August 31st: Moser Roth Mousse au Lait Coffee

Kcal 586 Fat 38.8g Fat(sats) 22.9g Carbs 51.8g (per 100.0g)

It has been quite a while since I last reviewed anything from Germany's Moser Roth brand, but thanks to ChocolateMission reader Alan I today got the chance to try another offering from their range. For those that haven't come across Moser Roth before, it is a brand of chocolates produced in Germany specifically for Aldi stores. What with Aldi being much bigger and widespread in Germany, Moser Roth is obviously a lot more renowned in it's homeland, though their bars can also be found in most of their chains located here in the UK. As I don't live anywhere near an Aldi my chances to review Moser Roth chocolates are generally rather limited, but like I said thanks to Alan this Moser Roth Mousse au Lait Coffee made it's way in to my hands last week. Described as 'milk chocolate with a lightly whipped coffee mousse filling' it sounded like the sort of bar that was my kind of thing - I was hoping for a Milka Amavel Mousse au Cappucino type experience.

This Mousse au Lait Coffee came in the same format as the Mousse au Lait Noisette that I tried earlier this year in the form a 187.5g package containing five separate 37.5g bars. As I did with the hazelnut variant I thought the packaging was extremely well styled and very premium looking considering the price it retails for. Having now seen two different variants from the range I think there is scope for Moser Roth to have dialled up the flavour varieties a little more in the on pack visuals and branding. That is probably me being ultra fussy - the product was superbly presented and I was still loving the idea of breaking the package down in to the five smaller bars.

Over the course of a working week I slipped one of the individual bars in to my work bag each day for me to eat alongside my afternoon 'pick me up' coffee. When removing the bars from their paper sleeves I didn't at any point get a strong sense of aromas, however when searched for they did offer some fine smelling sweet chocolatey scents which offered just a few hints of coffee. In regards to taste my experience with this Mousse au Lait Coffee was not to dissimilar to the Noisette bar I had tried from this range before. The outer milk chocolate wasn't particularly strong, or distinct in terms of the flavours it offered, but the grounding of sweet, milk rooted cocoa was pleasant and did a job providing the chocolate flavour hit for each bite. At the middle of each block the mousse delivered on it's promise of having a whipped, light texture and had a pleasant mouthfeel compared to the thicker melting milk chocolate. The mousse filling added a degree of additional creaminess to the taste, however I (inevitably) found the coffee element a little lacking and didn't quite feel like I got the coffee flavour experience I wanted from the sweet mocha like taste. The 37.5g serving size was sensible portion size for a snack but the slightly non-committal taste meant I didn't find it the most fulfilling of chocolates ever.

Overall this bar ticked many boxes when it came to the scoring chart, coupling some fantastic presentation with a fairly decent tasting product. I found the chocolate to be of a decent quality given the price, though the usual Moser Roth limitations were evident once again here, with the chocolate lacking uniqueness and a flavour impression to really call it's own. Whilst the chocolate wasn't exactly distinct, it still did it's job and the mousse filling certainly didn't let itself down when it came to providing interest texture wise. My loyal readership will be aware that I like my coffee chocolates flavoured strongly, so I doubt it will surprise none of them that I have highlighted this bar as being a little weak for my liking. Although this Mousse au Lait Coffee may not have been tailored to my specific tastes, it is certainly worth bearing in mind for fans of bars like Ritter Sport's Cappuccino as I would say this bar offers a similar sort of proposition. As is always the story with Moser Roth they never produce outstanding chocolates, but this was yet another competent offering that is worth taking a look at.

7.3 out of 10

August 30th: 'Bits n Bobs' - Cakes, Biscuits, Brownies & Chocolate

Despite what you guys might think, I unfortunately don't spend all my day writing about chocolate (though I wish I did!!). Reality is I work an office job Monday to Friday. The office in which I work is a very friendly, sociable place, and people often bring in all types of cakes, chocolates and snacks for our tea area.

Every once and while I of course bring in things myself, so I thought it only right to do a quick fire 'Bits n Bobs' post reviewing some of the more interesting things to make to our tea area recently.

Marks & Spencer Rocky Road

Kcal 355 Fat 20.7g Fat(sats) 15.2g Carbs 38.5g (per bar)

These Rocky Road cakes were on a '4 for 3' deal last time I was in M&S. On the pack they came described as 'Biscuit, marshmallow and sultanas in a rich Belgian chocolate coating' - the first thing that struck me here was lack of cherries!? I wasn't particularly fussed by this myself as I'm not a great fan of them, but I wasn't too sure if this could be classified as a fully fledged Rocky Road without them (to be fair my other colleagues who tried them didn't notice!!). Poor old M&S were always going to be compared to the Heavenly Cakes Rocky Road and I'm afraid to say this didn't match up in any criteria. The chocolate and constituents were of a fair quality, but neither had the richness of the Heavenly Cakes alternative. The sultanas and marshmallow pieces added interest texture wise but failed to create much of an impression in terms of enhancing the taste. I probably wouldn't buy this again.

6.4 out of 10

Tunnock's Dark Chocolate Tea Cakes

Kcal 105 Fat 4.7g Fat(sats) 2.5g Carbs 14.6g (per Biscuit)

I have to hold my hands up straight away here and admit that I'm a bit of fanboy of these. I've been buying them for years now and they happen to be a pretty staple purchase whenever I do my weekly shopping in Sainsbury's (annoyingly my Tesco doesn't stock them). For those that haven't seen a Tunnock's Tea Cake before (where have you been living haha!), they are described as 'biscuit bases, topped with marshmallows covered in chocolate'. To cut the long story short, I like these dark chocolate ones just a bit more than the original milk chocolate variety that are more widely distributed. In comparison I think the unsweetened nature of the 'dark chocolate' balances the sweetness of the mallow centre a little better. Just like the milk chocolate ones, I don't find them the most satisfying of snacks but there is just something so comforting about them that makes me buy them time and time again - it must be nostalgia!

