Monday, 28 February 2011

February 28th: Hershey Kit Kat (US)


If you are one of my dedicated readers you will be aware that I really enjoy looking at how one bar of chocolate can differ from country-to-country. Down the years I have done this with the likes of the Snickers bar, ongoingly with Cadbury Dairy Milk and of course with the renowned Nestle Kit Kat.

Having picked up on my fondest for country-on-country comparisons, ChocolateMission reader Paul sent me these Kit Kats that he sourced from the US. Before sampling them, I couldn't help myself but look at what other chocolate bloggers had said about the US Kit Kat - no surprises that Cybele's review over at CandyBlog (See HERE) was the most thorough and insightful ;) No doubt some of you may have been confused by the title of the post what with the 'Hershey' branding replacing the more commonly seen 'Nestle'. Well to clear this up in the most succinct manner let me hand over to Wikipedia ...

'Kit Kat bars in the United States are produced under licence by The Hershey Company, a Nestlé competitor, due to a prior licensing agreement with Rowntree.'

As of time of writing (February 2011), the US range currently consists of a Milk Chocolate, White Chocolate, Extra Crispy (Chunky) aswell as several seasonal lines. Being the generous chap he is, Paul sent me a one of each of the different bars.

As you can see by the photos the first noticeable difference from the UK bars was of course the wrappers (you can click in to the photos today to make them a little bigger!!). Aesthetically I thought they were pretty cool and I happened to think they conveyed a fresher, more modern look for the brand. Unzipped from their foil confines, both finger and chunky formats looked no different to their UK counterparts - you wouldn't have been able to tell one apart from the other.

So the taste test - how did they all fair!??


Well, unlike the UK bars where I genuinely cant pick a favourite between the Chunky & Finger format, I actually had greater fondness for the Hershey's Extra Crispy variety compared to it's finger equivalent. The main reason for this was because of the chocolate coating, as I found it was more reliant on it's sugar based flavours and wasn't as creamy as any of it's Nestle equivalents (UK, Japan, Australasia ... you name it!). Unfortunately this was something that only seemed to be more noticeable with the White Chocolate variant. Although the taste of the white chocolate had a stronger creamier taste initially, the sugar based flavours came with greater intensity as the chocolate melted. For my taste the white chocolate bar was too sweet, and not totally consumable in the one sitting without getting that throat scorching sensation. Ending on a more positive note, the Extra Crispy had a firmer, larger and ultimately more flavoursome wafer at it's heart - this format did prove to be my preferred one of them all.

Overall whilst must be stressed that Hershey have by no means taken the Kit Kat and done anything wrong with it whatsoever, I personally thought they weren't quite as their Nestle comparators. Stick the two bars in front of your average person and it is likely they wouldn't be able to tell them apart, as ultimately the differences between the two are pretty subtle. Speaking as a bit of a Kit Kat fanatic myself though, I couldn't help but pick up on the things I have gone into detail about above. To put it in to context it wouldn't be worth an American importing a UK Kit Kat based on a recommendation of superior taste, nor would make sense at all for a UK citizen to avoid these American versions because they aren't as good. Fundamentally they both provide that terrific Kit Kat experience.

Hershey Kit Kat Milk Chocolate - 42.0g
Kcal 210 Fat 11.0g Fat(sats) 7.0g Carbs 27.0g
7.5 out of 10

Hershey Kit Kat White Chocolate - 42.0g
Kcal 220 Fat 12.0g Fat(sats) 8.0g Carbs 27.0g
6.8 out of 10

Hershey Kit Kat Extra Crispy - 45.0g
Kcal 220 Fat 12.0g Fat(sats) 8.0g Carbs 29.0g
8.0 out of 10

Saturday, 26 February 2011

February 26/27th: '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - Edition 66

*** SITE UPDATE ***


Hi All,

It's been nearly a month since the last '7Days of Chocolate Reviews' - it sure has been a busy start to the year huh!?

This week you may have noticed that the site has got a new 'ChocolateMission News Page .... Chocolate Matters' --> See HERE.

Rather than having to wait until the end of the week to get your Chocolate news I will now be updating the page with the latest goings on in the Chocolate World as and when the news breaks. It would be great if you guys contribute stories and your views and opinions on the news - make sure you keep checking the site as it will be updated regularly.

