Monday, 26 September 2016

7 Days Peanut Croissant (Polski Sklep)

I naively thought that 7 days is an American baked goods brand -but that's only because I've only come across their spotted their products on American Fizz. I'm not a huge croissant eater, not because I don't like them, but just prefer cinnamon based pastries such as whirls and buns. What's the fillings that could possibly change my mind? Peanut butter or chocolate of course! American Fizz do stock 7 days' PB&J croissant, but I always forget to add it to basket when excitedly making an order. 

Imagine my surprise when I spotted a range of 7 days croissants in one of our local Polish Delis. A bit of research later led me to realise that the brand is in fact International, trading in a number of European countries as well as the States.

Whilst the deli didn't stock the PB&J version (7 Days' website implies that it's only an American release) it did sell something potentially more exciting: Peanut & Cocoa croissants. I was a bit dubious about whether the filling would taste of my beloved peanut butter seeing as the ingredients only listed "peanut paste" and "peanut flavouring" however for 50p it was worth the punt.

If, like me, you become frustrated with the often ridiculous serving sizes on British packets (no one can eat a single twirl finger Cadbury or half an Aero for that matter Nestle) then pay a thought for our Polish cousins. The 60g croissant displays nutrition information for 28g! What the heck? Eat half, save half, give a couple of crumbs to the dog perhaps? Lord knows.

Anyway, the croissant was larger and more voluminous than expected; I assumed that It would have squished on the walk home -the same way I seem to damage most of my purchases recently. Once unwrapped I could smell a sweet, cocoa scent, which became stronger once sliced in two. Paul Hollywood might have even been impressed with the layers, which were multiple and light -another surprise considering that the croissants are a long life product. I was also pleased to discover a generous pocket of pale brown coloured filling in the centre, enrobed in a dark cocoa layer.

The pastry didn't taste as fresh as it looked unfortunately, but was certainly better than I had originally anticipated. The peanut centre was gooey, nutty and sweet -perhaps too much so, as I found the creme lacked the counterbalancing salinity of my favourite peanut butter. In any case, the cocoa was the much more dominant flavour, despite making up only less than a third of the filling (the ingredients list claims that cocoa makes up 7% of the entire croissant whereas the peanut accounts for 16%). This wasn't a problem as I find Nutella often comes to the forefront flavour-wise in my much loved Nutella-PB-&-banana toasties (they're incredible, if you haven't had one before please do, then let me know what you think!)

I was enjoying my first half of the croissant, but then popped the second half in the microwave for a quick blast - after all, croissants are always best served warm! 


The now melted spread-like centre oozed between the laminated pastry layers, becoming all the more delicious. The texture gap between fresh and long-life became somewhat reduced as a result, and I sat grinning whilst savouring every last morsel.

I'm so glad I decided to try this 7 Days Peanut & Cocoa croissant, and I'm sure they'll become a regular treat! 


Saturday, 24 September 2016

Cherry Bakewell Hipster Fudge (Etsy)

Did you watch GBBO this week amid the traumatic news that our much loved programme is channel hopping next series? Forget all the M.Bezzer stress for a moment, because I want to know if the episode had you hankering after a Bakewell as much as it did me -although maybe not Val's soggy bottom, eh? Hipster Fudge must've predicted my longing for all things cherry-almond because earlier this week they offered to send me a pack of their new limited edition fudge to try. I actually debated it for a second, because my last experience (Matt & Ben's Espresso Fudge) left me believing that I didn't like the sweet treat any more. Then I reconsidered, reasoning that I would share the Hipster Fudge at work, sampling it around the office to get a more balanced view.

If you haven't heard of Hipster Fudge yet, let me fill you in:

Hipster Fudge is relatively new. The company was born after the owner, Jonny Craft, made some fudge one day for his main business 'Sweet Pizzas'  to use as toppings . He sent some to his friends to see if they liked it and a lot of them said it was the best fudge they have ever had. He then started making more wacky flavours and posting them on a Facebook page he set up for the brand and the orders came flooding in. Hipster fudge has been trading on Etsy for a month now, and already has 60 orders. Jonny believes that Fudge is seen as an older persons treat, however Hipster Fudge aims to make it trendier, a bit like the current gin revolution. Flavours change regularly and currently include Oreo & Cashew, Aero, Reese's Pieces, and Ferrero Rocher -to name just a few.

