Saturday, 31 December 2016

NEW! Guylian Caramel Belgian Chocolate Bar

Happy New Year all! I know many of you are glad to see the year out, although I must admit that I've had a blast over the past 12 months. I hope 2017 is full of mischief, fun and adventures for you and I both! Cheers!

So let me conclude 2016's reviews the same way I finished 2015's: with a chocolate bar of course. It's not a white chocolate one this year, although it is another bargain find -courtesy of Del Boy's market stall of course. I think these Guylian Caramel bars were 3 or 4 for £1, although I bought them a month or so back so please forgive my lack of clarity.

Guylian is one of those brands that always come out at Christmas (with the Terry's and Pringles), and although I've seen their plain praline bar before, I hadn't spotted this caramel version. 

"Belgian Milk Chocolate with Caramel Filling (42%)."

The bar comprised of 4 square shaped segments, each topped with classic Guylian designs. At only 36g, it was far from the biggest bar, but looked delicious.

Breaking a segment in two revealed a gooey golden interior, thinly cased by the chocolate outer. I'm not sure there's much point in me describing the taste of their chocolate, but for any of you who haven't tried it, it's extremely silky with an easy melt. 

Unfortunately the sheer sugariness of the inner caramel tipped the balance well into sickly territory. With more chocolate and less filling this might have worked better, but it's still a reasonably enjoyable bar.


See you all next year! 

Friday, 30 December 2016

Mega Dutch Snack Review: Chocomel, White Chocolate Covered Oreos, Doritos Bits, Nutella B-ready, Fanta Grape, Looza Banana and Apple & Cherry Juice, Tony's Chocolonely, & Candy Koekje Biscuits (Dutch Snacks UK)

A couple of months ago I was left a very curious comment on one of my instagram posts, telling me that I must try Chocomel...

Chocomel? What on earth is Chocomel? I asked. 

I'm not sure if you are better clued up than me and already know about the famous Dutch drink, but I certainly hadn't heard of it. Cue a conversation with the manager of Chocomel UK (who also own Mr Shakes Bar and Dutch Snacks UK) and I soon learned that it's an indulgent chocolate milkshake that is extremely popular in The Netherlands. The lovely owner Amar offered to send me out some Chocomel to try -as well as some of the other Dutch treats available on their website- and I eagerly took up the kind offer. I wasn't expecting the huge box that arrived a couple of days later though -it felt like Christmas had come early in Hereford that day, I can assure you! 


"All you need is Chocomel."  

Amar guaranteed me that I'd fall in love with the chocolate flavoured milk made by Friesland Campina (the same people who make Yazoo). Chocomel can be drunk warm or cold, so I kept the cans in the fridge so that I could enjoy the drink both ways.

I can understand why people love Chocomel, it's a smooth and rich drink. It's not as thick as Frijj, but it's certainly more indulgent than Yazoo. When cold Chocomel slips down the throat like silk, and when warmed up (in the microwave for a minute or two) it becomes the ultimate in chocolate satisfaction. 

Doritos Bits (Honey BBQ and Sweet Paprika) 
Doritos are one of the most popular crisps in our house, but we never veer away from the Cool Original and Tangy Cheese varieties. Both Rob and I love them because they are always well flavoured (unlike Pringles or Hula Hoops more recently), so I was looking forward to trying out these little packs. 

They didn't disappoint either, and both flavours were equally scrummy. I loved the nibbly nature of the crisps, and Rob also loved them too! Paprika can often be a bit hit and miss, but these had a good balance between spice and sweet. 

Fanta Grape
I don't tend to drink a lot of sugary fizzy drinks, so I left this one for Rob to drink (hence the lack of a photo). He thought that it was unusual, and admitted that he probably wouldn't opt for it over his beloved Tango apple, but also enjoyed the change and wouldn't turn one down if offered. 

Looza Juice
Apple and Cherry was the first to bite the dust, and it was a lovely (albeit very sweet) fruit juice. It was the banana juice however that I was most looking forward to, so I saved it for Christmas morning. Boy it didn't disappoint either. I haven't had banana juice for many years and I enjoyed every little slurp up my green curly straw (everyone loves a curly straw). 

Nutella B-Ready
I've been kicking myself for a year or so now, because Farmfoods used to stock Nutella B-Ready sticks -but I never picked a pack up, and then *bam* they vanished. I've spoken a number of times about my love of the hazelnut chocolate spread, so I was thrilled that Amar had kindly included them. 