I hope you enjoyed the reviews this week - if you haven't seen them you can find them here:

Thorntons Dessert Gallery ... (See HERE)
'Bits n Bobs' Japanese Superpost 2011 # 3 ... (See HERE)
Cadbury SpotsVStripes The Big Race ... See HERE

Next week we will have more chocolates from Thorntons, a 'Bits n Bobs' review and a special Ritter feature.

Have a great weekend

JIM


*** Posts from other blogs I enjoyed this week ***


* The Impulsive Buy - Stephanie from the TIB team got stuck in to the awesome sounding Häagen-Dazs Limited Edition Blueberry Crumble ... See HERE

* Candyblog - Cybele posted her review of one of the most exciting candy bars coming out in America in 2011, the Twix Coconut ... See HERE

* GiGi Reviews - Chocolate pudding that gets one of GiGi's coveted '11 out of 10' ratings - Temptations by Jell-O: French Silk Pie, obviously a must try for you Yanks ... See HERE

* FoodetteReviews - Since when have Dominoes been genetically modifying poultry to not have bones :D Domino's New Boneless Chicken Wings with Mango Habanero Dipping Sauce ... See HERE

* Brand Eating - There isn't enough money in the world to make me eat one of these ready meals - Hungry Man Home-style Meatloaf ... See HERE

* Foodstufffinds - Liz at FFF managed to come across the cheekiest flavour of crisps ever - Seabrook Jacket Potato With Creamy Butter ... See HERE

* Rodzilla Reviews - Roddy looks like he has his hands full trying out three new B&J's flavours. See his first one - Ben & Jerry's Red Velvet Cake ... See HERE

Friday, 25 February 2011

February 25th: Thorntons Dessert Gallery

I don't think there can be any further accusations of me not reviewing enough Thorntons products - already in 2011 I have reviewed three of their selection boxes (Classic See HERE, Premium See HERE, Continental See HERE), and today sees me finally fulfil several reader requests by giving their Dessert Gallery selection a crack at the ChocolateMission rating system.

Judging by the price, this Dessert Gallery should be perceived as being on the same product quality tier as the Continental Selection. When it came to the product presentation, packaging and chocolate craft, I thought this was consistent, and I liked the aesthetic design work of both the box and chocolates, which looked suitably more premium than some of the lower priced Thorntons products featured earlier in the year on the site. The selection came described as 'a collection of dessert inspired chocolates' and 'an assortment of milk, dark & white chocolates'. All eight pieces were portioned twice within the 215.0g box and were easily identifiable through the classy menu featured in the box.

Almond Torte - On the menu this was a chocolate that promised 'shortcake pieces with in it's praline centre' though both proved to be MIA from what I tasted. Despite over promising on it's contents, the milk chocolate cream centre was still tasty, and the wholenut almond topping at least brought the nut element to the taste. It over promised, but it was still a fair tasting chocolate. Standard.

Creme Brulee - Due to their being four of us taste testing, and only two chocolates of each flavour, there were a few arguments as to who got to taste this one as it was universally regarded as the most appealing on the menu. Taste wise I personally thought it was a little disappointing as the wealth of Demera sugar placed on top was portioned too greatly and subsequently dominated the cream based flavours of the centre. Texturally it was spot on, but the flavours were unbalanced. Standard.

Lemon Meringue - Easily the best chocolate in the box. This one not only looked stunning visually, but it backed it up when it came to the taste, with the sweetness of the white chocolate beautifully contrasted by the cream and tart, sour lemon centre. Texture wise the crunchy meringue and thin biscuit layers created the dessert experience wonderfully. I could eat a whole lot of these. Superb.

Tiramisu - This was another piece that over promised and under delivered. Promising 'lashings of brandy, mascarpone, coffee and Italian amarretti', what I actually tasted would be what I would describe as milk chocolate with a very musty, light hint of coffee. This was one of the chocolates I was most looking forward to trying, but it woefully let me down. Poor.

Toffee Mousse - Being an avid toffee lover this was quickly snapped up my by father who subsequently demanded I give it a good rating. His evaluation of it was that whilst the outer dark chocolate could have been thicker, the toffee element was integrated very well with both the crunchy toffee pieces and liquid toffee centre providing a solid buttery caramel taste. I wish I had got one! Very Good.

