Monday, 30 January 2017

MyMuscleMug: Peanut Butter, Coffee, Chocolate Coconut & Red Velvet Protein Cakes (Online)

For the past few months now I’ve been following the journey of MyMuscleMug, a new British company specialising in healthy, high protein mug cakes. Emily spent six months painstakingly perfecting each recipe (although I can think of worse jobs!) before setting up the business in July 2016. Remarkably each MyMuscleMug contains more than 25g of protein, whilst being low in carbs and containing less than 200kcal. It sounds far too good to be true! Could a healthy cake with excellent macros taste yummy too? The images I kept seeing on Instagram looked mouth-wateringly delicious, but we all know that photos can be extremely deceiving. I held off ordering, but continued to salivate over the decadent pictures of gooey mug cakes appearing on MyMuscleMug’s Instagram page.

That was until the beginning of January when Emily announced the launch of two new flavours, and asked Instagrammers to guess the flavours for the opportunity to win them, so of course I entered. Luckily my entry of red velvet and chocolate coconut was correct and I was one of 10 lucky winners to receive the new cakes - hurrah. My resistance had subsided though, and I took the opportunity to pay for a sachet of the peanut butter and coffee flavours to be sent at the same time too.



The cakes come in individual 50g sachets, which is a bonus because it means that they fit through the letterbox. All the consumer is required to do is to pop the mix in a mug, add 100ml of milk, mix, add any toppings and microwave for 80 seconds or so. Simples.

Chocolate Coconut
As far as flavours go, chocolate coconut is not one that I would normally opt for (it always makes me think of the bountys left lingering in the Celebrations tub after Christmas). With that in mind I decided to try it first. I love the idea that you can customise your mug cake and so spent an embarrassing amount of time dreaming up concoctions that might complement the various flavours. I remembered that I had some choc shot in the cupboard and raspberries in the freezer so decided to cook the cake and adorn it once cooked.


I decided to make my first MyMuscleMug in a latte glass so that I could see the texture in the middle. Once combined with the milk I found the strongly scented chocolate coconut mix to be drier than expected, especially having made many banoffee beltsander-inspired cakes over the past few months. I licked the fork I used to whisk it with and instantly knew I was in for a real treat.

What I stupidly hadn’t accounted for was how much the cake would rise, and that the glass almost reached the top of the inside of my microwave anyway. After just 60 seconds I ended up with a cake volcano, oops. I ended up removing the latte glass early, despite realising that the cake was still gooey in the middle, but I just couldn’t bear to waste any more of it by popping it back in for the final 20 seconds.


Oof. It tasted so. Damn. Good. Think warm coconut fondant.
How was this healthy? How was this delivering 25g of protein? How did it taste so decadent whilst being so low in fat and sugar? It’s then that I realised that Emily must be a wizard. Must be! The raspberries and choc shot gave the cake some additional texture and elevated it into such a special dessert. Even writing about it is making me drool. Yum.
9/10

Red Velvet
It wasn’t long until the temptation to try another MyMuscleMug became too much to bear and so this time I reached for the other new flavour. I had decided to make this mix up in a shallow dessert bowl instead, kind of brownie style, and top I with fresh strawberries and a MilkyBar bear – after all the cake was healthy so I figured it was necessary to add some naughtiness, right?


As before, I licked the fork after mixing, but this time was met with a coconut flavour (it was then that I realised that all of the MyMuscleMugs contain coconut flour) and a very strong beetroot flavour. Now beetroot is one of only a couple of foods I really can’t stand (the other being liquorice). The mixture was an admirable bright red colour, and I say admirable because red velvets have become somewhat less bright since the disappearance of the e-number packed dyes that were once abundant in supermarket shelves. The big problem was, in order to obtain such a beautiful colour, the mix must’ve contained quite a bit of beetroot powder. I only hoped the flavour would subside once cooked.


