31 March 2013

Holly Lane - 6 Viennese Whirls [by @Nli10]

Mr. Kipling is very famous and makes loads of instantly recognisable biscuits. The distinctive stylings and packaging stand out on the shelves and entice over the discerning purchaser. At work some biscuits and snacks were brought in to celebrate a birth and the above box was part of the pile. It wasn't until I picked them up that I realised these are impostors! This is common in electronics - the PopStation range comes to mind - but snacks tend to be a bit less blatant.

What Holly Lane have done here (and in several other products on the table) is produce a range of presumably cheaper alternatives to the Mr. Kipling products, but have they matched the high standards?

In short - no. THe biscuit is nice enough but not as buttery or crumbly as the real deal. The cream and jam are disappointing, but not inedible. I think that these are actually nice enough, but not quite up to the standards of the Viennese Whirl that Mr. Kipling (and Marks & Spencer's). In fact these are perfect for situations where a large number of biscuits are required.

I think these are an Aldi or Lidl brand, and there are lots of snack sized things in it, so maybe I'll have to take a trip and see what other goodies there are.

30 March 2013

MAOAM: Pinballs Eggsplosions (WH Smiths) [By @SpectreUK]

Happy Easter to all the chocolate egg lovers out there!

Though here is something different to whet your appetites, because they're not chocolate but they are egg shaped. These Pinballs Eggsplosions were produced for the Maoam brand, by Haribo Ireland. These chewy fruity eggs come in a 150g box. In every 100g there was 408 calories, with 70.4g of sugar and 5.1g of fat. They might sound pretty bad for you, but let me just point out that this is Easter and traditionally the time of year for eating stuff that’s bad for you. Okay, so we’ve gone through the munchtastic Christmas, and then the crazy days in January and possibly February of trying to join varying gyms and working off the huge amounts of booze, cakes, nibbles, sweets and alternative Turkey dinners we've consumed. Traditionally many people give up the whole gym cycle during February, don’t get me wrong, there may be some guilt complexes after a heavy sugary greasy pancake day, but the guilt wears off until Easter. Then it’s usually chocolate egg eating contests before the relatives get a hold of them when you’re not looking. These Pinballs Eggsplosions are a good alternative to Easter chocolate eggs. They’re small and therefore easy to hide from the relatives if you're selfish, and they have fruit and plant concentrates in the ingredients, which were; lemon, safflower, spirulina, blackcurrant, carrot, radish and apple. So they must be good for you, right? There were three flavours. Lemon had a really tasty zingy lemon sherbet flavour. Apple had a fruity natural and tangy apple flavour. Raspberry had an initial dry fruity flavour that suddenly exploded raspberries inside the mouth. To try and be even healthier I shared them around the office and the consensus was that the Raspberry Eggsplosion was the best flavour with the other two a close second. So if you fancy an alternative to chocolate eggs that you do want to share around in a giving and loving way at Easter time, or any other time you can get your hands on these Pinballs Eggsplosions, go for it. You won’t be disappointed!
By Spectre

29 March 2013

Mont Blanc - Swiss Chocolates (Switzerland) [By @cinabar]

My dad has been travelling again, which means that I get treated to choccies from foreign shores. He bought me back a stack of goodies this time from Switzerland (thanks dad!) but amongst the items he drew my particular attention to these. He said these were seen in Switzerland as some of the most luxurious chocolates available, and as they don’t export them, it made having the opportunity to give them a try something a bit special.
The packet is beautifully wrapped in red paper neatly tied off with ribbone. I carefully unwrapped the package and found a tray of 12 chocolate squares inside. Each chocolate cube was quite thick and presented in its own little paper case, and dusted with cocoa powder. I popped one into my mouth and let the flavours roll out. The chocolates were like a very solid silky, all most cool smooth truffle. The bitterness from the cocoa dusting was superseded by the sweet but dark and very rich chocolate praline from within. These chocolates seemed to take me on a journey which encompassed all my favourite flavours. As they melt in your mouth you get bitter, sweet, dark, rich, creamy, buttery and nutty flavours somehow all in one. There is only one word to describe them and it is ‘wow’.
They are the absolute definition of the word sumptuousness, all in a simple tray. Pure unadulterated chocolate goodness. I’m going to savour these, and have a couple as a treat each day until the box runs dry. After that I’ll have to see if my dad needs to go back to Switzerland any time soon. Here’s hoping. ;-)
By Cinabar

28 March 2013

Tilda Stir Fry Thai Red Rice [by @NLi10]

Regular readers will know that I'm a sucker for Bachelor Chow - that is things that contain all the ingredients to make themselves. I believe they are one step up from ready meals and just nutritious enough to stave off scurvy. Plus it has the added bonus that you have to add your own meat! In the current horse-gate shenanigans this is more relevant to other people than it used to be but for my family it means I can make veggie versions so Ms. NLi10 can share too.

