November 30th: Berry Scrumptious Mulled Berry Chocolate

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

Today we have the ChocolateMission debut for a company called Berry Scrumptious. According to their website 'Berry Scrumptious is the brain child of husband and wife team Claire and Ross Rennie', and their 'small, innovative' company hails from a family farm based in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Berry Scrumptious produce a whole host of different confectionery products, all of which are based around their famous berries that they grow on this very farm. Out of the blue, last week I was contacted by Claire, who offered me the chance to try their new Mulled Berry Chocolate. What with Christmas coming up, I simply couldn't turn down this fantastic opportunity - for further detail on Berry Scrumptious you can see their website HERE.

For the purpose of this review, Claire sent along an 85.0g packet of this Mulled Berry chocolate, which served me and a friend well for a satisfying afternoon snack. What with the small nature of their company, the simplicity of the cellophane packet was somewhat understandable, though the authentic design of the chocolate was a nice surprise. As you can see from the photo above, the chocolate was presented in what looked like shards of bark, and had visible red berry ingredients portioned nicely throughout. In terms of aromas the packet released a wonderful array of spiced fruit and chocolate scents when I opened it - it was the unmistakable smell of Christmas :D

Placing the chocolate on my tongue for the first time, any fears that the mulled berry flavour influence wouldn't be delivered vanished within seconds. From the outset the flavour journey created by this chocolate was nothing other than incredible, and the taste took twist and turns with almost every second. At the heart of every piece, a decent sweet creamy chocolate held the experience together, though it was hard to really pull out any definitive chocolatey flavours given the business of the other added elements. As I have said the taste was very interchangeable, but in most instances and mouthfuls it was the red berry and orange flavour influences that came through strongest. These fruity twists were compelling, 'real' tasting, and of course most importantly delicious - I guess that is what you would expect from farm fresh ingredients. Behind these fruity flavour twists, the notes of three different spices gave the chocolate warmth and it's distinct Christmas themed taste. I enjoyed the hints of cinnamon and nutmeg, but the suggestion of cloves in the aftertaste, whilst understandable in it's inclusion, was not to my own to my personal taste (it didn't bother my fellow tastee in the slightest!).

Overall this was an absolutely delicious chocolate that left me and my friend both well and truly satisfied and in a jolly festive mood :D The combination of the spices and the fruits were terrifically matched, with neither take precedence over each other or the chocolate. Whilst it wouldn't be fair to comment to much on the true quality of the base milk chocolate used, what I do feel comfortable lavishing in praise is the balance struck between the orange, raspberry, blueberry, cinnamon and nutmeg flavour influences. All of these were well portioned throughout all the pieces of in the packet, and together they created an epic, variable flavour journey that was immensely enjoyable. If you are looking for a special, unique chocolate to gift this Christmas then I suggest you take Berry Scrumptious in to your consideration - I would fully recommend this Mulled Berry Chocolate.

8.3 out of 10

November 29th: Chocri 'Jim's Nutty Delight Creation'

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

It's been a few weeks now since the famous 'Soy Bacon' incident (See HERE), but I'm glad to say that Chocri return to ChocolateMission today. Indeed, even a score of 4.5 out of 10 for my 'Jim's American Creation didn't put off the guys at Chocri featuring on the website again, and they were more than willing for me to create three new bars which they kindly sent along to me this week. The first one I will be showing you today is a bar I have dubbed as 'Jim's Nutty Delight Creation'. I'm sure many of you will be glad to hear that Soy Bacon was not on the menu for this one :D I went for the far more sensible sounding combined milk and white chocolate base with roasted peanuts, honey wheat flakes, nougat, toffee and peanut butter drops.

Given that I was given a free license to create a bar containing as little or as many ingredients as I wish, I obviously went for the no expenses spared approach :D This bar if you wish to recreate it will set you back £7.10 per 100.0g - you can do this quite easily by entering the code '49t621' where prompted on the Chocri site. In regards to the packaging and presentation, Chocri sent this bar in their new Christmas themed wrappers which I think look very good indeed. As you will be able to see from my photograph, my bar was brimming full of my chosen ingredients - there was hardly space to see the chocolate below which I guess was unsurprising given that I loaded it up with the full five added toppings.

Taking my bar out of it's plastic sleeve, a lovely selection of nutty, chocolate scents wafted over my senses. As I mentioned above I chose to go for the mixture of milk and white chocolate for the base which proved to be a good decision. Like I said in my previous Chocri reviews, the quality of the chocolate wasn't anything out of this world, but the sweet cocoa flavours of the milk chocolate were nicely enhanced by the creamier tasting white chocolate, which itself offered a definitive tasting note of vanilla in the latter stages of it's melt. When it came to the toppings, there were so many of them jumbled together it was more of a 'take each bite' as it comes experience rather than a consistent taste. Ultimately the concoction of toppings made for an exciting and variable flavour extravaganza, though the roasted peanuts, toffee and peanut drops were easily the most definable out of all five when it came to the taste. With that said, it wasn't like the cereal or nougat were lost in the mix, as both added variety to the texture with their contrasting crunchy and soft textures. Although some of my colleagues were a little apprehensive about sampling another Jim's Creation :D the majority of them really enjoyed the nutty sweetness of this latest bar.

Overall this latest creation of mine just goes to prove that when you keep the topping combinations sensible, then Chocri do have a lot to offer aside from their customisation selling point. I thought the blend of the milk and white chocolate in the base was effective, and I would suggest you use this one if you are a fan of both the chocolate types. When it comes to the toppings, out of the ones featured today I would be more than happy recommending the roasted peanuts and peanut butter drops if you are after a nut element in your chocolate. The roasted nuts especially were absolutely superb and were both fresh tasting and crunchy - perfect nuts if you ask me! I don't wish to blow my own trumpet :D but this was definitely the best Chocri creation I have made thus far. The good news for you guys is that there are another two more to come in the next few weeks. I won't reveal exactly what they are, but I will tell you that both are Christmas themed - Chocri have just added some extra special Christmas toppings on their site. More Chocri and Jim's Creations next week.

