October 30/31st: 'Bits n Bobs' Halloween Superpost 2010

'7Days of Chocolate Reviews' takes a rest this week as I thought it more appropriate to post up some mini Halloween chocolate reviews to get you all in the mood for this weekends festivities. Todays reviews include harrowingly rubbish M&S chocolates, a quick stop off at Thorntons, a Cadbury Screme Egg and lastly the long awaited return of J-List to ChocolateMission with two of their own Halloween specials!

I hope you enjoy the reviews - please tell me what you will be giving away or buying for Halloween this year!!

Marks & Spencer Freaky Faces

I went on a big shopping trip to London last weekend and found myself in need of a quick sugar fix to restore my sapped energy levels - M&S to the rescue!! I bought two 60.0g bags of these solid milk chocolate 'Freaky Faces' for £1.50 (normally 99p each) - rather costly I thought for a product so small. Whilst the thin foil layers were decorated with some rather ugly looking faces, what lay below were just plain, undecorated milk chocolate egg - did M&S have some left over Easter stock?

Did they do the job boosting my short term sugar craving??? ... yes they did? Did they taste of good quality milk chocolate ... oh god no! The chocolate was about as tasteless as they come, and it was bland, flavourless and waxy in melt. M&S are generally better than this, don't be fooled into going anywhere near these this Halloween weekend.

3.6 out of 10

Thorntons Halloween Lollipops

It would have been nice just to have touched upon a few more the offerings from the Thorntons Halloween range this year, but I'm only guy and there is only so much gimmicky chocolate a person can take! Step forward these Halloween themed chocolate Lollipops :D

On the same shopping trip above I decided to venture into Thorntons to see if they had anything of interest. These fun looking Halloween shaped lollipops caught my eye - small (28.0g), cheap (£0.50)and cheerful ... why not :D The milk chocolate skeleton shape I tried was tasty enough, the cocoa flavours were relatively mild but it had a smooth milk rooted taste that I thought was relatively tasty. My shopping accomplice chose the white chocolate ghost and was less impressed - 'grainy feeling, sugary and sickly' were her words of choice.

7.0 out of 10

Cadbury Screme Egg

What do you do if you have a recipe that works? Well if you are a FMCG confectionery brand you stretch it as far as it goes! Indeed for the first time ever this year we now have Screme Eggs! These Screme Eggs are quite simply the usual Cadbury Creme Eggs that we get at Easter time, but with a green coloured filling. As far as I'm aware these are only available in Asda for £0.50, thanks so much to ChocolateMission reader Ria for sending some along for me to feature on the site.

So what can you expect from a Screme Egg? Well I can safely say you are in for no surprises. The chocolate was it's ever tasty milky, sweet Cadbury self, whilst the filling was the most sugary fondant goo you will likely ever come across .... culinary excellence - No .... nostalgic wonderfulness - oh yes!! I do love the odd S/Creme Egg but Cadbury are on course for over extending one of their greatest creations!

8.3 out of 10

Lotte Toppo Halloween

After a blazing hot summer in Japan our friends at J-list have finally replenished their chocolate products on the site and they have some great new treats to share with us from the crazy folk in the Far East. Last week I was the lucky recipient of a brand spanking new box of samples - included in which were these Lotte Toppo Halloween.

As with all Japanese products these Toppo were decorated with the most fantastic looking packaging you can imagine. Bright colours, appetising pictures and of course pumpkins 'a-go-go' for these Halloween themed chocolate sticks. Whilst they looked superb and genuinely had me excited I was little underwhelmed to find that these were simply just the original milk chocolate Toppo with no other differentiating factor aside from the cool looking packaging. Thankfully all initial disappoint was soon washed away when I reminded myself just how tasty these chocolate filled biscuit sticks were. Mikado and Pocky fans beware - these are equally as tasty but every bit as moreish.

7.7 out of 10

Glico Pocky Pumpkin

No Japanese products for months and then two come along at once :D These Glico Pocky Pumpkin flavour sticks have been top of J-List's best sellers for a good few weeks now (See HERE). I wont try to pretend like I understood a word of the Japanese writing on the packaging, but it clearly showcased that they were Halloween themed and they were unmistakeably pumpkin flavoured with their bright orange colour.

It's hard to pin down and describe exactly what sort of flavours were involved here, but the outer orange coating was creamy with a sweet note of butternut squash. This may sound wrong and totally out of the ordinary from what you might want from a confectionery product, however it just simply worked. The combination of the sweet coating and savoury biscuit sticks made for a typical moreish Pocky experience. If you tried the sweet potatoe Kit Kat before and found that to your liking then you will love these Pocky Pumpkin.

