4 December 2023

Dunkin’ Mint Hot Chocolate Bomb (Import Shop) By @Cinabar

Dunkin’ Mint Hot Chocolate Bomb

I love hot chocolate season. I drink it all year, so for me, hot chocolate season isn’t about increasing how much I drink; it is about being able to find lots of new and interesting products. Here we have something I found in an import shop, from a chain in the USA called Dunkin’ Donuts. I’m fine with the missing ‘g’ in the brand name; these things don’t bother me at all.

Dunkin’ Mint Hot Chocolate Bomb

So this is a Dunkin’ Mint Hot Chocolate Bomb, the idea being that you add it to a mug and add hot milk to activate it. I opened up the box and found the foil-coated ball inside. The foil was very sparkly, and I’m not sure the photo does it justice. I unwrapped it, added it to the mug, and added my hot milk (from the microwave).

Dunkin’ Mint Hot Chocolate Bomb

The ball spins when the milk is poured; eventually, it melts enough to get a hole and then splits and is flipped open to show the marshmallows hidden inside.

Dunkin’ Mint Hot Chocolate Bomb

I did then give the drink a bit of a stir to make sure the chocolate was all dissolved and mixed in before I gave it a try. The chocolate used in this is Belgian chocolate, and it mixed in nicely. The flavour was quite rich and fuller than I expected. Being American, I assumed it would be sweeter than it was. My sweet tooth loves American Swiss Miss Cocoa, and I think I thought that was their default for this sort of drink. My Dunkin’ Mint Hot Chocolate Bomb was well balanced, with the mint not too strong and the chocolate shining through. I very much enjoyed it. The marshmallows on top were a pretty addition and looked lovely on top. I wish I had picked up a few more when I was in the shop, as it was a delight to drink.

Dunkin’ Mint Hot Chocolate Bomb

3 December 2023

Mr Beast Crunch vs a classic Time Out bar [@NLi10]

 I had a hunt for exciting advent calendars this year - but I just didn’t see any! I know I have a few as presents that will appear this week - but instead I just bought some chocolate.

I hadn’t seen this Mr Beast bar - it’s the rice crispy one, and this is a classic Kwik Save chocolate treat - the Time Out bar.

Grass fed milk - like that’s unusual. Americans are odd.

The backs tell a familiar story.

One is focused on being the cool treat of choice - the other is a familiar friend,

And both being a chocolate with stuff mix they are fairly similar calories 

While Jimmy’s bar is a huge step up from most American chocolate, it still looks a little artificial next to the glory of the Time Out.

The wafer bar is actually pretty similar to how I remember it.  I used to get a pack of five from Kwik Save for a pound (maybe even 89p) while I was at uni and they’d last me all week. Here it’s 50p for one and it it’s a nice two bite snack. Just chocolaty enough to balance the wafers, it’s a delight.

The Mr beast offering has far more choc by percentage but has a similar taste and mouthfeel which isn’t surprising, but this kind of works in its favour.  For the price though you’d kind of expect more - think these are £2.50 still.

I’ll,only get more feastables if they do more interesting chocolate flavours like white and dark, otherwise I’ll stick to the Twix I’d have had if I’d not been in the interesting import shop.

2 December 2023

Mikkeller New England Pale Ale (Co-Op) By @SpectreUK

Mikkeller New England Pale Ale

There's no arguing about it, this Mikkeller New England Pale Ale needs to be drunk today. Spending an age languishing at the back of our cavernous beer fridge the previous owners of the house couldn't be bothered to take with with them, this Mikkeller New England Pale Ale goes out of date today. There seems to be a certain amount of argument on the can of this 4.7% in volume pale ale though. It states "Do stuff together", however the passenger of the side car looks absolutely terrified and they are arguing on the back of the can too.

After piling in the oat flakes in the brewing of this Swedish Mikkeller New England Pale Ale, it's described as hazy and having a creamy feel to it. On opening the can there was a light herbal hop aroma, with a wheatiness behind it. On taste this murky golden pale ale had a bitter herbal bite to begin with, then a filling oatiness followed by wheat and a touch of sweetness from the malted barley. I found this New England Pale rather flavoursome, and there's no arguing about that.

