July 31st: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 50

### Jim's Corner ###

Hi All,

Not much to report this week but I have the pleasure of bringing you the names of the winners of the mid week Ritter Sport competition. The winners were Sally (comment #5), Alan (comment #30) and Phil (comment #42) - please can you guys send me your adresses so I can send on your Ritter winnings.

The good news for the rest of you is that I still have lots of samples left to give away! So look out for more competitions coming very soon.

Now to clear up the matter of Jim's ChocolateMission Shop. You will see on the left hand sidebar of the site I have created an affiliate store on Amazon. I do have plans down the line to enter a far more developed store, but for the minute this very basic store will be helping fund my ChocolateMission. Take a look a look at whats on offer HERE. Keep your eyes peeled for a more developed store opening later this year.

Just as a reminder - keep an eye on the Hotel Chocolat site (SEE HERE) - they are starting to put up their End of Season clearance lines.

Have great weeks guys and girls


News from the chocolate market

* News continues to rumble on about that chap who bought a large portion of the world's cocoa ... See HERE

* Cadbury finally got around to informing everyone of their exclusive Morrisons' Bar of Plenty bar ... See HERE .... REVIEW HERE

* Seemingly I missed out on celebrating National milk chocolate day ... See HERE

* Divine have launched a new Orange & Ginger variant ... See HERE

* These guys set a new record for eating 3 Mars bars in under a minute - the thought of that makes me feel pretty ill .... See HERE

Have I missed anything? Please share your stories!!!

Updated Reviews

Only the one this week ... Fry's Peppermint Cream

Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week

* TheImpulsiveBuy - I've got a real thing for granola at the moment. Marvo checked out these dark chocolate and peanut butter Nature Valley thin granola bars ... See HERE

* GiGiReviews - Gi was on top form again this week reviewing some very HobNob like looking Archway Iced Oatmeal Cookies ... See HERE

* Foodstufffinds - Cin tracked down the new chocolate flavoured Weetabix. I can highly recommend them myself! They are very tasty ... See HERE

* JapaneseSnackReviews - Only the Japanese would think of making Lemon Tea flavoured cookies :D ... See HERE

* Chocablog - Simon tried out the very cool sound Zotter Butter Caramel. I hope Mr Zotter sends me one along soon ... See HERE

* ZOMGCandy - Rosa wrote a great double post review this week documenting her thoughts on Ritter Sports Mini Chocolate Collection - its well worth a read ... See HERE

Delivered chocolate gifts from Hotel Chocolat

July 30th: Cadbury Old Gold Dark Chocolate Peppermint

Kcal 475 Fat 20.7g Fat(sats) 13.1g Carbs 66.3g (per 100.0g)

The facial expression on my neighbour when I went round to pick up my parcel of chocolates flown in from New Zealand really was a picture :D "chocolates from New Zealand???" ... "are you sure this parcel was meant for you?" A brief explanation of my chocolate reviewing shenanigans later, and I had myself a new reader! The company who caused all this 'confusion' was Shopenzed, who are a service who ship all manner of goods from the Southern Hemisphere right across the globe - See HERE. Included in my latest sampling pack from them was this Cadbury Old Gold Dark Chocolate Peppermint bar. I have previously had some good experiences with the Cadbury's Old Gold chocolate, so I was excited at the prospect of them making the most of this 'dark chocolate with a peppermint fondant' combination.

This bar came in a large sized 220.0g form, which was pretty lucky given that the rest of my family were pretty keen on getting their fair share. I've said it before, but let me reiterate it again, the Old Gold packaging looks superb. On my previous Old Gold reviews, readers have added comments along the lines of the wrappers not looking very Cadbury esc. and more Lindt in style, but on the whole the consensus seems to be that the range is nicely presented. The chocolate itself was segregated in the same format as the Old Gold Liqueur Flavoured Selection I reviewed last month, with each block being a manageable size for the mouth and the inner filling sensibly portioned.

The chocolate came wrapped in a thick layer of gold foil, which maintained the product in a fresh state both aesthetically and aroma wise. Taking in the smells, the chocolate emanated some fragrant cocoa scents, though I was a little disappointed that there wasn't any sort of minty offering until the chocolate was bitten in to. In terms of taste all four of us in my family didn't get overly excited by the Old Gold chocolate. Looking at it from a positive point of view, the two non dark chocolate fans in my family did remark they quite liked it, as the 40% recipe dished out a less intense, bitter taste than they had experienced with previous dark chocolates. From my perspective it wasn't so much the chocolate that I enjoyed, but more the peppermint flavoured centre which was by all accounts very nice. The mint fondant had a great presence throughout the taste, and immediately established a fresh tasting minty flavour burst as soon as it was encountered. I have found in the past that fondants can quickly become pretty overbearing in regards to their sugary sweetness, but this particular one managed to create more of a creamy taste as the melt developed. Personally I found this chocolate was best when eaten just a few blocks at a time, but on the contrary my chocolate mint loving sister was found reaching back in to the packet many a time for "just one last piece" :D

Overall I would struggle creating a case promoting the idea that someone outside of Australia/New Zealand should import this bar, but if I resided in the Southern Hemisphere it would certainly be a chocolate I would give a chance. For some reason or other, Cadbury just aren't the best at making dark chocolate. My views on the Bournville chocolate we have here in the UK are probably more extreme than the average consumer, but even I have to admit that the Cadbury Old Gold chocolate they make in Australia isn't half bad for a mass produced dark chocolate. Whilst the Old Gold chocolate was fair in regards to quality, the mint fondant centre was a step up in terms of class, and the creamy peppermint flavours certainly brought life to the overall experience. I have little doubt that chocolate mint lovers (like my sister *ahem*) would get a lot of enjoyment out of this Old Gold Dark Chocolate Peppermint offering, though I don't think I can go as far as saying it is anywhere near being a 'must try' product.

7.5 out of 10

July 29th: Ritter Sport Rum, Raisin & Nuts

Kcal 507 Fat 29.0g Carbs 53.0g (per 100.0g)

If you have been reading the site over the last few weeks it is highly likely that you would have seen my review of Ritter Sport's latest flavour addition, their Espresso chocolate. When I was approached about reviewing that chocolate, I took the time to have a quick look across the entire Ritter Sport range, just to check if there were any glaring admissions that I hadn't covered yet. Looking across the last three years it appeared that I had done a pretty thorough job, with only two flavours missing from my collection. One of these, most annoyingly was Ritter's Cocos (coconut) flavour, which unfortunately now has been taken out of production. Whilst I unfortunately can't build a time machine to review that flavour, the other bar I hadn't reviewed was thankfully still in distribution, so today I have great delight in bringing you my review of Ritter Sport's Rum, Raisin & Nuts bar.

