September 30th: Hotel Chocolat Sushi Collection

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

As promised here is your second helping of Hotel Chocolat for this week - Good times! Back in early June this year I brought you all my review of Hotel Chocolat's recently updated 'The Purist' range (See HERE). As part of that range update, Hotel Chocolat also brought out a few new offerings to go alongside those single origin bars. One of these products was this 'Sushi Collection Foursome' which they describe on their website as 'a collection of our most prized cocoa recipes, specially created to complement the characterful flavours of these rare chocolates' - fancy sounding huh!?

Well as good as this all sounded there was a problem - my 'Sushi Collection Foursome' unfortunately turned out to be a 'Sushi Collection Threesome'. Indeed due to some issues at the factory, the 'Extreme Dark Caramel' were suffering from caramel leakage problems (they made the outer shells too thin!). This left me with the 50% Milk, and the 65% and 90% Dark Intense/Extreme Pralines which you can see pictured left to right in my photograph above. All three variants came in 55.0g packs of 5 that were presented in some simple, yet stylish looking plastic try boxes.

As ever my family were at hand to help me sample all three of these different chocolates - below are our tasting notes on the three, the scoring charts for each are below.

50% Milk Intense Pralines - Hailing from the Island of Saint Lucia these were the first we tried out of the selection and they went down well with one and all. Despite being billed as milk chocolate, the main flavour contribution came not from a cream based flavour set but more the unsweetened cocoa flavours which were just a little less forthcoming than the 65% pieces. The outer chocolate shell was soft in and melt and well paced at revealing the lighter textured praline below. The hazelnut flavours of the praline came to the fore of the taste within a matter of seconds of exposure, rounding off a quite simply delicious tasting chocolate.

65% Dark Intense Pralines - Despite being billed as just having a slightly elevated cocoa content of 65%, these pralines were differentiated enough in their taste to be viewed as the best out of the three we tried. Compared to the 50% pralines I have written about above, the cocoa flavours were just a little more intensive and the flavour depth of the outer chocolate just seemed bit richer with some additional notes of roasted coffee joining the party mid melt. As with the 50% the melt and mouth feel of the outer chocolate to the praline centre transisiont was superb. Despite the slight volume increase of the cocoa, the creamy hazelnut flavours offered by the centre were just as profound. These were the first to 'disappear' :D

90% Dark Extreme Pralines - A few of my family members were a little cautious about trying these but I did eventually get them all to try one. Opinion was split when it came to the taste - my father and I quite enjoyed the richness of the roasted and intense cocoa flavours, however my sister and mother found them overly bitter and didn't enjoy the chocolates until the more calming, soothing flavours of the creamier praline came to the party. One thing that we all could come to a consensus on was our dislike of the textures established by the melt. Compared to the other 50% and 65% recipes, the mouth feel of the melting chocolate wasn't as nice as it felt like it cloyed and became lumpy in the mouth as it changed state.

Overall these were a fabulous set of pralines that really made for an enjoyable tasting experience sampling the delights of each variety. Out of all three the 65% Dark Pralines were considered to be our clear favourite as they had an intensity that sat well with all four of us. Whilst I have mostly talked about the quality of the chocolate in my tasting notes above it is worth reaffirming the quality of the praline filling that sat in the middle of every single one of these chocolates. The hazelnut flavours were sinfully creamy and the woody nutty flavours were about as delicious as you could hope for from any praline chocolate. That said I wouldn't consider either the 50% or 90% varieties to be perfect - the 50% could probably have been better as a creamier 40% option, whilst the 90% was probably just a little too excessive. Fingers crossed next month I can bring you my views on the fourth variety, for the time being I still would recommend this selection as well worthy of checking out based on these pralines alone.

Hotel Chocolat 50% Intense Milk Pralines - 8.3 out of 10
Hotel Chocolat 65% Intense Dark Pralines - 8.8 out of 10
Hotel Chocolat 50% Extreme Dark Pralines - 7.5 out of 10

September 29th: Galler Inventive Amandes Grillees

Kcal 560 Fat 38.1g Carbs 43.0g (per 100.0g)

I couldn't possibly let a whole week go by without featuring some sort of Galler product on the site now could I? My poor postmen again had to struggle to my door this week carrying a heavy parcel, his back must be hurting what with all the chocolate samples I have received off Galler recently. Contained within my latest sampling selection, this Galler Inventive Amandes Grillees was yet another bar requested a review by ChocolateMission readers. The Galler Inventive range is a line of bars that come with a somewhat cheesy descriptor line of 'creative, generous chocolates, discover new sensations'. This Amandes Grillees is just one of the offerings, and came billed as 'nuggets of toasted almond coated in a mix of rich chocolate and dried fruits' - I was excited to see what it could offer.