1 December 2023

Milk Chocolate Poppin’ Choc (Aldi) By @Cinabar

Milk Chocolate Poppin’ Choc (Aldi)

Popcorn is a healthier snack, right? So that makes this Milk Chocolate Poppin’ Choc healthier? Ok, I know they have covered it in milk chocolate and fudge pieces and brownie pieces and thrown in some white chocolate curls, and that may counterbalance the healthier claim, but I’m still in. Even if I have to throw in the obligatory comment about replacing perfectly good letters with apostrophes in the title, I’m still looking forward to this Milk Chocolate Poppin’ Choc bar.

The bar is very appealing to look at; it is nicely decorated and looks like the perfect stocking filler if you want to gift it. I’m eating this myself as a Friday treat.

I broke off a piece, and it was a little bit difficult to make sure I didn’t lose any bits as it was a bit crumbly. The texture is out of this world. There is the lovely soft but crispy popcorn, the chocolate, the crunchy bits, and the brownie. It was lovely. I love a mix of textures, and this delivered. From the crunch to the melt in the mouth bits, it was divine.

The taste was gorgeous too, full of popcorn and sweet, creamy milk chocolate. The added decorations are sweet and add a bit of variety. This Milk Chocolate Poppin’ Choc bar is a delight; it is definitely something I’ll be buying again as a treat.

Milk Chocolate Poppin’ Choc (Aldi)

30 November 2023

Random Festive Food - Pizza and Blueberry Crunch [@NLi10]

Dominos have been advertising heavily on the streaming at the moment, and in the cinema too.  I haven't seen them mention The Festive One yet - but it's only a matter of time. It's the last day of November and I've already had one!

I mean I'm fairly sure I've had these in other years too - but this is the first for 2023.

So what is it?  Cranberry Sauce pizza!  

Well - more than that - it's like a leftovers sandwich on a pizza.  

Officially that's "classic Christmas flavours including succulent, perfectly cooked turkey breast marinated in aromatic sage and onion, sausage and smoked bacon" so you don't get the actual dry stuffing (good) just the herbs that would give it the flavour.  And it really works.

It's a sweet pizza due to the cranberry and it lacks a punch - but it's very lovely and was instantly chosen by me when I spotted it.  I'd probably not have another one til next year mind.

Something I would have again however is this Blueberry Crunch - it's basically a doughnut with the filling on top.

My local (ish) park had a mini Christmas market with jams and spreads, crafts and a stall selling baked goods.  We got a lovely fresh-that-day focaccia and these doughnuts.

I totally should have got more but at £2.50 each I figured one should be enough.  I also should have taken a pic of the stall to find out where they would be next!

Freshly baked cakes are definitely a weakness of mine, and the Christmas Market seasons should see more appearing.

29 November 2023

Pot Noodle Fusions Chilli Chicken Flavour (Co-op) By @SpectreUK

Pot Noodle Fusions Chilli Chicken Flavour

I find soups, broths and spicy noodle pots a must have this time of year to warm me up in the autumn and winter months. This Pot Noodle Fusions Chilli Chicken Flavour definitely fits into the category of quick to make, and hot and messy to eat.

On un-peeling the top of the pot there was an "unleash what's inside: Hot Sauce" sachet on top of the noodles. So adding freshly boiled water, I followed the brief instructions on the pot. There was a spicy pepper and slight chicken aroma after a couple of minutes, as I mixed in the powder with the stringy noodles. I then unleashed the hot sauce sachet as my glasses steamed up from the heat from the pot.

On taste this Pot Noodle Fusions Chilli Chicken Flavour was medium to pepper hot and very tasty indeed. It made my mouth tingle with a pleasant flavoursome chilli burn. I couldn't pick up on much chicken flavour, as that was a bit lost in all the chilli. However, with some buttered bread, and some ham and tomato on the side it was a tasty meal. It made me feel like a student again, and made me smile and giggle a little each time I had to mop my chin, which was quite often. I'd have this Chilli Chicken Flavour again, but my favourite Pot Noodle will always be Beef and Tomato.

Information on the pot; The 100g pot contained 444 calories, with 17g of fat, 7.9g of sugar, and 2.4g of salt. Vegan friendly, please see photograph for the ingredients.

