Halloween Bits n Bobs 2012 - Part 2 - Nestle, M&S and Reese's

Happy Halloween all!! Following on from the Halloween Bits n Bobs 2012 - Part 1 post from Monday, I today take you through some more offerings currently out there for us UK folk. Whether for those pesky trick or treaters or just for a bit of self indulgence get your notebook out and at the ready to find out all that is great, and not so great from the likes of Nestle, M&S and Reese's this year. 
Lets be honest - Nestle haven't really pushed the boat out this year :-) Both these products will likely strike you as familiar looking. 

The Nestle Milkybar Ghost will probably remind you of the Nestle Milkybar Polar Bear that pops up around Christmas time. Our ghostly friend here follows the same premise of being simply a shaped white chocolate hollow mould.  
The Nestle Smarites Pumpkin likewise follows the same proposition as the Christmas time Nestle Smarties Penguin - a hollow milk chocolate shape containing Mini Smarties. Both of the above products can be found in most UK supermarkets and chocolate selling highstreet stores.

Marks & Spencer
If I was going to do a full Bit's n Bobs Halloween round up I was never going to turn down the opportunity of doing a bit of M&S shopping. The Mark's and Spencer Haloween range this year contains a wide range of products from crisps, biscuits and of course chocolates. Their Halloween chocolate range is inclusive of these M&S Horror Heads. They may not be any more complicated than aerated milk chocolate egg shapes, but the chocolate is kiddie friendly with it's creamy, sweet taste and 3 for £1.00 is nothing to quibble about.   

Lastly, in addition to bringing attention to all of the UK products I have been featuring, I also wanted to showcase these Reese's Pumpkin Peanut Butter Cups which I have been getting stuck in to the last few weeks. I had a whole load of these sent to me by my friends at AmericanSoda - (Site HERE) and boy have I been enjoying them. We all know I love my milk chocolate and peanut butter products so my recommendation of these should really come as no surprise. I will accept that the pumpkin shape isn't particularly good and the design work is lazy at best. That said you just can't beat Reese's for peanut butter and chocolate combinations. These are a winner for me.

So there we have it - Halloween 2012! Enjoy the chocolate folks! It's the only thing hat makes this a justifiable holiday in my opinion :-)

Halloween Bits n Bobs 2012 - Part 1 - Hotel Chocolat & Cadbury

We all know I'm not a great lover of the Halloween holiday but with so many ghoulishly themed products out on our UK market shelves this year I've dedicated the next few days to showing off a few of the 'Bits n Bobs' available from the likes of Hotel Chocolat, Cadbury, Nestle etc.
Hotel Chocolat
I got the feeling that I've been doing this all for too long when the Hotel Chocolat Haloween sampling package I received last week contained all products I reviewed in previous years (a little worrying huh!? haha!). This year I again got a box of the Hotel Chocolat Boo chocolates (Review - HERE, Buy - HERE), The Hotel Chocolat Yumpkin (Review - HERE, Buy - HERE) and a few of the Hotel Chocolat Skull Lick Lollies (Review - HERE, Buy - HERE). With Hotel Chocolat chocolate at the heart of all these products you just know they are coming with a ChocolateMission recommendation. 

The Cadbury line up this year consists of both old and new with some 2011 products returning, as well as some never seen before 'special edition products'. 
Starting off with the more traditional chocolate products, in most supermarkets you should be able to find both the Cadbury 'Screme' Eggs and the all new Cadbury Crunchy Spiders. The Cadbury 'Screme' Egg was first released in 2010 - (See my review HERE), and returns once again to keep the Cadbury Creme Egg to all year round phenomena that I don't believe it should be. 
The Cadbury Crunchy Spider (Kcal 155 Fat 8.6g Carbs 17.5g) - is a new creation that consists of 'milk chocolate with green crisped rice balls'. These aren't going to be many worlds alight with the crisped rice bits adding little aside from an interesting aesthetic effect with their green colour. Those partial to Cadbury chocolate will be satisfied though and parents after affordable treats for the kiddies could do worse (FYI 'Crunchy Spider' is also available in pink for the girls!!).   

Lastly from Cadbury with have these special edition Cadbury Toffee Apple Fingers (Kcal 95 Fat 4.7g Carbs 11.6g - 4 fingers). These are a little more elusive than the two above, though if you look for them in the bigger Tesco or Sainsburys superstores you should have luck. I shared these with some work colleagues who for the main part enjoyed them. Both the toffee and apple flavourings tasted a little artificial to me, but it didn't seem to bother others as much and the pack was finished within a day of being opened. I wouldn't stretch as far as saying 'go out your way' to buy them, but they are a fair variation of the original. 

Halloween Bits n Bobs 2012 - Part 2 will be published this Wednesday

October 26th: Christmas Special: Harrods Luxury Chocolate Hampers

Believe it or not but over here at ChocolateMission HQ we have already been sampling all manner of different chocolate products for the upcoming 2012 festive season. Indeed for a few months already, several companies and brands have been sending over samples of their Christmas line-ups and over the coming months I will be making you all aware of what is good and great in the opinion of the ChocolateMission crew.