The 'Inventive' range forms part of Galler's larger size chocolate bar offerings and came in a 100.0g form that I shared with a few of my other family members. Being their ever reliable selves, the packaging and presentation was all first class. The premium looking wrapper was supplemented by an additional cardboard piece and thick foil wrapper to ensure the chocolate stayed in immaculate condition. I hope you will agree looking at my photograph above that the chocolate cut an appetising look, with the white chocolate outer portioning contrastingly nicely with the much darker filling which contained an abundance of almond pieces. Aroma wise I was possibly expecting the nutty scents to be a little stronger, though I found it understandable that the chocolatey smells were not exactly the most forthcoming given the white chocolate constituents.

If you have peaked already at my rating and construction of the scoring chart, you will have noticed that there must have been something fundamentally wrong for the product to have scored so lowly. If I can quickly refer you back to the product description supplied on the wrapper - 'nuggets of toasted almond coated in a mix of rich chocolate and dried fruits', I think the majority of you would agree that it wouldn't have been wrong to expect a fruit and nut type experience with this chocolate. To the surprise of myself and every member of my family that tried this bar this wasn't to be the case at all. Starting off with what turned out to be one of the only positives to come out of the bar, the white chocolate outer coating was up to the usual high quality standards of Galler produce. It was balanced in it's sweetness and produced a delicious array of cream and vanilla flavours that created a very pleasant taste from the outset. Unfortunately what sat below was by no means up to par with what I have come to expect from Galler. The inner praline centre had a very forthcoming bitterness which I can only theorise was generated by the almonds. I understand the almonds were supposed to be toasted, but I think whoever in the factory was in charge of toasting them may have done so for to long, as they created an overriding plethora of burnt nut flavours. Unlike stated on the wrapper, the bar also didn't contain any dried fruit content, so there was nothing to detract attention from the unpleasantness created by the nuts. I'm sure that this chocolate was fine to eat, but neither myself or my family went back for more after sampling a few blocks each.

Overall this is the first post of it's kind - a review in which I use the words 'Galler' and 'deeply disappointed'. This Galler Incentive Amandes Grillees was simply not up to the usual standards that I have come to expect from this wonderful Belgian brand. The bar not only failed to deliver what it promised in regards to the lacking dried fruit content, but also it was still poor in the execution of what it did actually have to offer. The white chocolate as ever was very palatable and very much to my liking, however this bar fell down in all other aspects of the taste and texture test. The toasted almond nuts were burnt and not cooked properly which subsequently spoilt the taste. What also didn't help too much was the fact that the almond pieces were jagged and small in size, which meant that the mouth feel of the chocolate melting wasn't altogether that pleasant either. At the end of the day, the less probably said about this bar the better - there are way too many other Galler products for us to preoccupy ourselves with, just check the archives (See HERE).

5.6 out of 10

September 28th: 'Bits n Bobs' - Cadbury Selection

Having being sent/bought several obscure Cadbury chocolates over the last few months, I thought it best to do a 'Bits n Bobs' Cadbury post to showcase a few of them all in one go. On show today we have the Cadbury Dark Burnt Almond and Cadbury Cerises bars from Canada, the Cadbury Chomp from South Africa, and lastly the Cadbury Jaffas from New Zealand.

Cadbury Dark Burnt Almond

Kcal 240 Fat 14.0g Fat(sats) 7.0g Carbs 24.0g
'Dark chocolate with roasted almond nuts'.

This bar came in a 42.0g size that I consumed over the course of a single sitting. The outer packaging looked none to dissimilar to the style we used to get here in the UK, and I liked the brightness of the foil wrapper which I think gave the bar decent stand out.

With expectations set by the really dark, almost black colouring of the chocolate it was nice that the aromas had similar impact, and the mixture of cocoa and nut hints certainly made for a promising prospect. Cutting to the chase, the chocolate wasn't perhaps as strongly flavoured as I would have liked, though I guess I expected this due to this being very much a common consistency across most mass produced dark chocolates. The chocolate solus would perhaps of been a little bland and boring but luckily the almonds added an extra dimension to both taste and texture, bringing elements of savoury nuttiness and hints of butter with their crisp, crunchy feel in the mouth. I wouldn't have this bar down as a 'must try', but if you are a dark chocolate amateur looking to ease yourself in to 'the dark side' this is a nice option for you.

7.6 out of 10

Cadbury Cerises
Kcal 200 Fat 8.0g Fat(sats) 4.5g Carbs 32.0g
'Milk chocolate with a Maraschino filling'

This Cerises bar came in a 45.0g format that contained four splendid looking large thimble shaped chocolates. Despite failing to register any aromas of great interest, when cross-sectioned the pieces looked very unique, with the glace cherries glistening nicely within the Maraschino liqueur - my intrigue was certainly raised.

The chocolate held no surprises with it's sweet, milk led taste - standard Cadbury fair really. Due to the thickness of the outer shell the chocolate was allowed to express itself to a decent level, but this all changed as soon as the inner constituents were breached. Despite it's liqueur billing, the Maraschino taste lacked an alcoholic edge, though personally I can't say I missed it and I still got some pleasure from the syrupy red fruit flavours. I'm no fan of glace cherries, but the variation brought by the unique chewy textures were a decent enhancement to the overall experience, making their presence worthwhile for this reason alone. This wasn't a product that was much suited to my own tastes, but I would recommend it to people who like their cherry flavoured chocolates.