Kirsch Torte - I don't know if it was just the colour but my mother and sister were both drawn to this chocolate so we will going by their judgement here. Although not quite as enjoyed by sister due to it's sweetness, my mother thought the layers of brittle marzipan and cherry sugar complimented the sour, boozie flavours of the Kirsch filling very well and gave it a big thumbs up. Both commented the chocolate should have been thicker - this was a common thing mentioned about all the 'cup' chocolates. Good.

Summer Fruit Pudding - Not only was this chocolate visually imposing, but it actually tasted nice to :D The red jelly topping was by all means superb as a unique mouth feel experience, though it was soft fruity filling below that delivered the delightful real tasting raspberry flavour burst taste wise. This had the look of 'gimmick' written all over it, but it was sensational chocolate. Superb.

Double Chocolate Pot - From the great to the downright average. If any chocolate in any selection could ever be accused as being a 'filler' offering this has to be it. Whilst the chocolate in my photograph above would go a long way to suggest this piece would of had dark and milk chocolate influences, the taste proved to be totally non-progressive, and it lacked any of the clever textural elements of many of the other chocolates in the box. Sometimes you get those chocolates that you wish manufactures hadn't bothered including - this was one of them. This wasn't an offensive piece, but it was an unnecessary one. Standard.


Overall this Dessert Gallery selection delivered a largely consistent sort of experience than the Continental box in that it was a mixture of both high and low quality. As you will have determined from the ratings awarded above, it was surprisingly the fruit flavoured desserts that came off best, with both the Lemon Meringue and Summer Fruit Pudding living up to stunning aesthetic appeal with their stunning real tasting fruity experiences. Unfortunately like most Thorntons selections (I'm not saying they are alone in their guilt of this!!), the Dessert Gallery also featured some pretty drab offerings, most notably the Double Chocolate Pot and Tiramisu pieces which were almost mirror images of each other flavour wise. If you were to push me towards suggesting either the Continental selection or this Dessert Gallery over one or another, I would edge towards the Continental selection as there were just one or two more chocolates in that selection that were to my liking. Having tried a fair deal of these Thorntons selections now it would appear that they can't compete with the likes of Hotel Chocolat consistently on quality, but price comparator wise, at roughly half the cost they are worth considering.

7.8 out of 10


Wednesday, 23 February 2011

February 23rd: 'Bits n Bobs' Japanese Superpost 2011 # 3



Last months Meiji superpost (See HERE) went down a storm and got you guys requesting even more Japanese chocolate reviews. Being the nice guy he is, Peter from J-list didn't want to disappointment ChocolateMission readers, and he sent across another few products that myself and the rest of my family tried out this weekend. Featuring today, the highly sought after Nestle Kit Kat Strawberry Cake make an appearance alongside two more Meiji manufactured options. As requested last week, I have endeavoured to include at least one product that at least looks like it has the potential to poison me :D

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Kit Kat Strawberry Cake
Kcal 69 Fat 4.0g Carbs 7.7g (per Mini bar)

Normally I like to designate whole posts to the latest Kit Kat flavours out in Japan but todays was so similar to a previously reviewed variant I thought I should just bundle it in with the rest today. Indeed this Strawberry Cake flavoured Kit Kat came as a very similar proposition to the Kit Kat Sparkling Strawberry I reviewed back in March 2010 (See HERE). The cake proposition platform did provoke intrigue, but I wasn't naive enough to think that it was ever going to be groundbreaking.

I recieved these Kit Kat Strawberry Cake in a 'Mini' format so I was able to dish out the 12.3g bars amongst my family. Aesthetically everyone was happy with the product in hand - the on pack pictures of the cakes clearly signified the flavour variant, and the small sized bars looked cute on the eye with light pink colouring. Unfortunately this is where the praise ends. The aritifical strawberry smells were very indicative of the horrible fake tasting strawberry experience that followed. In a nutshell the taste was wholey dominated by these chemically sugar intensive flavours - not a single one person on my taste panel had a decent word to say about the strawberry element. Younger consumers may be more appreciative of these, but I wont be recommending them to anyone, anytime soon.