7.2 out of 10

The Co-Operative Fairtrade Chocolate Brownie

Kcal 320 Fat 12.6g Fat(sats) 6.0g Carbs 34.6g (per brownie)

Just like the Rocky Road cake above, this poor, poor brownie was always going to be compared to the Heavenly Cakes milk chocolate brownies I had the delight in reviewing a few months ago. It will be more fun for me to try and pull out the advantages that this Co-op brownie has over the Heavenly Cakes offering, rather than me just be totally blunt and say IT DIDN'T TASTE AS NICE haha! So what sort of case can I build!? Well ... for a start it was Fairtrade - 41% Fairtrade sugar, 4% Fairtrade cocoa powder, 7% Fairtrade Cocoa Mass and 1% Fairtrade cocoa butter ... hurrah for equality!! Secondly it only cost me 75p - so there was an obvious price advantage over Heavenly Cakes. Thirdly when I bought it I got to eat it straight away - no waiting in the post my brownies thank you very much. Sadly I would like to say those three things make it a superior product, but unfortunately not. In my opinion this brownie was nowhere near as rich, or as insanely indulgent in it's chocolate delivery. It will do a good job if you fancy a brownie on the impulse, but if it is the highest quality you're after look in the direction of Heavenly.

7.8 out of 10

Marks & Spencer Milk Chocolate & Caramel Layered Cookies

Kcal 180 Fat 9.4g Fat(sats) 5.5g Carbs 22.2g (per biscuit)

Save the best until last!? Would I really do something like that :D ??? ... Of course I would! You can now find these 'biscuits topped with a layer of caramel, crisp rice and milk chocolate' in a M&S near you, and I was lucky enough to snaffle a few boxes of them on a introductory £1 offer. If you factor in the likes of the new Cadbury and Mikado biscuit offerings, the chocolate biscuit market has been pretty active recently in terms of new products available in the last year, so these were going to have to be something special to make them stand out from the rest. Frankly ... they were! They were tremendous! The chocolate was thick and took a substantial grip on the taste, whilst the caramel layer was more creamy and Dulce de leche like, rather than being just sugary, syrup gloop. The biscuit bases were also very tasty with their shortbread, buttery flavours - even the outer bits of chocolate puffed rice were fun looking and proved to be just a nice touch. Looking at the calories you probably don't want to go replacing these with your daily custard cream, but if you are after some 'posh biscuits' to bring out for the guests round your house I'm sure these will go down tremendously.

8.7 out of 10

August 28/29th: Ritter Sport Schokocreme

Kcal 578 Fat 40.0g Carbs 50.0g (per 100.0g)

Just when I thought it had gone a little quiet on the Ritter Sport front, last week a 2.0kg box arrived on my doorstep (poor postie!). Inside the well packaged Ritter Sport branded parcel, there were eight bars of this new Schokocreme flavour - that is Chocolate Cream of course to us Brits. On the wrapper the new bar came described as 'milk chocolate with a chocolate cream filling (43.0%) and small rice cereal pieces (2.5%)'. In proposition this didn't sound like the most innovative or exciting of all the flavours to come out of Ritter HQ recently, but I approached it with an open mind and roped in some of my fellow family members to try it with me (I say that as if it took much convincing :D )

As I have noted above the package I received from Ritter was rather large, which is lucky for you guys as it means I have the opportunity to give one of these bars away. If you can do some easy maths and calculate the weight of this bar, pop me an e-mail at Jim[@] (take out the brackets!) Winner announced Saturday 4th September. As you will no doubt have noticed in my photo above, this was another presale sample sent to me by Ritter, so the packaging on show is not actually the finished article. From what I could gauge from the products received, I think it would be a safe assumption to make that the eventual presentation will be just fine. Sat in the middle of the standard sized blocks, the chocolate cream looked well portioned, whilst the small specs of rice cereal were also very evident.

Smelling the chocolate, my senses were soon filled with some familiar Ritter Sport milk chocolate scents that did a sound job of setting up the taste that followed. Placing the first block in my mouth the experience started out like most other Ritter milk chocolate bars do, with the taste fast taking a sugary cocoa led flavour base. Excuse me again for repeating myself from past reviews, but whilst the chocolate was fine and did a sound job of providing the chocolate flavour hit, it was pretty generic in taste and had nothing about it that made me want to shout how great it was from any rooftops. In the centre of the blocks the chocolate cream did little to enhance the sugary, milky flavours of the chocolate, though it did at least offer a differentiated texture that felt softer and smoother during the duration of it's melt. Throughout the chocolate cream the small crispy pieces similarly didn't prove to be the most compelling flavour wise with their mild rice cereal suggestions. On the plus side however, they did bring a degree of interest to the textures with their crunchy, disruptive mouth feel a nice contrast from the faster melting, smoother chocolate constituents.

Overall it was felt by not only myself but my entire family that this was a pretty average Ritter Sport offering. Whilst it was fine at fulfilling the proposition it put forward, the flavour combination wilts in the presence of some of the other more distinctive offerings that there are in the range. A thing that particularly disappointed myself about this chocolate was the fact that Ritter Sport have continued not to implement their finer milk chocolate recipe across the rest of their range (See that bar HERE). I think another opportunity that they had with this chocolate was also to differentiate the outer milk chocolate, with the inner chocolate creme. I think it would have certainly of been interesting to see what a bar with a milk chocolate exterior and dark chocolate cream filling would have been like - that would have been a nice alternative to the Ritter Sport a la Mousse au Chocolat bar which happens to have this proposition just the other way around. To conclude this bar was absolutely fine at what it did, but it just wasn't all that special. Don't forget to enter the competition above - you better get your calculators out :D

7.2 out of 10

August 27th: Nestle Dairy Box

Kcal 199 Fat 11.9g Fat(sats) 5.7g Carbs 20.3g (per 4 chocolates)

It's been a while since I last reviewed a selection box on ChocolateMission so I thought I would give this Nestle Dairy Box a try when I saw it on a special offer in my local Sainsbury's supermarket. With an RRP of £3.75, this Dairy Box is Nestle's equivalent to Cadbury's Milk Tray and comes described as an 'assorted selection of milk chocolates'.