One of the first companies to get in contact this year was a brand who have not previously featured on ChocolateMission - the UK based, up market retailer Harrods. The lovely people at Harrods offered me the chance to have one of their luxury chocolate hampers sent over - it would just never have been right to decline such an opportunity would it now :-)

After a quick look on their website (See HERE) we decided to go for their 'The Tuck Box' hamper. This hamper came with the description 'Hansel and Gretel’s gingerbread house has had a Christmas makeover, stuffed with an impossibly delicious array of chocolates, lollipops, jelly beans and gingerbread men' - cool huh!?

The photos on the site made this look great but even we were surprised by the quality of the presentation and how carefully the 'hamper' had been put together. The whole product was really focused around the edible gingerbread house that contained a whole manner of different festive treats inside. Unfortunately for the gingerbread house it tasted just as good as it looked :-) and it didn't take long for the ChocolateMission tasting panel to quickly decimate it (shame on us! It was 2.2kg worth of gingerbread eek!!). Housed inside the gingerbread confines, a wide variety of lovely retro sweets and chocolates lay in wait. This included a chocolate gingerbread man, fruit lollipops, frosty cola cubes (so awesome!!!), jelly beans, toffee bon bons and last but by no means least a very nice big milk chocolate bar. Much like the gingerbread house, these sweets and chocolates were very warmly received by one and all. I especially enjoyed the cola cubes which served up the most delightful of nostalgic memories given they were always a pick-a-mix favourite of my childhood.

Overall we were very, very impressed with the Harrods Luxury Chocolate Hamper we received and I would suggest you strongly consider one for gifting if price is not an issue for you this Christmas. Even if your funds are limited I would strongly suggest you at least take a look at their range as there are several different sizes, themes and price points on offer to suit a number of different requirements. It's of course very early days to be thinking about Christmas presents and the like, but I would recommend you have these in your thinking when the time does come around for you to be putting some thought in to what to treat your nearest and dearest to this year. Harrods luxury chocolate hampers get a ChocolateMission thumbs up and recommendation.

9.0 out of 10

October 25th: Hotel Chocolat Witches Warts + Exclusive Offers

Kcal 226 Fat 12.0g Fat(sats) 3.0g Carbs 29.0g (per 45.0g - Half Pack)

It's been a while since I last did a Midweek Mini review but time is of the essence with Halloween just around the corner! I will keep this short and sweet today as there is more exciting news in regards to some special offers that Hotel Chocolat have provided me with for all ChocolateMission readers (See below!!!).

These Hotel Chocolat Witches Warts were sent to me as part of my Halloween 2012 sampling package and came in a 90.0g bag. Despite their gruesome name I loved the idea behind these: 'toffee popcorn, roasted pecans and milk chocolate'. Upon opening the packet I was delighted to find large clusters of both popcorn pieces and whole sized pecans enrobed in thick, fresh looking milk chocolate - the chocolatey nut smells were glorious.

Being impressed aesthetically and sensually is of course useless if the product taste doesn't match. I'm pleased to report folks that Hotel Chocolat Witches Warts tasted delightful! The milk chocolate quelle surprise was magnificent, and the sweet, creamy cocoa flavours beautifully complimented the sweet and salty toffee popcorn and buttery pecan nuts. Unfortunately the bag lasted only a matter of minutes when opened and offered around in my workplace. Suffice to say Hotel Chocolat Witches Warts got a thumbs up all round. 

8.2 out of 10



I'm pleased to announce that Hotel Chocolat have provided me some unique discount codes for all ChocolateMission readers to use for their Halloween orders!!! Please see below for details:

To use these codes please visit the HOTEL CHOCOLAT WEBSITE HERE

Code: Applies to all orders.
Offer: Free Gift - Winter Treasures Chocolate Selection worth £11
Min. Spend: £60
Starts: 15/10/2012
Ends: 23/12/2012
T&C: Excluding delivery

Discount: 10% excluding delivery
Min. Spend: £40
Starts: 15/10/2012
Ends: 23/12/2012
T&C: Excludes Gift Vouchers, clearance items & special offers.

October 24th: Oreo Candy Corn

Kcal 150 Fat 7.0g Fat(sats) 2.0g Carbs 21.0g (per 2 cookies)

With Halloween just around the corner (next week *sigh*), I was given free reign of the Cybercandy Halloween stock to pick out something to review for the site. After looking at their range I could have picked something conventional like the Reese's or Snickers pumpkins, but it was yet another limited edition flavour of Oreo that got my attention. These Oreo with Candy Corn flavour creme were a variety I've seen reviewed on sites like Marvo's Impuslive Buy (See HERE). In all the reviews I had seen they had always scored pretty highly so me being a big Oreo fan, I just had to give them a try myself.

