Wednesday 30 November 2016

NEW! Christmas Millionaire's Shortbread (Waitrose)

Whilst I fully agree that the best tasting food isn't often the prettiest (homemade apple crumble anyone?) sight is the first sense we rely on when buying pre-packaged food. Ok, I'll be honest, I'm really just attempting to excuse myself here for the fact that just one glance at this golden white chocolate Millionaire's Shortbread on instagram was all it took to instil an innate need in me to track it down and try it for myself. Soooo pretty. So glittery. Surely so tasty...?

"A layer of salted caramel and white chocolate on all butter shortbread finished with milk chocolate and gold lustre."

The food gods must have also agreed that I definitely needed to try it too, for when I got to Waitrose all the Christmas Millionaires Shortbread were donning reduced yellow stickers, despite having a best before date of the 22nd of December. I paid £1.05 for the slice, but I can't remember how much the full price was, sorry. 

I ignored the instructions to keep it in a cool dry place, and popped the shortbread in the fridge to chill before opening. Later on I found that the knife easily and cleanly sliced through it, though I'm not sure I would've found the same if the caramel was at ambient temperature. The layers were each respectably ample; the thickest of which was -of course- the biscuit base.

The biscuit was beautifully rich and crumbly, offering the melt-in-the-mouth deliciousness that is synonymous with a great shortbread. The white chocolate, although beautiful, was less special. I'd love to report that it was gloriously creamy, but to be honest it was marred slightly by the milk chocolate swirl. The mixture of chocolates diluted the delicate flavour, and I wish that Waitrose had stuck to their guns and just used a good quality Belgian white chocolate.

Of course, the caramel has to be the star of any Millionaire's shortbread. Waitrose have been braver with this, producing a layer that was both sticky, smooth and definitely salted. Luckily they've got the salinity just right, any more and I'd have thought that Heston had stuck his oar in, but it was absolutely scrummy.

Millionaire's shortbread might not be the most traditional of Christmas snacks -but it's certainly worth buying one (or more) of these before they disappear come January. 


Tuesday 29 November 2016

Handcrafted Chocolate Log (Boots)

I've not held back when it comes to giving you my opinions on Boots' bakery style snacks. We've had the grim Cookie Dough Brownie, the awful Banoffee Flapjack and disappointing Red Velvet Cake Slice. More recently I've had better experiences however with their Carrot Cake Slice -which I've had a far few times since reviewing and am still quite happy with. Boots released a couple of Festive themed cake slices last month, at the same time as their festive Sammie range, and so I decided to take a punt as part of my Monday £1 meal deal on the Handcrafted Chocolate Log. 

"A chocolate sponge topped with chocolate buttercream, and a milk chocolate decoration."

I didn't have high hopes for the cake, not only because of my history with Boots' snacks, but also because I realised last year that I'm rather picky when it comes to Yule logs. Not even the highly exalted Tesco Finest Yule Log pleased my disgruntled tastebuds. Still, this little slice looked pretty and chocolatey, so I prepared myself to try it with fresh eyes.

I was forced to eat my hat. The cake was moist and soft, with a bold chocolate flavour that didn't border on bitter. I soon discovered an additional surprise too: the plentiful supply of dark Belgian chocolate chips which studded the mixture and added a lovely twist. The buttercream on top was also tasty, bordering on fudge-like in its thick, creamy softness. I had expected naff Kinnerton advent calendar quality from the fake 'flake' adorning the slice, but yet again I was stupefied and found it to taste rather good. Please don't get me wrong, we're not talking high end artisanal chocolate here, but it was crumbly, melted in the mouth, and left a pleasant aftertaste. Nom.

I'd certainly say that the Handcrafted Chocolate Log is as good as Boots' carrot cake, but there's just a couple of issues...

1) It's a YULE LOG Boots, so please don't be giving us that Christmas red tape nonsense.

2) I'm now faced with a weekly dilemma on a Monday morning: do I go for the Merry Mince Pie Flapjack or Chocolate Log to complement my festive sarnie?

I think I can cope.


Monday 28 November 2016

Sante Cinnamon Star Cereal (Polski Sklep)

I don't know about you, but I certainly think that cinnamon cereal is distinctly lacking in the U.K. Sure we have curiously cinnamon and more recently the (distinctly under-spiced) Cinnamon Oat Crisp Cheerios, but that's about the extent of the matter. The only way I've known to get hold of other cinnamon cereals until now is to place an order from American import companies as the States have a vast array of the stuff including Cinnabon cereal, Apple Jacks and Cinnamon Toast Crunch -to name just a few.

