Thursday, 14 September 2017

NEW! Milk Chocolate & Irish Cream Brownie Slices (M&S)

Last week I combatted the change in seasons by celebrating the fact that M&S have just launched new desserts into their menu collection. Whilst the giant macaroons might've been a little more style over substance, I looked forward to trying some of the other unusual additions.

I was in luck too - a couple of days ago I found the new Irish Cream Brownie slices emblazoned with that promising yellow reduced sticker. £1.90 for two wasn't too bad! They're currently £2.80 but will be £3.50 when full price. Ouch. 

"Layers of earl grey mousse and Irish cream mousse, chocolate sponge, chocolate brownie and milk chocolate."

They were an usual shape too, and although they were well protected in the wrapper, they were a pain in the bum to plate up as they had a tendency to fall over. Squish them onto the plate a little -like I did- though and they should stand proud. 


Shall we do this by layers? Ok then..

The top layer was jelly like, and offered little in the way of flavour. I assume it was simply there for decoration, and the gold sparkle was pretty. Beneath this was the first mousse layer - and it was scrummy. It was light, chocolatey and delivered an almighty Baileys-esque kick. For teetotal Bert this wasn't a good point, but I'd bought them because they were labelled as Irish cream and so I was happy to find that M&S had followed through on their promise. Simply put, it reminded me of Christmas.


Next up was a layer of dry, bland "sponge" cake. Again I assume it's only role was to break up the layers as it wasn't a substance that I'd want to eat on its own.  Another mousse layer followed - this time it was Earl Grey. Now I don't like Earl Grey tea - to me it's equivalent to drinking my nan's perfume- and had I have read the product description properly I think I wouldn't have actually bothered with this dessert. On its own I found it sickly and floral, but I bore with it in the hope that when it was combined with the other elements that it would transform into something magical... 


At the base was the brownie layer, which was perfectly moist and utterly chocolatey - exactly how a brownie should be. 

But what happens when you eat all the layers together? 

A journey of flavours. First the alcoholic heat greets your tastebuds, followed by the mellow chocolate and then that perfume-like Earl Grey. Damn that tea! Take out the bottom mousse M&S and you'd be on to a winner, but for me it's just too much. Too fussy, and too delicate. Give me the simple, scrummy (and cheaper) Banoffee Cheesecakes instead anyway. 


7/10

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

NEW! Oreo Choc'o Brownie (Tesco)

There's lazy NPD (new product development) and then there's Mondelez. Mondelez are renowned for rehashing Milka bars under the Cadbury name, or combining their products to maximise profits - admittedly I do miss the Cadbury Philadelphia. This time though they've taken the biscuit. Literally. The UK has just been granted a new flavour Oreo, but have we got anything as exciting as the new Apple Pie, Blueberry Pie, Jelly Donut, or soon to be released Cookie Butter Oreos? Certainly not. We've got choco brownie. Yes that's right. A chocolate Oreo filled with chocolate filling. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Chocolate creme Oreos have been out in the UK for years, so what on earth are Mondelez playing at?



Last year, following the launch of the somewhat more exciting mint and strawberry cheesecake filled Oreos, the public were asked to partake in a month long flavour vote for the next flavour. So every day a few of us bloggers reminded each other to log on and vote - ok so we might've even used a couple of email addresses each. The choices were: lemon, coconut, banana and brownie batter. Yes, brownie batter.


Now of those choices, I was certainly team banana, but I would've been happy to try the lemon or coconut too. At least they were different. In fairness to those of you who opted for the brownie batter it did sound a little like a chocolatey cookie dough.. but you should've also realised that Mondelez like to cut corners (yep I'm referring to the peanut butter Oreo Dairy Milk for the umpteenth time). Anyway, apparently 43% of voters chose the brownie flavour -methinks their might've been some rigging for the easiest option at Oreo HQ. 


Anyway, the presumably-cooked-and-therefore-not-batter brownie flavour has now been released. So is it any different to the standard chocolate creme Oreo. No. Not in the slightest. In fact the ingredients are the same and they haven't even bothered to change the description*. They're still like an Oreo version of a Bourbon, but somehow not as good. I mean if I wanted a bourbon, I'd buy a bourbon -ya know? 

