided to mix things up a little, and got stuck into this Amandes offering. The Galler Amandes came described on the wrapper as 'milk chocolate with an almond filling'. To be more precise this bar was formed of an outer shell of chocolate, encasing a dual marzipan and almond filling.
As with all the other Galler filled bars this came in a 70.0g serving size that was split into four large sized blocks. There isn't much I can say about the packaging that I haven't said in previous reviews; it again did a grand job of communicating the prestigious nature of the brand and the gold foil wrapping similarly maintained a good sense of luxury. As you will see from my photo above the blocks were very intricately crafted, with three different layers providing an interesting aesthetic proposition. When cut in to a minor set of nut scents washed over my senses, though I have to say I was more preoccupied looking at how the generously the fillings appeared to be be portioned.
Over all my Galler reviews I think we have all managed to grasp the fact that they make some outstanding chocolate. The 30% cocoa recipe used in this bar again provided a delightful flavour base for each and every mouthful, and the chocolate melted at a nice rate and longing soft smoothness. As the well paced melt developed the sweet, creamy cocoa volume became increasingly louder, up until the flavours plateaued in to a pleasant end note of vanilla. This was of course only the start of the flavour experience, as the praline and marzipan elements were next to the party. Out of the two the praline was first to establish itself, and it brought an interesting set of buttery, salted almond suggestions. Whilst this praline layer was nothing other than delicious and wonderfully progressive in terms of contribution to the total experience, it disappointingly hampered the flavour delivery of the marzipan. Unfortunately the marzipan layer tasted somewhat flavourless in comparison, and resultingly just felt like an awkward dry crumbly substance amongst the melted chocolate and praline. Although this wasn't the richest chocolate ever, like so many Galler products that have gone before it was certainly best consumed in small quantities.
Overall as good as both the milk chocolate and the almond praline were, this bar has been inhibited from scoring as highly as it should of have done because of it's ineffectual marzipan layer. In terms of quality I can't imagine me ever having to question Galler about any of their milk, dark or white chocolates - having tasted all of them quite extensively now I am quickly learning that the produce some delightfully fresh tasting chocolates that are as good as anything I have tasted from the like of Hotel Chocolat etc. Similarly the almond praline that accompanied the milk chocolate exterior was also superb, with it's forthcoming nut flavours providing a deliciously salty nut taste. Unfortunately though I couldn't help but feel a little let down by the marzipan - Niederegger quality it was not! If I was to get gifted a bar of this, I would feel more than happy to eat it again. Put in the context of some of Galler's other offerings though, I would personally say they have more to offer elsewhere.
7.9 out of 10
Monday, 5 July 2010
On one of my Hotel Chocolat posts a few weeks ago it was mentioned that I had reviewed over 80 ... yes 80 ... different Hotel Chocolat products. As amazing as that sounds, there is going to be little let up for the time being as it was only a few days ago that I received my latest lot of samples. In my latest package, these Hotel Chocolat House Praline were nestled in and amongst some of the more summery offerings (reviews coming soon!), and were described on the packaging as 'hazelnut praline in a milk chocolate shells'. In a way I thought this was a bit of a cheeky product to include in my latest selection, as these were nothing to do with the latest summer collection, but I bet HC knew they were almost guaranteed a positive write up. Hey, who am I to complain!? It wasn't as if they were wrong!
If you have read some of my previous Hotel Chocolat selection box posts you will have seen me review some very similar chocolates before, but these came in a 75.0g pack of six. I have commented before on my feelings towards this style of plastic film packaging so I will spare you all my long winded thoughts on that again - long story cut short I feel it does a job but I think there is room for the brand to progress beyond this simplistic design now. Eagle-eyed ChocolateMission readers will have noticed the British flag pattern work decorating the upper portion of each truffle. My best guess is that this was Hotel Chocolat's subtle way of supporting England's world cup bid!? Or perhaps even Andy Murray's attempt at a Wimbledon title this year ... by the time this review has been published I'm pretty sure both will be out of their respective competitions :D Regardless I thought the patriotism was a nice touch, and they further added interest to the already tempting looking dual layered outer shell and truffle centres.