My contacts at Ritter sent me six bars of this flavour to sample (alot huh!?), anyone who leaves a comment with a correct guess of the bar's weight on todays review will automatically be entered in to a prize draw for one of three leftovers* - if anyone gets this wrong it will be beyond belief haha! Suffice to say both the packaging and the chocolate looked terrific, I hope you are enjoying the extreme close up today, I wanted to give you all a good view of the nuts and raisins! The glossy foil wrapper was not only nice on the eye and decent at communicating the flavour theme (albeit in German!), but it also did a sterling job of containing the delightful fruity chocolate run smells that burst out of the packet each and everytime the seal was breached.

If I can quickly point you in the direction of the review I wrote on the Ritter Sport Raisins & Hazelnuts bar I reviewed a few years ago, it is probably better that I write about where this bar differed to that original offering rather than simply regurgitate what I wrote back then. Fundamentally this chocolate offered much the same experience with the milk chocolate, raisins and hazelnut constituents altogether making for a terrifically tasty fruit and nut experience. Once again the milk chocolate wasn't the most profound in terms of quality, but it was fair in flavour and did it's usual job of carrying the inner ingredients well. The raisins and nuts delivered their sweet fruit and wooden nut flavours expertly, though I have to say the taste was taken a step further on by the introduction of the Jamaican Rum to fold. I'm no big rum drinker, but the integration of the liqueur in to the chocolate was magnificently handled, and was neither too strong or too weak. The fruity alcoholic taste was complimented terrifically by the warming mouth sensation it created. Quite simply it managed to tick the boxes in terms of enhancing both taste and texture, and made for a delicious, moreish chocolate.

Overall Ritter Sport may not always be seen as the most prestigious or up market brands, but the quality of this chocolate leads me to believe they could teach the likes of Hotel Chocolat, Thorntons etc a few lessons. As I passed reference to above, the quality of the milk chocolate you get with flavoured Ritter Sport bars does not compete with higher end brands, (I wish they would implement their new 35% recipe across their range!!) but one thing they generally deliver on is the quality of their flavoured fillings. This rum, raisin and nuts bar would be yet another glowing example of why they deserve such recognition - it was delicious in every sense. When I have tried alcohol flavoured chocolates in the past, I have often found that the spirits are too overpowering *ahem* Hotel Chocolat *ahem* or too weak, but the rum in this bar was nothing other than spot-on. It was flavoursome and created an impression with it's warming mouth feel, whilst still allowing full expression of the raisin and nut elements - it was almost perfect. I could go on for a long time rattling off superlatives, but it's probably best I just end with the statement that if you like rum & raisin chocolates you needn't look elsewhere.

8.8 out of 10

*winners announced at weekend. Multiple comments doesn't = multiple entries. Rules of this competition to my own discretion

July 28th: Milka Milch-Toffee Genuss

Kcal 540 Fat 33.0g Fat(sats) 18.3g Carbs 55.5g (per 100.0g)

Following swiftly on from my review of Milka's 'Chocolate Pleasure' variety two weeks ago, I today have the 'pleasure' of bringing you my views on yet another of their latest seasonal offerings. Named similarly to the aforementioned variety, this Milch-Toffee Genuss (translation: Milk Toffee Pleasure) came billed as 'Alpine milk chocolate with milk cream and caramel-coffee flavoured caramel. Admittedly Milka seasonal varieties haven't always set my world on fire, but as you may have noticed this was a combination of two of my all time favourite ingredients. It was going to be interesting to see if Milka could bring the best out of the both of them with their milk chocolate.

This new flavour has been introduced in to Milka's standard range, so it came in a 100.0g form. As you will see above the packaging didn't look much different to any other variety within the Milka portfolio, though I thought the flavour combination could have been communicated a little more clearly as the branding didn't pass reference to the coffee content, nor did the on pack coffee bean pictures really stand out that much. That aside the chocolate blocks looked pleasant on the eye, with the dual layered filling of inner creme and caramel nicely visible sandwiched in between the outer portions of milk chocolate.

Sealed within the usual resealable film material, the chocolate was maintained in a nice, fresh state and the coffee and caramel smells that radiated from the bar when I opened it only further went to heighten my anticipation. In the context of all mass produced chocolates, the creamy, sweet, hazelnut noted taste of Milka alpine milk sits just a little below the likes of Cadbury and Galaxy in my estimation, though it did as finer job as ever providing a more than adequate chocolate flavour hit with each mouthful. The melt and flavour flow of the chocolate was typically smooth, and led nicely into two fillings that sat below. Trying to describe the two components in isolation would be a bit of pointless thing to do due to them blending together during the melt, though it is worth passing comment that their textures nicely complimented each other, with the drier creme being nicely moistened by the liquidity of the caramel. In terms of flavours I'm glad to say that this was one of the best flavoured Milka centres I have had for a long while. The coffee element wasn't the strongest tasting ever (think milky mocha rather than espresso!!), though it registered nicely on the pallet, and the burnt sugar and caramel flavours brought to life the toffee element to great effect. I ate the 100.0g totality across three separate sittings and felt a decent degree of satisfaction each time due to the volume of the taste it offered.

Overall I must admit that I had started to become a little sceptical at the quality of some of Milka's latest flavours, but this Milch-Toffee Genuss has put them back on the right track in my mind. Off the top of my head I can't think of a coffee, caramel alternative (come on someone put me straight there must be one!!) so straight away this got a tick in my mind as it was at least a unique flavour combination. Having tasted it, I can now upgrade that initial tick, to an even bigger one :D Milka executed this collaboration of caramel and coffee terrifically, and made a chocolate that was both nicely progressive in taste and very flavoursome. If I had my own way I would have made more of the coffee element in this chocolate, however I understand the strength at which it was implemented given the tastes of a typical Milka consumer being more inclined to a weaker offering. If you have tried any of Milka's toffee or caramel chocolate varieties before and enjoyed them, I would recommend this as another you will want to take a look at.

8.7 out of 10

July 27th: Nestle Milkybar Raisin & Biscuit

Kcal 189 Fat 10.1g Carbs 21.9g

Just a few weeks ago in Edition 47 of '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' I brought you all the news (via ChocolateMission reader Alan) that Nestle were bringing a new Raisin & Biscuit bar to their Milkybar range. If you read the several press releases flying around the Internet, this new bar is a bid to appeal to 'adult consumers', and is being backed by a £7 million pound 360 marketing campaign. Also included on all these announcements are some pretty bold statements such as 'over 75% of consumers like white chocolate', and that 'over 60% of Milkybars singles are bought by adults for their own enjoyment'. I don't wish to dispute either of those two facts too much, but I would be interested to see the sample of consumers they used to determine both of those snippets - they strike me as pretty high ... do 75% of your friends like white chocolate!??