7.4 out of 10

Cadbury Chomp (RSA)

Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???
'Wafer biscuit and caramel covered in a chocolate flavoured coating'.

As you can see above this wasn't product notable for it's presentation, however it had a friendly charm about it, and the random addition of the hippo figures were more to my liking than the bastard Freddo or Magical Elve characters that cover our kiddie offerings here in the UK.

Fast forwarding to the all important taste test, this South African Chomp suffered from many of the UK Chomp's problems - the most obvious one of course being it's small, unfulfilling size. What was more surprising however, was the sub-standard milk chocolate this bar had to offer. Unlike the majority of Cadbury products, the chocolate had a lazy, waxy melt and it disappointingly created a very mild and sugary based taste. Luckily this bar was somewhat passable due to the relative tastiness of the caramel and wafer layers which combined created a satisfactory amount of toffee and malt flavours. Unfortunately it can't be ignored that the outer 'chocolate' coating was horrendously poor, which is something I wouldn't ever expect to say about a Cadbury product. This was by no means the worst product I have ever tasted, but I certainly wouldn't recommend it.

6.2 out of 10

Cadbury Jaffas

Kcal 123 Fat 5.0g Fat(sats) 3.0g Carbs 18.8g
'Orange coated, chocolate filled balls'.

These Jaffas came in a 50.0g box that contained around 25 pieces, which were about the size of Cadbury Tasters. To my immediate surprise (and concern) I saw that the pieces were red coloured, despite being billed as orange flavoured!? I should have probably taken this as a sign of what was to soon follow!

Time to describe the taste ... well this wont take long :D These tasted of nothing more and nothing less than pure sugar. The outer shells completely dominated the experience and offered a set of cheap, artificial chemically flavours. The taste was simply one dimensional, boring and utterly joyless - the chocolate needn't be mentioned as it just had no say in matters whatsoever. After 3 pieces I knew the rest were destined for the bin. I didn't even bother offering them to any of my co-workers, I'm not that cruel :D I would honestly avoid these like the plague - just check out the score.

3.6 out of 10

If any of you have any views on the products featured today please be sure to drop me a comment with your thoughts.

September 27th: Milka Limited Editions 2010

Forget Hotel Chocolat Mondays - More recently it has been more like 'New Product Mondays'! Today I have another three for you to feast your eyes on. These Milka bars you see below were sent to me by ChocolateMission reader Franzi, who last week was kind enough to ship these three new 2010 Limited Edition flavours to me from Germany. Franzi has also reviewed these bars herself - See HERE.

Over the last seven days I (and my family & friends) have been sampling all three of the 100.0g bars. The packaging and presentation of all three new flavours was aligned with the rest of the standard Milka range with distinctive white on purple branding, and the flavour variety communicated with the use of on-pack pictures. Before anyone asks I have no clue what the significance of the cow pictures on the front of the wrappers is all about - hopefully Franzi will stop by the review and indulge us with this information.

Here are my thoughts on the three flavours - one thing that I can confirm was consistent across all three was the experience delivered by the Alpine milk chocolate which coated each all of the bars. As with every bar of it's kind, the Alpine milk chocolate established a familiar set of sweet cocoa, hazelnut noted flavours from the outset, and melted at a pleasant rate and with a kind smoothness. Milka chocolate is sweet, but I have always liked that it does have it's own uniqueness in it's flavours with small hint of nuttiness.

Milka Chocolate Creme and Mint

Kcal 590 Fat 41.5g Carbs 45.5g (per 100.0g)
'Alpine milk chocolate with a mint flavoured chocolate creme filling'

What with the hundreds of Milka flavours that have been created it is somewhat surprising that this was the first ever mint chocolate I had seen from them. Aesthetically the chocolate looked little different to many of the other Milka chocolate cream bars I had tried previously. The aromas emanating from the plastic sealed packet however did offer a mild note of peppermint, which suitably set expectations for the taste.

Sat the below the Alpine milk chocolate, the chocolate creme filling had an even softer textured feel, and it melted at a very hasty rate in the mouth. In terms of taste the chocolate cream wasn't really differentiated from the outer milk chocolate, and more just further went to build on the initial set of flavours established by the Alpine milk. To my surprise the integration of the mint wasn't as strong as expected, with only minor suggestions of peppermint on offer at intermittent times. When it comes to their flavourings, Milka are normally a lot bolder than they have been with this mint offering. It was in no way a bad tasting bar, but I think the mint deserved to be more prominent. This bar could of been better than it turned out, I think some chocolate mint fans might be left wanting a stronger minty taste.

