Monday, November 30, 2015

Red Velvet Crunch Creams

Red velvet is a funny thing, isn't it? Most British people I speak to about it think it's really awesome, and most Americans seem to try & fit the 'flavor' into as many objects as possible. While in America you can easily find red velvet inspired cookies, ice creams, and even red velvet bagels, here in the UK it's still kind of left to the realms of cake.

So that's why I was surprised, pleasantly so, to spot these biscuits at Waitrose this week. I'm a fan of the Fox's Crunch Creams line, it's got a couple of my favorite things: crunch, and cream. What I don't like is Vinnie, the American panda who slings these limited edition flavors. I've ranted about him before, but long story short Americans don't say "biskwits" and I'm certain that the Italian American Anti-Defamation League would really have a problem with him. He's just a bad mascot, but he shills for some interesting biscuit variations.

The coloration on these are really great, a nice rich & deep red for the biscuits and off-white cream. They're quite brittle cookies, being crunchy and all, and I prefer them dipped in tea. Of course, since they're quite dry & brittle you need to move fast lest you want them to drop into your mug while dipping.

The biscuits themselves are very subtly chocolate-y, just like red velvet flavor always is. I mean, it is just a low intensity chocolate flavor, isn't it? The big highlight is, as always, the cream cheese frosting - or cream, in this case. Now they do specify in the packaging that it's 'cheesecake' flavored cream, but what is cheesecake if not sweetened cream cheese, eh? I did find it odd though, considering red velvet cake is so strongly associated with cream cheese frosting - maybe not everyone in the UK would see cream cheese as a good biscuit filling, but yeah, cheesecake is hard to say no to.

So there is just a bit of tang, some vanilla, and a lot of creamy & sweet flavor. Coupled with the subtly chocolate-y biscuits, this is a nice little afternoon snack. They're really sweet, but would you expect anything less from a red velvet flavored cookie?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jaz & Juls Chocolate House, Islington

I've recently started a new job in Angel - it's been exciting to explore the area, as it's one of my favorite places in London. It's doubly exciting as there are so many new openings in the neighborhood, too.

Juz & Juls Chocolate House is one of them, having opened up earlier in November. I'd never tried one of their hot chocolates before, but apparently they're quite well known in markets and such! They also stock their online shop with the hot chocolate mixes.

It's a nice little shop at the bottom-end of Chapel Market, keep in mind if you're going there that it's pretty easy to miss, and you may look around and be like, "hey, this doesn't look like a chocolate cafe would be around here, I'll turn around, maybe I did miss it!", as I did, but yeah - it's real far down the road.

Once I did find it, it was a cozy little place (additional seating downstairs, apparently) that seemed relaxed. They sold chocolate bars as well, including Marou and The Grenada Chocolate Company. Also, they sold their own hot chocolate mixes in store to make at home.

There were a large variety of flavors, including 3 'origin' styles and about 5 or more flavors including mint, chili, white chocolate, and the one I ordered - Orangeytang - which is spiced orange. Very Christmassy! You can get a few different toppings: including whipped cream, coconut cream, and marshmallows. I was tempted by coconut cream, but since I was already getting a flavored hot chocolate I didn't want to mess with the flavors too much - so I went classic cream instead.

 This cooled it down enough for me to drink very quickly, it could almost be qualified as a gulp. A festive gulp. The chocolate flavor was milky & not too sweet, but the tangy orange flavor sweetens it up a bit. The spice level is nice, certainly no heat, so just a bit of 'holiday spice' or mulling spices. I also was given tons of cream, which was great for me, a real cream freak. It was a classic English and milky hot chocolate, not too thick.

There were plenty of baked goods in addition to the hot chocolates, and at pretty reasonable prices for nice looking niche bakery items - about £2 each. The pecan pie particularly looked delicious & gooey. I'd like to try one of them sometime, but for me the issue is that I don't really want to combine a sweet hot chocolate with a sweet cake. I mean, I could, it just doesn't seem right. They also do coffee though, and you can have any of the hot chocolate flavors made into a mocha. That's pretty nice!

The wifi was a little spotty when I was there, so while they have a card reader that works through the iPad, I'd recommend bringing cash! I'll be back in sometime this winter for more delicious bits.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Chocolate Cherry Sandwich at Tesco

The festive season is upon us! I've often been overheard mumbling about how the UK should get a proper holiday for in-between Halloween & Christmas. I mean, yes I know about Bonfire Night but it's kind of a mid-level holiday, isn't it? It's no stitch on the celebratory American Thanksgiving, am I right? It's a nice enough evening, but there are just a handful of products that get released specifically for Bonfire Night, and most of them get released alongside the smattering of Halloween goods. So - you need a separate, distinct all-day affair of a holiday. Maybe with some time off, even. Any suggestions? Smart alecks, I await your "Thanks(for getting rid of those puritans)giving" responses.

Anyway, this year like all others brings with it some awesome festive-themed food. Your classics like Christmas Lunch Pret sandwiches, mini yule logs, and one of my personal faves - the Festive Hot Pot at Eat. A real stand out this year was this: the Chocolate Cherry Sandwich from Tesco. It got covered as being 'bizarre' at the Evening Standard, but I don't find it too strange. 

Not too strange to eat, at the very least. As someone rightly pointed out in the article, Nutella is often eaten betwixt bread - so what's the big deal? I also know that cream cheese & strawberry sandwiches are popular addition to an afternoon tea, so yeah, chocolate & cherry doesn't seem such a stretch anymore.

I snatched it up as soon as I found one, and I'm happy to report that it is indeed delicious, if you understand going in that you're about to eat a sweet sandwich. The bread is advertised as being cinnamon, and it does have a subtle hint of sweet spice to it, like a very subtle cinnamon bun without frosting.

I'd liken the chocolate filling to something similar to American style chocolate pudding, sort of flabby - certainly not dense like a traditional 'chocolate spread' as sold here. More on the custard side of the spectrum texture-wise, with a fairly generic chocolate flavor - certainly not dark, but identifiably chocolate. The cherry does come through pretty nicely, and I think they went with actual bits of cherry fruit interspersed into the chocolate filling. It's not artificial tasting or all that strong.

The mascarpone cheese really kind of feels like an after thought, or a bit of a bulking agent, but then again it may cut through the richness that would otherwise be present and mellow it out.

This was a tasty little sandwich, don't believe the negativity opinions! I will admit I don't understand when exactly you should eat this - I had half as an evening snack, so I suppose something like that? It's certainly not a good choice for a lunch time meal deal. 

Sorry for the low quality iPhone pics, I just had to hurry as I was quite hungry!