7.7 out of 10

October 29th: Cadbury Mini Rolls Selection

Just over a week ago I brought you all my thoughts on some of the latest Halloween themed cake bars and mini rolls to hit this year (See HERE). In that review the Cadbury Trick or Treat Blackcurrant & Vanilla Mini Rolls won me over as the best out of the selection I tried,and I stated that 'Without doubt these are the nicest Cadbury Mini Rolls I think I have ever had'. This statement led many ChocolateMission readers to contact me saying that I had in actual fact only ever reviewed the original Mini Rolls anyway (See HERE), so it wasn't the strongest of statement I have ever probably written.

In order to right this wrong I decided to give some of the other variants in the Mini Roll range a shot at the ChocolateMission rating system. This brings me nicely on to todays post, which sees me do just that. Below are my thoughts and scores for the Double Chocolate, Caramel and Strawberry Jam flavour variations.

Cadbury Mini Rolls Double Chocolate:
Kcal 120 Fat 6.2g Fat(sats) 3.1g Carbs 12.3g
'Chocolate flavoured sponge with a chocolate flavour filling, covered in milk chocolate'.

These Double Chocolate mini rolls came branded with a 'special edition' tag on the exterior packaging, which I believe signifies the fact that they are only available in Sainsbury's supermarket. Aesthetically they looked the least exciting out of all three variants, with the dark coloured cream filling unsurprisingly looking little differentiated from the other exterior constituents.

Despite not winning the battle of the looks, when it came to the taste they were superior to the rest I tried for todays review. Compared to the originals, and both of the variants you will see below, I thought that cream filling was the nicest tasting and was the most balanced out of all of those variants. The inner chocolate cream had less of a sugary emphasis than the rest, and more made the sweet chocolatey flavours richer and more pronounced rather than the more sugar focused alternatives. I have no idea how long these will be hanging around for, but I would buy them again.

7.4 out of 10

Cadbury Mini Rolls Caramel:
Kcal 130 Fat 6.1g Fat(sats) 3.3g Carbs 14.1g
'Chocolate flavoured sponge with caramel flavour creme and caramel filling, covered with milk chocolate'.

Unlike the Double Chocolate flavour above these Caramel flavoured Mini Rolls had a pretty tough competitor product in the form on the McVitie's Mars Mini Roll. In terms of constituents, the Cadbury Caramel offerings was almost exactly the same, however if you compare and contrast my photos of the Mars version with the one abovve you will see that the caramel portioning was far less in the Cadbury product.

When it came to the taste this unfortunately proved to be to the Cadbury Mini Roll's detriment. The exterior chocolate, chocolate sponge and inner creme established a comparable experience to the Double Chocolate flavour, however the little suggestion of caramel running through the centre failed to create a worthy impact on the taste. Unlike the majority of Cadbury Caramel products (Standard Bar - See HERE, Cake Bar - See HERE) the caramel did little aside from advance the sweetness of the taste, which was disappointing given the usual buttery flavours it develops. These were fine but I wouldn't buy them again.

7.0 out of 10

Cadbury Mini Rolls Strawberry:
Kcal 125 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 3.0g Carbs 14.0g
'Golden sponge with strawberry jam and a vanilla flavour filling covered with milk chocolate'.

After my largely successful experience with the Blackcurrant & Vanilla Mini Rolls in my Halloween cakes post, it was requested by several readers that I try out the 'legendary' Strawberry flavoured variant. Presentation wise it was noteworthy that this variant came with golden sponge cake and emanated a very sweet fruity smell when released from it's plastic packet.

Before writing the review for today I hadn't eaten a strawberry flavoured Mini Roll for a fair few years. The reason for me always choosing a plainer or different flavoured variety has always been based loosely around the belief that the strawberry jam makes the taste too sweet. For once my assumption proved to be reality, as I did indeed find that fake tasting fruit jam took the over the chocolate and sponge constituents, and creatied a very sickly, sugar based taste. Compared to the Blackcurrant and Vanilla Mini Rolls, the fruityness came across as more artificial, and even more so the vanilla creme felt less well portioned which was a further letdown. These weren't at all horrid but I can't see myself buying these again in the future.

6.5 out of 10

So there you have it - all Cadbury Mini Rolls reviewed! Which ones are you favourite?

October 28th: Hotel Chocolat Midnight Mints Selection

As soon as Christmas time rolls around it seems like the market suddenly gets flooded with countless numbers of chocolate mint products. Nestle After Eights, Mingles, Elizabeth Shaw Mint Crisp etc are just a few of the more popular options I can name off the top of my head. What about the fancier market offerings I hear you ask? Well today I got to try this rather classy looking Midnight Mint Selection from my favourite people at Hotel Chocolat.

