Friday, 30 March 2012

March 30th: Hotel Chocolat Recommendations Easter 2012

This week I've been giving you a run down of some of the 'new' Easter products out this year. Whilst it's always nice to see new ideas and products, I think it's only correct to look back at some of the high quality products that have returned in 2012. This weekend I would like to take the chance to remind you of some of my favourite Hotel Chocolat Easter products. It's not all a blast from the past - there are some new photos courtesy of the 'Old Man' for you guys to drool over.

You should also make note of the promotion Hotel Chocolat are running at the moment (See ABOVE!!). You can get yourself a FREE 'Taste of Spring' chocolate selection when you spend over £35.00 (an all too easy thing to do trust me!) Enjoy your weekends and the pictures/reviews below.

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Pick from 2009 - Hotel Chocolat Rocky Road to Carramellow - Review HERE
This is one of the longest standing Hotel Chocolat Easter eggs. It must be popular considering it returns year after year. I can't say I'm surprised - caramel and rocky road fans need look elsewhere - Buy HERE.
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Pick from 2010 - Hotel Chocolat Eggs & Soldiers - Review HERE
Rejoice in the new pictures shot by the 'Old Man'. These now 'Classic' Eggs & Soldiers provide the ultimate chocolatey breakfast :D '5 praline milk chocolate half eggs with a troop of white chocolate dipping soldiers' - Buy HERE.

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Pick from 2011 - Hotel Chocolat 'A dozen Quail Eggs' - Review HERE
These were one of the best things I tried last year for Easter. Scoring a massive 8.9 out of 10 it comes as no surprise to me that they have returned for another year. The selection includes caramels, pralines and truffles galore. Highly recommended -Buy HERE.

.... more to come from the 2012 range next week :D

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

March 28th: Midweek Mini(s) Lindt Excellence Coconut Intense / Wasabi


You get a real treat today as I've lined up the first ever Midweek Mini double act with me bringing you my views on these two new Lindt Excellence bars. Lately on the site I've been moaning away about how all the 'NEW' products this year from our nearest and dearest (Cadbury, Mars, Nestle etc) have been disappointing, uninspired remakes of existing or previously seen products. Well this is something that cannot be laid at the door of Lindt today - I'm sure you have gathered that from the title :D

Kcal 508 Fat 35.0g Fat(sats) 22.0g Carbs 47.0g (per 100.0g)

Lindt Excellence Coconut Intense - This came described as 'fine dark chocolate with caramelised coconut flakes' and I had big expectations for it given my previous love for the white chocolate variation I had reviewed from Germany a few years ago. Splitting the bar in it's foil wrapper the coconut influence was evident from the outset and a wonderful plethora of sweet coconut smells set upon my senses straight away. With expectations dangerously sky high I will say they were met to a good standard by the taste. The bar might have benefited from being a stronger dark chocolate recipe (47.0%) however it still set a lovely Lindt like earthy richness with it's cocoa flavours, and the coconut played delightfully into this. The coconut was crunchy, yet not rough and the sweet, milky nut flavours grew in intensity as the melt progressed. This was a chocolate I enjoyed immensely - big time recommendation for all dark chocolate and coconut fans.

8.7 out of 10


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Kcal 492 Fat 30.0g Fat(sats) 18.0g Carbs 50.0g (per 100.0g)

