Friday, 29 June 2012

June 29th: American Soda Bits n Bobs June 2012

Well come on, it wasn't as you were all going to escape without an American Soda Bits n Bobs monthly review was it :-D Yes the chaps @AmericanSoda put me together another sampling package and this one included some of their best selling lines from their extensive US sourced chocolates and snacks range.

Kellogg's Pop Tarts Cookies & Creme

Kcal 190 Fat 5.0g Fat(sats) 1.5g Carbs 35.0g (per pastry)

No American Soda Bits n Bobs post would be complete without an appearance from Kellogg's Pop Tarts and it's with great pleasure I bring you my thoughts on these Cookies & Creme flavoured ones today. On pack these looked all the money like they were Oreo themed Pop Tarts and the reality was this was exactly what they were. These Pop Tarts combined chocolate flavoured outer pastry, with a vanilla creme filling and came in a 400.0g box containing four foil wrapped packets within. With them being from the 'frosted' part of the Pop Tarts range I presumed that two pastries in a single serving would be excessive, however a cheeky glass of milk on the side and that was quickly disproved. These were by far best eaten when toasted and they created the most gorgeous chocolate bread smells when done so. Contrary to my prior expectations these were not excessively sweet and it was the chocolate pastry that actually took centre stage of the taste. The chocolate flavoured pastry was lovely and it quickly created an Oreo cookie like unsweetened cocoa taste that didn't at any point get dominated by the filling. The creme itself enhanced the pastry with a subtle sugary vanilla hint, but it was perhaps more welcome for the moisture it added to the dry mouth feel created by the pastry. Personally I would give these a big thumbs up and I would certainly have them again as the occasional breakfast treat. I would even go as far as saying these are up there with my favourite Pop Tart flavours.

8.4 out of 10



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Lucky Charms Treat Marshmallow Bar




Kcal 200 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 2.5g Carbs 36.0g (per 48.0g bar)

Ladies and gentlemen this Lucky Charms Treat bar was HUUUUUGE! That was the only thing I could think about when I first picked it out of my American Soda sampling package! Granted it was billed as hefty one at 48.0g but I've genuinely never seen a cereal bar this large before. Thinking back to when cereal bars were first launched here in the UK I seem remember them being marketed as a means of eating breakfast 'on-the-go' in an easily accessible format ... no spilling of milk whilst checking your hair in the rear view mirror etc etc :-D Now whilst I commend General Mills for packing in a full serving size of Lucky Charms into the one bar I do think something has to be said about it's size and lack of practicality for eating it outside of the home - if I was giving a score for that criteria this big-ass bar would get a zero. Suffice to say if you forget all that and just take it for face value this is a product that encapsulates all of the Lucky Charms magic and delivers it in a more satisfying manner. I don't like soggy cereal so personally I actually preferred the dry Lucky Charms experience and found it a more fulfilling one.The bottom layer dried milk coating didn't need to be as sugary sweet as it was but the marshmallows made the taste so sweet anyway I hardly too upset by it. I think it's a very safe one to say that if you like your traditional Lucky Charms cereal your going to be a big time fan of this bar. I'll stick with my "boring" (so I'm told frequently!!) bran cereal for my everyday living but there's no denying that a cheeky bowl or bar now of Lucky Charms isn't a welcome treat.

7.6 out of 10 


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Nestle Chunky Bar

Kcal 190 Fat 11.0g Fat(sats) 5.0g Carbs 25.0g (per bar)

When you think about it here in the UK we have a great number of different fruit and nut chocolate bars. We have the likes of Cadbury, Galaxy, Yorkie, Green & Blacks, Hotel Chocolat etc etc When I think of our dear pals in the US however I struggle to think of many options that they have available to them. Perhaps this was to be a sign that this Nestle Chunky Bar was going to be so awesome that there was no point there being any others available :-) This perhaps wasn't quite the case, however I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. One thing that has to be said about all those UK bars I mentioned before is that they all comprise of raisins/currants and then either/or hazelnuts or almonds. I can't think of a bar we have that contains peanuts as the nut content - not like this Chunky bar does anyway! Indeed this 39.0g bar was comprised of milk chocolate, raisins and peanuts and as per it's name it was split in to four large sized blocks. The milk chocolate was surprisingly tasty with a good paced melt and pleasant underlying creaminess to it. The raisins and peanuts were plentifully implemented with representation in all four blocks. The sugary flavours of the fruit and saltiness of the nuts provided a nice enhancement to the chocolate. All this together made for a pretty satisfying overall bar and one that I would say definitely exceeded expectations. It's low price would certainly encourage me to purchase it again.

