Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chocolate Truffle Doughnut from Krispy Kreme

I'm a big fan of Valentine's Day, because I like heart shapes and the colour combination of red and pink.

Oh, and I'm a sappy romantic that loves chocolate and cake.

The Chocolate Truffle doughnut from Krispy Kreme is the second of two Valentine's doughnuts, the first one being the Red Velvet Cake, which I reviewed yesterday and really loved.

I had the pleasure of being able to try the Chocolate Truffle doughnut twice, and the second time around it was significantly better. I bought a box of Valentine's doughnuts for my office, with the ulterior motive of wanting to have another stab at the Red Velvet and Chocolate Truffle.

As you can see, a couple are already gone as of this the time this post goes up, I expect them to all have been eaten.

The Chocolate Truffle is allegedly strawberry jam and 'chocolate truffle cream', which is just chocolate flavoured krispy 'kreme', like you find in the classic filled doughnut. That's fine though, the problem with my first doughnut was that there was about a dime-sized amount of chocolate cream, and a nickel of strawberry jam.

I'm not that into yeast-raised doughnuts, at least not enough to be happy just eating a big heart of it. That filling was definitely needed. Luckily the next doughnut was more appropriately filled, seemed like a good dollop of each.  A dollop of course being the technical term for using a spoon to plop something into, or onto, another thing.

So, two hearty dollops of strawberry jam and chocolate cream, and I'm in like Flynn. The strawberry jam is super sweet, and just tastes like red jam--can't say I would've guessed it was strawberry, I actually assumed it was meant to be raspberry. The chocolate 'truffle' cream was quite nice, not too sweet (for what it is), vaguely chocolatey, and a it had a decent mouthfeel.  I hate fake cream products that coat the roof of your mouth, this one just felt like really heavily whipped buttercream frosting.

The doughnut, well, you've had one raised doughnut you've had them all, basically. Unless it is an amazing doughnut from a real prestigious...doughnuttery... it is always going to seem a bit like white bread baked with extra sugar. Nice, but that's not what you're there for, ya know? You're here for the frosting and filling.

The frosting was very thin, and I don't understand why they even bother saying 'dark chocolate and white chocolate' coated, because you will never, ever taste the white chocolate in a design like this. Fair enough though, they're just being specific. It is a cute little design when it isn't smudgy. If somebody gave me one of these on Valentine's morning I'd give them a kiss on the cheek.

 If you want to try this one, I think it would be best if you picked up two, just in case one of them is under filled  Worst thing that can happen, you eat two cute little doughnuts. No biggie. Just make sure you pick up a few of the Red Velvet ones, too.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Red Velvet Cake from Krispy Kreme

I'm totally okay with the proliferation of red velvet cake into the world of UK baked goods. 

I really like red velvet cake, but I'm going to reveal a secret about it, right here, right now...
everyone just loves the cream cheese frosting. That's right! I said it! Take that, red velvet cake lobby!

Red velvet cake is just lots of food coloring and some cocoa powder, really. Sure, there is the most delicate taste of cocoa, but what it mostly tastes like is cream cheese frosting.  Delicious, wonderful, sweetened cream cheese.  I posit that a dense chocolate cake topped with cream cheese frosting would be even better.  I submit to you, cream cheese brownies.

All that being said, I love red velvet cake. The color, the taste, it is just a nice cake to have around, and it always feels a bit more luxurious than a plain chocolate or vanilla cake.

So obviously a red velvet cake doughnut is the very height of breakfast time decadence.

So regal! Please ignore the chocolate frosting smudges, you'll hear all about the guilty, fudgy perpetrator later.

This doughnut is a Valentine's Day promotion from Krispy Kreme, released earlier this week. If you ask me, it's a bit late to be releasing a Valentine's Day treat, since we've only got about 14 days left to eat one.  Then again, do keep in mind I come from a land where Christmas saddles up right next to Thanksgiving and Halloween on store shelves as soon as summer break is over.

It is sharing limited edition space with the Chocolate Truffle doughnut, and they seem to have edged out the Salted Caramel and White Chocolate Pistachio doughnuts...nooo! That does bode well though, that perhaps Krispy Kreme will be adopting this fun limited edition strategy from now on.