A full week ahead of it's July 26th launch I found these on sale in my local Boots drugstore, priced at 65p each for a 37.0g bar. On the wrapper the bar was described as 'white chocolate with raisins (11%) and biscuit (15%) and held no surprises in terms of the ingredients listed - 'sugar, milk, cocoa butter, whey powder, vegetable fat ...'. What did surprise me somewhat about the packaging was that despite trying to appeal to a completely different consumer, they chose to keep it pretty consistent with the rest of the Milky bar range. Although I think the wrapper looks decent enough, I personally think there was scope for Nestle to have been a little more clever here. Since they are trying to attract older consumers back to the brand, why didn't they roll out a retro looking Milky bar wrapper and play off the nostalgia factor!?

Taking the chocolate out the foil wrapper I was a little more impressed by what I saw and smelt. The sweet dairy smells offered minor biscuit hints, which wasn't surprising giving the volume of raisin and nut pieces that were visually evident throughout the bar. Handily the bar was split into eight small sized blocks that broke pretty evenly despite the heavy portioning of the inner ingredients. I have to admit that it has been a pretty long time since I ate my last Milky bar, but from what I tasted today it is pretty obvious there have been some adaptations to the recipe since my last experience. Milky bars have always been very sweet tasting and sugar led in taste, but if my tastebuds are anything to go by it has become increasingly more so. The smooth milky flavours I'm so used to from my younger years seemed to be less prolific in the overall taste, and were dominated by a sharper, almost throat burning sugary flavour bursts. To be honest the chocolate was so sweet already the added sugaryness from the fruity raisins wasn't particularly welcome, and it simply culminated in the biscuit pieces not factoring in the taste at all. On the more positive side the raisins and biscuits did add decent textural elements with their respective chewy and crunchy influences, however the totality of the sugar led taste meant I could barely stomach more than a few blocks of this at a time making it for me a pretty unsatisfying snacking option.

Overall a little part of me does feel bad awarding one of my childhood favourite brands such a poor mark, but to be honest I have a little choice given the changes made to the recipe and the missed opportunities that this product presented. It will be interesting to hear from my readers as to whether they think that Milky bar white chocolate has changed down the years!? From what I can tell the product they offer now is significantly different to what it was a few years ago. Since Nestle don't give %'s of ingrdients on the wrapper there will be no way of telling, but I would be confident placing a vast sum of money on the level of milk solids depreciating and the level of sugar rising as time has gone on. In regards to the actual 'new' flavour enhancing raisin & biscuit elements, despite their generous implementation I didn't feel as if they added much to the taste given the dominance of the sweet white chocolate they were based in. Speaking of the missed opportunities, if Nestle are truley serious about going after the adult market, I would suggest they should have gone about it in an entirely different manner. I think that producing a limited edition Milkybar with an old school retro looking wrapper would probably have got the attention of the older consumers more, than this pretty kiddie sounding raisin & biscuit offering. Hey I just work in marketing - what do I know :D

6.7 out of 10

July 26th: Cadbury Bar of Plenty Honey Flakes & Caramelised Pecans

Kcal 515 Fat 27.6g Fat(sats) 16.0g Carbs 59.2g (per 100.0g)

Back at the start of 2010 Cadbury announced the launch of their new Bar of Plenty range, and of course I was straight on the case reviewing all three flavours for the site. If you wish to remind yourselves of what I thought of those bars take a look HERE, but to cut the long story short my order of preference (best-to-worst) was the Hazelnut & Cashew, then the Berry & Shortcake and then lastly the Toffee Apple. Back in then February I was lucky enough to review those bars before they hit the marketplace thanks to a PR agency distributing samples on behalf of Cadbury. Last week that very same PR agency contacted me again offering me the opportunity to try a new special 'Charity Pack' flavour that Cadbury are releasing in the coming weeks, this Honey Flakes & Caramelised Pecan bar.

This bar came in the standard 'Bar of Plenty' size and weighed in at 140.0g. This 'Charity Pack' is being distributed solely in Morrisons supermarkets here in the UK, and for every pack bought Cadbury will be donating 10p to a charity called 'Help the Hospices'. A small criticism I have about the wrapper is that very similar aesthetically to the Hazelnut & Cashew variant, which also happens to use of a orangey/yellow secondary colour. Looking at it from a more positive perspective, a few work colleagues who I shared the bar with did pick up on the 'Charity Pack' logo on the front so I guess there is evidence that Cadbury have done a good job raising awareness for the charity. Inside the chocolate was blocked in the usual Cadbury size, and looked relatively attractive with the cornflakes especially visible throughout.

One thing you can always rely on with any Cadbury product is that you are going to be treated to some glorious aromas whenever you open one of their chocolate bars. The smell of Cadbury never fails to put a smile on my face, and this bar did so once again with it's delightfully poignant scents. Rather than waste time describing the taste of Dairy Milk for the hundredth time, allow me to just quickly inform you that it delivered the usual creamy sweet cocoa flavours within it's unique smooth melting thick texture. What was of more interest to me, and I'm guessing to all of you lot, were what the inner cornflake and pecan elements were going to bring to the party. I have to admit that to my surprise it was the cornflakes that had the better cut through in the taste, with the cereal flavours coming through strongly when munched on once the surrounding chocolate had melted away. The cereal flakes benefited hugely by the glazing of honey that lined each piece, as the sweet floral flavours made them far most distinctive flavour wise than they would of been had they just been plain. To my disappointment the caramelised pecans generally failed to materialise in the taste - no doubt this was largely down to the fact that the nut pieces were so small in size they were barely detectable either visibly or in the mouth. Despite the lack of input from the pecans, this still felt like a reasonably satisfying and enjoyable chocolate. The bar I opened in the office disappeared within a matter of minutes which is always a good sign.

Overall this Honey Flakes & Caramelised Pecans proved itself to be a welcome, yet unspectacular addition to the Cadbury Bar of Plenty range. With Cadbury you can always feel safe in the knowledge that you are going to get decent tasting milk chocolate, but one thing you aren't always assured of is the quality of the filling that goes along with it. Hopefully you will have been able to interpret from my ramblings above that cereal element of this bar was implemented pretty superbly, with the honey coated cornflakes having a very favourable impact on the overall taste. The pecan element on the other hand was not done quite so well, as they lacked presence in both flavour and texture due to their small sized nature. Luckily the absence of the pecans didn't particularly hinder my enjoyment of the product overall, it was more just a matter of disappointment that this chocolate had the potential to be even tastier than it was. If I was to slot this in my order of preference of the Cabdury Bar of Plenty range, I would place it above the Toffee Apple, Berry & Shortcake flavours, but not quite up there with the Hazelnut & Cashew bar. Those of you who are fans of the Ritter Sport Cornflakes will no doubt get a lot of enjoyment from this bar if you like Cadbury chocolate. At the same time you can feel good knowing that some of the proceeds are going to a good cause.