7.8 out of 10


Wednesday, 27 June 2012

June 27th: Ritter Sport 'Congratulations' & 'A Little Something'


We've hardly been lacking new Ritter Sport products this year what with all the seasonal varieties and other limited editions they have released - full archive See HERE! Compared to a lot of other manufactures in the confectionery market, the Ritter Sport innovation department has been in over drive and today this trend continues to an extent with these latest 'Congratulations' and 'A Little Something' bars.

To an extent!?? What do I mean by that!? Well to say these bars were true innovation would be an outright lie. Like many of our so called 'NEW' products here in the UK this year these are actually just repackaged versions of an existing product. Yes these 'Congratulations' ; 'A Little Something' bars are simply just an exstension of the the previous year's Ritter Sport 'Thank You' bar. The idea being that you give one of these huge 250.0g chocolates when a 'Congratulations', 'Get Well Soon' or just simply a 'Well Done' is in order.

As with the 2011 'Thank You' offering both of these were big bars of Ritter Sport's 40.0% cocoa milk chocolate, made with beans sourced from Trinidad. Just as I stated last year this recipe was 'a noticeable improvement from their rather more generic standard milk chocolate. No doubt aided by it's thicker melting texture, the cocoa flavours were just more forthcoming and tasted deeper layered with rich milk and honey notes all coming to the fore.' ... tasty stuff indeed if you like your milk chocolates.

Overall there is little else to be said other than I'm sure it comes as no surprises that I'll award the same score as I did last year. These are a cute idea if you are in need of sending some love in the direction of  someone you care about - what better way to send a positive message than in milk chocolate form :-)

8.0 out of 10


Monday, 25 June 2012

June 25th: Artisan du Chocolat Chocolate Tennis Ball



Ladies and Gentlemen it is June 25th 2012 - do you know what that means!??? Why it's the start of the most famous tennis championships in the world - Wimbledon! This tournament is one of the most traditional sporting events on the calendar and there are always a few certainties you can rely on:

1. Copious amount of champagne will be drunk over the next two weeks
2. There will be no British success (sorry Andy!!)
3. Many a strawberry will be lathered in cream and devoured in the SW19 region of London.
4. Rain!!

As sure as I am predicting those things I was just as certain that I was going to love this Wimbledon themed chocolate goodie today, I present to you the Artisan du Chocolat Chocolate Tennis Ball. This product came billed as a 'white chocolate tennis ball with salted caramels' - a recipe for success if ever I heard one.

This Chocolate Tennis Ball came to me as a 150.0g product and I hope my photographs do justice to just how stunning this thing looked. Believe it or not I've been writing this site for nearly 4 years now and I have to say this was one of the coolest themed products I've had the chance of reviewing. The  tennis ball looked EXACTLY like a tennis ball - even the surface of it had this textured look that made it so realistic you could have mistaken it for it's non-edible equivalent. This was not a ball you would want to be hitting with a tennis racket though folks - well maybe just the once to crack it open to reach the salted caramels hidden inside :-D


As much as I loved the visual qualities the tennis ball had, I was more keen on tasting the chocolate. I was fully prepared for the tennis ball shell to be a gimmicky outer shell for the inner caramels but I was surprised to find in truth it was a wonderful. high quality white chocolate. Indeed the yellow dyed chocolate had all the good characteristics of a fine white chocolate and had a crisp, buttery milky taste that was well tempered in it's sweetness. I could have eaten that all day but me being me I was more concerned with the salted caramels that lay inside. I don't think you need me to tell you guys just how good these No.1 Salted Caramels are again (full review - HERE). They are award winning for a reason and it's because the salted little morsels of cocoa dusted dark chocolate are chocolate caramel heaven personified. My only disappointment with this Chocolate Tennis Ball came when I finished it - "New balls please" :-D

Overall the Artisan du Chocolat Chocolate Tennis Ball has to go down as another Artisan success story - I loved everything about it. I'm a big tennis fan so it was likely I was going to be highly receptive of anything given a lick of a tennis theme. This Chocolate Tennis Ball though was really something special. The quality of the presentation was superb and again I will reiterate the point that it was one of the best looking products I've ever reviewed for the site. One thing I've failed to make mention to above is the fact that the 'grass' you see nestling the tennis ball in my photos was actually edible ... yes edible grass :-D Indeed it was just sweetened 'sugar paper' but it was just a nice touch and showed a degree of care and thought that you cant say most products show nowadays. Lastly, and most importantly, as I've alluded to above the quality of the chocolate was very, very good. The white chocolate shell was a real surprise but I needn't say more about the salted caramels which are just out of this world. If you need a gift for a tennis fan or just fancy treating yourself for a championship treat I highly recommend you get involved with one of these.