This particular odd box of rice is basically the microwave rice that I used to have for lunch, but upgraded with enough sauce to make it feel like a meal. Plus it's a bigger portion for two! I made it with Quorn fillets which I fried up with a little lemon juice, but other than that I added nothing that wasn't in the sachet.

The flavour was suitably Thai, but with a severe chilli kick. This I liked! I'd had a surprisingly hot bolognese pizza at Pizza Express the night before so this was a notch down, but still enough to encourage having a drink on standby.

I liked this a lot, and while I feel that I should have thrown a few veggies in it's direction to make it a full meal it was certainly satisfying enough to get me through the evening. I'll have to investigate the range (and remember where I got it from - probably Asda) I'm sure these are good for lazy nights in, and big lunches.

27 March 2013

New – Maltesers Teasers [By @Cinabar]

It’s not often we get a new product from Maltesers, so I was particularly pleased to hear about this new bar that they are releasing. The Easter bunnies that they make are incredibly popular, and this seems to be an all year extension of that! Excellent stuff!
The bar is presented in the bright Malteser’s red packaging, but looks more substantial than the snack size bunnies. It is however just 186 calories, so it shouldn’t make you feel too guilty either. ;-)
Inside the pack is a very pretty bar, shaped like different sized bubbles of Maltesers all laid out together. The bar actually consists a thick creamy milk chocolate base packed with loads of small Maltesers pieces within in. The honeycomb filling delivers a light crunch, but it isn’t hard on the teeth instead just adding a nice bit of texture to the chocolate.
The chocolate is sweet and creamy, and the honeycomb pieces add to that with their extra sweetness and distinct Maltesers maltiness. Although there is certainly more chocolate in proportion to honeycomb in this new bar, it still hits the spot perfectly.
I love Maltesers so thoroughly enjoyed this bar, and think it is an excellent addition to range. It’s easier to eat while on the go than a bag of Maltesers, but still delivers all the flavour.
By Cinabar

Found this bars big brother in WH Smiths!!!

26 March 2013

Krispy Kreme – Chocomania Doughnuts [By @cinabar]

Chocomania has hit Kripsy Kreme just in time for Easter, and I could resist giving their selection box a try. Packed within are an array of chocolaty treats and tempting doughnuts. I am a Krispy Kreme convert, and they really are my favourite brand of doughnuts right now. I love that they are available at more and more places such as service stations etc, but nothing beats a proper branch where you can watch them being made and have a White Chocolate and Almond latte afters. :-)

Anyway the chocolate selection from Kripsy Kreme looks awesome, and we sat round for a cold Friday night in and gave them a try. I thought I’d write about some of the highlights.

First up was the rather pretty looking doughnut topped with chocolate icing, white chocolate stripes and chocolate flake. If there wasn’t enough chocolate there for you it was filled with chocolate sauce too! This one is an absolute chocoholics dream – and I loved it!!

I couldn’t resist the doughnut which reminded me of spring, with is its pretty flower on the front. What with all the snow we’ve had recently we need something to remind us that the flowers are supposed to be appearing and not the snow! This neatly decorated chocolate topped doughnut was also filled with a rich chocolate filling just to make sure!

Okay so technically there may have been the odd none chocolaty one that found its way into the box. It’s just that this one was too good not to mention. It had a very pale pink icing topping, and was topped with strawberry and biscuit sprinkles. The filling was jam and cream, and this particular doughnut really did taste like summer. Sweet and yummy.

Back on the chocolate selection we have this fabulous ring doughnut topped with chocolate crumbles. On top of the glazed ring doughnut is a lovely rich topping that has the flavour of Oreo biscuits but the texture of cake. The topping adds a good sweet chocolate flavours, and loads of texture too

Next up we have a rather regal looking chocolate icing topped doughnut, it is speckled with gold and heaped with biscuit crumble. Although there is plenty of chocolate, the filling is actually a sweet cherry jam which offsets the chocolate nicely. The texture from the topping makes this too, it is a proper posh doughnut, and reminded me of black forest gateaux.