8.0 out of 10

November 27/28th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 61

### Site Update & Competition Winners ###

Hi All,

7Days of Chocolate Reviews returns this week and there is all sorts to get through.

First off congratulations to the winners of my Ritter Sport Winter Kreation competition (See HERE). The random number generator picked out commenters Richard, Andrew and Hollie. I hope you guys view the site this weekend - you have one week to send me your addresses to claim your prizes.

Those of you who didn't win, don't worry ... there are a few more competitions coming to the site before Christmas soon!

Speaking of Christmas I'm currently beavering away writing tons of reviews for the site in the coming weeks. On my tasting deck at the moment I have Hotel Chocolat, Heavenly Cakes, Chocri and various Christmas themed chocolate cakes. Suffice to say there are some exciting things to come :D

Have great weekends and please feel free to get in contact.


News from the Chocolate Market:

* There are further details on Nestle's upcoming lines for Easter 2011 ... See HERE

* If you are interested in the new Cadbury Cocoa Houses you can see their Christmas menu ... See HERE

* You can see the new Terry's Chocolate Orange TV advert ... See HERE

* Anyone fancy some chocolate covered liquorice ... See HERE

* Mars have a new range called 'Shake n Snack' ... See HERE

* Divine have announced their Valentines Day 2011 line up ... See HERE

* Feeling tired? Then eat some chocolate :D It's good for us you know haha! ... See HERE

If I have missed anything please inform me via a comment and share the news.


Hotel Chocolat The H-Box Christmas Selection

Last week '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' got put aside to make room for my review of the Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection. Within my review of that fantastic selection I passed comment that it was available in several different sizes and formats. Well the people dishing out the samples at Hotel Chocolat were extra kind to me this year because they also sent me a Hotel Chocolate The H-Box Christmas Selection box to make my way through.

This 150.0g box contained 13 of the original 17 pieces I reviewed last week - Cranberry & Apple, Cinnamon Praline, Milk Liquid Caramel, Milk Chocolate Christmas Bauble, Dark Liquid Caramel, Caramel Chocolate Christmas Tree, Mulled Wine, Champagne Star, Red Berry Mousse, House Praline, Florentine Dream, Crunchy Praline and Rum Ingot. If you missed out on my review from last weekend then I suggest you take a look HERE. Priced at £11.00 vs the £20.00 for the original sized collection, this is a great option for anyone looking for the Hotel Chocolat Christmas experience on a budget.

8.6 out of 10

November 26th: Zotter Ginger

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

I think lasts weeks review of the Coffee Plum with Caramelised Bacon left a few readers feeling slightly disturbed, so I thought it best to review a more conventional Zotter offering this week. The flavour I picked out from my sampling box that matched my 'sensible flavour' criteria, was this Zotter Ginger bar. On the wrapper it came described as 'dark chocolate filled with ginger' - it's not like it comes more sensible than that. Dedicated ChocolateMission readers will be aware that dark chocolate and ginger combinations are a favourite of my father, so you can rest assured that his 'expert' (so he claims haha!) views will feature somewhere down the line in the coming four paragraphs.

This Zotter Ginger bar came in the traditional Handscooped bar size of 70.0g (I've lost count how many times I have written that now! haha!). This was of course enough to share with my old man over a nice fresh roasted cup of coffee - which was the only occasion we saw as suitable for consumption of this chocolate combination. I normally lavish praise on Zotter for the quality of their presentation, but the standards of this bar weren't at their highest. Firstly, I again couldn't work out the humour behind the wrapper - nothing changes there! Secondly the wrapper itself contained a misprinted black like down the right hand side (see photo above), which I thought looked rather sloppy. The bar itself was also a little disappointing when it came to it's aesthetic prominence. The chocolate smelt nice with it's heavy cocoa aromas, but wooringly there were no obvious signs of the candied ginger either visually or aromatically.

Although the quality of the product in regards to it's presentation wasn't at usual Zotter standards, this was never going to deter us from the taste test in prospect :D Just as I had experienced many a time previously, the 70% dark chocolate exterior was simply superb, and both my father and I noticed that it was a touch thicker and crisper to the bite than other dark chocolate Zotter bars we had tried previously. Whilst the outer chocolate offered a delightful initial set of roasted cocoa flavours, it wasn't long before the inner truffle creme took hold of the taste due to it's heavy portioning. At this point I would love to say the filling contributed incrementally to the experience, however this frankly wasn't the case. In contrast to the outer chocolate, the centre portion was sweet in it's flavour contribution and added heavy notes of honey and sugar to the taste. Most disappointingly, the ginger was all but absent from the majority of the bar, with only a few small crunchy pieces portioned across it's entirety. When come across, they did bring a fiery spicy note of ginger to the party, but even these were doused somewhat by the sweetness of the rest of the truffle.

Overall both my father and I were left severely disappointed at the quality of this chocolate, especially considering the brand in question. Zotter are normally known for their attention to detail and their ability to fuse some of the most obscure ingredients in to the finest tasting chocolates. Unfortunately these principles seemed to desert them here, as the presentation was sloppy and the flavour theme executed poorly due to the ginger portioning being lacklustre to say the least. On a positive side note the dark chocolate that coated this bar was still of a good standard, but to be totally honest that wasn't too much of a parachute as we had come to expect this from Zotter already. It would be interesting to hear from anyone else who has tried this bar as it could be the case that I got a 'duff' one from the Zotter factory. If the quality is consistent I would suggest looking elsewhere for your chocolate and ginger combination.