Presentation wise I thought it was a little on the plain side with it's use of mostly cream and beige colours on the packaging. On the flip side I was a little more impressed by the inclusion of a menu and the look of the chocolates which at least looked to have some sort of effort put into their shaping and decoration.

In the selection there were a decent sounding ten chocolates on offer. Below are my thoughts on each of them starting from left to right in the photos. Apologies if my descriptions of the taste all sound so similar - as will come apparent this is not my fault!

Whole Almond Delight - As suggested by the name this piece contained a single whole almond at it's centre and was coated in milk chocolate. The milk chocolate exterior was severely lacking in flavour, whilst the inner nut was relatively flavourless and lacking the desired fresh crunchiness. Poor.

Caramel Creme - I was expecting a liquid caramel centre given the 'indulgent creamy caramel' descriptor but was left very disappointed by the filling that lacked any caramel resemblance whatsoever. Again the outer milk chocolate was poor in terms of flavours offered. Poor.

Almond Crunch - This was a piece comprising of a 'cream mousse centre with caramelised almond pieces'. There were fine, grainy particles detectable amongst the softer, lighter centre, however neither constituents offered any flavour progression from the mild milk chocolate. Poor.

Orange Sensation - This chocolate was supposed to contain an 'orange truffle centre with orange peel pieces and crunchy cereal'. Again there were noticeable particles evident amongst the truffle centre, but they did little more than provide an awkward lumpiness. The orange flavours were completely MIA, they must have forgotten to put that bit in!? Very Poor.

Chocolate Almond Mousse - 'Chocolate Mousse flavoured with a hint of almond', again the milk chocolate exterior and filling was devoid of any flavours of note. No one on this planet would have guessed this was supposed to be flavoured with almond in a blind taste test - it was totally lacking in nutty flavours. Very Poor.

Raspberry Parafait - The colour of the centre above gave me hope that this might be one of the more flavoursome offerings in the box. How wrong I was! Once again the centre was nothing more than a mushy flavoured version of the flavourless exterior chocolate. Just like the other fruit flavours, the raspberry was nowhere to be seen here. Very Poor.

Double Hazelnut Delight - This piece at least sounded somewhat exciting on the menu and came billed as 'hazelnut praline studded with roasted hazelnuts, dipped in milk chocolate'. Despite the poorness of the milk chocolate constituents, the hazelnut elements did manage to offer a woody nut hint to the mild taste. Standard.

Rich Chocolate Truffle - This was probably the best piece in the box, but that's not saying much. The upper portion of white chocolate managed to bring a creamier edge to the plain tasting milk chocolate. Inside the softer centre there were evident bits of wafer which did bring a nicely contrasting crunchy element to other smoother melting constituents. Standard.

Chocolate Dream - Well at least they didn't even try to suggest this one had more to it - 'chocolate truffle enveloped in chocolate'. Sorry if this is getting boring already, rinse & repeat ... the milk chocoalte was very mildly flavoured - I didn't get any enjoyment from this piece. Very Poor.

Perfect Praline - Out of all the chocolates in this box this was probably one of the few that I would deem as a passable chocolate. Between them the praline and chopped almonds didn't manage to generate some sort of nut offering to the taste, which is more than can be said for several of the other nut flavoured pieces in this selection. Standard.

Overall I must start off by firstly offering my apologies if this review reads like one long moan! Unfortunately though this selection box gave me little opportunity to do anything other than that - it was one of the poorest collection of chocolates I have ever tasted. The main issue with these chocolates was the quality of the milk chocolate that coated every single one of them. The cocoa content isn't listed anywhere on the box (18% milk solids), but I would certainly expect the figure to be extremely low. As I have described on all of the pieces above, the milk chocolate offered very little to the taste, which was obviously never going to be a good basis from which to build off. Just to compound the tasteless nature of the outer chocolate most of the centres were equally devoid of flavour, the caramel, fruit and mousse flavoured chocolates stand out as the main perpetrators. To be honest I can't see any sort of situation that I would recommend buying this Nestle Dairy Box Selection. I certainly wouldn't recommend buying them for yourself, I wouldn't recommend buying them for a partner or friend ... I don't think I would even recommend buying them for your worst enemy :D Long story, cut short - I would just avoid these.

4.8 out of 10

August 26th: Lindt Amarena-Kirsch

Kcal 552 Fat 36.0g Carbs 50.0g (per 100.0g)

Since the start of the summer I have been slowly making my way through Lindt's latest 100.0g tafel range, which you may recall has been based around different ice cream flavours. Having already reviewed the Nocciola (See HERE) and Eiscafe (See HERE) variants the one remaining flavour left to try was this Amarena-Kirsh, which I managed to get hold of with a little help from my German friend Franzi. Through aid of the on-pack pictures and my loose understanding of German I was able to get identify that this was based loosely round Cherries, though it took a quick Wikipedia search to identify the origins of Amarena-Kirsch. According to my favourite online encyclopedia, Amaerna-Kirsch are an Italian speciality, which would make sense given that both the Eiscafe and Nocciola flavours have followed that theme (More about Amaerna-Kirsch HERE).

As I have referred to already above this bar came in a 100.0g format which was split into a 5x2 grid of blocks. The packaging, albeit hard to photograph, looked as wonderful as ever and I thought the pinky, red colours made it look the most exciting flavour in the range. The blocks were again slightly on the big side for my liking, though the way they were so beautifully crafted and shaped meant I didn't dwell on that flaw for long. Cutting the block in half for my photography I was delighted to see that the inner creme was studded with large bits of what looked liked frozen dried fruit. In addition to looking pretty gorgeous, the light coloured inner creme smelt pretty phenomenal, mixing a lovely variety of chocolate and genuine smelling red berry scents.