If you are looking for a bit of a different chocolate Easter treat, you can’t go far wrong with the Krispy Kreme range. You may think that a big box will go a long way, but they are so tasty I warn you they’ll be gone in seconds!
By Cinabar

25 March 2013

Kelloggs Rice Krispie Squares – Totally Chocolatey Mint (Local Newsagent) [By @cinabar]

I love that the new flavours for Kelloggs Rice Krispie Squares keep on flowing, and seeing a mint edition at my local newsagent was a very pleasing find. I haven’t yet seen these in my local Sainsburys, but am keeping an eye out for them. These were from a local newsagent near where I work, but don’t go too that often as it is a bit of a walk. The packaging shows a much brighter than normal patterned shiny green foil, to ensure there is no doubt about the minty nature of this cereal bar.
I’m not sure these do actually qualify as a cereal bar? Although it does contain a fair amount of cereals, there are that many other goodies thrown in it ends up feeling more like a proper snack or treat than a sensible breakfast food. I had mine as elevenses, which I think is okay on either count. The bar itself is chocolate coloured and it is drizzled in milk chocolate, and there are extra pieces of mint chocolate decorating it too. The base is the same texture as the other Krispie bars, firm from the Krispies, but softened by the sticky marshmallow like substance that holds them together.
The mint isn’t too strong, but it’s cool flavour works well with the chocolate adding a nice refreshing sweetness to the mix. I guess they made the mint a gentle flavour just in case you are trying to eat one first thing in the morning!
These are a nice addition to the range, but I think my preference still lies with the orange ones currently available. They just have a bit more oomph to their flavour, and this one seems a bit delicate for my taste buds.
Which flavour is your favourite?
By Cinabar

24 March 2013

Belgian Chocolates from Treasure, Mumbles [by @NLi10]

When on holiday in Wales (in Mumbles to be precise) I decided to buy some of the deli counter style chocolates that are clearly designed to be given as a gift to relatives.  And seeing as it was close to mother's day probably that too.  But I had these all to myself!

I was going to have a couple for me and a couple for my partner, but she only wanted one and they pointed out the box was better value and the rest is history.

The shop (called Treasure - with its own site!) was very large and nice, and contained many foodstufffinds things that I hadn't seen very often like the industrial strength marmalade and oddly a large selection of German biscuits.  Unusually for the choc counter it contained a variety of things i'd never even considered trying as chocolates which is a fab find.

Inside the box we find this:

 Six hand-picked chocolates!  The salted Caramel (bottom right) will not be eaten by me (thankfully!).

First up was the bottom left.  This is superbly decorated and the inside is the same white as the out, but has a passion fruit flavour.  This was very nice, but very sweet - you'd only want one!

I'm not entirely sure what this one was - I mainly chose it due to the pretty top.  It was fruity, but not overpowering.  Nice, but not that memorable.  I'd be happy to eat more to see if the flavour sticks this time.

This was an Orange centred chocolate.  It wasn't too strong, but did taste a little artificial, more like a solid orange liquor. None of these were alcoholic chocolates, but this one did feel like they occasionally  popped the same flavour into the boozy choc recipes.  Nice, but not as nice as the last two.

This claims to be a mojito but is a little creamy, a little minty and a lot nice.  I think that the alcohol part is overrated anyway and this was a refreshing little bite.

The Key-lime pie was probably the reason I did a double-take and picked these up.  It has a metallic top (win!) and a really odd flavour (double win!) and certainly does taste of limes, but in a slightly puddingy way.  I liked it, but it was more like the cordial than a fresh lime taste.

I'm betting these are not exclusive and are probably imported, so I guess you may be able to spot their distinctive tops in other shops and give them a try!  If you aren't in Mumbles though, you won't be able to go in the kooky little clothes shop opposite and then wander up to the castle like we did! :)

23 March 2013

Yerba Mate (@TebayServices Westmorland Service Station) [By @SpectreUK]

