Friday, 30 September 2016

NEW! E.Wedel Caffe Latte Milk Chocolate (Polski Sklep)

Last week I was queuing up to pay for the peanut & chocolate croissant in the Polish deli, when a chocolate bar I hadn't spotted before caught my eye. It grabbed my attention for three reasons:

1. It was cheap (just 40p)
2. It was caffe latte flavoured (I love anything mocha)
3. It was made my E.Wedel...

...Why would the slightly obscure brand appeal to me you may ask? Well, I've seen their larger (and equally interesting sounding) bars in supermarkets, as well as reading a few favourable reviews* of their products, but have never taken the plunge and bought myself a bar. In the name of impulse, I grabbed the Pawełek and quickly bought it before I could remind myself of he numerous bars of chocolate already sat in my fridge.

Please can we just take a moment to take in the Google translation of E.Wedel's description of the bar on their website (where I also found out that it's new)!




"Pawełek flavored Caffe Latte in milk chocolate bar designed for lovers of coffee with milk and refers to the ritual of drinking this beverage in combination with sweet chocolate pleasure."

My heart sunk when I unwrapped the bar and spotted the White curse of spoilage lingering on the corners. Still, appearances can be deceptive, and I snapped the bar in half. I think I was expecting a truffle-esque centre enrobed in chocolate, but instead I discovered a gooey, fondant core (which smelt very alcoholic!).

Unfortunately in this case, the book should have been judged by its cover. The chocolate was waxy, and tasted cheap, reminiscent of Kinnerton's Christmas calendars. I'm a fan of liqueur chocolates, but I couldn't even detect the slightest hint of coffee, as it was totally overwhelmed by the throat burning alcohol. So potent was it, that I was left wondering how many bars you would need to eat before feeling woozy**.

It's such a shame really, considering the success I had with both of the last Polish chocolate bars I've tried (The Wawel Peanut Butter review here, and advocaat bar review here if you're interested) and the success other bloggers have had with E. Wedel. Maybe I'll give them another shot soon. Have you had any of their bars? If so, which is the best?

3/10

* Such as:
Kev's  Karmel-love! Caramel White Chocolate Bar review
Nibs' Crème Brûlée Bar review
and One Treat's Dark Tiramisu review

** At 2.1% of the bar's ingredients I guess it might be more than the taste led me to imagine!

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Quest Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (Protein Pick & Mix)

Quest: one of the most famous and popular protein bar manufacturers. I first discovered Quest long before I returned to fitness, through my usual forum of food discovery -instagram. I remember being baffled by the amount of users (mainly young women) who ate Quests in place of chocolate bars instead of the sports supplement which I assumed they were. These women praised Quest for their deliciousness, which confused me at the time because I wasn't working out either, and therefore couldn't understand the need for additional protein in the diet. Anyway, fast forward a year and one of my favourite methods to wind down after a stressful day is to hit the weight section at the gym. As such, protein bars and supplements have been added to my diet to protect my muscles and fuel their growth. I've now tried many protein bars (although its seemingly an infinite market) and one of my favourites brands is Quest. Why? They're high in fibre and protein, whilst being low in sugar. The range also contains a huge number of flavours, many of which are famous for their "chunk porn" (large lumps of chocolate flavoured chunks/biscuit etc). Quest's biggest downside is their price however, and at between £2-£3 per bar they've become more of a treat than a diet staple.

If you're involved in fitness (or perhaps eat Quest in place of chocolate) then you're probably aware of the two new flavours which were released in the USA a couple of months back, and are now gradually making their way to British shores. I haven't been able to get hold of the Blueberry Muffin flavour yet, but yesterday my local sports nutrition shop received a delivery of Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Quests, and I stumped up the money to try one. They're also available to order from Protein Pick & Mix here.


"Decadent chocolate chunks, chewy bits of oatmeal, and 20g of protein transform the oatmeal cookies of your cheat day fantasies into an every-day protein-packed reality!"

I was pleased to see plenty of 'chocolate' chunks dotted throughout the bar. I've learned from experience that Quests are pretty grim cold, and are much improved by a quick blast in the microwave -or 10 minutes in a warm oven. I did sample a bit off the end at ambient temperature, and was instantly taken back by the strong cinnamon flavour. It was a pleasant surprise given my love of the spice, but I imagine it would be a shock if you're not a cinnamon lover. 


