30 November 2008

Antibassi Giandujotto and Baci (Café Nero)

I have a confession, whenever I go into Café Nero to have a coffee I almost instinctively pick up one of these praline chocolates to go with it.

Antibassi Giandujotto
Apparently they are called Antibassi Giandujotto, I have eaten them on numerous occasions, but had never taken the time to look at the name before. (Perhaps I had, it isn’t exactly easy to remember!) It’s a milk chocolate with a yummy praline filling, and I think it goes very well the coffee.

However when I was in Café Nero today, something new caught my eye, a small box with two choccies in it called Baci.

Antibassi  Baci
Take a hazelnut, wrap it in praline speckled with small bits of hazelnut, and add a coat of milk chocolate. Heaven, I do hope these aren’t just a seasonal treat and that they are here to stay!

29 November 2008

Maltesers Super Frothy Drink (Sainsbury’s)

Maltesers Super Frothy Drink

I do like the Mars Milkshake from this range of drinks, and this is the first time that my local Sainsbury’s has stocked the Maltesers flavour. As per the instructions on the bottle, I shook it for ten seconds before opening in order to make it ‘super frothy’.

It really did make it very frothy, and the drink itself isn’t too thick, so it bubbled nicely! The drink did not remind me of Maltesers. I wish to acknowledge that malt does figure heavily on the ingredients list, but I couldn’t really taste it, it's just very sweet and very chocolaty. This aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the drink, although it may be a little too sweet for some people.

28 November 2008

Kettle Chips- Mature Cheddar and Red Onion (Waitrose)

Kettle Chips- Mature Cheddar and Red Onion

Let’s stop and think for a moment about all the amazing flavours that could be used to flavour crisps… for example Kettle’s previous tempting offering of Red Thai Curry.

Now let us put together two things which in the world of crisps shouldn’t be together “New” and the concept of “Cheese and Onion”, because that is effectively what this is! How can their new flavour be the rather simple idea of cheese and onion? I will put aside my disappoint in the choice of flavour, and tell you about the taste.

It is a well known notion that Cheese and Onion crisps work, and these are no exception. Lovely strong cheddar flavour and nice hint of onion, all combined on the usual good quality potato with the distinctive crunch of a Kettle chip. The idea may be simple, but it does work.

27 November 2008

Guylian Belgium Chocolate Original Praline (Sainsbury’s)

Guylian Belgium Chocolate Original Praline

Do you ever have those moments when you quite fancy some luxury chocolate, but don’t quite feel right about buying a selection box of expensive chocolate just for yourself? I do, but I have found the perfect chocolate to purchase instead.

This is made by Guylian, famed for luxury Belgian chocolate sea shells full of praline, and sold in gift boxes. This bar consists of four rectangular chunks of their yummy milk chocolate, with a sea shell pattern on top incorporating a swirl of white chocolate in the design. This fine chocolate exterior encases Guylian’s yummy sweet nutty praline. The bar is essentially four of their sea shell Belgian chocolates presented in a bar. Heaven, a lovely treat to be enjoyed at anytime.

26 November 2008

Monster Munch vs Monster Munch - Flaming Hot Edition

Monster Munch - Flaming Hot Edition
Well it finally happened, I found the missing New/Old Monster Munch flavours I have been searching so hard for. They were located at “Pumpkin”, a chain of cafes found at train stations, including my local train station. It took a delayed train and me seeking coffee in order to find these crisps though! Can’t believe I had been walking past them ten times a week!

First Up – Flaming Hot

The same terminology as the previous review applies, to avoid confusion, the old big style Monster Munch is known as “Retro”, whereas the modern smaller multi-pack edition is known as “Small”.

Obviously, a taste experiment as important as this requires the legendary crisps expert “Spectre” to help out again.

I prepared a blind taste test, in which Spectre was faced with two approximately same size pieces of Monster Munch, one from the Retro edition, one from the Small edition. Impressively he identified which crisp was which without prompting, and laid forth his renowned opinion…

He preferred… Retro!!
I did too… the flavour was much fuller, and the crunch in the bigger chunks is perfect. Everyone agreed, a win for the Retro crisps!