This selection came described as 'recipes celebrating that most British preoccupation: mint and chocolate' and contained 'four classic mint chocolates in dark and white chocolate'. The entire box weighed in at 230.0g and contained two trays with the 26 individual chocolates within. The presentation of the product was fully what you would expect from Hotel Chocolat with the outer box well designed and premium looking, and the inner chocolates nicely crafted and decorated. As impressive as this all was, what was most notable about this Midnight Mint Selection were the minty aromas that sprung across my senses as soon as soon as the plastic packet film wrap was stripped away from the box - boy did they smell gorgeous.

Below are my thoughts on each of the different pieces. Ratings from Abysmal to Superb.

Mint Fondants - This was a piece that was formed of a firm mint fondant centre which was coated in a very thin layer of dark chocolate. Having tasted a great deal of sugary fondants in my life time I was surprised by the creamyness of the delicious peppermint flavours generated by the centre, though I would have liked the dark chocolate coating could have been just a touch thicker. My parents said these tasted like 'posh Fry's mint fondants'. Good.

Mint Batons - As you can see these batons came in two different varieties, one with 72% dark chocolate and the other 28% white chocolate. On the whole both were pretty nice, however I more enjoyed the dark chocolate as I thought the balance between the non-sweet chocolate and the sweet 'essence of Tasmanian peppermint' (no seriously not a joke!!) was just a bit better. My white chocolate loving sister thought exactly the opposite :D Very Good.

Mint Cremes - Although these turned out to be my favourites from the selection I did have some minor worries before tasting them as they looked exactly like the awful Parma Violet Hotel Chocolat chocolates I once tried. These pieces had gorgeous tasting softer peppermint fondant centres,which were cased in thick layers of dark chocolate. The combination of these both made for a refreshing, rich tasting chocolate that was really in a class of it's own. Superb.

Peppermint Crisps - At first I was very surprised that these were the same type of chocolate, as the white variation was nearly twice the thickness of the dark one. These pieces included praline centres with small pieces of peppermint crystals and puffed rice, which together all made for a very interesting textured chocolate. Taste wise, again the dark chocolate variation was more to my liking, the white chocolate piece was just a little on the sweet side in my opinion. I'm being overly critical again - the rest of my family were more inclined to the white chocolate ones :D Very Good.

Overall this was yet another superb collection of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat and I'm sure they would go down a storm with anyone looking for an extra special collection of mint chocolates this Christmas period. As you can tell by my ratings above the real standout chocolates for me personally were the Mint Cremes. I honestly think they are one of the best mint chocolates I have ever tasted and that is no small claim. For a brief time I was struggling with the score I was going this product for the 'selection' crtieria. At first I thought only having four different pieces was pretty limited, but on reflection I struggled to think of any other type of mint chocolate they could have included, so I think an average score of 7.0 is more than justified. As for the rest of the product everything else was very much better than average which isn't exactly a surprise when it comes to Hotel Chocolat. If you are a chocolate mint fan then I suggest you treat yourself to one of these Midnight Mint Selections - I can promise you wont regret it.

8.4 out of 10

October 27th: 'Bits n Bobs' - Marks & Spencer Layered Cookies

'Bit's n Bobs' takes a Marks & Spencer's focus today with me checking out the other two varieties of their Layered Cookies range. My desire to check out these other flavours was mostly driven by my enjoyment of the first lot I tried back in August where I rated the Caramel variety a very healthy 8.7 out of 10. Comments from readers came back so positive I thought it only right to try out the other offerings - oh what a dreadful task :D

As always readers comments are most welcome - so please share your thoughts ...

Marks & Spencer Milk Chocolate & Honeycomb Layered Cookies

Kcal 195 Fat 11.0g Fat(sats) 7.0g Carbs 21.9g
'Biscuit topped with a milk chocolate truffle and honeycomb chip centre, coated in milk chocolate and topped with honeycomb chunks'

Don't these look a million dollars!! That's what I thought anyway when I first picked them up. Taking the plastic tray out of the cardboard box I was instantly impressed by both the aesthetic decoration of the cookies and the gorgeous smelling honeycomb scents that wafted over my senses. Just like I commented on the caramel variety review, my love for the outer decorative pieces was somewhat short lived when they proceeded to scatter themselves over my living room when I bit in to one of the cookies - in retrospect that was probably me just being careless.

I don't know quite where to start with the taste as it was such a mixture of tremendous flavours and textures. The biscuit base was deliciously buttery and had the smallest of salty notes that gave each mouthful a sinful moreishness. The truffle layer placed on top was the best thing about each of the cookies, and took the sweeter flavours of the milky outer chocolate to a greater cocoa richness. The honeycomb within the truffle layer luckily wasn't over portioned, which was lucky as the outer honeycomb created a very sweet initial flavour base alongside the milk chocolate. If I was pushed to make a choice I would probably still go for the caramel variety over these ones. Believe me though, these were still incredibly tasty cookies and I would buy them again.