My lovely contact Libby at Cybercandy sent me a 297.0g large pack that I brought in to work to share amongst my colleagues (deeply regretting this now!!). As you will see from the photos these Oreos were of a 'golden biscuit variety' and were packed with the standard level of inner creme aka 'stuff'. On the eye they looked very cool with the creme a very bright, dual-coloured orange and yellow. To my delight the outer cookie bits could be easily separated from the each other - yes I am one of those saddos that likes to do the whole 'twist, lick, dunk' process :-)

Being a Brit I'm not the best placed to say how much these tasted like Candy Corn so I will just give you my best description of the flavours based on things I can relate to. Speaking firstly of the golden outer pieces, these were pretty standard standard biscuits that did a good job carrying the inner creme with butter, brown sugar and minor salt influences all forthcoming. The inner creme was of course the star of the show though and it quickly took over the taste as soon as it was encountered. As I said above I cant comment on it's candy corn likeness but what I can say is that it was absolutely delicious. Straightaway the creme reminded me of custard - sweet, creamy and with a lovely hint of vanilla that really gave it identity. For me, two at a time was a nice portion for my mid-afternoon tea though judging by the rate they were guzzled by my co-workers I think one or two had rather more than that :-)

Overall its easy to think that Kraft are just trying to 'cash in' with all these limited edition Oreo flavours but they keep on pumping out some really good ones. I'm not a connoisseur of candy corn but to me these Oreo Candy Corn were damn good cookies and I think they can certainly be added to the 'approved' flavour list. We all know that I don't look forward to Halloween (worst holiday EVER!!) though if the products I get to review are this tasty its one I can live with for the minute. If you like Oreo cookies, especially ones of the 'golden' variety, then these Oreo Candy Corn will certainly be worth you checking out. I always judge these things by determining whether I would 'buy' them again - these I definitely would.

8.5 out of 10

October 22nd: Cadbury Crispello Double Choc

COMPETITION: Simply Follow & RT my review 'Tweet' to be in with a chance of winning your very own Cadbury Crispello Double Choc. Winner announced Friday!

Kcal  55 Fat 3.6g Fat(sats) 1.8g Carbs 5.1g (per piece - 3 in a pack!!)

Shall we just make this a permanent weekly fixture? 'New-Cadbury-product -of-the-week Monday!?' :-) Its been the running joke for the last month and a half that we cant go a week without the people in purple releasing a 'NEW' product for us here in the UK. Unlike some of the other Cadbury NPDs recently, arguably the Cadbury Crispello Double Choc is one we have had most warning about. Cadbury did announce it in the press a fair few weeks ago (See HERE) and since then they have received some not so positive PR with attention mainly focused on the "a lighter way to enjoy chocolate" billing (See HERE). Being an independent blogger I wanted to reserve my own thoughts on this until I had the thing in hand. Thanks to the folk at Cadbury I today got the chance to give it a try myself.

The proposition that has come in for ridicule is described on the bar as 'thin crispy shells with a chocolate filling, covered in Cadbury Milk Chocolate'. The new 30.0g bar carries an rrp of £0.60 which is near enough the equivalent of what you would pay for a standard sized Cadbury Dairy Milk or Cadbury Caramel - a little cheeky some might say! My first impressions of the wrapper were that this was a classy little product. The usual Cadbury matted plastic foil and well branded, welcoming on pack visuals gave a welcoming and familiar feel. Sadly I can't say this followed through to the bar itself. I was first surprised to see that the three inner pieces were not connected and were disparate from each other!? This meant there was no wafer snap satisfaction like you get with say a Kinder Bueno or a Kit Kat - it's a minor point but I think a fair few of you will relate with me on that. Another disappointment for me was that the blocks carried no branding which meant they had a little less character about them than your normal Cadbury product.

Above I've made a fair few nit-picking criticisms about the presentation but moving on to the product taste I'm pleased to say I can be more positive. For me the individual pieces were just about right eating in one go and this allowed me the very pleasurable textural experience of letting the outer chocolate melt, crunching down on the wafer shell and then enjoying the smooth inner filling. The outer milk chocolate was instantly recogniseable as Cadbury with its sweet creamy, milk focused taste that melted at a nice pace and thickness. The wafer element was pleasant on the main part for it's mouth feel though as usual it really didn't bring much to the table in terms of flavour. This was mainly because the inner chocolate cream filling compounded the flavours of the outer chocolate, adding a further wave of cream, sweet cocoa flavours. The taste wasn't anything I felt had anything 'new' about it all, however it was Cadbury chocolate so there was really nothing not to like. The 3 piece serving satisfied me for a mid afternoon energy boosting snack but this wouldn't be a bar I would consider to fulfill any instance when I had any sense of real hunger.

Overall its very hard to write a conclusion about a product that I don't have any strong opinions about. I'm not going to throw toys out the pram with it's female focused proposition or the fact that it is really just a repackaged Kraft Milka product (See HERE) as at the end of the day it was still a chocolate bar that I got a relatively decent amount of satisfaction from. As I said above, there wasn't anything new brought to the table and it wasn't exactly the most substantial chocolate bar I have eaten. That said though, it was still a Cadbury milk chocolate bar, and for the main part I did enjoy both the taste and textural sensation of the wafer, chocolate filling combination. Do I think Cadbury have to answer to pricing it the same as a standard Dairy Milk bar when it's only two thirds the size!? Maybe!? It is cheeky but the cynical marketeer in me says that they would be stupid not to since the majority of people will neither care or even notice. The Cadbury Crispello Double Choc is worth a try for sure - bring on the inevitable flavour variants that will follow.    