7.4 out of 10

Milka Milk Cream & Pop Rocks

Kcal 560 Fat 34.5g Carbs 56.5g (per 100.0g)
'Alpine milk chocolate with a milk cream filling and popping candy'

The dreaded 'Knister' - that's 'Popping Candy' to us English speaking folk! You may recall that I have reviewed a few Milka products last year that contained this horrid stuff (See HERE & HERE). Like all of those previous products, this bar looked similarly innocent on the face of things, with the milk cream filling cutting a tempting looking appearance nestled between the milk chocolate exterior.

Given I knew I this flavour wasn't going to be to my own taste I enlisted the help of some work colleagues in order to give it a fair run out. Out of the four people that tried it, it was unanimously agreed that the the chocolate tasted nice, and there were several positive comments about the creaminess of the milk filling taking the dairy flavours of the chocolate a positive stage further. In regards to the crackly texture created by the copious amounts of popping candy, the panel was more split in it's views. Two of the four thought it was fun and liked it, whilst the other two were, well ... 'less inclined' to put it politely haha! From a personal point of view I just don't like the pop rocks sensation. On the other hand if you do like it then this will be a chocolate you will probably enjoy - it's as simple as that.

6.7 out of 10

Milka Milk Cream & Choco-Biscuits

Kcal 570 Fat 36.0g Carbs 54.0g (per 100.0g)
'Alpine milk chocolate with a milk cream filling and chocolate flavoured biscuit pieces'

Save the the best until last? Why of course I have :D Of all the three flavours Franzi so kindly sent my way, this was the one I had the highest expectations for. This Mika Milk Cream & Choco-Biscuits is Milka's attempt at producing an equivalent offering to Hershey's Cookies n' Chocolate bar (See HERE). From the outset I loved the look of the chocolate as it's gold tinged milk creme filling looked very appetising studded with a heavy portioning of cookie pieces.

Unlike the popping candy chocolate, this wasn't a bar I dished out amongst my work colleagues - I greedily ate it to myself over a few separate occasions. The main reason for this selfishness was because it was quite simply delicious. Like so many of the other Milka bars, the the milk creme filling did a fantastic job of building on on the existing sweet dairy flavours of the outer chocolate, and it added a fine dose of creamy goodness. Sat in the creme, the biscuits bits proved themselves to be a similarly fantastic addition to the overall experience and they came to the party at the end of each mouthful once the chocolate had melted away. Taste wise they added delicious buttery, chocolate biscuit flavours and retained a nice degree of crunchiness despite the moistness of the melting chocolate. Personally I thought this bar was easily the best out of the three latest limited edition offerings - I wish I knew what all these cows were about though :D

8.5 out of 10

September 25/26th: Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Everything Selection

'7Days of Chocolate Reviews' takes a break this week as I bring you an extra dose of Hotel Chocolat. If you guys have been checking out the Hotel Chocolat site recently you would have seen that they have added a number of new selection boxes to their existing range. Some of the highest scoring products ever to feature on this site have been their Dark and White Chocolate Sleekster Boxes (See HERE & HERE), so when I was sent a sample of this Everything Selection I had seriously high expectations.

Described as a 'balanced collection with a little bit of everything, so there's something for absolutely everyone to love' I of course couldn't do the rest of my family the injustice of not sharing it with them. Hopefully my photos will do the presentation of the box and truffles justice - everything was superb looking and the chocolates terrifically crafted and detailed. What with there being 14 different pieces in the selection it's probably best we get down to business ...

Amarena Cherry - This piece was large in size but had a soft filling centre that yielded with a real elegance under the crisp outer shell. The flavours of this piece were wonderfully progressive with the sweet cocoa flavours of the outer milk chocolate taking on a grander creaminess from the buttercream filling before leaving a well balanced note of red berry liquor. Very Good.

Going Nuts - Formed of a milk chocolate coated praline with crunchy hazelnuts this was a very accomplished nut chocolate that combined smooth and crispy textures well. The milk chocolate let the nut constituents do most of the talking, but this sat very well with myself and I very much enjoyed the woody flavours contributed by both the different nut elements. Very Good.

Amaretto - Hotel Chocolat liqueur flavoured chocolates are always too strong are they not!? Well if this chocolate was anything to go by that statement would be very wrong. The crisp outer chocolate constituents were terrifically complimented by an outstanding buttercream filling that by my estimation was perfect in it's strength of boozie almond flavours. Superb.

Crispy Praline - This was a somewhat odd piece that combined an inner praline filling with small crunchy pieces of 'crispy pancake'. Whilst the pancake bits didn't detract from the creamy hazelnut flavours, the impression they created texture wise was not to my liking in the slightest - it was almost as if it was like dreaded popping candy *shivers*. Standard.

Within this selection box there were also several pieces that I had come across in other Hotel Chocolate reviews (or chocolates extremely similar to them!). If you are interested in my views on (from left-to-right/front-to-back) the Caramel Melter, Mousse au Chocolat, Billionaire's Shortbread, Brownie, Orange Praline and Orange Liqueur Melter - please click on the name of the piece to be redirected to those reviews.