8.2 out of 10

Marks & Spencer White Chocolate & Lemon Crunch Layered Cookies
Kcal 200 Fat 11.0g Fat(sats) 7.1g Carbs 22.7g
'Biscuit topped with a layer of lemon flavoured white chocolate truffle, coated in white chocolate with meringue pieces'

Had you asked me before trying then which of the three varieties I was the least keen on I would have told you it was these Lemon Crunch cookies. Sitting alongside the Honeycomb ones on the same £1.99 deal though, it made little sense not also giving them a review - I don't like to do things by halves you know ;)

Suffice to say I'm glad I decided to pick them up - they were sublime! Just like the other two the meringue pieces breaking away from the outer white chocolate was a minor annoyance but once I had the first bite in my mouth all attention was quickly diverted from the mess I was creating on keyboard to the sheer delightfulness developing in my mouth. The biscuit bases was consistent across all three so I needn't pass mention to how tasty it was again (woops I just did!). Before encountering the biscuit of course, I had to make my way through the outer white chocolate and lemon flavoured truffle centre - both of which were utterly fantastic. Despite the sugary lumps of meringue, the outer chocolate was more creamy than it was sweet, and it left a delicious vanilla note that lingered long in the mouth. Moving on to the truffle filling, well like the honeycomb cookies above it was the best thing about these cookies. It was outrageously creamy, and had a tart, citrus lemon twist that was just perfectly balanced with the other sweeter tasting components. These cookies were simply delectable - highly recommended.

8.7 out of 10

October 26th: Chocri 'Jim's Fruit & Nut / American Creations'

Just over a week ago I featured a brand called Chocri on the website for the very first time (missed it? See my review of my 'Coffee Creation' HERE). If you are in need of a quick reminder, Chocri are a company that offer a chocolate customisation service that allows consumers to put together their own chocolate bars using over 100 different ingredients.

As you will have seen on my last review I was pretty impressed with the standard of presentation and the effort that Chocri put in to making my bars look presentable and appetising. It is worth noting that each of the bars made by Chocri are handmade - they don't yet have a machine that can pump out these customised bars you know ;) I say they are all the better for it - look at how magnificent and colourful both my 'Fruit & Nut' and 'American' creations looked.

Chocri 'Jim's Fruit & Nut Creation'

'Jim's Fruit & Nut Creation': Milk chocolate with banana chips, hazelnut brittle, mango cubes, pistachios and Goji berries.
PRICE - £6.00

I was really excited about trying this bar in particular as it included several ingredients that both me and the rest of my family loved (banana, pistachio and mango in particular!). Speaking firstly about the milk chocolate, my thoughts about it were very similar to the conclusion I came to about Chocri dark chocolate. It's sweet milky taste was very undefinable and not particularly special in an manner, but it did the job of carrying the ingredients to a sound if uninspiring standard. As you will see in my photograph Chocri did a great job of dispersing my added ingredients across my bar, making sure that each portion got a suitable amount of each enhancer. What with their size, it probably wont surprise to hear that the banana chips came through strongly in the taste, adding a pleasant crunchiness to the blocks where present. Both the Goji Berries and mango cubes were similarly flavoursome, but these flavours only really came through once they had been chewed in the mouth after they had been left as remnants by the chocolate. The disappointing elements were unfortunately the hazelnut brittle and the pistachio nuts, as neither managed to stamp any sort of nuttiness on the taste. Ultimately this rendered my 'Fruit & Nut Creation' more a very sweet fruity milk chocolate lacking in nutty credentials. Overall this was nice enough, but not quite the full experience I was hoping for.

7.5 out of 10

Chocri 'Jim's American Creation'

'Jim's American Creation': White chocolate with organic salt pretzels, sprinkles, gummy bears, peanut butter drops and soy bacon.
PRICE - £5.10

"Soy Bacon? ... Soy Bacon???? ... are you serious??" Haha that is exactly what my family said when I showed them this one :D I've been accused of taking chocolate a little too seriously with my reviews so I thought I would have a little fun with my 'American Creation' here. To be honest I wish I hadn't of tried to 'liven' up my chocolate by taking a page out of Mr Zotter's (See HERE) book and adding the bacon in. As amazing as the chocolate looked decorated with it's gummy bears, sprinkles and pretzels, I knew I had made a terrible mistake as soon as I took the thing out of it's plastic packet. Upon doing so my senses were immediately met with the most fowl of scents that I later likened to a pet store (think dog treats!) ... yep that bad. With one hand pinching my nose I did brave tasting the chocolate, but it unfortunately tasted every bit as bad as it smelt. Whilst the combination of the white chocolate, gummy bear, sprinkle elements made for an immediate rush of dairy based sugar flavours, the taste was almost straight away dominated by a fowl, smokey, reconstituted meat fake taste. Quite frankly the soy bacon totally ruined this bar and I had to throw more than two thirds of it away. I think it was best summed up by my father who said 'one block was enough' ... indeed!