28 November 2023

Tony's Chocolonely Littl' Bits Dark Choco Orange Cookie (Ocado) By @Cinabar

Tony's Chocolonely Littl' Bits Dark Choco Orange Cookie

Where is the ‘e’ on the word little in the title of this product? I think it is supposed to be cute to replace it with an apostrophe. It bothers me; I’m not sure why, really. I will try to put that aside and give the actual chocolate biscuits a taste.

Today we are trying Tony's Chocolonely Littl' Bits in Dark Choco Orange Cookie flavour. I opened up the paper bag (full marks here for not using plastic film) and found the chocolate bites inside to be quite dark in colour. The product is also proudly fair trade, so full marks there too. This is so much better for the people who work in the industry. I gave one of the bites a try, and they have a super rich flavour. They are quite full on. There is almost a cocoa overload from the dark chocolate, but then there is a soothing tone of sweeter orange than shine through, which mellows the flavour and works well with the chocolate. The biscuit on the inside is wonderfully crunchy, and these are nice and moreish chocolates. I think, all things considered, I can forgive the missing ‘e’ in the name: Tony's Chocolonely Littl' Bits Dark Choco Orange Cookie.

Tony's Chocolonely Littl' Bits Dark Choco Orange Cookie

27 November 2023

Specially Selected Spicy Chorizo and Turkey Flavour Crisps (Aldi) By @Cinabar

Specially Selected Spicy Chorizo and Turkey Flavour Crisps (Aldi)

I can’t pronounce chorizo; it is one of those words that I want to say phonetically but know that is wrong. It is on my list, along with jalapeƱo and fajita, of various foods I hate ordering in restaurants. Not to worry, this is a packet of crisps, and I didn’t have to say it out loud, which is a relief.

Clearly, Aldi was looking at their Christmas range and thinking to themselves, how do we spice up turkey-flavoured crisps? They then very literally added spicy chorizo to the mix. It may not be traditional, but it sounded good to me. Inside the bag were crinkle cut medium thickness crisps with plenty of seasoning. I gave one a try, and these were so lovely and meaty. I was impressed that I could taste the turkey and even a butter like richness from the meat, followed by a more bacon like flavour and a good hit of spice. After a few crisps, the warmth from the chorizo builds up and develops into a nice heat. These crisps are gorgeous and have such a good flavour. They are perfect for those of us who love meaty crisps. They may not be traditional, but I think they are my favourite crisps from Aldi’s Christmas range.

Specially Selected Spicy Chorizo and Turkey Flavour Crisps (Aldi)

26 November 2023

Suma Organic Vegan Ravioli - Can of Comfort [@NLi10]

As children we survived on can-food for lunches.  We'd open them and heat them ourselves during the holidays and be completely self-sufficient until the evening meal.  Consequently I kind of hate most canned foods now.

This one is a bit special though.

As most of the childhood 80s ones were by Heinz they were mostly sugar and the pasta was barely pasta.  The meat was always dodgy too.  Here we solve all of that by making it vegan and decent quality pasta.

And full of veggies!  Apparently this existed 40 years ago so I could have been eating this all this time.

I microwaved it just like the olden days.

And it looked decent, and smelt fabulous.

The best way to describe this is Hearty.  I'd not want to share the can, but the mix of veggies and filled pasta is spot on - and the sauce is thick and rich.

For these zero degrees days this is the perfect low-effort lunch and I hope to stash a few away for emergencies.  Lovely stuff.

25 November 2023

Bang The Elephant: Red Velvet Revolver Beer (The Wee Beer Shop @WeeBeerShop) By @SpectreUK

Bang The Elephant: Red Velvet Revolver Beer

We have a veritable feast tonight. Cinabar sent me to the Deli counter in the local supermarket. We have a rotisserie chicken, onion bhajis, Scotch Eggs, Samosas, pork pies, spring rolls, olives and cheese, beef slices, peppered salami slices, and some salad.

Yes, I can be pretty greedy when it comes to the Deli counter. So, what better way to wash it all down with than a Red Velvet Cake Imperial Dessert Stout called Red Velvet Revolver. Oh, and I'll see if I can save a little room for some chocolate to go with my liquid dessert too.

This 12.2% in volume stout was created by Bang The Elephant Brewing Company. Red Velvet Cake was added in it's creation, with additional chocolate and vanilla. On opening the can there was a deep creamy chocolate aroma. There was a light fizz to this dark almost black Imperial stout, and it poured with a slim frothy head.