As I said in my opening paragraph Hotel Chocolat must have been pretty damn confident about getting some positive PR from this review given that I have lauded over their praline chocolates on many a previous occasion. Although the wrapper stated that there was some dark chocolate constituents this was merely used to decorate the outer portion of each piece (the flag pattern!), so the main constituent was Hotel Chocolat's 40% milk chocolate. I needn't repeat myself for the hundredth (more accurately fiftieth) time but the milk chocolate was it's ever delightful self and fast established a creamy cocoa flavour base as it melted with it's divine smoothness. Sat below the shell of milk chocolate, the praline had a rougher, drier texture which was beneficial as it gave it a bit of differentiation in terms of feel from the outer chocolate. Fully in line with expectations the roasted woody flavours of the hazelnuts were delivered precisely, and the praline left a delicious set of flavours in the mouth for a long duration after. Being the ever so kind family man that I am, I shared these amongst my family to get some second, third and fourth opinions. Having witnessed the subsequent fight for the final two pieces I think it is pretty safe to conclude that these were loved by all - the arguing was so intense we had to bring split the remaining two in half to make sure we all got our fair share :D
Overall like we all knew they were going to be, these were wonderful! Like Hotel Chocolat probably were themselves, I was 99% confident I was going to love these before eating them - what with them being just milk chocolates with a praline filling it was hardly like there was ever going to be anything to dislike. What with the sheer amount of terrific Hotel Chocolat products I have tried over the past few years I constantly have to keep reminding myself how good these products are compared to the average market offering. To be honest even comparing these to other Hotel Chocolat products, I would have to say that they rank up there as one of my favourite chocolates that they make. If you are a fan of pralines like I know many of you are, then I can't recommend these chocolates enough. Whether you buy them as a gift or for your own consumption, the only advice I can give you is to buy a few more than you initially intend to - trust me it will save the sake of an argument if you have to share :D
8.8 out of 10
Sunday, 4 July 2010
Given that fact it came as great surprise to me when I received a request from ChocolateMission reader Ryan who asked me to review these Mint & Orange variants that we get here in the UK. Both of these Kit Kats have been around since ... well ... since time begand, and I even remember having them every so often during my school years. Quite how they have escaped the ChocolateMission rating system for so long I don't know - they were easy enough to find in my local Tesco supermarket once the request had come in.
I bought both flavours in multipack form, costing me £1.62 for 9 bars. I haven't bought a multipack of Kit Kats for a long time, but I was pleased to see Nestle had chosen to go back to the old school two layer wrappers comprising of the paper sleeve and foil wrap. I remember the days when they went to a single foil packet - those were dark, traumatic days when they deprived many a schoolboy/girl the pleasure of removing the tight layer of foil in their own unique way ... I really hope you lot know what I am talking about :D
Kit Kat Mint
Kcal 107 Fat 5.4g Fat(sats) 3.0.g Carbs 13.2g (per 2 finger bar)
'Crispy wafer fingers covered with mint flavoured milk chocolate'
Back in the day I would probably have said this was my favourite out of the two. I don't know if it is the recipe or my tastebuds that have changed, but I didn't enjoy quite as much as I used to. Compared to the standard or dark chocolate Kit Kat I felt the taste was far less progressive and was completely dominated by the peppermint flavours. The chocolate flavour hit was established within the first few seconds in the mouth, however it soon hit the 'mint wall', with the wafer rendered totally pointless in terms of contributing to the taste. The nicely contrasting soft melting chocolate and crisp wafer textures were still there, but the taste was pretty one dimensional in it's sweet minty flavours. Nice, but totally and utterly pointless if you don't like sweet mint chocolates.
7.7 out of 10
Of course with so many different products to review there was no way I was going to eat all 18 of these bars for myself, so I brought them in to work as a contribution to our tea area. This is always a fascinating thing to do, as when I have two different products to compare and contrast, it gives me the opportunity to see what gets gobbled up first. If you have sneaked a look at the ratings already it wont surprise you to hear that these Orange ones were the first go, and I, like my fellow co-workers, liiked them the better out of the two. Similarly to the Mint flavour, these Orange Kit Kats were pretty strong when it came to their orange fruit flavours, though they weren't quite as dominant on the overall taste. In comparison the wheaty flavours of the wafer came through a bit stronger and the sweet, milky cocoa flavours were a longer sustained.