4.5 out of 10

Have any of you tried Chocri yet? What would creations would you make?

October 25th: Kit Kat Senses Caramel Cream

Kcal 165 Fat 9.5g Carbs 18.2g

Back at the beginning of September Nestle announced to the trade that they would be overhauling it's Kit Kat Senses bar by introducing a "new caramel filling to replace the existing hazelnut flavour" (Review of that bar HERE). When I read this I immediatedly thought this all sounded remarkably like the action they took last year to remove the Kit Kat Chunky Peanut and replace it with the Kit Kat Chunky Caramel. The reasoning provided by Nestle for this latest switch is that they believe that "the popularity of caramel flavours among women will open Kit Kat Senses Caramel Cream to a wider female fan base, and accelerate the £33m sales that the brand has achieved since launching in 2008". After a few weeks of searching I finally found this new Kit Kat Senses Caramel Cream on sale in my local convenience store for £0.49.

This new Caramel Cream variant came in a 30.7g size and came described as 'crisp wafer finger with a caramel flavoured creamy topping, covered in milk chocolate'. First impressions of the wrapper were very positive and I loved the new matted foil material which I thought gave the pack great standard with it's golden, orangey colour scheme. Out of the packet the chocolate finger piece looked no different to the original Kit Kat Senses bar, though when bitten in to the filling was noticeably more gold tinted in colour. Taking in the smells on offer from the bar I was instanlty reminded of my experience with the Chunky Caramel, with a promising set of burnt sugar caramel notes proving an appetising prospect.

Whatever I have said about the quality of some of the poorer Kit Kat flavour combinations in the past, one thing I have never criticised is the deliciousness of the classic milk chocolate and wafer constituents. Although both of these elements came substantially less portioned in the Senses bar, the synergy of the milky sweet chocolate and biscuit flavours was still very much there and delivered with the usual crisp wafer and smooth melting chocolate textures. So how good was the 'new' caramel cream filling!? Well as you could have guessed it wasn't 'new' in any sense - it was just simply the same paste like, overly sweet substance used for the Kit Kat Caramel Chunky. Unfortunately making matters slightly worse than with that bar, the wafer and chocolate elements were obviously less dillutive of the sugar focused flavours of the creme due to them being significantly lesser portioned. Resultingly this meant that the taste quickly became very one dimensional and throat searingly sweet after only a few of the five blocks.

Overall you are probably thinking that I'm going to say I was disappointed by this bar, but the truth is that I totally expected to be writing a review such as this one. Back in 2009 and when we all learnt the Kit Kat Chunky Peanut would be replaced by the Caramel variant, hopes were high that it would reach the high standard sets by the very same bar available in Australia (See HERE). When that bar arrived in the UK, I and many others felt very underwhelmed (miffed more like!) by the quality of the caramel filling, which by most accounts was considered pretty poor. Now, although it retained all the attributes I disliked from the Chunky bar format, at least this time it wasn't such a nasty surprise. To be totally frank I didn't enjoy this new Senses Caramel Cream and I probably wouldn't buy it again. One thing that does frustrate me somewhat is that Nestle have reduced the variety that their range offers again by cutting out a hazelnut flavour option for what is simply just another poorer caramel alternative. Let me throw the question to you guys ... What do you all think of this latest change to the Senses range?

6.9 out of 10

October 23/24th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 58

### Jim's Corner ###

Hi All,

There are some extremely busy times coming up on the site in the next few weeks so '7 Days of Chocolate Reviews' is a little shorter this week.

Thanks again to all of my readers who added their contributions this week - we had some lively debates going on about the Cadbury Dead Heads as well as the future direction of Thorntons after a pretty dysmal offering in the form of their Delightfully Soft Caramels.

In the upcoming week there will be appearances from Chocri, Hotel Chocolat and of course a 'Bit's n Bobs' post. I hope you enjoy those reviews and contribute your thoughts to them.

Have a great weekend. Remember you can keep up to date with all things ChocolateMission on the Twitter feed HERE.


News from the Chocolate Market

* Chocolate guru Paul A Young has launched a new wine inspired chocolate ... See HERE

* A few of you have noticed Cadbury are updating some of their wrappers - check out the new Cadbury Timeout one ... See HERE

* Thanks to CM reader Karen for this one ... Magnum have launched some new mini liqueur chocolates ... See HERE

* Mars have released a pretty boring report about cocoa growing ... See HERE

* As reported by Phil earlier this week Thorntons are releasing a new desserts range ... See HERE

* How old school ... Vienetta is being brought out in a new Choco Nut flavour ... See HERE

* Even the BBC are at it ... Chocolate is good for us ... See HERE

* Fancy £35K a year to taste chocolate? Apply to Green & Blacks ... See HERE


Just like I did last week with my mini review of the Hotel Chocolat Boo! White Chocolate, I thought I would give you all a nudge in the direction of Hotel Chocolat's Halloween range for this year. Having reviewed so many of their products that are made by their 40% milk chocolate I didn't think I could quite eek out a whole review on this Best Dressed Milk Chocolate Vampire, but below are the collective thoughts from my family.