To this point the chocolate was displaying a wonderful promise and the proposition of 'milk chocolate with cherry creme and Amarena cherry pieces' was something I couldn't wait to get stuck in to. Much like the smells had indicated the cherry flavours didn't hang about in imposing themselves on the taste, and straight away they were detectable in the background of the sweet cocoa flavours of the outer chocolate. As ever with Lindt milk chocolate, the taste was luxuriously cream based and it melted with a glorious softness to reveal the inner filling below. As pleasant and smooth as the chocolate felt on the tongue, it was then eclipsed in mouth feel sensation by the creme which had a lighter silkier feel to it's melt. It was at this point that the cherry really flavours really started coming through strongly, with the red fruit flavours establishing a very sweet, yet very 'real' tasting cherry influence. Submerged in the creme filling, the small specs of Amaerna cherry rounded of the taste quite superbly. In comparison to both the chocolate and the creme, the small bits of fruit were sharp and zingy in taste and provided a refreshing juicy sourness to leave a lasting impression of cherry in the mouth. The pace of the melt meant the flavour longevity wasn't optimum, but that wasn't too much of a problem given I had a full 100.0g bar :D

Overall this was probably the best cherry flavoured chocolate that I have ever tasted and it has surprisingly scored the best out of all three of the Lindt ice cream themed bars I have tried this summer. As previous chocolates have shown, implementing cherries in to chocolate is not the easiest thing to do without creating an artificial taste. Thoughts of this chocolate being in any way fake tasting were completely absent when I was eating it. The cherry influences were expertly integrated, in fact I don't believe they could have done it any better. One consideration I did have this chocolate however, was the appropriateness of the milk chocolate coating. As good, and tasty as it was, one part of me couldn't help but feel that a dark coating might have been better matched for the sweetness of the fruit. I could well be wrong and the flavour balance could go out of kilter with dark chocolate overpowering the cherry, but I would still be very keen to try it if such a bar existed. If you like your cherries then this is a must try chocolate for you. This is another pearl in the crown of Lindt.

8.6 out of 10

August 25th: Cadbury Spots V Stripes Challenge Bar

Kcal 205 Fat 11.7g Fat(sats) 7.2g Carbs 22.5g

If you have been watching UK TV recently it is likely you will at some point have come across the latest Cadbury advertising for their new Spots V Stripes challenge campaign (See HERE). To cut a very (very!!) long winded story short, Cadbury have an ambitious two year plan to "split the nation into two teams - Spots & Stripes", with the ultimate aim of "keeping consumers immersed in game play in the lead up to the London 2012 Olympic Games", which Cadbury just so happen to be partnering. The basic idea is that consumers choose to either be a fan of the Spots team, or the Stripes team, and then play against each other for points which they register on the Spots V Stripes website (HERE). I have probably explained the concept pretty poorly so so if you wish to see more information I would suggest looking at this press release HERE. What I hope you are all more interested in, is the fact that Cadbury have launched a new bar to go alongside this campaign idea - the Cadbury Spots V Stripes Challenge Bar.

The product I sampled for this review today was sent to me by Lis at Foodstufffinds (review HERE - Thanks again!) and it came 39.0g bar that was divided in to three blocks. The idea is that you and a friend share the bar, eating your respective Spots/Stripes block each, before then playing a 'game' which is detailed on the inside of the wrapper (mine was eye-spy), with the 'winner' receiving the final middle piece. I will happily admit that the idea is all rather nice, but part of me couldn't help but feel it was an awful lot of fuss for what was fundamentally just a chocolate bar. On the positive side I was far more welcoming of the aesthetic appeal of the packaging and the actual chocolate, as I thought both lived up to Cadbury's usual high standards and were well designed and appealing on the eye. In addition, the bar also smelt pretty appetising with the familiar Dairy Milk scents fully showcased as soon as soon the matted foil wrapper was zipped open.

Unusually for me I have managed to write two paragraphs without actually telling you the product proposition - 'Cadbury Dairy Milk Chocolate & Cadbury creamy white chocolate'. Speaking openly and frankly, the first half of the product description filled with me glee, whilst the last bit brought back many an unnerving memory of my Cadbury Dream chocolate review a few years ago. There have been many times on this website when my preconceived thoughts about a product have been gone on to be disproved, but this wasn't to be the case here. Thankfully the Dairy Milk at the base of the product made up 75% of the total constituents so the taste was predominantly made up by the thick melting, delicious cream rooted sweet cocoa flavours of Cadbury's most famous chocolate recipe. Unfortunately placed on the top of each block, the not so great white chocolate only went to further sweeten the taste with it's sugar heavy flavours. Unlike any decent quality white chocolate it didn't enhance the creamy flavours of the taste or bring in any additional flavour notes such as vanilla etc - it was frankly just low quality sugary rubbish. It would be completely over the top of me to suggest that the white chocolate completely spoilt this chocolate bar for me (I still ate the whole thing after all), but at the same time I just simply didn't want it there, and it ultimately did hamper my subsequent levels of enjoyment and satisfaction.

Overall I like Cadbury's ambition to create a campaign that engages with consumers directly, however I think the focus on 'above-the-line' marketing execution has resulted in them releasing a rather lazy product to go alongside it. When I first heard that Cadbury were launching a new bar for this £14 million pound campaign I was instantly excited at the potential of an entirely new proposition. Given the effort put in to the entire Spots V Stripes marketing concept I have to admit I was disappointed when I learnt what was actually in store for us all. Unfortunately this disappointment was only further compounded when I tasted it, upon where I learnt that Cadbury still hadn't sorted out their white chocolate recipe. This Challenge Bar was far from being any sort of disaster due to it mostly comprising of Cadbury's wonderfully tasty Dairy Milk recipe, however for me the white chocolate only detracted from the overall product experience, rendering it a no better than average offering. Speaking as someone who doesn't care that much for the whole Spots V Stripes campaign concept (I concede it might appeal to younger people!), I'm left feeling that this is a missed opportunity for Cadbury, who I think could have really tied in a far stronger product offering. It's not a bad bar of chocolate by any means but I think it will do little to stimulate consumers to repeat purchase. As ever all your thoughts and views are most welcome, please be sure to share them below.