It wasn't until my last chocolate mission in the Polish Delis that I decided to delve further into stores, and soon uncovered a plethora of interesting looking cereals that I've not seen before, one of which was this bag of 'Cynamonowe Gwiazdki' -which I (correctly!) guessed translates to 'cinnamon Stars'. At £1.09 for a 250g bag it wasn't bad value and I decided to discover what Sante's Smart Teens cereal is all about.

The little stars are made from a mixture of wheat, barley, oat and corn flours, whilst the remaining ingredients are sugar, honey, inulin (a watre soluble fibre), sunflower oil, cinnamon, molasses from cane sugar, sea salt and natural flavours -that's it. It was a welcome surprise to see a list devoid of strange chemicals and e-numbers that you can find on so many cereals, although there is 8.1g of sugar per 30g.

The combination of sweet, warming scent and golden coloured stars resulted in a bowl of rather festive cereal. My friend and fellow blogger Laura (of A Daisy Chain Dream) rightly pointed out last week that there's no christmassy cereals here in the U.K either, so perhaps this is the closest we'll get.

Texturally, the stars were crunchy, and passed the milk soaking test with flying colours. I could definitely taste the oat within the cereal mixture, but of course the main flavours were sugar and cinnamon -both of which were delicious.

I'm so pleased that I've found these cinnamon stars. Comparitively they're cheaper than Nestle's Curiously Cinnamon, yet equally delicious with less fat and salt (although as mentioned, they do have a slightly higher sugar content).

If you're a cinnamon cereal fiend then it's well worth a trio to your local Polski Sklep to pick up a bag or two!


*Comparative Nutritionals per 100g:
Sante Cinnamon Stars: 375kcal, fat 3.4g, sat fat 0.5g, carbs 75g, sugars 27g, fibre 7g, protein 8.1g, salt 0.23g
Nestle Curiously Cinnamon: 419kcal, fat 10.1g, sat fat 3.8g, carbs 74g, sugars 24.8g, fibre 5.2g, protein 5.4g, salt 1.11g

Sunday 27 November 2016

Award Winning Luxury Mince Pies (Iceland)

Ok, I admit it. Despite my current marketing undergraduate status I recently  fell prey to the first trick in the book: the advert which promises that the product is the best and tastiest on the market. I was a bit dubious of the claims that Iceland have outshone both Harrods and Selfridges with their luxury mince pies however, so I undertook a spot of research. But indeed, it's true, Good Housekeeping magazine have lauded the budget frozen supermarket's festive offerings as the yummiest this year, saying that they "look for a homemade taste with an authentic yet impressive look – the fruit-to-pastry ratio is crucial and it has to have festive flair!"

That was certainly enough to persuade me to buy a pack anyway. At £1.50 for 6, they were slightly cheaper than the chocolate orange and salted caramel flavoured mince pies from ALDI, but would they be as special?

"All butter shortcrust pastry mince pies filled with a fruity mincemeat containing vine fruits and brandy."

I loved the design of them; the star on top and dusty coating of icing gave the pies a wonderfully Christmassy feel that I approved of. They also smelt good too, although they were slightly smaller than ALDI's funky versions. Slicing them in two revealed a good amount of filling, but there was still a slight gap between the mincemeat and the lid.

The pastry was every bit as delicious as i'd hoped following Good Housekeeping's recommendations. It was crumbly, rich, buttery and sweet -almost shortbread-like in it's decadence. The mincemeat was more delicate than I expected too, and I'm sure I could detect a spiced pear flavour -although I must've been imagining this as there was no mention of pears in the ingredients. Sometimes mincemeat can be on the heavy side but I didn't find this to be the case with these pies. This might not be a benefit if you're watching your weight because it means that that they are easier to eat and therefore tempting to enjoy more than just one -or is that just me?

I found that the mince pies were equally tasty at ambient temperature and warmed up in the microwave or oven. Of course I also enjoyed one with Morrisons' fresh salted caramel custard and can highly recommend that strange sounding pairing if you want to try something slightly different for dessert.

All in all, I am pleased that I was the advertising schmuck this time because Iceland really have produced some excellent mince pies, although they still don't beat the fresh ones I used to make every Christmas with my grandma -but then I don't think any ever will. They might not be as creative as ALDI's pies, but then sometimes traditional is better, don't you agree? Which supermarket do you think make the best mince pies? I'd love to know!