6.9 out of 10

November 25th: 'Bits n Bobs' Japanese Special

Unfortunately there aren't any points or prizes for guessing the sole supplier of all the products featured in 'Bits n Bobs' today - of course they have all come from our favourite Japanese goods and snacks importer J-List (Cheap plug wahey!!!). Indeed, everytime I get a sampling package from those guys they always 'top-up' my package with several smaller items to make the most of the shipping weight limitations. Such products never feel like they justify fully fleshed out ChocolateMission reviews, but luckily for them we now have 'Bits n Bobs' to solve that problem.

I hope you enjoy the mini-reviews below, always thoughts, recommendations and requests are most welcome.

Morinaga Bake (Baked Chocolate)
Kcal 230 Fat 15.0g Fat(sats) ??? Carbs 21.0g (per 40.0g pack)

You may have noticed that during the months of May to September, J-list doesn't feature on the site as much as it does during months either side. This is primarily because of the extremely hot summer period that they have in the Far East. Whilst J-List continue to trade in their other wacky product categories (they stock all sorts of weird Japanese stuff!!), chocolate items are mostly taken off the menu for awhile, as they simply wouldn't survive the searing heat in the post. One of the few remaining chocolate products they did continue to stock this year however, were these Morinaga Bake (Baked Chocolate), which come desrcibed on J-List as simply 'baked pieces of crumbly milk chocolate'.

What with the rather loose description I didn't know quite what to expect from these, but thankfully they turned out to be pretty tasty. Inside the bright pink foil wrapper (love it!!), the pack contained several bite-sized chocolate biscuit pieces. Texture wise they were crunchy on the outside, yet had soft innards - the mouth feel was really quite unique. Flavour wise they were initially came across as pretty rich and chocolatey, however due their miniscule size and short mouth longevity they weren't the richest or fufilling of snacks. I wouldn't go over the top and say they are a must try product, but if you are looking for a smaller, unique product to 'top-up' you J-List order you can't go far wrong with these.

7.0 out of 10

Morinaga Chocolate Caramel
Kcal 21 Fat 0.5g Fat(sats) ??? Carbs 3.8g (per 4.9g piece)

Just like with the above Morinaga Bake, these were another one of the few products that J-List continued to stock during the long chocolate drought summer. In Japan, Morinaga are a brand well known for their hard caramel sweets - if you are one of those people that tries to keep an eye on all of the flavours out in Japan you will have noticed that they bring out several varieties each year. Hard caramels aren't the sort of product I would traditionally feature on the site, but my pal Peter at J-List suggested I try these chocolate flavoured ones, so he sent on a very cute looking matchstick sized box that was filled with them.

Contained within cubed foil wrappers, the caramels offered little in regards to aromas but this was unsurprising given the product. Once placed in the mouth the buttery flavours were intially very weak, but as the pieces rose to mouth temperature they softened and offered a greater toffee led taste that was noted with a minor hint of chocolate. To be honest, like the Morinaga Bake these ultimately weren't the most unique of products I have ever tasted, but at the same time I wouldn't like to give the perception they were bad in anyway shape or form. Again they would be a product worth looking at if you wish to add a smaller item to a J-List order.

7.1 out of 10

Meiji Fran Matcha Green Tea Creamy Mousse Biscuit Sticks
Kcal 89 Fat 5.3g Fat(sats) ??? Carbs 9.1g (per 16.0g pack)

Blimey if we were handing out ratings based on the length of the product name you have to think that these Meiji Fran Matcha Green Tea Creamy Mousse Biscuit Sticks would be in with a great shout of being the ChocolateMission leader :D Anyone who has some knowledge about the Japanese confectionery market will be well aware that people in the Far East absolutely love their products like Pocky, Toppo etc. As you would expect there are plenty of these products on the market, one being a brand called Fran which I tried for the very first time today. On the J-List website these came described as 'chocolate biscuit sticks with a matcha green tea coating, filled with chocolate mousse' - sounds cool huh!? Well I have to say they looked very cool in real life to! When I got them out the packet I was pleased to see they looked exactly like they did on the very premium looking outer box. In size they were about quadruple the size of the normal Pocky, and contained a plentiful layer of mousse filling running done the inside of the extravagant looking outer green portion.

As well as ticking the boxes aesthetically, I'm glad to say they got my seal of approval when it came to the taste test. The biscuit sticks were pretty 'so-so' in their flavour contribution, but the green tea coating was very nicely balanced and established a green tea taste that wasn't overly bitter but still somewhat grassy and herby in it's flavour contribution. The balance of flavours was no doubt helped by the creamy, sweet taste of the chocolate mousse centre, which nicely took the edge of the green tea in the latter stages of chewing. In the past I have found green tea products can be a little hit or miss, but these Meiji Fran Matcha Green Tea were pretty spot on delivering the unique green tea experience. If you are willing to put up with the usual unsatisfying hunger fufilment issue you get with these sort of products, then these are a product worthy of your consideration.