The bread shaped wafers contain three Nutella filled segments, and at only 96kcal per baguette they're the dieters friend. I must admit that I was a little disappointed at the lack of chocolate spread inside, but the combination of Nutella and wafer was still scrummy, and I'll be savouring every last B-Ready.

Candy Koekje
These looked very similar to Lotus' Biscoff biscuits, and indeed they were. If you've never tried caramelised biscuits (or spread) then I'm not sure we can be friends -until you try them of course. As with Biscoffs, candy Koekjes are utterly moreish, so it's a good job they're individually wrapped otherwise they'd have been munched in one go. I also tried them crumbled on top of Ben & Jerry's One Sweet World which -as you might have guessed- was utterly incredible. 

Tony's Chocolonely Milk Chocolate and Milk Chocolate with Caramel and Sea Salt
Ever the chocoholic I was delighted to discover these bars in my Dutch Snacks care package.


I'd not heard of Tony's Chocolonely before, but one of my Dutch friends on instagram (@snackgainz) saw my post of the milk chocolate bar and told me that the caramel one was to die for. Tony's Chocolonely is a company that aims to make the world a better place one chocolate bar at a time..

"Right now, slaves are working on cocoa farms in West Africa.
Many of them are children. Tony’s Chocolonely exists to change that.
Our vision is 100% slave free chocolate.
Not just our chocolate, but all chocolate worldwide."

That sounded good to me. Fortunately the feel-good chocolate also tasted good too. It was rich and silky, with a high cocoa content (32% compared to Dairy Milk's 23%).

 The bar that knocked my socks off however was the sea salt and caramel!
I was expecting your bog standard gooey caramel inside with a smidgen of salt, but Tony's Chocolonely have gone all out. The bar contained plenty of caramel crispy bits, whilst the sea salt flakes offered enough salinity to make the chocolate something really special.

This was one of the best chocolate experiences I've had all year -and that's really saying something considering I've posted 240+ reviews this year with the tag 'chocolate'!

White Chocolate Oreos
Undoubtedly, the item that I was most animated about in the Dutch Snacks parcel was the white chocolate covered Oreos. I have been dying to try them for as long as I can remember, so I  jigged across my kitchen with them in my arms when I opened the box! Surely the best way to enhance an Oreo is to cover it in white chocolate? I couldn't wait to find out.. 

Jeez, they were worth the wait. The sheer sugar heaven was almost more than I could bear. Actually, I lie, I could definitely sustain eating these each and every day. The white chocolate wasn't exactly the best quality, but it harmonised with the rich cocoa flavour of the biscuit within, providing a sickly sweet but completely comforting combination.

Suddenly I had a brainwave! What was the only way I could improve this ultimate biscuit eating scenario? Sandwich the Oreos with peanut butter of course!

I'm absolutely saving each 2-pack in the box for days when I need some serious cheering up. They're crazy good. 

The service, selection of goods, and selection of goods available from Dutch Snacks UK is second-to-none. If any (or all) of these treats sound up your alley then please pop on over to their website. If you're lucky enough to live in the vicinity of North Harrow, London, then head on over to Mr Shakes Bar, where you can buy all of these products at the same time as ordering a decadent milkshake or healthy smoothie -oh and order me a White Widow whilst you're at it please!

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Mulled Wine Fruit Loaf (M&S)

I was my normal scroogy, scrimpy, student self and bided my time when buying this fruit loaf from M&S. At £2 it seemed a little on the steep side, and if I was going to treat myself to full-priced goods from their bakery section you can bet your bottom dollar that it was going to be their boobie buns (sorry Christmas Pudding Buns). Yesterday afternoon though I popped back into my local branch -second attempt at buying another bottle of Chocolate Opal -this time successful- and detoured via the bakery on the way out where I spotted a single loaf reduced to just 70p. The packaging informed me that it was freezable, so I hastily nabbed the pack and added it to my basket. 

"Spiced fruit loaf with port soaked dried vine fruts, sour cherries, citrus peel and ginger."

The first thing I noticed about the bread was its density. For a fruit loaf it wasn't very risen or fluffy -but then I told myself that perhaps it was meant to be more like a stollen. The pale dusting on top marked a further stollen similarity, and I kept everything crossed that it would be as tasty as Lidl's luxury chocolate version. 