On taste there was definitely a sumptuous chocolatey Red Velvet Cake flavour to this stout, with oodles of vanilla creaminess smoothing out the flavours, followed by just a touch of herbal hops and then sweet roasted chocolate malt into the aftertaste. Gosh, this was a luxurious liquid pudding perfect for a night in watching a good old movie on the box. A must try for any liquid dessert lovers out there.

24 November 2023

Options Praline - Winter Edition Hot Chocolate (Morrisons) By @Cinabar

Options Praline - Winter Edition Hot Chocolate

When I say I love hot chocolate, what I really mean is that I love hot chocolate drinks made with hot milk. There isn’t much to go wrong with a milk based hot chocolate as they are going to be soothing due to the milk. What I tend to dislike are instant hot chocolates made with hot water. They are invariably lacking n flavour. There are exceptions the American Swiss Miss drinks are all amazing, but mostly they don’t excite me. I do still buy instants when there is a new brand or flavour, and that is why I purchased this Options Praline Winter Edition Hot Chocolate. Also I love nuts, so praline is another of my favourite things.

I added three teaspoons of powder to my mug and boiled the kettle. There were lumps, and it took a bit of stirring to mix, which is disappointing. You can see a few of the small lumps that wouldn’t go in the picture.

I gave it a sip and have to say I was impressed. The chocolate base is smooth, providing a good foundation for the praline infusion. The sweetness, though a tad on the high side, adds a nice nutty twist to the classic hot chocolate experience. It's a treat for those with a sweet tooth, but not overwhelming to the point of overpowering the essence of the praline. It was also refreshing to find that this Options Praline Winter Edition Hot Chocolate is and instant drink that I will look forward to having another mug of.

Options Praline - Winter Edition Hot Chocolate

23 November 2023

Asda Christmas but Free From Gluten & Milk [@NLi10]

 My Mom tends to eat gluten free food so we keep a look out for exciting variations on seasonal things.  My partner spotted these on a trip to Asda and so I thought I'd share here too.

I do like a chocolate tart, and adding Orange and cotrus peel to the top is a definite win.

While a little small these do look particularly luxurious.

And they have a hidden squidgy layer right at the bottom.

Very hard to see here.

These are pretty lovely though.  You'd not know that the pastry was gluten free, and the chocolate dairy free.  Ignoring the special dietary needs I'd have these again happily.

I don't like mince pies at all so didn't try these but my Mom did.

She said that the pastry was good again and that the filling was great too.  The size here mattered a little more (the choc one was about right due to the sweetness) and if you only had this with a tea you might not feel in full Christmas spirit, but again - a really good Gluten Free option.

I'd been advised that Asda really got their gluten free stuff right by someone else (who uses them for cheaper ingredients) so it's good to have that confirmed.  Maybe I'll make up a mini Christmas Gluten Free hamper for my family.

22 November 2023

Nestle Milkybar Speculous (Tesco) By @SpectreUK

Nestle Milkybar Speculous

I have loved white chocolate since I was a very young child. I do love Nestle Milkybar, which was pretty much the only white chocolate available at the time. I remember having small and large bars of Nestle Milkybar all of the time. Especially big white chocolate bars for my birthday and Christmas. They certainly didn't last very long.

I still enjoy Nestle Milkybars regularly nowadays. It seemed natural for me to review this new Nestle Milkybar Speculous which is out for autumn and winter. It has caramelised biscuit pieces inside it, which sounds wholesome. What I didn't notice until I looked on the back of the wrapper was that the caramelised biscuit pieces are flavoured with cinnamon. Although warming and spicy, I've never been all that keen on cinnamon. I don't like it with apple that's for certain. Although I've not tried it with white chocolate before. Having said that, Cinabar reminded me that the German word 'Speculous' is Lotus Biscuits for us, and I know I love those, so what can go wrong?

Nestle Milkybar Speculous

On opening the wrapper it was clear there were lots of pieces of Lotus Biscuit in the Milkybar. On first crunchy taste, and it was very crunchy, there was the taste of creamy white chocolate to begin with, which was followed closely by the flavour of Lotus Biscuits. Now I do love dipping Lotus Biscuits into my White Hot Chocolate when I have one. This Nestle Milkybar Speculous was pretty much the solid form of that. Enough said, really.