Made from pure yerba mate leaves there are 15 biodegradable tea temples in the 22.5g box from Teapigs. The box stated that people would either love or hate this tea. So I guessed it was rather like the Marmite of tea. Sadly I’ve never been a fan of Marmite, but I do like most teas, so I thought I’d give this a go. Yerba mate grows in South America. It is said that drinking the leaves increases focus and alertness while helping with detoxing and weight loss. I could always do with a detox from all the booze I drink and some weight loss from all the crisps, cakes and sweets I eat, and besides my attention span is.... what was I talking about? Anyway, the back of the box suggested drinking this tea without milk and with a touch of either cinnamon, which I am definitely not a fan of, or ginger. I was sure that there would be some cinnamon in the house somewhere as Cinabar had recently eaten some of her special home-made cinnamon toast, but I just couldn’t bring myself to look for it. I couldn’t find any ginger to sprinkle into the drink either and didn’t have any ginger biscuits for dunking , so I had to drink this tea straight, which was fine with me. Having said that once I’d squeezed the life out of the teabag and left the brew to cool to drinking temperature I was surprised at just how smoky this tea was. It was like drinking a cigarette, but I wouldn’t say that in a totally bad sense! I gave up smoking over fourteen years ago and still have the odd craving now and then. This drink really did taste like tobacco. Not bad either. With a touch of ginger or cinnamon I’m sure it wouldn’t be noticeable as they are such strong flavours in their own right and very warming tastes for cold winter’s nights. Without those added sprinkles this drink would be perfect for ex-smokers who miss the taste but don’t want the hassle of going out into the cold and wet to light up, and there’s the whole nicotine addiction problem with smoking too. It would also be perfect for smokers who want a little extra to warm themselves up after being frozen solid outside. Although, being addicted to tea isn’t a bad thing at all... I think it’s just being called English!
By Spectre

22 March 2013

Phileas Fogg: Italian style Corn Chips – Pesto & Roasted Peppers (Sainsburys) [By @cinabar]

It’s been a while since I last visited the Phileas Fogg range, and I can’t remember seeing anything new from them for a while. Having said that the Poppadoms they make with Indian Red Chilli are one of my favourite snacks, so I always have high hopes for the brand. I was overjoyed to discover several new flavours from them in my local branch of Sainsburys, and thought I’d start with these Pesto & Roasted Peppers version. The bags I picked up have different bases, and these are referred to as ‘Italian Style Corn Chips’.
Inside the pack are oval shaped flat crisps that looked a bit like tortilla chips, but were a bit thinner. They smelt amazing, and rather like green pesto that’s had a healthy addition of basil. The taste didn’t disappoint either, there was lashings of Italian herbs, the basil was balanced with a hint of garlic, and the peppers added a nice slightly sour twang that set the whole thing off. There was good hint of cheese that came through too, making these rather like a dream pizza topping as a crisp flavour. The taste was very well balanced, and it’s nice to see different ingredients being used to create a wonderful new flavour.
The base of each crisps worked well too. It’s fair to say it has a similar taste to tortilla chips, but it’s a lighter, gentler corn taste. The texture wasn’t too hard either, they had crunch, but they had a pleasant flakiness about them too.
I thoroughly enjoyed these new snacks from Phileas Fogg, they were spot on in both creativity and texture. I honestly can’t wait to get stuck into the other new flavours I’ve picked up, as if these are anything to go by they are going to be a total treat.
By Cinabar

21 March 2013

PomeGreat PurePlus Light Pomegranate Juice Drink [by @NLi10]

Here at FoodStuffFinds we are big fans of the humble Pomegranate and have reviewed as many different takes on it as we could find.

When the PomeGreat guys got in touch and asked if we'd like to try the new Light version of their range I jumped at the chance.

And here it is!  There is nice white packaging instead of the moody dark packaging that the lovely Pom & Blueberry variety comes in.  Like that this is also from concentrate (boo) but has their PurePlus super concentrate in it which tends to give the flavour more of a kick which is nice.

This contains Stevia (which is not to be confused with Miranda's best friend) a crushed leaf which has a similar taste effect to sugar but contains less calories.  At least according to the science blurb anyway.  Sugar has a strong initial sweetness, where as stevia has a sweetness at the end of the taste (but none of the aftertaste of non natural sweeteners) so there is a difference.  This is noticeable when taking the first swig, it's a bit more watery and less immediate than sugar drinks.  The strength of the pomegranate taste is at the end where it is usually the most powerful flavour there.  With the Stevia in tow this is actually negated a bit, which is a bit disappointing for fans of the stronger drink, but great for people who enjoy things that taste like sweet pomegranate.

This all said by the end of the pint (the 1 litre container doesn't have a serving suggestion so 2 pint glasses full it is!) you are just drinking a nice pomegranate juice drink and the alternate sweetness or composition doesn't really come into it.

Perfect for summer days and refreshing drinks, especially if you want to have less calories in your food.