8.2 out of 10

July 25th: Thorntons Summer Bars 2010

Lemon Smoothie - Kcal 205 Fat 14.3g Fat(sats) 8.1g Carbs 17.4g
Raspberry Burst - Kcal 195 Fat 14.1g Fat(sats) 8.0g Carbs 14.0g

Summer is in full flow now and I have been keeping my eyes peeled for all the different summer offerings from all the UK brands. Whilst browsing the shelves of my local Thorntons last week, my eyes came across these Lemon Smoothie and Raspberry Burst bars pictured above (no prizes for guessing which is which!!).

Both these bars came in the familiar Thorntons impulse bar format, priced at 49p and both weighing 35.0g. Neither of the two really struck me as that innovative given that there have been very similar offerings from Thorntons in the past - See 'Thorntons Sicilian Lemon Truffle Bar' & 'Thorntons Winter Fruit Crumble' but in terms of packaging, presentation and product concept they both struck me as attractive and fitting with the summer season.

Lemon Smoothie - 'White chocolate bar with a lemon mousse centre'
This was certainly the better out of the two bars. I have always been an advocate of Thorntons' white chocolate so I was little surprised by my enjoyment of the creamy vanilla tones of the tones of the exterior layer here. Remembering back to my review of the Sicilian Lemon bar a few years ago I recall finding the lemon flavours over powering and dominant but thankfully Thorntons had obviously attempted to address this issue. This time around the fluffy, light mousse centre was sweeter and creamier, yet it still produced a citrusy lemon flavour offering. The centre tasted like a cream based lemon curd filling and produced a pleasant, flowing flavour experience. On the whole it was pretty delicious, and I loved all the different textures delivered by the outer chocolate, mousse and crisp chocolate base.

Raspberry Burst - 'Dark chocolate bar with a raspberry mousse centre'
I don't even know where to start with this one - it was absolutely fowl!!! Taste wise the outer dark chocolate was fine tasting, and the 60% recipe established a decent set of unsweetened cocoa flavours in the mouth. Unfortunately within seconds the dark chocolate became a complete non-factor as the gaudy looking raspberry mousse took centre stage. The mousse can be best described as totally disgusting. I don't know what happened at Thorntons HQ but whoever thought that replacing the tasty red fruit Winter Fruit Crumble filling with a artificial, lip gloss tasting 'mousse centre' needs to be fired now. I can't think of any better way of describing the taste other than cheap kiddie lipstick - it was just so fake tasting I ended up throwing it away after only a few bites.

Overall Thorntons have delivered a real mix bag of Summer offering with these bars. To be honest I'm a little dumbfounded as to how one of them could be so genuinely tasty in it's fruity flavours, whilst the other was so ridiculously bad. What really impressed me about the Lemon Smoothie bar was the way Thorntons seemed to have adapted the recipe from the Sicilian Lemon to allow the white chocolate to have more of say in the taste with the lemon being slightly less dominant. The Lemon Smoothie is a fine example of how to integrate fruit flavours in to chocolate, on the contrary the Rapsberry Burst sits on the other end of spectrum. Although the Raspberry Burst looks the part, when it comes to taste it has to be classed as one of the worst things Thorntons have served up for awhile, and of course it's not a bar I would recommend any of you buying. If you try one of the two this summer I strongly suggest you make it the Lemon Smoothie.

Lemon Smoothie - 7.9 out of 10
Raspberry Burst - 4.9 out of 10

July 24th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 49

### Jim's Corner ###

Hi All,

Just a quick update again this week as I have plenty of reviews to be getting on with. In the last week I have had some deliveries from Ritter Sport, Hotel Chocolat, Thorntons, Cadbury and Galler, so be expecting more from those guys soon.

Thank you again to everyone who entered the Heavenly Cakes competition that ended last week. The winners have been in contact with my about how pleased they were with their prizes. For those of you who didn't win be sure to keep an eye on my Twitter feed as I'm giving away various leftover samples each week (this week it was some Thornton's Pistachio chocolates!!).

Thank you for all the comments that you all continue to leave. I know the likes of Hotel Chocolat, Ritter, Zotter and Galler read them everytime so please keep them coming.

Have a great weekend!


News from the chocolate market

* American confectionery brand Mike & Ike is being supported by a big promotional push ... See HERE

* Mars are going to be running their biggest ever promotion on their bitesize range ... See HERE

* I wonder if my dedication to HobNobs will get a place in McVitie's VIP club ... See HERE

* Cadbury are already talking about their Christmas range, unbelievable ... See HERE

* Penguin biscuits look like they are up for sale ... See HERE

.... found a chocolate story I've missed? Please share it!!!

Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week

> TheImpulsiveBuy - Kelley tried this ridiculous sounding Kellogg's Real Fruit Granola Pizza - what on earth Indeed!? ... See HERE

> Jen Ken's Kit Kat Blog - Despite the poor reviews I keep seeing about them I can't help but want to try these new Cola & Lemonade flavoured Kit Kats ... See HERE

> GiGiReviews - If you ever feel the need to be put off buying a Krispy Kreme doughnut check out Gi's review of this Lemon Cake Doughnut ... See HERE

> Foodstufffinds - Not a week goes by without me looking at this site and thinking 'I fancy trying that'. This week Pita Chips: Cinnamon Sugar ... See HERE

> Japenese Snack Reviews - It's good to see that I wasn't the only one to think these Country Ma'am cookies were surprisingly good ... See HERE

> It's all about Limited Edition - My friend Franzi from Germany has just started a new site that reviews limited edition snacks and chocolates ... See HERE

July 23rd: 'Bits n Bobs' - Cereal, Chocolate, Cake & Biscuit Assortment

At the start of the year I was looking to reduce the number of posts I was making a week down to just five. You may have noticed that this hasn't become reality - I simply have too many products knocking around commanding reviews. To help me get on top of things a little I have taken the opportunity to do another 'Bits n Bobs' post - you will see some quick fire reviews below of some of the products that I have had on my radar for a while. Your comments are always welcome on any of them ...

Nestle Animal Bar

Kcal 98 Fat 5.0g Carbs 12.3g

For some reason or other my workplace has just started stocking these in our staff shop - aren't these meant to be for kids and not middle aged working professionals!?? Hmmm anyway ... I do have vague memories of being given Animal Bars as treats when I was younger which isn't all that surprising given they have been around since 1963. I can still see why the packaging and size of the bar are still relevant for kids, but personally I didn't particularly enjoy the actual milk chocolate all that much. Not surprisingly it was weak tasting and mostly sugar led with its non-threatening cocoa flavours. Best left for the smaller people of this world.