9.1 out of 10

Friday, 22 June 2012

June 22nd: Hotel Chocolat Chocs To Chill


If the weather this last week is anything to go by I think we can safely say that Summer has officially arrived here in the UK! With every season that comes and goes we of course get the excitement of some new chocolates from a lot of the different confectionery companies. One of the manufactures who is always keen to match their product offerings to the season at hand is Hotel Chocolat and they haven't let us down for Summer 2012. Last week I was the lucky recipient of a box containing a number of samples from their Summer range for this year. Among some of the familiar looking chocolates and products I reviewed over the last few Summers, there were also a few completely new items that I will be featuring on the site in the coming weeks. With last week being the heatwave it was I thought I better start with the very apt sounding 'Chocs To Chill'.

These new 'Chocs To Chill' came in cute looking 105.0g tubs that included 24 small truffle pieces in each. As you can tell from the photos there were three variants that I got to try - Margarita, Mojito and Ice Cream Scoops. Being fully aware that I was no expert when it comes to cocktails I went about getting some taste assistants to help me out - I didn't have to look far with the rest of the family more than eager to help me out.

Here are our collective thoughts on the three flavours:

Hotel Chocolat Chocs To Chill Mojito - 'Rum, mint and lime ganache encased in white chocolate'
It may have been something to do with the weather but these went down extremely well and were the first ones to be polished off. It was a general consensus that the creamy, light flavoured outer chocolate was the perfect chocolate type for the fresh, zingy tasting inner creme. The Mojito centres were nothing short of superb and exactly as described with the lime and mint coming through strongly before a big kick of rum left a long lasting impression. The rum hit may be too strong for some but that wasn't a complaint of the tasting group.

8.4 out of 10



Hotel Chocolat Chocs To Chill Margarita - 'Tequila, orange liqueur and lime ganache in milk chocolate'
Here's a question - does anyone actually like tequila!? It's not exactly a liqueur that you hear many drink for it's taste ... not where I'm from anyways :-D I'm glad I had my tasting panel at hand for these as I was told I was being a little harsh on them. For me the tequila influence was just way too strong - the 40.0% milk chocolate and other orange fruit flavours became completely obsolete as soon as the truffle center was encountered. As someone who doesn't enjoy tequila this wasn't good news in my book though I'm willing to concede another person with a differing opinion may well think they are excellent. The rest of my panel thought they were 'nice' but certainly preferred the other two flavours.

7.0 out of 10



Hotel Chocolat Chocs To Chill Ice Cream Scoops - 'Strawberry and chocolate ganache truffles in milk and dark chocolate'
I thought they missed a trick with these! Within the tub there were two separate flavours with the milk chocolate and strawberry creme combo pieces, and then the dark chocolate with chocolate creme ones. The first of which I've just described were great and got a 360 tumbs up bringing together both creamy chocolate and fruity, real tasting strawberry. The latter variety however weren't met with the same levels of enthusiasm as they simply were as interesting taste wise. They delivered a delicious, powerful chocolatey flavour hit, however the inner chocolate creme failed to build on the dark chocolate outer shells making them a little boring next to some really lively flavoured variants. My mother suggested they could have used white chocolate shells and then dark chocolate inner creme, as that way they would also have got the total Neapolitan effect which would have also been more visually striking. These were well liked but were still a distant second to the Mojito variant.

7.8 out of 10


Overall these were all on the whole well received but there were a few things that they could have done which could have made them even better. As I've made mention to above just a few minor ammends to the Margarita and Ice Cream Scoops could have brought them to the standard of the Mojito flavour which were without doubt utterly superb. I would happily recommend any of these if you like the sound of them and as a range I give them a JCM thumbs up. There's no point telling you which one I ultimately recommend from the three - I think you will have worked that one out already.

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

June 20th: 'Bits n Bobs' Cadbury Superpost # 3

Back in June 2011 I posted my second 'Bits n Bobs' review that was solely dedicated to Britain's most famous chocolate producer Cadbury Ltd - See HERE. Well since then I've managed to accumulate yet another random assortment of Cadbury chocolate goodies. When I say 'random assortment' there I do really mean it! Some of the products you will see today were purchased in my local supermarkets, whilst others have come from as far afield as Canada. Without further hesitation I suggest we get on with things ....