I hope you will agree that the Best Dressed Vampire certainly lives up to his name :D Unlike some of the other grosser looking Halloween themed products I have featured in the last few days *ahem* Cadbury Dead Heads *ahem*, we thought this vampire milk chocolate shape looked both attractive and well crafted. The solid milk chocolate vampire came in a 150.0g form so there was plenty for us all to share around. In my opinion Hotel Chocolat's 40% milk chocolate is utterly delicious, and there are few brands out there that can match either the depth or deliciousness of it's cocoa and cream flavours. Seemingly the rest of my family would agree, as despite the large size our Best Dressed Vampire was completely devoured within 24 hours :D If you like your milk chocolate and want it with a Halloween twist then you can do little wrong with the Hotel Chocolat Milk Chocolate Best Dressed Vampire. He comes with a ChocolateMission seal of approval - just make sure you gobble his white chocolate bow tie before anyone else can nab it :D

8.5 out of 10

Tasting Club_468x60


October 22nd: Halloren Original Limoncello

Kcal 431 Fat 13.0g Carbs 69.0g (per 100.0g)

It's not all that often we get ChocolateMission debuts anymore, but today we have the German brand Haloren making their first appearance on the site. Shamelessy nicking some quick facts from Wiki: 'The Halloren Chocolate Factory (German: Halloren Schokoladenfabrik) is the oldest German chocolate factory. The first mention of the firm is recorded in 1804, and their most famous product is the "Halloren-Kugeln", or Halloren globes, which receive their name from the early salt workers, whose buttons the chocolates resemble'. Like many German brands the number of flavours offered by Halloren is really quite astounding. Thanks to ChocolateMission reader Franzi, I today got the chance to try these Limoncello Kugeln pieces, which are a special edition flavour for 2010.

These Halloren Limoncello schokolades came in a box which had a net weight of 125.0g and 16 chocolate pieces. The presentation of the product as a whole was very satisfactory. The box clearly communicated the flavour variant on offer and had very clear Halloren branding. The chocolates were also similarly impressive looking with the fondant like centres dual toned with yellow and white coloured halves. Sat within their plastic tray, the chocolates didn't emanate the strongest set of aromas ever, but there were intermittent suggestions of lemon and of course chocolate.

For those of you wondering what Limoncello is, please again let me refer to my pals at Wiki: 'Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur mainly produced in Southern Italy, and is traditionally served chilled as an after dinner digestivo' ... don't tell me you don't learn something every day on this website :D Anyway, these Limoncello centres were covered by a thin layer of 33% cocoa chocolate. In terms of quality it was a little difficult to determine just how good the chocolate was given the dominance of the lemon flavoured centre. Frankly it had very little input in the taste aside from the very early stages of the chocolates being in mouth, upon where I thought it generated a sufficient volume of unsweetened cocoa flavours. These chocolates were all about the Limoncello centres which were very sweet and fondant like in nature. The taste was heavily rooted in sugar, but the citrusy lemon flavours brought a refreshing, fruity flavour set to the party. Due to the sweetness these weren't chocolates I felt like I could consume in vast quantities, but I can imagine that eaten after a meal they would do a nice job of cleansing ones palette.

Overall this was solid, yet unspectacular first outing for Halloren on the site which I think is reflected by the round about average score of 7.0 out of 10. If it is a serious chocolate based confectionery you are after, I can straight away tell you that Halloren isn't the product you want to be looking at. The actual chocolate in the product was insignificant in the grand scheme things, and it was the Limoncello flavoured centres that unsurprisingly took centre stage. If I was being overly critical I would probably say that if you were to eat a whole box of these by yourself, the likelihood is that you would find the taste a little monotonous once you had got to the final few. Another thing worth bearing in mind for you liqueur chocolate fans is that the alcohol didn't really come through in the taste given the level of sweetness. This wasn't such a disappointment for me, but it was certainly noteworthy. These were by no means the greatest of products I have ever tried, but they certainly made me curious about trying more of the Halloren flavours.