5.7 out of 10


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Meiji Rich Matcha Chocolate Box
Kcal 177 Fat 11.9g Carbs 15.9g (per 30.0g box)

I got sent so many products from my Bits n Bobs Meiji post last week that I had to rollover a few of the products into this weeks Bits n Bobs edition. If you are one of those people that have been reading the site for the last few years you might be aware that I have reviewed both the product format and product chocolate in some sort of guise before. It was only a few weeks ago that I reviewed another variant from this the Meiji Rich Chocolate Box format (See Meiji Rich Strawberry Chocolate Box HERE), whilst back in March 2010 I reviewed the Meiji Rich Matcha Chocolate (See HERE). Today was all about seeing what we got when we put these two things together.

Like the Kit Kats above, the box format allowed me to taste test these amongst my family so once photography was completed I again served these up to all that were willing to try. I say all that were willing, as certain family member *ahem* my wimpy sister *ahem* physically couldn't bring herself to taste the green coloured chocolate - the presentation alone was enough to 'turn her stomach'. The rest of us braved out the experience and not surprisingly the 52.0% matcha chocolate closely matched my experience with it before. The green tea taste was established from the outset and no one was doubting that the herby, grassy noted flavours weren't delivered on. There was universal dissastifaction however in the form of the aftertaste with everyone voicing displeasure at the bitter tea flavours left in the mouth. For a totally authentic Japense chocolate experience look no further - I can't promise it will give you the greatest levels of enjoyment or satisfaction though.

6.0 out of 10


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Meiji Meltykiss Rum & Raisin Chocolate
Kcal 328 Fat 21.8g Carbs 28.6g (per 60.0g box)

Making their sixth ChocolateMission appearance in little under two weeks, Meiji round off our third Japanese Superpost today with their Rum & Raisin Chocolate. Just proving the point further that Meiji are just totally random when it comes to the format and styling of their products, these thin mini chocolate bars came described as 'individually wrapped chocolate mini slabs, with rum and raisin flavor' - nothing like anything I had tried from them before. You may have picked up that Meiji have a great talent for presenting their products beautifully, as was the case here, but one thing is for sure, I have given up trying to guess what their products will look like.

Unsealing the chocolates from their mini foil packets a pleasant array of rum and sweet chocolate scents set the mood nicely for the taste that followed. These chocolates were made of three distinct layers, which each contributed an interesting textural element to consumption (god that sounds geeky!). The outer crisp shell of milk chocolate, and inner softer chocolate truffle were similar tasting and established the familiar sweet, creamy Meltykiss chocolate experience. The real explosion of flavour came from the raisins contained within, and they established a pleasant amount of mouth feel heat and short sharp burst of spiced alcohol fruit flavours. The interplay of the textures was nice, however it would have been all the better had inner truffle chocolate been infused with the rum aswell as the fruit. These chocolates would fall comfortably in that category of 'nice but not worth the import costs alone'.

7.4 out of 10

Monday, 21 February 2011

February 21st: Cadbury SpotsVStripes The Big Race

Kcal 265 Fat 15.1g Fat(sats) 8.0g Carbs 29.3g (per 50.0g bar)

On your marks ... Get set ... GO!!! Phase 2 of Cadbury's SpotsVStripes campaign starts today with the National launch of the Cadbury SpotsVStripes The Big Race bar. Last week I was approached by the Cadbury's SpotsVStripes Twitter feed team, who asked me if I wanted a sneak preview of this latest 'The Big Race' project. Of course I didn't turn them down, and just a few days later I was the recipetent of a jam packed press release pack containing: 3 x 'The Big Race' bars, 1 x pen, 1 x SpotsVStripes playing cards, 2 x bookmarks and lastly a wad of papers containing all the information I needed to know about 'The Big Race' campaign (so I thought).
So what is 'The Big Race' all about then? Well to be totally honest with you, despite the wealth of documentation included in my PR pack, I still don't 100% know. From what I can gather, each Big Race bar includes a code on the inside of the wrapper that you have to enter at www.spotsvsstripes.com/bigrace. This is unfortunately where details get a bit sketchy - 'Who's the fastest? Race for your team using the code inside the wrapper' is the single bit of information given on the wrapper. I'll save you all from my marketing spiel about how this ambiguity wont prompt your average consumer to take part in this competition, for my response to your comments.

