December 17th: Bits n Bobs - Jim's Christmas 2011 Guide Part # 2

Hi All,

I think you all probably know the drill by now for my Christmas Guides. Below you will find mini reviews of some of the Festive offerings we have this year. Not all of them come recommended, but hopefully I can give you a good steer as to what is about on the market this year ....

N.B. Please contact me via Twitter if needs be @ChocMission - please do not attempt to leave comments on this post.

Heavenly Cakes Cinnamon Shortbread

Lets face it, the Christmas cakes from Heavenly this year have been ... well .. Heavenly!! Everything from the Christmas Crimbo Crumble (See HERE) to the Midnight Mint Brownie (See HERE) - it's all been excellent and the scores have been high across the board. One of their Christmas cakes that might have been overlooked however, is their Cinnamon Shortbread. With all the hype and excitement of the new Crimbo and Chocolate Christmas Cake slices, I'm sure a number of you will have overlooked this plainer biscuity offering. Indeed, the Cinnamon Shortbread may be a little less 'Showy' that the other cakes this year, but believe me it's every bit as tasty. Alongside a warm mug of milky tea this was quite simply a divine, crumbly butter biscuit that with it's slightly spiced cinnamon flavour edge created both a warming and comforting Christmassy feel when consumed. This is one of the cakes that is well worth adding to an order to take you over the £20.00 mark for that free delivery offer.

8.2 out of 10

Mr Kipling Chocolate & Orange Whirls
Kcal 138 Fat 8.1g Fat(sats) 3.2g Carbs 14.9g (per Whirl)

Mr Kipling may be hanging on to the pinny-tails of one @BettyBakes, but lets face it, this old man is catering for much larger mass market audience than our Betty. What with all the increased competition from the likes of Burton's and McVitie's flooding the shelves with festive options, Mr K hasn't exactly been shy himself this Christmas and has supplied us all with several Christmas themed cakes and slices. Indeed, alongside the Frosty Fancies (See HERE), we have this year got ourselves these Chocolate & Orange Whirls - 'chocolate shortcake fancies filled with orange flavoured buttercream and chocolate sauce'. On the eyes and ears they looked and sounded a lovely prospect so I was pleased when they also tasted pretty lovely too. The weakest part of these was definitely the shortcake due to it's dry texture, but even was fast forgotten upon revelation of the chocolate sauce and orange buttercream layers. Combined these brought rich chocolatey, sweet smooth fondant orange flavours to the party and made for a a reassuringly unique and satisfying taste. I hope these don't get lost in the crowd too much this year, I hope they return next as my safe cheap cake offering.

8.0 out of 10

Hotel Chocolat Petits Cheesecakes

The 'Old Man' went a bit photo happy with this one here, but I'm sure not many of you will be complaining about that :D New to the Hotel Chocolat range this Christmas time, this four pack of chocolates cost £6.50 and they came beautifully presented in a very twee looking box. Comprising of Mango & Peach (Superb), Caramel (Superb), Chocolate (Very Good) and Raspberry (Very Good) cheesecake offerings this was a mini box providing both variety and sensational tasting chocolates. Hotel Chocolat have a fantastic pedigree when it comes to their fruity chocs, and things were no different here with the Mango & Peach white chocolate proving to a firm favourite with my Mother. The Caramel Cheesecake was the pick of the bunch for me - I'm sure that will surprise none of you :D In truth all four of the chocolates in the pack were spot on flavour wise and could be seen as 'star attractions' in any given box of chocolates. Stocking filler a-go-go!!!

8.8 out of 10

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McVitie's Temptations Digestive Mint Slice
Kcal 152 Fat 7.7g Fat(sats) 3.9g Carbs 19.1g

After reviewing my first lot of McVitie's Temptations offerings in my first Christmas Guide I couldn't help but feel the need to try another variety from the range when confronted with the opportunity. This chance came about when I was confronted by a huge display in my local Tesco, which had the entirety of the new Temptations range on a BOGOF/£1.00 introductory offer - it was time to fill my boots. As aforementioned last week it was refreshing to see a manufacture this time of year produce some new product development without feeling the need to slap a picture of Santa/Rudolph on the front :D No, these Digestive Mint Slices just came in individual plastic wrappers and in sensible sized 32.0g servings. Taste wise I think these have the potential to split folk down the middle. The chocolate was certainly nothing to write home about, but the raisin enhanced flapjack base was pretty tasty and had a pleasant butter noted oatyness to it. What I think might split people down the middle was the subtle hint of mint present throughout. It enhanced the dull chocolate nicely, though I thought it was a little unnatural paired with the raisins. All in all these were fair, but with all the tasty treats around this Christmas time I probably wont be buying these again soon.

7.0 out of 10