Lindt Excellence Wasabi - Now I'm sure this was the one you were all most interested in seeing today and I was equally as excited for trying it. I remember the time when Lindt were seen as the pioneers of the chilli and chocolate combination - they were certainly the biggest brand to try it at the time they released the Lindt Excellence Chilli (See HERE). The word 'wasabi' will no doubt have disengaged over half of you already - the hot as fire horseradish condiment is hardly universally popular :D Personally, though I'm no great lover of the stuff, I do dabble in it when I eat sushi so I was curious to see what it would do for me paired with chocolate. Like the bar above the dark chocolate here was Lindt's 47.0% recipe and it brought on the same earthy cocoa flavour experience that I described above. As the melt of the chocolate developed on my tongue, this initially mild bitter undercurrent grew in stature, bringing about a raised mouth temperature along with it. This warming sensation was pleasant, however the herby, grassy flavour developments were a not to my liking. The wasabi influence was not to my taste I'm afraid and it spoilt my enjoyment of the chocolate at hand. Ho-hum, these things happen and I can't offer a recommendation based on the taste. What I will say is that it's great to at least see a well known brand attempt something new. Ultimately this was a fail, but brownie points at least for giving it a go.

5.8 out of 10

Monday, 26 March 2012

March 26th: Hotel Chocolat Pink Collection

Easter is fast approaching so it's about time I thought I get down to the business end of the sampling package I got from Hotel Chocolat this year. If you check out the HC range for 2012 (See HERE) you will see that rather than focus on making new propositions, they have chosen to create some great value bundles of existing products - a good decision if you ask me given the economic times. An example of one of these selections is this Hotel Chocolat Pink Collection- a bundle comprising of a mini bottle of sparkling rose, a box of champagne truffles and a Eton Mess mini-slab.


This grand selection of items came packaged in a lovely looking pink coloured box and was sealed with a black bow to add extra finesse. Though I've commented before that I think the cellophane wrappers used for the slabs are a little tacky, I think it worked better here as it allowed full visual of the pink coloured Eton slab which played into the whole pink colour scheme they had going on. Additionally the box containing the truffles looked classy as ever and the chocolate truffles inside both looked and smelled tremendously appetizing.


For my full in depth reviews of the Eton Mess Slab - See HERE and the Pink Champagne Truffles - See HERE. To be succinct and to the point I think both are near best in class for what they are. I've tried many a fruity white chocolate in my time, but the Eton Mess Slab is one that stands out in my memory which is always a good indication of something being rather special. The score of 9.0 for the truffles will also tell you I rate them tremendously highly, they are very much a 'go-to' gifting option when I can think of nothing else to buy for my mother or sister for holiday gifts.


Overall when I first heard of what this Pink Collection comprised of I knew we were going to be heading for a score in the upper end of the JCM rating system. Both the Eton Mess Slab and the Champagne truffles are fine examples of what Hotel Chocolat do best - quality chocolates made with high-end ingredients and with no gimmicks attatched. As aforementioned the Eton Mess Slab is one of the most delicious white chocolates you will find, and the Champagne Truffles in the words of my mother 'are to die for'. What about the bottle of Rose I hear you asking!? Well I'm not much of a drinker so I will leave that for the 'experts' to decide. One thing I can comment on very confidently however is the quality of this total package - it's outstanding!

9.2 out of 10

Saturday, 24 March 2012

March 24th: ChocolateMission Pinterest


In a desperate attempt to stay 'down with the kids' I've launched the new JCM Pinterest page!!! See HERE
Follow Me on Pinterest

From now on I will be adding the photos from the reviews each day! Feel free to leave any comments you have there! You will also notice I've started a Pinterest 'JCM newsboard' - this will replace the current news page and will be updated often!

Let me know if you like it or not!

JIM

Friday, 23 March 2012

March 23rd: Nestle Yorkie Honeycomb

Kcal 274 Fat 14.5g Carbs 32.4g

I know at the start of the year I said I would be cutting back on the number of reviews, but the number of new products we keep seeing appear on our shelves I'm finding the temptation to write about them just a little too much :D The latest in the long list of 'New' products I found was this Nestle Yorkie Honeycomb bar, a product which was sat innocently minding it's own business on the shelf in my local newsagent. To my knowledge the Yorkie Honeycomb was a bar that was withdrawn from the UK market in 2008 - seemingly without even the provision of a press announcement, it's back!

