Wednesday, 16 February 2011

February 16th: 'Bits n Bobs' American Misc

I hope you are all sat comfortably and got yourselves a cup of tea!! Please be prepared for the biggest ever 'Bits n Bobs' post, featuring FIVE, yes FIVE product reviews. Today we have an assortment of products that made their way to me from America - peanut butter, cookies, toffee and nuts ... you get it all here today!

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Clark Bar Dark

Kcal 260 Fat 10.0g Fat(sats) 3.5g Carbs 44.0g
'Real dark chocolate, real peanut butter crunch'

This was a 60.0g bar that was sent to me by HomesickAmerican (See HERE) around November time and I believe it is still available. My last flirtation with the Clark brand was back in December 2008 where I accused the original bar as having a fake chocolate coating that was 'among the worst chocolate I have tasted'. Well since then Necco have made changes to the bar and it's ingredients - I wont even attempt to go into the finer details myself (See Cybele's wonderful guide HERE). Suffice to say the fake chocolate has been replaced with real chocolate, and whilst they were at it they also saw fit to bring a 'Dark' bar to market.

This Dark variation was described on the smartish looking wrapper as 'sweet chocolate' so it came as no surprise that it came across as 'mass consumer friendly' taste wise. In terms of flavours the chocolate was so-so. It generated very mild cocoa flavours, but it was noticeably a touch less sugary than your average milk chocolate and it's aftertaste carried a note of smokeyness which was of some interest. The brittle peanut butter centre was conversely sugar rooted in taste, though the peanutty flavours were sufficiently long lasting and thus at least credible to the billing of the bar.

Overall the chocolate was noticeably better in terms of quality from past experiences, but this still wasn't a bar I would overly encourage you try desperately get hold of. The majority of the Reese's range still offers more in my opinion, and I think you would be better served looking at either the traditional Reese's cups or Nutsrageous offerings for your PB fix.

7.4 out of 10


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Dove Peanut Butter
Kcal 180 Fat 12.0g Fat(sats) 7.0g Carbs(sugars) 15.0g
'milk chocolate filled with a peanut butter filling'

Last year this was one of the products that caught my eye on several of the American chocolate blogs (See GiGI Reviews & Candyblog). This bar came in a 32.9g form that was split in to five suitably sized blocks. When cross-sectioned the peanut butter looked very smooth and was noticeably more orange compared to Reese's peanut butter which is normally much paler.

From the outset of the first block being placed on my tongue, the chocolate melted with a delightful softness, and the creamy cocoa flavours ebbed and flowed with the well paced, luxurious melt. In terms of feel, the PB was similarly smooth in feel to the chocolate, and had a texture that was every bit as soft during it's melt. When it came to flavours there was a pleasant contrast of sugar and salt, though I didn't perceive the actual peanut flavours to be as strong as you would get from the likes of Reese's.

Overall when it comes to peanut butter chocolates I can do little but make direct comparisons with Reese's products, and this didn't quite deliver me the same full monty peanut butter experience. Despite the creamy tasting chocolate quality being better than your average Reese's milk chocolate, the peanut butter didn't quite deliver on the same level, as the nut flavours weren't quite as pronounced. I would certainly have this bar again, but like the Clark bar above I don't think I will be choosing it over my favourite Reese's products anytime soon.

8.2 out of 10


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Cookies n' Cream Bites

Kcal 180 Fat 9.0g Fat(sats) 7.0g Carbs 28.0g (per 40.0g)
'Creamy white chocolatey balls with crumbled pieces of cookie'

I have to admit it was sad the completionist inside me which urged me to track down Taste of Nature's latest 'Cookies' carnation - these Cookies 'n Cream Bites. If you were reading the site back last year you will remember that I managed to review the entire Taste of Nature Cookie Dough Bites range (See HERE). These Cookies 'N Cream Bites came in a 113.0g box that contained dozens and dozens of bean sized pieces.

If you are really paying attention you will have noticed that in the product description the outer layer of this product came described as 'white chocolate flavoured' or 'white chocolatey' and not just 'white chocolate'. Of course this was due to the lack of cocoa butter in the ingredients prohibiting it being called 'chocolate'. After several mouthfuls of these I was still pretty clueless as to what the outer portion of these bites was adding to the taste. When chewed the cookie element came through decently enough delivering an Oreo cookie type flavour burst that was heavily sugar led in taste. What these bites needed though was a strong creamy outer white chocolate, but this was disappointingly lacking, with the exterior portion of each bite only providing a crunchy texture element to the experience but nothing in terms of taste.

