Monday, 29 May 2017

Cookie Dough Gourmet Edible Cookie Dough: Red Velvet, Chocolate Chip, Triple Chocolate Fudge & Funfetti Cake Batter (Online)

Have you ever made cookies and considered just not baking them? Just sitting and eating the entire bowl with a spoon? Please tell me that you have. Raw cookie dough is a wondrous creation, and must be on par with -if not even better than- warm cookies straight from the oven. We're not meant to eat it though are we?  I mean, the dough contains raw egg, but I also guess if that if our aim is to make cookies, we probably shouldn't fall at the first hurdle and eat the dough. 

Cue Gookie Dough: the love-child of Olly and Anja, who say that they came up with the idea of creating tubs of gourmet edible cookie dough from their life long obsession with Willy Wonka. The tubs are available in four drool inducing flavours: red velvet, gooey chocolate chip, triple chocolate fudge and funfetti cake batter. They're designed to be kept refrigerated (with a shelf life of about a month) but can also be frozen. That's if your self restraint allows, of course. I was utterly excited when I received an email from Olly asking if I'd like to review their products and immediately accepted, starting to think up ways to serve up the Gookie Dough (that's if I wasn't to eat it straight from the jar). I love a good food brainstorm, but if you're feeling less creative there's plenty of ideas on their Instagram page.

Gooey Chocolate Chip

"Is there anything better than fresh golden chocolate chip cookie dough? With a generous portion of luxury Belgian dark chocolate chunks swirled in a silky, buttery Madagascan vanilla dough, the original handcrafted Gookie dough recipe is to die for!" 

The first thing I noticed was the sheer amount of chocolate chips that were embedded within the dough. The batter was quite loose too, a similar sort of consistency to peanut butter or chocolate spread. A serving size is 75g (half a mini jar) and I chose to use it to top a protein cake in one of my late night snack bowls. 

The dough was tacky, and melted fairly quickly on top of the warm cake. As you can imagine it was very sweet, but it was also comforting too. The consistency of the dough is smooth, lacking the graininess of the cookie dough chunks that are commonplace in ice creams. I thought the serving size was a little generous as I found it quite sickly towards the end, but that just meant that there's more servings per tub. Bonus.


Funfetti Cake Batter

"Sprinkles make everything more fun and better right? Taking inspiration from the ultimate American childhood birthday cake flavour, this decadent and rich Madagascan vanilla dough is layered with handfuls of luxury Belgian white chocolate chunks. Just to make it ultra special, this party favourite is loaded full of rainbow crystal sugar sprinkles!"

If you've been reading this blog for some time you'll know that misleading names are a personal bug bear -despite being a marketing and advertising student. So let's get this straight, this flavour Gookie Dough was in fact a white chocolate version of the chocolate chip, there's not really any cake about it. I'll step down off my high horse now.

This time I sandwiched the batter between two Oatmeal & raisin flapjacked cookies, and I'm salivating just thinking about the combination. I used just 50g this time and loved the flavour and textural combination of the Gookie dough with the cooked cookie. If you decide to treat yourself to some Gookie Dough, I highly recommend that you try the pairing for yourself. 


Red Velvet

"Have you ever tried the world’s most famous & elegant cake flavour? Intertwining super moist, luscious red Belgian cocoa dough, and heavenly, creamy, melt in your mouth Madagascan vanilla frosting, this dough doesn’t disappoint when it comes to providing that signature light chocolaty flavour. It’s most certainly red velvet by name and red velvet by nature!"

There's no doubt about the flavour of this cookie dough given the colour of it. Red velvet is notoriously difficult to nail from both a colour and flavour point of view, so I was pleased to see that Gookie Dough had achieved at lest one of the objectives.

This time I decided to top my ice cream with some frozen Gookie Dough. However, I'm not sure if I didn't put it in the freezer for long enough (just an hour) but the batter didn't really solidify. I also didn't find that it had a particularly strong chocolate flavour, and although the swirls of vanilla frosting were evident in the appearance, they were lost in the resounding sweetness. It was tasty, but not the best flavour by a long shot.


Triple Chocolate Fudge 

"Simply put, this is a choc-a-holic’s dream! Using not one, not two, but 3 different chocolate varieties, this fudgey 100% cocoa dough is heaped full of divine dark cocoa, Belgian milk chocolate fudge and white chocolate chunks. Prepare yourself for a chocolate coma!"

Coma me up. I needed a chocolate hit and decided to enjoy this flavour straight from the jar. Yes it was chocolatey, yes it was extremely sweet, yes it was sticky, and yes it was the ultimate in indulgence. It was a chocolate bomb and I felt it should be for reserved for really bad Monday evenings (or Sunday night blues).