(144Kj/33.9kcal per 100ml - i'm not sure if this is good or not for fruit juice!)

20 March 2013

Three Tigers – Spicy Wasabi Mix (Tesco) [By @SpectreUK]

I’ve recently become quite partial to Wasabi Peas, so seeing a packet of Spicy Wasabi Mix in the local supermarket made me more than a little over excited. From the photograph you’ll see there were several different coated peanuts and Japanese crackers in the bag, so I thought I’d try one flavour after another and write notes about them in true professional blogging review style (well...ish!). First of all I checked over the packet, made by Three Tigers in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, the 100g bag contained 447 calories, with 20.2g of fat and 12g of sugar. Looking at the ingredients, they included; rice 43%, peanuts 14%, palm oil, sugar, wheat flour, soy sauce, garlic, onion, cheese, wasabi, chilli, pepper, sesame seed, salt, and seaweed.

I tried the green coated peanuts first which had a refreshing crunchy wasabi burn. Second I tried chilli Japanese red crackers which had a very tasty chilli burn to them. Third I tasted the sesame seed coated peanut balls which had a very crunchy medium heat. Fourth were the Wasabi green Japanese crackers which literally blew my head off with their sheer Wasabi nose tingling burn. Fifth was the brown Japanese crackers which had a lovely Szechwan flavour. Finally, sixth was the hard brown dough ball that had a mild spiced coated peanut flavour. I found that this Spicy Wasabi Mix had an excellent variety of flavours which would go down very well indeed whilst sharing around with friends in a snack bowl. I would definitely have these again.
By Spectre

19 March 2013

Ferrero Bunny (WH Smiths) [By @Cinabar]

This fine looking golden wrapped rabbit was found sitting buy the Easter goodies in WH Smiths. He’s a very smart looking bunny, with flowers decorating the egg resting on his tummy and a nice decoration on the base too.
When I first saw it I assumed it was another pure milk chocolate bunny, but this is a new one made by Ferrero and as such has a little twist. Although it is still a bunny shell, packed into the thick milk chocolate are loads of hazelnut pieces which make it a little bit different from a lot of the other chocolate rabbits on the market.

The minute you unwrap the bunny the nuts are clearly shown, generously speckling the outer chocolate. It’s no secret that I rather like nuts and chocolate, so it will be no surprise that this particular chocolate bunny went down rather well! The chocolate is quite soft, but the nuts give it a nice mix of textures and they add a little bit of a crunch to the chocolate shell.
The chocolate flavour is sweet and creamy but with the added hazelnuts it does suddenly become very reminiscent of the outer shell of a Ferrero Roche. I thoroughly enjoyed munching on the this chocolate bunny and found the addition of the nuts to be rather genius. It makes it something a bit different on the market, and as a nuts fan it was right up my street.
By Cinabar

Recipe Corner - Cinnamon Toast [By @cinabar]

This may seem like a rather simplistic recipe, but put that aside as the results are rather amazing. I am a self confessed cinnamon fan, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of my favourite snacks contains a good hit of the stuff.

Sugar (ideally brown)
  • Start by toasting the bread on a very mild setting, so it’s only very slightly done.
  • Next butter the toast generously and sprinkle about a teaspoon of sugar per slice.
  • Sprinkle on cinnamon to taste, I’m quite generous really and aim for a few nice stripes of the stuff.
  • Pop the toast under the grill until the sugar bubbles and absorbs all the cinnamon. You’ll know its about ready because it will also smell sweet and spicy.

Simple yes, but I assure it creates a combo of brown sugar and cinnamon goodness that is perfect as a special breakfast treat. It just proves there are some lovely sweet alternatives to jam.
By Cinabar

18 March 2013

Cadbury – Fabulous Praline Fingers (Sainsburys) [By @cinabar]

Cadbury Finger biscuits are one of the best traditional chocolate coated biscuits. I used to have them as a child so they bring back happy memories, and will always have a place in my heart. They recently launched the Fabulous Fingers range, which are double coated, as there is a layer of white chocolate under the milk chocolate, and they have now added these new Praline ones as well.
Now I love nuts, so a praline flavoured biscuit under two coatings of chocolate sounded right up my street, and somewhere close to being the dream biscuit! I eagerly unwrapped the pack, and pulled out the golden tray revealing fewer biscuits than I was expecting (but isn’t that always the way). I snapped one in half and could see the two layers of coating and the darkened biscuit coloured by the extra praline flavour. Once I bit in I was struggling to pick up on much praline. Don’t get me wrong these definitely taste a bit different from the other Fabulous Fingers, but the nutty taste is very mild. It just add a pleasant hazelnut hint to the biscuits. I don’t want to say that I didn’t enjoy them, because that’s simply not true. The crunchy biscuit under the soft thick sweet coating was a pleasure to munch on, and the hint of nut added a nice aftertaste. It’s just that I had built these up so much in my head that I couldn’t help be a little bit disappointed at the weakness of the praline taste. The ingredients are all there, it just needed the volume turning up on the nuttiness.
Have you tried them? Do you agree? Let me know below!
By Cinabar