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Cadbury Sweet Marie

Cadbury Sweet Marie
Kcal 320 Fat 18.0g Fat(sats) 7.0g Carbs 33.0g
'Fudge covered in fresh roasted peanuts and light rice crisps, all smothered in a rich, creamy chocolatey coating'
Origin: Canada

Cadbury chocolates from Canada have had mixed success here on ChocolateMission. The ones that stick out in my mind are the Cadbury Wunderbar (See HERE)and the Cadbury Caramilk (See HERE). Both of these bars were fine examples of what Cadbury Canada could do - I was hoping for similar success from this Cadbury Sweet Marie (formely manufactured by a company called Nielsen).

Like many of the chocolate offerings you get in Canada this was another huge one that both looked large and was large - clocking in at a mighty 60.0g. Aesthetically the film material wrapper and inner bar did little to inspire much confidence, though the strong peanutty smells were a lot more promising. Thankfully these smells weren't misleading - the taste was strongly influenced by the salty roasted peanut flavours which played off very nicely indeed against the sweet caramel and condensed milk like flavours of the chocolate. Each mouthful provided a nice mixture of chewy, crispy and melting chocolate textures. These combined with the multi-layered taste depth and fulfilling size made for another Canadian Cadbury well worthy of a ChocolateMission thumbs up.

8.2 out of 10


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Cadbury Milk Chocolate Rich Tea Biscuits

Cadbury Milk Chocolate Rich Tea Biscuits
Kcal 60 Fat 2.6g Fat(sats) 1.3g Carbs 3.9g (per biscuit)
'Rich Tea biscuits half covered in milk chocolate'
Origin: UK

My recent biscuit superposts have stirred up many reader requests, and amongst them a common found one seems to be a call for me to review Cadbury's own biscuit offerings. There isn't much in the way of innovation with these - Cadbury have quite simply taken the British biscuit classic the 'Rich Tea' (See HERE), and applied a half coating of their own milk chocolate.

As you can see from my graph below I felt comfortable handing out average marks across the entire Jim's ChocolateMission rating spectrum (gosh that sounds geeky! Haha!) - 7.0 just seemed appropriate for the entirety of what I experienced with these. Packaging and overall presentation really run of the mill stuff. Nothing was outlandishly Cadbury branded but it was all still aligned to their 'purple' style, and the biscuits bore the branding on their chocolate undersides. As with any Rich Tea biscuit the flavour notes offered by the biscuit were malty hints of brown sugar. The chocolate taste was apparent, yet not overtly recogniseable as Cadbury due to it's short presence longevity as a cnsequence of it's very thin portioning. At push you could describe the taste as a little more milk led, though it wasn't differentiated enough to have me telling you that you need to buy these over the McVitie's equivalents.

7.0 out of 10


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Cadbury Digestives
Kcal 80 Fat 4.1g Fat(sats) 2.2g Carbs 4.7g (per biscuit)
'Digestive biscuits half covered with milk chocolate'
Origin: UK

Well it wasn't like I was just going to stop at the Cadbury Rich Teas was it :D As you will no likely have guessed, Cadbury also have a Digestive biscuit offering. My US readers might want to refer to WIKI again as you probably won't have a clue what a 'Digestive' biscuit is ... according to WIKI it's illegal for them to be called this in the states - don't you just love random WIKI facts :D

If your a UK reader and need me to describe what a Digestive biscuit please send an e-mail to Wherehaveyoubeen@allyourlife.com ... :D seriously if you haven't ever had a Digestive biscuit before you must have led a very deprived childhood. Suffice to say the biscuit portion delivered the same wheaty, brown sugared, salt hinted taste you would get from any McVitie's and supermarket alternative. As opposed to the Rich Teas above, the chocolate layer here was portioned more generously and that of course helped it come across better in the taste. The chocolate taste still wasn't immediately attributable to Cadbury, but still it was nice enough for what it was. They were better than the Rich Teas.

7.5 out of 10


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Cadbury Mini Animal Biscuits

Cadbury Mini Animal Biscuits
Kcal 95 Fat 3.9g Carbs 13.1g
'Animal shaped mini biscuits half covered in milk chocolate'
Origin: UK

Whilst I was more than happy buying the two Cadbury biscuit products above, I left it up to one of my work colleagues to provide me with these for the review today. I don't know what it is, but buying Mini Animal Biscuits just seems kinda wrong for a twenty-something year old male :D This seemingly wasn't a problem for one of my work fellows, who bought a multipack of mini bags from their local Sainsburys supermarket.