Gookie Dough isn't for the faint hearted. It's made especially for us sugar addict. It's unique (as far as I'm aware) and I applaud Olly and Anja for their ingenuity. Gookie Dough is available in 150g mini tubs and 450g monster tubs. Prices start at £7.50 for two mini tubs and can be purchased directly from Gookie Dough's website. I really hope they consider creating peanut butter and snickerdoodle flavours in future....

Thank you for the samples Olly! 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

NEW! Sunken Chocolate & Valencian Orange Cheesecake (M&S)

I knew I had my work cut out on Friday afternoon when I rang my sister after her law accountancy exam and she was giving me one word answers -she's usually a chatterbox like me. Apparently it hadn't gone so well, and she was just about to get the train to Hereford to stay with me for the night. How could I cheer her up? Food. Alcohol. That's bound to work, right? I tried my best to encourage her that we would have a pleasant evening in the garden by telling her we were that we were christening our new BBQ, and gave her the option of cheesecake or ice cream and wine or Pimms. "Cheesecake". "Pimms". She muttered. 

Hmm, this was going to have to be good cheesecake to pull her out of this mood. Who could I trust to create a winning cheesecake? It was going to have to be something special. Who does special desserts? I know... Marks and Spencer! I had spotted a smaller version the new sunken chocolate & Valencian orange cheesecake in the Dine In for £10 meal deal a couple of days previously and hoped that they had some left on a Friday evening.


Fortunately they'd got one of the larger six portion cheesecakes left and as a bonus it was reduced! Perfect. This meant that Bert could have some too, even though he's not the biggest chocolate orange fan -unless he's eating Jaffa cakes  because apparently they don't count, go figure. 

"Baked chocolate cheesecake on a chocolate biscuit base with Valencian orange cements centre and a Valencia orange glaze decorated with a white chocolate drizzle."

I was pleased that the cheesecake was well protected and in one of those pop out cases, making it relatively easy to retrieve. The cheesecake is also freezable, which meant that I could save the remaining slice for another day -yes, we had bigger slices than the recommended portion, don't judge!

Ive said numerous times that my biggest issue with supermarket cheesecakes is the horrible gelatinous wobble that they often have. M&S however have worked their magic on this dessert; the texture was whipped, light and therefore much more like a fresh homemade version. Flavour-wise the chocolate was perfect, it's dark and rich, tasting utterly indulgent. The resulting combination of flavour and consistency made this cheesecake an absolute winner in my eyes. The only trouble was that it wasn't particularly citrusy. The only source of orange came from the centre, and although the glaze was delicious, it would have been better if it had topped the entire cheesecake (although Bert disagrees with me on this, he thought it was delicious). 

The chocolate base was also scrumptious; it was short, crumbly and sweet. Most mass produced chocolate-bottomed cheesecakes feature a bourbon/oreo-esque base, but this tasted more like chocolate digestives and it was all the more delicious for it. 

This new M&S Spirit of Summer dessert was one of the best supermarket chocolate cheesecakes I've ever had. It's so good that I'm dreaming of that last slice. I'd go as far as giving it full marks but the orange just wasn't quite strong enough.


Friday, 26 May 2017

NEW! PhD Smart Bars: Choc Peanut Butter, Cookies & Cream, Chocolate Brownie and Dark Choc Raspberry (CNSport)

Barebells aren't the only bars that are generating a lot of buzz at the moment. There's another player on the scene, and it's phD! I must admit that I've stayed clear of PhD since the peanut butter flapjack that I tried before I even started doing any weight training. Of course the protein bar industry has changed rapidly recently, and there's no space any longer for chewy/rubbery/ tasteless bars. Grenade led the way with the Carb Killa range, and now we're seeing an influx of bars that resemble chocolate bars. The lines are becoming further blurred - just look Mars' range! Texture, taste and nutritionals are all important; cue the PhD Smart Bars. Available in five flavours, the Smart Bars each contain 20g of protein, are low sugar and palm oil free. I was given four of the five bars to review when I was at BodyPower, so here goes...

Choc Peanut Butter 
The long, bobbly bar contained a protein nougat core, surrounded by caramel, then crispies, all covered by milk chocolate. Sounds good right? 

A delightful combination of textures awaited me; the nougat was soft with a gentle chew, the caramel gooey (so much so that it had escaped through the bottom of the bar like it had with the Warrior bar too) and the crispies of course offered crunch. Flavour-wise the chocolate and caramel were scrummy, BUT -and it's a big but for a reason- the peanut butter was non-existent. I made Bert smell the bar (he refused to even sample it) and he promised me he could smell peanut butter, but I really couldn't taste it. Such a shame.


