Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Dr Zak's Chocolate Powdered Peanut Butter (CNSport)

I can't deny my love of chocolate and peanut butter. My 2016 New Years' resolution is still going strong and I'm still having my two favourite foodstuffs every single day without exception. It's needless to say therefore that when Conor at CNSport offered me a jar of Dr Zak's chocolate powdered peanut butter to review I jumped at the chance -especially because I'd enjoyed their Banoffee Pie and Chocolate Fudge Brownie peanut spreads so much!

"High protein & defatted chocolate flavour powdered peanut butter. All the taste of chocolate spread with 70% less fat."

Could peanut butter taste as good with none of the fat? I enjoy some fat-free products such as Skyr and Quark, but surely pb tastes so good because of its natural fat content?

I poured some of the powder into a ramekin and added equal measures of water -as suggested- before stirring to make a paste. I was about to spread it on my fruit loaf when I thought I'd give it a quick sample first.

Bleurgh! What the? Sweet bejeezus that's no relative of peanut butter.

All I could taste was a bitter chemical flavour* that I just had to spit out. 

*At this point I'll add that there's no chemicals: the tub simply contains peanut flour, cocoa and stevia -but boy it was vile. 

Am I doing this whole peanut powder thing wrong? At the moment I can't even bring myself to try it again, but if you've had it and can make it work please do send me your suggestions.


A huge thank you to Conor for the sample! Unfortunately I can't love everything you stock, sorry ;).

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Dessert Menu Dutch Apple Tarts (M&S)

There's not many things more satisfying in life than finding a good bargain, particularly if said bargain is found in M&S! One afternoon last week I popped into our local branch and spotted duo packs of their Dessert Menu Dutch Apple Tarts reduced to just 35p! Now I'm not normally a fruity dessert kind of person, opting for chocolate every time, but these looked rather good and I just couldn't turn them down at such a steal -especially as they could be frozen too! 

"Apples with sultanas and cinnamon in an all butter luxury pastry case topped with butter enriched filo."

They didn't pay a lengthy visit to my freezer because I thought that the tarts would make a perfect post-roast Sunday pud. They appeared to be the wonderful love child of a strudel and an apple pie. Could these possibly be the most homely desserts known to man?

The tarts come in individual tin foils, and M&S suggest popping them in the oven for 15 minutes before serving. Whilst they were heating up I contemplated serving them with custard, then ice cream, before remembering I'd got the rest of the Aunt Bessie's custard ice cream left to use -perfect. 

The tarts were hot to touch after quarter of an hour, and were easy to remove from their casings. One had a slightly soggy bottom so I guess it could've done with a few minutes longer, but I was too impatient to wait! 

There was a good mixture of apples and sultanas in the centre of my tart, which were wonderfully sweet and well spiced. The apples were soft but not mushy, retaining just enough texture to provide bite. Talking of texture, the combination of pastries worked wonderfully well together. I can't remember ever having filo and shortcrust pastry together before, but they complimented each other remarkably well.

As they did with their Frangipane Mince Pies (which I so hope will return this year) Marks and Spencer have created perfect buttery shortcrust pastry once again. It's sweet and crumbly, melting in the mouth in the most delicious way. I'm sure I heard Bert groan with pleasure at the simple but ultimately scrummy dessert -I know I did!

I only wish I'd stocked up on these tarts; they're delightful.


Monday, 16 January 2017

Jude's Salted Caramel Ice Cream Review (Sainsbury's)

Do you remember my first Jude's ice cream review a couple of months ago? If not I'll give you a swift recap...

Their peanut butter and chocolate ripple ice cream thoroughly impressed me, not only because it managed to challenge my aversion towards nuts in ice cream, but because it was damn good quality and the company donate 10% of their profits to charity. I favour the idea that I'm doing good somewhere in the world whilst scoffing my face with delicious ice cream -especially when it's peanut butter flavoured. I felt that the only down-side was the relatively high price point, but also mentioned that it's worth it for a treat every now and then. 

The next Jude's ice cream to call to me in Sainsbury's was their salted caramel. It was a risky choice to buy this flavour though because Bert also loves salted caramel and so I knew I'd have to share the tub. 

"Tuck into this trusty, tasty caramel with a mischievous sea salt twist."

What I hadn't mentioned before is the surprisingly scarce ingredients list in Jude's ice cream of items that you can actually pronounce -let alone understand. Take this flavour for example, each tub contains simply: 
Fresh Whole Milk, Fresh Double Cream, Caramel (13%) (Whole Milk, Sugar, Skimmed Milk Powder, Caramelised Sugar), Sugar, Skimmed Milk Powder, Pasteurised Free Range Egg Yolk, Stabilisers: Locust Bean Gum and Guar Gum, & Salt.
Isn't that refreshing?