8.1 out of 10
Overall reacquainting myself with both of these flavours for the first time in years made for a nice change, but I know as soon as I fancy a Kit Kat again in the future I will be reaching for an original milk chocolate or dark one (better yet an Australian Caramel Chunky!!). These UK flavoured Kit Kats had one fundamental difference from the flavoured ones I have tried from the likes of Japan. In both of these Mint and Orange variants it was the chocolate that was flavoured, which is different to the Japanese varieties where it is generally the inner creme between the wafer that delivers the enhancing flavours! Not everyone will agree with me but I prefer the Japanese approach, as it allows the outer chocolate and wafer elements to express themselves in the taste before the enhancing flavours kick in. If you like Orange and Mint chocolates then both of these Kit Kats will do quite nicely for you. I needn't probably tell you that given that they have been under all of our noses since forever, why don't you tell me which you prefer/like???
Saturday, 3 July 2010
Friday, 2 July 2010
Over the past few days I have been trying my luck with another of Galler's filled chocolate bars - this time taking a looking at their white chocolate offering - the Manon. If you looked at the site last week you will have hopefully of seen my review of Galler's Noix de Coco (See HERE) which got my latest batch of Galler reviews off to a tremendous start. As good as that coconut chocolate proved to be, I was looking forward to trying this Manon chocolate even more. On the wrapper this bar came billed as 'white chocolate with a coffee filling' - my expectations were sky high.
In line with the majority of Galler bars I have reviewed recently, this Manon came in a 70.0g form that was sectioned in to four separate blocks. In terms of packaging I was yet again impressed by the sophisticated wrapper style, although I did have the same grievances with the large size of each piece. As you will see from my photo above this Manon chocolate didn't differ all that much aesthetically from the Coco bar the other day, with the two tones of chocolate making for a visually stunning looking bar. Unwrapping the chocolate from it's foil confines, the product radiated a decent set of dairy scents that offered a minor suggestion of roasted coffee beans.
Long time ChocolateMission readers will be aware that white chocolate is probably my least favourite out of all three chocolate types but even I can appreciate how fine Galler's recipe is. Formed predominantly of full cream milk powder, sugar and cocoa butter the taste created was smooth and flowing, and fast established a fine set of delicious milk based flavours. The melt of the outer white chocolate felt divine as it warmed in the mouth, though it has to be said the centre wasn't quite as soft feeling as I suspected it might be. The chief reason for this was due to the presence of some grounded bits of hazelnuts which gave the texture a slightly gritty feel and created an initial minor nuttiness to the taste of the filling. As the lighter filling melted on the tongue the coffee element did come through to a reasonable degree, though there was a lingering fruity note forever present which prevented the coffee totally taking a hold of the taste. The combined sweetness of the white chocolate and ramping up of the cocoa volume from the centre, did make for a pretty rich taste - two blocks proved more than enough for a single sitting.
Overall this wasn't quite perhaps the strong coffee flavoured chocolate I was after, however it was certainly a very decent white chocolate bar nonetheless. This Manon offering proved that previous experiences with Galler white chocolate have been no fluke - these guys know how to make high quality white chocolate which is a talent not to be sniffed at. When I think about all the different manufactures white chocolate capabilities I would say only very few can match Galler when it comes to quality. With the likes of Hotel Chocolat to one side, Galler stand out as one of the most competent when it comes to this part, and this Manon was another fine example of what they can do. It may not have been the espresso strong filling I was hoping for, but the fruit hinted coffee flavours were a better than average alternative. If you are a fan of sweeter coffee chocolates than I would say this is one of the better bars I have come across on the market.
8.2 out of 10
Thursday, 1 July 2010
This summer Hotel Chocolat have continued to add several new products to their range with additions being made right across their different product formats. As well as the Summer themed selection boxes such as their Summer Cocktails Collection (See HERE), and their signature chocolate slabs, they have also innovated some of their 'smaller things' offerings - with these Caramel Drops being recently introduced. Around May 2009 you might recall me reviewing their Salted Caramel Puddles (See HERE). Seemingly this year Hotel Chocolat have taken a 'smaller is better stance' as these came billed as 'caramel milk chocolate drops'.
Despite being small in terms of individual size, these chocolate drops still came in a 140.0g size, which is the same as last years Caramel Puddles. As both products were price aligned from this year to last, its good to know Hotel Chocolat decided not to cheat consumers in terms of quantity (the likes of Cadbury/Nestle please take note!). Whilst it was nice seeing that the sizes were still the same, I was less enthralled to see that the Drops came packaged in much the same way as the previous year Puddles. I don't want to get at Hotel Chocolat too much about their packaging as I still think it's passable for what it is, though I would have thought that they might have looked to have progressed from this very basic plastic packet style.