Unfortunately for me it didn’t, and I really couldn’t get along with the earthiness of the flavour. For me the coconut and beetroot totally overpowered the chocolate and I was left wondering how the cake could be called red velvet, save for its brightness.
2/10

Peanut Butter
At this point I had really mixed feelings about the cakes. Would the peanut butter flavour taste of coconut, or worse, would it taste like the disgusting peanut flour used in Dr Zak’s peanut butter powder? Was it worth using the last of my Co-Op PB&J ice cream to go alongside it? After some deliberation I decided to take the punt, this time making it in a normal mug and adding a large spoonful of JimJam’s low sugar strawberry jam to the raw mix before cooking.


This time I managed to cook the cake for the full 80 seconds, which was when I saw it starting to peep out of the top. I tipped it out into a bowl, although the bottom was still fondant-like and was a little reluctant to leave the mug, but I loved the chocolate coconut one served that way so refrained from cooking it further.


Hurrah! Emily was back to her usual magic with this mixture. The peanut butter was flavoursome and although there was a hint of coconut in the background I found that it complemented the nuttiness really well -who knew? I felt rather proud of my concoction too; the warm jam-filled cake paired with one of the best ice creams I discovered last year was sheer genius (even if I do say so myself). Serious noms.
9/10

Coffee
Now coffee cake is one of my absolute favourite cake flavours. The only trouble is, more often than not, people like to include walnuts into the mixture. Gah. I just want a smooth cake goddammit! Stop shoving walnuts into my cake please, and my ice cream too whilst you’re at it (yes I’m looking at you Ben & Jerry’s with your Chunky Monkey). Also, whilst I’m moaning, why can you never find coffee muffins? Humf. The nut issue is the main reason that I rarely buy coffee cake, and there’s not much point in making it at home when Bert can’t stand coffee. It’s therefore perhaps needless to explain how much I was looking forward to my final MyMuscleMug, and decided that it needed a suitable ice cream to nestle alongside it. Mud Pie! Mud Pieice cream would work wouldn’t it?



Perhaps the most surprising element of the coffee MyMuscleMug is just how brave the flavour is. It’s not a mild, latte kind of flavour, and instead delivers the kind of caffeine-y kick that could even wake you up on a cold January morning. I was glad that I’d paired it with the sweetness of the ice cream for I can be a bit of a coffee wuss, but the resulting flavour was mind-bogglingly delicious and reminded me of another of my favourite desserts- tiramisu.
10/10


All MyMuscleMugs are available to purchase for £1.99each from mymusclemug.com, and I highly suggest you take advantage of the current 6 for £9.95 mix and match offer. The other flavours sound equally delicious too -I’m now dying to try the chocolate brownie, pumpkin spice and cinnamon swirl!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Lotte Pepero Biscuit Sticks: Peanut & Chocolate and White Chocolate Cookie

The lovely Nat didn't just send me the beautiful Solkiki white chocolate Gianduja bar for Christmas, she was kind enough to send me a number of goodies including these curious Pepero biscuit sticks. I'd never seen the Korean (no.1!) brand before, but my they looked good -especially the flavours! I imagined that they might be similar to Mikado or Pocky because Lotte describe their Pepero as: "Pretzel stick filled with premium chocolate, from end to end!"



 Peanut & Chocolate
"Love peanuts? We give you the best of both worlds with a combination of dark chocolate and peanut bits!"


The 36g box was generously filled with the biscuit sticks, each amply decorated with both chocolate and chopped peanut pieces. Biting into them, they weren't as crunchy as expected. Don't get me wrong, they weren't soft or stale but simply lacked the snap of a pretzel. That said, they still managed to be utterly moreish. The chocolate was mild considering it was meant to be dark, but to be honest that suited me much better. The peanut pieces added texture and imparted their nuttiness almost the whole way down each stick. I really enjoyed them and before I knew it I was reaching for another, but alas, they were all gone. Nom!
7/10


White Chocolate Cookie
"Enjoy cookie and cream on the go? These white cookie sticks will definitely leave you wanting more! Crispy biscuit sticks covered with white chocolate and cookie crumbs – one stick is never enough!"


