Saturday, 31 December 2011

December 31st: Three Years ......

Three Years and it's time for a break folks!!

Indeed after three long (chocolate filled) years I'm going to have to unfortunately change the general running of this site. At the back end of 2011 you may have noticed that my updating of the site was become less frequent. Apologies for not being clear but there were many things going on at the time - without giving you my life story I have got myself a new job, new flat etc. All these changes are happening right now so I will have to dedicate a great amount of time adjusting to these new demands.

So I guess you are asking how this effects the site?

Well for the time being the site will:

* Have one post a week (minimum)
* Be running with comments disabled (due to the amount of spam being received)

During peak holiday times e.g. Valentines Day, Easter, Christmas etc the site will no doubt be a lot more active, but for the time being you will notice things will be scaled back.

Thank you for all the support - I hope you continue to read the site and don't forget you can get hold of me via Twitter @ChocMission. The Jim's ChocolateMission beast isn't dead ... just hibernating :D

JIM

Thursday, 29 December 2011

December 29th: 'Bits n Bobs' Hungarian Chocolate Collection


Before things get underway today I must express a big thank you to JCM reader/contributor Thea who sent over these wonderful chocolates from Hungary for me to try. These today are my first ever Hungarian chocolate reviews so please bare with me as my knowledge on the brands and chocolates involved ranges from clueless to non-existent :D Thea was so kind to send a right old variety.

N.B. Please contact me via Twitter if needs be @ChocMission - please do not attempt to leave comments on this post.
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Stuhmer ChocolatesIf their brand logo is anything to go by Stuhmer chocolate has to be one of the oldest brands in the world hailing all the way back to 1868. A little research via my friend google revealed that: (warning history lesson inbound!!).

'The biggest chocolate factory of Hungary was founded in 1868 by a confectioner named Frigyes Stuhmer ... In 1883 he built a steam-working chocolate factory with this the mass-production of chocolate was estabilished in Hungary ... The secret of his success was the fact that the Stuhmer company was able to produce products for a wide range of consumers at a lower price, but this cheaper products were also made with such a great care that they became well-know in a very short time ... After his death in 1890 his successors managed the factory, which became obsolete and much less competitive to the beginning of the 20th century. In 1907 dr. Geza Stuhmer, St¨1hmer's younger son took over the governance of the plant and started rescuing it.'

Nowadays the brand appears to be much refined in terms of range, with other more mass targeted brands (more on them later!) taking the lionshare of the market. Stuhmer does however still have a few bars in market, and it appears that they try to differentiate their chocolate through some wonderfully vintage styled packaging. Both the bars below were presented beautifully - see what I made of the chocolate:Stuhmer Tejcsokolade
Kcal 560 Fat 36.2g Carbs 51.2g (per 100.0g)

This milk chocolate was a 33.0% recipe that contained no more than six standard ingredients. Taste wise it reminded me a lot of Moser Roth German chocolate in that it had a smooth milky, sweet cocoa flavour delivery. It wasn't quite as definable, rich or full bodied as Lindt's extra creamy milk chocolate, but it was getting there and satisfied me enough to keep reaching back for another block. Texturally it came across a little chalky and lazy in pace to melt, however these were by no means experience ruining. Overall a fair standard milk chocolate.

7.5 out of 10

Stuhmer Etcsokolade
Kcal 486 Fat 32.9g Carbs 40.1g (per 100.0g)

This was I guess the more adventurous out of the two Stuhmer bars I tried and was billed as 'dark chocolate with candied orange peel'. Like the milk chocolate above, the melt and pace of the chocolate texture wise was a little dry and unspectacular, though like the milk chocolate it was decent enough when it came to the bar taste. The 70.0% dark chocolate was underpowered in terms of taste for it's strength but the non-bitter cocoa flavours were a decent enough back setting for the orange peel which brought pleasant sweet fruit bursts very so often. Again it was nowhere near the standards of Lindt's Orange Intense chocolate, but it was fair nonetheless.

7.1 out of 10


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Boci Sargabarackos-KekszesBoci Sargabarackos-Kekszes
Kcal 541 Fat 31.6g Carbs 56.5g (per 100.0g)

It probably would have been easier hacking in to Microsoft's mainframe than it was finding out any information about this Nestle owned brand Boci. After much internet trawling I finally came across this:

'...in 1992, The Wall Street Journal Europe reported that Nestle promptly acquired three factories and invested 20 million Swiss francs (US$ 13.4 million) in Hungary. One of the factories Nestlé acquired produced a highly popular local chocolate called Boci (little cow). Nestlé sought to capitalize on the strength of the Boci name, and decided to create a more premium chocolate by replacing the smoky taste of Boci with the taste of Swiss milk chocolate. When Nestlé launched the new Boci chocolate, complete with a redesign of the communist-era packaging and a premium price tag, sales plunged. Boci and other Hungarian brands suffered from an anti-communist backlash as consumers were eager to get their hands on the new Western products.' .... oh dear Nestle :D

Thankfully I did my research after I tasted the bar, so my opinions weren't swayed with expectations of a more premium smoky taste. What I experienced was a product that reminded me of Milka chocolate, with everything from the style of packaging and taste pretty closely aligned to the German alternative. Taste wise, the chocolate had a mild set of milky, cocoa flavours that were livened up no end by the enhancing 'apricot and biscuit' pieces on offer here. The fruit and biscuit influences were very well integrated here, creating true and real tasting apricot flavour licks and a delightful crumbly biscuit interplay to the texture. As a fan of Milka chocolate this was a chocolate I enjoyed and I would suggest this would a similar experience for like minded people.