Christmas is in the shops already so please tell me this is an even more premature attempt at an April Fools.... 


2/10 (purely for taking the piss, Oreo). 

*Here's a comparison of the two packets, see what I mean?



Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Orion Studentská Pečeť Duomix: Nestle's White & Milk Chocolate Bar with Peanuts, Raisins & Jelly

Last week I popped into one of Hereford's Eastern European Deli's, one that I don't often visit due to its location. In it I found a number of chocolate bars that I've not seen before, by a brand I'd also never come across - Orion. However, when I picked up one of the bars out of sheer curiosity (I hope you'll understand why) I soon discovered that Orion is a nestle brand. Ahhh. Now I didn't give into temptation at the time, but posted a couple of stories about the range on my instagram. Within minutes I was inundated with messages about how great the bars were. I was going to have to try this unusual chocolate...



At £1.29 for 180g the bar was excellent value too - at least I thought so until I realised it was a month out of date. Oh well, it wasn't about to kill me. The Reese's cups that were 15 months out of date didn't anyway. Not being able to speak Czech or Slovakian I'm afraid I couldn't be sure of what the bar entailed. Google translate (of Orion's website) paints a very odd picture... 

"DUOMIXCan not you decide if you have a taste for a white or milk STUDENT CARE? Duomix offers a bit of each variation, while the tongue dissolves so quickly that you want to taste another dice."

I was met with a very aesthetically pleasing bar when I retrieved it from is foil wrapping. Made primarily of white chocolate, each cube was topped with a milk chocolate topping, whilst the underside was heftily nobbled. I hadn't seen a bar this interesting for a long time -if ever. 


Unfortunately the quality of the white chocolate wasn't all that great. It tasted chalky and whilst I wasn't expecting the creaminess of luxury Belgian white chocolate, I did expect it to be on par with Nestle's Milkybar. The milk chocolate topping tasted more like a smooth praline to me. The hazelnut flavour came as a welcome surprise though and complimented the white chocolate beneath.

But what about the pieces within the bar I hear you ask? Each cube provides a different textural experience thanks to the the abundance of chopped peanuts, raisins and jelly beans. Both the peanuts and raisins worked well with the chocolate. The peanuts of course added salinity and crunch, whilst the raisins added moisture and a slight chew. 

Those jelly beans though. They're the main reason I don't buy the Cadbury Marvellous Creation bars. Jelly in chocolate just doesn't work for me, and seems to be a cheap filler to bring down the cost of production. I find that they're obtrusive little pests that offer little in the way of flavour but seem to wedge themselves frustratingly between teeth. Perhaps that's just me though. 

All of my complaints make it sound like I didn't enjoy this chocolate bar, when it some strange way I did. There's a certain charm to it - perhaps because it's so unusual, or maybe it's because it didn't leave me out of pocket. I wouldn't rush to buy it again, but If you spot it and fancy something completely alternative to what we've got in the UK then give it a go! 


6/10

Monday, 11 September 2017

BelVita Breakfast Soft Bakes Chocolate Filled (Sainsbury's)

It's not just Nature Valley who've brought out new 'breakfast' biscuits in the last couple of weeks.  On a side not I still don't know why they're called breakfast biscuits. Do any of you actually eat them or breakfast? Please drop me a comment and let me know. Anyway, the other key player in that market -Belvita- have surreptitiously released two new filled soft bakes in chocolate and strawberry flavours. The did, of course, release the soft bakes range two years ago, but Belvita have obviously decided it's time to give them an uplift. Admittedly I'm more of a Nature Valley girl - but then I'm addicted to oats- however it's Belvita that are bought more often in this house.



And that is because of Bert. He just loves biscuits. Where I can't resist the call of chocolate, he's more into sweets and biscuits. In fact he actively avoids the biscuit aisle in the supermarkets because he knows he won't be able to resist munching his way through an entire pack once it's open - which is why the pre-portioned 'breakfast' biscuits are handy. That and the fact that he's either at work or working on the Landy - so is forever eating out of his lunchbox. So they're handy. For Bert, the Yogurt filled and original Belvitas weigh supreme. The yogurt ones because of the taste, the original because there's four in a pack and they therefore feel more substantial.