Taking my first handful the first thing I observed was how the Drops lacked the dusty, scuffed surfaces that the Puddles had. In terms of smells the Drops radiated a decent set of chocolatey aromas, and promisingly there were hints of burnt toffee also detectable. Due to the Drops being so small I ate several pieces per mouthful - about five was a comfortable amount to put in the mouth at one time. Being quite familiar with Hotel Chocolat caramel chocolate, the flavours were instantly recognisable with the taste predominantly lead by the creamy cocoa progressing in to a sweeter, buttery burnt sugar taste. This flavour progression developed as the Drops slowly transcended from their solid to liquid state, with the finish noted by a delightful salty influence which left a pleasant taste in the mouth. The taste was delicious, but never came through as strongly as the bigger sized Salted Caramel Puddles. As I so often find with smaller products like this I didn't find these particularly satisfying, they reminded me of Maltesers a bit in the way they generated great flavours yet were pretty unfulfilling.
Overall these were a nice enough product from Hotel Chocolat, but I would suggest there were a bit of a step back from their Salted Caramel Puddles from last year. Given how the company has risen in stature with heightened consumer awareness I would of thought that an upgrade of their packaging might not have been out of the realms of possibility. Whilst that is me nit picking at areas where they might have improved, one thing is for certain is that these Caramel Drops weren't quite as effective at generating the same flavour impact that the larger sized Puddles did last year. Of course it would be silly (and wrong) for me to suggest that the delicious cream based caramel chocolate flavours weren't there, but it was more that they weren't as loud or sustained for as long in comparison to the Puddles. I know some people may prefer the smaller sized format, but personally my preference would be for the larger sized pieces. To cut the long story short, these are better than your average chocolate offering, but in terms of Hotel Chocolat's range there are certainly better options available.
7.5 out of 10
Wednesday, 30 June 2010
Kcal 200 Fat 11.0g Fat(sats) 5.0g Carbs 25.0g (per 5 pieces)
I hope you have noticed that fulfilling requests is something I take very seriously on this site. After all, if I'm not giving you guys the stuff you want to read then it is pretty pointless me writing my reviews, thus I always try and keep on top of the products you ask after. Saying that, I have to hold up my hands and admit that for some reason or other I had never made it round to reviewing one of the most commonly mentioned products amongst all the e-mails and comments. The product I am talking about is Storck Toffifee, which can be found quite easily in most of the major UK supermarket - especially around the holiday seasons.
Despite being widely distributed in the likes of Tesco and Sainbury's etc, Toffifee is actually an imported brand made by the German based company Storck - the same guys who make Riesen chocolates. On the box Toffifee are described as 'a hazelnut in caramel with creamy nougat and chocolate', and for the purpose of this review I bought a 15 piece pack. Speaking of the box itself, I thought it was all well presented with the branding, on-pack blurb and illustrations very effective at communicating the inner contents. As displayed by the pictures, the actual Toffifee pieces were very unique looking, and when cut in to, it could be seen that they were very intricately layered. Whilst it can be said that they created impact aesthetically, I can't say they had the same allure in regards to aromas, as aside from some faint sugary scents not much managed to register.
Not being perturbed by the lacking smells, I shared these with some work colleagues who I was surprised to hear had eaten Toffifee quite a few times before between them. From the ouset I felt each piece was just a little oversized for a comfortable mouthful, though I was more pleasantly surprised at how fast the outer chewy caramel layer softened. During the time of the caramel softening, an ever increasing amount of buttery, sugar flavours became present and they provided a nice smooth, flowing taste that led nicely into the inner chocolate layer. Sat in the middle of each Toffifee, the chocolate constituents was supposedly dual layered, though both really merged in to one single chocolate flavour delivery by the time the caramel had melted away. The chocolate wasn't particularly cocoa heavy in taste, but it was relatively unsweetened which made a nice change from the normative sweet milk chocolates. Amongst the milky, cocoa flavours a pleasant undercurrent of woody hazelnut was ever present, and this nutty influence was the lasting impression left in the mouth due to the single whole hazelnut that was left to crunch on once the chocolate had melted away entirely. The hazelnut was a fitting end to a chocolate that was wonderfully progressive and variable in both taste and texture, however it was commented on by some of my fellow taste testers that some of the nuts seemed a little soft and not all that fresh tasting.