7.8 out of 10

October 20th: JR's Bar-B-Q Sauce Range

Bar-B-Q Sauce? Mustard? Ketchup? … on a chocolate review site!?? No folks you aren't looking at the wrong website. Today I'm taking some time out from my favourite sugar and cocoa laden treats and I'm entertaining some wonderful condiments sent to me by my good pals @Americansoda. Apologies if you were expecting the former, however I couldn't help myself when offered the opportunity to try their UK exclusive stock of JR's Bar-B-Q Sauces, Main Event Mustard and Chipotle Ketchup.

Now I'm not going to skirt around the issue here - this may look like the ultimate in all 'sell out' advertising blog posts but I genuinely was gagging to try these as I harbour the secret of being a rather big wrestling fan in my younger days. I don't watch WWF/WWE half as much as I used to (*ahem lie *ahem) but I still catch the occasional show and I was truly very much in to it in the days of 'Stone Cold Steve Austin', 'The Rock' etc. During this time Jim Ross was THE voice of wrestling, and though he isn't commentating half as much these days, he still is much adored by many wrestling fans around the world. Down the years there have been many funny wrestling skits featuring JR's famous BBQ sauce, though many of them have ended with one unfortunate character taking a 'Bar-B-Q sauce bath' :-) Although the sauce has been used in several comedic spots, the product has also received rave reviews in America which has often left Brits green with envy due to it's limited availability in this country … until now that is …

Enter www.Americansoda.co.uk for the rescue! These guys have managed to secure stock of Good ol' JR's full range of sauces and they can be found HERE on their website. Now being the kind souls they are, they sent me some samples and over the last few days I've been living like a condiment king trying them all out on several different things. Starting off with the Bar-B-Q sauces themselves I tried these out with both chicken and salmon dinners. Using the original variety as a dipping sauce for any chicken based dish is much advisable (fajitas yum!!), though using the hotter variety of the two for marinating a roasted salmon fillet was just as exceptional. I would describe the taste as featuring elements of tomato, peppery chipotle, a touch of fruity sweetness and a large smokey undertone - trust me it's awesome. The 'hot' variety is one to watch out for if you aren't in to spicy food, but if you fancy a little extra chilli pepper kick then it will certainly carry interest.

The Main Event Mustard and Chipotle Ketchup may not be as universally eulogised but I can also recommend these both as very commendable sauces in their own right. The mustard has been a hit with it's sweet and spicy flavour contrast (perfect for frankfurter hot dogs!) and the Chipotle Ketchup has already been useful for adding a little something special for both chip dunking and various cooking ingredients uses.

I'm going to end this post with one last cheap plug for AmericanSoda as I'm sure you can appreciate it goes with the territory. I'm not in the business of misleading my readership so I hope you all see no reason to disbelieve when I say these sauces are 'SLOBBER KNOCKIN GOOD'!! Recommended my friends … now back to the world of chocolate.

October 19th: Baker Days Double Chocolate Chip Cake

UPDATE - 22nd October 2012

This Ladies & Gentlemen is outstanding customer service!! After hearing that my name had been spelt wrongly on my cake, Baker Days got in touch with me to apologise at their mistake. I was more than happy with that (especially considering it was a free sample!!), but Baker Days went one step further today by sending me this ....

Rest assured I neither a) Asked or b) Expected this!!! What wonderful customer service folks! There is a lesson to be learnt here! Look after your consumers and they will look after you!! Well done Baker Days!

EDIT: Baker Days have been in touch with an exclusive offer for ChocolateMission readers. If you use the code CHM12 at the checkout you get a 10% discount on your order!!!

Last week I was approached by a company called Baker Days (See www.Bakerdays.com) who offered me the opportunity of trying one of their personalised cakes. Free cake!? Oh why the heck not :-D Being a typical Brit you could say that I'm rather partial to a spot tea and cake, thus suffice to say I didn't need any second invitation. Baker Days specialise in offering 'quality cakes by artisan bakers that are small enough to fir through the letterbox' - an interesting and rather unique proposition if you ask me. A few days after a few back and forth e-mails a little box made it's way on to my desk at work titled 'Private & Confidential'.

Inside my very serious sounding 'Private & Confidential' box a far more fun set of items awaited me. Complete with a personalised card, balloons, streamers and candles, a good sized 'letterbox' cake (fit for 4-5 people) lay in wait. Contained within a very classy looking branded tin confines, a Halloween themed cake was impeccably stored and looked and smelt as if it had just been freshly made. As wonderful as the design work was aesthetically I'm afraid to say that my name had been incorrectly spelt on the icing. Personally I didn't see this as much of a big deal, however I can imagine if you were buying this for a significant other then a mistake here would be inexcusable.

Spelling has never been a strong point of mine so I didn't let this put me off getting stuck in to the cake at hand. The Baker Days Double Chocolate Chip cake is actually the most expensive of all the different varieties you can choose from on the site (See HERE). Coffee cake aside, chocolate cake is obviously another big favourite of mine and its with great delight I can confirm this was indeed good cake. Supplementing my afternoon Earl Grey, I set about eating a slice about the size you see in my photos; cutting through the thin layer of icing and treating myself to the chocolatey goodness inside.  From the outset the base cake fast established progression from the sugar laden icing bringing elements of cocoa, butter and vanilla to the party within its dry crumbly texture. Taking the taste on even further, the cake was enhanced with two glorious things - cocoa cream and additional chocolate chips. The chocolate flavour hit was certainly delivered and the small slice I had was just about right as a nice little snack and mid-afternoon energy boost.