5.6 out of 10

Fox's Echo Milk & White Chocolate

Kcal 126 Fat 6.6g Fat(sats) 4.0g Carbs 14.9g

Again I remember eating these when I was younger - I used to have them now and again during my school lunchbox days. In the supermarket Echos sit alongside the likes of the Kit Kats, Twixs, CLUB biscuits etc, and they come described as 'milk & white chocolate with a crunchy biscuit base'. In comparison to some of the aforementioned products I have always thought that Echos look nice on the eye. Both the packaging and bars look attractive in comparison to other chocolate biscuit alternatives and to be fair to them they also hold up their end of the bargain in the taste. For my liking both the milk and white chocolates are a little passive in their flavours, though the combination of them both deliver a decent sweet chocolate flavour hit. I have always thought the texture of the chocolate is a little waxy, though I can't complain with the crunchy contribution from the slightly salty flavoured biscuit base at the bottom of each bar. If you are looking for a Kit Kat alternative you cant go far wrong treating yourself to an Echo.

7.1 out of 10

McVitie's Medley Digestives Hazelnuts & Milk Chocolate

Kcal 140 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 1.9g Carbs 19.2g

A few weeks ago I posted my first review from McVitie's new Medley range in the form of their Hobnob Medley bar (See HERE). After a bit of searching around the supermarket shelves I managed to locate the other variety in the range - these Digestive Hazelnut & Milk Chocolate. In essence these were very much the same as the Hobnob Medley, apart from the substitution of the Hobnobs biscuit pieces for the Digestive biscuit pieces, and the swapping of the raisins for the hazelnuts. To be frank only one of these two change ups work for me. The Digestive biscuits weren't half as forthcoming in the taste in comparison to the Hobnobs, but on the flipside the hazelnuts were more welcome than the raisins as they were more detectable with their wooden nut flavour enhancements. I would find it hard recommending one of these Medley bars over the other as to be honest neither are perfect. I still believe McVitie's could have done a better job with these bars.

7.2 out of 10

Bahlsen Messino Edlehreb

Kcal 140 Fat 4.9g Fat(sats) 2.8g Carbs 23.0g (per 3 cakes)

Not long ago I read an article on TalkingRetail.com that stated that a brand called Bahlsen were going to be turning up the heat on McVitie's in the Jaffa Cake tablestakes. Whilst I have been critical in the past of companies like Cadbury entering in to this part of the market with weak price cut led offerings (See HERE), I have always been open to seeing how other manufacturers could play the Jaffa Cakes game. Cutting the long story short, these looked the part in terms of their presentation with both the outer packaging and inner cakes looking like a nice premium proposition. Unfortunately when it came to the taste the size of the cakes were a real issue for me as they were so small and thin they didn't create the same sort of flavour impact that McVitie's Jaffa Cakes do. The dark chocolate was noticeably more flavoursome and not as laboured in melt, however the other cake and orange jelly filling layers were so insignificant and minimal they failed to create lasting flavour impacts. Quite simply I wouldn't buy purchase these over the McVitie's originals at the moment, but if they made them a little bigger they would be serious competition.

6.9 out of 10

If you have any feedback on these products please feel free to discuss them by dropping a comment.

July 22nd: Lindt Nocciola

Kcal 574 Fat 37.0g Carbs 52.0g (per 100.0g)

One week on from my Lindt Eiscafe escapades, I today had the delight of trying yet another of Lindt's 2010 summer range collection. The flavour I'm showcasing today is this Nocciola variety (say Nocciola out loud it sounds beautiful don't you think!?), which came described as 'white chocolate with a hazelnut cream centre, and sugared hazelnut pieces'. Talk about me being slow, but I've only just noticed that all of the variants in Lindt's latest summer range are based on well known ice cream flavours. The integration of chocolate and hazelnuts wasn't exactly new to me, but I was hoping that this combination was going to make for a tasty, refreshing summer offering.

Just as the other flavours from the range, this came in a 100.0g tafel (tablet) form, which was split in to ten large sized blocks that were similar in stature to Lindt's Mousse range. Again the packaging and presentation looked first class, with the decorative silver panels located at the top and bottom of the box establishing both a sense of premiuimness as well as a vibrant summer feel. Another good thing to see aesthetically was that in reality the chocolate looked accurate in construct to what was featured on the outer box. Cutting in to one of the pieces revealed that the white chocolate was just as thick as depicted, whilst the small fragments of hazelnut were also visible dispersed throughout. Whilst the product made a good impression on me visually, the scents on offer were a little less remarkable with just mild sweet dairy and nut aromas detectable when closely inspected.

For those of you that have read the site for an extended time you will likely be aware that I'm a big advocate of Lindt's white chocolate and their cream laden, vanilla noted chocolate didn't fail to impress yet again. Just as I have experienced in the past the taste was delightfully smooth flowing in it's milky flavours, with the vanilla bourbon secondary flavour increasingly growing in prevalence as the melt developed. The white chocolate was supposed to be just the beginning of the flavour experience, and I was really expecting some strong nutty influences from hazelnut cream and sugared hazelnut elements. Reality was that both these constituents were a little more passive than my prior expectations, with the strength of the hazelnut flavours considerably varying from piece-to-piece. In some blocks the woody hazelnut element came through strongly, and nicely enhanced the initial creamy flavour base. On the contrary, some other blocks were far milder in terms of their nutty contributions to the taste. This at times left me a little frustrated with the volume of flavours on offer, and didn't leave me feeling as satisfied as I would have done had it been more consistent in it's hazelnut delivery.

Overall this was another fair to good Lindt offering, however just like I thought about the Eiscafe variety the other day I felt like it was a bar they could have executed a little better. Totally in line with what I experienced with the Eiscafe, the packaging, presentation and quality of the white chocolate was absolutely superb. Unfortunately it was just the filling that was lacking a little in prestige and didn't live up to the standards set by the aforementioned attributes. Speaking of the filling in more detail, the obvious issue for me was the nature in which the nuts were implemented. The hazelnut cream itself wasn't that bad, as it just built upon the milky flavours generated by the white chocolate, whilst also bringing the first minor suggestions of hazelnut to the taste. Where I think the filling failed somewhat was with the decision to incorporate small fragments of hazelnut as opposed to wholenuts. Personally I think the nut flavours would have come through far more strongly had they been implemented in this fashion - I even think just one solus hazelnut piece to each block would have done a better job of creating a flavour impact as opposed to the scattering of tiny hazelnut fragments as done for this Nocciola bar. My witterings on here may sound like I had a negative experience bar but that couldn't be further from the truth. At the heart of the matter this was still a delicious white chocolate offering, however it's minor shortcomings stand out as things that could easily improve it with a few minor refinements.