As you can see, the sticks in this box were more broken than the peanut flavour. Is it awful that I just thought "oh goody, more munchy bits"?
The white chocolate cookie Pepero had the same texture as before, but this flavour had an even scrummier covering. Imagine a Hershey's/Dove Cookies 'N' Creme bar coating a biscuit stick and you'll have a good idea of what this flavour Pepero were like. The combination of biscuit and cookie studded white chocolate might sound a little sickly, but thankfully the sticks themselves weren't that sweet, meaning that the overall flavour was well balanced. 

9/10

If you don't follow me on Instagram, you won't know that I'm off to Malaysia today (If you do, I'm sorry for banging on about it). It's my first holiday in a very long time, and I'm looking forward to trying some of their local delicacies as well as bringing back some unusual treats to review. Now that Nat has whetted my appetite for chocolate coated biscuit sticks (thanks again Nat) I'll be sure to keep an eye out for some similar products. In the meantime I promise to try and keep up the reviews, but if I go AWOL please forgive me -I'm simply having too much fun (well that, or the Malaysia Airline flight has gone missing).

Friday, 27 January 2017

Oppo Mint Chocolate (The Co-Op)

Oppo is one of those brands that I probably wouldn't give a second glance at if it wasn't for instagram. The social media platform is seemingly in love with the healthy ice cream (or maybe just the people I follow are) and so I've found myself wanting to find out what all the fuss is about for a very long time. The trouble is, it's rather expensive stuff, and at roughly £5.00 for 500ml I'd rather play safe with my pennies and buy a tub of Ben & Jerry's. A few months ago my friend (and fellow blogger) Nat offered to send me some money off vouchers for Oppo at Waitrose, after which an amusing conversation ensued with the staff in my local branch -who had never heard of it and were thinking I was confused with Oreo. No joy there then! Fortunately for me, I've recently been introduced to Shopmium* which had an offer enabling me to buy a tub for a far more affordable £2.50, and so I persuaded Bert to drive me across town to the larger Co-Op where the Oppo range is stocked to pick up a tub. 

So who are Oppo and what makes them so special?

Oppo are all about making healthy yet indulgent tasting ice cream, hence the name Oppo, which stands for opposites. Their products are made from fresh milk, virgin coconut oil and stevia leaf, and all three flavours come in at under 60 calories per scoop. 

Faced in the Co-Op with the choice between Mint Choc Swirl, Madagascan Vanilla and Salted Caramel, I thought I'd opt for the latter. Then I remembered Nat swearing by the mint chocolate and changed my mind!

"Oppo combines American mint leaves, a rich cacao swirl and spirulina (sourced from the South China Sea) to create a smooth, creamy and refreshing ice cream with indulgent swirls of rich chocolate. 
One tablespoon of Spirulina contains 4 grams of Protein and an abundance of vitamins and iron.
Green doesn't have to mean boring."

It certainly was very green! It's been a very long time since I've had mint chocolate chip but I remember loving it as a child and as soon as it was open the nostalgia kicked in and I couldn't wait to get stuck in. Would it work well with warm chocolate stollen? Let's hope so!



The ice cream was quite tough to scoop, and tended to come out in shards rather than a perfectly formed quenelle, but I kind of bodged and patched it together to try and make it presentable for you. There were subtle ripples of chocolate sauce throughout and it smelt refreshingly minty.



Texture-wise there was a slight graininess to the ice cream that I'm not accustomed too -especially having recently discovered Jude's. The flavour was delicious though, delivering a freshness (that remarkably didn't remind me of brushing my teeth) combined with a chocolatey note that permeated throughout. It was then that I realised that the sweetness didn't taste any different to that within the non healthy ice creams I eat on an almost daily basis, surely that's a win for Oppo? 

Oppo's mint chocolate swirl was a welcome change, but I can't afford to buy it regularly and I'm not sure I'm ready to give up my sugar-laced nightly treats anyway! 