Overall when it comes to caramel and chocolate products I like to feel I am pretty clued up given that it is one of my all time favourite combinations, so I think my judgment on these Toffifee is made in good knowledge. Whilst I have had many high end offerings such as Paul A Young's Salted Caramels, you may also have noticed that I do have time for the more standard caramel chocolate products (See Cadbury Caramel etc!). Judging these Storck Toffifee within that latter category of lower end products I would say they were a solid and unique offering, though at the same time I would also make the point that they don't do anything at a level I would deem outstanding. By that I mean the caramel, chocolate and nut constituents are all of a fair to good quality, though it isn't as if any of them stand out as being superb in isolation. What does work nicely for Toffifee is the way that each of the different elements to combine and contribute towards a multi-dimensional taste. If you are a fan of Storck's Riesen chocolates and you like your nuts, then I would suggest you give these a try. If the shops are anything like mine round near you then it is likely you can find these at some bargain prices - you have little excuse not to give them a go then.
7.6 out of 10
Tuesday, 29 June 2010
Kcal 572 Fat 39.0g Fat(sats) 25.8g Carbs 50.4g (per 100.0g)
Thanks to the interest and requests expressed by ChocolateMission readers on my last review, the kind people at Galler (wesbite See HERE) have sent me along another batch of samples for me to work my way through. In that last Ballotin of Pralines post (See HERE), I was very complimentary of some of the white chocolate pieces within the selection, and many of you urged me to try review some of their filled white chocolate bars. In line with demand, Galler included this Noix de Coco offering and it came billed as 'white chocolate with a coconut filling'. On more than a few occasions I have mentioned that coconut is a massively under utilised ingredients nowadays. Manufacturers like Lindt have proven in the past that when it comes to pairing white chocolate and coconut together, the synergy created can be quite spectacular.
This bar came in a 70.0g form that was split in to four very hefty sized chunks. As I mentioned on my previous Piemontais review from this part of the Galler range, I loved the packaging. One of my family did comment that the yellow colour coded tab at the top made it look like a paint sample from a DIY store, but personally I think it is a nice way to differentiate the different varieties and I liked how the Galler branding was kept minimal in a very suave fashion. In terms of the chocolate, again the blocks were a little on the large side and I would have preferred the bar to be broken into smaller pieces. That minor gripe aside the blocks looked stunningly crafted and the little bits of coconut really stood out amongst the darker coloured filling.
Looking at the ingredients list the outer white chocolate was formed of just six ingredients, with the full cream milk powder and cocoa butter sitting just behind the lead constituent sugar. This clean looking ingredients list was translated nicely in the taste, with the white chocolate providing a crisp, creamy set of flavours as soon as it entered the mouth. The white chocolate melted at a just about the right melt in the mouth, and became increasingly louder in it's smooth, milky flavours as it did so. During the latter stages of the melt of the outer chocolate, a vanilla hint was detectable for a fleeting second, though it was quickly dominated by the utterly delicious flavours of the coconut centre. As the filling slowly warmed in the mouth, sweet hazelnut and cocoa flavours came to the party and quickly melted away leaving the rough pieces of dessicated coconut. When bit in to, the small specks of coconut delivered the most immense amount of creamy nut flavours, which lasted a great deal of time in the mouth for a long duration after consuming. What with the white chocolate and praline centre, the taste was pretty sweet so this wasn't a chocolate best consumed in large quantities. As an accompaniment for an after dinner coffee it has to be said this was nothing short of superb, I savoured all four blocks.
Overall this was another very fine chocolate from Galler who have no proven that they have expertise in all three milk, dark and white chocolate sectors. As good as the white chocolate exterior was, the really shining star for me with this product was the combination of the coconut and praline centre, which has to be said was totally amazing. The synergy created by the sweet hazelnut flavours and the crunchy dessicated coconut was very reminiscent of one of my favourite German chocolates the Romy Classic Cocos. The difference between these two bars was that this Galler Noix de Coco was coated in a delicious layer of white chocolate, which was a very fitting choice for the richer tasting nut filling. If you are a fan of white chocolate and coconuts then I can't see any reason why you wouldn't get a great deal of satisfaction from this offering. Given the standard of this bar I can't wait to try my next Galler chocolate!