The bread was shockingly tough to slice into, revealing a very compacted interior with a plethora of fruits -the only plus point thus far. The packet suggested toasting the slices, so I popped both of mine in for a minute so that it just begun to tan. I slathered both slices in butter, and got stuck in.

Eurgh. All I could taste was burnt fruit. If you've ever made raisin flapjack or rock buns at home and caught them in a fierce oven then you'll know how awful burnt dried fruit tastes. The thick crust round the edge of the bread made it very chewy too, so much so that I almost gave up eating it. I'm very determined however, and hate wasting food, so I gave the second slice a generous coating of apricot jam -which I hoped would inject some much needed sweetness and counteract the acrid burnt raisin taste.

Nope. The second slice also felt like a punishment, and the rest of the loaf went in the bins -even the poor birds shouldn't suffer this.

I'm really hoping that I got the worst of a bad batch, so I'm extremely eager to know if any of you have tried M&S' Mulled Wine Fruit Loaf this Christmas, and if you're experience was similar or vastly different! Be a dear, and leave me a comment to let me know...


Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Festive Mini Macaroons (M&S)

We should all probably be sick of the sight of Christmas food, but I just can't help myself from buying more -especially when I spot a bargain or two, or three, or four..! Anyway, I had reached breaking point with my marketing report late yesterday afternoon when I decided to give my brain a breather and pop into town. I couldn't resist heading into M&S before coming home, and there I spotted these festive mini macaroons in the food-to-go section. If M&S offered a meal deal like Boots do, I'd be far more inclined to pick up my lunch there more often. Instead I usually bypass the sandwich aisle unless it's reducing time. I'd seen these glittery little macaroons a few times though, but was disinclined to spend £1.50 on them. Reduced to a mere 55p yesterday afternoon however, I decided to give them a whirl.

Now I have an embarrassing confession to make: I'd never tried a macaroon before. Shocking, right? I'm not sure why either as I like meringues and love almonds. I think I'd just got them down as expensive little dainty morsels, and as such will always opt for something more substantial (and usually more chocolatey) when choosing dessert. These macaroons were special though, because not only where they shimmery, but they were a triple whammy of chocolate flavours.

"Chocolate ganache and hazelnut, chocolate ganache and salted caramel, chocolate ganache and orange flavoured French Almond macaroons." 

Mmm, in my head I imagined nutella, chocolatey dulce de leche, and Terry's filled almond flavoured meringues. The trouble began though when I realised that there was no way of working out which was which! I tried smelling them, but I couldn't distinguish any difference. There was only one way to find out....

Biting into the first, bronze coloured, one left me puzzled because I couldn't really tell what flavour it was meant to be .The macaroon wasn't even particularly chocolatey, and all I could taste was the almondy meringue. The texture was enjoyable with its soft chewy interior and crispy outer shell, but I was very underwhelmed by the lack of hazelnut, salted caramel, orange or cocoa. Humf. 

The purple-escent macaroon was next up, and when I munched into the edge I started to think that M&S were pulling my leg. Are macaroons the Emperors new clothes of delicacies? Again, the flavour was completely lacking and I felt rather put out. 

Fortunately, somehow I'd saved the best until last. The golden macaroon contained a hidden gem of chocolate orange ganache that shone from within. The flavour was impeccable, and worked wonders with the sugar almond exteriors.This was a real treat -I just wish the box contained 3 chocolate orange macaroons. After all, chocolate orange is arguably the only festive flavour combination in the combination, and was the tastiest by a couple of clear country miles. 

If you spot these festive macaroons reduced then I suggest you pick them up, but otherwise they're not worth your pennies. 


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Chocolate Opal Wine Review (M&S)

Every time I visit my sister in Cardiff and we go shopping there's a couple of musts on the to-do list. Firstly I have to pop into the Lego store and buy a Star Wars keyring for Bert's extensive collection. Secondly we have to visit the Rubis stand for a free sample of their chocolate red wine. 

Chocolate red wine you cry! That's disgusting! Maybe to your more refined palate the combination may sound abominable, but my sister and I think it's utterly delicious. The trouble is, it's not exactly a cheap bottle of plonk, and seeing as we're both students the closest we get to enjoying a bottle is the snifter we receive when detouring via the Rubis stand. 