"Soft baked biscuits made with wholegrain cereals and a chocolate hazelnut flavour filling (15.6%) and added vitamins and minerals."

Anyway, it was him I picked up these new filled soft bakes for, however I ended up tucking into them first - probably because I bought the chocolate flavour. Sorry Bert. Just for info, I found them in Sainsbury's for £1.50, however I believe they're now in Morrisons too. 

The biscuit was every bit as soft as it promised to be, although not so much that it fell apart in the pack. The smattering of oats was a pleasant sight, as was the golden hue. Breaking it in half revealed a fair amount of spread-like filling. 




Omnomnom. It was cakier than a cookie -and far removed from your standard biscuit- but I really liked it. In fact the consistency reminded me of a nutrigrain, although it was moister than that. As hoped, the chocolate filling was reminiscent of Nutella, although weirdly there's not any nuts in the actual ingredients. That shouldn't really come as a surprise seeing as Belvita comes under the Mondelez banner, and they're notorious for not including nuts in their nut flavoured products (such as the peanut butter Oreo ice cream sandwiches, and atrocious peanut butter Dairy Milk Oreo). 



Despite the lack of actual hazelnuts, I was impressed with these biscuits and went back for the strawberry flavour, so stay tuned for a follow up review of them! But most importantly, what did Bert think?....

"They're nice, but they're not big enough."

There you have it. 

8/10



Sunday, 10 September 2017

NEW! Soft Centre Chocolate Macaroons (M&S)

M&S updated their 'Dessert Menu' collection this week. Well there's got to be an upside to the darker mornings and chillier days hasn't there? You might've noticed that most of the supermarkets have also launched Christmas sections too - but don't worry, I've not been struck by mince pie mania like last year. Yet. Giant chocolate macaroons though? Count me in!

"French almond chocolate macaroons - just warm for a soft chocolate ganache centre."

The new desserts in the range are all part of a 20% introductory offer. This double pack was still a pricey £3.20 though. Macaroons are always expensive but can they be spectacular enough to warrant the £3.80 (non-offer) price tag? Let's find out...


Each macaroon was about 10cm ish in diameter, and could be eaten warm or cold. To be honest, it was the idea of the molten middle that persuaded me to prise apart my usually tight purse strings. Call me simple but I really don't understand the fascination with macaroons. 25 seconds in the microwave and it was ready to go.


Microwaves have a habit of making crispy food soggy but the shell remained crispy on the outside and soft on the insider. There was a fair amount of cocoa flavour to it too, with the almond aftertaste following through. As for the ganache, it was, of course, undeniably decadent due to the dark chocolate (11%) and whipping cream (19%) and once warmed became more like a sauce. In fact, the whole experience was like eating a lighter warm chocolate fudge cake. 


The new giant Macaroons are great for the novelty factor, however  I can't help but feel they pale in comparison to the Gold Bullion bars in terms of creativity and innovation. That said, I'd happily pick them up as part of the Dine In for £10 meal deal (if and when they're ever included) but would never pay the full price for them. 


8/10. 

Friday, 8 September 2017

Lacasa Turrón de Tiramisú (Home Bargains)

The trouble with being good friends with a chocolate blogger is that she's always finding delicious, tempting treats that get me salivating. Whilst Nat often reviews bars by well known brands from across the globe, she's also excellent at tracking down more unusual companies. Cue Lacasa. I'd certainly never heard of the Spanish chocolatier until she reviewed their 'Turrón de Cookies' bar  a few weeks ago. Boy doesn't it look delicious? She then got her hands on two of the Turróns de Tiramisú, and kindly offered to send me one -knowing how much I love the classic Italian dessert. Perhaps there's no problem with being friends with a temptress after all. Thanks Nat, you're a diamond. 

I'd never heard of a Turron before, but the imported label translated it as 'Tiramisu Praline Nougat'. The ingredients included a delectable mixture of cocoa butter, biscuit (15%), hazelnuts, almonds, and, um, cheese powder. Again! Twice in one week for chocolate bars with cheese powder. Who knew it was such a popular ingredient? I headed to Lacasa's website for a further description of this intriguing bar... 