7.0 out of 10

October 21st: Cadbury Dead Heads

Kcal 195 Fat 10.4g Fat(sats) 6.1g Carbs 23.5g (per 1/2 bag)

The 2010 Halloween reviews continue today with an offering from Cadbury that had managed to fly under my usually well tuned 'New product' radar. Somehow or other I managed to miss this Cadbury press release in The Grocer magazine last month See HERE, which foretold the release of two limited edition Cadbury products made especially for the Halloween season - Cadbury Screme Eggs and the Cadbury Dead Heads. Having stumbled across the latter in Tesco last week, I thought I would give them a quick ChocolateMission review. Described as 'mini milk chocolate heads with a red caramel centre', I was hoping that these were going to offer the same sort of experience as normal Cadbury Caramel Mini Eggs - if they managed to be half as good I could see there being very few problems :D

These Cadbury Dead Heads came in a 80.0g bag that contained 9 egg shaped pieces inside. I'm sure you are all aware of my own general disinterest in Halloween, but I have to admit I was pretty shocked at the presentation of these Dead Heads. I don't know if this is me just being sensitive, but I felt there was something just not right with the whole Dead Head concept? From a company that produces the fun loving Freddo character, the concept of Heads filled with red goo seemed a little ... well ... a little graphic and unnecessary for little kids (who these are obviously marketed at!). I go more in to my thoughts on this more below.

Putting these distractions to one side (it wasn't hard!), I was of course more interested by the product at hand. Piercing the foil bag I was met with some familiar sweet smelling Cadbury scents, though they weren't quite as welcoming and pungent as normal due to them being covered in an additional light foil wrap. Aesthetically I was initially a bit disturbed by the artificial looking red coloured filling, but these initial worries were soon lay to rest. Despite the outer bag not mentioning it being so, the exterior milk chocolate layer was in actual fact Dairy Milk so everything in regards to chocolate was very much to my liking. Just as expected, the initial creamy cocoa flavours melted with signature Dairy Milk thick melt, slowly revealing the softer caramel centres. Comparing like-for-like, the caramel filling in these Dead Heads offered pretty much an identical experience to normal Cadbury Caramel products. There were however minor differences, most notably the viscosity with the Dead Heads caramel feeling a touch lighter and more fluid in it's melt. Whilst the buttery toffee flavours of the caramel were still pretty consistent (and delicious!), I felt they weren't quite as long lasting in the mouth - it definitely melted away faster than normal Cadbury Caramel. Despite this, four 'Heads' at a time was still a more than sufficient snack, quite why Cadbury gave the nutritional information in a half pack quantity when there were 9 in the bag I still fail to understand mind you :D

Overall these were a relatively decent Halloween themed product from Cadbury, but I still have some reservations around the product concept. At the heart of matters the Cadbury milk chocolate and the inner caramel were just about the standard you expect, with very little differentiation from any normal Cadbury Caramel product. Whilst everything was in order in regards to taste, what I couldn't ignore were my feelings towards the 'Dead Heads' concept in general. You may think that I'm labouring the point, or even talking complete gibberish, but I genuinely don't think that the whole 'Dead Heads' concept really fits with the Cadbury brand at all. Take a step back and think about the Cadbury Caramel Bunny, Cadbury Freddo etc and you have to admit that a product this graphic isn't the sort of thing you would associate with Cadbury - can you imagine Nestle or Mars making such a product? Kids like gross things, but don't you think these are a step too far? Let me know your thoughts on the matter.

8.0 out of 10

October 20th: Thorntons Delightfully Soft Caramels

Kcal 486 Fat 23.6g Carbs 64.3g

It feels like forever and a day since I last reviewed something from Thorntons but after being confronted by these Delightfully Soft Caramels every which way I turned I felt like I couldn't deny them a run at the ChocolateMission rating system. These Delightfully Soft Caramels were first announced back in July earlier this year when they featured in a Thonrton's press release stating the launch of some new pouch based products (See HERE). Despite this initial billing I actually bought these in a boxed format after seeing them in several different locations, including a Thorntons's own brand store, my local newsagent and also my local supermarket. With the likes of Cadbury and Galaxy having been established in the chocolate caramel market for years it was always to be interesting to see how an offering from a more up market brand would fair.

As I stated above I bought these in a 188.0g box that contained about 15 individually wrapped chocolates for the price of £1.99. Considering the quantity on offer I thought this was a fair price, though I have to say I was a little concerned by the impression established by the outer packaging. I don't know if you will agree with me but I thought the packaging looked pretty cheap and not fitting for a brand that is supposed to be offering a higher level of quality than the average market goer (I thought the green colour of choice was espcially garish). Being a little more positive, the chocolates inside looked a little more promising wrapped in bright red foil wrappers - it still would have been nice to have seen some Thorntons branding on them though.