7/10

*Shopmium. Ever heard of it? If you haven't downloaded the app and you like to save yourself a penny or two then you really need to! It's free from the android and iPhone app store and offers you the chance to try products for free/a fraction of the price. You simply buy the products, scan the barcode and send a photo of your receipt (all via the app) and then they send you a refund (normally within 48 hours). It's amazing! I had 2 free boxes of Go Ahead bars last week thanks to Shopmium. Oh, and if you use my referral code you'll even get a free bar of Lindt chocolate! Even better. My code is: AEAYEAKT.



Thursday, 26 January 2017

Oreo Doughnuts (Tesco)

Having enjoyed my peanut butter Oreo ice creams the other day, the Oreo cravings lingered and I decided it was high time to try an Oreo doughnut. I've been eyeing them up for quite a while, especially since they're now stocked in our local co-op as well as the Tesco supermarket. The trouble is, defrosted doughnuts never taste anywhere near as good as freshly baked versions. It seemed that as fate was on my side though for the very afternoon I decided to buy them at last, I found them reduced to just 25p (normally £1). Bargain!

"Chocolate Doughnut with Vanilla Flavour Creme Filling (16%), White Icing (9%) and small Oreo Cocoa Cookie Pieces."

As with Tesco's toffee cream filled doughnuts, one was much more generously decorated than the other. How does this happen? Is it a test to find out who is the greediest in your household*? Apologies for my latent paranoia.

*Me by the way, obviously 😉.



The doughnuts had a very, um, sturdy base that wasn't as soft as I'd have liked. I hoped to discover an ample creme filling when slicing into my one, but instead found a sorry looking white sauce that was barely visible against the dark dough surround. The icing was in generous supply however, so I guess that was one bonus.



The dough itself had a strong cocoa flavour, but was extremely dry. To be honest it was easily the most un-doughnut-ty doughnut I've ever had. I mean it tasted more like overcooked long-life supermarket chocolate cake than the bouncy and light doughnut I was hoping for. I think even the out of date imported Oreo brownie I reviewed last year was better. As for the creme, there wasn't enough of it to really taste it, let alone even start to moisten the doughnut.

Easily the best part was the sweet and sticky topping. The cookie pieces were soft and tasted again more like cake (a better cake than the actually doughnut too I might add). They were OK though, and provided the only enjoyment in this pretty pants 'treat'.

Have any of you tried these Oreo doughnuts? If so what do you think of them?

4/10

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

NEW! Rich & Buttery Cherry & Almond Hot Cross Buns (Waitrose)

Well it didn't take me long to return to Waitrose to buy the cherry and almond full size buns after the mini chocolate orange hot cross buns. The minis hadn't quite scratched the itch and had perhaps aggravated it instead. I found myself just needing to sink my teeth into a fruity bun (it is Humpday after all).

I couldn't even get a bargain in Waitrose this time around, although most of their hot cross buns are currently on offer for £1.26 per pack (normally £1.50) or 2 for £2.50. I avoided saving myself a whole tuppence by buying two, I restrained myself and bought just a single pack of cherry & almond buns. Some of the packs on the shelf didn't look particularly fruity, but of course I dug around to find the most aesthetic of the bunch. 

 "4 fruited hot cross buns made with californian raisins, cherries, cranberries and almonds. Enriched with butter and egg."

I couldn't get over how soft and light these buns were. The texture probably had a lot to do with the enriched dough, technically making them more like a brioche. They were also a beautiful glossy golden brown and smelt wonderfully of almond extract. Oof. I was instantly pretty sure I'd made a good choice this time around, but then I recalled my experience last year with the similarly flavoured humongous Hot Cross Buns under their Heston label which were somewhat lacking in the flavour department. I crossed my fingers and toes.


I sliced my first bun in two, and discovered just how fluffy it was. It was so delicate that I thought I would destroy it with my clumsy knife skills, but just about managed to dissect it respectably. Then came the usual quandary.. toast it? Cover it in butter? Or jam? I couldn't make my mind up (no change there then) and opted for one half toasted, one half ambient and then covered both slices with a haphazard array of jam and butter. Oh dear.