As for the doughnut itself, it is a decent example of red velvet cake. Dense, vaguely chocolatey, with a rich red color. Thankfully it is a cake doughnut, as otherwise it would just be too weird--with a healthy piping of smooth cream cheese frosting, half-dipped in white chocolate, kind of inexplicably. The white chocolate basically adds nothing, it is tasteless and texturally not all that different from the doughnut it covers. I appreciate the look, but I think it would've made more sense to just traditionally frost the whole doughnut in cream cheese. I know Krispy Kreme UK is kind of pushing this 'creamy stuff occupying a doughnut's hole' agenda, but I don't really get it. It just makes eating a doughnut an even sloppier affair.  Sure, it's tasty--but either fill the damn thing and cover it up with more doughnut, or frost it around the hole, call me old fashioned.

I'm looking forward to buying a dozen of these for my office, under the pretense of sharing, but then eating a bunch of them myself when everyone else politely demures. That is, after all, the spirit of Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Avery's Fungal Fruit Soda

This is another one of the bottled pops I picked up from Cybercandy last week, and as you might guess, I was attracted to the 'soda-sgusting' label and name.

   If you can see in the left hand corner of the label, the true flavor is Pink Passionfruit and Lime. Funny that the two fruits rotting on the illustration are pears...I guess limes and passion fruit don't really have the same visually arresting...fungus patterns.

The smell was very delicate, like raspberry and lime. The carbonation was very low, which I really like--some drinks can be so fizzy they barely taste like anything.

It tasted a bit like the UK Mountain Dew Gamer Fuel, actually! Lots of zesty lime, and a smooth 'fruit' flavor.  Is it passion fruit, well, probably--but I can't really tell, when I've had passion fruit in say, cheesecake form before, it was quite mellow. Smooth lime with a bit of a berry taste.   Very nice, I'd definitely buy this one again.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Shirley Temple Soda by Saranac

I picked up this cute little 'mocktail' soda pop at Cybercandy recently, along with an armful of more bottled pops from North America--they really do have a ton, way more than I had ever seen at one shop in the USA, let alone in the UK.  Quite impressive! I'm looking forward to reviewing all of them, it gives me a good excuse to drink soda--something I've been weening myself off of for the last year. Whoops.

Shirley Temples are something I'm pretty familiar with- because while I'm not much of an alcohol person, I'm very much a soda person.  My mom would make them, along with other sundry 'kiddie cocktails' for me up until well...last time I asked her to make one, I suppose!

Now, grenadine is allegedly pomegranate flavored, but in all my years of drinking Shirley Temples and grenadine-spiked coke, I've thought it was cherry flavored. This probably comes from an early bit of misinformation, but even now tasting this soda all I could think was delicate but super-sweet cherry.

The taste to me was very similar to a well-mixed Shirley Temple--grenadine syrup and lemon-lime soda. It reminded me a bit of  SweeTarts, and my husband was reminded of Refreshers, both of which are pressed sugar discs with slightly tangy, fizzy flavors. Truly it is a special relationship.

The color was very cute, very pink and fairly opaque. It wasn't too fizzy either, it was fairly smooth--not as smooth as, say, an artisan root beer, but smoother than a Sprite.

I'd buy this one again, but with something like 300 'weird' sodas to try at Cybercandy, I don't think I'd get around to it anytime soon.

I'd give this to a kid, but...interestingly, this soda has both aspartame and high fructose corn syrup, so while soda is never healthy, this one is particularly...risk taking. It doesn't bother me, but if you're sensitive to aspartame be on the look out. Indie sodas like this usually use real sugar, so I was a bit surprised to see both of those ingredients on the label.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mint KitKat Chunky, UK Edition

I was so ready for this to be the edible equivalent of a shrug. Mint chocolate is something I always approach with quite a bit of reservation, it just makes me think of gross kid's toothpaste most of the time. Something they would've added 'chocolate' to in order to get kids interested in brushing their teeth.  I wasn't the only person that had gross kid's toothpaste, right? I can't even smell bubblegum these days without thinking about that toothpaste...

Anyway, mint chocolate usually seems a bit over sweet to me, like it is trying to compensate for mint's natural herbal freshness by burying it in sugar. For instance, I really don't care for Mint Aero, it just seems like chocolate coating something that I'm supposed to swish around in my mouth and then spit out.