Milk House Praline - This was pretty simple piece that combined a hazelnut praline centre with a milk chocolate exterior. Whilst it was undoubtedly very tasty I almost felt like it was a bit of a generic choice of chocolate to be included in the selection. I was told by the rest of my family that I was just being overly critical - they loved it. Very Good.

Praline Cup - This again was very similar to the praline truffle above, however had a base of dark chocolate. The dark chocolate provided a somewhat less sweet introduction flowing in to the praline, however I think it could of done with a full coating of dark as opposed to the suggestion provided at the bottom. Again it is hard to rate this anything other than Very Good despite it being very alike other pieces.

Butterscotch Ganache - Now if the two chocolates above were a little similar to each each other this truffle was one that very much stood out as offering something a little different. The outer milk chocolate was a perfect foil for the inner toffee flavoured ganache and established a creamy caramel noted flavour sensation. The shortbread biscuit piece on top capped off a truly exquisite truffle. Superb.

Isabelle - We get to end with yet another phenomenal chocolate. This was yet another piece that had a praline centre, but this one really was all about the florentine on top. In addition to the hazelnut and sweet cocoa flavours already on offer, the florentine biscuit brought additional hints of honey, caramel and almond to the party, all within it's delightful crispy chewy texture. Superb.

Overall this has been a very difficult Selection Box to rate as it could easily be argued that it could be deserving of a better or worse rating. On one hand this was a delicious collection of chocolates that contained no 'duff ones' and had some real stand out pieces like the Isabelle, Butterscotch Ganache and Amaretto. However, on the flip side, it could also be noted that for a selection that was meant to contain 'Everything' the actual variety was a little limited. As a lover of praline chocolates I actually fancied every single piece in the box. Unfortunately though my sister (who doesn't really like nuts!) felt very limited, with only the three fruit options really taking her fancy. With this in mind when it came to the scoring of this box I couldn't quite give it the highest marks like I did Dark or White Sleeksters. Saying that, if I was gifting this box to a person who I knew loved pralines, I would feel very happy with my choice - this box contains many of them, and they are all delicious.

8.4 out of 10

September 24th: 'Bits n Bobs' Cereal Bars & Biscuits # 6

I have really been enjoying doing these 'Bits n Bobs' posts over the last few months, so today I have obliged with a few more reader requests which came out of some of the previous B&B features. Starting off with a yet another offering from Kellogg's vast range of cereal bars, I then move on to another little heard of offering by Cadbury, before then finishing off with a request from ChocolateMission reader Phil.

Kcal 82 Fat 2.0g Fat(sats) 2.0g Carbs 15.0g

Kellogg's Coco Pop Coco Rocks - 'Chocolate maize and rice cereal bar with milk chocolate chunks and chocolate drizzle'

After my review of the original Coco Pops Cereal Bar, ChocolateMission readers Rachel and David suggest I give these Coco Pops Coco Rocks (trying saying that fast!) bars a try. After a little searching I found them in Sainsbury's supermarket priced at £1.67 for six bars, and I ate across the course of a working week. Presentation wise the packaging was all very similar to the rest of Kellogg's cereal bar offerings, though I thought the bars themselves looked visually impressive with plenty of chocolate chunks lining the top of each cereal bar. Despite the base of the product constituting of mostly light airy rice cereal, the syrup and chocolate drizzle that acted as the bind gave a nice bit of viscosity and denseness to each bite. The pieces placed on the top of the bar didn't create the greatest flavour impact, however the overall combination of the cereal, drizzle and chocolate chunks provided a relatively satisfying chocolate snack, especially for a cereal bar product. Those interested in 'lighter' chocolate offerings will certainly want to have a look out for these.

7.4 out of 10

Kcal 110 Fat 5.1g Fat(sats) 2.2g Carbs 6.8g

Cadbury BrunchBreaks Granola, Hazelnbut & Raisins - 'Baked whole-grain slices, dipped and drizzled with Cadbury milk chocolate'

Whilst Kellogg's have a very standard set in stone range of cereal bars, Cadbury happen to have quite the opposite - their range is one of the most muddles and over complicated ones out there. Over the last few years I have cast my eye over the Cadbury Brunchbars, Cadbury Snack Cereal Bars etc etc but even I hadn't heard of these Cadbury BrunchBreaks before I came across them in Tesco. Priced at £1.69 for six, 23.0g slices I again ate these over the course of a week with my mid afternoon coffees. Aesthetically the product looked no different whatsoever to the Brunchbars they sat next to on the shelf, however taken out their plastic packets the slices looked relatively appetising on the eye. Taste wise the bases had a digestive biscuit like taste that was nicely enhanced by the thin layer of milk chocolate that acted as an undercoating. Placed on top, the nuts failed to add much to the taste due to their small, chopped nature, though that said they provided a nice crunchy element against the softer yielding raisins. Unlike the nuts, the raisins did cut through the milk chocolate and biscuit constituents adding a decent fruity flavour contribution. I'm not too sure I would buy these again, but they are perhaps worth trying if you see them on a dirt cheap offer - these slices are better than the Cadbury Brunchbars.