A few weeks ago I was perusing M&S' wine section when buying our 'Dine In for £10' meal deal when I spotted not one, but two chocolate infused wines on their shelves! They're selling a red Chocolate Ruby (currently £7, reduced from £9) and a pale Chocolate Opal (half price at £4.50). I debated between the bottles, deciding to pick up a bottle for Christmas Day -it wasn't in the Dine In offer- before opting for the cheaper Opal wine of course. 

'Aromatised white wine with chocolate flavouring.' 

My mum-in-law looked extremely dubious when I offered her a glass of Chocolate Opal on Sunday afternoon post Christmas pudding with double cream and Biscoff Cheesecake, but it didn't take very long to persuade her to try "just a little glass." 

A little glass quickly turned into a couple of full glasses each, which should give you an indication of how delicious this wine truly was. It's a drink for sugar addicts only  though I'm afraid, it's so very sweet and tastes borderline liqueur-esque. M&S' Chocolate Opal is much more refreshing than Rubis though thanks to the white wine background that the chocolate flavour sits proudly at the forefront of. Talking of which, there's no doubting it's a chocolate flavour, and it's extremely moreish at that. 

A gentle word of warning, the wine is fortified (15%) and swiftly made me feel rather squiffy -although admittedly that might've been caused by the champers beforehand.

I loved the Opal so much that I returned to the store this afternoon to pick up a bottle (and contemplate the Ruby version) but they've completely sold out. If you're a wine loving, sweet toothed chocoholic with a generously stocked M&S nearby I suggest you pay a trip and stock up post-haste! 


Monday, 26 December 2016

Easy Peasy Speculoos No-Bake Cheesecake Recipe

Happy Boxing Day you lovely lot! Fingers crossed you had a somewhat enjoyable Christmas day, and I hope at least some of you woke up with a stinking hangover but a big smile on your face like I did. Admittedly our day was almost a disaster when I forgot to serve up the pigs-in-blankets, but fortunately I remembered them whilst we were all still eating and they hadn't turned to charcoal in the process. 

Of course every family have their own traditions, and in the (almost) 9 years that Bert and I have been together we've formed our own little rituals: there's the Christmas Eve PJs (passed down from my family), the no presents until after lunch rule (his family -that one took some getting used to) and the homemade Christmas cheesecake (my own tradition). For the past 6-7 years I've religiously made said cheesecake on Christmas Eve as an alternative to the Christmas pud, and every year it changes, but it always ticks two boxes: very chocolatey & very boozy. 

Poor Bert isn't the biggest chocoholic (hence why we're such a good team, he never raids my chocolate stash) and is tee-total.  He also hates Xmas pud, but has obligingly munched his way through years of cheesecakes including white chocolate & Baileys, dark chocolate & Cointreau and milk chocolate & Amaretto. This year though I decided to make a cheesecake based on what he loves (especially after the Mince Pie Danish debacle) so opted for a Biscoff inspired cheesecake. I popped a pic of it up on Christmas Day and received so many requests for the extremely simple recipe that I thought I'd make a change from my normal review posts to pop it up... 

N.B I can't take credit for this recipe as it's a very slight amendment from Jane's Pattiserie's, which can be found here.

Makes 8 individual Gu ramekins- but can be easily amended to suit.


Biscuit Base
  •  110g Digestive Biscuits
  •  110g Lotus Caramelised Biscuits
  •  110g Butter
Cheesecake Filling
  • 360g Philadelphia Cream Cheese
  • 2 tsp Caramel flavouring (I used Dr Oetker's)
  • 70g Icing sugar
  •  200ml Double Cream
  • 190g Crunchy Biscoff Spread/ Favorina Spiced Biscuit Spread
To Decorate
  • Lotus Caramelised Biscuits
  1. Melt the butter in the microwave (10-20 secs should do it)
  2. Blitz the biscuits into fine crumbs using a blender/food processor, and mix in the melted butter. Press into 8 ramekins.
  3. Whip together the cream cheese, caramel flavouring, icing sugar and Biscoff until smooth using an electric whisk.
  4. Add the cream and whisk slowly until thick enough to stay on an upturned spoon. 
  5. Spread the mixture over the bases and chill in the fridge until you can't resist their call!
  6. When serving, pop 1/2 a Lotus biscuit on top
Et voila! Simples... 

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Mince Pie Danish Pastry (The Co-Op)

Hurrah, It's Christmas Eve!!! Before I start with the review, I just wanted to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I hope you have a lovely celebration, manage to avoid killing the pesky uncle, and enjoy lots of yummy food. 