Which brings me to another interesting point about mint chocolates. Mint freshens your breath, you get some mint in your mouth before a date or an important meeting, of course. Chocolate gives you cat breath- muggy, sweet, and unpleasant. You can't have it both ways, your breath will smell like a self conscious cat.  Sorry mint chocolateers, pick a side.

Then again, I've had mint chocolate that I Thin Mints.

If you're in the UK or elsewhere and don't know about Thin Mint cookies, they come from Girl Scouts in the USA. Girl Scouts are little pixies who come around to your house and ask you if you want cookies, and if you do, how many cookies you want.  When they ask you this, say Thin Mints and Do-si-Dos. How many? However many they got.

Thin Mints somehow manage to be super delicious, super sweet, chocolatey, and minty. Maybe it's because they don't play around with any 'creme' or anything, it is just chocolate, peppermint oil, and a crunchy cookie base.

See where I'm going here? The Mint KitKat Chunky is comparable to a Thin Mint. So comparable that I want somebody to do a cheesecake base with this stuff, or make some ice cream mix-ins.

It isn't too sweet, and it isn't too minty. There is no mint fondant, just mint-doused chocolate and crispy wafer. It really, really works, and I was ready to roll my eyes all over this one. I see that Mint and Chocolate Fudge are currently neck-and-neck for the Chunky Champion of this year. Coconut is my favorite so far (I haven't tried Hazelnut) but I'll be pretty pleased if Mint sticks around. Meanwhile, if Choc Fudge wins I'm going to leap out of a window. Not to my death, or anything, just sort of a protest ankle twisting.

Coconut rules, mint isn't for fools, hazelnut could be cools, but choc fudge drools!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Chocolate Fudge KitKat Chunky, UK Edition

Like young me, the chocolate fudge KitKat had so much promise.

Like older me, it ultimately fails to deliver.

If you like KitKat Chunky, you’re going to also like the chocolate fudge variant, because it is basically just a KitKat Chunky with an addition of ‘fudge’.  Chocolate fudge, no less.  What it really is though, is a

Take away all the shiny new spackle on the wrapper, and inside it is just a cosmic let-down. Meet the new KitKat Chunky, same as the old KitKat Chunky.

Visually, sure, there appears to be some kind of layer of vaguely different coloured chocolate in between the coating and the start of the wafer, but taste wise, nada. There is no damn way I could tell that there was a substantial amount of extra chocolate added to this bar, much less chocolate fudge.

This might be one of those cultural things. To me, chocolate fudge is a very specific food, lovingly made by someone who doesn’t want to turn on their oven for a bake sale.  You can’t just add some chocolate-ish filling to something and call it a ‘chocolate fudge’ bar. New chocolate fudge Snickers, has an extra cm of chocolate coating. No dice, KitKat! Not working! Not falling for it!

So, clearly they had a surplus of the Double Choc variant from last year--because this is basically the same thing.  They really want to stick this thing, don’t they? What’s your
game, KitKat? I’m narrowing my eyes squarely at that block of ‘fudge’ you call a potential champion...

Basically this KitKat is totally edible, and I don’t know,
maybe tastes more ‘chocolatey’, but aren’t you tired of basic retreads? You got your Mars Simply Caramel, yawn city. Snickers More Nuts, yeah, tasty sure, but more or less it is a good Snickers. Marshmallow Three Musketeers in the USA...all so uncool, why don’t they just throw some flavor oil in there, come on!

Take a risk, chocolate manufacturers of the world. Take a chance on pumpkin, on salted caramel, on ‘spice’-- on all my favorite flavors, basically.

PS...Caramel Apple Snickers?

You’re welcome, Mars.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Paul A Young, Gingerbread Caramel Billionaire's Shortbread

Stop reading and go buy one of these before they're gone, for real. There's still time, damnit, there is still time! Hop the next train to Soho or Bank or wherever. Just go! Oh, but you might want to call ahead and make sure this is there, or else you tried to change the flow of history for nothing.

Also, this call to arms only applies if you like delicious things and you have a fair-to-moderate tolerance for gingerbread. As long as there is snow on the ground, gingerbread is still relevant.

Full disclosure- I really do love Paul A. Young, I think they're doing the very best, tops in both the weird chocolate division and traditional stylings. This little shortbread tows the line between the two, with traditional bakery tastes that aren't usually paired together.  Sure, easy to find gingerbread around Christmas, and Millionaire's/Billionaire's shortbread is everywhere, anytime. The two of them together though, not an obvious pick.