Lets talk about more important things - 'The Big Race' bar itself! Described as 'Crispy wafer with cocoa creme and biscuit pieces with Cadbury milk chocolate', it at least sounded like a totally new bar for the UK market and credit must be given to Cadbury for making something a lot more interesting than their first Cadbury SpotsVStripes offering. Praise must also be given to Cadbury for not skimping on the size of the bar, which was a sizeable 50.0g despite it's heavy wafer constituents. Taking the bar out of it's wrapper, my mind was immediatedly cast back to my experience with the Cadbury Tokke (a bar I bought from Spain - See HERE). The unbranded, single piece bar didn't strike me as being British made, indeed a quick check of the wrapper revealed the words 'made in the EU for Cadbury Bournville, Birmingham' (NOTE: Currently awaiting information from SpotsVsStripes as to where it was made).
You may have already picked up on the absence of the words 'Dairy Milk' so far in this review, and unfortunately I can confirm that for the second SpotsVStripes bar it was once again MIA. The chocolate that coated the bar was instantly recogniseable as Cadbury with it's sugary, milky taste, but again one couldn't help but be disappointed with the lacking cream based taste and thick textural feel of Cadbury's lead recipe. On a more positive note, the textural interplay of the four core constituents - the outer chocolate, wafer, cocoa cream and biscuit pieces, was delightful and made for an interesting variety of mouth feel sensations. Flavourwise I was hoping for a little more from both the wafer and cocoa creme layers, as they only added minor notes of malt and sugar respectivelly. There was however, a far more telling contribution from the small biscuit pieces which offered the desired flavour progression in the form of some buttery shortcake flavour bursts.

Overall whilst this bar is undoubtedly superior compared to the first SpotsVStripes offering, it is one that I feel could have been made even better with just a few minor adaptations. The lack of Dairy Milk chocolate is a particular sore point for me. The last couple of new Cadbury products I have tried recently have been lacking Cadbury's leading chocolate recipe, and I really hope this isn't a trend that will continue in the future - just give us your best chocolate guys!!! Another slight disappointment for me were the layers of wafer, which have to be said were not only light in texture, but also light in the flavour department. The things that I think the bar did well were that although not being Dairy Milk, the Cadbury chocolate was still altogether tasty and the biscuit pieces ensured that the overall taste was at least progressive to some degree. As far as the total 'The Big Race' campagin goes I will have to reserve judgement until I can fully scope out the construct of the project. Now it's over to you guys - what do you make of 'The Big Race'? Most importantly what do you make of the bar? I would love to hear your thoughts.

7.8 out of 10

Friday, 18 February 2011

ChocolateMission Awards 2010

Ladies, Gentlemen, and Chocoholics from all over the world ... It's finally time for ....



Below are my handpicked selections from the most memorable of the products I reviewed in 2010, and also the all important READERS CHOICE AWARD 2010 that you guys all picked yourselves. Without further hesitancy lets dish some snazzy looking award banners out to the winners ...

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I don't think anyone will be surprised by the winner of this award - I don't think any bookies would have even given you odds :D Lets not let some of the other stinkers get away quite so easily though - lets not forget the dismal showings from a very suspect Ador Mocha Oat Bar, Nestle;s Black Magic Classic Favourites and even the Thorntons' Raspberry Burst.

As bad as those all were there could only be one winner though ...

Le Whif (Breatheable Chocolate)

These chocolate inhalers were really something to behold - not only did they induce near death coughing fits, they also managed to taste disgusting and cost an absolute bomb. I'll save you the full marketing mix analysis, but these were incredibly bad!

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Looking back across my selection box reviews there were some very memorable chocolate collections, and honourable mentions must go to the Lindt Swiss Luxury Collection, Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Everything Selection and Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Egg Box Selection.

There can only be one winner though, and that winner is ...


Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection

This was a masterful selection of chocolates that combined variety and great, seasonal tasting options. It attracted a lot of votes in the Readers Awards, and is well worthy of being crowned Selection Box of 2010.

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This is one of my favourite awards as I think it gives the truest reflection of what product is really deserving of some mass acclaim i.e. not just based on what I think :D . In fact I can reveal I received nearly 1000 votes picking the winner for this award (Twitter and the offer of FREE chocolate helped alot with that one would assume haha!) and there were several different 2010 reviews suggested. There was one distinct winner, but I must pass mention to the likes of Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection, Lindt Petits Desserts Tiramisu, Chocri 'Jim's Fruit & Nut / American Creations' and several different Pocky reviews, as these products all recieved a vast amount of votes.

One brand really caught the imagination of ChocolateMission readers this year though, and it came as no surprise to me that it was a Heavenly Cakes product that won. Counting up the votes it was a very tight run thing between several of the Heavenly Cakes range but the eventual winner was ...