7.7 out of 10


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Tibi Premium 70%Tibi Premium 70%
Kcal 599 Fat 40.5g Carbs 41.8g (per 100.0g)

Last and well .. least :D we have this Tibi Premium 70% chocolate. Again acquiring information on Tibi wasn't the easiest, though I did manage to come across this basic background information:

'The production of Tibi chocolate began in 1941, in Vágóhíd street, Budapest. Tibi was named after the grandson of the founder and thus it started its successful history in 1942. Tibi chocolate is available in 100.0g packages, with 16 different kinds of tibi chocolate available according to your taste. It is a range that is supplemented in the different periods of the year with seasonal products as well.'

Sound familiar!? Indeed yet another Milka style brand. Described as 'Fine dark chocolate', I was unconvinced by the packaging, which appeared to be trying to have it's feet in two camps, promoting a mass consumer brand, but with a premium style dark chocolate - it didn't work for me. This confusion as to what it wanted to be became even more apparent upon taste testing, as the strongly billed 70.0% cocoa bar frankly tasted sweeter than any dark chocolate I think I've had previously. To my surprise the non-bitter initial cocoa flavours became increasingly diluted as a strong brown sugar note developed along with the development of the melt. This wasn't a poor tasting chocolate by any means, but for a 70.0% bar suggest a 'fine dark chocolate' experience it was really nothing of the sort.

6.5 out of 10


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Well that's all the Hungarian chocolates I have for you today folks. Thanks again to Thea for making this possible and sending me across these chocolates. They may not have been the highest scoring chocolates ever featured on the site, but they were immensely enjoyable to research and taste.

Sunday, 25 December 2011

December 25th: Happy Christmas


Happy Christmas everybody!!! I hope you all have a great day filled with chocolatey treats.



JIM

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

December 21st: Bits n Bobs - Jim's Christmas 2011 Guide Part # 3

We are down to the last few days before Christmas now! Here are my final few tips on what you should be treating everyone to this year.

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

ONLINE - There is still time to get your orders in. Check out the reviews and then get them in quick folks!!!

Hotel Chocolat - Reviews HERE

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Delivered chocolate gifts from Hotel Chocolat


J-List - Reviews HERE



Heavenly Cakes - Reviews HERE



American Soda - Reviews HERE


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HIGHSTREET - If you are going really last minute (that's the fun way to do it!!) then you might be interested in these Hightstreet options.

Marks & Spencer (£0.75 per item) - M&S have several little bits and pieces in their range this year. Below you will see chocolate coins (and bills!!), an aerated chocolate Santa and even a caramel filled chocolate Santa. Admittedly the chocolate isn't the best quality going but all these are good as stocking fillers.

Milka (£4.00) - I've unfortunately missed out on the Milka seasonal limited editions this Christmas (Booo!!), but I've still got time to send you in the direction of their Milka Minis Collection. It features some of their best flavours including the 'Cream', 'Hazelnut', 'Milk' and even the almighty 'Daim' variety. A box full of these would be a welcome addition to anyone's Christmas haul. Milka reviews HERE

Galaxy (£3.00) - There's plenty of Galaxy offerings out there this Christmas but if I had to pick one I would go for a box of these Galaxy Promises. They come in 'Truffle' or 'Caramel' varieties - I would suggest the latter but that's just my own personal preference. As each are individually wrapped these could be used for decorative purposes e.g. in cards, stockings etc.
Galaxy Promises Review HERE


American Foods - If you are lucky enough to live near one of the American food importer stores you might want to consider putting together a package of your dear ones favourite American foodstuffs. Take a look at the package I put together for someone this year!
(American Soda are based in Greater Manchester HERE)
..... and if all else fails ... Cadbury & Nestle - If you are really at the peril of budget/time constraints then why not just plump for these classics. The Nestle Smarties milk chocolate Penguin, Nestle Milkybar Cow and Cadbury Wishes Star - all available for £1.99 each or likely on a 2 for £3.00 in a supermarket near you. Affordable, easily accessible and tasty. A safe last resort.

Monday, 19 December 2011

December 19th: Last Orders - Ladies and Gentlemen !