7.1 out of 10

November 24th: Niederegger Lubeck Marzipan Classic Milk Chocolate

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

Up until last year if you had asked me what my favourite marzipan was, I would have answered with a very dead pan face 'I don't have one - it is awful stuff'. This would have been my response up until the day I tried my first Niederegger product that is. Ever since then my opinions have changed somewhat, and have done increasingly so as I have made my way through the numerous offerings in their range. If you have read most of my previous Niederegger reviews before (See HERE), you will be aware that most have gone along the lines of ... 'the chocolate isn't the best, but the marzipan is out of this world'. Please don't get me wrong, the quality of the dark chocolate isn't particularly bad or anything, but I have always felt that it has never quite the done the marzipan justice. Given this matter of fact I was delighted when I was finally able to track down this milk chocolate variety in my local Waitrose - before you all ask it was £1.49 :D

Just like it's dark chocolate coated equivalent, this bar came in a 100.0g format that I ate (with some help grrrrr!) across a few days. Keeping consistent with the rest of the Niederegger portfolio the packaging and presentation was nothing short of superb. The royal blue colour nicely differentiated it from the other varities, yet the gold foil fonts and and clear branding ensured that the prestigious aura of the Niederegger brand shone through. Inside the blocked chocolate was tightly wrapped in a thick foil sleeve that managed to maintain the chocolate in mint condition. Despite the somewhat mild aromas emanating from the bar, the branding and generous portioning of the marzipan filling more than did enough to keep my levels of anticipation high.

Starting off with the marzipan I have to say that it was god awful ... just absolutely, 100% terrible .... haha only joking :D What can I say about Niederegger marzipan that I haven't already!? The doughy, sweet nutty flavours have made me a marzipan convert - if you had told me that a year ago I would never have believed you. Niederegger marzipan has a cookie dough like appeal - it is very sweet, but the buttery, bread like flavours make for an incredibly seductive and moreish taste that just keep you wanting to come back for more. So what was the chocolate like I hear you ask? Well I would say it still wasn't of the highest standard, but it was definitely more to my liking than Niederegger's dark chocolate. Comparing like-for-like, the milk chocolate was more forthcoming with it's creamier, sweeter taste, and had more depth in comparison to the more subtle dark chocolate. Despite this greater flavour generation, the chocolate still allowed the marzipan to take centre stage, which was a positive thing given that the marzipan was supposed to be the star of the product anyway.

Overall I'm sure that it wont come to anyones surprise that I am labelling this as yet another triumph in the world of marzipan for our German friends Niederegger. As aforementioned in the previous paragraph there is probably nothing more that I can say or write to get the point across about how fantastic the quality of their marzipan is. In every single Niederegger review I write, I always bang on about the fact that I am no great fan of marzipan, but these guys continue to prove me wrong. Furthermore, this bar itself has made me think I have to reassess my preconceptions, as I actually found myself liking this milk chocolate variety more than the dark chocolate one which was not something I expected. The standard of the milk chocolate wasn't on the same level of the higher end chocolate manufacturers like Hotel Chocolat or Galler, but I found the cream based taste more exciting than the blander dark chocolate that Niederegger normally offer up. I'm probably coming off as a bit of a Niederegger 'fanboy' here, but I don't think anyone has an excuse not to at least give one of their products a try one day. This milk chocolate bar would be a cracking place to start.

8.7 out of 10

November 23rd: Heavenly Cakes Marathon Flapjack

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

Last week ChocolateMission readers saw the return of Heavenly Cakes to the website with my review of their new Lemon Meringue with White Chocolate cake (See HERE). Being the lucky chap I am, this of course wasn't the only cake that Heavenly sent along. Indeed my Betty the Baker also sent me another one of her latest creations - this Marathon Flapjack. On the Heavenly website the Marathon Flapjack comes described as a tempting concoction of 'Peanut butter added to our all-butter flapjack with caramel & Belgian milk chocolate on top'. Betty then begs the question 'does it get better than this?'. Personally I couldn't think of many things that sounded better :D but lets see how it stacked up when it came to the taste test.

Despite the massive excitement I felt before trying this cake, the huge single serving portion once again meant there was more than enough to share amongst two. Aesthetically the cake was every bit as tempting in real life as it looked on the Heavenly site. As just mentioned the cake was positively huge - the lower portion of flapjack base was substantially thick, whilst the milk chocolate, caramel and peanut butter layers looked equally as well portioned. Although there was some peanut butter spillage within the plastic wrapper, the cake was still in immaculate condition despite it's delicate constituents. As soon as the plastic wrapper was breached a gorgeous set of sweet nutty scents literally filled the room. My colleague and I were getting many an envious look from across the office :D

The chances are 90.0% of you guys have already peeked at the eventual score so I wont give this the slow build. This cake was absolutely delicious! Every mouthful was just incredibly tasty, and each different part of the cake played it's role. If I was to have the tiniest criticism it would be that the flapjack base could of offered just a little more than the syrupy oaty taste it contributed (possible room for some additional peanuts here perhaps!?). Regardless, it provided a very tasty base for the product and kept the above layers fused well together with it's firm texture. Speaking of the layers above, just as expected they combined to create the most luxurious of toppings. The saltyness of the peanut butter with the sweetness of the buttery toffee caramel was a synergy you can only dream of. The Belgian milk chocolate placed on the top provided a delicious set of creamy cocoa flavours, whilst the chopped nuts further reaffirmed the nuttyness of the peanut butter leaving a lasting roasted nut taste in the mouth. As you can probably determine this was one very rich tasting cake, though this didn't stop me and my fellow tastee polishing off each of our halves with ease.

Overall I was fully expecting to love this cake and as you can tell by the score I have attributed it with, I certainly ended up doing so. To get a score of 9.0 on ChocolateMission the product has to be something special and this Marathon Flapjack can and be considered exactly that. As you will have read above, the only area I see where this cake could be marginally improved is the flapjack base. Although it was still wonderfully tasty, the minor addition of some extra nuts or cereal could even improve it further - a taste score of 10.0 wouldn't be far off in that circumstance. That point aside the rest of the cake was absolutely luxurious. The mixture of the peanut butter, caramel and chocolate was just to die for - I don't think there is anything more I can say about how tasty it was. The work colleague who I split this with similarly thought it was delicious (I wish I hadn't offered now haha!), and had nothing but praise for the cake as a whole. If you like your peanut butter and chocolate combinations, cakes dont get better than this - very highly recommended.