The bar cost £0.45 which I thought was pretty reasonable given that these companies normally try charging a little more for 'Limited Editions'. Compared with it's blue wrapper orginal sibling, this Honeycomb variant was much smaller in size and weighed in at 51.0g (the normal one is 68.0g!!). When it comes to the wrapper I have to give a thumbs up to Nestle here - it was the bright gold colour that chaught my eye when I passing the shelf, and had it not been for that I likely would have been none the wiser knowing the bar existed.

Since I've already made mention to the fact that the bar was much smaller in size, I'm sure it will come as a surprise for you to hear that it was broken down in to a greater number of blocks. Indeed this Honeycomb variant was split into 6 blocks, as opposed to the traditional five enormous ones. Although this was done probably to cover up the smaller size, I actually preferred it as each block was a far more manageable mouth size. Popping the first chunk in my mouth my palette was greeted by familiar Nestle milk chocolate flavours - with light milky cocoa flavours treated with highly generic sweet milk powder undertones. Dispersed throughout the chocolate, the 'honeycomb' pieces gave both the bite and eventual chew a sugar crystal like crunch. To be frank they disappointingly tasted of pure sugar too, and it was because of these added brown sugar flavour bursts that had me struggling to eat the bar in it's entirety - I could feel the horrible throat scorch sensation building up by block three.

Overall this was not quite the Honeycomb experience I envisaged and I was left disappointed by this limited edition. From what I've described I'm sure you can all tell that it was the poor integration of the honeycomb pieces that has led me to give the bar as poorer score as it has received. When it comes to Yorkie bars I don't expect the worlds best chocolate, but I just felt that the additional honeycomb could have been a lot better. When you consider there are other mass produced offerings like the Cadbury Crunchie which offer a far superior honey taste, I see little reason why any one would choose this bar if it is that sort of proposition they are after. I think this is going to be one of those bars that people will buy once and then probably realise why it was axed in the first place. My recommendation is to buy only for the sake of nostalgia if you must.

6.2 out of 10

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

March 21st: Midweek-Mini Oreo Birthday Cake Cookies

Kcal 140 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 2.0g Carbs 21.0g (per 2 cookies)

It's that time again for another Midweek-Mini review and today we have cause for celebration. What do we have to celebrate I hear you ask!? Well one of the world's most well known brand of cookies is celebrating their 100th birthday - Congratulations Oreo! That really great news is that Oreo are marking their landmark birthday with the introduction of these limited edition Birthday Cake Cookies. These cookies are currently available in the US and many of my fellow US blogging friends have been writing their own reviews in recent weeks - Marvo @ The ImpulsiveBuy, Jess @ FoodetteReviews, JunkFoodGuy and FatGuyFoodBlog.

Given how much I love Oreo cookies there was no way I was going to let our American friends be the only ones to get in on the celebrations so I got in contact with Oreo on Twitter and wollah a 297.0g pack was sent my way. Upon receiving the pack I knew these were going to be something rather special as soon as I opened up the seal. At this point the most glorious array of cake icing scents emerged - I genuinely can't describe how tempting these were. Disbelieving that they couldn't taste as good as they smelt I was to be further disproved. The proportion of outer chocolate cookie to inner creme was nigh on perfect and together they tasted sensational. Building on the traditional vanilla hinted flavours of the originals, these birthday cake cookies had additional flavour elements reminiscent of sprinkles and cake batter. Amazingly enough these actually tasted like cake - no gimmicks here!

Overall I can't recommend these enough if you are a fan of Oreo cookies. I've recently been trying a fair number of the new Oreo variants (more on that soon ;D) and I would genuinely rank these up there as one, if not THE, best of the lot I've tried. Admittedly these aren't going to be the easiest cookies to get hold, especially for us here in the UK. If you do get the opportunity to try these make sure you grab it with both hands. I can say with a great degree of confidence you wont regret it.