I'm sure you are all like me and are counting down the days until the big time Christmas Festivities. I thought I would use the time today to showcase some of the delightful stuff sent my way by some of the site sponsors. The time for ordering from these guys is drawing in to close, so be sure to get those last cheeky ones in .... we wouldn't want anyone to go without a present now would we :D

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


Hotel Chocolat - These Stylish, ribbon-tied Christmas crackers will be present at the JCM family Christmas Dinner this year. Yes even Hotel Chocolat aren't adverse to god awful jokes and silly hats :D At least you know the chocolate will be good :D Order HERE

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Delivered chocolate gifts from Hotel Chocolat

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J-List - These guys have been sending me crazy things all year round, and just in time for Christmas they have restocked their stocks of local Kit Kat flavours. One of the these is the Kit Kat Green Matcha (Review HERE), a surprisingly tasty green tea flavoured incarnation of our favourite wafer snack. If you are looking for a confection gift that is a little different from normal I would head to J-List. Order HERE


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AmericanSoda - If Western treats and snacks are more your thing then you will want to be heading to our friends over at AmericanSoda. These guys have all manner of different American foodstuffs including all your favourite Reese's, Hershey's etc Just recently they sent me some of the latest Taste of Nature Cookie Dough Bite flavours (Past Reviews HERE) that I took round a mates house for watching a film. Both these packs got gobbled in minutes - addictive doesn't quite do them justice (especially the Cinnamon Bun flavour!!). Order HERE


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Heavenly Cakes - Last but by no means least I better not forget Heavenly Cakes. @BettyBakes is still working hard cooking up batches of all the cakes I've shown you in the last few weeks (See HERE). Need I remind you that they have some other absolutely gorgeous cakes (Marathon Flapjack pictured!!) .... no probably not! Heavenly Cakes have you covered for cakes this year folks! Order HERE

Saturday, 17 December 2011

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.
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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


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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


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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

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

December 14th: Hotel Chocolat Classic Christmas H-Box Selection (2011)


Delivered chocolate gifts from Hotel Chocolat

Over the past three years I've been treated to many Hotel Chocolat Christmas themed selections including:

*Hotel Chocolat Sparkling Stars Caramels (See HERE),
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Hotel Chocolat The H-Box Christmas Selection Without Alcohol (See HERE)
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Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection (See HERE)

Well quelle surprise they have updated and refreshed their Classic Christmas Selection for 2011. Below you will see what I made of all the new flavours.

Before I give you my verdict on some of the new chocolates in the collection this year, it's only right that I inform you of some of the 'old school' favourites that retained their places. Above there you can see (from left-to-right) Simple Milk Truffle, House Praline, Rum Ingot, Caramel Chocolate Baubel, Mulled Wine, Champagne Truffle and a Salted Caramel Dome. I suggest if you want to see remind yourself of how they all faired, you check out the older reviews I posted above.

Gingerbread Truffle - The dark chocolate shell was a good match for the inner ginger filling and the melt transition was perfect. The mouth feel of this dome shaped piece was super soft, yet had a little grip to it which meant the spicy flavours were longer sustained. Very Good.

Zesty Marzipan Star - This was a stunning chocolate and one notable for it's dexterous flavours and textures. The crisp outer dark chocolate contained a beautiful, cool, juicy orange ganache that topped a small under layer of firm, delicious almond marzipan. Superb.

Christmas Mess - This Christmas variation of one of my all time favourite chocolates was better than the normal HC Eton Mess for just one simple reason .... it was much bigger :D I needn't say more. Superb (times a million!!).

Cherry Florentine - You will have seen several reviews before where I have expressed my love for HC's Florentine chocolates. This one here was every bit as good as it has been previously, just with a touch of cherry fruit to give it a sweet, real tasting red berry taste. Very Good.

Ginger Cheesecake - This piece also features in the smaller Cheesecake Dessert pack so I was well versed what to expect here. It again presented itself as sensational piece, with the sugary, gooey ginger layer at the bottom contrasting perfectly with the sour cream notes of the firm cream ganache ontop. Wrapped in thick dark chocolate this was only ever getting one rating. Superb.

Star Anise - I adore aniseed so I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately I was left feeling extremely underwhelmed as the booze element overwhelmed the very subtle licorice undertones. This should have been so much better than it was. Poor.


Overall it wont come as any surprise to you folks that Hotel Chocolat have maintained this as a simply fantastic selection box offering. I genuinely think you are going to be hard pressed to find another collection where the range of flavours and different truffle types are as variable as they are here. By and large, the range in the quality of the chocolates is very narrow - a good 90.0% of them being either very good or superb. In terms of the retained pieces from previous years, I think they chose right keeping some of the plainer chocolates for the less adventurous, whilst also keeping the more unique offerings such as the Mulled Wine and Rum Ingot in the mix. For the third year running I feel entirely comfortable recommending this selection. There is something there for everyone, whether it be a highly intricate Zesty Marzipan Star or just a simple Caramel Bauble. A double JCM thumbs up from me.

8.6 out of 10


Delivered chocolate gifts from Hotel Chocolat
 

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