Ya see, gingerbread, especially the traditional cake-y type stuff, is often considered suitable only for taste buds that grew up on horehound candy and molasses--caramel is for the young, wild, and free-flowing! Why would the two ever go together? I'll tell you why--this bar right here, that's why.

Unwrapped, this bar smells like caramel and chocolate, with the tiniest after-smell of spice. Mostly caramel, though, and really nice salty and buttery caramel.

As you can see, it is a very dense layer of salted caramel, a layer of gingerbread 'cake' about 3/4s as big, and a thin shell of decorative dark chocolate on top.

The salted caramel itself is thick, and reminds of me texturally of condensed milk fudge that hasn't quite firmed up all the way. The taste is amazing, rich and salty without any of that shrill sweetness that usually accompanies a mound of thick caramel like this. I feel like there might have been a hint of spice to the caramel, but I might've just been conditioning myself to look for it. I think the primary spice-carrier in this was the shortbread.

The shortbread was interesting, it wasn't at all a biscuit, nor was it dense like a brownie. It was light and a bit crumbly, pretty much like a gingerbread cake. If you broke it in half, it would crumble up a bit and there would be no snap split. Just a light, soft spice bread/cake. Hard texture to describe, but if you've had gingerbread cake you'll understand what I mean....hopefully. There were pieces of actual ginger in the cake as well--not crystallized, little strands of actual ginger. It was spicy without having any heat to it, just the way I like my spicy cakes.

The dark chocolate layer was tasty, sure, but it is mostly decorative if you ask me. The stars of this show were the salted caramel and the spicy undercurrent of the gingerbread base. 

It's too bad that this was seasonal, but I'm looking forward to the next seasonal batch of Paul A. Young baked goods--next up is a Valentine's day raspberry salted caramel such 'n' such bar. I'll be eating that as soon as I can, rest assured.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Coconut KitKat Chunky, UK Edition

Finally! I found all the new UK KitKats, all lined up at my local little grocery shop. Couldn't find them for the life of me in East London, it always seems like these new chocolates come to the little outlying areas first and then spread out into London. Hm!

First up, the one I was most excited to try, coconut. I'd already read reviews forewarning that there was no coconut cream to be found, it was a coconut flavor imbued through the chocolate. The tiniest of cop-outs if you ask me, but hey, coconut flavor is a bit hard to find outside of Bounty bars, so I was happy to have anything! I just would've been over the moon had their been a coconut cream of sorts topping the bar--like they have for the Chocolate Fudge and the Hazelnut, but alas.

It was tasty, nicely textured like KitKats always are, lots of crunch and strong milky chocolate. However, I thought it was a bit too easy to ignore the coconut.

I appreciate the KitKat brand being a bit more risky than say, Milky Way or M& the UK, at least, and of course Japan where KitKats really have taken off as a strange flavor conduit. Even though a couple of the flavors in the Chunky Champion lineup are very safe for the European market, like Hazelnut and Mint, the other two (Coconut and Chocolate Fudge) are a bit more risky.  It is a ton more varied of a competition this year-- last year it was just white chocolate, 'double choc', orange, and peanut butter.  It seemed open and shut if you ask me--you want white chocolate, lots of options. Double chocolate...well sure, it's just lots more chocolate. Orange chocolate is a mainstay in the UK, but peanut butter is quite hard to find. So glad it won last year, and I hope one of the 'weirder' ones takes it this year, as well.

I just hope that the end of this contest doesn't mean the end of the peanut butter Chunky...shudder to think.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hotel Chocolat Salted Caramels

Folks, I've got a bone to pick with the world.  Where is salted caramel on the grocery shelves, in the big ol' box shops, the convenience stores, the dim sum bars, the daily commute! Where is it?

Nowhere to be found, and that is just stupid.

Salted caramel is IT, it is the in thing in mid-couture to high-class desserts, and has been for at least a year or two. Thing is, a lot of people may tell you that it is going downmarket, the trend forecast is stormy, salted caramel is so 2000 and late, get over it!

Well, if that's the case, why can't I buy a delicious bit of salty 'n' sweet at my local newsagent, like Silly Bandz or...I dunno, scrunchies? Pah, I sez!