Macros per 64g bar: kCal 239P20/C24/F10


Cookies & Cream
Ahh the go-to protein bar flavour. I loved the Barebells C&C, could phd compete with the Swedes? This Smart bar looked similar to the choc pb flavour, but was devoid of the caramel layer and instead contained a pale nougat. 

Fundamentally the bar was good with a sweet milky taste and contrasting textures, but It didn't really scream of Cookies & Cream. Even a couple of months ago I would've been mightily impressed, but the chocolate crispies on the outside and better macros of the Barebells bar mean that PhD fail to take the C&C crown.

Macros per 64g bar: 241kCal/P20/C24/F11


Chocolate Brownie
This coating of this Smart bar was a different colour to the previous two bars, and it was then that I realised that both this and the chocolate raspberry are coated in dark chocolate instead. This is a unusual choice in a market that's dominated by very sweet milk chocolate covered bars.

The flavour was rich but the bitterness from the chocolate meant that the bar was far less sickly than the previous two. The chocolate was only about as dark as Bournville but it made a big difference. The nougat was chocolate flavoured and there was a chocolate sauce between the crispies too, which made it a very chocolatey bar. This might sound like perfection but so actually preferred the milk chocolate coating.

Macros per 64g bar: kCal237/P20/C22/F11 


Dark Choc Raspberry 
Finally! An unusual flavour combination from PhD, and the bar I was most excited about -especially having heard rave reviews from Conor at CNSport. The closest creations I guess are Quest's and Reflex's white chocolate & Raspberry protein bars. It's a strenuous link though because clearly the multi-layered  Smart Bar is very different to those classic protein bars. 

This bar comprised a chocolate core, crispies, dark chocolate coating and raspberry flavoured caramel. 


PhD are genii! This is a bar to really rival the nougat chocolate bars on the market. I adored the juxtaposition of textures as I had with the other Smart Bars, but this combination of flavours was unreal. The slightly bitter dark chocolate worked wonderfully well with the sweet but zingy raspberry sauce, delivering an experience that was reminiscent of Black Forest. Throw in the milky, soft nougat and crunchy nibbles and you've got yourself a winner. I didn't have the patience when I was eating it through to sheer enjoyment, but I imagine that this bar would be amazing heated up - and even better warm with a side of ice cream. Oof.

Macros per 64g bar: 237kCal/P20/C22/F11


Thank you to PhD for the samples! Smart bars are available from PhD's website and CNSport.Have you tried them yet? What do you think? Let me know in the comments or on Instagram! 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

MunchPak World Snack Subscription Box (Online)

A couple of weeks ago I was approached by MunchPak, a worldwide snack subsciption service who asked me if I'd like to sample one of their boxes. Of course I accepted, I've reviewed a few subscription boxes on the blog, but none of them have been sent from America. Yes that's right, this MunchPak came all the way from Arizona! So who are MunchPak?

"MunchPak was founded in November, 2013 with the goal of finding out of the ordinary, delicious snacks that can’t be found in just any convenience store, and bringing them to the doors of all snack lovers. Every week, MunchPak discovers new and exciting snacks to make sure every MunchPak is unique and tasty. Each MunchPak is packed by snack experts that hand select first-class treats for each individual MunchPak."

MunchPaks are available in three sizes: MunchPak Mini ( 5+ full size snacks), original MunchPak (10+ full size snacks) and FamilyPak (20+ full size snacks). Prices start from $9.95 and you can choose the frequency of deliveries from weekly to monthly. MunchPaks are also customisable (for an extra fee) which enables you to choose taste preferences such as sweet, or for example to omit sour sweets.

My box contained a huge selection of products that I'd never seen before - let alone tried. I dug straight into the pasta chips and I was particularly excited to try the chocolate waffle and apricot tea. The sour pickle balls did intrigue me, but I haven't plucked up the courage to try them just yet! I'll be reviewing the items individually on my Instagram page, so please do keep an eye out on there -the first review will go up today! 

If you're open to trying weird and wonderful snacks then MunchPak might just be what you're looking for. For more information please head over to their website

Thank you to MunchPak for the box! 

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Irresistible Mississippi Mud Pie Cookies (Co-Op)

I've gone cookie crazy! In the last week I've eaten at least ten and I'm not talking biscuit sized ones with either. Let's just call it research, eh? Anyway, I spotted these Mississippi Mud Pie Cookies on a rare trip to a large Co-Op last week. To be honest it was the orange reduced label that really called to me -yep, I still can't ignore a bargain. They were half price despite being long life and having until the 18th on them. I'm hoping the Co-Op just reduce their long life items when they've got less than a month on their best-before date, otherwise I'm telling you about a products that's been discontinued. 

The four pack of 'irresistible' cookies came in a resealable bag and I think they cost £2.50 full price (I paid about £1.60 if I remember rightly). 