9.0 out of 10

Monday, 19 March 2012

March 19th: Hotel Chocolat Choc Cross Buns

Delivered Chocolate Gifts from Hotel Chocolat


So it begins ...!! Yes indeed folks the Hotel Chocolat pack of Easter samples has been with us here in the JCM household for a few weeks now and we've been busy doing our taste testing research - what a hardship eh :D !? As you will see over the coming weeks the 'Old Man' has got all creative with his photography lately. I'm sure he will be welcome of any feedback you wish to send my way on the JCM Twitter feed whether good or bad (See @Chocmission).

Kicking us off this year with the Hotel Chocolat Easter reviews we have one of the totally new products created for 2012. These Hotel Chocolat Choc Cross Buns were one of the products that leapt out at me when I was requesting my samples from the prospective catalog. The sound of 'milk chocolate cups filled with vanilla mousse, cinnamon, ginger and a whole raisin' sounded like an intriguing and innovative idea - certainly not one I had seen attempted before in a chocolate truffle. Thankfully this was a case of ask and you shall recieve, and Hotel Chocolat sent me a pack that contained six truffles.

As aforementioned the JCM tasting panel aka. my family has been in full action and between the four of us there were some interesting opinions on these Choc Cross Buns. One thing we were all aligned on was on the quality of the exterior milk chocolate. There isn't a single one of us who doesn't both like and appreciate the quality of the 40% Hotel Chocolat milk chocolate, it really is one of the finest recipes out there and the full bodied creamy cocoa taste is one that is consistently appreciated by one and all. Opinions however did differ when it came to the hot cross bun filling at the centre of each truffle. Personally I thought the thick textured mousse was very tasty, and I thought it encapsulated all the spice and fruit elements of hot cross buns extremely effectively. On the other side of the fence though, my mother raised the issue that it was too dominant over the chocolate, and that the cinnamon especially was a little strong and controlling of the overall taste. Whilst I disagreed with this I will admit that they weren't the most satisfying of chocolates given that they had light fillings and not so thick milk chocolate.

Overall though these somewhat divided opinion in the JCM household, I should think they will have have far more proponents than not amongst the general public. I think my mother has got a point with the dominance of the filling over the chocolate, but for me it wasn't an issue of great significance since I really enjoy cinnamon flavoured chocolates. I will say that if you are expecting a light flavoured truffle because of the 'mousse' textured centres you are in for somewhat of a surprise. Both the spices and vanilla flavours come through strongly so you should be aware of that if either of those doesn't appeal to you. Personally I liked these and would feel comfortable recommending them on the basis that you like hot cross buns and desire the naturally associated flavours.

8.0 out of 10

Delivered Chocolate Gifts from Hotel Chocolat

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Congratulations .....


@janeyliz9!!!!

You are the winner of the M&M's Dark Chocolate Mint courtesy of site sponsors @AmericanSoda.

Jane correctly identified the cross-section photo as the Peeps Milk Chocolate!! ... and not the Nestle Butterfinger as answered by the overwhelming majority of entrants!!

If you haven't won this time around please don't despair! The 10.0kg delivery of Ritter Sport chocolates recently will only mean there are plenty of competitions to come!

Friday, 16 March 2012

March 16th: *NEW* Ritter Sport Chocolate / Yoghurt Cubes 2012

Just when I thought they had forgotten about me, my pals at Ritter sent me the most gigantic box of Ritter Sport treats I've received yet. Included in the 10.0kg package they sent across (yes no typo 10.0kg!!), they included several boxes of these new 'Cube' selections. Both these new selections came in 176.0g cube boxes and both contained 22 chocolates within. As you can tell from the title the two flavour themes were 'Chocolate' and 'Yoghurt'.