The way I see it, salted caramel should be everywhere. KitKats have been known to be successfully experimental, Mars bar lends itself well, or how about Digestives with a layer of salty caramel? I don't know, guys. It just seems like I'm stating the obvious. I hate to think that salted caramel is going to be unpopular before it even gets to be enjoyed by the candy commuting community, your average Joe KitKat who just grabs a chocolate bar before he goes into the office in the morning, just trying to get through his crappy day with a bit of sugar and fat. Why not throw the guy a bone and splash a bit of salty caramel into his Snickers bar? C'mon, be a pal, Mars.

Here's the thing though, there are a lot of Hotel Chocolats spread across...the areas of England I've been to, so I think they have a decent number of locations--and a decent salted caramel.  So decent, in fact, that I ate it too quickly to photograph.  However this picture, courteously swiped from the Hotel Chocolat website, is pretty accurate and a lot better than anything I could do.

I really like Hotel Chocolat, they're priced well and like I said, easily available. Six pieces of their salted caramel, or any of their other filled-or-truffle chocolates, is only £3.50. Not bad at all for higher quality stuff than a big bar of Cadbury Caramel. They aren't super premium, they're a nice mid range. They're about where I rank See's in the USA--tasty and much better than Hershey's, but you can find them fairly easily and they're not going to blow anyone's head off.  Put a box out at a party, and people will eat them with abandon, untethered by worries about price or availability, just appreciation of a nice chocolate.

So, the salted caramel specifically. I got the milk chocolate variety, and the shell was about how it's portrayed in the above photo--good ratios, in my book. I don't remember the logo nob on top tasting any different, but then again I didn't pause for much thought when it came to the noblet. Giggle, giggle.

The caramel was more sweet than salty, and the milk chocolate was creamy and not over-sweet. Over all, the balance did tip towards sugar more than I'd like, but it was a hundred times more balanced than your average caramel filled chocolate, like a Rolo or a Caramello. The caramel was runny and soft, which is just the way I like it.

Overall, I'd say that I'm very thankful to Hotel Chocolat for having a nice salted caramel I can grab easily on my way home from work, but if they were across the street from a Paul A. Young, or a melt., they wouldn't be getting my £3.50. However, I really love them for their availability, playfulness and creativity, especially as a mainstream brand, and fair pricing--they just don't have the most perfect salted caramel.  Will I buy them again, definitely.

Do I still think salted caramel deserves to be completely mainstreamed? Yes, for sure. Bring me salted caramel Quaker instant...this INSTANT.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cat & the Cream Cupcake- Chocolate, Mint & Raspberry

Forewarning: This cupcake is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.  I am not any of those things, so it was with some skepticism that I approached this treat from Whole Foods. Gluten free didn't scare me, I've had plenty of desserts that just-so-happened to be gluten free, and they were usually just as tasty--nice and dense, made of ground almonds and chocolate.  Vegan and dairy-free however, were a bit more hard to swallow when it comes to delicious cake. Get it? Swallow? Ah, you get it.

Not much of a smell to the cake, which is fine, I understand that a more 'natural' sort of item will 'naturally' be less pungent than an artificially flavored thing. The frosting looked a bit wilted and the cake was lopsided, but again, all of these things aren't dealbreakers for me, especially considering the cake had been out for a couple hours and withstood a couple train journeys.  The frosting to cake ratio was just about perfect, but I like it to be about 60/40 cake to frosting, so if you are more or less of a frosting fan take note.

The first bite was mostly frosting, as is often the case with cupcakes, and it was pretty good. Nice and strong raspberry flavor, but a bit grainy.  I take it this might be due to the lack of dairy products, as milk gives buttercream-style frosting such as this a nice smooth consistency. I wonder what they used instead? Outside of the initial grittiness, the frosting didn't leave any gross faux-butter film on the roof of your mouth, and seemed nicely whipped and fresh. My husband was a big fan, and thought it tasted like brown sugar and raspberries--he also loved the graininess.

The chocolate sponge was a bit dry, and it wasn't particularly chocolatey--it kind of tasted smokey.  I wondered if maybe it was carob instead of chocolate. It certainly wasn't bad, and I think I'm particularly hard to please when it comes to cake. I think it has to do with the 'sponge' distinction. In the USA, all cakes unless otherwise noted tend to be moist, dense, and flavorful. Whereas here in the UK there seems to be a lot more airy, 'spongey' textured cakes that have a delicate flavor. I tend to think of them as being more like angel food cakes, than a dense sheet cake like you'd get at a big fat American birthday.