As you will have determined from the description and most likely the photos, these were a similar proposition to the Cadbury Digestives but in a mini format. Portioned in nice looking matted Cadbury bags I have to admit the biscuits looked fun, and the animal characters (Ella Funky the elephant :D Leroy the Lion :D and Rockodile the crocodile :D ... legendary stuff haha) were nicely scribed into each biscuit. Taste wise you may be surprised to hear they came off tasting better than the larger sized alternatives above as the chocolate was a whole lot more prominent in the taste. The sweeter chocolate emphasis brought additional creamyness and played of nicely against the saltyness of the wheat based biscuit. Who would have guessed that the kiddie offering would have come out as the best in class here - not me!!

7.9 out of 10

Monday, 18 June 2012

June 18th: Bits n Bobs June 2012

I'm sure you guys know the deal by now with these Bits n Bobs posts now - short, quick, snapshot reviews of products I've come across on my day-to-day living. I hope you enjoy them and please if you have any requests, musings or inquiries ... hit me on the JCM Twitter feed @Chocmission

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Kate's Cakes Caramel Slice
Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???

As well as documenting the latest and greatest in the Chocosphere I like to keep my eye on what is happening in the cakes market and recently I've noticed the emergence of new brand gaining distribution in our biggest UK supermarkets. In the last few weeks I've come across a new range of cakes from a manufacture called 'Kate's Cakes' - a company who claim they 'make and bake in small batches using only free range egg and carefully selected non GM ingredients'. I'll be totally honest - I couldn't care less what type of eggs or ingredients they use, I was more drawn to them because they were promising me 'all butter shortbread with a luxurious caramel layer, topped with thick milk chocolate' aka their Caramel Slice :-D With such a tough comparable product from Heavenly Cakes to live up to (See HERE), I guess it gives you some indication of how good I thought it was given the scores I've attributed. For the £0.75 I payed for this I thought it was up there with some of the better mass produced caramel slices I've tried. The biscuit was just how I liked it - with it's buttery, sweet, salt hinted flavours all packaged in a party of textures ranging from the crunchy outside to a soft, crumbly middle. The caramel layer was perhaps not quite on the level of other alternatives as it was just a touch grainy and sugary, however the chocolate was of a fair standard and brought a creamier focus to the heavy sugar intensive taste of the other two layers. Would I recommend Kate's Cakes Caramel Slice!? Well put it this way - they aren't life changing but I don't think you will be left feeling unsatisfied.I'll park by bum firmly on the fence for the minute, I think more research is needed :-D

7.2 out of 10


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Maryland Great British Summer Big & Chunky Cookies


Kcal 123 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 3.3g Carbs 15.8g (per cookie)

Summer has certainly kicked in here in the UK in the last few weeks with some glorious weather seen up and down the country. Before I curse us all and call it a 'Great British Summer', Maryland have gone and done that for us all already with launch of these Limited Edition Maryland Great British Summer Big &Chunky Cookies. I found these on sale in my local Tesco superstore - priced at £1.00 and hidden within all the other Jubilee paraphernalia we've seen over the last few weeks. Although the packaging did it's best to blend in with all the other 'wallpaper' GB branded and coloured packaging the actual cookies looked rather cool with the red, blue and white chocolate beans dotted generously amongst the lovely golden coloured cookies. With that I can say that good looks translated in to taste success and being a real non-fan of Burton's Maryland cookies this came as a nice surprise. Compared to the original packs of Maryland cookies I've had previous, the cookie bases tasted a whole lot nicer - less sugary, more buttery and wheaty. The chocolate 'beans' were essentially mini Smarties and brought a decent enough amount of chocolatey flavour bursts whenever encountered. Like many of the GB branded products we've been bombarded with this year these are another that can be categorised as 'ok but not life changing'. It must be said that £1.00 for ten cookies isn't a bad deal.

7.5 out of 10


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Cadbury Popcorn





Kcal 160 Fat 7.6g Fat(sats) 4.4g Carbs 18.7g (per 1/4 bag)

We seem to be getting more and more Cadbury sharing bags by the day with the Twirl Bites and Bitsa Wispa already brought in to the line up in the last twelve months or so. Though both of those were simply line-extensions of existing products, the latest pouch based snack from the lovely folks at Kraft is actually a new proposition altogether and sees Cadbury take their first foray in to the popcorn market  (I cant remember them doing anything in this area before!?). Unlike some of their latest products, the press releases regarding the announcement of Cadbury Popcorn came well before their actual distribution so I was on the look out for this product in all of my local shops.  I finally found them on sale in none other than WH Smith - priced on an introductory £1.00 trial offer. My hard earned pound bought me a 130.0g pouch - an amount suitable for four servings if you believe the nutritional information breakdown. The pack wasn't all that distinctive from many of the other Cadbury pouches - off the top of my head I can name the Caramel Nibbles, Cornflake Clusters and Crunchie Rocks that all use a similar yellow/gold colour scheme - not the cleverest of choices huh!? Although the exterior packaging wasn't all that eye-catching the popcorn looked a little more promising and I was impressed by the large sizes of the majority of the pieces and liked how the chocolate coatings looked nice and thick. When it came to the taste the aesthetic perception didn't mislead and it was the familiar sweet, milky taste of Cadbury chocolate that took a hold flavour wise. The popcorn at the core of each piece had a lovely lick of toffee which further added a small influence of caramel like flavours to the taste. For me the only thing missing was a little lick of salt which I think would have really taken these that step further and probably even more addictive than they were just like this. Whether or not you would enjoy Cadbury Popcorn is no more complicated than asking yourself whether you like popcorn or not :-) If you do then I would suggest a dabble as the Cadbury influence is integrated nicely here. Let me know what you think on Twitter @Chocmission.