9.0 out of 10

November 22nd: Galaxy Orange & Shortcake

Kcal 544 Fat 32.5g Fat(sats) 19.9g Carbs 55.1g (per 100.0g)

New product Monday returns to ChocolateMission!! The number of e-mail and comments I have recieved about this bar has been astonishing - apologies I can't mention you all by name (that would take forever!), but thanks to all the people who made me aware/requested that I take a look at this bar. After checking out last months Galaxy customer exclusive for Tesco (Smooth Truffle - See HERE), it appears that Mars have had to offer exactly the same deal to Sainsbury's (another UK supermarket for all you non-UK readers!). Indeed, along with the rearrangement of their shelves, Sainsbury's have now started stocking this Galaxy Orange & Shortcake bar, which on-pack is described as 'milk chocolate with shortcake and orange pieces'.

To my knowledge, this bar is only currently available in a 120.0g format - suffice to say there was more enough to share round my work office to get some opinions. Neither the orange foil or small on-pack picture gave the bar any great standout from the other variants on the shelf, however it still looked classy so I had little issue with it in that regard. The chocolate inside was blocked in the the shapely Galaxy form, with a multitude of biscuit pieces evident in the underside of the bar. At this point it was notable that the orange pieces seemed few and far between, but the fruity smells emanating from the foil wrapper suggested otherwise.

Galaxy milk chocolate - what more is there to be said about it on this site that I haven't already? In my opinion it's very tasty for the price you generally pay for it. It's not as flavoursome, or rich in cocoa flavours as some of the finer end market options like Hotel Chocolat, but to be fair to it the soothing cream based sweet cocoa flavours are delivered within a very definitive thick, melting smooth texture which I think gives it a very important uniqueness. As you would expect these flavours took up the majority of the taste with this bar, however I'm pleased to say that neither the orange or the biscuit got lost in the experience. As I gauged from looking at the chocolate, by far the most prominent was the shortcake biscuit. These pieces added a playful crunchy element texture wise, and also brought small bursts of buttery saltiness to the party. The orange element to this chocolate was established through what seemed like tiny pieces of orange gummy sweets. Although they were a little sparsely portioned, when come across they added a very real tasting burst of juicy orange flavours to the chocolate which has to be said was very nice. As with most Galaxy chocolates a 40.0g serving amount was comforting portion.

Overall this was never going to be a Galaxy Caramel beater, but for what it was it was enjoyable orange chocolate. It has been discussed on ChocolateMission recently that we are currently lacking in options when it comes to mass produced chocolate orange offerings - Terry's being the only real one out there from the likes of Cadbury, Kraft, Mars and Nestle. Whilst Mars haven't 'turned up any trees' with this one, it still proved itself to be a tasty orange flavoured chocolate that is certainly worth a look at if you are looking for a more subtly flavoured alternative to Terry's. The feedback from my colleagues was similar to my own in that it needed more orange bits, but on the whole this chocolate was met with a pretty positive response with a number of people claiming they would happily buy it. At times like these when manufactures seem content on releasing already made products in different formats (Galaxy Counters etc), it is nice to see Mars try something new. On that basis this bar gets a ChocolateMission thumbs up.

8.2 out of 10

November 20/21st: Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection

It does seem a little silly getting this review up a full month ahead of Christmas, but I felt this fantastic selection required your immediate attention. Indeed, replacing the usual '7Days of ....' post this weekend, I bring you my review of the Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection box. This box comes described as 'the essential collection for Christmas - brimming with a balanced array of exciting chocolates for everyone to enjoy'.

The Selection is available in several different sizes, though the one I shared with my family for this review contained 30 chocolates. Speaking briefly about the presentation, I really hope my photographs have done the selection justice because it simply looked fantastic. The outer packaging felt premium yet Christmassy (hard to pull off I tell you!!), whilst the inner chocolates were wonderfully crafted with some real standout pieces.

I hope you are sitting down with a nice cup of tea (and some chocolate of course!), because this review is a rather lengthy one due to the amount of pieces (17!!). For some of the chocolates I have been brief as you will have read my comments on them before. As usual ratings go from Awful-to-Superb.

House Praline - This piece combined an outer layer of thick, creamy milk house chocolate, with a delightfully textured hazelnut flavoured centre. Praline chocolates honestly don't get much better than this. Superb.

Cinnamon Praline - You can literally take what I said about the previous chocolate and just add in a well balanced note of spicy cinnamon. I loved the twist of the nut flavours and made sure I secured both of these pieces before they were nabbed by my fellow tasters :D Superb.

Rum Ingot - These first appeared in my review back in March 2010 of the Hotel Chocolat Boozie Scrambled Egg (See HERE). The rum was still a little too strong for my liking but it did bring a pleasant warming sensation to the mouth. Good.

Mousse au Chocolat - This was one insanely rich chocolate and was formed of an outer coating of 80% dark chocolate with a dark ganache filling. It was totally delicious despite looking like one of the more reserved pieces in the selection. You might call it a hidden gem! Superb.

Cranberry & Apple - The fruit content of this chocolate meant my mother was all over it. She reported that the cranberry tartness was evident from the outset and thought whilst it was tasty, it dominated the more subtle apple just a little too much. I myself thought she was spot on :D I think my family are getting to good at this now. Good.