I sampled the toasted half first -before it went cold- and was instantly pleased by the super melt in the mouth texture. It was pretty damn perfect and tasted so fresh that I could pretend that Waitrose's master bakers (oo-er) had made my batch that very morning.


As for the flavour, the almond element is much more prominent this year, and penetrates every morsel of the dough -despite it making up exactly the same proportion of the ingredients (only 1.5%). Even better was the abundance of big juicy cherries that were embedded within the bun, offering additional flavour and moistness. The raisins and cranberries were also welcome, meaning that most mouthfuls had some sort of fruit in. Mmm heavenly. If anything, the butter and jam I used as toppings were extraneous because the taste and texture were so well executed.

Normally I prefer my hot cross buns toasted, but the softness of the bread leant itself to an equally delicious ambient bun. The jam and butter complimented the dough but I shall try another one tonight completely naked (what's with me today?) so that I can completely appreciate one of my all-time favourite flavour combinations: cherry and almond.

9/10

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

NEW! Kellogg's Crunchy Nut Peanut Butter Clusters

January is known for being generally awful, but at least today is National Peanut Butter Day and the month has been a wonderful time for British peanut butter lovers. Finally we're seeing our favourite nut spread given the recognition it deserves! Not only have we recently seen the release of Peanut Butter Oreo ice cream sandwiches and Grenade's Peanut Nutter Carb Killa as well as Rocky and Nature Valley Bars (which I've yet to find) but now Kellogg's have taken note and are manufacturing an epic sounding new cereal. 

I can't even explain the excitement that took hold just over a week ago when Richard gave me the heads up on twitter about the new Crunchy Nut Peanut Butter Clusters. My day was made, nay even my week. I've often moaned about the lack of peanut butter cereals here in the U.K and have relied on American imports instead to get my fix (FYI Reese's Puffs are delicious, Cap'n Crunch's Peanut Butter Crunch is somewhat less desirable). Time's are finally a'changing folks! Fortunately for me, the lovely guys at Kellogg's offered to send me a sample to review and yesterday two boxes arrived at my house.



"New Kellogg’s Crunchy Nut Peanut Butter Clusters is a combination of delicious oats and wheat crisps, baked to crunchy perfection with added chunks of peanuts. The cereal uses peanut butter as the binding ingredient – a first for any Kellogg’s cereal."
 I poured myself a bowl and was surprised by the sheer size of the clusters. It's at this point that I'll admit to something embarrassing: I've never tried Crunchy Nut Clusters before. I'm not sure why but they've never particularly appealed. With that in mind I can't make any comparisons to the other flavours but rather offer a fresh opinion on the clusters as a whole. The other surprise came from the amount of whole peanuts mixed in. The sight of the chunky clusters and whole peanuts combined with the overwhelming scent of peanut butter pleased my soul. The biggest problem thus far was that it's quite a heavy and dense cereal so the 45g suggested portion size doesn't go far at all.



Crikey. That's damn good. Peanut butter lovers rejoice for Kellogg's have created a cereal that can make us Brits proud. It's the best peanut butter cereal I've had thus far, and it's utterly delicious. The crunchy texture of the clusters is only enhanced by the addition of the peanut pieces which have stayed fresh.

Kellogg's are smart to use peanut butter as the binding agent too because it means that every single crumb delivers an impactive punch of flavour. Containing only 12g of sugar per 100g it's nowhere near as sweet or as synthetic as Kellogg's awful American Jif PB&J cereal (which by comparison contains 38.5g of sugar per 100g).

According to Crunchy Nut's facebook page, Peanut Butter Crunchy Nut Clusters are available to purchase from Tesco today, with more stores following suit soon. 



I suggest that you buy a box or two as soon as you find it, and then swiftly hide them from everyone else in the house!

10/10

*Thank you to Kellogg's for the samples.