Overall apart from the issue of the spelling of my name it appears that Baker Days offer a good quality service and I could see myself using them in the future for people who I am really stuck buying presents for. As I mention in my opening paragraph, the concept of making individulised cakes that can be delivered through letterboxes is a great idea and it just makes it all the better when the actual product is also good quality. Baker Days appear to offer various different types of cake that can differ on flavour, size and theme. I guess in that sense the possibilities are endless - I would love to hear how their other cake varieties measure up to the Double Chocolate Chip cake - they do Madeira, Fruit, Carrott and Gluten/Wheat free. Baker Days I salute you for your cake ... just spell my name right next time please ;-)

8.1 out of 10

October 17th: Cadbury Dairy Milk with Oreo

Kcal 560 Fat 35.5g Fat(sats) 20.5g  Carbs 53.5g (per 100.0g)

Guess what I have for you today folks!? Why of course it's our weekly NEW Cadbury chocolate! Indeed for the fourth week in succession I have the pleasure of bringing you yet another new bar to make it's way out of Cadbury HQ (All previous reviews - See HERE). You may be thinking all these new bars at once might perhaps be getting on the excessive side of things, though I doubt there will be many of you turning your nose up at the latest offering I'm showing you today. Here in the UK there was a lot of displeasure voiced at the Kraft/Cadbury takeover deal, though one small upside I always believed there to to be would be the possibility of seeing some of their different brands crossover. One of the combinations that I thought could produce the greatest synergy was a potential Cadbury and Oreo hook up. The launch of this Cadbury Dairy Milk with Oreo bar has now made this a reality!

This new 120.0g bar has been launched at a £1.00 price point and has so far been sighted in both Asda and Morrisons supermarkets (as of October 8th!!). As you will have guessed from the name the product has predominantly been launched under the Cadbury brand with Oreo marketed as the additional enhancer. This obviously makes sense given the nature of the product, though I perhaps would have expected Kraft to have given the Oreo logo a little more prominence on the wrapper. That said both the outer packaging and chocolate made for impressive presentation with the inner filling looking especially eye catching with it's white cream creme studded with obvious dark cookie pieces.

The obvious comparison to be made is of course with the Milka & Oreo bar that came to UK shores earlier this year (Review - See HERE). To be honest with you aesthetics aside there was really not that much difference between the two apart from the subtle variations in the outer milk chocolate. Cadbury Dairy Milk and Milka Alpine Milk chocolate are very similar in taste though the Dairy Milk traditionally has a thicker melt, no minor hazelnut hint and is the creamier of the two. Frankly I thought they both carried the Oreo element as well as each other, allowing the filling to substantiate a a further surge of cream, vanilla and chocolate cookie flavours within a smooth, silky truffle, crunchy piece laden texture delivery (trying saying out loud haha!!). Out of the two I would say I found the Cadbury Dairy Milk offering the more satisfying, but this only due to it's larger, thicker blocks and ultimately bigger size (+20.0g).

Overall I expected great things from a Cadbury and Oreo combination and I certainly wasn't disappointed by what was on offer here. As I made mention to above, to draw a real favourite between the Milka & Oreo and this new Cadbury Dairy Milk with Oreo would be a nonsense. Unless you especially favour one of the chocolates over the other, you probably wont end up thinking one is majorly superior to the other - I'm afraid I didn't anyway, just check out the scores each of them received. What is important I guess is that both have scored very highly, and if you are a fan of either of these brands I would strongly suggest you get involved with the latest of all the new Cadbury offerings. It goes without saying the Cadbury Dairy Milk with Oreo is a bar that carries a ChocolateMission recommendation.

8.7 out of 10

October 15th: Hotel Chocolat Kir Royal Truffles

Kcal 162 Fat 11.0g Fat(sats) 7.0g Carbs 14.0g (per 3 truffles - 33.0g)

I have to start the review off today with a shout out to ChocolateMission reader Emily who a few weeks ago sent me a lovely e-mail detailing in great length why I needed to get my hands on some of these Hotel Chocolat Kir Royal Truffles. Emily told me that she thought these were 'the best truffles she had ever tasted' and that she was keen to see how I would rate them on the JCM scoring system. Boy oh boy, the things I do for my readers eh!? A quick heads-up to Hotel Chocolat and I had a nifty pack of these in my posession - Kir Royal 'The classic cocktail recreated in soft champagne truffles with a dash of blackcurrant liqueur'. More on the origins of the cocktail HERE from Wiki - its French you know!