Roast Beef to follow. Oh yes Monster Munch fans, Pumpkin stock ALL the flavours!

25 November 2008

Disco Biscuits

Disco Biscuits
These come in boxes of six, consisting of individually wrapped biscuit bars. The biscuit bases are coated in chewy caramel, with a layer of chocolate, and a few smarties style sweets on top! The biscuits are beautifully presented and are from a company that knows how to decorate their product.
Disco BiscuitsThe biscuit bases are of good quality, creamy and crunchy almost like shortbread. The caramel is full of flavour, a little chewy, but not enough to get stuck in your teeth! The chocolate just adds to the taste. Nice to look at, and nice to eat!

24 November 2008

Fresher’s Spreadies -Marmite (Asda)

Fresher’s Spreadies -Marmite
How neat is this? It’s a snack pack with some cream crackers, a small pot of Marmite, some Laughing Cow cheese and a plastic spreader. (Fear not Marmite haters, this is also available with a mini pot of Branston’s pickle instead.)

I had a bit of a disappointment when I opened my pack, the crackers were broken.

I don’t just mean a bit broken, I mean they were in hundreds of pieces.

Had I been at work, it would have been more disappointing, but as I was at home I replaced them. All the ingredients are very nice, and it makes for a nice snack. I do hope my broken crackers were a one off, and that they are not the victim of poor packaging through the transportation process to the supermarket.

23 November 2008

Stork: Merci – Finest Selection

Stork: Merci – Finest Selection
This item it is a box of miniature bars of chocolate, two bars in eight different flavours. I say miniature; they really aren’t that small, around 5cm in length. They do remind me of oversized Neapolitans though!

The flavours are:
  • Coffee and Cream
  • Hazelnut-Almonds
  • Hazelnut Crème
  • Praline Crème
  • Marzipan
  • Milk Chocolate
  • Dark Cream
  • Dark Mousse
They are a lovely selection of good quality chocolates. You may think there are too many similar subtle flavours, but I assure you they are absolutely gorgeous. The chocolate is rich and the gentle flavours all work well together. They could easily have included a mint or an orange filling for example, but I feel that would diminish the subtle chocolate experience.

22 November 2008

Kinder Advent Calendar (Asda)

Kinder Advent Calendar

Christmas-is-a-coming!!! I know this because I have seen the Coca-Cola Christmas lorry making it's way through television ad breaks!!!

So, in order to prepare, stage one of Christmas is: Advent Calendars!!!

This year I have a rather funky Kinder Advent Calendar! This looks good to me as each day there is a proper individually wrapped Kinder chocolate, thus avoiding the dreaded cheap chocolate you sometimes get.

Obviously I haven’t tucked in to it yet, that would be silly, it’s only November. However, I will let you how I get on. I am rather looking forward to it. :-)

Tassimo – Milka Hot Chocolate

Tassimo – Milka Hot Chocolate

I have a whole array of under used kitchen appliances, from things like candy floss makers through to milk frothers. Consequentially my need of a Tassimo hot drinks machine has fallen on deaf ears…

So, I don’t currently have a Tassimo machine, but I stumbled across the exciting fact that there is now a Milka Hot Chocolate cartridge available for them, and now I really want to try them!!!

21 November 2008

Lindt Hot Cassis [Blackcurrant] (Germany)

Lindt Hot Cassis [Blackcurrant]
This is another bar from the same range as the Lindt Hot Mango bar I wrote about a few days ago. I consider it a sister bar, but an ugly sister! For everything that was perfectly balanced about the Mango bar, doesn’t quite work with this one.
The positive thing is that the Lindt chocolate is the expected high quality. The blackcurrant filling though is sour, and not sweet like the mango. There is too much heat from the chilli, the cayenne in the Mango version has a good tang of heat, but this bar has a little too much burn! The flavours are over powering, and there is no balance. Shame, I was so looking forward to tucking into this.