7.6 out of 10


Saturday, 16 June 2012

June 16th: Competition Winners ....

Well done to my two competition winners @Bananapancakesx and @magichappensxx

They have won themselves some Hotel Chocolat Goodies which I hope they will enjoy.

Dismayed you haven't won this time around!? Don't be!! I've got plenty more chocolate to be giving away folks so keep your eye out for another JCM giveaway coming very soon.

ANNOUNCEMENT: In some exciting news I've this week secured another partnership for the site - all will become obvious very soon but for the moment all I will say is that JCM has truly become global in terms of the what I will be able to represent on the site i.e. more product reviews of the latest products being released from all corners of the globe.

Before I round up I have a tip for you!! Head on over to the Hotel Chocolat site as I would expect them to be discounting some of the leftover Father's day gear they have in stock - Bargains to be had for sure - SEE HERE.

Have a great weekend

JIM

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

June 13th: Hotel Chocolat Fathers Day 2012

Over the last few days I've had a number of tweets coming my way (@Chocmission) asking me what I would recommend on the chocolates front for Father's day coming up here in the UK this weekend. Well folks tight deadlines have prohibited me from delivering some full on JCM reviews .... BUT ... I'm making this all up to you loyal JCM readers with a lovely little competition.

Twitter: 'Retweet' my tweet of this post & follow me @Chocmission
or
Facebook: Add me as a friend and post a link to this page on your status via Facebook 

... Doing either of these things will enter you in on a draw for one of the three items I'm recommending for Fathers day below. I will announce the winner this weekend!!! So get to it folks!! Retweet/Follow & Post your way to chocolatey goodness!


Hotel Chocolat For My Dad Pocket Selection - This little pocket pack of truffles contains eight chocolates, namely two of the following pieces: Billionaire’s Shortbread (Superb - See HERE), Simple Milk Truffle (Very Good - See HERE), Choc Chip Cookie, Dizzy Praline (Superb - See HERE). You need only take a look at the individual ratings to establish that this is a pretty safe bet if you are looking for a mini selection box gift.
BUY ME HERE



Hotel Chocolat 70% Dark Chocolate with Chilli Puddles - I don't want to spoil my incoming full review of these but let it be said that these are lovely! The richness of the dark chocolate ... the mouth warmth of the chilli ... I'll say no more but if you know your own 'old man' likes being a little adventurous when it comes to his chocolates then make sure you these are in your consideration.
BUY ME HERE



Hotel Chocolat Whisky Truffles - Now these are the all time faves of my own 'Old Man' and whenever we get a selection box from Hotel Chocolat these are always the first he dives in for (See Jubilee Selection box review - See HERE). I recommend these but I must add a little note of caution that Ladies & Gents ... these are strong!! :-D Approach only if your own 'Old Man' will be able to handle some 'blow your head' off whisky liqueur strength.
BUY ME HERE


Remember to enter the competition folks!!!

JIM

June 13th: Ritter Sport Edel-Nuss Mix (100th Anniversary)

Kcal 559 Fat 37.0g Carbs 47.0g (per 100.0g)

Put up the banners, send the cards and pop open the champagne bottles - it's time to celebrate 100 years of Ritter! Yes indeed our friends over in Germany are celebrating their 100th year anniversary and to celebrate they've seen fit to release a limited edition chocolate.

The bar they've released to mark this special occasion is this Edel-Nuss Mix offering - one of the latest additions to their extensive 100.0g range. On the wrapper I was informed that the Edel-Nuss Mix contained 'Alpine milk chocolate with almonds (7.0%), cashews (6.0%) and macadamias (5.0%)'. Though not explicitly stated, further inspection of the ingredients list also revealed that there was also an element of hazelnut involved, with hazelnut mass coming in just after macadamias in the rank order.