This deep gold coloured ice cream had an equally pleasing texture as the peanut butter flavour. It resisted the urge to melt away rapidly, yet was instantly soft enough to enable me to scoop easily. 

Given that milk and double cream are the primary ingredients it's not entirely shocking that the ice cream tasted utterly indulgent with an unparalleled smoothness. I loved the addition of peanuts in the other tub, but also relished the velveteen qualities of this salted caramel. As for the flavour of the caramel, it was butterscotchy and had enough salinity to warrant its 'salted' title, successfully bringing the taste back from sickly realms. 

I think I might've had my best dessert brainwave yet thanks to the Jude's Salted Caramel. Remember the Twix Cookies review last week? Recall me saying I was going to enjoy one warm with salted caramel ice cream? Well, I chose Jude's to have it with. Need I say more?


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Fresh Cream Toffee Doughnuts (Tesco)

I'm sure you're bored of me moaning about the lack of decent doughnuts in my little city. Sure there's a couple of Greggs, but it's just not the same, and I feel particularly hard done by this month thanks to Krisy Kreme's new tiramisu and chocolate orange doughnuts -as well as the return of the Kruller. 

Come on Krispy Kreme! Please at least deliver to the Tesco's in Hereford or Worcester if you're not going to open a store? Tiramisu sounds right up my alley, and the food porn on instagram is driving me crazy. Anyway, all of the doughnut pics brought on cravings that needed to be satisfied, and that's where these fresh cream toffee doughnuts from Tesco come in. 

"2 Doughnut fingers filled with a layer of toffee sauce and toffee cream decorated with salted caramel butterscotch pieces."

I'm not sure if they're new countrywide or just new to Hereford, but they looked damn good and at £1.40  (or two packs for £2) they weren't bad value. 

As you can see, one had a generous covering of butterscotch pieces, whereas the other had next to none. Both were amply filled with the toffee cream in an attractive swirl pattern though, which oozed out of the ends (lets pretend I didn't scoop it up and eat it with my finger, eh?). 

Picking my doughnut up, I realised that the dough wasn't as soft and light at is its freshly baked counterparts -but isn't that always the way with the refrigerated versions? 

The cream had a lovely toffee undertone to it, like a very mild angel delight mousse. Unfortunately the toffee sauce wasn't as abundant as it needed to be to counteract the rather bland and stale almost bread-y dough. As for the crispy butterscotch pieces, they were a bit non-committal and I can't remember actually tasting them in amongst the cream. 

Meh. I'm still craving that Tiramisu KK, maybe even more so now!


Saturday, 14 January 2017

Solkiki Hazelnut Cream White Chocolate Gianduja Review (Online)

One of my best discoveries of 2016 was not chocolate, or even peanut butter. I was very lucky to from strong friendships last year with a couple of other bloggers whom do happen love my favourite foods, Nat and Laura I'm looking at you. Indeed Nat writes a blog purely about chocolate, and I regularly find myself drooling over her reviews of the premium brands that I haven't even heard of -let alone tried.

One such chocolatier that Nat has written highly about on a number of occasions is Solkiki, a British family business who manufacture vegan bean-to-bar chocolate. I'd never seen their products before reading Nat's reviews, but was over the moon when she kindly sent me a bar of their Hazelnut Cream White Chocolate Gianduja at Christmas. 

I only recently discovered Gianduja in November when I bought a bar of the Grown Up Chocolate Company's Hunky Dory. I loved the texture of the hazelnut paste used in the bar, and so this white chocolate version from Solkiki sounded right up my alley. I'd never had dairy free chocolate before though, so wasn't entirely sure what to expect.

"Soaked hazelnuts and cold-pressed cacao-butter create a soft, crumbly bar of creamyGianduja that is very easy on your body. We slowly stonegrind the nuts with cold-pressed cacao butter to create a delicious surprisingly healthy bar."

White chocolate that's good for you? I was sold. 

As per the images I'd seen on Nat's blog, the bar had the most exquisite design. I almost didn't want to break the bar it was so beautiful. That's it.. I'd have to eat it in one go, nibbling my way through all 56g -what a shame ;). 

As promised the chocolate was undoubtedly smooth, melting easily in the mouth. I was surprised by the flavour of it though, for it was unlike any white chocolate I'd ever experienced. At first I was unsure about the almost floral tones, but I soon became accustomed to it and started to really enjoy the unusual qualities of the bar. The hazelnuts were a subtle addition, truly ground down and offering a slight nuttiness that penetrated the white chocolate.

I'm so grateful for Nat for the opportunity to try Solkiki. The company sell a range of interesting bars including 'strawberry, coconut and pink pepperberry' white chocolate, and even a dark chocolate made from the 'world's rarest bean' which are available from their online shop.