Friday 25 November 2016

Christmas Muffin (Greggs)

Hurrah, another festive treat to tick off my 'wish I'd tried in 2015' list -one of the last I might add! The Greggs Christmas muffin just didn't make it to my mouth last year, but I've often wondered if it was as good as it looked. I owe a big thank you to Dan on Twitter for alerting me to their return, and of course I didn't hesitate to buy one as soon as I spotted them peering at me so longingly from behind heir £1 sign in Greggs.

"Who doesn't love cake and custard?! That's why we've combined the two for you. A mixed spice and sweet mincemeat muffin, filled with a custard style filling and topped with a fondant icing and sugar decoration."

This year the high street bakers have apparently improved the recipe, and they certainly looked the part with their rosy red wrapper and sweet gold star atop snowy white icing. The sweet festive scent also gave the impression that I was in for a treat, and I carefully carried it to uni with me so that I could enjoy it on my late evening return home.

As a side note, anyone who follows me on Twitter and saw my muffin post last night may have read about my grumpiness caused by the train being on time for once (a strange sounding complaint, but I explained why in the comment). I really hoped that appearances wouldn't let me down with this train dessert as they had in the past with the utterly disappointing apple crumble doughnut.

I went to slice my muffin in half but it totally fell apart -this is one cake not made for eating on the go! I then started to wonder what had happened to the custard that was supposed to fill the muffin. Sure there was a little pocket of it at the very bottom, but not anywhere near enough to to enjoy cake and custard together in every bite as hoped.

Not wanting to give up on the Christmas muffin before I'd tasted it, I picked up the largest chunk and dug in. The cake was wonderfully soft and the spices were mellow, reminding me of carrot cake -without the carrot of course! The flavour was delicious and I really enjoyed it, although I'd argue about whether or not it was 'mincemeat' considering that there were only two raisins (or sultanas, I can't tell the difference) in the entire muffin. As for the custard, it was the same delicious innards used in Greggs' Caramel Custard doughnut, which actually made my heart sink a little because it was so good and I JUST WANTED MORE OF IT.

I really hope that I got a bit of a duff muffin, and that others contain both more fruit and custard filling. The flavour and texture of the cake was delicious but it was ruined by the lack of proportions. That said I would like to try it warmed up with a big mug of tea. Please let me know if you've tried Greggs Christmas muffin yet and whether you've had a similar or entirely different experience!


Thursday 24 November 2016

E.Wedel Bajeczny Peanut & Wafer Chocolate Bar (Polski Sklep)

Finally, I found it in yet another Deli! I think my E.Wedel journey is more or less complete now thanks to my search for the Bajeczny bar, which was originally recommended to me in the comments section of my first review of the Eastern European chocolate brand. As with most of E.Wedel's bars, the Bajeczny is a concoction unlike any of the bars that we currently have on the market. I mean, that's one of the big problems that faces British chocolate I think -the lack of creativity and ingenuity that other foreign brands brave- as well as the decreasing quality and size of mainstream brands' products.

"Peanut bar with wafers."

The closest chocolate bars I could think to draw comparisons with are the Reese's sticks and Peanut Butter Kitkat; both of which of course are primarily wafers with layer(s) of peanut butter and wrapped in chocolate.

The Bajeczny bar presented itself as somewhat of a surprise therefore when I sliced it in two and discovered the truffle-esque filling that lay within the outer milk chocolate coating, and It became instantly obvious that the bar would be completely unlike the Reese's wafers or KitKat. The centre was studded with pieces of chopped peanut too, which was another revelation considering I was expecting either a layer of peanut butter and/or peanut flavoured filling.

The wafer was fused into the internal mixture of the bar, offering a crunchiness in every bite that reminded me of feuilletine. Additional texture came from the peanuts too, which were chopped fairly finely and embedded the entire mixture.The trouble was, when I buy a peanut bar I (rightly or wrongly) want and expect it to taste of peanut butter, and this just wasn't the case with the Bajeczny. The primary flavour was chocolate, and although it was of decent enough quality, it just didn't tick all of my boxes.

I'm glad I've tried the Bajeczny bar, but I personally found it to be nowhere near as special as E.Wedel's KarmelLove range.