In regards to the packaging and presentation of the chocolate I guess there isn't that much to be said as it was all really standard Ritter Sport fare. I liked the idea of combining several colours into the predominantly white wrapper, though I would have perhaps liked to have seen more made of the '100 year' element as it came across relatively understated and subtle in it's placement at the top left of the wrapper.

When it came to the all important taste test my immediate observation was that the nut content was plentiful but all chopped into small pieces. When it comes to nutty chocolates I often cite this as a bad thing though the quality and freshness of the nuts made this a real non-issue. Speaking firstly of the chocolate it will surprise you little to hear my approval of the 30.0% cocoa recipe. It's creamy milk flavours grew in intensity with the progression of the melt, and it's underlying sweetness was a fine partner to the savoury focused nuts. As aforementioned the small chopped nut pieces were crammed into every block and they produced a delightful array of salty, buttery, woody flavours. This was one of those bars I found tremendously moreish and I found it really hard to not just keep breaking off blocks every time it caught my eye sitting on my work desk.        

Overall I give this 100th Anniversary chocolate a big JCM thumbs up and would like to see it introduced as a permanent addition to the range once the year is up. I'm sure if you look back across my Ritter reviews (HERE) you will note that I perceive Ritter's nut based chocolates as some of their better flavours so to me at least it made sense that they picked this mixed nut theme to commemorate such an important birthday. What I liked about this bar especially was that each none of the nuts took precedence in the taste and at different times you could really detect the differing contributions that each brought to the party. If you would like to get a second opinion/perspective of this one I would suggest you take a look at Cybele's review over at Candyblog (See HERE) - seemingly she thought as much of it as I did.

8.4 out of 10

Monday, 11 June 2012

June 11th: Oreo Superpost

Oreo is fast becoming one of the most recognized global food brands with seemingly every market producing multiple products baring the brand name in all manner of different forms. Today I'm posting mini reviews of some Oreo products from Indonesia, Germany and the USA - the brand has certainly clocked up the air miles here that's for sure :-D

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Oreo Brownie Creme Filled
Kcal 370 Fat 16.0g Fat(sats) 5.0g Carbs 52.5g (per 85.0g brownie)

I'm going to kick off the Oreo reviews today with a product sent to me by my good friends at AmericanSoda.co.uk - a UK based, US snacks & food importer (See HERE). These guys were nice enough to provide me with a few samples of Kraft's Oreo Brownie Creme Filled - 85.0g, individually wrapped, single serve brownies.

At this point I would like to point you in the direction of a review I wrote back in May 2010 on the Oreo Brownie (See HERE). In particular I would like to refer you to this part here ...

"My main issue (that my fellow taste tester agreed with I may add) was that the texture of the brownie was just way too dry. The brownie needed some sort of icing, or inner filling to balance the dryness of both the brownie and the cookie pieces."

Well folks please allow me to humour myself by letting me believe it was my review that brought about this rather awesome Creme Filled variety :-D Indeed as I suspected it might, the addition of a simple layer of creme running through the center provided a much needed moistness to the texture and the resulting mouth feel was far superior to the one experienced previously. The creme itself was exactly like you get in normal Oreos with it's vanilla hinted sweetness a delicious, complimentary enhancer to the chocolate cake flavours. This was a more well rounded and satisfying brownie than the last Oreo one I reviewed in 2010. If you like your brownies and/or your Oreo Cakesters then I would highly recommend trying one of these. - I must be some sort genius you know :-D

8.5 out of 10


    
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Milka & Oreo
Kcal 560 Fat 30.0g Fat(sats) 19.5g Carbs 54.5g (per 100.0g)

Unless I've totally missed something I believe this is the first time that we have ever seen a hook up between these two Kraft portfolio brands. Back in 2010 I remember there being a pretty similar Milka Cream & Choc-Biscuits limited edition bar (See HERE), but to think it's taken until 2012 to see any interaction with Oreo and Milka is really quite incredible. As unbelievable as the situation may seem we now do have a Milka & Oreo chocolate bar available to buy in Germany - 'Alpine milk chocolate with an alpine cream filling with Oreo chocolate biscuit pieces', it sounded awesome.

This new bar comes as new variant in the standard 100.0g Milka range and I guess unlike the post today, the Milka brand is the more prominent of the two. On the face of things I thought the presentation was very high quality and I liked the design of the wrapper and the chocolate which certainly looked generously filled with Oreo cookie pieces.