7.2 out of 10

August 24th: Twix Fino

Kcal 94 Fat 4.4g Carbs 12.3g (per finger)

STOP PRESS! Hold the back pages!! Mars UK have actually launched their first proper innovation since the Mars Delight which we first saw way back in 2004 (no the Galaxy Bubbles doesn't count!!) Last week I finally managed to lay hands on the Twix Fino, which was announced to the trade a while back in June 2010 (See HERE). Described by a Mars spokesperson as a "healthier wafer option", the Fino is aiming to "help expand the appeal of the brand to female professionals looking for a lighter snack" - supposedly taking on the likes of the Kit Kat Senses and the Kinder Bueno. To me this all sounded remarkably similar to the blurb that accompanied the launch of the aforementioned Galaxy product earlier this year. Have Mars forgotten about the male population who eat chocolate!? I'll let you discuss that one!

The Twix Fino comes in a 38.0g double finger packet and will be retailing for £0.52 in smaller independent stores before rolled out nationally in the supermarkets in 2011. Nutritionally the bar is relatively impressive, clocking in with significantly fewer calories than the Kinder Bueno (242 Kcal) and Mars Delight (222 Kcal), whilst being around about par with the likes of the Galaxy Bubbles (169 Kcal) and Kit Kat Senses (165 Kcal). Presentation wise I was also relatively impressed as the wrapper maintained a sense of Twix masculinity despite the target consumer obviously being females. The chocolate fingers themselves also looked pretty appetising with the caramel and wafer layers nicely segregated and balanced in terms of their portioning. Taking the fingers out of their silver foil packet confines, they broke apart with relative ease. The smells emanating from the bars weren't the strongest, though the mild hints of caramel and chocolate had a certain Mars familiarity about them.

On the wrapper the Fino was described 'crisp wafer with caramel, covered in milk chocolate' with the breakdown as follows: wafer (22%), caramel (21%) and chocolate (46%). Starting with the chief constituent, the outer milk chocolate layer was of course the first to be encountered what with it comprising the exterior portion of the bar. Compared to a usual Twix the chocolate wasn't quite as thick in it's portioning, especially at the base where I was expecting the usual thicker underside. Despite the thinness of the chocolate it still did pretty much the same job I expected it to, as the other elements of the bar were also notably lighter. The chocolate was totally as I expected - unspectacular in taste, yet more than adequate at providing a sweet chocolatey flavour hit to every bite. The caramel at the top of the bar also seemed somewhat lighter in portioning, but it again still delivered a familiar set of buttery sweet sugar flavours within it's soft chewy texture. The USP of this Fino bar was of course the substitution of the usual shortbread biscuit base for the folded wafer layers which you can see clearly in my photo above. Taste wise the folded wafer layers reminded me of a sparser version of the wafers used in the Mars Delight, yet without the note of honeycomb forthcoming in the rather plain tasting wheat based flavours. After a few mouthfuls it was more than noticeable that the wafers weren't massively contributing to the taste, but on the plus side they weren't negating the pleasant combination of the caramel and chocolate constituents. The total bar left my hunger feeling relatively settled, though unsurprisingly I didn't feel the same level of satisfaction that I get from a normal Twix.

Overall it was a little tricky scoring this Twix Fino as it came across taste wise as being a bit of Twix 'Lite', but looking at all the PR hype it wasn't if anything other than this was ever being promised. Quite simply the synergy between the wafer and chocolate/caramel layers wasn't as strong as the shortbread biscuit and chocolate/caramel combination of the normal Twix bar. Whilst the wafer layers were positively non-distracting in the grand scheme things, they also failed to add much to the total experience apart from of course the expected contrasting crunchy crisp textures. Taste wise they couldn't hold a candle to the usual biscuit base, though I guess that is what you would have to expect from a bar containing 100 or so less calories. Personally speaking if you offered me the calorie vs. taste trade-off, I would reach for gold foil original Twix bar every time with little or no thought. I don't want to send Mars UK straight back in to their non-innovation shells by bashing this Twix Fino too much, but I personally can't see it hanging around our shelves for too long given how established many of the other alternative offerings are already in this 'lighter choices' sector. You all know how much I value all your opinions so please feel free to share your thoughts about the product proposition, or better yet how you think it actually tastes. After all I'm hardly target market - who knows this could really strike a cord with 'female professionals'.

7.7 out of 10

*** COMPETITION*** If you Retweet this review today in your Twitter feed you automatically enter yourself in a competition to win one of three Twix Fino bars - winners announced this weekend!

August 23rd: Hotel Chocolat Rum Sultanas / Amaretto Sultanas

Lets start today off with a pop quiz :D - who knows the difference between a sultana and raisin? Answers on postcards please, preferably backdated to last week to before I had googled the answer below ...

"In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand the word raisin is reserved for the dried large dark grape, with sultana being a dried large white grape, and currant being a dried small Black Corinth grape"

You learn something new each day don't you - glorious Wikipedia!! So why am I going off on a random one about sultanas and raisins? It's because today I am reviewing some liqueur flavoured sultanas from Hotel Chocolat.

Hotel Chocolat are between seasons at the moment, so my contacts there offered me the chance to fill the seasonal void with some more samples from their 'little things' standard range. These Rum Sultanas and Amaretto Sultanas both came in 150.0g cardboard tubs that must have contained approximatelly 20-30 pieces in each. This style of packaging hasn't ever been a favourite of mine when it comes to Hotel Chocolat (See Ginger Tangs review). Not only do I not think it looks as aesthetically premium as some of their other offerings (their slabs etc), but also if you plan on eating the contents across anything more than a few days the cardboard material doesn't do many wonders for retaining freshness. Minor packaging gripes aside, the raisins and sultanas looked more appealing, and both radiated strong boozie chocolatey scents when I first opened them up. Below are my brief thoughts on each.

Hotel Chocolat Amaretto Sultanas - These came described as 'sultanas soaked in Amaretto, covered in milk chocolate and almonds'. Out of the two dried fruit products on offer today these were the larger in size, with some pieces being twice as large as the rum alternatives. My experiences with Hotel Chocolat liqueur flavoured chocolates have been a little mixed over the past few months, and I'm afraid to say that these were a little unbalanced when it came to how strongly the amaretto came over in the taste. The milk chocolate, plump juicy sultanas and small bits of almond did initially create a myriad of fruit, nut and chocolate flavour influences, however these were masked by the introduction of the amaretto which didn't take long in dominating the other constituents. The overall effect of the amaretto was detrimental to the taste for my liking, but then again I'm not great fan of the liqueur itself.