7.3 out of 10

Kcal 130 Fat 6.9g Fat(sats) 3.4g Carbs 15.6g (per cookie)

Fox's Chunkie Fruit & Nut Extremely Chocolatey Cookies - 'Milk & dark chocolate cookies with chocolate chips, whole hazelnuts and raisins'

This review was requested by ChocolateMission reader Phil who said he often purchased these during his weekly shopping in Morrisons. Unfortunately I don't happen to have a Mozza's located anywhere near me, but I was able to track some of these down in my local Tesco on a £1 offer. These cookies came in a 200.0g packet that included around 8 very large, yes indeed chunky, sized cookies. As you can see in my photograph above, the fruit and nut pieces were plentifully portioned, and both were very forthcoming in the delicious smells that emanated from the packet. What you wont be able to see in my photo are the milk chocolate bases that coated the underside of each cookie. I have to say for a product that described itself as 'extremely chocolatey', I would have liked this coating to have been both thicker and more generously portioned. That said it wasn't like the chocolate flavour hit was lacking in any bite, as the dark chocolate chips that were spread throughout the buttery tasting wheaty biscuits, did a fine job at holding up that end of the bargain. Sitting alongside these chocolate chips pieces, the whole hazelnuts and plump raisins brought the fruit and nut element to life quite splendidly. Both were flavoursome and fresh tasting, with the hazelnuts bringing a wonderful woody set of flavours, and the raisins a sugary flavour influence to the mix. I'm not sure I would want a cookie so full on as these every time I reach in to the biscuit tin, however I would be more than prepared to buy them again if I fancied an extra special tea time treat to share with others.

7.8 out of 10

September 23rd: Galler Cafe Liegeois / Praline Lait

Another day, another two Galler products to review :D One thing I have to commend Galler for is there willingness to listen to what ChocolateMission readers want to see. The two Galler flavours I am reviewing today are both bars that were requested by readers over the last few weeks, I just really hope you all aren't growing tired of the Galler reviews, believe it or not there are still a few bars that I have in my stash to write about.

After receiving some recent *ahem* 'feedback' about the amount of coffee flavoured chocolates appearing on the site in the last few weeks, I decided I couldn't possibly post another one without combining it with something else, so today you get two Galler reviews for the price of one. The products stealing the ChocolateMission limelight today are these Cafe Liegeois and Praline Lait 70.0g offerings, which you will find on the Galler website priced at £2.60 each (got the pricing information in for you there Richard haha!).

Both these bars are yet more variations from Galler's small filled bars range, so it wont surprise you to see the packaging aligned to many of the other fabulous looking Galler products recently featured on the site. The oversized blocks aside, I hope you will agree that both looked wonderfully tempting, with the fillings of each appearing plentifully portioned and nicely differentiated in colour from their outer chocolate portions. Below are my thoughts on each.

Cafe Liegeois - Kcal 474 Fat 27.3g Fat(sats) 16.9g Carbs 51.5g (per 100.0g)

As you will have guessed from the name and in most likelihood in the photograph this was the coffee flavoured chocolate I made reference to above. This particular bar may look exactly from the Galler Cafe Noir (See HERE) but it came described as a slightly different 'dark chocolate with milk coffee filling' proposition.

There probably isn't any more I can say about Galler's 60% dark chocolate recipe without repeating myself so I suggest you head to previous Galler reviews if you wish to read my extended thoughts on it's rich and flavoursome cocoa led taste. Focusing more on the filling, I was never that confident I was going to enjoy it more than Cafe Noir as Im sure guys are all aware of I prefer my coffee strong. These expectations were subsequently proven correct with the taste proving to have a far sweeter flavour stance than the Cafe Noir. The coffee flavouring was still forthcoming and very detectable, however underlying fruity notes gave the taste a somewhat intriguing sweetness. This may sound a little odd, but on reflection I thought the fruity sweetness was far preferable to a sugar derived alternative.

Overall given the choice I would personally go for the richer tasting Cafe Noir bar - I'm sure that wont be surprising news to anyone. However, whilst that is my preference it wouldn't surprise me at all to hear that those who like sweeter coffees may find this Cafe Liegeois a far more suitable proposition.

7.7 out of 10

Praline Lait - Kcal 567 Fat 37.1g Fat(sats) 20.4g Carbs 52.3g (per 100.0g)

Unfortunately I wont be giving away prizes for guessing what this particular flavour consituted of - 'milk chocolate with praline filling'. This review was requested by readers after my review of the Praline Blanc back in August. That bar scored a very decent 8.3 out of 10 on the ChocolateMission rating system (See HERE) and is one well worth checking out if you are a fan of white chocolate.