Heavenly Cakes Marathon Flapjack

Yes the Marathon Flapjack beat off tough competition to win the title of Readers Choice 2010. If you are one of the readers that voted for this review, but still haven't indulged yourself in a slice yet, I strongly suggest you do. It really is as good as you think it will be!

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Out of all the categories this is probably the most ambiguous, questionable, debatable ... say what you will. In 2010 I was near writing a review a day, sampling just as many chocolates to keep up with the hectic pace. As you can imagine, things get a little same old, same old, so every now and then I always appreciate a product that really shakes things up, even if they don't end up setting the ChocolateMission leaderboard ablaze.

With that in my mind you will understand why I haven't handed this award to the likes of Galler or Hotel Chocolat - I expect good quality from these guys given their premium proposition. From all my reviews in 2010, the one product that genuinely surprised me was ...

Zotter Coffee Plum with Caramelised Bacon

If you were a dedicated reader throughout 2010, you will have seen that my experiments with bacon and chocolate weren't always successful (Chocri Jim's American Creation) but Zotter really pulled it out the bag here. This Zotter Coffee Plum with Caramelised Bacon was nothing other than delicious. The saltiness of the bacon, the sweetness of the caramel and the delightful outer chocolate made this a chocolate to behold and exceeded my expectations by a factor of ten. I don't for one minute think it is a chocolate that everyone will enjoy, but I would strongly recommend you at least give it a chance.

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In 2010 we had several new products come to market - way too many for me try and mention in this small round-up paragraph. The ones that stick out in my mind personally were the launches of the Cadbury Dairy Bar of Plenty, Galaxy Orange & Shortcake, Cadbury Dairy Milk Bliss, Twix Fino ... the list could go on forever.

One brand however, innovated constantly throughout the year, and most importantly did so with a high degree of quality throughout. Indeed Ritter Sport struck gold with several of their 'new' bars this year. The Ritter Sport Winter-Kreations and Ritter Sport Summer 2010 offerings were fine examples of them at the best. There can only be one winner though ....


Ritter Sport Espresso

My favourite new product of 2010 has to the Ritter Sport Espresso. This bar was everything I wanted it to be, and I'm constantly nagging the Ritter team over in Germany to start selling it here in the UK

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I'm sure it will come as little surprise to you that the category of Misc Product of year is dominated by one company in particular. Indeed, the emergence of Heavenly Cakes this year might mean that some of the following may be a distant memory to you all - Marks & Spencer Milk Chocolate & Caramel Layered Cookies, Thorntons Mini Caramel Flapjacks and the Flipz Double-Dipped Peanut Butter & Chocolate

The winner however could only have come from Heavenly Cakes, and with great difficulty I have managed to narrow the winner down to ...


Heavenly Cakes Billionaires Cakes

'Belgian milk chocolate brownies, covered with rich caramel & Belgian milk chocolate with white chocolate drops' ... just look at the photo, need I say anymore?
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Time for the big one!!! Like many of you, I had great difficulty picking my 'Best Overall Product 2010'. Looking back across the year I was tempted to go for so many. Heavenly Cakes were by all means a complete revelation for the site this year, as were several of the Galler offerings that I tried. Other products of note were of course the Ritter Sport Espresso, Hotel Chocolat's The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection, L'Artisan du Chocolat No.1 Sea Salted Caramels .... trust me the list could go on forever and I will no doubt have missed something out.

The winner of the award this year has to go to a product that I think represents the tablestakes of ChocolateMission - pure chocolate that can be appreciated by the masses. My 'Best Overall Product 2010' award goes to ... *drumroll* ...

...

..

.


Galler Heritage Lait Pleine Saveur

This may surprise a few, but I genuinely thought this was an outstanding product. In my review I said: "milk chocolate simply doesn't get much better than this Galler Heritage Lait Pleine Saveur .... one of the tastiest milk chocolates I have ever reviewed". Having bought it again several times since I still firmly stand by those judgements and I cant recommend it enough to anyone who has an appreciation for finer chocolates. Congratulations to Galler - Bring on 2011!!

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So there you have it guys and girls, the awards are dished out for another year. Please feel free to share any thoughts or opinions on the winners, the ones I missed out etc etc. Your feedback is always very welcome.

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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