For me, fresh bakery cookies always win, and that's because of the texture. Fresh versions have that lovely soft chew to them that never seems to be replicated in their hard baked, biscuity, long life counterparts. The Co-Op claimed that these were both soft and chewy however, so I was intrigued to find out if they'd mastered the seemingly impossible. 

"Soft baked cookies with chocolate fudge brownie pieces made with Belgian milk chocolate chunks."

I served up my cookie with a good helping of the Co-Op's PB&J ice cream, but refrained from warming it up like o normally would so that I could test that promised consistency. They smelt incredible though and although I would dispute their 'giant' status,  I immediately spotted a generous and even smattering of large fudge brownie pieces (16%) and Belgian chocolate chunks (16%). 

I bit into the cookie and thought that the Co-Op had fibbed about the soft chew. It was hard, and before I'd even asked Bert if his was the same he moaned that the cookie has hurt his teeth. Boo. As I reached the middle though I found a consistency much more akin to fresh cookies -hurrah! 

Let's be honest, It's not all about the texture though is it? Mississippi Mud Pie conjures up images of the ultimate in chocolate decadence, and these cookies certainly delivered on that front. From the deep cocoa flavour in the cookie base through to the squidgy, slightly sweeter brownie pieces and silken chocolate chunks, the Co-Op have created a chocoholic's dream! Yum.

Whilst the texture might not be perfect, the flavour is delicious. These irresistible cookies are indeed irresistible.


Tuesday, 23 May 2017

NEW! Gianni's Limited Edition Eton Mess Ice Cream Cones (ALDI)

I'm not sure if you'll remember but I bought two of Aldi's new ice cream cones a few weeks ago - Peanut Butter and Eton Mess- for £1.49 per pack. Of course I tucked into the peanut butter cones straight away but I was fell less excited about the Eton Mess versions. I love the British dessert, and no one can argue its role as a summer staple, but it's hardly a groundbreaking flavour.

"Mixed berry and cream flavoured ice cream rippled with a mixed berry sauce, topped with meringue pieces."

The cones looked rather pretty though with their two-tone colours and meringue dusting. As with the peanut butter cones I wasn't expecting the highest quality ice cream, but still felt disappointed with the lack of flavour. I guess that 'Mixed berries and cream' even sounded vague so perhaps I shouldn't have been surprised that the taste was also ambiguous. Bland and mildly fruity would be my best description. 

As for the meringue pieces, they melted away against the ice cream and didn't add anything in terms of either taste or texture.

I hoped for a pocket of sweet but sharp sauce in the centre, but instead found a solid lump of berry flavoured ice to chomp through. Very odd. At least the cone was crisp and contained a large nib of chocolate. 

I won't be buying these again, there's far better (and cheaper) cones on the market.


Monday, 22 May 2017

Kingdom Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Centre (Wholefoods)

Ok so I might have been hoarding this bar since before Christmas, when I found it in a WholeFoods store on a trip to London. Despite the vast selection of Reese's chocolate that I owned at the time (and still do, honestly I could open a shop) I couldn't resist the call of this Kingdom bar. As you know I'm always open to trying new peanut butter products, but adding fuel to the fire was the memory of good feedback about Kingdom. For those of you who haven't come across or tried their chocolate before, Kingdom promise "to make exciting chocolate from only tip top ingredients" using Ethical Ugandan cocoa. 

"Quality peanut butter and superb milk chocolate make this bar a 
potential superstar of the range."

The 100g bar was chunkier than the other gourmet bars I've reviewed recently from the likes of The Chocolate Smiths and Choc Affair. It was a similar colour though thanks to its high cocoa content (minimum 34% cocoa solids and 27% milk solids). Unlike Cadbury Kingdom have used real peanuts in their peanut butter bar, so I didn't have to worry that it would be anywhere near as atrocious as the Dairy Milk peanut butter Oreo bar.

The chocolate tasted every bit as luxurious as I'd hoped, with a rich flavour and silken texture. I bit further into the centre of the first chunk and realised I'd tasted it before... well not the exact same bar, but very very similar. The Montezuma's peanut butter eggs! It was then that I read the packet and realised that Kingdom is owned by Montezuma's. Ahhhh, it all became clear. Anyway, the peanut was delicious, and I actually preferred it to the eggs despite the fact that there was far less of the paste in the bar than in the eggs (10% compared to 48% respectively). I think the preference was due to the prominence of salt in the Kingdom bar, which came from large that seemed to supercharge the flavour and provide welcome contrast against the sweetness. The balance made the bar even more addictive than the eggs and I had a hard job to restrain myself from eating all 100g in one sitting! 

Serious noms.