Shifting focus on todays bar, this particular variation was formed of the very same praline filling but with the obvious adaptation of an exterior 30% cocoa recipe milk chocolate. In regards to the taste I thought this particular combination worked every bit as well as it did for the Praline Blanc and even a little bit better. The taste established at the start of each mouthful was full of cream and sweet cocoa flavours which left a long lasting, pleasurable chocolate flavour impression in the mouth. Despite the milk chocolate melting with an infinite smoothness, it was upstaged by the luxurious feeling praline filling below which felt like silk on the tongue. Like I said in the Praline Blanc review, the praline wasn't perhaps the 'best in class', but the cream rooted, woody hazelnut flavours were still simply delicious.

Overall I know this must be tiresome to hear but I again can only send praise in the direction of Galler for crafting an absolutely superb praline offering. As much as I loved the Praline Blanc this Praline Lait was better suited to my own taste - the milk chocolate coating was simply a phenomenal pairing with the great tasting praline centre. A must try for praline fans.

8.5 out of 10

September 22nd: Godiva Handpicked Fresh Truffle Selection

Despite receiving several requests down the years, for some reason or other I have never made my way around to trying any Godiva products. This was a revelation that came to the massive surprise of my new American work colleague Rose, who when I revealed the theme of my website exclaimed, and I quote ... "Godiva must be a the top of the list, it is the best chocolate ever". After somewhat embarrassingly telling her that this was a brand I hadn't managed to feature once over the last three years, Rose took it upon herself to set that right and kindly bought me a handpicked selection box of some of her favourite truffles from one of Godvia's flagship stores in London.

Before indulging myself in the truffles I made a point of doing a little background research courtesy of Wiki ... "Godiva (guh-DY-vuh) was founded in 1926 in Brussels, Belgium, by Joseph Draps. Godiva now owns and operates more than 450 retail boutiques and shops in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia and is available via over 10,000 speciality retailers". Quite how I have managed to not review such a well distributed manufacture of chocolates I do not know.

Well anyway thanks to Rose I got my hands on six of their fresh truffle range. The presentation of the produce I got to sample today can only be be described as beautiful. Everything from the golden coloured box, dainty ribbon, branded inner padding, to the chocolates themselves, just looked stunning and radiated the sense that this brand offered a high end chocolate experience.

What with this selection being handpicked from a Godiva chocolate counter, there was unfortunately no menu to identify the pieces you see below. With the assistance of the Godiva wesbite I have been able to determine the names of the chocolates, though for the majority I was tasting them blind, not knowing what to expect.

Creme Fraiche Pistache - The pistachio flavoured fresh cream at the centre of this piece meant I had to consume these chocolates within 3 days of receiving them - as if I really needed any more encouragement :D Encased by an intricately crafted double layered milk and white chocolate shell, a delicious creamy cocoa taste was established from the outset. The mouth feel created by biting in to the crisp shell and then in to the soft cream centre was out of this world, but the pistachio element didn't really come through in the compounding cream flavours. A beautiful truffle, but yet again it could been even better. Good.

Noix Macadamia - This was one of my favourites from the selection and combined an outer shell of milk chocolate with a praline nougatine filling and a single macadamia piece. The milk chocolate was creamy and flavoursome, and slowly revealed a drier, rougher feeling praline below. The nutty flavours of the praline were forthcoming and sweet, though it was the salty, buttery macadamia piece that made this truffle really stand out. Very classy indeed. Superb.

Praline Blanc - This was a simple hazelnut praline chocolate that was coated in a thickish layer of Godiva white chocolate. Just as I commented on with the other white chocolate pieces, the outer portion was decent with it's creamy, sweet flavour delivery and it proved a nice foil for the praline below. The praline centre didn't offer the grandest set of woody hazelnut flavours ever, but it did have a very desirable salty note within it's nuttiness that contrasted quite wonderfully with the sweeter tasting chocolate. Very Good.

Molleux Caramel Chocolat - This was one of the simpler chocolates from the selection and constituted of an outer shell of dark chocolate, with a caramel ganache centre. The dark chocolate outer portion provided a rich, unsweetened cocoa context from the outset and it melted at a slow pace to reveal a very chewy, soft centre. Texture wise the caramel centre was like a soft a version of a riesen chocolate, and it offered a subtle buttery set of toffee flavours. On the whole it was very tasty, however I think it could have been improved further by a dash of salt. Good.

Signature Blanc Cafe - Being a coffee lover this was obviously one piece I was really looking forward to trying (I did find this one on the Godiva site!). The white chocolate exterior provided a sugary, cream rooted flavour base to the initial melt, and it pleasantly softly flowed into the darker coloured ganache filling. This centre provided a more intensive cocoa experience, but I unfortunately found the coffee influence very mild and not the strength I hoped it would be. It was a nice truffle but it was disappointing due to it's lacking coffee kick. Standard.

Croustine - Despite its small size, this was a very intricately made piece that had several different constituents to it. The outer white chocolate established a cream based taste that was further compounded by the delicious praline nougatine inside. Placed within the praline, small bits of shortbread biscuit provided very unique crunchy, buttery flavours bursts, which added to the sugar hazelnut pieces on top made for a truffle that provided an extremely exciting flavour journey. Superb.