Monday, 23 January 2017

NEW! McVities Milk Chocolate Cappuccino Digestive Thins (Tesco)

We've been moaning for years about the ever decreasing size of chocolate bars and snack packs. Walkers crisps, Mars bars, Magnums, Toblerone, Dairy Milk have all been shrunk recently and of course we all now expect the outcry that occurs every year when the Christmas chocolate tins come into Supermarkets inevitably smaller than the previous year's. Yet still there's a juxtaposition of interests going on. We complain and feel hard done by, conned by the greedy companies who have sneakily done away with a few grams here and there, yet eagerly jump on the "thin" bandwagon. I'm not exempt from this and often don't think twice about spending the same on bagel thins as I would on a pack of their chunkier brothers. We're strange creatures.

The thin trend is growing too, and what once only applied to the bakery section has now extended to the biscuit aisle. Oreo thins have recently arrived on British shores but Mcvities and Tesco* have also jumped aboard the bandwagon too.


I did think of two bonuses to McVities new range though:


1. They're coated, meaning there's surely a greater chocolate:biscuit ratio (always a win).


2. Smaller/thinner = I can eat even more biscuits!

Also, they've made this cappuccino version which is the real reason* I bought them when I finally spotted a box in Tesco for a rather expensive £1.69.

*well that and admittedly I'm a gluttonous chocoholic.


"Delightfully delicate cappuccino flavoured digestives covered in milk chocolate."

Crikey, they really do mean thin don't they? How they've even managed to make a biscuit that's not much wider than a sheet of paper I don't know!




I was impressed that despite their narrowness McVities have managed to imprint their logo and thin on the back (just in case you forget it's not a regular digestive of course). 



Are you a dunker? I can't help it, I just have to! So it's an odd experience, eating a biscuit so thin that you can't really dip it in your drink. Luckily despite its size the flavour still managed to shine through, offering a mocha mix of coffee in the biscuit itself and chocolate covering. The characteristic wheat-yness remained in the undertones and I realised that I was actually quite impressed!




They're delicious but not as satisfying as full size digestives, and so I find myself longing for non-thin cappuccino flavoured milk chocolate digestives... or better yet, white chocolate digestives. McVities are you reading this?

8/10


Sunday, 22 January 2017

NEW! Peanut Butter Oreo Ice Cream Sandwiches Review (Sainsbury's)

Friday night I received a very exciting comment from the lovely Heather who asked me if I'd spied the new peanut butter Oreo ice cream sandwiches yet. I hadn't, but I knew that I NEEDED them in my life pronto. The original Oreo ice cream sandwiches have long been a favourite in our house, and so the idea of a peanut butter one version like perfection. Except for the one huge problem: unlike their American mini Reese's counterparts, English peanut butter Oreos are grim. Like really, really bad. How Oreo can even get away with marketing them as peanut butter flavoured when they've never even sniffed a nut I'll never know. I really hoped that they'd done a better job with their ice cream versions.

The very next day I trekked across town on a Sainsbury's mission to try and buy a pack. The freezer aisle was a heavenly but ultimately tempting sight. Not only did I find the Oreos and loads of new ice creams as well as a number of bargains.. including the Walls gingerbread ice cream sandwiches for just 75p a pack. I figured that the cheap ice cream balanced out the expense of £3 for 6 Oreo ice cream sandwiches (3 portions lets be honest here), and bought a load. The number of tubs and boxes of ice creams in my freezer now stands at 21. Party at mine?



"Chocolate flavoured sandwich biscuits filled with peanut butter ice cream with crushed biscuit pieces."

Hurrah! Peanuts are in the ingredients list! Admittedly it's not peanut butter but still it's infinitely closer to my favourite spread and a fairly good sign. 

Size wise they're exactly the same as the standard variety, which I was happy with, after all eating two ice creams in one sitting is more satisfying than eating just one. The filling was the colour of a very pale peanut butter, and not too dissimilar in shade to the Co-Op's PB&J ice cream


The outer cookies were soft, chewy flavoured with the expected signature Oreo richness. As for the ice cream? Well it was very light and mousse-like, studded with the biscuit crumbs and had a respectable peanutty flavour. Please note: respectable and not delicious. It's a mild flavour, and could've done with a stronger, more saline hit to really deliver on the peanut buttery promise. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the ice cream sandwiches, they're actually tasty and a damn site better than their biscuit cousins, but they could be a lot better. 