The warmed Quest was as yummy as most of the others in their range. The cinnamon and chocolate both came through in equal measures, although the Stevia did render the flavour rather sweet. My biggest gripe was the lack of oats, which was particularly noticeable to me given how regularly I munch on Reflex's R-Bar Flapjacks. Come on Quest, if you're going to call it 'oatmeal' then please deliver!  For those interested in the chunks, they weren't evenly distributed, but there was an ample enough supply of them, which had melted nicely thanks to my trusty microwave.


The new Oatmeal Chocolate Chip is a lovely new addition to the range -even if it should be called cinnamon choc chip instead. It's not my favourite Quest though; White Chocolate & Raspberry and Cookies and Creme still reign supreme in my book! 

7/10

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Toffee Apple Ring Doughnut (Greggs)

Do you ever find that once you've had a particular kind of treat you're left craving it again? I mean, I'm always craving chocolate, but once I've had a muffin or a slice of cake I'm left wanting to try all of the others on the market -almost like I forgot how good they are. This has certainly been the case with doughnuts this week (post maple crunch Krispy Kreme). The sweet, doughy treat left my taste buds demanding more, yet as I mentioned before, there's no KK for miles! Luckily for me, there's a couple of Greggs in the city centre, and they've recently updated their menu. This means that the rhubarb & custard doughnut is no more, having been replaced with a rather more autumnal flavour: toffee apple.

I giggled a little the other day when reading Junk Banter's review of the Hershey’s Caramel Apple Filled Milk Chocolate, complaining that there's pumpkin everything in the States (Candy Hunting's Instagram Stories attest to that) but seemingly no toffee apple. At least they've got one seasonal flavour that's having its heyday at the moment! There's no pumpkin here (unless you're after Starbucks' PSL or Bailey's new pumpkin spice flavour liqueur!) and there's minimal toffee apple either. In fact, this offering from Greggs is the first toffee apple product I've seen this year!


I requested a box to carry my doughnut in this time to prevent all of the icing running away (or glueing itself to the bag as per what usually happens). It worked too! Don't you think it's rather attractive? It wouldn't even look out of place on the shelves in KK.


"A ring doughnut topped with toffee apple flavour icing, hand decorated with white spin decoration and apple fudge pieces." 

The doughnut was light, and bore large air pockets once sliced in half. The texture was pretty good, tasting fresh, but nowhere near as fluffy or sweet as the aforementioned Maple Crunch. I'd describe it as more bread or bun like, but it was still yummy.


The icing was tasty. A stronger flavour came from the toffee, but the apple was evident, lingering in the background as it should. I just wish that there was more of the icing, and I would be better yet if there was a sauce running through the centre of the dough (a point I've raised before.) I was pleased that there were plenty of fudge cubes, which had all remained squidgy, thereby adding a lovely contrast in texture to the soft dough.

This seasonal Greggs doughnut is a pleasant, affordable treat for afternoons when those carb cravings kick in and there's no KK nearby. It's nothing overly special, but it fills the gap! 

7/10



Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Shreddies Max Protein Cranberry & Oat Granola

I think I might've mentioned before that I've been patiently biding my time with this new cereal; eagerly waiting for it to come on offer. As always, I was lured in by the promise of 'high protein' but also was attracted to it because it's granola too. Granola is something I haven't bought I'm years, which is a bit strange really given how much I love oats -and of course flapjack. I tend to forget about the granola areas of the cereal aisle I think, normally making a bee line for the chocolate and/or sugar laden boxes instead. At £2.49-£2.79 per 400g box, I knew I could survive waiting a little while. Ok, well admittedly that and we had a bit of a glut of cereal in our house -I counted 16 boxes a couple of weeks ago and there's just two of us. Now we're down to *just* 9, and Shreddies Max is half price in Tesco I felt that I could buy a box  (thanks for the heads up on instagram @productsinstore). 

"Whole grain wheat & oat granola with malted cereal pieces & chopped cranberries."

I must first comment on the box design which -like many others- is resealable, but it tucks away neatly with no faffing required. 