The bar arrived just a day later, comprised of six squares -each topped with white icing and a single glace cherry. Notices on the back of the packet warned me of the inclusion of nuts, and also a polite memo to let me know it's better enjoyed from the fridge. 

That evening I was so curious to try the pretty looking bar now nestled among the chocolate bars in my fridge, that I broke off a couple of squares to tuck in to (forgetting the office ladies and gents in one fell sweep, sorry all). Despite being cold, the fudge had remained soft and malleable -just how I remember loving it as a child.

The flavour was bolder than expected, with the almond shining through the sugary sweetness. I loved the glace cherry on the top, which imparted the bakewell element into every bite. Perhaps that flavour may have been slightly more impactive if the fudge itself included chopped cherries -although I'm not sure if that would change the consistency, which squidgy and absolutely perfect.

I'm so grateful to Jonny at Hipster Fudge, not only for sending me the sample, but also for reminding me that I do love fudge. When I was a small child, my granddad used to walk up a steep hill to buy me fudge from a specialist shop in the town where we lived every day (even when he was dying from cancer). Hipster Fudge has brought back those lovely decades old memories of us sitting on the sofa together enjoying our delicious, golden, sugar-laden treats after his outing. 

Please do pop over to Hipster Fudge's Etsy Shop, and if you don't see something you fancy today then continue to keep an eye out, the flavours are changing on an almost daily basis! 


*You must go check out @sweetpizzas on Twitter, but it'll leave you salivating!

Friday, 23 September 2016

Carb Killa White Chocolate Mocha

If you regularly work out and/or take protein supplements, chances are you'll have heard about Grenade's newest bar. Added to the delicious range of Carb Killas (which FYI taste remarkably like chocolate bars) is the White Chocolate Mocha. I love anything mocha and always begrudge the fact that coffee is very rarely paired with white chocolate as opposed to milk or dark. As someone who likes their coffee mild, I prefer the sweeter white chocolate against the naturally bitter coffee. Still, one must not forget that the Carb Killa is a protein bar and not a chocolate bar; its main focus is meant to be delivering quality nutrition pre or post exercise.

"Delivering over 22 grams of protein per bar, Carb Killa® is a high protein bar that has been designed to provide balanced complete sources of protein, while limiting the level of simple, processed refined sugars. Unlike many other protein bars Carb Killa® is unique in the fact it is so low in carbs."

Slicing into the bar revealed the trio of layers: the mocha flavoured protein layer, covered in caramel and topped with the biscuit studded white chocolate. Normally I like my protein bars all warm and gooey but I decided to try the end section in it's ambient state for reviewing purposes. 

Boy I wasn't disappointed. The coffee flavour was milky but omnipresent, working wonderfully with the sweet white chocolate flavoured coating. The crunch made the texture all the more appealing, and I found it to be better than most real (non protein!) white mocha chocolate bars that I've tasted! As always, the protein layer was soft and lacked the dreaded chewiness (or whey flavour) of most bars.

I almost didn't warm this Carb Killa given how much I was enjoying it, but 20 seconds or so in the microwave rendered the bar even more delicious. Seriously, I'm sure my tastebuds thought I was eating dessert instead of a bar that was delivering much needed protein to my muscles pre-workout -it was that good!

I didn't think that Grenade could create a bar more scrummy than my beloved white chocolate cookie, but they've really worked their magic with this one! I'm hoping and praying that their next addition will be a peanut butter version..

Carb Killas are available from most decent sports nutrition retailers for about £2.50- £3 per bar.


Thursday, 22 September 2016

NEW! Maple Crunch Doughnut (Krispy Kreme)

There's many benefits to living in one of the most rural counties in the country. For example there's the quietness, the greenness, the generally slower pace of life and low crime levels. Then there's the downsides; the tractors that cause many a fit of road rage, the failing infrastructure (there's one bridge across the river that splits the city and no bypass) and of course the lack of Krispy Kreme & Hotel Chocolat within an hours drive.