8.4 out of 10
Monday, 28 June 2010
If you failed to check the site at the weekend (shame on you!) you will have missed the fact that I have just launched the first ever Heavenly Cakes Competition - See HERE. If you are yet to enter I suggest you get in your entry now. Don't forget you can enter the bonus part of the competition as many time as you want - just come up with a funny new anecdote for Betty talking about her dark chocolate brownies. Speaking of brownies, this brings me on to todays product quite nicely Heavenly Cakes Milk Chocolate Brownie. On the Heavenly website, these brownies come described as 'smooth, truffle-like Belgain milk chocolate brownies with extra chunks of chocolate' and having had a little taster of their brownie capabilities from their Billionaire Brownie cakes I was very much looking forward to giving them a try.
Upon my request, my pals at Hevaenly Cakes sent me a few single serve brownie packs. As ever these 'single servings' were Heavenly Cakes 'single servings' i.e. enough to feed a small family, so I split one with a friend over a coffee. Presentation wise the brownie wasn't the most exciting look cake that Heavenly make, but it still looked pretty glamorous when it was cut in to, and there was a noticeable difference in the denser looking centre and the crisper, lighter looking outer portions. Whilst it was aesthetically nice to look at, what took me back the most was the gorgeously fresh scents that emerged from the plastic packet when it was opened. Aromas of chocolate and cake immediately washed over my senses and they smelt fantastic. My friend was similarly impressed at how nice the smells were - you know they have to be good when they are remarked on by someone who isn't actively searching for them.
Just as I did with all the cakes that Heavenly sent me last week I put this brownie in the fridge to chill for a while before eating it. Those of you who like their brownies heated may be thinking I was nuts doing this, but believe me it really did work out for the best. This time stored in the fridge further accentuated the contrasting textures - that may sound a little guffy but in simpler terms refridgerating the brownie made the outer portion of the brownie crispier, the middle bit denser and the inner chocolate chunks slower melting. All these different kinds of textures gave the brownies a real presence in the mouth and delivered the divine flavours quite superbly. In terms of taste, the brownie had a firm grounding of butter cake and brown sugar, though the chocolate flavour hit was established very quickly with the milky cocoa flavours coming through stronger and stronger every second the brownie was chewed. One of the most enjoyable aspects noted by friend were the inner chocolate chunks, which when encountered gave an extra creamy chocolate flavour burst - put more of these in next time please Heavenly! Like the majority of Heavenly cakes I found this brownie to be sinfully rich - I don't think I could have handled a whole one to myself.
Overall this was the best plain brownie I think I have ever had the delight of eating. That statement isn't one I can say lightly either, as quite a few of my work colleagues often bring in homemade ones - sorry if you are reading this guys but these Heavenly Cakes Milk Chocolate Brownies have blown you all out the water. My photograph above may not look like the most exciting foodporn image that I have posted in my Heavenly reviews so far, but these brownies looked fantastic in real life and were only exceeded aesthetically by their lush aromas and subsequent delicious taste. I have probably gone in to excessive detail about this above already, but one thing I think needs reaffirming is the quality of how the different layers felt in the mouth. The progression from the crispy exterior to the gooey innards was nothing like I have experienced before from any brownie, it was just wonderful. If you are a fan of chocolate brownies I can't really say anything other than I thoroughly recommend these.
8.8 out of 10
Saturday, 26 June 2010
Listen up ChocolateMission readers!!! Our friends over at Heavenly Cakes have been so overwhelmed with the great feedback you have all been giving them on my reviews (See HERE) that they have decided to run a free entry competition.
Whats up for grabs?
Three lucky winners will win a Giftpack sized cake selection of their choosing!
So how do you enter?
If you look at the Heavenly Cakes website you will see that 'Betty' (the Heavenly Cakes mascot pictured at the bottom of this post!) has something to say about Heavenly Cakes' Dark Chocolate Brownies.
Quite simply all you have to do is send me an e-mail to Jim[@]chocolatemission.net with what Betty is saying.
***BONUS ROUND*** To make the competition at least partly effort/skill based Heavenly have also suggested a special bonus prize ....
If you can think of a wittier statement for Betty to exclaim please include this on your entry - the funniest phrase will be added to the Heavenly Cakes website, and the winner will also recieve a giftpack of their choice.
Winners will be picked at random and notified on July 10th
Good luck to everyone!
Usual rules apply 1) One entry per person 2) Only open to UK based readers 3) Please include all postal address on your entries 4) I have the right to change the rules at any given time / my decision is final.