A super sweet, syrupy aroma greeted my nostrils as soon as the bag was open, and I took my first peak at the granola within. The first thing I picked up on was the tiny clusters! I was expecting whopping great hunks of oats, but instead only spotted little nuggets. The second thought was regarding the Shreddies, which were dotted about between the oats. This was in line with expectations, and I looked forward to the mixture of textures and flavours. I then started to wonder where the dried cranberries were hiding, beginning to doubt their presence entirely. I shook myself a bowl, and still didn't find any, so took the childlike approach and stuck my hand deep into the bag to see what I could retrieve. Luckily I found a couple of fruity bits hiding towards the bottom, so I'm hoping that they've all sunk in transit and the last few bowls will herald a plethora of ruby treasures. Please note that the inner young Amy was disappointed that I didn't find a magic spoon in the box (currently in some promotional Kellogg's cereals). 



Given my addiction to sugar and oats, it's easy to understand why I enjoyed the flavour of the Shreddies Max Protein. A good soaking in milk turned the Shreddies soggy (just how I like them) whilst the clusters remained satisfyingly crunchy. The combination of malt and oat flavours worked in harmony, providing a slightly different taste with every spoonful.

I have to admit that a bug bear came from the high protein claim however, as 13g per 100g isn't the huge amount that its 'max' name alludes too. Shreddies Max Protein in fact contains far less protein than the 20g per 100g in Weetabix's chocolate protein crunch and 22g per 100g in the Mornflake chocolate porridge for example! Still, it's a tasty little granola and I'll continue to enjoy it.

7/10

Macros per 100g for those interested*: P13 C68 F7

*45g recommended serving size

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! 

Wowsers.


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! 

8/10

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! 

9/10

*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.

10/10

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

9/10

*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.

4/10

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. 

7/10

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! 

10/10

Friday, 16 September 2016

NEW! McCain Nacho Cheese Ridged Wedges (Iceland)

Wedges: one of my favourite ways to eat potatoes. Oddly enough, it's not McCain who claim the stop spot in my book though, it's actually Tesco's own. Although, it is close. Over the years McCain have released different varieties -garlic & herbs, roasted garlic, Carribean, & American BBQ to name just a few- but nothing as exciting as Nacho cheese! Especially when they're different shaped wedges too... ooh the ridges... fancy! The new flavour is only available at Iceland, comes in a 600g bag, and is currently only £1, bargain. 



The ridges, although not particularly deep, were present and evident in every wedge. Even more blatant however, was the overwhelming stench of fake cheese, so much so that I could've been forgiven for thinking I'd just opened a large bag of Doritos! I say stench, but to me it was aromatic, and instantly made my stomach start to grumble.



Fortunately the wedges only take 18 minutes to cook, filling the house nicely with a cheesy pong in that time. They were hot and crisp when they came out, just as I hoped they would be.



Whilst the flavour might not have been quite as potent as the smell, it was still strong enough, and the ridges meant that the coating stuck better than would have on traditional wedges. The thickness of the potatoes meant that the cheese didn't become to cloying, and also meant that there was a fluffy centre in each. Imagine if cheesy Doritos had babies with wedges and you'll have a good idea of what to expect from these new McCain bad-boys. If you haven't guessed already, I loved them! They're the best wedge to come from McCain yet.

9/10

Thursday, 15 September 2016

NEW! Mornflake High Protein Chocolate Porridge Sachets (Sainsbury's)

Porridge is my go-to staple breakfast of choice, even in this heatwave. I'm loving the new Quaker Toasted Oats, and use a plethora of syrups and flavourings to mix up my bowls every day. Current favourites include banana & golden syrup, cherry bakewell (frozen cherries, almond extract and sugar), spiced plum and almond (mixed spice, almond extract and sugar) and raspberry & white chocolate (using an Options hot choc sachet). Still, not every morning am I feeling creative enough to whip up a batch of exciting oats, and some days I need a little more protein if I'm about to hit the gym. Perhaps that's why the new high protein porridge from Mornflake found it's way into my basket -although I think it had more to do with the fact that it was on offer (£1.50) and that there's a chocolate flavour.

Protein porridge is by no means new, and there's a couple of brands who have been sitting comfortably on supermarket shelves for a while now; namely Fuel 10k and Oomf. I tried Fuel 10k's golden syrup sachets at the beginning of the year (when they were reduced to clear in ASDA) and their chocolate protein pot when I was recently staying in a room only hotel. Both I found to be rather so-so and weren't a patch on normal milk porridge. Fuel 10k's sachets now seem to have fallen off the face of the earth, and Oomf only makes pots, so it does appear that Mornflake have bridged an apparent gap in the market! Their sachets contain an impressive 7.9g of protein (before milk) and only soya protein at that, so I believe they're suitable for vegans -please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong!