20 November 2008

Melting Mars Hot Chocolate (Sainsbury’s)

Melting Mars Hot Chocolate
Should this be included in “The Quest for the Perfect Instant Hot Chocolate”? It isn’t made with a kettle, which is the definition I would use to describe an instant, but on the other hand it is premixed, and just needs microwaving.
The paper cup simply microwaves for 60 seconds on full power, a quick stir and then another 30 seconds, it is simple enough. Except when I made it, I left it a little too long, and it boiled over in the microwave, which meant cleaning up sticky liquid chocolate!!! (I really do have the cookery skills of a peanut!) So in conclusion I will exclude it from the quest!

Once I had tidied up, I found the drink to be very pleasant, thick, sweet and chocolaty. Not sure that under a blind tasting I would have been able to identify it as being a Mars drink, but it was still very nice. The Mars Refuel milkshake drinks are distinctly Mar flavoured, they have the chocolate and caramel which are in this hot chocolate, but the milkshake also has a wheaty nougat flavour too, missing from the drink.
On a final note, concealed within the lid were two miniature Mars bars, which were a very nice touch!

19 November 2008

Cocoa Deli – Chocolate Raspberries (Waitrose)

Cocoa Deli – Chocolate Raspberries

This is packaged in a very sweet box sealed with a bow from a piece of ribbon, and looks very luxurious. The packet contains raspberries coated in white chocolate, which does sound rather yummy. Curiously the ingredients list also included beetroot - madness, this must just be a natural food colouring. (The white chocolate is indeed speckled with pink / red dots).
The raspberries are freeze dried, which adds a curiosity to this item – it makes the chocolates crunchy! This is not a bad thing; it was just slightly unexpected when I first bit in. The sweetness of the white chocolate balances the sharper raspberry flavour and makes a lovely treat or ideal stocking filler.

18 November 2008

Kettle Chips- Red Thai Curry (Waitrose)

Kettle Chips- Red Thai Curry
I like Kettle Chips, they are big, thick cut crunchy crisps that have a certain air of quality about them, and so a new flavour to try is always a pleasure! Red Thai Curry sounds like a nice idea for an addition to the range.
There are very definite flavour of coconut and lemon and a good warmth of chilli, all the key ingredients are there to recreate the promised red thai curry flavour. They describe themselves as having ‘medium heat’ on the packet, and I think this is a reasonable description, as they have a decent spice. Lovely crisps!

17 November 2008

Lindt Hot Mango (Germany)

Lindt Hot Mango

This was brought back for me from someone on a trip to Germany. It consists of the usual super quality dark Lindt chocolate at a 70% cocoa content. This beautiful rich dark chocolate, encases a sweet and sumptuous mango filling. (Think jaffa cake jelly, but mango and a little more gooey.) Within this filling is a rather amazing warmth from the heat of cayenne pepper. To think this bar could have easily gone wrong, the flavours don’t naturally go together, but it works. It’s an amazing bar of chocolate, perfectly balanced, sweet, bitter and spicy and an absolute pleasure to eat.

16 November 2008

The Hot Chocolate Idea

There was something in my post on, “The Quest for the Perfect Hot Chocolate” that gave me an idea… an idea that had the potential to change the way we drink hot chocolate forever…
Combine this with a “last day at work” (as I’m changing job), and behold the perfect moment to test out a crazy idea.
The phrase “Hot chocolate and cocoa drinks made with milk are mostly lovely” is what inspired me. Why can’t we make a hot chocolate drink, usually only made with milk, but use milk powder and hot water instead? Genius? We need an experiment to confirm!

Firstly we need an office full of eager hot chocolate drinkers, a tin of nice cocoa, a volunteer to help and then we offer to make a batch of drinks.

Monbana Hot Chocolate

We fill some cups with milk to be microwaved, and some with milk powder instead.

To the milk powder we add water from the kettle and whisk with a fork.