If there is one thing to say in defence of the presentation of the product, at least the chocolates looked exactly like they did on the front of the box. When cut in to, the caramel filling appeared to be plentiful and struck an appealing look with it's golden colour. Wasting little time popping the piece in my mouth before the caramel oozed out, I was first confronted by the milk chocolate exterior shell. Taste wise it was pretty generic in what it offered and was predominately sweet and very sugary in regards to it's flavour direction. There were underlying notes of diary milkyness but these were very mild in the grand scheme of things and were made redundant once the caramel came in to play. Speaking of the caramel, I unfortunately wasn't all that taken by it as it was similarly very generic and 'run of the mill' by all standards. It sounds almost silly to say this but it was very, VERY sweet and almost entirely rooted in a sugary flavour set. One could say that this is something you could levy at all caramels, but the point I'm trying to make is that it lacked any sort of additional flavour enhancing notes like butter, salt etc. Despite being billed as delightfully soft, there were times when the filling did feel a little grainy on the tongue, which only went to reaffirm the sugar focused flavours on offer. I was left feeling pretty unsatisfied by these, the sugary flavours were just too one dimensional for my liking.

Overall the crux of the story here was that these caramels didn't ever hit the standards I expected of a brand like Thorntons and I was ultimately left disappointed by them. Both the presentation of the product and the resulting quality of the milk chocolate and the soft caramel centres weren't the quality I desired, and although you could make a case saying they only cost £1.99 I was still left feeling shortchanged. Given their wide distribution I guess this is the sort of product that Thorntons hope to use to take on the likes of Cadbury and Galaxy in the everyday chocolate part of the market, but even compared to those offerings I would personally wouldn't place them in the same sort of league. At least with those products you get distinctive tasting chocolates and decent quality caramel centres - to put it ever so bluntly these Delightfully Soft Caramels were very average tasting at best but even that would be being immensely kind. I can't go recommending these I'm afraid, I would just stick with the far safer Dairy Milk and Galaxy options.

6.0 out of 10

October 19th: Niederegger Marzipan Flavoured Selection

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

You must all be sick of me saying this already, but the holiday season is just around the corner so expect a deluge of seasonal chocolate treats being reviewed on this site up until the end of year. Of course one of the most common confectionery products consumed around Christmas time is marzipan, served on cakes, tarts, pies and of course chocolates. Up until a few years ago when I started running this site, I simply couldn't handle the stuff ... that was until I tried Niederegger marzipan of course :D In my not so subtle opinion, I think Niederegger is the best marzipan out there on the market bar none (previous reviews See HERE).

What for my love of Niederegger Marzipan, you can probably understand my great excitement when I came across this mini selection of their different marzipan flavours. Contained within this 100.0g box there were two mini sampling chocolates of their Pistachio, Orange, Pineapple and Espresso varieties. All of these different flavours were wrapped in cute foil wrappers, which I thought was a lovely way of presenting such a product. All of the different flavours were coated by an exterior layer of 50% dark chocolate. Like I have remarked upon in previous reviews, this bittersweet chocolate wasn't exactly the most flavoursome or best quality chocolate I have ever tasted, however it carried the marzipan fillings to a more than satisfactory level. Below are my thoughts and ratings on the different flavours:

Pistachio - This was certainly the most aesthetically striking with it's green coloured tinged centre and it was one I was most looking forward to trying. Despite including a healthy 3.1% pistachio content, the flavours of that particular nut failed to overcome the greater strength of the almonds which left me feeling a little disappointed. It was still very tasty, but didn't live up to my lofty expectations.

Orange - These pieces contained a minimal sounding 1.2% orange peel but the fruity flavours created were nicely forthcoming. What with the pieces being so small they were easily consumable in two mouthfuls, though in both the orange element came to the party with a refreshing, citrusy juiceyness. On the other hand this was the most generic flavour in the box in terms of innovation, and I'm not sure I would want a full bar of it. Lets not grumble though, like the pistachio flavour it was tasty option nonetheless.

Pineapple - As a common drink of pineapple juice I was looking forward to trying this one and it didn't disappoint. Despite the pineapple effect being created by 'pineapple natural flavourings', the sweet fruity flavours were still very 'real' tasting and proved to be a pleasant match with the doughy, almond flavours of the base marzipan. Compared to the orange variety the taste came across as a more exciting and unique experience. I would buy a bigger bar of this for sure.

Espresso - Previously reviewed, opinions consistent. See HERE.

Overall Niederegger certainly offer a wide range of different flavours that will obviously appeal to different people based on their own particular tastes. For me the real stand out variety from this small collection of four here was the pineapple. It was unlike anything I had tried previously, and I thought the flavour balance of the sweet fruit and almond driven marzipan was a fine synergy of ingredients. Whilst I love Niederegger for their marzipan competence I unfortunately can't gloss over the fact that their chocolate could still do with a bit of work. Some may argue that a stronger tasting chocolate may detract from the marzipan, however I'm more in the school of thought that the chocolate is mostly experienced before the marzipan comes in to action in the taste, so that argument is rather ill founded. In regards to this product I would suggest it as a wonderful way to sample some of Niederegger's flavour options. It's certainly worth a buy for any marzipan fan.

Pistachio - 7.4 out of 10
Orange - 7.8 out of 10
Pineapple - 8.6 out of 10
Espresso - 8.3 out of 10