So far, the cake is a bit dry and bland and the frosting is grainy. Not exactly mind blowing, but then again, I'm grading it based on my experiences with glutenous, egg-and-butter loaded confectionery--not based on what a vegan and dairy-free cake is like, so it is a bit unfair.

The mint fondant in the center however, was extremely good.  Really bumped the cake up in my esteem.  It didn't seem chocolatey at all, it just seemed like a solid chunk of fresh, herbal mint sweetness. Combined with the raspberry frosting it was delicious!

If I was a vegan, or a dairy-free...associate, I'd be really glad to have something as nice as this. I think if you were just gluten free, however, you could find better cakes and brownies. 

I think I would try another variety of these cakes, I really appreciate that they are taking risks with flavor combinations (see here), and the non-chocolatey sponge wouldn't be an issue at all in a vanilla cupcake!

In the end, kudos goes to the Cat & the Cream for making interesting cupcakes that are pretty good for egg-and-dairy freaks such as myself, and potentially amazing for vegans and such.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Cadbury Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations: Jelly, Popping Candy, and Beanies

I for one am glad to see that post-Kraft Cadbury does interesting stuff.  Like, they didn't take away all the 'classics' so fuddy-duddies who are only interested in Fruit & Nut can still enjoy themselves, while those of us who like a change of pace and a bit of novelty can chow down on Golden Biscuit Crunches and Oreo bars to our heart's content...or until they are unceremoniously discontinued.

This particular bar is from Australia, part of a line of three different bars of varying marvellousity--this one, Jelly & Crunchie Bits, and apparently Peanut Toffee Cookie, which isn't stocked at my local Cybercandy so I refuse to believe it exists lest my heart break for want of trying.
Upon opening, the bar smells like your standard issue Dairy Milk, very sweet and milky.  Nice enough! I didn't expect it to smell like jelly or popping candy, so no surprises there. It is split between a few chunks, and it is on the thicker side due to all the embedded fixin's, making it a bit hard to crunch down and get a half-a-chunk bite. It's full chunk or nothing, folks!

The popping candy is definitely the most prevalent mix-in, every bite has some fizziness. The jelly is the second most common bit, and they're multi-coloured, which surprised me. Seems they went through a lot of effort doing that, unless it really is just the left over jellies from...babies,  or snakes, or teeth, or whatever jelly shapes they eat in Australia. They're not soft gummies, they're definitely chewy like a gummi bear--my husband insists they were just like jelly beans without the sugar shell, but I contend that jelly beans without the sugar shell would basically be soft goop, and these had a strong spring to them whilst chewing.

I couldn't really tell if the jellies were different flavours, it just tasted like a bit like pineapple throughout to me, but since they were different colours I'm going to guess maybe different flavours were attempted, too.

The beanies were stupid, and not just because I think "beanie" is a dumb name for a candy-coated chocolate...they're stupid because M&M type things are always unnecessary in candy bars.

"You like chocolate, of course, you're getting a bar of it! Well, what if we told you that you could have a bar that has tiny other chocolates in it! Pretty crazy, right? But wait, there's more! They have a very thin imperceptible sugar shell, that will probably go completely unnoticed by you or will cut the roof of your mouth on their jagged shards!"

Yeah, I'm bitter. The M-Azing bar really shook me back in the day. Thanks for nothing, M&Ms could've been such a nice cake topping, but you went and ruined it.

So, the beanies contribute nothing.  I would say this bar is a very tasty novelty, and I'd be likely to get it again. I really like Muddy Bears, those chocolate-covered gummi bears that you can sometimes get at movie theatres in the USA, and I ate an off-brand version of these gummi dinosaur in chocolate egg treats all the time as a kid, so your results may vary.  I was very happy to eat jelly with chocolate, unconcerned with popping candy, and able to ignore my white-hot rage about beanies long enough to enjoy this bar. Nice one, Cadbury, keep doing interesting things--but enough with the caramel already, so boring!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Melt Sea Salt Caramel Bar

I know it is popular, or was popular, or something--but I love salted caramel, and I will never give it up, no matter how much it will date me in the future; I still love wild blue razzleberry flavors, anyway. I don't give up on my trendy foodstuffs.  I won't leave you in the caramel trenches, sea salt. This war ain't over.