We then have a full set of mugs with hot milk, some from the microwave, some from milk powder and the kettle. Now all we have to do is add in some chocolate powder, and stir.

Ok, there was a small hitch with the ones made with milk powder... as milk bits were floating on the surface.

We scooped out the bits, so that the guinea pigs would never know about them, and we served the drinks.

We did not disclose whose drink had been made with hot milk and whose had milk powder, we merely asked the recipients to mark there drink out of ten… and we patiently awaited the results.

Darn… the real milk won out, but notably - only just!!!

On a more personal note, I just wanted to say thanks to everyone in the team (and the extended team!), I’m going to miss you all! Thanks for all my lovely prezzies, and reviews of them will follow here shortly too! ;-)

15 November 2008

Tunnocks Tea Cakes Dark Chocolate (Waitrose)

Tunnocks Tea Cakes Dark Chocolate

When I wrote about Milka Melocakes (technically a tea cake coated in Milka chocolate), one of the readers comments was that you can’t beat a Tunnock’s Tea Cake. It’s true they are good, and as they have a new product in the range it seems appropriate to write about them.
I love the packaging, the fact they seem to be very traditional, retro even, but they manage to combine the word 'new' in there too. The tea cakes are lovely. The dark chocolate adds an extra cocoa taste which isn't too dark or bitter, combining well with the gooey mallow and soft biscuit base.

14 November 2008

ARO – Kirsch-Pudding-Kuchen [Cherry Pudding Cake] (Makro)

ARO – Kirsch-Pudding-Kuchen [Cherry Pudding Cake]

Well, when I found the German cheesecake, I also found this and felt obliged to purchase it too! (It’s not snacking, it’s research!) This cake consists of cherries in a baked-custard, sprinkled with sugar crystals.

The custard filling is sweet, but the cherries are slightly sour and the two flavours mingle together perfectly on the taste buds. The sugar crystals add a little crunch, which is a nice touch to the texture.
I really enjoyed this cake and the way it mixes both sweet and sour. However, I took both this and the cheesecake into work, and people at work rated both and the cheesecake won out!

13 November 2008

ARO - Kasekuchen [German Cheesecake] (Makro)

ARO - Kasekuchen [German Cheesecake]
German style cheesecake is one of my favourite things in the entire world. It is a baked cheesecake, and very different from traditional English cheesecake. I even try to bake it myself! I’m not a great cook, but frankly I have never found it for sale before in the UK, so I was rather excited to find this.

This is a perfect example of a German baked cheese cake. The consistency is firmer than English cheesecake but still soft and slightly spongy. The flavour is heavenly, sweet, but not too sweet or sickly, the cheese is more noticeable, and adds balance. The cake melts in the mouth, and is an essential re-purchase!

12 November 2008

Doves Farm Organic Chocolate and Crispy Rice Bar (Waitrose)

Doves Farm Organic Chocolate and Crispy Rice Bar

This bar has some impressive messages on the packet:-
- Fair-trade
- Approved by the soil association
- Suitable for Vegans
- Organic
- No wheat, no hydrogenated fat, no enzymes
To name but a few!
The important thing though is the contents, not the packaging, so it’s time to tuck in!

I thought the bar itself was very attractive and taste wise remarkably chocolaty, good quality chocolate too! The consistency is spot on and the whole bar is very satisfying.
To summarise, good taste, good texture, good ethics, this ticks all the boxes! Yummy!

11 November 2008

Mancus Gelati Chocolate Sorbet (Makro)

Mancus Gelati Chocolate Sorbet
It takes a second to fully accept what this product is about. It’s located in the ice cream section, and it’s in a regular enough looking ice cream tub, but it’s not ice cream, it’s chocolate sorbet.
In fact it’s not like ice cream at all, it’s not even soft and creamy, but it is good! It has a very strong sweet cocoa flavour, rather like you would imagine an intense drink of the perfect instant hot chocolate might be. I suspect if you melted it down, the chocolate liquid would not be opaque but instead it would be clear.
With its wonderful chocolate flavour, it also benefits as it is a sorbet and therefore it is a lot lower in fat than an ice cream. Bizarre, but wonderful.