Gingerbread Truffle - There were again mass fights over who was going to try this one. The mouth feel of the crisp outer milk chocolate with the smooth ganache centre was incredible, however both my father and I felt like the ginger flavours needed to be more forthcoming to overcome the strong cream based flavours of the chocolate. It was a little disappointing. Standard.

Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Paste - This bauble shaped piece looked sensationally detailed and it's creamy, nut noted flavours ensured it tasted just as good. The flavour delivery was incredibly smooth for a nut flavoured chocolate. Very Good.

Caramel Chocolate Christmas Tree - This was one of the chocolates that I had reviewed in several different formats before but it proved every bit as tasty as a Christmas tree shape :D Creamy chocolate with hints of burnt sugar and salt. Superb.

Bell Shaped 40% Milk Chocolate - Do I really have to say anything more about the milk chocolate? No! It was a beautiful looking chocolate mind you :D Very Good.

Dark Chocolate with Chilli Penguin - I first reviewed these way back in 2008 (See HERE). I gave them a 9.0 out of 10 then and I still think the same. Superb.

Mulled Wine - There were some serious fights over who got to sample this piece :D The amount of different flavours forthcoming was quite incredible for a chocolate so small. The outer chocolate was creamy, yet the inner creme had influences of spice, cinnamon and orange. My Sister said it was like Christmas encapsulated in a chocolate. Superb.

Champagne Star - I didn't get a look in here :D Both my Mother and my Father picked out this gorgeous looking chocolate before I could try it. Judging by the 'oohs' and 'aahs' that accompanied consumption I think we can safely say they loved the combination of the white chocolate shell and creamy Marc de Chmpagne centre. The sprinkle of edible gold on top was a touch of real class. Superb.

Florentine Dream - Without doubt this was one of my favourites in the selection. The soft praline filling was expertly matched with the toffee and caramel flavours forthcoming from the crunchy almond pieces placed on top. Oh ... the milk chocolate wasn't half bad either :D Superb.

Red Berry Mousse - This was immediately set upon by sister who marvelled at how thick the outer chocolate casing was. The piece was enjoyable but she felt like the strawberry and raspberry influences in the mousse could have been stronger tasting. Good.

Crunchy Praline - The billing of praline with crispy baked pancake has us all intrigued, but reality was this piece tasted no different to the House Praline but just with a few crispy bits brought to the party texture wise. I personally thought the pancake bits were a little distracting, and would have preferred the smoother mouth feel. Standard.

Milk Liquid Caramel - This one was picked out straight away by my mother who really fancied the 50% milk chocolate and liquid caramel combination. She said the chocolate was delicious, but the caramel, whilst wonderfully soft could have done with being a bit saltier. Good.

Dark Liquid Caramel - Much like my Mother's thoughts above, I felt like the saltyness of the caramel could of just been a little more dialled up than it was. Regardless it was still one exceedingly tasty chocolate and the dark chocolate was incredible. Very Good.

Overall as you can see from the ratings this was one incredible selection of Christmas themed chocolates. As I said in my introduction, I really hope that the photos you see in front of you do the product justice, as it really was a superb looking collection of festive chocolate treats. The standout pieces judging by all the feedback from my family were the Mulled Wine, Champagne Star, Florentine Dream, House Praline and Dark Chocolate & Chilli Penguins. It's not often that you find a selection box that offers such fantastic variety, yet with no 'dud' chocolates to report of. If you are thinking of getting in a special box of Christmas themed chocolates for the household this Christmas I honestly cant recommend this selection enough. Thank you for taking the time to read my review, as ever your own thoughts are most welcome.

9.0 out of 10

November 19th: 'Bits n Bobs' Chocolate Biscuits & Cookies

After receiving plenty of positive comments and subsequent requests from last weeks UK chocolate cookie 'Bits n Bobs' review, I this week treated my work colleagues to another selection of various chocolate biscuit products. Included in the 'Bits n Bobs' selection today we have offerings from Fox's, Kellogg's and Cadbury.

As always I encourage you all to share your opinions on these products if you have tried them, or have any views. Additionally if you would like to see any other products featured in 'Bits n Bobs' in the future please let me know.

Kellogg's Special K Mini Breaks Chocolate:

Kcal 99 Fat 2.5g Fat(sats) 1.0g Carbs 18.0g (per 24.0g)
'Chocolate flavoured crunchy multi-grain cereal bites'

I would like to claim that I purposely bought these to review in an attempt to counter balance all the Heavenly Cakes and biscuits you have seen featured on the site recently :D Truth be told for some reason my work office received a massive industrial sized box in which there were forty 24.0g individual serving bags. I'm not normally someone who buys in to all these Special K zero calorie products, but seeing the word chocolate on the wrapper I felt almost obliged to review them. To my pleasant surprise they were better than I thought they would be - far superior to the bland cardboard like experience I was expecting anyway. Taste wise they established a honey noted oaty set of flavours. The chocolate flavour hit was minor at best, but every once and while there was a note of cocoa powder amongst the cereal led taste. These weren't anything amazing, but as a lower calorie snacking alternative they weren't half bad.

7.0 out of 10

Fox's Chunkie Caramel Extremely Chocolatey Cookies:
Kcal 127 Fat 6.4g Fat(sats) 3.5g Carbs 9.2g (per biscuit)
'Chocolate chip cookies with caramel pieces, coated in milk chocolate'

Right ... on to the more serious of biscuits :D I bought these in my local Tesco priced on introductory offer of £1.00. Just over a month ago, ChocolateMission reader Phil brought my attention to the Fox's Chunkie Cookie range when he asked me to review the Fruit & Nut variant (See HERE). Having enjoyed them, I was very tempted by these Caramel cookies when I saw them - the packaging especially caught my eye with it's vivid yellow colours and flashy 'NEW' branding decorating the top corner. Opening opening the packet, the cookies looked and smelt terrific with various sweet caramel scents wafting over my senses. When it came to the taste test, I am pleased to say they passed with flying colours, with seals of approval from all that tried them. The quality of the milk chocolate wasn't anything amazing, but it did the job establishing a chocolatey flavour base with every bite. The most enjoyable aspect about these biscuits however were the several bits of caramel that were plentifully portioned throughout the buttery tasting cookie base. These provided intermittent blasts of delicious toffee, aswell as an interesting chewyness to the crunchy cookie texture. I would happily recommend these to any cookie or biscuits fans.