I often wonder why Bert puts up with me. He's a very good egg and all my friends and family love him too. Not only has he stuck by me through thick and thin but he continues to show more faith in me than I have in myself -I have an awful lot to be grateful for. One of the many ways he supports me is through this blog; many-a-time he's persuaded me not to give it up when I've felt like it, and every evening he waits patiently for me to take photos of my treats for instagram or reviews. I think I almost took the biscuit this week though when I called him at work just before he was due to leave, and asked him to make a detour round grid-locked Hereford to find me a Danish Pastry.

That bleeding orange & cranberry Danish had rekindled my affinity towards the buttery bakery treats -damn you Waitrose!- and since then I'd spotted the ultimate festive pastry creation that I couldn't bear waiting until Christmas morning for: The Mince Pie Danish*. Well, that's not exactly accurate, for I'd seen the price sign in the Co-Op, directing me to where they should have been. I'd since popped into my local branch three times to check if they'd received any, until the manager got sick of me pestering and informed me that they wouldn't be having any more until next Christmas. Boo. 

*Lightbulb moment!* There's a bigger Co-Op the other side of town (where I found the pb&j ice cream and apple crumble doughnuts), and they might have some festive pastries left...
Poor Bert agreed to my mission, and off he pootled to the Co-Op on his way home. He was successful (even snapchatting me the below image to ensure he's got the right pastry!) but it took him an hour (instead of 10 minutes) to get back. The Mince Pie Danish had better be worth it. 

Whereas the Waitrose Danish was a snail/whirl shape, this was cushion style, complete with a generous mincemeat centre and icing drizzle. The oily residue left in the paper back indicated how much greasier this was than the Orange & Cranberry version. 

Texture wise it was softer, but also almost raw. Mary Berry would certainly not be happy with the soggy bottoms here, but I'm a bit partial to under-cooked pastry (and Yorkshire puddings for that matter). The rawness didn't stop there however, for the pastry had large unattractive lumps of suet floating about in it. This was a shame because the flavour of it was good and the combination of super-rich pastry with mincemeat could've been wonderful -after all Eccles cakes are a gift to mankind. I still enjoyed it though, but it wasn't a patch on Waitrose!

So far my experiences with the Co-Op's bakery has been distinctly unsuccessful. Have any of you had better luck? Is there anything you can recommend?

Sorry for the goose chase Bert. 


*Yep, still loving the mince pies... 

Friday, 23 December 2016

Luxury Chocolate Stollen with Jamaican Rum (LIDL)

Despite my insistence yesterday that I wasn't upset about the lack of chocolate & hazelnut (or indeed any) stollen in Tesco, I was admittedly miffed that I hadn't managed to enjoy any of my favourite German festive bread this season. I had, of course, tried the disappointing chocolate covered stollen bites from ALDI, but like I said at the time -it didn't really hit the spot. I was on a mission yesterday afternoon to pick up a bottle of Ouzo from Lidl however, when I got sidetracked by the Christmas aisle. Why oh why can't I just walk straight past it like a normal person? I didn't need any more festive food -the big shop had been done, and I've been reviewing all sorts of Christmassy treats since Bonfire Night.

Firstly, LIDL's Favorina milk chocolate lekuchen hearts called to me, which I justified by telling myself that I would buy and keep them for a 25th of June half-Christmas celebration -but we'll see if they last that long. Then I discovered that their 'Snowy Lodge' range was discounted by 20%, and instantly remembered their luxury chocolate Stollen. Now, I wasn't really up for taking another risk with my stollen, especially after my disappointment with their loaf last year, but thought I'd regret not taking the opportunity. At £3.19 for 500g, it was a damn site cheaper than Tesco's £7 similar sized loaf too, and damn it looked chocolatey. 

"Our snowy lodge chocolate stollen is a modern and luxurious take on a classic festive favourite. The dark, rich chocolate and smooth Jamaican rum beautifully complement the traditional stollen flavours. Our chocolate stollen is then finished with a dusting of sugar, for an extraordinary and indulgent treat, perfect for any festive occasion."

Well the loaf looked like the Christmassy offspring of a yule log and stollen. It had an almost magical appearance, and whilst I meant to keep it for Christmas Eve, I just couldn't wait that long to tuck in. 