10 November 2008

Compal Essential Pear Fruit Shot (Waitrose)

Compal Essential Pear Fruit Shot

This is a small drink, which is the equivalent of eating one pear. I guess it is fruit for people who don't like eating fruit! Its small size means it would easily fit into a lunch box.
Ok, taste wise it is very nice, as it is just a mini pear smoothie. I did like the idea of a smoothie with just one type of fruit as it was very refreshing and sweet, and it had a nice distinct pure flavour. I understand the idea that it is like having a pear (or other piece of fruit as there are many flavours) in your lunch box. But, as the drink is so little could they not double the size of it and give me two of my five-a-day?

9 November 2008

Weight Watchers Mini Chocolate Cup Cakes (Waitrose)

Weight Watchers Mini Chocolate Cup Cakes
New products are ace, healthy new products are even more appealing! Add chocolate into the mix, and it should be win win win! Perhaps that concept is too good to be true?
I think the thing that hit me the most with these cup cakes is the calories, 86 per cup cake. That strikes me as not being particularly low given the size, they are very small!
In fact on further investigation they work out as 422 calories per 100g, and for comparison Cadbury’s (yummy) Chocolate cup cakes are 375 per 100g. Yes that’s right folks, they are higher in calories than full fat options on the market! Shocking!
They are okay to eat though, the sponge is moist and chocolaty, but the chocolate topping doesn't taste like it’s very good quality. Pleasant, but eating just one didn't fix my chocolate craving or fill a gap, and not as low calorie as you might have hoped!!!

For The Love Of Wispa

Check your cupboards, got a spare aeroplane lying around?

Wispa are asking for people to donate things for their new ad campaign!
Have a look at: http://www.fortheloveofwispa.com/

One of the items really is an aeroplane!

8 November 2008

Wonka Bar (Selfridges)

Wonka Bar
This is an American chocolate bar from Selfridges food hall. The bar is a reference to Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, and I was kind of hoping I could win a golden ticket of some sort!
The bar itself is described as containing Grahams Crackers, but I have no idea what those are. (It is either a reference to the film that I’ve missed or it's some sort of product available in America?)

I was impressed by the design on the top of the bar when I opened it, it makes it much more worthy of being a stocking filler. The chocolate has a really nice taste with a good hint of cocoa. Graham's crackers in this context seem to be chunks of crunchy caramel flavoured biscuit. There are quite a few biscuit pieces and they go really nice with the chocolate. A tasty bar, well worth a try!

7 November 2008

Kettle Chips – Cheshire Cheese & Chutney (Waitrose)

Kettle Chips – Cheshire Cheese & Chutney
It’s easy to become disillusioned by crisps, so many elaborate flavours available and when you come to taste them, they aren’t very special. Most of the time there would be no way of identifying the flavour just by taste alone.
These crisps were different, they had a full flavour, a good cheese taste and a proper aftertaste of chutney. It’s such a good flavour I would like to add, that it is clearly a chutney taste, it is even distinguishable from being a pickle. Keep in mind that these are made by Kettle, and as such are their usual high quality crisp with decent crunch, making for a very nice product.

6 November 2008

Revels (Sainsbury's)

Revels Mystery Sweet

I have heard a lot about the new Revel, and the eviction of the most unpopular flavour, but I have only just found the new packets. There was an online poll to decide on the worst Revel, and I was sure that it would be raisin or toffee. (Surely?) Instead we are saying goodbye to coffee, my favourite. But, before I start on the petition to reinstate coffee, the letter to MPs etc. I feel it my duty to at least try the replacement.
I honestly can't decide whether or not to reveal what the new flavour is. There are places on the internet where it has been mentioned, but the company certainly want to keep it a secret, and it is kind of fun not knowing. So, all I shall say is that it is nice enough but perhaps a little artificial tasting. And... bring back coffee already!!!!!