So, whenever I see salted caramel anything my ears perk up and my lips smack. Gets a bit embarrassing, I mean, it is everywhere.

My husband picked up this bar from Melt's chocolate shop in Notting Hill as a li'l treat for me, and we both got to try some because I'm the nicest wife ever.

It was a sizable bar, about the length of my hand and a bit thicker than my thumb. The packaging was nice, but the eco-brown look isn't really my thing--but it is inoffensive and non-gender or age specific, making this bar a great gift idea for anyone who likes chocolate.

Upon opening, the dark chocolate smell is pretty strong and there is no telling of the caramel to come...
There is a good snap to the chocolate, as is often the case with high quality dark chocolate, and it has that nice half-sweet, half-smokey, citrus-fruity taste. The caramel, aw damn.  Damn, damn, damn. So nice, it reminds me a lot of Paul A. Young's salted caramel truffles, which are my absolute number one favorite chocolates ever. Thick, but still liquid--no chewing necessary.  I hate chewy caramels, and I don't like runny ones that much, either. This has just the right viscosity.

The only problem, and it is quite dinky, the ratio of chocolate to caramel isn't perfect for me. The dark chocolate is about 70 percent of each chunk, and the caramel is about 30 percent. With the Paul A. Young truffles, the ratios are basically reversed. This is just my preference though, because I have enormous sweet/salty tooth. I can see someone who likes dark chocolate more than caramel being way more into this bar.

I'd get this again if I happened to be more near a Melt than a Paul A. Young and I was craving good chocolate, but if given the choice, I'd gladly take a box of 4 truffles for £7.00 from Mr. Young.  I like them better, and I think they're slightly more value for money--this bar was £4.10 and had three big chunks, but left my husband feeling like he barely got to try any (whiner) and left me wishing I had another square or two--that might've had to do with my perceived lack of caramel.

Paul A. Young would leave us both quite satisfied at two truffles each.

Seriously though, a delicious bar.  Not as delicious as the other Melt item I tried, some kind of Mississipi Mud Pie, which I would love to review but got snarfed down way too quickly. Sorry for my gluttony, world.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Wasabi KitKat

Listen, listen.  I'm a huge fan of stupid, weird food and drink that make other people shake their heads and say, 'Why don't you just get a Coke and a Reese's cup instead of sputtering through an Icee Gel snack and Jolly Rancher fruit punch, for the love of crap?'

Replace the foods with other foods, and the cursing with assorted other curses, and that is a phrase I'm oft to hear.  Usually I just laugh it off, because hey, I sure do eat some horrible food. I just want to try everything that children on school buses might enjoy, what can I say?

Curiosity killed the cat, that is what I can say.

I've tried my fair share of 'strange' KitKats, sure.  The European Cheese KitKat is tasty, Blueberry Cheesecake is delicious, Sweet Potato was unmemorable, Green Tea is super nice, Dark Chocolate Strawberry was great, and Pumpkin was grrrr-ate!  They were all varying degrees of silly, and even more varying degrees of similar to their named food.  Therefore, my expectations for the (gulp) Wasabi KitKat was that it would be much like the others.  White chocolate base, with the teeniest hint of wasabi if you kept thinking "Wasabi, wasabi, wasabi" while you ate it.  Nah, it is horrible and disgusting and tasted just like it's namesake.  Don't get me wrong, I like wasabi.  I like white chocolate, and I like KitKats. I've even been known to eat a chili chocolate or two in my day, even though I wouldn't choose it over other foods, it doesn't make me want to vom.  This made me wanna vom vom, in the kitchen on the floor.  It was dreadful.  Let me try to explain, but after this I'm going to a regression therapist to take me back to that idyllic time in my life pre-Wasabi KitKat--heck, maybe all the way back to the womb.

I open the KitKat, it looked creamy beige with a green undertone--all good so far, I assumed this was going to happen, washed out colouring is a hallmark of the wacky KitKat.  I leaned in for a smell, expecting white chocolate because all of the white chocolate based KitKats have just a sweet, creamy smell.  This one started out much the same, but as it lingered in my nose, like a fine wine, I realized the hideous undertone--it was just like wasabi, but moreso to me, like mustard.  It smelled like somebody's first baking 'experiment', like some kind of white chocolate chip cookie with mustard powder and flaxseed.  Why couldn't you just make a white chocolate chip cookie?  Why'd you have to play around and experiment?  Just because salt and chilli works alright with sweet stuff, it doesn't mean everything will.  These smell dank, these smell like Keebler Elf B.O.!  WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?