Information on the wrapper; The 100g bar has 91 calories per row, with 5.1g of fat, 9.4g of sugar, 0.05g of salt. Please see photograph for the ingredients.

Nestle Milkybar Speculous

21 November 2023

Dairyfine White Choc Poppin Choc (Aldi) By @Cinabar

Dairyfine White Choc Poppin Choc (Aldi)

I think this bar is a Christmas one, but only in a subtle way. The bar has only just been released; there are no Christmas trees or decorations on the card, but the bar has green stars and red hundreds and thousands. So subtle, if it is?

Here we have the new Dairyfine White Choc Poppin Choc bar. There is popcorn all stuck together with a generous drizzle of white chocolate and decorated with stars and hundreds and thousands. It is super pretty. I opened up the pack and broke a corner off; obviously, it rained candy decorations and bits! Oh well! This Dairyfine White Choc Poppin Choc bar is all about the texture, and as someone who loves texture, this is very much my thing. The popcorn is crunchy, and the white chocolate is thick but soft and gives nicley. The decorations give it a bit of a crunch. The taste of the toffee popcorn is the main flavour, and it is lovely and sweet. The white chocolate has a good flavour and is sweet and creamy. It was a lovely looking bar, perfect for those of us with a sweet tooth.

I still don’t know if this Dairyfine White Choc Poppin Choc bar is meant for Christmas, but I’m content to buy it for myself as a bit of a treat. It is a nice looking item and would certainly make an excellent looking stocking filler for the season too.

Dairyfine White Choc Poppin Choc (Aldi)

20 November 2023

Gu Brownies Salted Caramel (Sainsburys) By @Cinabar

Gu Brownies Salted Caramel

I know that the Gu desserts are a little bit pricey and a bit of a luxury item, but we do get them as an occasional treat. Spectre’s favourite is the Key Lime Pie variety, which seems to be seasonal and disappears in winter. My favourite, though, is obviously anything with chocolate.

I spotted these in Sainsbury's, and though 'salted caramel’ still seems to be living its best life, these do at least look a bit different as they are a brownie dessert. The packet says that you can have these hot or cold, but as a traditionalist, I went to try them straight from the fridge. The packet also says the entire packaging is recyclable, which is great. The lids are made of foil, which goes into recycling here, unlike a flimsy yoghurt pot lid.

I gave them a try, and first things first, look at all that caramel! What a fantastic layer of caramel! The flavour is sweet and rich, and the salt is mild but well balanced. Underneath that is the thick, moist Brownie section, which is wonderfully indulgent. It would feel heavy if there was more than a pot full, but with caramel, it was moist, and the portion was just right. What an absolute delight! These were the perfect Monday treat after work, and I’ll have to keep an eye out for any Christmas flavours that might be coming too.

Gu Brownies Salted Caramel

19 November 2023

Wizards Chocolate - CBD and Magic [@NLi10]

I occasionally use CBD to help with the minor aches and pains side of my arthritis.  It's not a cure, but if you need an afternoon's respite then one of the tablets or similar with food is a decent way to get it.  My preferred way is the turmeric late, but those aren't always available. 

My 96 year old Nanna (in law) has had a few anxiety issues, and has similar aches and pains to me so I figured this was a nice and measurable way to let her get some relief too.

CBD clearly stands for Chocolate Bearing Disclaimers.  Not to be eaten near your medication times, but as I take all mine in the morning I just leave this for after lunch.

Worth noting that the recommended amount of CBD is dropping from 70mg to 10mg in the UK (apparently) so they don't want you to eat more than 1/5th of this in a day.

It's made up north in York, and is nicely packaged and branded and easily available in Holland & Barrett.

We essentially portioned it into 12 2-cube chunks but ended up eating two of these each so only 1/6th of the bar which is well within the sensible guidelines.  Thing is with CBD - more doesn't seem to have a bigger effect.  No one is quite sure how it does what it does (for the arthritis I'm still aware of the pain that I've caused through hand use, it just doesn't bother me as much) and why small amounts are more effective than one big dose.

We left the stash with Nanna to see if it helped.  She was worried that it might interfere with her regular medication though so only tried a few blocks more before giving it back.