Cuttng to the chase I'm glad to say that the looks didn't deceive, and this was a bar every bit as notable for it's Oreo influence as it was it's Milka, with the crunchy cookie pieces really creating an impression on the smooth outer chocolate, and cool inner creme. The added cocoa flavours bursts from the Oreo cookie flavours were highly complimentary of the creamy, hazelnut noted chocolate and it made for a multi-layered, progressive taste experience. I found the combination to be extremelly well executed and I liked the fact that the Milka and Oreo elements were equally presented rather than it being just a gimmicky branding variety. Well done Kraft - big thumbs up and worthy of a JCM recommendation.

8.6 out of 10

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Oreo Ice Cream & Oreo Double Delight Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cream

Ice Cream - Kcal 140 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 3.0g Carbs 21.0g (per 3 cookies)
Double Delight PB & CC - Kcal 140 Fat 6.0g Fat(sats) 2.0g Carbs 20.0g (per 3 cookies)

These two flavours I found in a local Asian supermarket priced at just under £1.00 each. Both variants came in 137.0g roll packs which contained around 15 cookies in each - 5 servings if the nutritional info of 3 at a time would have us believe. Although on the wrappers it was stated that these were produced in Indonesia, they both contained all manner of different languages and translations in regards to the on-pack blurb. Handily, English was one of them so I was able to determine the different propositions being offered by both. Here are what they both offered and my brief thoughts:

Oreo Ice Cream - 'Chocolate sandwich cookies with blueberry ice cream flavour creme'. These had a very distinctive fake fruit smell that I didn't find all that appealing upon opening. The cookies felt small in size, even compared to the normal Oreo single stuff here we get in the UK. I'm not sure if this was a consequence of the air miles but the outer sandwich cookies didn't quite feel up to usual Oreo par. They had a lesser defined cocoa taste, and the lacking volume of inner cream gave them a very texture that seemed to suck all the moisture from my mouth. As aforementioned these smelt incredibly artificial and the taste of the inner blueberry creme was certainly that. It was terribly sweet and reminded me of the horribly cheap fruit flavoured bubblegum I used to get as a kid. I didn't get much enjoyment from these at all and didn't get anywhere near finishing the pack before they headed to the bin.

3.4 out of 10


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Oreo Double Delight Peanut Butter & Chocolate Cream - 'Chocolate sandwich cookies with peanut butter in chocolate cream'. These I was very much looking forward to as a big time peanut butter and Oreo Chocolate Cream fan. Like the Ice Cream flavour these again felt very small in size in comparison to standard Oreos. I don't think I can be dreaming this up as I had open up no fewer than four different cookies before I found one that had enough creme in to use for the photo you see above. Indeed the filling was lacking in volume and unfortunately taste and sadly I have to report that these also pretty much sucked. Yes, despite the promising peanut aromas, the taste never really developed either a strong chocolatey or peanut edge to it and the blander, drier outer sandwich cookies failed again to hold the usual Oreo quality.

4.9 out of 10



Overall after tasting these two I hope the Indonesian market aren't aware of what they are missing because neither of these were up to usual Oreo standards. I believe both of these flavours are currently available in the US so with any luck I should one day be in a position to compare and contrast.Given what I've tried here I wouldn't say they have much to live up to.

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Oreo Double Stuff Heads or Tails
Kcal 70 Fat 3.5g Carbs 10.5g (per cookie)

I have to thank dedicated JCM follower Thea for supplying me with the last Oreo product I'm showing you today. Thea got in contact with me whilst she was travelling in the US, and via the JCM twitter feed (@Chocmission) kindly offered to bring me back any US products I hadn't managed to source from my pals at AmericanSoda. After a quick glance through some of my fellow American bloggers sites, I happened across a few posts about a new variety of Oreos which I hadn't seen available anywhere in the UK - the Oreo Double Stuff Heads or Tails. Being the awesome person she is, Thea managed to bring back a large 432.0g pack for me - I will of course be eternally grateful :-D

As I'm sure you can tell from my photos, the basic concept behind these Oreo Double Stuff Heads or Tails is that they combine both standard and golden varieties of Oreo (with double stuff filling of course). Personally I don't have much of a preference between either the golden or chocolate biscuits, though if you pushed me I would probably side with the latter. What I liked about these was that they essentially took the decision of either/or out of the equation anyway, and presented me the opportunity to enjoy both varieties at the same time. The golden biscuits offered an enhancement of the vanilla hints from the creme, whilst the chocolate portions delivered the usual, sweet, friendly cocoa flavours synonymous with the standard Oreo cookies. Given there is nothing 'game changing' about these I would struggle to generate an arguement saying these are a 'must try'. With that said I would certainly buy them again given the opportunity, they combine two very good products into one very successfully - not always as easy as it sounds.

8.1 out of 10
 
 

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