7.5 out of 10

July 21st: Ritter Sport Espresso

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

Having reviewed over 50+ Ritter Sport products in the last three years, you would of thought it would be impossible for me to be as excited as I was about trying one of their new flavours, but ever since I received the e-mail from my contacts at Ritter offering me the chance to get a sneak peak of their latest 'Espresso' flavour, I have literally been running to my door everytime the postman has dared venture anywhere near my postbox. Last week a big box of samples (more on that below!!) finally made it's way to me from Germany, included in which were several bars of this new Espresso variety. Unfortunately it wasn't me that signed for my package, so the rest of my family were well aware of the large Ritter branded parcel that had been sent my way :) As much as I selfishly wanted to keep these bars of 'milk chocolate with coffee cream' all to my greedy self I of course did the decent thing and shared - expect some second opinions floating about this review :D

I'm not sure you will have taken as much notice of the packaging as I did but the first thing that caught my eye was the word 'Neu' (translation: New) on the top left of the wrapper. By the looks of it, rather than being a limited edition flavour, this Espresso seems to be a permanent addition to the 100.0g Ritter range. You may be thinking that my photo of the wrapper looks slightly odd - well thats because the packs sent to me by Ritter were pre-sale samples, so they were mock-ups of what will actually be in market in a few months. Although the exterior packaging was made up off stickers stuck on to a generic white film packet, the chocolate itself was presented as it would be for the final product. The surface area of the chocolate looked smooth and dark in colour, and the bar broke with a pleasant snapping sound. Sandwiched between the two layers of outer chocolate, the filling looked nicely portioned and was evidently lighter in colour and noticeably differentiated in terms of appearance.

In 99% of cases the smell of a food is highly indicative of what it tastes like, so you can probably imagine that I was extremely receptive of the glorious coffee scents that were offered by the chocolate. These coffee smells were present everytime I went to eat a piece of this chocolate, and provided more than sufficient insight to the taste that I was to be treated to. As suggested by it's aesthetic appearance the chocolate melted with a delightfully soft smoothness and delivered the usual array of sweet, milky cocoa flavours that I have come so accustom to with Ritter Sport milk chocolate. As the soft melted developed the inner coffee cream filling started coming through slowly in the taste, and peaked in it's flavour delivery during the middle stage of each block melting on my tongue. To be put this in the frankest terms the coffee cream element of this chocolate tasted absolutely delicious. The centre filling gave a well strengthened, roasted coffee flavour burst that tasted both real and fresh. Various members of my family take their coffee in certain ways - ranging from milky white, to double espressos, yet all four of us agreed that this was pretty much spot on in strength. What has sometimes spoilt other brand's coffee chocolates before (See Green & Black's Espresso) is their tendency to have slightly bitter aftertastes. This Ritter offering thankfully balanced the end note of coffee with the sweetness of the base layer of milk chocolate. As a lover of coffee chocolate it was a bar I found very moreish, yet felt it had a satisfying richness to it due to the volume of flavour delivered with each block.

Overall this is one of ... if not THE best Ritter Sport flavour I believe the brand has to offer, and I simply can't wait for you guys to give me your own views on it. I have looked back across all my other Ritter Sport reviews, looking at the likes of the Karamell-Nuss, White Hazelnuts etc, and whilst those bars have got similarly high ratings, I think if I was told I could only have one Ritter Sport bar for the rest of time this probably be my bar of choice. Whilst in the past I have happily settled for the Ritter Sport Cappuiccino bar satisfying my Ritter chocolate coffee cravings, this bar blows it out the water. In the context of my other favourite coffee chocolates I would rank it up there with likes of Lindt's Excellence Coffee Intense - I think it is that good! This may not be a chocolate that is to everyones tastes, but if you like coffee flavoured chocolates I think this should be near the top of your 'must try' lists. I will happily concede that there is very, very marginal room for improvement in the milk chocolate, but when it comes to the quality of the coffee cream Ritter have metaphorically speaking 'hit the nail on the head' with this one. I needn't bother writing whether or not I recommend this bar - I think you all know the answer to that!

9.0 out of 10

July 20th: Jacob's CLUB Biscuit Bars

I have always tried to stay clear of reviewing milk chocolate biscuits, but after last months Kit Kat Orange & Mint bars I couldn't ignore the reader requests for any longer. Due to popular demand I have binned my no chocolate biscuit rule for today, and have brought you some short, succinct reviews of Jacob's CLUB range.

Whenever I think of CLUB biscuits the first thing that pops into my mind is the old CLUB biscuit advert 'If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit join our club' ... legendary stuff (See HERE). Despite not having a CLUB biscuit for what must be nearing ten years, I felt instantly at home with the wrappers, which didn't appear to have changed all that much from my childhood. As iconic as they are I couldn't possibly given them anything more than 7.0 out of 10 - put it this way they do a functional job without raising all that much anticipation or excitement.

Below are my brief thoughts on the three different Chocolate, Mint and Orange variants - scores given at the end.

Kcal 123 Fat 6.2g Carbs 14.9g

Jacob's CLUB Chocolate - 'milk chocolate with chocolate cream and biscuit'

This variant was obviously the least exciting out of all three variants and it proved this way when it came to the taste. The outer milk chocolate was of a fair standard - it did little aside from register a very mild milk lead chocolatey taste, but it did melt with a pleasant soft smoothness. The inner biscuit was pleasant with it's buttery shortbread flavours, however the chocolate cream layer was neither any different in taste or texture to the outer chocolate portion.

7.0 out of 10

Kcal 124 Fat 6.5g Carbs 14.9g

Jacob's CLUB Mint - 'milk chocolate with a cool mint cream and biscuit filling'

Similarly to the Chocolate variant above the outer portion of this bar established a sweet chocolate flavour hit from the outset. I was expecting a very stark, forthcoming mint flavour hit but I was met with a very tasty creamy peppermint fondant. The mint cream was neither overly sweet or dominant and it took the taste of the chocolate and biscuit elements nicely onwards in terms of progression. This was my favourite out of all three flavours.

7.6 out of 10

Kcal 125 Fat 6.5g Carbs 14.9g

Jacob's CLUB Orange - 'milk chocolate with an orange flavoured cream and biscuit'

Despite already revealing to you that the Mint flavour was my favourite I have to say these Orange CLUB weren't exactly far behind. As with the Mint variant, the orange cream was similarly well balanced in the taste and the fruity influence came through nicely as suggested by the promising orange scents. The added orange cream made these a more attractive proposition than the plain Chocolate variety and I can't argue that it didn't liven up the taste somewhat.