17 March 2013

Click 'N' Mix - Jar of Sweets (@The_Gobstopper) [by @NLi10]

Our good friends at The Gobstopper offered us the chance to try thir new idea - click'n'mix. Essentially this is like a remote version of the old Woolworths favourite pick & mix, and without all the hygeine issues from children putting their dirty hands into the sweets instead of using the scoops. These are not pre-selected sweets - you choose three or more specific types of sweet from the long list of favourites and they arrive speedily & neatly mixed in one of those Kilner jars that are all the rage at the moment.

I decided to be a bit different and instead of choosing my established favourites, pick things that I hadn't had for a while - the kind of things I'd grab at the cinema sweets stand. As you can easily spend £5 at the cineam pick & mix the jar for £10 was expensive, but not unjustifiable due to the size. In keeping with this I took them with a group of 7 of us to see the new Oz film (which is nice in a family friendly way, and doesn't try to tamper with the story of the musical verson of the original too much).

I chose:
Raspberry Bonbons - these just sounded nice and were something I'd not had.
Pink chocolate hearts - these looked like a cross between jazzies and pink pigs, both of which I love.
Fish & Chips - these I'd had before, but I do like the white fondant chocolate so thought I'd have these to round it out.

It also has the nice effect of a pink white & blue jar that looks pretty enogh for a present, which I guess is the main target market for these as you can just buy the bags from the site too for personal use (or to refill the jar).

First up I wnt for the bright blue bob-bons. The initial flavour of these was a little disappointing, as i'd expected them to be sour on the outside, but after a little suck & chew action the flavour burst through and I was happy to have chosen them. Far from being the hard boiled sweet with a powder coating I was expecting these are like a very grown-up wrapper-less chew. These are smaller than the other sweets in the jar and filled in the gaps and so seem to be the most plentiful - no bad thing, My friends were all tempted by these during the film and were glad that they were not too powerful, but enjoyed the flavour. A hit.

Second up was the pink hearts. These are quite large and I think were the least plentiful in the jar. More familiar versions of this fondant choc are in the pink pigs which crop up frequently, but the addition of the hundreds-and-thousands on the top make these taste more like a white Jazzie with a more rounded aftertaste. The texture change makes it quite interesting, and gives you something to do during the trailers when you have to find them all in your mouth. I liked these and they grew on me, but they aren't a must buy.

Lastly we have the white fondant fish & chips. These have a much milkier taste than I remembered, which is probably due to the posher white choc I've been sampling. These are a good cinema sweet as they are big, non sticky and don't crumble or make noise. While there are possibly more exciting things to select on the site these were least numerous in the jar by the end of the night - maybe as the pink ones had sank to the bottom, but a lot of the girls just had one extra of these after the movie suggesting they are also a hit.

Taking a large glass jar into the cinema probably isn't the best use for this. As a nice present (Easter maybe?) or something to have out on display it's quite nice. I may take my jar to work. As you'd think there is still about half a jar left so it would probably have lasted another visit to the cinema.

If you are buying for personal use and don't need the jar then I'd probably just buy the individual sweets, but it's nice to have a luxury moment occasinally.

16 March 2013

Guinness Luxury Milk Chocolate Caramel Bar (Selfridges) [By @SpectreUK]

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Now as a rule I like anything to do with beer. You would plainly see that from looking at my rather stout profile on meeting me. I love a good pint of stout also. I’ve tried plenty of beers in my time and plenty of stouts, and I’ve even tried beer flavoured crisps and Guinness flavoured hot pot and crisps. This 90g milk chocolate bar with a caramel and Guinness flavoured centre was made by Lir, Ireland’s award winning chocolatiers. On the smart cardboard packaging this chocolate bar was described as having; “roasted and creamy notes of Guinness mixed with Lir’s milk chocolate”, reading further I was expecting this to be a bitter sweet chocolate sensation with a runny caramel flavoured with Guinness and wrapped in an exquisite milk chocolate shell. The chocolate bar’s ingredients contained milk, soya, barley and gluten, and also possibility traces of nuts from the factory, and included sugar, cocoa butter, glucose syrup, dried whole milk, cocoa mass, butter, Guinness Beer (2%), non fat milk solids, milk fat, neutral spirit, soya lecithin, sea salt. Per 100g this bar was 510 calories, with 29.2g of fat and 7.1g of sugar.