Hotel Chocolat Rum Sultanas - These came billed as 'sultanas soaked in Jamaican rum covered in milk chocolate'. As I have mentioned above these were noticeably smaller in size, which I found a little puzzling given that the only major difference between the two products were that these didn't have the small bits of almond nut in their coating. Suffice to say I didn't let this perturb me and I'm glad to say I was a little more receptive of these rum flavoured ones. Similarly to the above, the exterior milk chocolate and inner fruit fast established a sugary sweet taste that was well compounded by the fresh feeling sensation that the sultanas created when bitten in to. Like the amaretto, the rum was similarly forthcoming in the taste, however the sweet fruity hints that were present amongst it's boozie flavours complimented the other constituents better than the more startling alcoholic hit of the other spirit. Out of the two I found that these were the ones I was keener on and I finished the tub long before the amarettos.

Overall neither of these would ever be classified in a list of my all time favourite Hotel Chocolat products, but I have to hand it to them for taking a pretty dull product concept of chocolate coated dried fruit and making it somewhat interesting. The added 'interest' was admittedly just a large dose of alcohol for both products, which landed with mixed success. Lets face it though, this made the propositions far more exciting than they would have been had they just been plain. Out of the two my preference lay with the rum sultanas, though when I sampled them on my parents they said they were too sweet and gobbled the rest of the amaretto in super fast time. All-in-all they may not be the most exciting things that Hotel Chocolat have to offer but I wouldn't discount them from your thoughts entirely. If boozie flavoured chocolates are your sort of thing then these are certainly going to be worth you taking a look at if you also like chocolate covered fruits.

Hotel Chocolat Amaretto Sultanas - 7.5 out of 10
Hotel Chocolat Rum Sultanas - 8.0 out of 10

August 21st/22nd: 'Bits n Bobs' - Millionaire's Shortbread

'7Days of Chocolate Reviews' has been replaced this week by a special 'Bits n Bobs' post that I compiled after receiving an e-mail from keen ChocolateMission reader Lauren. A few weeks ago Lauren got in contact asking me if I had any advice on what brand of Millionaire's Shortbreads would be best to take a long to a tea party she was going to that weekend. Of course I suggested that she visit Heavenly Cakes, who I think make the best Millionaire Shortbread ever (See HERE). Lauren however was on a more pressing deadline and needed to buy them that day (DOH!). At this point I had to admit to Lauren I was a bit useless - I could suggest the very decent Thorntons Millionaire's, but to be honest I didn't have any idea about any of the supermarket offerings she mentioned in her e-mail ... I needed to do some research!

Although way to late to assist Lauren, with the help of my work chums, over the last few weeks I have been trying out various Millionaire Shortbreads that are available to us in our supermarkets here in the UK. I will keep the reviews short and sweet, suffice to say none of them were as good as Heavenly Cakes Millionaire's, but please feel free to add your own thoughts below.

Kcal 180 Fat 10.0g Fat(sats) 6.2g Carbs 21.0g (per slice)
Price - £0.79
'Shortcake topped with caramel and a chocolate flavoured coating'

I found these in Sainsbury's and I bought as I could hazily remember them being recommended to me by a ChocolateMission reader previously. Out of all four products on show today these were certainly the most unique in terms manufacture, price and subsequent taste. Unlike the rest of the Millionaire's this was produced by one of the UK's most famous cake brands, dear old 'Mr Kipling', so it was a bit of a surprise to see it was the cheapest out of all four. These things aside the main diversities from the Supermarket offerings came in the taste. Although it had a crisp outer portion, the base was cake like and soft instead of a hard biscuit. This didn't bother me at all, and I thought it delivered some fine syrup sponge flavours. On top of that sponger layer, the caramel was more like dry fudge rather than being soft and gooey. Similarly this wasn't a problem for me and I enjoyed it nevertheless. What was of great disappointment to me however was the chocolate coating, which had very little cut through in the overall taste and was certainly the poorest of all four on show today.

7.3 out of 10

Kcal 290 Fat 13.5g Fat(sats) 9.0g Carbs 26.2g
Price - £0.80p
'Belgian chocolate caramel shortbread'

I bought this in a single serve portion so I wasn't able to get any second opinions. Saying that I'm still pretty confident in my conclusion that this was the best of the lot - it was certainly the one I enjoyed the most anyway! The plastic wrapper and cardboard sleeve weren't perhaps the best looking packaging ever, but I certainly liked the look of the slice out of the packet and I appreciated the decorative bits of white chocolate placed on top. Starting with the biscuit base I felt the shortbread here was the most accomplished. It was crunchy, yet firm and had a delicious butter led taste taste that had all the desired flavours inputs from the hits of brown sugar and salt - wonderful! The caramel on top was similarly nice and firm in texture and did a nice job fusing all three layers. I felt the caramel and chocolate layers weren't the most accomplished in taste, however the caramel avoided being overly sugary and the chocolate did deliver the chocolate flavour hit to a decent standard.

8.1 out of 10

Kcal 170 Fat 8.1g Fat(sats) 5.0g Carbs 14.2g (per square)
Price - £1.59
'Shortbread topped with caramel and milk chocolate, hand drizzled with white chocolate'

I have to admit that the packaging had me believing these were going to be the best out of the bunch and they nearly, nearly were. Out of all three I felt the chocolate layer of these squares was the most accomplished and I enjoyed it's creamy cocoa flavours and crispness at which it broke when bitten in to. Unfortunately I felt the other caramel and biscuit portions weren't as accomplished as the Sainsbury's offering, as both were just a touch shadier in both taste and texture. Taste wise the caramel was more startling in it's sugary flavours, whilst the shortbread was less buttery and blander in comparison. One thing that was especially noted by some of my work colleagues was that the biscuit bases were terribly soft and crumbly, and the softer, gooey texture of the caramel portion whilst looking nice, wasn't all that practical when it came to eating. If quantity and quality of chocolate are the most important things to you, then these are worth a look at.