Overall I was pretty disappointed with these as I felt the product concept was pretty strong. Looking back across my reviews, Taste of Nature have never really managed to light up the ChocolateMission scoring system, though there are definitely stronger offerings in their portfolio. If I was to recommend some alternatives I would suggest you look in the direction of either their Fudge Brownie or Mint Cookie Dough Bites. I didn't particularly enjoy these but I'm always looking to hear second opinions - be sure to leave yours!

6.4 out of 10


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Hershey's Symphony
Kcal 220 Fat 14.0g Fat(sats) 8.0g Carbs 23.0g (per 42.0g)
'Creamy milk chocolate with almonds and toffee chips'

This was a bar that I found in Selfridges, London, where I found it merchandised in their American chocolate section alongside some more Hershey's bars. At the time I thought it must have been a new offering from Hershey's, as I hadn't seen or heard about it before - not even on my fellow American chocolate bloggers websites. Although priced at £1.00 for just the 42.0g bar, I thought it would be worth a punt as the 'creamy milk chocolate with almonds and toffee' proposition sounded strong.

Speaking firstly about the presentation I thought the bar looked nice on the eye. The wrapper was made of a foil material and established a classical, suave like feel with it's manuscript themed design pattern. The inner bar was also relatively impressive looking, and the Hershey branded block showcased a good distribution of added nut and toffee pieces. This was something that came through texturally with crunchy pieces nicely contrasting the soft melting chocolate in each mouthful. Whilst creating an interesting and variable mouth feel, the added nut and toffee pieces were also wonderfully complimentary to the taste. I know I always go on about nuts being far better when implemented whole, but even chopped almond constituents here generated a decent amount of savoury nut butter flavours. I'm pleased to say that the toffee pieces were also similarly enhancing of the creamy chocolate, and they added intermittent bursts of burnt sugar flavours to what was a progressive and variable taste.

Overall I have to give this Hershey's Symphony bar a ChocolateMission thumbs up. Those worried about the Hershey's milk chocolate needn't worry themselves here, as this bar utilises their better 'creamy' recipe rather than their yogurt tangy aftertaste traditional milk chocolate. As you may have gathered I thought the nuts and toffee pieces were highly complimentary of the chocolate, and I liked the overall effect that had in both terms of taste and texture. This is a bar that will be enjoyed by fans of Daim, SKOR or Heath bar. I would buy it again.

8.0 out of 10


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Nestle Butterfinger Snackerz

Kcal 170 Fat 8.0g Fat(sats) 3.5g Carbs 17.0g (per 36.2g)
'Crisp bite-size candies with a Butterfinger-flavoured centre'

Rounding things off today we have one last peanut butter themed product, this time courtesy of our pals from Nestle and their Butterfinger range. Given that we are now being starved of peanut butter options here in the UK after the withdrawal of the Kit Kat Peanut last year, I'm always very keen to lay hands on any peanut butter flavoured products I can. Although none of the previous Butterfinger line-up have sparkled on the ChocolateMission rating system, this new format showed a good bit of promise.

These Butterfinger Snackerz came in a 36.2g bag that I duely ate all to myself as a mid-afternoon snack. The design work on the pack and overall presentation of the product was of a fair standard and was instantly detectable as being part of the Butterfinger range. When unsealed the foil packet released a delicious smelling array of peanutty sweet scents ... cue the end of all the positive things I have to say :D Yes indeed the fabulous aromas unfortunately masked what turned out to be a rather poor tasting product. Essentially each crispy wheat cereal piece was coated with a thin layer of waxy melting, sugary chocolate. As underwhelming as the chocolate was, the peanut butter flavoured candy fillings were even more disappointing, and they contributed more to the overwhelming taste of crystalised brown sugar rather than the desired nuttiness. One dimensional in taste and non-satisfying ... hmm!

Overall I would say that these are a poor extension of the Butterfinger range and the subsequent score reflects this. As I said above, although the standard bar isn't my favourite chocolate bar anyway, I felt these took the Butterfinger brand to an even greater low what with their flavourless chocolate, bland cereal and poor peanut butter centres. Unless you are a real Butterfinger nutter (see what I've done there!), I wouldn't recommend these.

5.4 out of 10

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