I experimented with baking once, as a teenage girl high off brownie successes and cookie non-failures.  I made chocolate chocolate chip cookies with a 'hint' of black pepper.  This was right at the crowning of the chilli chocolate trend, so I thought I was ahead of the curve. 'Next up, black pepper--catch up, nerds!'  I was really wrong and my dad was disappointed in me for the first time in my life.  His baleful "Why didn't you just make chocolate chip cookies?" haunts me to this day.
Anyway, I know a thing or two about making stuff that stinks that everyone hates.

This KitKat smells bad, the colour is off-putting when coupled with the smell, and the taste was abysmal.  It tasted like white chocolate for the first two seconds of suck-and-crunching, but quickly became sweet mustard powder.  Somehow, it tasted powdery, sour, sweet, and hot--all together.  If it didn't taste so ridiculously bad, it would've been interesting.

In conclusion, it was dreadful and not particularly funny to eat, it just made me gag.  Stick with cheese KitKats for oddness.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Oreo Bits Salty Hokkaido Milk Cream

These are wee, bitsy Oreos in a foil pack with a cream flavor of 'Salty Hokkaido Milk'.  My rudimentary knowledge of Japan recognized that Hokkaido is a region that is well known for their dairy produce.  From what I hear, milk has a stronger taste in Hokkaido, it is...milkier.  I love milk and dairy stuff, so that Hokkaido jazz got me interested. 

Once opened, the bag smelled just a bit of buttered popcorn, which is no doubt the combining of the smell of 'strong dairy' and salt.  They look just like regular miniature Oreo sandwiches, which is to say tiny Oreos about the size of a Ritz Bits, or a nickel--whichever comes first.

The cream to cookie ration was just about perfect, and visually they were super cute, well formed cookies that just so happened to be very small. 

The important thing is the eating though, and it didn't disappoint--but it didn't light the night on fire, either.

I don't know what I was expecting exactly from 'Salty Hokkaido Cream', but I definitely expected saltier, and maybe even creamier.  Interestingly, the cream was thick and smooth, almost like a dense fondant, versus the usual Oreo cookie cream which is gritty and sticks to the roof of your mouth--which is unpleasant once you've stopped eating said Oreos.  These tasted basically like higher quality Oreos, with a slightly softer cookie and a denser, more rich-feeling cream.  I wouldn't have described the taste as salty in the slightest, but maybe a bit more buttery and rich tasting.  The cookies by their lonesome, no creams allowed, were not nearly as cocoa-tasting as your usual Oreo cookie--they reminded me a lot more of Bourbon biscuits, sort of a soft chocolate taste without much crunch and snap.  My husband insists that the cream just tasted like Custard Cream, and I can kind of see that...but it was much nicer, texturally.  It reminded me just a little bit of the kind of frosting you get on a grocery store birthday cake, that 'buttercreme' stuff.  Decently rich feeling with a nice buttery taste, but ultimately you kind of shrug at what is just a halfway decent cake.

I wouldn't order this particular flavor of Oreo again, just because it wasn't all that strange, or even wildly different than an Oreo I could find here.  Or even better, I could Franken up something almost exactly like this by scraping the cream out of a Custard Cream and adding it to a Bourbon biscuit's biscuit.  You'd be pretty close at that point, really.

If I were in Japan, I'd pick them up if I wanted something cookie-like to go with a nice tall glass of say, honey flavored milk or something, but I'd probably find much more interesting cookies if I kept looking.  For instance, 'coffee and cheese' soft Oreos--which are next on my list to order.

Speaking of, I ordered these li'l bitty Oreos from Napajapan, which my favorite site for ordering Japanese sweets, drinks, and snacks--they stock a ton of stuff and offer SAL shipping which is important for cheapskates like me who really resent international shipping, but constantly order stuff from overseas anyway.  They don't mark parcels down for European customers, which is fair enough as it is technically illegal and they are an actual business rather than just one guy on Ebay, but they did declare the items as being their retail value in Japan, so my order was under the consignment anyway.  Customer service was totally fine, and my order arrived in a timely manner, average speed of SAL being considered, of course.