8.1 out of 10

Cadbury Dairy Milk Biscuits:

Kcal 75 Fat 4.3g Fat(sats) 2.5g Carbs 50.3g (per biscuit)
'Shortcake biscuits fulled covered in milk chocolate'

After the release of the Cadbury Crunchie, Caramel and Turkish biscuits earlier this year (See HERE), it was only a matter of time before I thought we would see a plain Dairy Milk biscuit product hit the shelves. Just as with the above Fox's cookies, I found these on sale in Tesco on a similar £1.00 introductory offer - it was hardly like I was going to miss them what with the iconic purple foil wrapper that was glinting at me from the shelves. From the very first moment I opened the foil wrapper I felt instantly at ease. The Cadbury scents were instantly recognisable, and of course ever so tempting. Aesthetically the biscuits looked attractive, with the outer chocolate coating appearing thick and appetising. There was of course only one way to eat these - letting the delicious, thick creamy chocolate melt away in the mouth before munching down on the biscuit - yep they were a delight! As much as I enjoyed these plain Dairy Milk biscuits, I think when it comes to Cadbury biscuits, I will in the future still be buying the Crunchie or Caramel variants in preference as they offer a little bit more variety to the party.

8.2 out of 10

November 18th: Zotter Coffee Plum with Caramelised Bacon

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

After my experience with my own bacon flavoured Chocri creation last month, you could probably understand my slight unease when this Zotter flavour turned up on my doorstep a few weeks ago. Although Mr Zotter and his team had proven themselves before with their chocolate and bacon combination skills (See Bacon Bits review HERE), my Chocri 'American Creation' (which included Soy Bacon) had ultimately left some mental scars. As much as I trusted Zotter with their bizarre, yet normally quite wonderful Handscooped bar varieties, this 'Dark chocolate filled with coffee-plum-cream abd bacon' was one I approached with caution.

This variety came in the standard Zotter Handscooped format with it's easily sliceable flat bar shape weighing 70.0g. I haven't understood the tongue in cheek humour behind a lot of the Zotter wrappers recently, though I did like the artistic expression of this particular one with the Plum fruit characters 'singing in all their glory' wrapped in streaky bacon coats :D Compared to the average darkly coloured Zotter filling, the lighter brown centre looked remarkable on the eye, and there appeared to be a plentiful amount of fruit and bacon pieces within.

Upon revealing this unique looking truffle centre, several different scents and smells swept over my senses with influences of fruit, chocolate and booze all making their presence felt. The exterior chocolate portion of this bar was exactly the thickness that I had experienced across previous Zotter dark chocolates previously, and the 70% cocoa recipe broke with a delightful fresh crispness when bitten in to. The initial dark chocolate flavours were rich and meaningful in their cocoa expression, and established a firm chocolatey flavour base for the creamier constituents within to build off. Speaking of which, the the plum cream filling sat below was an absolute treat. Despite lacking the promised coffee flavour influence, the centre tasted absolutely divine with the raisin like flavours of the plums noted with a minor suggestion of red wine which really brought a unique taste experience. The bacon constituents of this bar was thankfully an awful lot different to the experience I was dreading. There were no meaty flavours detectable whatsoever, just a pleasant saltyness that contrasted really quite expertly with the more sugar intensive fruity influences. This was a bar that I ate over the course of a few days and was one that I hated the thought of finishing.

Overall I have to hand it to Zotter for crafting yet another bizarre, yet truly fantastic flavour combination. Ultimately this bar proved itself to be every bit as wonderful as it sounded unlikely to work - I mean who in their right mind would ever set out to create a chocolate combining coffee, fruit and bacon!? The answer to that is of course Mr Zotter and his team! Although they didn't quite deliver the coffee element of this chocolate (perhaps a little too ambitious!), the synergy of flavours created by the dark chocolate, creamy sweet plum and salted bacon, created the most fantastic and unique flavour experiences I have come across in a long time. I will happily admit that some of Zotter's weirdest creations in the past haven't always been to my liking, but its becoming apparent that more often than not these guys know what they are doing when it comes to their bizarre bars. If you are ever in a position to try this one for yourself I can give you a whole hearted recommendation to do so.

8.6 out of 10

November 17th: Green & Black's Almond / Hazelnut & Currant

I have always openly admitted that Green & Black's has never been a brand that has managed to stir a great deal of excitement inside me. In fact at one point in late 2009, after reviewing the Green & Black's Cherry bar I even went as far saying that I wouldn't ever buy one of their chocolates again. Well since that time I have slowly crept my way through the rest of the G&B range (all of the reviews can be found HERE). After doing a little back tracking through the archive, I last week noticed that I was in actual fact only missing two flavours to complete a full set of reviews .... so I guessed what I did!

Indeed today I bring you my thoughts regarding the Almond and Hazelnut & Currant flavours, both varieties of which I bought in their 100.0g forms. As you will see below, both bars I bought today were kitted out in the new style Green & Black's wrappers. Saying that you would have been hard pushed to tell that about the Almond variant, which looked unfortunately similar to the old style packaging with it's use of a ghastly brown colour. On a more positive note both chocolates looked very generously portioned in regards to their fruit and nut constituents. The Hazelnut & Currant bar especially stood out with it's vast quantities of light coloured nuts evident throughout the dark chocolate.