7.9 out of 10

Kcal 205 Fat 10.3g Fat(sats) 6.2g Carbs 17.3g (per slice)
Price - £2.19
'Shortbread squares topped caramel and dark Belgian chocolate'

Save the best until last!? Unfortunately not - quite the opposite I'm afraid. Aesthetically these slices looked pretty decent, with the caramel layer looking very plentiful in it's portioning sandwiched between the caramel and chocolate. Speaking of the chocolate, I thought the 'dark chocolate' proposition might be a clever ploy by Waitrose to balance the sweetness of the caramel. Indeed the sweetness was taken out of chocolate, but it was unfortunately not replaced by any grander focus on cocoa or cream so it came off as being just rather bland. The caramel layer took the lead role in the taste with it's fine buttery sweet flavours, but the biscuit bases were just as disappointing as the chocolate. Personally I would say Waitrose billing the bases as shortbread is verging on lieing - they tasted more like blander McVitie's digestive biscuits and were soft and unsubstantial once in the mouth. Unlike the others I wouldn't be prepared to buy these again.

6.6 out of 10

August 20th: Mr Tom Chocolate

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

Before I kick off this review I must first take the time to thank my friends over at for making this post possible. My pal Kristian from Candyholic was recently kind enough to send me a parcel containing some of the newest products out in Germany. Included in the package was some of the latest Milka and Lindt bars that you will no doubt see appearing on the site in the coming weeks. Kristian also happen to include some of his own favourite chocolates, including this Mr Tom Chocolate bar. Here in the UK the original Mr Tom bar can be found in most newsagents and supermarkets, however I have never seen this chocolate variety before. On the packaging this bar came described as 'milk chocolate with caramelized and roasted peanuts' and was of course produced in Germany.

This chocolate came in the slightly odd sized 150.0g and came in a square bar format not unlike a Ritter Sport chocolate. The wrapper wasn't totally reminiscent of the crazy retro looking Mr Tom bars we get in the UK, but it looked fine nonetheless and the chocolate looked reasonably appetising with visible chunks of peanuts distributed throughout. One slight annoyance for me was that despite the wrapper being similar in style to Ritter chocolates it wasn't resealable, which obviously wasn't ideal for a bar of its size. As I ate the bar over the course of a few days, it seemed to lose it's freshness a little, that said the wafts of peanut smells I got when I opened the thing for the first time were extremely tempting.

Judging by the aromas and the sheer volume of peanuts dispersed throughout, I was expecting a very nutty tasting chocolate and this is exactly what I got. Starting with the quality of the chocolate it has to be said it wasn't the best I have ever tasted, though neither was it the worst. On the back of the wrapper the ingredients stated that the chocolate comprised of 30% cocoa solids which I guess is around the expected strength for the average mass produced milk chocolate. In terms of taste it was nothing out of the ordinary with the flavour base centered around sweet milk and mild cocoa influences. To be honest it didn't really have any compelling or unique features about it, and was more just a bog standard milk chocolate that wouldn't have seemed out of place in any Nestle or Mars produced mass confection. The peanut pieces placed throughout the chocolate were portioned pretty generously, though as I so often find their chopped nature came to their detriment as they failed to have the same sort of cut through in taste as I'm sure whole nuts would have. Don't get me wrong, the caramel and salty influences were still there in force, however they didn't create the lasting impression that other peanut flavoured chocolates have done in the past.

Overall this was a decent enough milk chocolate that had it's strong points, but I ultimately felt like it could have been done a little better than what I experienced here. On the rare occasion that I do indulge in a Mr Tom bar, one of the things that I always love about it is how the peanuts are implemented in their natural whole state as it gives the bar not only a unique and compelling look, but also a raw and very 'in your face' peanut flavour experience. In this Mr Tom Chocolate bar the peanut element was somewhat masked by a no better than average milk chocolate, which leads me to be the question why didn't they just use the base of an original Mr Tom and then just coat it in milk chocolate!? Casting my mind to better alternatives I would say the Whittaker's Original Peanut Block is the best example of a bar that does this combination the best. In light of that I would recommend you give that bar a try before this Mr Tom Chocolate.

7.3 out of 10

August 19th: Galler Heritage Noir 85%

Kcal 559 Fat 50.1g Carbs 16.3g (per 100.0g)

Having got through a fair number of Galler's filled chocolate bars recently I was delighted when I was presented with the opportunity to try their Heritage Noir 85% dark chocolate bar. Those in the know will be well aware that 85% recipe chocolates have a pretty good track record here on ChocolateMission. I don't know whether it is by luck and chance, but bars of this strength from the likes of Lindt, Green & Black's etc have been some of my favourite chocolates of all time. In fact, if you look at the ChocolateMission leaderboard you will see that Hotel Chocolat's 85% House Dark Chocolate still remains right at the top (I very much recommend you try it if you haven't done so already!). Today was all about this Galler Heritage Noir 85% though, and it came described as a very unfussy sounding 'dark chocolate with 85% cocoa'.

This bar came in a 100.0g size that I willingly shared with some fellow taste testers. What can I say about the presentation? My previous reviews on Galler's filled bar range have been filled with nothing but superlatives when it comes to their packaging, but this bar really did look a cut above the rest. The outer wrapper was simplistic, yet totally premium looking in design, but it was the bar itself where this chocolate really shone. When I say shone, I really do mean it shone - the surface of the chocolate had the cleanest looking surface of any chocolate I have seen before. It gave the sense that the chocolate was fresh out the hands of the chocolatier who crafted it, whilst the perfect sized blocks and crystal clear Galler logo just further reaffirmed th sense this was a high end offering.