"Tiramisu NOUGAt"All the flavor of the traditional Italian dessert, in this nougat, made with cheese, coffee, cake and the best cacaos. Format 100g."

Oh. I'm not sure that's any clearer. I tried..


I hope you'll agree that it was a very aesthetically pleasing bar. I loved the dual layers and simple decoration. But what on earth did it taste like?

Well there was a lovely cocoa flavour to it, with a respectable coffee kick and notes of Masala. A wonderful creaminess came from the top layer, which had a slight tanginess to it - in fact Lacasa managed a more convincing cheesecake flavour than KitKat did! 

I loved the combination of textures too; the top was smooth whilst the bottom was crumbly with a slight crunchiness to it. Where the nougat element comes in I'm not sure, as it wasn't remotely chewy. Additionally, there wasn't any large nut or biscuit pieces in the bar, but it wasn't as smooth as a traditional praline either. Perhaps that's why I enjoyed it so much though - because it was utterly different to anything we've got here. 

Interestingly though, Nat experienced something quite shocking with her bar, but you'll have to read her review to find out what went down...  

Thank you to Nat for sending me this beautiful bar. According to Nat they're available in Home Bargains, but Hereford hasn't had any - so I hope you're in luck if you fancy trying it!

8/10


Thursday, 7 September 2017

Recipe: Jammie Dodger, Biscoff & Reese's Blondies

Sunday was a grizzly day. It was pouring with rain, I was feeling pants and it was a rest day. Humf, I could sit and stew in my misery, or do something about it. Baking has always been one of my favourite ways to relax,  once upon a time I'd spend my days pestering my gran until she'd pour over her ancient cookbooks with me and help me perfect the art of shortcrust pastry (always roll onto a slab of marble, and make sure your hands are cold) or light sponge cakes (always fold with a large metal spoon). Oh dear, I'm rambling again aren't I? Anyway, I knew the best way to cheer myself up was to pop on some Jazz music and bake something... but what to bake? 


Then, I had a brainwave. I recalled seeing Ellie's incredible looking Jammie Dodger blondies last year. The ones I promised I'd get around to making. No time like the present. I couldn't find Ellie's picture anymore, but I remembered that she'd found the recipe online, and a quick google search revealed Katie Cake's recipe. That's the badger!

What you may or may not know about me though is that I'm terribly indecisive. Like awfully so. So I actually made a smaller amount of her brownie batter and used it to make three variations on her recipe: Reese's, Biscoff, and Jammie Dodger. 

So here's my amended version Katie's recipe for the blondie mix (which makes 6 blondies).



Ingredients:
60g butter
85g caster sugar
1 large egg
100g plain flour
85g white chocolate

Toppings:
Mini Jammie Dodgers & Jam
Biscoff Spread & Biscoff Biscuits
Reese's mini peanut butter cups & peanut butter. 

Method:

1)  Preheat the oven to 175C

2) Slowly melt the butter and white chocolate together in a saucepan on a low heat, being careful to stir constantly and avoid the chocolate catching. Once melted, remove from the heat and set aside.

3) Using an electric mixer, whisk the egg and sugar until light and fluffy (approximately 2 minutes on a high setting). Then pour the chocolate mixture in, and stir until combined. 

4) Gently fold in the flour, being careful not to knock too much air out of the brownie mix

5) Pour the blondie mix into a greased, suitably sized receptacle (I used an individual brownie pan, which I bought from ASDA for £5). 

6) Now for the fun part - the toppings! For the Jammie dodger ones I dolloped about a tsp of jam in each brownie, and swirled with a toothpick before adorning with mini Jammie Dodgers. For the Biscoff I swirled in some Biscoff spread and placed a Biscoff biscuit on top*. The Reese's one? Well that was just a tsp of peanut butter swirled in, and then I broke up some mini Peanut Butter cups and topped them with that! 

7) Bake for 20 mins! 

8) Enjoy - warm, cold & with or without ice cream. They also freeze well too! 



*In hindsight, I wish I had added cinnamon to the mixture too.