For two reasons I'll let the photos do most of the talking today. Firstly the 'Old Man' has done such a cracking job with the photography I think you would all probably rather focus on them rather than my ramblings :D. Secondly, nearly all of the different flavours included in these two selection boxes have been reviewed previously as stand alone bars - I would suggest you take a look at the Ritter Sport review archive HERE to get a more in-depth view on each of them if you wish.
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Ritter Sport Chocolate Cubes


This box contained four different varieties (Click for reviews!) - Nuss in Nugatcreme (Milk chocolate nuts in nougat-creme), Edelnugat (Milk chocolate nougat), Kakao Krokant (Plain chocolate chopped nuts and rice) and Karamell (Milk chocolate caramel).

The views expressed by my trusted tasting panel (aka my family) were that the selection of flavours was good as they were all varieties that Ritter are strong with. It was noted however that if you didn't like nuts your options would be really quite limited. I agreed with them on this and thought that the Kakao Krokant variety could have probably been subbed for a fruity option - the strawberry yoghurt from the other box would have been just perfect. Another thing of note was that caramel variety really divided opinion as it wasn't caramel like we know it here in the UK. The caramel on offer here had more of a creamy Caramac taste as opposed to the traditional British syrupy butterscotch caramel. Though my own preference would lie with the latter, I still liked the Caramel chocolate cube here and to be honest it was nice to have something a little different from the norm. Despite some of these minor grievances all-in-all it got a thumbs up.

8.2 out of 10



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Ritter Sport Yoghurt Cubes

This selection contained three different varieties - Joghurt (Milk chocolate yoghurt), Erdbeer Joghurt (Milk chocolate strawberry yoghurt) and Waldbeer Yoghurt (Milk chocolate wildberry yoghurt).

Having seen how people react to these yoghurt chocolates down the years it's become quite apparent to me that most people either love or hate them. Unfortunately for him, the 'Old Man' falls in to the second category - thankfully the rest of us in my family are really quite partial to them :D . As far as the choice of flavours on offer, the three here were very strong chocolates and I don't think any one of us could be forced to pick a natural favourite. I guess the only concern really was that the strawberry and wildberry varieties were quite similar, and perhaps there could have been room to introduce a new yoghurt variety in to the fold to widen out the selection and give it a USP (unique selling point). Again casting the small issues to one side this was still a highly enjoyable box of chocolates.

7.8 out of 10


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Overall both these new selection boxes were very well recieved and met with overwhelmingly positive reactions. For any Ritter Sport fans they sure make cute little gifts and as with any Ritter Sport product the quality of the actual chocolate is at the least better than average. Personal opinions are always going to be a factor as to what would be the optimum mixture of Ritter Sport flavours - for what it's worth we thought they had done a decent job selecting the flavours and had little complaints in that regard. Now I've written reviews about them both my next conundrum is to have a think about what I do with the other boxes I have left over :D ... I think you might want to keep an eye on the ChocolateMission Twitter page (HERE) for some upcoming JCM/Ritter competitions!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

March 14th: Midweek Mini Hershey's Air Delight

Kcal 200 Fat 12.0g Fat(sats) 7.0g Carbs 24.0g

The midweek mini today again comes courtesy of my friends from AmericanSoda who once again provided me with the bar for this review - See HERE. As of late the aerated chocolate part of the UK market has been extremely busy. The re-emergence of the Cadbury Wispa, and the seemingly endless amount of new Aero products has meant that we have hardly been lacking options here in Ol'Blighty. The USA however haven't been so lucky with their aerated chocolate offerings. I'm even struggling to think of a competitor product for the bar I'm featuring today.

First announced back in June 2011, this Hershey's Air Delight had been a bar I'd been interested in trying since I heard of it. Hershey milk chocolate is one that divides a lot of opinion here in the UK, for every person you come across who says they like it, there seems to another to have a few choice words about it. For the latter, the main points of contention tend to be the aromas and aftertaste generated by the chocolate. Having eaten this bar I can confirm to these people they will have no reason to have raised interest here - both are as apparent as in the normal Herhsey's Milk Chocolate bar (See HERE). Indeed the tangy yoghurty aftertaste and undesirable soured milk smells were still as prevalent as always. Unsurprinslgy, where this bar did set itself out from the original was in it's melt, with it's bubbly blocks creating a lovely tingly mouth sensation that was every bit as good as any other aerated chocolate I've tried.