The pack I recieved from Hotel Chocolat included 6 truffles and weighed 65.0g. For the first time that I have ever seen the packaging contained nutritional information (see above!!) - I hope this is a trend for Hotel Chocolat going forward, it would certainly cease the amount of e-mails I recieve each day from readers inquiring how many calories there are in Hotel Chocolat productX. In addition to the thumbs up I give in the away of this new provision of information, I must also bring to attention to the presentation which altogether was pretty special. The truffles were exceedigly well presented and though I cared very little for their generic plastic wrapping and tray, I was very excited by the striking pink colours and tempting red fruit smells emanating from the packet.

Fearing that the crystalised sugar outer shells and white chocolate innards could lead to a sweetness coma I was delighted to learn I was totally wrong and this was never an issue. For the most part the crystallised sugar was very much a non-factor, though it did add a nice little variation in texture with it's crisp to the bite sensation. Inside this crunchy outer shell a simply fantastic treat of different flavour combinations was to be had - these were as Emily said delicious! The main flavour base of each truffle was established with strong tones of milk, clotted cream and butter. It was initially creamy to the core, though it wasn't long before the taste progressed introducing elements of tart blackcurrant and sublte elements of boozie champagne. The red berry fruit bursts were tremendously real tasting and the champagne hints engaged in the epically smooth mouth feel of the truffles with a lovely touch of alcohol induced warmth.

Overall whilst I cant stretch as far as saying these are the 'best truffles in the world' I certainly feel that they are worth every penny of their lucrative 9.0 out of 10 rating - those don't come easy you know!! Indeed these were exceedingly good chocolates and as you might of guessed they lasted a matter of minutes when shared among two - one was a treat, two was to be sure, three was because they deserved to be finished :-) Speaking as a person who has tried way too many different chocolate truffles in my time I would account these as memorable and  for the record thats a very good sign! Whilst I'm not a lover or cocktails myself, I do know a lot of people that are, and I know for a fact these will feature in a fair few present packages gifted by myself in the next year or so. Hotel Chocolat Kir Royal Truffles - you get my recommendation and a big thumbs up!

9.0 out of 10

October 12th: Thorntons Milk Chocolate with Lemon and Sea Salt

NOTE: This review is one that never made it on to the site earlier this year. I believe this bar is out of distribution, though that is perhaps a good thing judging by the review I wrote back then :-)

Kcal 571 Fat 38.8g Fat(sats) 23.7g Carbs 45.2g (per 100.0g)

It's been a long while since I last wrote a review on a Thorntons chocolate so it was a welcome surprise last week when this new limited edition bar came to me via one of their PR agencies. Hot off the news that they will soon be releasing some other limited edition bars to mark the Queen's Golden Jubilee (See HERE), this Lemon and Sea Salt bar has also been recently released and today I got the chance to try it. On the back of the out cardboard box the chocolate came described as 'milk chocolate with natural lemon oil and Cornish sea salt' - this wasn't exactly the most conventional flavour mix I had come across.

Introduced as part of the square bars range, this was another limited edition that didn't reach the usual 90.0g weighting and clocked in a little smaller at 80.0g. The usual reason that Thorntons attribute this to is  that the ingredients for some of these limited editions cost more - Cornish Sea Salt!? Lemon Oil!? These two didn't strike me as ingredients that would cost anything out of the ordinary! I could be wrong!? Anyway, suffice to say the presentation was on the whole nice and though I would of perhaps used a pastel yellow colour instead of the sky blue to communicate the flavour of the chocolate.

Unwrapping the chocolate from it's foil confines the aromas that greeted me were of mild cocoa and a light fruity hint.They certainly weren't indicative of the strength that the lemon would play in the taste of the chocolate and this is maybe why the development of flavours that I tasted came as such a surprise. Expecting just light citrusy suggestions the actual flavour development was anything but and the lemon influence was dominant from the beginning of the melt. Indeed from the very first few seconds on the tongue, the taste of sweetened lemon was the overriding element and it stayed this way without any real progression or enhancement. There was a certain creaminess to the taste which prohibited it from being totally mono-flavoured, however the sea salt was almost completely undetectable and many of the chocolate characteristics were lost. It wasn't a horrible tasting chocolate by any means but after just a few blocks the lack of variability came across as awfully one-dimensional and frankly unexciting.

Overall this was a flavour combination that just didn't do it for me. As I said at the start of the review, lemon and chocolate isn't a pairing you normally find and I think this bar is evidence as to why this might not be such a bad thing. In a nutshell this was a chocolate that offered a very limited taste experience and because I was very far from being bowled over by what was on offer I can only offer it a bit of a poor score in that regard. I can see that fans of lemon flavoured confections might be able to get some enjoyment from this chocolate, though those people aside I don't think there is much in the way for others. I'm all for manufacturers trying out new things but I'm  afraid this one didn't do it for me. It wont be a chocolate I will sorely miss when it's limited time release is up.

5.9 out of 10

October 12th: ChocolateMission Presents ...... UPDATE

Hi All

In an embarrassing turn of events I have decided to remove my earlier post regarding Chocolate by Genevie.

My new 'ChocolteMission Presents' post style was designed to allow smaller UK chocolate companies the opportunity to introduce themselves to a wider audience through my website. Unfortunately it has been brought to my attention that Chocolate by Genevie have somewhat of a shady past, and have previously misled consumers into thinking the chocolates they source for their chocolate boxes are infact made by themselves. As this was not something they claimed to do in the post that was featured on my site I was not aware of this, though thankfully friends of the site namely (@Chocablog, @Soosieboo and @MostlyAboutChoc) brought their previous misdemeanors to my attention.