7.2 out of 10

Overall it was nice to reacquaint myself with these CLUB biscuits, but just like I like I always thought about them when I was younger they hardly set my world alight. Compared to the Kit Kat Mint biscuits I reviewed the other day it was a pleasant surprise to see a cheaper mint biscuit flavour done so well. To be honest all three of these CLUB bars did a fair job as a mid-afternoon chocolate snack, and it wasn't as if one was anymore fulfilling than another. In terms of taste, my preference was with the two flavoured options, the mint variant would be my CLUB of choice if given the option between all three. So there they you are ChocolateMission readers - you now have my CLUB biscuit recommendations. Be sure to let me know your own fond memories/favourite CLUB bar flavours.

July 19th: Hotel Chocolat Purist Range 2010

Back in September 2008, some of the first ever Hotel Chocolat reviews I wrote were about bars from one of their ranges named 'The Purist'. The original Purist range consisted of seven different single origin chocolates. If you wish to remind yourself of some of those reviews, I would suggest looking at the 52% Salt & Caramel and 72% Rabot Estate which were both certainly highlights.

Here we are now in 2010 and the Purist range has had somewhat of makeover. The range has now been expanded with several more variants (See HERE on the Hotel Chocolat site) and thanks to my chums at Hotel Chocolat HQ I today got the chance to try several of the new chocolates they have to offer. On their website, Hotel Chocolat describe these chocolates as being formed of the 'rarest, most sought after cocoa'. Having tasted some of their superb chocolates from their specialist cocoa plantations before, I was very excited when these arrived on my doorstep.

If you have read any of my previous 'Purist' reviews you will have noticed that I frequently commented on how enjoyable it was reading the 'bean to bar story' that came detailed on the inside of the packaging of each of the chocolates. As you can see in my photo below these new 2010 Purist bars came not only with the stories of how each of the chocolates came to be made, but also some pretty pictures to look at. The presentation was nothing short of first class, and the chocolates themselves came uniquely encased in a layer of greaseproof material giving each a very rustic look, and kept them all smelling very fresh.

Below are the tasting notes and scores of each of the four different variants of the new varieties I tried. Apologies if my descriptions sound a little pretentious - trust me I don't believe I'm a cocoa connoisseur :D

65% Island Growers (96 hour conch) - The chocolate was slow paced in melt and took a while to generate a substantial flavour base. The mid point of transition was where the taste peaked with the cocoa flavours striking me as earthy, and with notes of soil. The aftertaste wasn't particularly strong but had a touch more sweetness to it than the flavours generated at the peak of the melt. 8.3 out of 10.

70% Rabot Estate - This was the least enjoyable from the selection. I found that the chocolate felt instantly chalky and dry in the mouth, and the start of the melt felt delayed and lazy. Once the melt of the chocolate begun the chocolate still felt overwhelmingly dry in the mouth, which certainly hampered my enjoyment of the taste. The notes of smokey tobacco amongst the cocoa base flavours made for an edgier taste than some of the others, but the texture very much hampered my enjoyment of this one. 7.5 out of 10.

70% Chuao - This was nowhere near as chalky feeling in the mouth as the 70% Rabot Estate, though it was still a little dry when it came to the melt. In comparison to the aforementioned there wasn't so much cloying or stickiness, but the flavour delivery was again hampered by the quality of the mouth feel. The taste wasn't as bitter as Rabot, and had a kinder focus of flavours with hints of toffee and sweet dried fruits. This was the most mellow of all four - perhaps suited for someone who doesn't like intensely flavoured dark chocolates. 7.9 out of 10

65% Island Growers (120 hour conch) - Behold ... my favourite of the lot. Whereas I felt some of the other varieties struggled in their pace and quality of melt, this chocolate was almost spot on and the smoother transition certainly helped the delivery of the taste. The flavours were of course similar to the 96 hour conch bar above, with strong earthy notes. The smoother flow of flavours meant I could detect additional layers of cream and red fruits which further added intrigue. The taste was long lasting and finished strongly with a suggestion of creamy cocoa. 8.9 out of 10

Overall these bars provided a wonderful flavour experience and I enjoyed trying each and every one of them in at least some manner. As you will have seen above there were bars in the range that I rated more highly than others, but to be honest you guys needn't bother looking at my own scores as it is probably more down to personal preference. Some of the chocolates that I have showcased today may not have perhaps scored as well as some of the variants in 2008, but one thing that is for sure is that Hotel Chocolat have kept the quality of this range supremely high. The presentation of these chocolates is nothing short of fantastic and I can assure you they make you feel like a professional chocolate tasting expert once you have clued yourself up on the information that the each of the packaging contains. Suffice to say Hotel Chocolat's updated Purist range gets a ChocolateMission thumbs up.

July 18th: Cadbury Picnic Roast Almond Feast

Kcal 242 Fat 14.9 Fat(sats) 5.3g Carbs 22.9g (per 100.0g)

Last week I was contacted by my friends at ShopenZed (an online merchant based in New Zealand who exports goods globally - See HERE) who informed me that they had come across a 'Special Edition' Cadbury bar whilst on their weekly shopping trip. Being the ever giving, jolly people they are, they offered me the chance to try it for myself and kindly sent me across a few bars to review for the site. Back last year I reviewed the Cadbury Picnic that they get in Australia (See HERE) and I remember giving it a high scoring mark compared to the rather poor UK equivalent we get in this country (See HERE). Given my preference for the Aussie made Picnic, I was rather excited by this Roast Almond Feast limited edition, which came billed as 'almonds, wafer and caramel covered in Cadbury milk chocolate'.

This bar came in a 46.0g serving size making it totally comparable to the original Aussie Picnic which was equally as plentiful. Speaking of the wrapper, I thought the jet black colour scheme looked very cool, and I liked the way the branding was kept consistent from the original red coloured Picnic variant. Despite travelling from across the other side of the globe the bar was maintained in immaculate condition and looked similarly impressive in stature to a UK Lion bar when undressed. The only real difference between the two were almond nut pieces that lined the outer chocolate. Most positively they emanated some tempting nutty scents amongst the sweeter smelling chocolate and wafer smells.