So how did did they taste?

Kcal 578 Fat 42.2g Carbs 37.7g (per 100.0g)

Green & Black's Almond - 'Milk chocolate with whole roasted almonds'. This bar proved a little difficult and messy to break into small pieces, though this was understandable given the large volume of chunky nuts (25% stated on the wrapper). Taste wise I found the 37% milk chocolate was fair in terms of flavour strength, however on the whole it was pretty unremarkable. I have commented in previous reviews about the lack of distinguishable or unique taste attributes that G&B milk chocolate has, this was all too apparent once again but luckily the almond nuts were at hand to add a much needed flavour dimension. The almond nuts were buttery in taste and provided just a little more excitement to sweeter, milkier cocoa flavours established by the chocolate. My only gripe with the almond nuts were that they weren't particularly crunchy, and at times I had parts of their outer skin getting caught in my teeth. Overall whilst this was passable, this wasn't a particularly great nut flavored chocolate and I know there are certainly better options out there.

6.8 out of 10

Kcal 558 Fat 36.7g Carbs 40.3g (per 100.0g)

Green & Black's Hazelnut & Currant - 'Dark chocolate with hazelnuts and currants'. Out of the two flavours I was trying out today this was admittedly the one I was more looking forward to trying out. Like the Almond flavour above this bar was similarly hard to break in to smaller blocks what with the considerable presence of the currants (12%) and hazelnuts (12%). Previous reviews have shown that I have tended to score G&B's dark chocolates higher than their milk chocolates but this 60% recipe managed to buck that trend. In contrast to the milk chocolate above, the taste was understandably less sweet with the cocoa more forthcoming in early stages of the flavour development. As the chocolate progressed in melt the taste seem to take more of a citrusy, acidic flavour edge which wasn't particularly to my liking. Had the chopped hazelnuts and sweetness of the currants come through a bit more strongly in taste, I'm sure they would have balanced this acidity. Despite their considerable portioning both the hazelnuts and currants came across as quite underpowered as both struggled to cut through the more dominant chocolate. Overall this chocolate may have looked and sounded the more appealing but it simply didn't reach standards I wanted it to in the taste test. I wouldn't buy this flavour again.

6.4 out of 10

So there you have it ChocolateMission fans - all Green & Black's flavours covered off with two more uninspiring varieties. Neither of these bars were the greatest, but at least I can know say I have full round perspective of what G&B have to offer.

November 16th: Heavenly Cakes Lemon Meringue With White Chocolate

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

After a four month absence, Heavenly Cakes are back on ChocolateMission and they return with several new offerings that I will be reviewing in the coming weeks. Indeed, since they last featured on the site they have been working away at developing several varities of new shortbread, flapjacks etc. You many also be inerested to hear that they have created gluten free alternatives for all the cakes in their existing portfolio - a special review of them will be coming soon! Kicking off my latest round of Heavenly Cakes posts, I today tried out their Lemon Meringue with White Chocolate. On the website they describe this as 'light meringue pieces coated in white chocolate, set on lemon curd and all-butter shortbread'.

I recieved this cake in a single serving form which in true Heavenly fashion was more than enough for two. Since I last reviewed some of their products Heavenly have slightly advanced their single serving packaging, and have made the wise decision of adding a cardboard business card to the underside of each cake to provide additional support (thumbs up!). As ever I hope my photos have done the cake justice - it looked fantastic. The sticky lemon curd and flaky meringue made it a somewhat messy experience to eat, however I was more preoccupied by the thickness of each of the layers which made the prospect more appetising than notable for it's messyness.

Lemon meringue pie isn't normally my dessert of choice but everything up until this point was certainly looking very promising. Aroma wise compared to some of the other Heavenly Cakes I had tried previously this cake wasn't the impactful in that regard, yet still offered a decent enough lemony set of smells. Biting in to the cake for the first time, the most immediate source of pleasure came from the interplay of the different textured layers. The light chocolate meringue topping yielded wonderfully into the gooey layer of lemon curd below, whilst the biscuit base was firm yet crumbly at it's centre. Whilst the mouth feel was glorious, the flavours on offer were similarly delightful. A mixture of white chocolate and meringue sounds like a path to a sugar coma, however seemingly no expense was spared on the quality of the white chocolate which was more notable for it's cream based flavours rather than it's sweetness. Sat below the topping, the binding lemon curd provided a sweet citrusy tang which complimented the buttery, salty flavours of the biscuit base quite expertly. The combination of all these layers was frankly delicious and actually lighter and less rich than I was expecting. Shared between two, the 'single serving' was a satisfying amount for afternoon tea.

Overall this was yet another tasty cake offering from the guys at Heavenly, and it was nice to see that their capabilities stretch further afield than I maybe first thought. This Lemon Meringue Pie cake was the first white chocolate offering of their's I had tried, and I have the delight of saying it was every bit as good as any of their milk chocolate cakes. Although I will forever have a preference to milk chocolate based products, I simply loved the white chocolate that they used for the topping here, and I think it worked beautifully with the meringue to produce a full on lemon meringue pie experience. Similarly the synergy created by the lemon curd and biscuit elements was just as wonderful, and made for a cake that was refreshlingy fruity, yet equally indulgent. If you like lemon meringue pie than I simply can't recommend this cake enough to you. A sweet tooth is required to fully enjoy this offering, but white chocolate fans should also seriously be considering this as a cake they need to try.

8.0 out of 10