Monday, 2 March 2015

Oats and Nutella Cookie (Starbucks) [By @Cinabar]

My love for chocolate and nuts shouldn’t be a surprise by now, so it goes hand in hand with a bit of a love for Nutella. When I heard that Starbucks had a new Nutella cookie out I was really keen to give it a try. I ordered it at my local branch and when it arrived I was a little confused by the fact the cookie didn’t look that chocolatey. I was expecting a dark brown biscuit at least. I needn’t have worried through because once I had broken it in half I realised that the large bulge in the centre was covering a big generous dollop of Nutella. The cookie is soft and tore easily, American style.

I started on the edge piece of the cookie and found it had a fab golden oat taste. It tasted sweet and syrupy but the oats gave it a wholesome flavour, reminiscent of a porridge. I actually ended up eating all around the edges of the biscuit to start, just leaving the middle and filling to the end. The minute I bit into the centre though my taste buds were flooded with the rush of chocolate and hazelnut from the Nutella, heaven. I’ve never combined biscuit and Nutella, although I know NLi10 has, but for me this was a complete first. There was a very generous amount in there, and I needed my latte to help balance out the favours. I had left all the middle to the end so I ended up with a few straight mouthfuls of Nutella and biscuit, in retrospect a more balanced approach may have worked better, but the child in me couldn’t resist.
This is definitely my new favourite cookie at Starbucks, it is absolutely delicious and tastes as good as licking out one of those Nutella portion containers you get in hotels, only without the social embarrassment. :-)
By Cinabar

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Belvita Breakfast Tops - Strawberry & Choco-Hazelnuts [@NLi10]

 The business model for "breakfast biscuits" is as follows - the only people interested are those people who like buying new and unusual things.  If we keep releasing more variations then each of those people will buy all the flavours while they are on special offer.  If we can hook 1% of those people to keep buying them then we win.

The latest crazy biscuit idea is this. Put the filling on the top.  Now - cynical people may suggest this is just the sandwich versions of the biscuits without the top half.  Cynical people are probably right, only these are a slightly different shape and the toppings are more dried on and less sticky.

I got both the red and brown flavours.

As usual they aren't as perfect as on the packaging, but by this point that's not too relevant.  These ones taste like jammy breakfast biscuits, the other ones taste like ones with Nuttela on them.

They are best eaten upside down (the biscuit, not you) so that the topping hits the tastebuds first.  As a child I quite liked spreading Nuttela on biscuits so that version is my favourite.  Otherwise these are just the standard non-crumbly version of the breakfast biscuits - AND you only get three per portion instead of 4 which is mildly disappointing if you've got used to the 4 packs.

Best eaten with a cup of tea at 3pm, but these are still good quality biscuits and worth picking up while on special price offers.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Jack Link’s Original Beef Snack [By @SpectreUK]

Knowing my love of all things red meat Cinabar passed me these packets which were very kindly sent to us to try. Produced by Jack Link's Meat Snacks this Original Beef Snack, described as a "tasty strip of select beef - seasoned, cooked & dried", I immediately thought this beef snack was akin to beef jerky. I tried beef jerky once before, bizarrely accepting a piece from an over generous stranger on a train on the way back from a shopping trip. I'm not afraid to say that I absolutely hated it. It was bone dry, sucking all the moisture out of my body as I tried to eat it at the same time as almost pulling my teeth out as I tried to chew it. I reckon that it was akin to trying to eat a piece of an old leather boot. And I mean old as in long worn out, fished from the bottom of a stagnant pond and then dried in the sun, sliced and wedged together in a packet and sold at a premium price. Suffice to say that when Cinabar showed me a packet of this Jack Link's Meat Snacks Original Beef Snack, I may have heaved a little! However perhaps I could be wrong about this Beef Snack...?

Jack Link was established in 1885, so they must know what they're doing by now surely? The packet stated the snack is made with "quality beef", as opposed to poor quality horse as was found fairly recently in some supermarket foods! This quality beef is then finely chopped, seasoned, slow cooked and smoked. What did confuse me a little was that on the back of the packet it stated "100g Beef Snack is made from 142g beef". Cinabar explained that the beef would be dried and compressed to remove all the moisture from it to make it 100g. Presumably drying would be done throughout the cooking and smoking process, and compressing could be undertaken by making a surviving cow sit on it after cooking. Jack link certainly take care in preparing this beef snack.

"So what does it taste like?" I hear you ask. Well I opened the packet and was first hit by a rather smoky smell mixed with beef. The long slim piece of beef had a reddish tint to it. I took a tentative bite and was surprised how succulent it was and also how moist it was, or at least how moist my mouth was with every bite. The Beef Snack certainly didn't dry me out like that first taste of beef jerky. It was chewy, smoky, beefily tasty with light hints of onion and garlic. I honestly found this Beef Snack a flavoursome moreish treat that renewed my faith in beefy snacks. I was rather glad on finishing it to find out that Jack Link had sent us several packets. I reckon the packet would fit in a lunch box quite happily next to your sandwiches etc... You could dice this Beef Snack and put it in a salad or several on a sandwich if you want a smoky meaty lunch or have it with a beer and a movie late at night. Maybe that beef jerky I tasted way back when was part of an old boot after all?

Information on the packet;
25g packet at 100g there are 312 calories, with 12.6g of fat and 21g of sugar. The high protein ingredients included; beef, sugar, soy protein, salt, maltodextrin, hydrolised vegetable protein, onion and garlic powder, smoke flavouring, flavouring, nitrite curing salt, rosemary extract and sodium erythorbate as antioxidants, and sodium citrate as an acidity regulator.
By Spectre

Friday, 27 February 2015

New Milkybar Milk & Cookies Sharing Block (Ocado) [By @Cinabar]

I'm not a big consumer of white chocolate. I do like the stuff but I find that I eat less of it as it can be a bit rich, even for my sweet tooth. In some respects this is probably a good thing! Spectre is a big fan of white chocolate, but I managed to spot the “New” label on this one before him and steal his thunder. I did share it with him though - honest!
This new variety is flavoured with cookie pieces and is a Milk and Cookies Sharing Block. The Milkybar chocolate had loads of biscuit bits, it was impressively packed with them. Full points to Nestle for introducing a new edition which actually looks really interesting, a nice twist on the after school idea of a glass of milk and cookies. It is a proper new flavour combination, I'm getting a bit tired of the varying “new” caramel products if truth be told.
Back to this bar, the chocolate base is very sweet and creamy, but you have to remember the target market of Milkybar is a younger audience. Nobody tell Spectre. I felt the cookie pieces gave the bar a more mature feel, and made it something that could easily be shared amongst a group of adults. It is chunky too and feels pleasingly substantial. The cookie added a lovely crunch to the chocolate and the darker biscuit flavour was nice and a good contrast with the sweet creamy base. I quite happily munched two strips of this bar and felt content, so I do think the cookie bits changed the flavour enough to stop it being sickly. The pieces are lovely and chunky too. It reminded me how much I used to love white chocolate.
I have to admit I do like the nostalgic feeling the bar brought, it was nice to revisit a brand I haven't tried for a while. I used to loved the Milkybar Kid adverts that used to be on, “The Milkybars are on me!” They aren't though - you’ll have to get your own. ;-)
By Cinabar