The chocolate bar contained less than 1% volume in alcohol, but still stated on the box that the bar was intended to be bought and enjoyed by people of legal purchase age for booze. In my mind this left the possibility of woman who like Guinness. I know that sounds very sexist, and as a rule, I try my level best not to be, but in my experience, guys generally don’t go crazy for luxury chocolate (give me mostly any over the counter chocolate bar any day) and woman don’t go crazy for stout! Over a few years as a barman in younger times I was never asked for a stout by a woman, and rarely enough by men (who generally asked for the cheapest lager).

There was a strong smell of milk chocolate and a hint of malted barley and caramel on opening the cardboard box and unwrapping the foil around the bar. The milk chocolate and runny dark caramel had an initial sugary syrup sweetness that merged with a slight bitter roasted malt flavour. This bittersweet taste was very moreish and luxurious tasting at first. Unfortunately the sugary sweetness became overpowering after less than half the bar and the lovely initial milk chocolate taste was completely overshadowed by the sweetness with its bitter malted bite. There was a creamy malted sugar sweet aftertaste that by the end of the bar made me want to wash my mouth out. Maybe the bar is just too sweet to eat in one go, but I managed it. I’ve seen woman in the office and at home sometimes leave chocolate bars lying around half eaten, so maybe this bar would suite them more than the general guy type who chomps it down in the least amount of mouthfuls as possible and consequences be damned for the size of their tummies and the super sweet overload. Having said that, I really don’t think I’ll be chomping one of these bars down again in a hurry!
By Spectre

15 March 2013

Mr Kipling – Mississippi Mud Pies (Sainsburys) [By @cinabar]

Oh Mr Kipling, you do keep bringing out a wonderful array of goodies to tempt me. To be fair though the first thing that happened when I saw these pies was I transported back to a memory of a school spelling test. When Mississippi came up I wrote around five versions of the word down, with various combination of single and double letters where inappropriate. I meant to cross four of them out, but ran out of time and forgot. I was trying to see which one looked right. After the test I got teased by the teacher in front of the whole class for firstly cheating and putting down multiple answers, but mainly because none of them were correct. Geez – double ‘s’ double ‘s’ double ‘p’ has been ingrained in my head since then and the word still brings back a twinge of terror. I still can’t spell. I think I may have digressed…
Where was I?
These new individual Mud Pies are from the Dessert classic range, and contain a gooey chocolate mousse topped with chocolate icing, decorated with chocolate strands and they do look rather appealing. The packaging also suggests that these can be eaten hot or cold, and can just be warmed through in the microwave to make the centre extra sticky. The pastry is very soft and crumbly and has a nice sweet edge, but the heart of these pies is the chocolate overload in the middle. The centre is sweet with loads of cocoa, and rich and indulgent. There is tons of sweet chocolate flavour and although it is quite strong, it goes well with a nice cup of coffee to compliment it.
The pies are lush and satisfying, I enjoyed the one I had, but I found myself not even tempted to have a second as it would have been far too rich – even for me!
By cinabar

14 March 2013

Quorn Pepperoni Slices [by @NLi10]

Sometimes we pre-judge products before we review them. Mostly we get it right, I mean we've been doing this a long time now. This one I suspected was similar to the Quorn Sausages - interesting only if you are desperate for something that looks like a sausage, but is completely different. I was wrong.

I mainly complained that a Quorn sausage has a far too consistent texture, and lacks the small pockets of fat and spice that make the cooking and eating experience what it is. As these are smaller slices not only are they able to infuse the Quorn with other things to make it look like a sausage these actually react in a similar way and it works.

As my partner refused to partake in these (as they really do smell like the real thing too) I had two portions and have had the first one with pasta. While you could tell that it wasn't a normal meat slice the similarities were much closer than ever. The flavours were rich and spicy and the heat caused similar reactions to how it normally reacts.

I have saved the second half to use on a pizza for the ultimate test, but keep forgetting to add them on.