"Simply made with Mornflake’s finest rolled oats, skimmed milk and natural soya protein, Mornflake GO! Porridge is the perfect breakfast boost for anyone who wants to stay on top of their game – from busy mums to gym buffs! Great on it's own as porridge or blend it into a smoothie for an extra protein fix.
Hailed by nutritionists as one of the healthiest sources of protein, our High Protein Porridge is made with non GM soya which contains nine essential amino acids in the perfect ratio for maintaining everyday health and is naturally low in saturated fat."

On a completely superficial note, I have to admit that I'm not a fan of their packaging; something about it screams 'Tesco Value'.

Perhaps Mornflake pumped the money into the quality of the sachets instead, which were impossible to open without a pair of scissors -a pain if you're in a rush in the morning. I could immediately smell a malty aroma once my scissors had worked their magic and I'd poured the oats into my bowl. I then discovered how much easier the sturdy sachets were to measure milk in than the flimsy Quaker ones... maybe I'll let you off the hook with that one Mornflake. 

In 2 minutes the oats were cooked, and the malty smell became more pungent. With my first spoonful, I enjoyed the almost horlicky taste to the porridge. However the more I ate, the stranger it became. The 'fat reduced cocoa' that Mornflake have used has resulted in an insipid chocolatey taste that doesn't really taste here nor there. If you've ever made Options without milk -and too much water- you'll get the jist. Even worse was the soya undertone throughout, which left a rather odd aftertaste (although I do detest soya milk).


I tried the porridge sachet with raspberries the next day, and it was the worst bowl of porridge I've had in a long time. The oats worked much better paired with banana, although I still yearned for my golden syrup combination. 

The biggest benefit was that they did keep me fuller for longer, and fuelled my morning gym session nicely when cooked with a banana. But taste-wise? Pfft, I'll go back to the bakewell TVM.

5/10

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Cookie Dough Pie Milk Chocolate Bar (The Pudding Parlour)

I feel very lucky to have met some wonderful bloggers in the last year (albeit through the web and not in the flesh). For the most part it's a very supportive community of people who go out of their way to help each other. One of the more recent friendships I have struck up as a result of our shared love of food is Nat (from lot-o-choc blog) and in the past few weeks I have been utterly spoiled by her with not one but two parcels of chocolatey goodies. The first contained the most fascinating sounding bar I have ever caught sight of, made by a company who I have been dying to try for months. Nat informs me that the Cookie Dough Pie is made for The Pudding Parlour by The Chocolate Smiths. The Chocolate Smiths are a company I had never heard of pre-blog, but they make the most extraordinary bars -anyone for Bacon, Cheese 'n' Crackers or Bubblegum flavoured chocolate? By comparison the Cookie Dough Pie sounds more tame but far more delicious than their other offerings. 



"A handmade Belgian milk chocolate bar with fudge chunks and cookie dough biscuit pieces. This chocolate bar simulates the flavours of our best selling and much loved Cookie Dough Pie."

I couldn't wait to dig in, and that very evening the bar was open. The first thing I noticed was the visible fudge chunks that were dotted about the place, looking far more appealing than the ones in the Cadbury Medley bar. Then, I spotted the dreaded white spoilage bubbles on the corners of some of the squares, despite a best before date of July 2017. 



Luckily the chocolate itself tasted silky and smooth for the most part, melting in the mouth with a luxurious creaminess. The fudge pieces were oddly tough however, and almost toffee-like in consistency. I really enjoyed the biscuit pieces, which were unexpectedly crunchy, and lacked the softness that makes the cookie dough in Ben & Jerry's so devilishly moreish. It was such a shame that some of the chocolate was stale, ruining the star aspect of the bar.  



I'm shocked that such a bar warrants such a high price point of £3.50. The novelty is attractive, and it's so frustrating that it's not executed as well as it could. I know that I sound so ungrateful, but Nat also tried the bar and thought similarly to me. Please do check out her review here. Thanks for sending me the Cookie Dough Pie Bar Nat!