Now the last point could in fact be viewed as a positive one, for it means that I'm not often tempted to spend vast amounts of money on the new & delicious looking seasonal treats in either store.

Still, a work trip to Birmingham yesterday on the train left enough time between connections to pop into Krispy Kreme and treat myself to one of their new doughnuts. I love a good Krispy Kreme, and indeed the last one I had was in place of my birthday cake back in March. Certainly a long enough wait!

You might be surprised that I didn't opt for the Reese's PB&J or Nutella filled doughnuts, and that it was the gold flecked Maple Crunch that called to me instead. Let me explain for why. I adore maple syrup, more so than the golden variety or honey, and it just about pips caramel too (unless we're talking about the core in Ben & Jerry's Karamel Sutra -nothing beats that). Its deep, woody flavour balances out its sweetness, and I'm forever wishing that the UK would embrace the Canadian syrup more.

"Hand-dipped in maple icing and sprinkled with maple flavour crunch and a sparkle of gold dust."

I can assure you that the doughnut looked even more impressive lined up on the shelves in the Krispy Kreme. Before it underwent a slight (but unavoidable) battering on the journey home, the icing was smooth and proudly displayed a generous dusting of golden flecks.

I won't be moving home soon as. I've decided that I'm glad there's no KKs  or Tesco with doughnut cabinets closer to home. The doughnut was soft, fluffy and light despite the characteristic deep fried flavour penetrating the sweet dough. As for the maple icing, it was every bit as flavourful as I'd hoped, and was thick enough to coat the ring without making it too sickly*.There was a slight crunchiness to it, and admittedly a tad more would've made the texture slightly more interesting. Even so it was pretty damn fabulous. 

If you need further convincing, check out Nib's review of the Maple crunch and S'mores doughnut here


*I would still suggest that the doughnut is best enjoyed with a big mug of coffee -which is why I trekked it home & resisted munching it on the train home.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

NEW! Banana Bread Selector (Hotel Chocolat)

That Nat (from a-lot-o-choc blog) is too kind for her own good. Not only did she send me the Cookie Dough Pie chocolate bar, but a few days later I received a parcel containing one of the new Autumn selectors from Hotel Chocolat AND the best protein bar in the world (Grenade White Chocolate Cookie Carb Killa FYI). 

"Banana flavoured praline with walnuts and dried banana flakes covered in milk chocolate."

The Hotel Chocolat selector excited me, not solely because my nearest branch is over an hour away, but because Nat had cleverly chosen the exact truffles that I would have. As I explained in my recent review of M&S' new banana & chocolate chip muffins, banana bread -or cake- is one of my absolute favourites. Banana and chocolate is always bound to cheer me up, so I saved these for a day when I was feeling particularly tired and grumpy. Last night, they beckoned me, calling my name from the fridge...

The truffles sliced cleanly, revealing a centre embedded with banana chips and walnut pieces.

The first flavour that hit me was the smooth, rich chocolate. The cocoa was punchy, with the characteristic Hotel Chocolat balance between sweet and bitter. The chocolate melted on my tongue almost instantly, tasting every bit as luxurious as you would expect. Next up, I was bowled over by the overwhelming taste of cinnamon. It was so very strong, in fact I felt it was too strong, overwhelming the banana flavour that lingered in the background. I love cinnamon (and bold flavours) but this was simply too much. The banana had a very natural flavour thanks to the banana flakes studding the praline, but I just wish it was given the opportunity to shine at the foreground.

Walnuts are a funny thing. I can enjoy them on their own, but really don't like their inclusion in cakes or ice cream (I'm one of those annoying people who pick them from the top of a coffee & walnut cake, and wouldn't even think about popping them into a banana cake mix). I wanted to explain this before moaning about them in the banana bread selector. Again I found that they detracted from my beloved banana, and put the flavour ratios out of sync. Gah.

I'm really sorry Nat, but I can't agree with your opinion on this one. They're a lovely idea, but for me Hotel Chocolat have failed to harness the true essence of banana bread this Autumn.