Overall I normally don't like rating or reviewing chocolates that I get given as gifts, however I feel more than comfortable in expressing the enjoyment I got from this truffle selection. Before I go overboard I should say that these weren't necessarily Hotel Chocolat or Galler beaters, but to say they belong in the same sort of league should give you some idea of how highly I thought of them. The standout pieces for me here were definitely the Croustine and the Noix Macadamia - both of which were nothing other than totally delectable. The rest of the chocolates were similarly high quality, however some of them didn't quite deliver the same flavour experiences that the other two aforementioned pieces did. The beauty of this review is that I have barely scratched the surface of what Godiva have to offer. I really look forward to my next experience with the brand - I can't envisage it will be all that long until that time. Thanks again Rose.

8.3 out of 10

September 21st: Nestle Black Magic Classic Favourites

Kcal 144 Fat 6.5g Fat(sats) 3.3g Carbs 20.1g (per 3 sweets)

After trying my luck with the dismal scoring Nestle Dairy Box last month (See HERE), a number of ChocolateMission readers suggested that Nestle's Black Magic Classic Favourites might be a little more to my liking. Despite having never tried this selection box before, a little research (notably from the Nestle website HERE), revealed that it was first produced back in 1933 and the product gained such a loyal fan base that there was high demand for it's return when it got taken out of distribution during the early 2000's. A full history of the product can be read HERE if you are interested - for the sake of the length of the review I will move on to the more important matters at hand.

This selection box cost me £3.75 from my local Tesco and contained 18 chocolate pieces split by six varieties, including a 'selection of caramels, wholenuts and fruit cremes'. The outer packaging was ... well ... sensible given the name of the product, which is more than can be said for the relaunch of the product during the mid 2000's when Nestle chose to do so with a white coloured box!? What were they thinking!? Inside a clear menu showcased the chocolates, which have to be said looked reasonably differentiated from one another.

Summing up the chocolates below wont take me long for reasons that will soon become apparent. One thing I can say, which was applicable to all of them was the terrible quality of the chocolate. To be frank it was bland, tasteless and devoid of flavour. Now I'm fully used to mass produced 'dark chocolates' not being as fully flavoured, or renowned for their high quality ingredients versus higher end market offerings, but this dark chocolate was simply awful. It smelt of little, tasted of less and was basically just unsatisfactory .... I bet you can tell these ratings below are going to be great :D

Raspberry Parafait - We might as well start off with the worst of the lot. Unless I'm forgetting something anything obvious, this is the worst individual chocolate I have ever tasted in my life. In addition to the awful chocolate, the raspberry fondant was disgustingly fake and artificial tasting, and had no 'real' sense of raspberry flavouring about it. Awful.

Almond Crunch - This piece wasn't helped by the fact that it was mostly constituted of the dark chocolate. The almond pieces were so small they failed to generate and sense of nutty flavours of note, which altogether just made this a bland tasting, rough textured chocolate. Very Poor.

Orange Sensation - This wasn't a particularly great tasting chocolate, but it was far nicer than the inedible raspberry fondant piece. Compared to the Fry's Orange bar the fruity flavours weren't quite as juicy and the chocolate was even poorer quality. That said it was one of the passable ones of a bad selection. Standard.

Whole Hazelnut Praline - Seriously someone has to look into how these manufactures are getting away with their labelling of praline! The softer filled centre was just as flavourless as the chocolate that surrounded it, though this chocolate had one redeeming feature in it's whole hazelnut that sat in the middle. The nut flavours generated were still minimal but compared to some of the others this was at least palatable. Poor.

Dreamy Fudge - The best of a bad selection! The chocolate surrounding this piece was thankfully at it's thinnest so the fudge was the main focus of the taste. It wasn't the best quality fudge I have ever tasted, but it was fair and the buttery, cream hinted taste created was the nicest thing about the whole selection. Standard.

Caramel Caress - I have tried many great caramel flavoured chocolates in my lifetime but this certainly wasn't one of them. The caramel felt adequately soft and runny in the mouth, but it offered very little taste wise aside from a sharp burst of sugary flavours. It had no butter or salt flavours to offer, which in my book made it more of a syrup than it did a caramel. Very Poor.

Overall this review isn't going to be help me out dispelling the myth that I'm secretly anti-Nestle, but I have to tell it like it is, and this was nothing other than an extremely poor box of chocolates. Perhaps I'm just living on a completely different planet to the loyal fan base, but from what I tasted this was simply just a collection of poorly flavoured pieces that had some seriously bad dark chocolate coating them. The one piece that really stood out to me was the Raspberry Parafait - I can't see how anyone alive (or dead!) could get any sort of enjoyment from such a fowl, artificial tasting fondant. I don't want to write too much more because I would rather spend time writing reviews about products that I enjoy. If you have your own views on the Nestle Black Magic Classic Favourites I would love to hear them - don't be afraid to argue your point if you think differently.

4.6 out of 10