6/10

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Reeses Pieces Peanut Butter Cups (American Fizz)

Reese's should really start paying me soon for being their 24/7 walking, talking advert. Not only do I ensure that my fridge is full of Reese's peanut butter cups and/or hearts at all times but I also wear their branded pjs, use their branded pen and even have a Reese's phone case. I'm unashamedly addicted... But I don't think I want help -not yet anyway- as I'm more than happy to enjoy my regular dose of salty-sweet peanut butter heaven. It is therefore understandable that I turned green with envy earlier this year when our Stateside cousins were treated to a new variety: Reese's pieces peanut butter cups. Yes. That's right. Reese's packed full of more Reese's. I eagerly awaited their arrival onto British shores, and squealed with delight when my favourite American Food Stockists (American Fizz) started stocking them, especially at only 99p per pack too!


"REESE'S PIECES Peanut Butter Cups
You’re not dreaming. The mashup you’ve been waiting for is finally here, and it lives up to the hype. Enjoy the crunch of REESE’S PIECES Candy stuffed inside the smooth perfection of REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups. Try not to swoon."


From the outside my beloved peanut butter cups looked no different to their original compadres. My hopes crashed slightly when I sliced the first one in two though -where was all this candy stuffed peanut butter at? All I could see was a few brightly coloured sugar shells smooshed in between the orange filling. 


Taste wise, the Reeses Pieces peanut butter cups tasted almost exactly the same as the normal variety and I indulged in the super-sweet milk chocolate flavoured coating and salty filling. The only nod to the 'pieces' was an extra sweetness coming from the sugary shells -which didn't improve the flavour and only served to tip the balance into the slightly too sweet camp. 

The shells imparted a slight crunchy edge to the peanut butter, perhaps more so than the lacklustre crunchy cups. If only there were more whole pieces to be found -there was only one little Reese's button between both of the cups. 

Lovely idea, you just could have executed it better Reese's!

8/10

Monday, 12 September 2016

R Bar Flapjack Protein Bars: Cherry Almond, Apple & Blackberry Crumble & Maple Syrup (Cardiff Sports Nutrition)

A couple of months ago I received a lovely parcel full of goodies from the team at Reflex Nutrition. Inside the box was the protein coffee (which I loved and am now addicted to, check out my review if you want to find out more) and a box of each flavour of the new R Bar Flapjacks. I have to admit that I was super excited by the flavours, all of which appealed to me. 




I was informed at the time that Reflex's primary drive with the flapjacks was to produce a quality product in terms of being nutritionally sound. It was never intended to be a confectionary type bar, instead Reflex say that their "protein flapjacks offer unrivalled quality, incorporating nutritionally uncompromised ingredients. Each bar contains 18g protein, 7g fibre, 21g low GI carbohydrates, and just 2g sugar to keep you sustained before and after your training." If you want any more information on the thought process behind the flapjack bars, please pop over to their blog.

The first thing I noticed when I unwrapped the bars, was just how little they looked like traditional flapjacks. I had a horrible flashback to the PhD peanut butter bar at the beginning of the year, and hoped I could stomach them better.


Fortunately, all of the bars are soft, although they taste much more like traditional protein bars than traditional flapjacks. I much prefer them once warmed through in the microwave for 20 seconds -the same way I like my Quests & Carb Killas. My biggest issue is that the flavours in the Cherry Almond and Apple & Blackberry bars aren't very strong at all, meaning that they disappear somewhat against the more prominent taste of the milk protein. I appreciated that the fruit flavour comes from real freeze dried fruit, but it accounts for only 1% of the ingredients, so it's unsurprising that it lags behind. The Cherry Almond bar is also slightly oily to the touch, but it didn't taste greasy in the slightest. 



My absolute favourite bar by a country mile is the maple syrup, which was far bolder in taste. I love this bar warm, and it's one that I really look forward to. As far as macros go, the R Bar Protein Flapjacks are a winner, and as a bonus they're 'clean' and very filling after a good work out. You can buy them from any reputable sports retailer, my favourite being Cardiff Sports Nutrition (where you can buy them for just £1.49 per bar). 



Maple Syrup: 8/10
Cherry Almond: 6/10
Apple & Blackberry Crumble: 5/10

*A huge thank you to Reflex for sending me the samples to review. 