When I had finally finished marvelling over the gorgeous look of the bar, the next task myself and taste testers embarked upon was taking in the smells offered by the chocolate. All five of us remarked that the strong cocoa scents were appealing in their fresh, fragrant scents, though some (who got really into it :D ) went further by describing they could detect hints of roasted coffee and charcoal (oooh err!) haha! Smelling the chocolate was fine and necessary and everything, but this was really going to come down to the all important taste test. As mentioned above the chocolate blocks were a perfect mouth size, with one piece at a time the optimum size for just popping on the tongue. Doing exactly this allowed for the flavour development to be at it's best - this was a strictly no chew necessary chocolate. Placing a block on the tongue the chocolate quickly established a strong tasting set of cocoa flavours that came across as sharp and edgy to the majority of us. As the chocolate gathered heat and transcended in form, these cocoa flavours became more rounded, and developed flavour notes of vanilla, brown sugar and milk which somewhat took the edge off the taste. During the latter stages of the melt it was mentioned be a few of my taste testers (and myself!) that the taste developed undercurrents of burnt sugar and caramel. The aftertaste left in the mouth was pleasant, but not perhaps as long lasting as other chocolates I have tried of this strength.

Overall I personally felt this was a very accomplished and tasty dark chocolate which was a common consensus amongst all the people that I sampled it with. I think it was best summed up by one of colleagues as 'proper chocolate' - this it certainly was. The flavour development was absolutely first class and I loved the way it started out with a strong, almost startling chocolatey flavour hit before it developed in to a calmer, creamier kind taste. If I was to compare it to the Hotel Chocolat 85% I would say it was definitely in the same ball park in terms of my enjoyment of it, but the thinner nature of the Galler bars melt gave it slightly less longevity and presence than it's Hotel Chocolat counterpart. This is just my own personal opinion, and I wouldn't be surprised if there are many out there who might just happen to prefer this Galler offering. The wonderful thing about dark chocolate is that is shares many similarities to fine wines. Everyone has their own tastes that are matched by different brands, but like wines, anyone who has any idea about chocolate will be able to tell this is a high quality bar. I know I keep saying this about most Galler products I try, but I can only tell the truth - I really recommend this.

8.9 out of 10

August 18th: 'Bits n Bobs' Cakes, Cereal & Biscuit Chocolate Bars # 3

In the last few weeks my 'Bits n Bobs' reviews seem to have gone down well with readers, so acting on the few requests made in the last B&B post, I today bring you some more quickfire product reviews. In the line of fire today we have offerings from Jacob's biscuits, Kellogg's and my all time favourite food retailer Marks & Spencer ... lets get cracking ...

Kcal 116 Fat 5.8g Fat(sats) 3.7g Carbs 14.5g (per bar)

'Milk chocolate with fruit, chocolate cream and a biscuit base'

In my Jacob's CLUB superpost last month, readers were quick to point out that it wasn't quite so super as I had missed out one of the flavours in the range. Unbeknown to myself the CLUB biscuit also comes in a 'Fruit' flavour which currently isn't included in the 27 bar multipack that I bought to test the other three flavours. After a little hunting down in Tesco I finally found a 9 pack of bars for the price of £1 and brought them in to work for our tea room. For anyone wondering about the fruit content of these bars, it will come as little surprise to you that this came in the form of currants. Upon opening the bar it was particularly nice to see the currants nicely portioned throughout out the biscuit base. This made this 'Fruit' bar look more exciting aesthetically compared to the other variants which have to be said, all looked pretty similar. In regards to taste the milk chocolate and biscuit constituents primarily offered the same experience served up by the rest of the CLUB range, though the currants did manage to enhance the flavour depth. The sugary fruitiness of the currants wasn't anything revolutionary, but it was a welcome addition to the taste and the soft chewy texture of the fruit pieces nicely contrasted with the crunchy biscuit. If I was going to buy CLUB biscuits again in the future I would probably plump for either these or the mint ones.

7.4 out of 10

Kcal 84 Fat 2.5g Fat(sats) 2.0g Carbs 14.0g

'Chocolate toasted rice cereal and milk bar'

I remember this product being one of the first cereal bars to come on the market from the established manufacturers, and it was one of the ones I have become pretty familiar with down the years. As I have said on previous reviews, chocolate cereals have never been a thing that I have particularly enjoyed (apart from the latest Weetabix Chocolate See HERE), neither am I really much of a fan of rice based cereals. Given both of those facts it probably doesn't seem all the sensical that I have a bit of a soft spot when it comes these Coco Pops Chocolate & Milk Cereal Bars. I wouldn't say these are an every week purchase for me, but I do on occasion slip a pack in shopping basket and take them to work for a snack. Taste wise the chocolate payoff isn't as grand as what you get from any average chocolate bar, but the sweet cocoa flavours deliver a decent chocolate flavour hit. Additionally the milk icing that lines the bottom brings a very pleasant additional creaminess to the taste - I just wish they would make it as thick as it used to be! For a low calorie chocolate snack this is one of the best options out there in my opinion.

7.2 out of 10

Kcal 515 Fat 30.8g Fat(sats) 13.5g Carbs 55.5g (per 100.0g)

'Chocolate square with biscuit and honeycomb pieces, topped with a layer of milk chocolate and white chocolate drizzle'

Whilst the other two products have been around for donkeys years, this Marks & Spencer Honeycomb Tiffin is on of the latest additions to M&S's extensive 'food on the go' range. This 45.0g cake set me back a reasonably priced 69p and came in a pack sized similar in size to a box for a jewellery ring (sorry only comparison I could think of haha!). In true English fashion I consumed this alongside a traditional cup of Early Grey tea (stereotypical Englishmen I know!), which proved to be a very fitting eating occassion. Unfortunately for all cakes that feature on this site nowadays, they always come up agaisnt the tought comparator of Heavenly Cakes. Lets get this well out the way from the start, this wasn't as good as the Heavenly Cakes Tiffin cake! I did however still get a a great deal of enjoyment from this M&S offering. The base of the cake was a little crumbly around the edges, but it had a nice denseness to it in the middle where the honeycomb bits really came in to their own. The combination of the buttery biscuit pieces, milky sweet chocolate and honey made for a very interesting and diverse flavour experience. Unfortunately the taste wasn't particularly long lasting, something that I think could have been helped by the chocolate topping had it been a little more substantial and impactful in terms of flavours. It was a decent enough cake, especially when you factor in the price and convenience of it.

7.6 out of 10