One to pick up when on offer, but I wouldn't pay full price for the new Oreo Peanut Butter Ice Cream Sandwiches again. 

7/10

Saturday, 21 January 2017

NEW! Grenade Carb Killa High Protein Shakes Review (Online)

Before Christmas I was lucky enough to receive a parcel from Grenade containing their new Carb Killa Shakes to review. If you've read this blog for a while you'll know that taste-wise I think that Grenade's Carb Killas are the best on the market. I tend to see them more as a treat though and rely on Reflex's bars and powders for the top quality nutrition. Grenade's Carb Killa range is ever expanding, and even since the Shakes came out the banana armour and peanut butter bars have been released. It seems there's no stopping Grenade, but I'm certainly not complaining!

The Carb Killa shakes are currently available in three flavours: cookies & cream, fudge brownie and chocolate mint. All 330ml bottles deliver at least 24g of protein with a maximum of 9g carbs whilst still coming in at less than 200kcal -not bad going for a treat!


Chocolate Mint
Choc mint was the first up, purely because I expected to like it the least of the three and wanted to save the best until last. The shake was much thicker than expected, with a rich chocolate flavour that had a strong minty edge. It wasn't as dark as the flavour in the respective Carb Killa bar, but I liked that about it. The shake tasted undeniably indulgent, probably due to the 3% cream content. It was a delicious shake but mint chocolate is never my favourite, so I was really looking forward to the others.


8/10

Cookies & Cream
Next up was the cookies and cream for a treat post leg day workout. As you can see from the photo below, it was a very cold morning and so I took a swig before deciding to heat the rest of the bottle (in the mug not the container FYI). I couldn't believe how scrummy this shake was, and it as a bonus contained real biscuits (albeit only 0.5%)! Even compared to its non protein compadres this was one of the best milkshakes I've ever had. I mean warm cookies and cream on a freezing January day.. can you think of any better treat to help soothe aching and growing muscles?



10/10

Fudge Brownie
Last but not least was the chocolate fudge brownie shake, which I had last night before bed (alongside an array of other treats in my usual fashion). Again I slurped a swig fridge-cold before heating the rest in the microwave. The thickness in all three was similar to a frijj milkshake, and therefore almost spoonable. As a chocolate milkshake again this was delightful, and equally delicious warmed up too. I only wish I'd got some squirts cream to top it with!

9/10

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it's so easy to forget that the Carb Killa range is designed to supplement sport when it's all so bleeding tasty! Peanut butter or banana shake next please Grenade? All of the Carb Killa shakes are available to purchase from their website. 

*A huge thanks to Grenade for the samples. 

Friday, 20 January 2017

NEW! Mini Chocolate & Orange Hot Cross Buns (Waitrose)

It's official. I'm missing mince pies, yet I still can't bring myself to buy the ones still lurking in Waitrose, Greggs or poundland. It's January after all and one must wait until they return to supermarket shelves in August. Helping my pining situation somewhat however is the arrival of the hot cross buns. As I said the other night, the best way to get over mince pies is to get into hot cross buns! It's going to be a similar situation in my house though to the festive pies, I've already spotted so many that I want to try (and will review) but Bert won't touch the things. Oh well, more buns to grow the buns 🍑, right?

The first buns to be bought however were these chocolate orange mini versions from Waitrose, which appealed because they were reduced to just 55p. Chocolate orange seems to be the favoured flavour choice this year and I've seen versions in M&S and Morrisons too. To be honest It was Waitrose's cherry almond buns that really appealed -which I'm praying are an improvement on their Heston's Bakewell buns of last year- but they were full price so will have to wait.


"9 Hot cross buns made with dark chocolate and orange zest."

There's only one pack that I've seen that just aren't appealing to me right now* but made me think of Becky & Gemma on Instagram who both left me comments about eating hot cross buns with marmite...