Overall I can't imagine this Hershey's Air Delight will convince any non-loving Hershey's milk chocolate consumer they must have a re-think, but for those who are at least ambivalent towards it they should give one a try. I personally didn't find that the taste was affected in any manner, however I did enjoy the aerated texture which was a lot more interesting than just the standard experience offered by the original. This isn't a market game changer in the name of new product developments, but it's nice to see the US are getting on-board with the aerated texture thing. Adding air to chocolate may not seem like a good idea, but it's one of those funny things that just seems to work whoever does it.

6.6 out of 10

Monday, 12 March 2012

March 12th: Cadbury Thank You

Kcal 180 Fat 12.0g Fat(sats) 6.9g Carbs 16.6g

In case you had forgotten it's Mothers Day here in the UK on the 18th of March (next Sunday!!). Yes indeed it's that one day of the year when there is frankly no excuse but to spoil your Mum rotten. That could include breakfast in bed? a nice meal out a restaurant? a bunch of flowers? & oh yes of course, a lovely box of chocolates :D In previous years I've always chosen to test out some Hotel Chocolat chocolates for you all, but this year I thought I would change it up a bit and look at an offering from one of our more widely available brands - Cadbury.

So what are Cadbury suggesting we share with all our Mummies this year!? These 'Thank You by Cadbury' appear to be the answer. These 'Thank You' chocolates looked very similar in proposition to the 'Lots of Lovely Little Pralines' by Cadbury which I reviewed last year (See HERE). This 187.0g box of 30 chocolates came descried as 'milk chocolates with a smooth creme filling' and came packaged in a uniquely flower shaped box. Inside the chocolates were smaller than I thought they might be, and were around the size of a one pence piece.

What with their small size these were oddly suitable to eat in pairs rather than as single chocolates. As with the aforementioned 'Lots of Lovely Little Pralines' it was disappointing to find that these were made of the cheaper 14.0% cocoa and milk solids Cadbury recipe. This was instantly recogniseable with the greater sugar emphasis when it came to the taste of the outer Cadbury chocolate. Hidden away inside below the chocolate, I wish I could say the vanilla creme centres were more flavour enhancing than they were, but unfortunately they did little aside from add a very minimal vanilla note to what was taste reminiscent of very sweet, dried milk powder.

Overall I certainly wont be subjecting my dear old Mum to these rather ghastly chocolates and I recommend you also stay well clear.I forgot to mention at the start of the review that these have an RRP of £5.00 which to me suggested they should have been something a little more special than your average Cadbury chocolate. I think you can tell by the score that these actually significantly under par, and were by my estimation a very poor effort. The lack of the Dairy Milk chocolate recipe and crummy vanilla creme centres made for a very unexciting flavour journey - a disappointing return for something if done like the Cadbury Bliss could have some potential. My recommendation this year for Mothers Day!? Well it wont surprise to hear my advice is to stick with the tried and tested. Get yourself to Hotel Chocolat and give your Mum the chocolates she deserves.

5.2 out of 10

Friday, 9 March 2012

March 9th: Competition - Identify Me


It's nearly the weekend WOOHOO!!!!

Following on from this weeks American Soda Bits n Bobs (See BELOW!!), I feel in the giving mood!


Do you fancy trying some of the new M&M's Dark Chocolate Mint yourself!? Well have a stab at identifying the cross-sectioned product below:



To enter all you have to do is to get start following @Chocmission on Twitter and tweet me your answer with the hashtag '#competition'. Please ensure in your Tweets you inform all your friends to follow me :D I will announce the winner on Twitter next weekend!

HINT: The product you need to identify is currently on sale on the AmericanSoda website.
 

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