As my knife sliced into the bread, it started to crumble and I feared that this stollen would be another dry number requiring a large mug of coffee to aid in its consumption. I then spotted the large marzipan rope that was nestled in the centre, and my apprehensions waned slightly. 

Heaven graced my taste buds. The dough's texture was soft, squidgy, and held a little resistance as per every good stollen. The chocolate flavour was rich, but not overpowering, enabling the spicy undertones to come through. An abundance of raisins (26% of the ingredients) broke up the dough, injecting additional moisture into the loaf, but it was the dark chocolate and rum flavoured marzipan that I was really looking forward to... 

Boy, oh boy, it was delectable! On Saturday I reviewed Lidl's Favorina Rum Raisin Marzipan Bread, and thought that it was yummy, but this treasure knocked the Favorina bar out of the park. Fudgy, almondy and very chocolatey with a slight rum-kick (no throat burn here) the marzipan core was easily the best marzipan I've ever had. Lidl have cleverly used a dark chocolate, which counteracts the usual sweetness in the almond paste, providing a harmony of flavours that is inexplicably good. 

Chocoholic stollen fan? Go and buy Lidl's chocolate stollen NOW. Go on, what are you waiting for?


Thursday, 22 December 2016

Black Forest Dome Gateau (Tesco)

Are you a savvy shopper? I certainly think I am. In fact, I'm obsessed with finding a bargain -so much so that I drive poor Bert nuts when doing the weekly shop. If I know a product is cheaper in another supermarket, I won't even consider buying it in the one I'm in. See, told you I'm a pain. I'd like to think that it's because I'm a student, but actually I've always been this way. My mum even managed to buy her (convertible) car entirely through Tesco clubcard points. Yes really. Anyway, the point is, I love to find ways to get things cheaper, and one of the ways I've been doing this for the past few years is through Tesco's Orchard scheme. If you ever shop with Tesco, and fancy trying some of their ranges for free (in exchange for giving them some feedback) then it's definitely worth signing up.

This Christmas Tesco gave me the opportunity to try some of their party food or cakes and desserts for free. No prizes for guessing which option I chose.

Lo and behold, a couple of weeks ago I received £6 worth of vouchers in the post to use on any of Tesco's fresh or frozen cakes and desserts. I'd got my eye on their chocolate and hazelnut stollen, but when I did the Christmas food shop yesterday the store was completely out. No bites, no slices, no chocolatey stollen, in fact no pannetone or pandoro either. Humf. I couldn't complain though really because the vouchers were freebies, so I head to the frozen dessert section instead. 

Christmas day desserts in my house are already sorted: Christmas pud for my dad in-law, and a homemade cheesecake for the non-traditionalists (i.e. everyone else)! This just meant that I got to £6 worth of free desserts and not have to wait until the 25th -double win! 

I still headed towards the Christmas desserts and spotted the most amazing looking Black Forest Dome Gateau, and although it serves 8 (there's just me, Bert and the dog at home), I just had to have it. I'm partial to a sport of the 80's retro flavour combo and have reviewed quite a few black forest foodstuffs this year (muffins, dessert pots, low fat biscuit snacks, and most recently lebkuchen of course if you want to check them out). At just £3 my vouchers more than covered it, so I also picked up some other desserts to try at a later date.

"Dome shaped chocolate sponge cake filled with Kirsch chocolate cream mousse and cherry sauce on a short crust pastry base. Covered with a chocolate flavoured glaze, decorated with chocolate decorations and Morello cherry."

I didn't expect the dome to contain 8 reasonable sized portions, but it certainly did (take note Iceland). I was also impressed by the careful packaging that surrounded the dessert -not good for eco-warriors but it certainly enabled a very clumsy me to get it home in one piece. The packet suggested a defrost time of 3 & 1/2 hours, but I cut out our portions and left it on the side for an hour and it did the trick. 

The centre of the dome looked just as impressive as the photo on the box, and I mentally gave another point to Tesco. My knife easily slid through the layers too, which helped as I'm the worst at plating up, although I imagine it would be messier when defrosted.

The chocolate cake was light and fluffy, lacking the density of a good fudge cake, but admittedly was a good choice to surround the mousse innards. Said mousse however was a bit disappointing, in fact I thought it was just a vapid chocolate mousse until I wrote this review. Tesco seem to have fallen into the same trap as ASDA did with their muffins; neither the chocolate or cherry was dominant and therefore the mousse just tasted odd.