The first thing of this bar that really caught my attention was the feel of the chocolate and nut exterior as it yielded with a crisp snap and pleasant crunchiness when bit into. This bar came off as remarkably fresh when it came to the textures of each the chocolate, nuts and wafer constituents. When you think about it, that is a bit of an odd thing to say really when you consider how far the thing travelled from production in Asutralia. Thankfully it isn't just the textures that are worth mentioning - the flavours and resulting taste were every bit as wonderful. As with any Cadbury bar the chocolate was sweet and milky and provided a flowing chocolatey base taste with each and every mouthful. The almond pieces that lined the outer chocolate were thankfully largish in their chunked size, which gave them ample opportunity to have good cut through in the taste with their savoury buttery flavours. Sitting at the centre of the bar both the caramel and wafer constituents progressed the chocolate and nut flavours nicely, adding strong influences of toffee, salt, brown sugar and wheat to the taste. Despite the heavy presence of the wafer element, the entire bar proved to be a plentiful snack and very satisfying - it must be the low GI nuts that did the trick :D

Overall each mouthful of this Cadbury Picnic Roast Almond Feast was varied, progressive and packed full of flavour - I could have really asked for little more. Anyone who has been reading this site for any sort of extended period will probably be sick to death of me complaining about chocolates that implement nuts in tiny, fragmented pieces, but this bar just goes to prove how much better these things can taste when the nuts are implemented in either a whole or sizeable fashion. Obviously the entire concept of this product was to deliver the usual Picnic experience, but with a Almond nut slant of the taste and this was done very well with the integration of the nuts into the outer portion of the bar. The almond nuts not only established themselves early in the taste, but they had good longevity due to their large size. It's a shame that Cadbury here in the UK don't treat the Picnic with as much love as they do in Australia. The boys and girls 'Daaaaaaaan Unda' are being treated to a fabulous limited edition that sadly not many of us Brits will ever see.

8.5 out of 10

Buy this bar HERE from ShopenZed - CLICK HERE

July 17th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 48


Hi All,

It's finally time to announce the winners of the recent Heavenly Cakes Competition and I can reveal that the winners of the three Heavenly Cakes Giftpacks (of their own choice!!!!) ..... are ....


Debbie Andrioli (Stratford-Upon-Avon)
Sara Macey (Chatham)
Chris Sulzdorf (Nunhaed)

..... and the winner of the special bonus prize is .....

... Stephanie Meyer-Scott (Farnborough), who submitted the following suggestion for Betty ...

"Completely Irresistible!? Why, thank you!"

Thank You to all that submitted answer there was a tremendous response. Please pass on your congratulations to the winners and look out for more competitions on ChocolateMission very soon. Remember to sign up to my twitter feed for the weekly competition.


Post from other blogs I enjoyed this week

* TheImpulsiveBuy - Marvo has been checking out these 'Pillsbury Sweet Moments Chocolate Fudge Molten Lava Brownies' - they certainly win the award for longest name ever ... SEE HERE

* Foodstufffinds - The world cup may be over (boooo!), but Cin is still mopping up the last of the Walker's limited edition world cup flavours. This week it was 'Welsh Rarebit' ... wait a minute ... Wales didn't even qualify for the world cup ... SEE HERE

* CandyBlog - Cybele posted her review of the Aero 70% Dark and gave it a good score of 8/10 ... SEE HERE

* SugarPressure - There was a nice review of the Green & Black's Mint Dark Chocolate Bar posted on their site. It's not one we seen that commonly here in the UK ... SEE HERE

* GiGiReviews - Why are Burritos so popular in the US but not here in the UK? This Barbacoa Burrito doesn't sound anything special, but I still would welcome a decent Burrito outlet here in the UK ... SEE HERE

* YumYucky - Try reading these stories of food/drink horrors by Josie without smiling. Those stories remind of the time I took a swig of cooking oil rather than my drink when I was making a stir fry ... embarrassingly that was only last week :D ... See HERE

I haven't had time to collate all the stories from the chocolate market this week. Please feel free to leave a comment with any news that has caught your eye this week!!

July 16th: M&M's Pretzel

Kcal 150 Fat 5.0g Fat(sats) 3.0g Carbs 24.0g

When I looked back through the ChocolateMission archive looking for my last M&M's review it came to my surprise that it's nearly been a whole year since I last wrote about the brand (See HERE). In previous years we have all come to expect several limited edition movie themed tie-ins (See Strawberried Peanut Butter, Pirate Pearls etc), but 2010 has been relatively sparse for new M&M's flavours. Well M&M's fans fear not, as Mars have finally launched these Pretzel flavoured M&M's and they were kind enough to send me a few sample bags all the way from the US. On the pack they came described as 'chocolate candy coated pretzels', and boasted about their 'less than 30% fat content'. I have to admit I was pretty startled when I looked at the nutritional information - it was remarkably low for such a product.

These M&M's Pretzels came in a 32.3g bag that contained around 20 or so M&M's pieces. Packaging and presentation wise this was your bog standard M&M's variant. It was slightly disappointing to see Mars use the same blue coloured background as their 'Crispy' variant, but it looked relatively cool nonetheless and the Pretzel theme was communicated relatively effectively. The M&M's themselves were middling in size in that they were smaller than Peanut M&M's, yet twice the size as the standard milk chocolate ones. Again it was somewhat odd to see that these only came in four different colours (blue, orange, brown and green) but this didn't bother me all that much. M&M's have never been the strongest smelling candies, but these Pretzel ones did emanate some minor biscuity scents.

As anyone who has ever tried M&M's before will be aware, the standard of the milk chocolate isn't the greatest, though they always manage to deliver a relatively sound chocolate flavour hit. The sweet sugary flavours of the milk chocolate were again forthcoming and quickly established as soon as the thin candy coatings were breached. Just as the outer shells were, the pretzel centres were equally as crunchy, and the savoury wheat and flour flavours soon surged over that of the chocolate. To be honest at this point these M&M's felt more 'cookie centered' as opposed to 'pretzel centered', but towards the latter stages of chewing my first mouthful I noticed the intermittent salt hints come to the party. These salty flavour bursts made for a nicely contrasting taste that featured both sweet and salt influences. The salty element to the taste made these especially moreish, and it took no time at all for me to finish the single serve bag. The entriety of one bag delivered a a degree of satisfaction, but like I have found with previous M&M's flavours, these weren't the most satisfying of snacks ever and I could have easily eaten more.

Overall as a big fan of pretzels I was really looking forward to trying these, so I'm glad to report that Mars did a pretty decent job. As you may have noticed from my copious reviews of chocolates that have salty enhancing flavours (think Reese's, caramels etc) I'm a real fan of products that have sweet and salt flavour combinations, and these have to go down as another that do it pretty well. The quality of the milk chocolate was again far from sparkling, but lets be honest none of us would expect anything different from the M&M's brand. I guess what was most important with these was how well the inner pretzel constituents was executed, and reality was that they did it pretty well. Perhaps this is me being greedy (or me me being a genius more like!), but wouldn't it be great to see some M&M's Peanut Butter Pretzels!? I think that would be a fantastic synergy of two products that they already make, and it would probably make these Pretzel M&M's all that much better. I would be very interested to hear what my American readers think of these - please share your thoughts.

7.6 out of 10