5 November 2008

Baker St Chocolate Filled Pancakes (Waitrose)

Baker St Chocolate Filled Pancakes

These caught my eye as they seemed a little bit different. The definition of pancake seems to mean different things to different people, and these are not the pancakes I would associate with pancake day, these are more like scotch pancakes. In fact they are like two scotch pancakes stuck together and filled with chocolate spread. (Genius!) They can be eaten hot or cold, but I opted for hot as they only take seconds in the microwave. The pancake was soft and moist and the filling was a rich dark chocolate and nut spread. Really nice, and a perfect chocolate fix.

Serving suggestion: two heated up and served with melting vanilla ice cream mmmmmm

4 November 2008

Chokolit Tiger Biting Back Bar Lemon (Sainsbury's)

Chokolit Tiger Biting Back Bar Lemon
I saw the person who set up this chocolate company on TV, notable as he is just a teenager! So I’m very impressed by his entrepreneurial spirit.
I love the wrapper on this bar, and apologise for my poor photography. At first I thought the packaging was just a nice design, with some animals on the front. On closer inspection it turns out that some of the profits go towards a tiger charity, how about that for feel good.
The chocolate is gorgeous too, the creamy white mixes well with the strong sweet lemon flavour.

3 November 2008

Muller Vitality (Sainsbury's)

Muller Vitality
It’s been a long time since I last tried one of the yoghurt drinks filled with friendly bacteria. The last time it was a free sample of Yakult, and I really didn’t like the flavour. So much so, I avoided them from then on!
However recently I had the opportunity to try Mullers raspberry version. I was really surprised by just how nice it was. I was expecting a bitter after taste, but all there was, was a sweet fruity creamy yoghurt goodness. I’m not sure how much they aid digestion, but I can assure you they taste lovely.

Kaya Jam

Kaya Jam

Somebody at work brought this in for us to try, it was home-made by his wife. (Seem to get lots of home made treats at this place!)

I confess, I had never heard of Kaya Jam before but its ingredients are:
Coconut is to Kaya Jam what peanut is to peanut-butter. Its not bitty, in the way coconut can be, its just smooth, with a hint of egg. It’s ridiculously nice, I can’t believe it isn’t widely available here in the UK, like it is elsewhere around the globe.

2 November 2008

The Quest for the Perfect Instant Hot Chocolate

I am on a search for the ultimate instant hot chocolate.

Hot Chocolate and cocoa drinks made with milk are mostly lovely, but on the other side of the scales, hot chocolates made with hot water are mostly poor. However I'm lazy, and can't be bothered mixing up hot milk drinks at work. Therefore I am searching for the best instant chocolate drink.
My favourite instant so far is Aero, which is a cut above the others I’ve tried, but if you know of one better, let me know and I will give it a go.

First up then is one from someone at work -

The Co-operative Fairtrade Low Calorie Hot Chocolate
The Co-operative Fairtrade Low Calorie Hot Chocolate.

It mixes up better than Skinny Cow, but still takes a fair bit of stirring. The drink is dark, and rich in colour and looks very appealing. The flavour is quite grown up, it’s not as sweet as it could be, but it does have an almost wheat like after tone.
Somebody at work described it as having similarities in flavour to Mars Milkshake, which I think is fair, although Mars is sweeter and more chocolaty. It’s a nice product, but as I have a sweet tooth, it doesn't beat Aero.

1 November 2008

Terry's Chocolate Orange White (Woolworths)

Terry's Chocolate Orange White
Well I wasn't impressed by Chocolate Orange Nut, but an addition of white chocolate to the range is very appealing. It is packaged very sweetly, and is labelled as being a Snowball. Christmas is about eight weeks away, and we've had the first snow of the season... So it seems appropriate to talk about this find.
The chocolate is the usual good quality you would expect from Terry's, creamy and with a defined white chocolate flavour. The distinct orange flavour compliments it very well, and makes for a very nice product. I think it should be available all year round really!

Let me just add this to my table of flavour formulas:

White Chocolate + Orange = A good thing