Thursday, 18 December 2014

Of Gingerbread & Jelly @hartleysjelly #JollyJelly [by @NLi10]

Hartley's Jelly have a festive promotion going on at the moment.  They want people to make jelly and then put things in it - both ordinary objects for comedy purposes (like stationary in TV sitcom The Office) and edible things to make Christmas tables more exciting.

I was up for the challenge and ordered the kit. Duchess was more than happy to investigate the contents (there was also a large bag of raisins which I gave to my partner as soon as they arrived).

The jelly itself also looks seasonal.

and comes both in the wobbly blocks from my childhood and the newer sugar-free sachets which are a bit easier to make.

As I wanted my jelly to be completely edible I decided to forgo the ingredients provided (except for the jelly - that wouldn't make much sense) and make my own items.

Our work Christmas competition is to make and decorate gingerbread items, so I decided to do my best to combine the two.  It went a bit wrong in places, but overall I was happy.

Here we see the two halves of the mixture.  After I'd mixed the sugar into the flour I realised that the recipe was badly written and I was supposed to have melted it in the pan. oops!  It still tasted alright, but the bottoms were a bit caramel heavy.

I made a second batch afterwards with the new version and got these little fellows.  Again, a bit crispy but close enough to my original ideas that I went with these.  As you can probably tell they are all hand cut as I needed them to be quite small and rough around the edges.

As I work in a laboratory I decided to lay the gingerbread men out on the jelly as if we'd just grown them from a sample.

These are the best pictures due to the lighting, but as they'd been in/on the jelly overnight at this point and taken on a bus to work they had been shook about a bit.

I like the way that they are floating on the surface and didn't sink in - I used the old ice cube in the jelly trick to make it set a bit faster for this.

But for the Jelly contest I used a knife to slice down the partially set jelly and put one of the 'hands up' gingerbread men down into the hole.  It set invisibly and looks pretty good!

I think if you wanted to do this for a party you'd be best coating the gingerbread with some kind of varnish-like sugar coating so that they keep better and don't suck all the moisture out of the jelly.  The effect is pretty cool and I even took a video of a full rotation of the cup.

The social media campaign is running all over the festive period so dig that jelly out of the cupboard (or go buy the lovely festive packs) and have a go.  It's a good way to freak out guests who are expecting a boring packet of mince pies!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Twinings Salted Caramel Green Tea (Ocado) [By @SpectreUK]

Now I've tried quite a few green teas, Jasmine being my favourite, this Salted Caramel Green Tea from Twinings sounded both interesting and also a possible recipe for disaster. For starters I prefer sweet caramel in chocolates, rather than the salted variety. Salted caramel is okay in an Eddie Izzard "Cake or Death?" sense, but I wouldn't rush out and buy any or choose to eat (or drink in this case) salted caramel unless the boss (Cinabar) expressly wanted a blog about it. Don't get me wrong; I like Twinings, and that's certainly the good side of this review. I've never had a bad cup of Twinings, but then again I've never tried all their flavours either. I've drank quite a few of their flavours mind, from Assam to Yunnan, Darjeeling to Keemun and so on... I've enjoyed cups of their original Green Tea and their Jasmine Green Tea, but have a tendency to stir clear of their fruity flavours as they don't agree with my palete.

The box recommends brewing this Twinings Salted Caramel Green Tea for no more than two minutes as "any longer and you'll lose the delicate taste." Does that mean three or four minutes brewing time produces something akin to sweet brine? I have a bad habit of brewing tea to within an inch of the tea bags life. On occasion I've left the tea bag in by mistake and ended up wearing it on my nose. Most embarressing on one previous occasion in a rather serious meeting where a very high profile project was failing miserably, but then again it did lighten the mood! On opening the box there was a strong smell of salted caramel even through the sealed envelopes surrounding the tea bags. For a change I followed the suggestion on the box and let this tea brew for a couple of minutes or so. There was a strong aroma of caramel from the tea with a dash of saltiness at the end of the smell. Once cooled this drink had a light caramel sweetness to start with moving to a surprisingly smooth almost creaminess, their was a mild bite from the salt and then an aftertaste of caramel. Don't get me wrong as the saltiness lingers a little too, but somehow complements the smooth sweet caramel giving it a bit of an edge. The caramel flavour didn't have a hint of syrup as some added caramel flavours can have in drinks, and even if it did, the saltiness would kick it's backside right out of the mug!

Information on the box;
20 tea bags at net weight 40g. Per 100ml at 1 calorie with traces of fat, salt and sugar. Ingredients included; green tea, natural flavouring (7%). Also available in this range; Ginger Bread Green Tea, which sounds rather Christmassy!
By Spectre

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Walkers Sensations Cinnamon and Salt Popcorn (Waitrose) [By @Cinabar]

This flavour of popcorn intrigued me. As a rule I buy weird flavours of popcorn, and although I have enjoyed a lot of them, I always end up thinking that sweet and salty is my favourite. It is just a bit hard to beat as a flavour combination. On a side note, my favourite spice, or flavouring for that matter, is cinnamon, so anything with a good hint of cinnamon also gets my vote. This popcorn seemed to be tailor made for me, combining all my favourite ingredients into one popcorn variety.
The popcorn smelt wonderfully warming when I opened up the bag, and I could see plenty of seasoning sprinkled over the popcorn. The popcorn pieces were quite large and had a nice mix of textures from fluffy to fairly crunchy.
The flavour itself was ever so moreish. The cinnamon was the most prominent, and it was lovely and sweet and gently spicy, the salt was like a magic ingredient and just enhanced it perfectly. I think it was the saltiness that made it so moresih. Basically every piece had a slightly different flavour combination on it, ranging from rather salty through to very sweet and of course different levels of cinnamon mixed in to for good measure. This made it really interesting to eat and kept my hand going back for more. Essentially it is a christmas flavoured popcorn, what better to watch with a christmas movie!
By Cinabar

Monday, 15 December 2014

Cadbury Dairy Milk Mousse Snowman [by @NLi10] @CadburyUK

I was a bit ill yesterday and didn't have a review saved up so Cinabar filled in my usual Sunday slot - thanks to her!

As it's getting to be almost time to start thinking about Christmas I thought I'd join in with the festivities.  I've had these two for ages, possibly even since September.

The Co-Op had them on special offer and so I picked them up with the intention of saving them until it was at least December. With Christmas 10 days away it's safe to say that we can eat these now.  

Cadbury do a few chilled chocolate deserts that I've eaten over the years, including some nice chocolate mousse. What it appears to me is that someone figured you could fill creme egg style things with them, and now seasonal shapes. The choice of a snowman is a good one, but his odd hat does make him look a bit phalic.

His carrot nose is a bit Picasso too. And he is filled with white chocolate mousse.

The only noticeable difference between the two is the sweetness of the filling. As you'd expect the darker one is more typically Cadbury. They aren't really distinct enough to review separately though.

They are fairly expensive - I got both for a pound, but I think they are 70p each - which to me makes them a luxury choc and not an impulse buy. I could get a King Size Twix for that! The target market must be children excited by being finally allowed to put their tree up on Christmas Eve and people you forgot to buy presents for. As a yummy stocking filler it hits the spot, but I see no reason to find a way to keep these around all year.

Unlike the creme egg these will. It define the season they are released in, but are a welcome addition.

Note: Autocorrect prefers chocolate mouse, and chocolate moose so maybe this is where they went wrong!