Fortunately the cherry sauce was wonderful, perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, and working well with the central cake layer it sat upon. The pastry base was also good, and added an extra textural element. I also thought the chocolate glaze was tasty too, although to be honest I was just pleased to find that it wasn't the horrid hotel jelly stuff that often graces the buffet table in continental hotels. 

Overall, it's not the most delicious dessert I've ever had -but it's one of the better frozen puds and it looks damn good. If you haven't done your Chrismas food shop yet and are after an alternative centrepiece without the faff of homebaking (or M&S's prices) then I suggest you have a think about picking up Tesco's Black Forest Dome Gateau. 


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Choceur Salted Caramel & White Chocolate Almonds (ALDI)

Last year dear Daddio included my first experience of ALDI's chocolate as part of my Christmas stocking and I was impressed! Since then I've only tried one more bar, their Madagascan vanilla white chocolate, which was even more delicious. I probably should buy their chocolate more often, but most of their bars come in larger formats, and I have non Reese's chocolate commitment issues. 

These salted caramel and white chocolate almonds probably wouldn't have even entered my radar had it not been for Kev's review back in October. I mean the white chocolate, salted caramel and almonds all sounded good but I imagined that I'd prefer to keep the three separate. Nevertheless I picked some up a few weeks ago to try on Christmas Day with my nut loving in-laws. Last night though I wasn't sure what I fancied after dinner, so raided the cupboards and the almonds called to me. Sorry Mr & Mrs Letby. 

"Almonds covered in white chocolate blended caramel powder and salt."

The 100g bag contained 20 almonds, each looking like large (albeit golden) Milkybar mini eggs -mmm, so good. Cutting one in half pleased me as it revealed just how generous the coating was. To give you a better idea, I checked the packet when writing this and realised that almonds only account for 18% of the ingredients! I'm certainly not complaining. 

N.B Yes, I realised there was a hair in the bowl after I took the photo, and no I didn't eat it ;).

The salted caramel flavoured white chocolate was silky smooth an utterly delicious; indeed it was just as incredible as the highly addictive KarmelLove bars I discovered a couple of months ago. Some nuts had a more saline coating than others, but this made the eating experience all the more interesting. The almonds had retained their crunchiness too -always a bonus as no-one wants soggy nuts. 

The biggest problem with these Choceur salted caramel and white chocolate almonds is the self control required to stop munching. If you're watching your weight you might want to be careful as the 20 almonds amount to 564kcal! For everyone else, tuck in and don't share, they're scumdiddlyumtious. 


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

NEW! Orange & Cranberry Danish (Waitrose)

What do you eat on Christmas morning? As a child, I remember having croissants and Bucks Fizz after hurriedly opening the stockings, but since leaving home I haven't bothered to make the effort with breakfast and have stuck to cereal or porridge before starting to cook the turkey. Maybe times are about to change... 

I'll be honest, when perusing the bakery section in the supermarket, my eyes tend to automatically land on one or more of three categories: muffins, doughnuts and cookies. Of course I've already reviewed a number of festive versions of these treats*, but when in Waitrose the other day buying the mega marzipan mince pie, I caught sight of their very appetising looking pastries. I instantly noticed my urgent need to try an orange and cranberry Danish at my next given opportunity.

 I wasn't sure exactly what they comprised of given the categorical style of the signage in front of the whirls, but they certainly looked damn tasty! 

Please can you just appreciate my successful effort to get this home intact for a moment? I think I did rather well for once. I hope you'll agree as to how beautiful this particular pastry was; covered with little cranberry gems and orange zest atop a profuse layer of snowy icing.  

It's been a very long time since I last had a Danish, but I was surprised to discover the dough to be more resilient than I remember. Pulling the whirl apart however exposed the golden laminations in all their glory, nestling the occasional ruby coloured cranberry. 

I think I expected the dough to taste of orange. but instead it was a simple and delicious buttery flavour that shone through. The texture melted in the mouth too, and it wasn't half as tough to eat as I had initially feared when handling it. Why oh why don't I have pastries more often? The citrus flavour wasn't forgotten though, for it came from the icing, reminding me of the zingy pockets of flavour imparted into a delicious lemon drizzle cake. The cranberries were squidgy and sweet, harmonising with the other elements to create a true festive flavour that was simply delectable. 