Meanwhile the chocolate orange mini buns looked a little worse for wear, and for once my clumsiness wasn't to blame, for they had been rammed into the bargain bin (you should've seen the state of some of the loaves in there).



A super strong tang greeted my nostrils as soon as I ripped open the pack. They were fairly soft and light too, so far so good.



I decided to try my first bun toasted with JimJams chocolate hazelnut spread, but that proved to be a silly move because the chocolate chips melted over the toaster and the chocolate spread completely overpowered the orange flavour. As a messy chocolatey bun it was enjoyable though!



Attempt number two I decided to eat at room temperature, and spread one half with butter and the other half with peanut butter. I couldn't help myself ok? This time I could really appreciate the richness of both the dough and the dark chocolate chips. Unfortunately the orange flavour was once again overshadowed, and I'd have really like the smell to have translated into taste. The 3% zest just wasn't enough to shine through. My other bug bear was the lack of raisins or sultanas. Is it just me who doesn't believe a bun is 'hot cross' unless brimming with dried fruit?

I can't deny that I enjoyed my first buns of the year, but I hope they're not the best 2017 has to offer.

After the marmite comments I'm intrigued: how do you eat yours?

7/10

*inquisitiveness might change this though!

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream (M&S)

Last spring M&S went positively potty with a huge release of their Spirit of Summer range. Some of the goods have since been re-branded and retained under the normal labelling -such as the peanut butter cookies, which I wasn't particularly fussed on, much preferring the softer style of Grandma's or Lenny & Larry's. Other products have held on for dear life and, despite summer having been over months ago, can be found lingering in corners of the food hall. The Mud Pie & Key Lime Pie ice creams are two such items, although they've finally been reduced to clear this week.

I wrote a review of the Mud Pie last year so I thought I'd write up a quick review of the Key Lime Pie in case you're worrying about spending 75p on snapping up the 500ml tubs. I joke but I did briefly question my purchase actually, not because of the monetary element for once, but because I wasn't entirely sure how or if a lime ice cream could work. 

"Dairy key lime flavoured ice cream with key lime sauce (10%), digestive biscuit pieces (8%) and meringue pieces."

Hang on a second, shouldn't M&S have used ginger biscuits instead? 
...Although a quick google search later proved that Delia uses digestive biscuits, so maybe it's just me who uses gingernuts in citrus based desserts! 


Anyway, the pale green ice cream was fairly easy to scoop straight away, and I was only one spoon down before I uncovered a treasure trove of goods (biscuit chunks). That's what I like to see Marks & Sparks! The lime sauce wasn't so evident, but I could smell a strong zingy scent straight away. 


What a welcome surprise! The lime worked much better than expected as an ice cream flavour, with the zing counteracting the sweet creaminess wonderfully. It wasn't bitter either, which is always my fear with citric desserts, but was very refreshing on the palate (I imagine it would be particularly good after a curry). As for the abundant digestive pieces, they were crispy -but tasted more rich tea than digestive. Their crunch was gladly received, making the ice cream much more interesting to munch on, but I still think that ginger biscuits would have worked even better! Occasionally I would fall upon a pocket of sweetness coming from the meringue pieces, but they were subtle in their inclusion and wouldn't have been missed if omitted completely. 

The biggest shock with this Key Lime Pie ice cream was that even flavour fussy Bert liked it. I didn't tell him what it was before he tried it for fear that he would refuse to even sample it, but he actually said that he enjoyed it! Quelle surprise!


M&S' Key Lime Pie ice cream was an innovative and unusual addition to their 2016 line up and I'll be stocking up on tubs whilst they're so cheap. I'm also looking forward to seeing what they bring out this year... any ideas?

*Fingers crossed for banoffee pie.*

8/10

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Dr Zak's Chocolate Powdered Peanut Butter (CNSport)

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




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

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

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



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

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

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

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

0/10

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


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Dessert Menu Dutch Apple Tarts (M&S)

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



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

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



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



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

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



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

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

9/10

Monday, 16 January 2017

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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


9/10