As the company did not lie in their content on my site I do not wish to muddy their name further, however at the same time I do not wish to help promote a brand who have previously acted unethically.

It's a shame that my first ever 'ChocolateMission Presents' post has not gone to plan but I can assure you the feature will be back in due course. Look out later this evening for a bonus review to make sure you have some new ChocolateMission content to read this weekend.

Have a great weekend


October 10th: Cadbury Dairy Milk Nutty Caramel

Kcal 550 Fat 35.0g Fat(sats) 17.5g Carbs 51.0g (per 100.0g)

'Does a week go by without a new Cadbury product being released?' ... That was the question I posed  you all last week and to answer my own question the answer appears to be 'No'. I've not only got another new bar for you today, but I have already got another lined up for the coming weeks - I wont spoil the surprise ;-) What I will happily fill you all in about today is the NEW Cadbury Dairy Milk Nutty Caramel bar. This little number was actually meant to be released alongside the Cadbury Dairy Milk Toffee Popcorn & Cadbury Dairy Milk Golden Biscuit Crunch bars that I reviewed a few months ago (See HERE) but has for some reason only been rolled out weeks after!?

This Cadbury Dairy Milk Nutty Caramel comes in a 200.0g size and is billed a 'milk chocolate with caramel flavour filling, caramel and chopped hazelnuts'. This proposition had me drooling and I was further excited by the gorgeous Dairy Milk and nut scents that greeted me when I peeled back the resealable plastic film wrapper for the first time. Doing the photography for the review I was surprised by the sheer volume of small hazelnut pieces that scattered out as I broke apart the bar to get the cross-section shot - it was positively brimming with them.

This caramel and nut combination sounded right up my street so I didn't hang around waiting to do my taste test. I wont bore you all with all the intricacies of the Dairy Milk taste. I'm sure recently you must have read my description of the cream based sweet cocoa taste a million times what with all the new bars we've been treated to. Moving on to the all important filling I found it had both it's strengths and weaknesses. Positively speaking the caramel elements were both very much to my liking with the caramel flavour filling and small dosage of liquid caramel in each block truly enhancing with their buttery, toffee flavours. What weren't quite so good however were the tremendous amount of hazelnut pieces, which whilst large in volume, were small in size. Indeed the chopped nature of the nuts spoilt the smooth, viscous melt of the chocolate and I never thought the woody nut flavours developed as well as they could have. Bring back wholenut pieces please Cadbury!!

Overall I was satisfied with this Cadbury Dairy Milk Nutty Caramel but at the same time I think it could have easily been a little better. As aforementioned it was the chopped hazelnuts that rubbed me up the wrong way (awful pun I know) as they somewhat spoiled the texture and weren't overly contributive to the taste. On a side note I have been informed by an industry bod why some manufactures are reticent to using wholenut pieces. His explanation was that some companies are wary about the small children choking on them which I guess is a fair enough explanation. In regards to the likelihood of my repeat purchase I'm not discounting it, but at the same time its probably not one I'm rushing out again to buy again. Cadbury fans will at least want to give it a try once.

8.2 out of 10

October 8th: Artisan du Chocolat Milk Chocolate Coated Salted Caramel Biscuits

Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???

I get sent a lot of products these days and most of them come from suppliers who tell me that 'product x is the best thing you will ever taste' or that 'product x is one of the best things we have ever made'. Both of these statements were present on the e-mail from my contacts at Artisan du Chocolat when they informed me they were sending across these Artisan du Chocolat Milk Chocolate Coated Salted Caramel Biscuits. I guess in a way I shouldn't have doubted the legitimacy of their claims given their previous history. If you were me however I'm sure you would understand my skepticism what with the sheer volume of times I've heard this all down the years.

Artisan du Chocolat are most commonly renowned for their 'up-market' positioning and posh chocolates - see their delightful No.1 Salted Caramels HERE). More recently however they have expanded their brand into other product areas, most notably their very well received popcorn products that I reviewed last month - See HERE. Biscuits didn't strike me as something I would naturally associate the brand with, however I was mildly curious to see what they could do with these milk chocolate coated salted caramel creations. The biscuits came in a 100.0g box that contained 8 individually plastic wrapped packets. I felt it was always going to be difficult for Artisan to maintain their high brow brand image with such an everyday product but I think I they did a good job with the sophisticated looking outer box establishing an aire of class from the outset.

I ate these biscuits over the course of a working week, treating myself to one every so often with both morning and afternoon cups of tea (I'm not doing much for the anti-Brit stereotype thing am I!). The first thing that struck me about these biscuits was that the chocolate didn't melt as soon as I touched it which is always an annoyance of mine when I eat chocolates biscuits. This may sound like a minor thing but it also turned out to be favourable when it came to the taste as it allowed the inner biscuit to make its mark before taking over for the latter stages of the flavour development. The taste started off with a buttery shortbread like biscuit that had strong tones of both sweet toffee and contrasting lovely saltiness. This butterscotch biscuit base was then enhanced by the smooth melting of the chocolate coating which brought equally strong elements of cream and cocoa to the party. The culmination of these two created a delicious, variable and progressive biscuit taste sensation that brought about that terribly dangerous sense of wanting to reach back into the box for another. They weren't the most satisfying of snacks due to their size, but boy these were very, very good biscuits.