Tuesday, 20 September 2016

NEW! Dr Zak's Banoffee High Protein Peanut Spread (Musclefood)

I'm happily in the 'peanut butter should be enjoyed as a sweet delicacy', and I've mentioned many a time on this blog about my love of pb and banana toasties. I'm not a stranger to banana flavoured peanut butters, and I loved the last (PB Crave Coco Bananas). I often eat peanut butter at lunchtime, pre-afternoon gym session, so I've been recently delving into the world of high protein nut butters. But who is Dr Zak, and can you trust what he's selling?

"Dr Zak Pallikaros has dedicated his life to fitness and muscle-building. He studied Medicinal Chemistry, Bio Technology and Bio Chemistry at City University (London), then went on to obtain a Doctorate degree from the Royal Free Medical School."

Dr Zak's launched their range of high protein peanut spreads last year; with flavours including the delicious sounding Apple & Cinnamon, Cherry Bakewell and White Chocolate & Coconut. My bestest bud is a fellow peanut butter addict (perhaps that's why we've been friends for 17 years) and her absolute favourite is Dr Zak's Salted Caramel. Over the months her love has gradually persuaded me to buy a jar, but then I discovered that the company were releasing new flavours...

The new range comprises of: Chocolate Orange, Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Smooth, Crunchy and the Sweet Banoffee Pie. Each 450g jar has an RRP of £8.49, although Musclefood is selling them for £4.95 each. 

As to be expected, there was a slight amount of separation (although nowhere near as bad as the PB Crave). A swift swirl with a butter knife enabled an even consistency throughout the jar. Even before 
tasting I could smell the artificial banana flavour. 

If you've ever had a high protein nut butter, you'll know that the partially hydrolysed whey adds a grainy texture -and Dr Zak's is no different. The banana flavour was every bit as artificial as the aroma, but to be honest I'm a fan of even the most fake bananary foods (foam sweets for example). 

As far as high protein spreads go, this Dr Zak's is the best I've tried yet. It's full of flavour, and has a consistency loose enough to spread, but firm enough to cover apple slices. It also contains no palm 
oil and offers 7g of protein with only 1.4g of sugar per 20g serving. 


Monday, 19 September 2016

NEW! Mississippi Mud Pie Muffins (ASDA)

I don't know about you, but when I'm left with a bad experience of something, I want to see if I can change my last impression to something better (rather like not going to bed on an argument). Perhaps that is why I just *had* to buy these ASDA Mississippi Mud Pie Muffins as soon as I caught sight of them. My dissatisfaction with the two new M&S muffins I recently reviewed (Rhubarb, Strawberry & Custard and Banana & Chocolate Chip) had stuck around, together with my previous frustrations with the last chocolatey muffin I tried from ASDA (the Black Forest if you remember).

"Chocolate flavoured muffins with a Belgian chocolate filling, topped with a crumble filling."

The new muffins at ASDA looked pretty spectacular; covered with crumble with chocolate sauce oozing provocatively from their summits. I should know by now that appearances can be (and often are) deceptive, however for £1 per 2 pack, they were worth a shot. 

They were physically lighter than expected, and I kept everything crossed that it was't an indication of their dryness. Slicing them in half revealed a generous chocolate core that even Ben & Jerry would be proud of. 

Christ. ASDA have turned around their chocolate cake. Full of richness, and utterly fluffy, these were an an absolute delight! The chocolate flavour was punchy, yet lacked the dryness that often co-incides with a generous amount of cocoa. The chocolate sauce in the middle was sweet, but not sickly, and there was enough of it to inject added moistness into the sponge. I could barely taste the topping against the delicious chocolate cake, but the crumbs that had escaped were scrumptious (yes, I used my finger to dab up every last smidge). As normal I microwaved the second half of the muffin -yes it tasted even better warm as the sauce became lava cake like- but they're still delicious at room temperature if you can't be bother to faff or haven't got a microwave to hand. 

Perhaps the muffins could be slightly improved with the addition of chocolate chunks (specifically of the white variety) but that really is just nit-picking. I didn't think that ASDA could create another muffin as delicious as the toffee fudge -but I was wrong. The best chocolate cake I've had in a good while!