As far as the snack side goes it's essentially just milk chocolate, but there is a hint of a herbal aftertaste that some might not enjoy.  If we do end up getting this back then I'll happily finish it off.

18 November 2023

Aunt Bessie’s Apple Crumble & Custard Pale Ale (Morrison’s) By @SpectreUK

Aunt Bessie’s Apple Crumble & Custard Pale Ale

I love Aunt Bessie's Dumplings. I love her Yorkshire Puddings too. I love homemade apple crumble and custard. My mom used to make really good apple crumble when I was a lad. Now, if I'm good, which is rare, Cinabar makes it for me this time of year. Hint, hint… I'm not sure I'm going to like Northern Monk's Aunt Bessie's Apple Crumble & Custard Pale Ale though. Now if it was a cider, it might have legs, but hey, I'll try anything sweet for a pudding beer.

At 4.5% in volume, Aunt Bessie's Apple Crumble & Custard Pale Ale is supposed to be a sweet and creamy pale ale. Not quite explicit on the ingredients, Northern Monk seem to be keeping hush, hush on that though. So, on opening the can there was the unmistakable aroma of apple crumble and creamy custard. This aroma pretty much overpowered any hops or malted barley, but it did smell really good.

This misty murky pale golden coloured ale looked like someone had dropped their custard coated pudding in their pint. On taste this Aunt Bessie's Apple Crumble & Custard Pale Ale did pretty much what it said on the can. There was a light oaty crumble flavour, a hint of bitter herbal hops, and then a fruity apple taste all to begin with, which was followed by a creamy custard flavour. The added sweetness from the pale malts rounded off this Apple Crumble & Custard Pale Ale into the aftertaste.

This Aunt Bessie's Apple Crumble & Custard Pale Ale was a luscious pudding beer, begging me to be good enough to sample one of Cinabar's brilliant homemade apple crumble and custard puddings. Yum.

17 November 2023

Roosters Gastro Brie and Cranberry Chicken Kiev (Aldi) By @Cinabar

Roosters Gastro Brie and Cranberry Chicken Kiev (Aldi)

I was browsing Aldi’s new products; they are starting to get a few special and luxury items, presumably for the upcoming season. I couldn’t resist picking up a box of these new Roosters Gastro Brie and Cranberry Chicken Kievs. They looked like the perfect Friday night dinner. I love cheese in pretty much any format, but mixing it with cranberries and chicken sounded perfect.

These cook from frozen, so after the oven had warmed up, I got them cooking. They cook for 41 minutes. It is times like this that I know I’m on the spectrum because 41 minutes bothered me more than it should. Surely cooking times are always to the nearest 5 minutes. The other part of being on the spectrum made me set the oven timer for exactly 41 minutes because, well, that is what you do.

Anyway, once it was cooked, the breadcrumbs were lovely and golden. I cut in, and the gorgeous, cheesy filling oozed out. This meal was mainly about the cheese; that wonderful brie flavour with the chicken was delicious. The cranberry is there, but not too strong, just adding a little tang of berries. Again, it was nice, and it added just a bit of edge to the flavour. This is a perfect Friday night tea, and I can’t wait to see what else is in the new Aldi range.

Roosters Gastro Brie and Cranberry Chicken Kiev (Aldi)

16 November 2023

Co-Op British Chicken, Boxing Day Feast Christmas Sandwich [@NLi10]

 Christmas Sandwich number 3 has appeared - and it's another themed one - Leftovers!

It's not in the premium range like the Christmas market one so is far less filled 

But it's a charity themed one which is nice - why should just Christmas Cards benefit good causes when there are plenty of other seasonal things?

The ingredients are as usual not simple, there are so many things going on! Spiced fruit chutney?!

Ah - there it is - spread on the bread.  This does indeed look like leftovers. No turkey mind.

Thing is - this one is awesome.  If you've had boxing day dinner with the extra sauces and all the cold bits of Christmas Dinner then you know what to expect here.  And because they've focused on the sauces spread on the bread it really works.  Although this is a lot less filling and exciting than the German market sandwich I think this is a lot more 'lunchy' and certainly easier to eat on the go.

Co-op have done great so far this year and I'm hoping to see them more through the month before they disappear again forever.