Wednesday 23 November 2016

NEW! Chocolate Orange & Salted Caramel Mince Pies (ALDI)

A few nights ago when enjoying my mince pie and fresh salted caramel custard, I was informed about some rather delicious sounding mince pies by fellow instagrammer Amy. She had tried ALDI's new salted caramel flavoured versions, and promised me that they were "amazing". I wondered whether they were the same salted caramel tarts that came out last year -as an alternative to mincemeat for the people who can't stand the dried fruit filling- but no, apparently not, they were mincemeat and salted caramel pies.

Amy also dropped the bombshell that the discount supermarket are also selling chocolate orange flavoured ones too, and that was all a I needed to hear. The very next day I cajoled Bert into taking me to our closest ALDI (on Specialbuy Sunday I might add) but the store had completely run out. Unperturbed I trekked to the branch in my uni city on Monday (yes, In that torrential rain) and eventually found both flavours, priced at £1.59 per six pack.

Admittedly I cursed Amy that afternoon for tempting me with the curious sounding mince pies, especially when I turned up to my lectures drenched through to the skin (hence the rain damaged boxes) with my big 'nuttier than a fruit cake' ALDI bag. Can you tell I'm the cool kid in class? I really hoped that the mince pies would be worth the effort, and that I'd be thanking Amy instead later...

Chocolate Orange

"All butter shortcrust pastry cases filled with an orange flavoured mincemeat, topped with a chocolate and hazelnut filling."

That very evening I tucked into the chocolate orange mince pies. I mean, I love chocolate and often forget how much I like chocolate orange, but would this be a step too far? The pack said they could be enjoyed warm or cold, so of course I tried half and half.

Slicing into the very attractive mince pie revealed an off centre smattering of chocolatey paste stuck to the inside of the lid. There wasn't as much of it going on as I hoped there would be, but the shop assistant in ALDI was glowing with positivity about the deliciousness of these pies so I hoped the chocolate would be more potent than appeared.

The first non heated half was good, but nothing to write home about. The pastry was sweet and crumbly, whilst the mincemeat was zesty and not overwhelmingly rich -but the chocolate was barely distinguishable. There was a little there, but it just felt a bit lacklustre. Humf.

Admittedly the second half was the side with the most chocolate in, and I deliberately chose to heat this side as I tend to prefer mince pies warm anyway. 10 or so seconds in the microwave later and I could see the steam emitting from the pastry.

Wowzer! This side really was chocolatey. The cocoa orange came through in full pelt, so strongly that it completely overshadowed the mincemeat. The texture of gooey chocolate and fruits however was divine, and I found myself delighting in the sheer decadence of the combination.

It's a shame that the chocolate wasn't better spread out, but I still can't wait for my next chocolate orange mince pies. I did wonder how I would get through the 18 mince pies that I've bought in the last week (to myself, Bert hates mince pies) but now I realise that there's no chance I'm giving these babies up.


Salted Caramel 

"All butter shortcrust pastry cases filled with fruity mincemeat of vine fruits and mixed peel, topped with salted caramel."

Now I realised after my concoction last week that salted caramel and mincemeat shouldn't be a feared combination, but instead heralded for it's scrummy-ness. 

Again, I decided to try half warm and half ambient, so sliced the pie in two. I soon wondered why the pastry was only half filled, and then realised that quite a bit of the caramel had bled into the casing. My head filled with thoughts of Mary Berry disgracing the soggy sides.

The ambient half was first to make it to my mouth. It was good but, as with my first experience of the chocolate flavour, a bit non-committal. The second portion suffered the same quick blast in my microwave, and I kept my fingers crossed that the same sort of taste transformation would occur. 

Sadly it didn't, and whilst the caramel offered an extra sweetness to the already rich mincemeat, it wasn't special enough to stand out. It was still delicious, and an ingenious twist on the classic, but nowhere near as mind-boggling as the chocolate orange. 


Tuesday 22 November 2016

The Grown Up Chocolate Company Hunky Dory (WHSmith)

My luck was in for the second time when I spied another one of The Grown Up Chocolate Company's bars in WHSmith's reduced section the other day. It was therefore a given, following the delicious success of the White Chocolate Wonder Bar, that I eagerly snapped up their Fruit and Nut Hunky Dory. I realise that I only moaned about my general disdain towards chopped nuts in chocolate less than a week ago, but I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to try another one of The Grown Up Chocolate Company's bars.

 "A decadent muddle of nuts and fruit on a bed of milk chocolate Gianduja enrobed in luxury milk chocolate."