In short, these are great for people who want to eat less meat but not miss out on the deli counter, but terrible for people who dislike the tastes and smells of meat. I plan to buy more.

13 March 2013

Lifesavers Gummies Sours (@CyberCandyLtd) [By @SpectreUK]

Many thanks to the lovely Cybele from Candyblog for very kindly providing the photos for this post after we misplaced ours. :-)

These Lifesavers Gummies Sours were produced by Wrigleys, in Chicago. The print on the 56g bag stated that there was 180 calories, with 0g of fat and 36g of sugar in the packet. Ingredients included artificial colours, as well as corn syrup, sugar, water, gelatin, modified potato starch, fumeric acid, corn starch, lactic acid, and citric acid. The artificial colours included; Allura Red, Brilliant Blue and Tartrazine, which all sounded pretty psychedelic. There was a warning on the back of the packet stating “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.” I’ve been told that I can be pretty immature at the best of times, so the idea of eating these sour gummies at work sounded like a blast! Especially with all the groovy colours! The gummies were in the shape of fat zeros and there were five flavours to choose from. Black Raspberry was indeed black and had a sour face twisting raspberry flavour. Dark red had to be Tangy Cherry, and definitely had a tangy sour cherry flavour to it. Light red had a good sour Strawberry flavour. Green had an odd flavour to start with that wrestled with itself and then smoothed out to sour Watermelon, leaving a bit of an odd aftertaste. I quickly realised that Watermelon wasn’t my favourite flavour. The last flavour I tried was Orange and it had a good sour natural Orange flavour that was more than a little lip smacking. Unfortunately these gummies hadn’t been counted out evenly in the packet, so I fortunately only received one Watermelon, but also unfortunately only received one Orange. The rest were a mixture of Strawberry, Tangy Cherry and Black Raspberry, which certainly wasn’t a bad thing. I really enjoyed these gummies (asides the one Watermelon) and would have them again. They made me feel young and allowed me to have the excuse to run around my office in tight circles waving my arms in the air shouting “Gummy yummy in my tummy!!” at the top of my voice.
By Spectre

12 March 2013

Patchi Chocolate Selection Box (Harrods) [By @cinabar]

Patchi chocolates originate from Lebanon as a fine chocolatier there, but have now launched in the UK. They are available at Harrods, and have been available at the Dorchester hotel too, so they have quite exclusive stockists!
The box is beautifully packaged, and draped in ribbon, making it look like a very luxurious gift. Inside the thick ornate box there are a number of loose chocolates all individually wrapped. I didn’t have a menu inside my box, but quite liked the idea of guessing what was within.

Dark Chocolate Rectangle
I decided to start with the one I assumed correctly to be a rectangle of plain chocolate to get a feel for the brand. The chocolate broke cleanly and with a pleasant snap. The texture of the chocolate was silky and smooth, and it felt very clean to eat. The chocolate wasn’t too strong, just a good balance of cocoa creating a dark but not too sweet finish.

Gold Pyramid
Inside this one was a chocolate coated cluster of hazelnuts. The nuts had a very rich distinct taste making me sure that they had been oven roasted befoe being coated in chocolate. That extra detail really emphasised the nutty goodness, and sharpened the texture too. As a nut fan, this one was pure yum.

Lime Coloured Round
This was a mellow concoction that reminded me of a milky truffle, covered in milk chocolate with a dollop of fruity red jam. I liked the mix of flavours but couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was it reminded me of, until Spectre announced that it was clearly jam doughnut flavoured! He also decided that this one was his favourite in the bunch.

Silver Round Dome
There aren’t enough coffee chocolates in the world, and that is a fact. To find this one was a real gem. The dark chocolate was very rich and had the full flavour of coffee throughout, giving a deep dark tone. At the very heart of the chocolate was a sold coffee bean that added a pleasant crunch and an extra hit of coffee. The silky dark chocolate was the perfect base for all the sumptuous coffee flavour, and if they made a bar of this I think I would be in heaven!

Gold Chunky Rectangle
I unwrapped this one and discovered a nice chunky piece of milk chocolate; this was filled with a layer of biscuit topped by caramel. The flavours mixed together well and the buttery biscuit complimented the oozing salty caramel, it reminded me of chocolate dipped caramel shortcake. I loved the way the flavour changed from buttery to salty and sweet, and the thick chocolate coating just made this for me. It’s safe to say it was my favourite in the box.
 By Cinabar