Friday, 13 January 2017

NEW! Grenade Peanut Nutter Carb Killa Review (CNSport)

It seems that Grenade can do no wrong when it comes to their Carb Killa range. The line goes from strength to strength with a rapidly expanding range of flavours to choose from. Until now there's been a huge gap in the flavours though. Where oh where was the peanut butter bar? Surely everyone* appreciates that peanut butter is a gift from the gods? Nut butters are certainly a favourite amongst the fitness sector, so I'm surprised that Grenade haven't harnessed the flavour until now. 

"High protein bar with a peanut flavoured centre and caramel layer coated in milk chocolate with sweeteners."

All is forgiven because at long last they've filled the void, as they announced a couple of weeks ago that their first bar of 2017 was to be the Peanut Nutter -Hoorah! Even better, my local sports Nutrition retailer CNSport have already got them in, and the lovely Conor gave me a couple to review! Thanks Conor. 

The bar was smoother than expected, lacking the usual 'crispies' that adorn the outside of other Carb Killas. Slicing into it presented a slight surprise - there's peanuts inside the bar! The description made no mention of chopped nuts, but I was super pleased to see them amid the gooey caramel layer. Bravo Grenade. 

As normal I tried the end section at ambient temperature and popped the rest in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until the caramel started to ooze. Even before tasting the bar I could smell the intoxicating combination of peanuts and milk chocolate, reminding me of snickers. So far, so good. 

I wasn't disappointed with the taste either. As usual Grenade have nailed the soft yet chewy nougat-like protein layer, which was infused with a peanut flavour that was pretty damn good. My only criticism is that it was a little on the sweet side and could do with a tad more salinity to pull back it into balance and deliver a true peanut-butter-iness 

As always the caramel layer and chocolate coating were delicious, rivalling the likes of Mars and Snickers (real chocolate bars that is, not their protein counterparts). As for the peanuts, they offered a welcome crunchiness that added an extra textural edge to the bar. 

It's easy to forget that the Carb Killa bars aren't chocolate bars, and in fact deliver a whopping amount of protein whilst keeping the carbs low. The Peanut Nutter hasn't got quite as much protein in as other bars due to the lack of soy crispies, but it's macros are still extremely decent AND it tastes incredible. I'm not sure it beats White Chocolate Mocha to the top spot, but it is definitely just as good. 

Well done Grenade, and thanks again to Conor for the samples to review! 


Macros per 60g bar: Kcals 223 P21/C15.4/F9.3

Thursday, 12 January 2017

NEW! Balanced For You Prawn & Crab Macaroni Cheese Review (M&S)

The other day I popped into M&S to buy some Mud Pie ice cream (currently reduced to clear at just £1.50 per tub) when I spotted this intriguing sounding ready meal at the end of one of the aisles. A healthy prawn and crab macaroni cheese? That sounded both unusual and oddly delicious. I can understand the addition of ham or bacon -perhaps even chicken-  in the comforting pasta dish -but fish? Hmm M&S could've created an epic fail or had a stroke of pure genius!

At £4.25 for a single ready meal (but also currently part of a 3 for £10 'balanced for you' meal deal) I wasn't prepared to risk it. But then I found myself wondering about the macaroni cheese again and again before finally deciding to treat myself to it yesterday -I was home alone and neck deep in assignments after all! 

"Prawn & crab macaroni cheese topped with a Cheddar cheese & paprika crumb."

The meal comes in a foil dish, which M&S suggests popping into a 200c oven (180 fan) for 10 minutes, before removing the film and returning for the last 15. What a faff! Normally I cook my own meals so am used to being in the kitchen, but I bought this for the convenience! I was working on my assignment when I put it in the oven, and it was 15 minutes before I looked at my watch and remembered to pull myself away from the computer to remove the lid. Oops.

There wasn't a huge deal of 'crust' on top to crisp up anyway to be honest, but my dinner was bubbling by the time I retrieved it. It was an odd colour for a macaroni cheese, more salmon than pale yellow. 

What I hadn't realised is that the crab element actually comes from the sauce! I'd naively thought that the pasta would be in a cheese sauce with prawns and crab in, but if I'd have read the description I'd have realised that the dish is in fact 'cooked pasta with prawns in a creamy crab and lemon sauce, topped with Cheddar cheese and a paprika crumb.' Oh.

The resulting flavour was as odd as it sounds, a kind of fishy, very lemony sauce with a cheesiness lingering somewhere in the background. I mean, there was something quite yummy and very comforting about it (after all Mac & Cheese is the ultimate in cold evening's eating) but there was also something about it that just didn't quite sit right. Perhaps it was due to the overwhelming citrus flavour, or perhaps it was down to the rubbery prawns (25 mins in my furnace didn't do them any favours I can assure you). 

I can't say I'd part with another £4.25 to have this meal again, but I would pick it up if I saw it adorned with those tempting yellow stickers on at the end of the day.