Sunday, 11 September 2016

NEW! Banana & Chocolate Chip Muffins (M&S)

If you read my review of Marks' new Rhubarb, Strawberry & Custard muffins the other day, you might recall that I bought a second flavour in the mix & match bakery offer at the same time. Well, when I spotted my favourite cake flavour (banana), studded with chocolate chips on the shelves, it would have been stupid to resist. These muffins are far cheaper than the rhubarb, with the four pack costing a rather reasonable £1.50 (that's if you don't want to be greedy like me and make the most of the 2 for £2.50 deal). 


"Fabulous banana & muscovado sugar muffin, studded with dark chocolate and topped with banana chips."

As you can see, the tops were generously covered with banana chips; which thankfully were the crispy kind. Breaking the muffin in two revealed an impressive amount of chocolate chips too, making me thinking of a Dalmation cake -yes I'm odd I know. Unfortunately, I could immediately tell from feeling the muffin that the texture was going to be on the dry side.


Unfortunately, the flavour wasn't as banana-ry as I hoped. Trusting M&S to pack a bold punch, I simply wasn't expecting such taste bud disappointment. The abundance of dark chocolate chips completely overshadowed the banana, ending up lost in the background somewhere. Yoo-hoo! Banana! Where are you? This was your chance to shine! Perhaps the fact that M&S chose to use only 14% banana puree accounted for the lack of flavour. I always use a mixture of mashed and chopped banana when baking my own cakes, and I'm sure it accounts for much more than 14% of the recipe.


The dryness of the muffin brought further dismay, it was almost rubbery, and so very different to the perfect fluffiness in the rhubarb versions I tried the other day. What is M&S playing at? My only guess is that because the muffins are made with rapeseed oil, they're missing the soft, richness that comes from a cake made with butter. Warming the second half of the muffin improved the situation slightly, but I felt that these would be best enjoyed drowned in Ambrosia custard. 

Muffin's going to persuade me to buy these again ;). Haha. 

5/10.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

NEW! Pizza Express Artisana Tiramisu Gelato (Iceland)

Out of sheer nosiness I popped into Iceland after work one evening this week to see if they had the new Ben & Jerry's Empower Mint ice cream*. There wasn't any to be found (although there was space set aside) however I did spot a whole freezer dedicated to a new Pizza Express range which is exclusive to the frozen food supermarket. Whilst the pizzas and ready meals looked good, it was the Tiramisu Gelato that really piqued my interest. There's two other new ice creams in the new range too -a Sicilian lemon & chocolate fudge cake flavour- all priced at £3 per pint tub. All of the new Pizza Express products are currently part of a 2 for £5 mix & match deal, but seeing as I have a freezer full of chocolatey ice cream and wasn't feeling the lemon, I ended up picking up a pizza to go with my Gelato. 


"Tiramisu flavour gelato swirled with coffee sauce and crumb pieces, garnished with a fat reduced cocoa."

Seeing as I didn't actually read the product description before I opened the tub, I was aghast by the sheer amount of cocoa plonked on top of the ice cream.


So thick was it that when I started the scoop the extremely soft gelato, an almighty cloud of cocoa immediately emitted from the tub -making a horrendous mess of my surfaces. The cocoa sort of confused me. Yes I appreciate that no tiramisu is complete without a cocoa crown, however it seemed very much like an afterthought. After all, the person who gets the last portion won't receive any whilst the person with the first scoop will end up with a very cocoa-heavy ice cream. The other surprising factor was the colour of the gelato itself; I was expecting a pale cream, or perhaps light beige coloured affair (much like the Lidl version) but instead was greeted with something more akin to the sunny yellow of Wall's soft scoop. 


Now, fortunately, the situated vastly improved when I tasted the Tiramisu Gelato. Yes, it was super sweet & soft -which did nothing to convince me that it wasn't Walls in disguise- but that made it strangely comforting. There was a lovely Marsala wine undertone throughout, and although I couldn't see the 'coffee sauce', I could taste it. The soft crumb pieces added to the tiramisu experience, offering a welcome textural contrast.


The new Pizza Express Artisana Gelato is far from the most genuine of italian desserts, however it is pretty damn tasty. Compared to the Lidl version it is more expensive and tastes less slightly luxurious. I'm still pleased I've tried it though, and will certainly enjoy every last mouthful! 

8/10

*I'm sorry but Empower Mint doesn't actually appeal to me, so if you want to read a review please do read One Treat's thoughts on the new flavour. I'm desperate to try the new One Sweet Love however, so if any of you spot it anywhere other than Ocado (who don't deliver out here in the sticks) please do let me know ASAP