Overall I was again very impressed with what Artisan du Chocolat had to offer here and I can certainly why my contacts there were so confident I was going to like them. With the site I try a lot of biscuits nowadays so to stand out from the crowd these were going to have to be something special and I'm pleased to say they were. The extra touch of salt in the biscuit gave the shortbread effect expertly and the quality of the outer chocolate meant that they did manage to establish themselves as a cut above your average biscuit offering. As I mentioned above I wouldn't suggest them as a sensible snack to cure any serious hunger pangs, however if your are just looking for a high quality biscuit offering to treat yourself or perhaps more suitably to finish off a dinner party then I think it's fair to say you need look no further than what you see here. In my eyes Artisan du Chocolat are fast establishing themselves as a brand who can be relied on for high quality. These Milk Chocolate Coated Salted Caramel Biscuits would certainly add weight to that case.

8.4 out of 10

Competition Winners

Hi All,

I'm sure you are all gagging to hear the winners of my latest social media wide competition. Thank you all so much for the entries I hope joining each of the ChocolateMission social media channels will allow you to keep up-to-date with all the latest ChocolateMission goings on.

So without any further hesitation I'm pleased to say that the winners are ….

Twitter - @Franzi_89X (Germany) - Join me on Twitter HERE
Facebook - Lisa Robbins (UK) - Join me on Facebook HERE
Pinterest - James Warr (UK) - Join me on Pinterest HERE
FOAP - Fiona Derry (Ireland) - Join me on FOAP HERE

Congratulations to the winners - Your Cadbury chocolate goodie bags will be with you shortly.

Keep an eye out for the next ChocolateMission giveaway. Something tells me you wont be waiting long ;-)


October 5th: Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Crisp Collection

Kcal 32 Fat 1.7g Fat(sats) 1.1g Carbs(sugar) 3.7g (per average piece)

Right guys and girls, Christmas believe it not is fast approaching, so it is about time I got on the case informing you all of the latest chocolate selection boxes and assortments gracing the UK marketplace this year. As you may recall, Elizabeth Shaw recently sent me a rather large gift hamper that contained many of their newest products. Within this, they included both 250.0g and 200.0g selection boxes of their Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Crisp Collection. Quite why this assortment comes in these two such similar sizes I do not know, but I can inform you that they both contained the four flavours of Crisp Chocolates: Butterscotch, Caramel, Cocoa and Honeycomb.

Weight aside, to make a wider comparison of the two different boxes, I would say the flat 200.0g box is probably the better looking aesthetically and would probably be the more suited option if gifting or pulling out for a dinner party. Although containing fewer chocolates, I thought the presentation style was superior with the fold up top and inner tray certainly better in design and layout compared to the simple 'bucket' style of the 250.0g. Here are my thoughts on the chocolates:

Caramel - Billed as dark chocolate with caramel pieces this was the variety I immediately dove in for. To be honest I felt very underwhelmed with the non-sweetened cocoa chocolate and crisp caramel collectively failing to register much of an impression taste wise. The melt of the chocolate felt a little laboured and the caramel pieces though crisp were very mild in any flavour delivery that could be categorised as anything else aside from sugary. Poor.

Butterscotch - This was milk chocolate piece had more sublte creamy sweet tones than the sharper sugary flavours delivered by both the Caramel and Honeycomb varieties. The melt of the milk chocolate was superior to the dark chocolate pieces which ultimately meant the taste was smoother and less jarring when it came to the flavour release of the crisp pieces once chewed. Good.

Cocoa - As aforementioned I wasn't all that enamoured by the dark chocolate on offer here, though these pieces were made a whole lot better with the presence of some additional cocoa nibs. Although the cocoa delivery and chocolate flavour hit was far superior, to be frank the labourish melt of the chocolate was only made worse by the presence of the jagged, scratchy feeling nibs. This variety was fine but I was hardly gagging for more. Standard

Honeycomb - These were the best in the bunch by far. These were milk chocolates that had honeycomb crisp pieces contained within. As with the butterscotch the quality of the chocolate was ok with it's sweet, cream skewed flavour delivery and smooth melt. Personally I thought the honeycomb crisp pieces had a little more flavour depth than both the butterscotch and caramel, as I could sense a little bit of floral rooted sweetness amongst the sweet sugar burst. Very Good.

Overall I've tried some pretty taste chocolates from these guys over the last few months but I'm afraid this isn't a selection box I can recommend you buy for the upcoming holidays. It never helps having such a lacklustre dark chocolate offering at the heart of two of the four pieces, though it was also many of the flavours that also disappointed me. Luckily enough I still have the Elizabeth Shaw Mint Collection to review in the next few weeks so I hope I can be a little more positive in my review of that. These Elizabeth Shaw Chocolate Crisp collections are probably best avoided though.

6.0 out of 10