I'm left feeling very tempted to return to Waitrose and pick up another pastry (and some Bucks Fizz) for Sunday morning! 



Monday, 19 December 2016

NEW! Santa Belly & Melting Snowman Doughnuts (Krispy Kreme)

Apologies for the lack of Sunday review, I was just too busy having lots of fun in London with my best friends*. The journey back yesterday however was less than enjoyable, and yet another example of the British rail network at it's best. My Virgin train from Euston was cancelled, as were the three previous services, which meant that I missed my connection and had to wait for two hours in Birmingham for my last leg back to Hereford (making the journey 6 hours in total).

Still, I found a silver lining -which strangely didn't include being in the Bullring exactly a week before Christmas Day. My close proximity to a Krispy Kreme certainly made me happier though. If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll know from my many previous moans that I have no access to the iconic doughnut chain's goodies; the nearest store is over an hour away, and none of the Tesco's stock it within that radii. This means that I normally make the most of trips to Birmingham and come home with a doughnut or two. My other half almost jumped for joy when I rang and asked him if he'd like a KK collected. 

Even better, the hold-up had given me the time to visit the actual store and make use of my 20% student discount -which I imagine is rather dangerous if you're at a university city with local Krispy Kreme. I opted for the filled Christmas doughnuts of course, and asked the friendly assistant to find me some pretty ones. The trouble was, my bags were pretty full and very heavy, so by the time they arrived in my kitchen the doughnuts looked decidedly less attractive than they had in Birmingham, oops.

Melting Snowman
"Hand dipped in white chocolate flavour coating, filled with caramelised biscuit kreme hand decorated with chocolate iced buttons and a scarf."

I've seen plenty of complaints online about the lack of ingenuity when it comes to the fillings of Krispy Kreme's doughnuts this Christmas. For my birthday back in March -in lieu of a traditional cake- I tried their Lotus Caramelised Biscoff doughnut, so I imagined the Melting Snowman to taste rather similar (and therefore delicious). 

I sliced it in two and found the pocket of biscoff flavoured filling in the middle, which was slightly off centre and not particularly generous. I also noted how dense the doughnut felt. 

The situation didn't improve when I bit into it either, for the biscoff and white chocolate topping didn't impart much flavour other than a resounding sweetness. Where had the spice that speculoos (aka Biscoff) is known for? The icing didn't even hint towards tasting of white chocolate either. Now, you must know by now just how sweet-toothed I am, but just one half was enough for me. If I'd have paid the full £1.90 I'd have been even more royally resentful towards the doughnut chain. Gah. 


Santa Belly
"Hand dipped in raspberry flavoured red icing, filled with chocolate truffle Kreme, hand decorated with chocolate iced buttons and belt, then finished with a buckle."

Picking up this doughnut felt a damn site more promising because the dough felt so much lighter. I also thought that the design was rather clever too. I've not had the opportunity to try any of the previous raspberry and chocolate Krispy Kremes before, so I cut into Santa with fresh (albeit slightly squinty) eyes -cutting Father Christmas open is never going to feel right. sorry Santa.

The dichotomized doughnut looked even more delicious, because it was packed full of a light chocolate mousse. This was what I was hoping for Krispy Kreme! Flavour-wise it was drastically better too. The sweet raspberry icing worked wonderfully well with the fluffy chocolate innards and soft dough surround. Chocolate and raspberry is a heaven-made match, and this only improves when combined with one of Krispy Kreme's fresh doughnuts. Mmm.


Of the two, Santa is the surprising winner! I definitely thought that the Biscoff Krispy Kreme would be my firm favourite, but my doughnut was too sweet, underfilled and lacking in flavour. I do wish that KK had thought to include a traditional Christmas flavour though such as a filled mince pie doughnut (yep, STILL obsessed even after all of the ones I've reviewed this year) or a filled gingerbread with chocolate coating (lebkuchen-style). Fingers crossed for next year!

*On a side note: The family Carol Service in St Paul's Cathedral is one of the most beautiful festive activities I've ever had the privilege of experiencing (but get there early to ensure seats) whilst Dirty Dancing at the Pheonix Theatre is incredible fun. On a food point the Maitre'D in Prezzo on New Oxford St is one of the rudest men I have ever met, but the little family run Italian run restaurant Giotto (just a few doors down) serves excellent pasta and pizza at reasonable prices.