Embarrassingly, I must admit that I didn't have the foggiest what 'Gianduja' was, so I summoned the help of Google and discovered that it's an Italian delicacy, originating from Turin, comprising of a sweet paste made from hazelnuts and cocoa -and that was me sold.

As per the White Chocolate Wonder Bar, the Fruit and Nut Hunky Dory came in two individual bars. I'd love to be able to say that I ate one and saved the other for later, but I'm afraid that my chocolate resistance skills simply aren't that advanced.

I sliced one bar in two and quickly discovered just how jam packed the filling was. This wasn't a Cadbury job of whacking a few almonds and raisins in (or sultanas now, ooh the controversy). Oh no, that just wouldn't do now! The Grown Up Chocolate Company instead opted to fill their bar with roasted hazelnuts, almonds, citrus peel and cranberries.

All of these components made for a super crunchy, crispy bar with the occasional moistness coming from the cranberries. Unfortunately I found that all of this texture actually detracted from the most incredible flavour from both the Gianduja and Milk chocolate. I remember thinking how superb The Grown Up Chocolate Company's white chocolate was but the milk chocolate was equally (if not even more) sublime. The melt and creaminess of the coating was unquestionably delicious and I'd have more than happily munched an entire bar of it on its own.

Whilst The Grown Up Chocolate Company might not have turned me into an avid chopped-nuts-in-my-chocolate-lover, they certainly have earned an even bigger fan. I'm desperate to try their incredible sounding Christmas bars now, and will be on a desperate hunt for them when I visit my sister in Cardiff at the weekend. Flavours include: Mince pie, spiced ginger biscuit and festive fig & port. Just look at them, oof, YES please!


Monday 21 November 2016

Caramel Ice Cream Trees With Popping Candy (Iceland)

I recently mentioned that I'm on a quest to find and try the Christmas goods that I didn't get around to trying last year, so I figured that I wouldn't end up buying many of the same products -save for Reese's Trees which I'm currently devouring at a rather embarrassing rate (B&M are selling six packs for just £1.99 FYI). Anyway, the feature of today's review isn't exactly the same, but a twist on Iceland's Caramel Ice Cream Trees which I thought pretty highly of last Christmas. Iceland seem to have given their Trees a more childish approach in 2016; the White Chocolate & Strawberry Trees are also back - this time covered in sprinkles- and the caramel version has been updated with popping candy. Popping candy and chocolate is by no means a new idea (hundreds and thousands is hardly ground breaking either) but I was intrigued to discover how the combination worked against the caramel ice cream, and indeed how it compared to its predecessor.

"Caramel flavour ice cream trees with a Belgium milk chocolate coating with popping candy."

The trees aren't exactly the largest lollies on the market at 90ml, but they look sweet, and are still a damn site bigger than the silly mini size sticks that are doing the rounds.  All three trees had cracked slightly in the box, but we're still intact enough to hold their shape for the all important photo!

I remember being highly impressed by the quality and flavour of the ice cream last year, but the trouble is, I've tried a huge amount of ice cream in the mean time -including a fair few different caramel ice creams. What I mean is that I'm not sure whether the ice cream has got worse, or my tastebuds have merely become accustomed to the better products out there. It's not bad by any means, in fact it's rather good, but it's simply über soft and less creamy than the likes of Ben & Jerry's, M&S and even Daim.

The chocolate coating is still better quality than one might expect, with a good milky flavour. Every single nibble was full of popping candy, thus making for quite a strange -but ultimately fun- eating experience. It's not something I'd opt for every time, but it is quite novel.

I imagine that children would love to be given these at Christmas time, and at £1 for 3 they won't break the bank either. They're also a bit kitsch if you're an ice cream obsessed adult lover like me and fancy something a bit different.


Sunday 20 November 2016

Fresh Salted Caramel Custard (Morrisons)

Have you tried Ambrosia's attempt at luxury custard? The 'deluxe' range was launched in February but to be honest, I found it so lacklustre that I didn't even bother reviewing either the toffee or the salted caramel pots (however you can read One Treat's thoughts here). The trouble is, ambient desserts are never going to scream of indulgence, and after I initially tried Ambrosia's new range I went back to buying their standard custard -or opting for ice cream instead. Now I've often said that i don't believe that ice cream has a season -I eat it most days all year round- but occasionally I get a custard craving that needs adhering to, and that's exactly what happened here...

During my Morrisons trip the other day (when I found their new Bakery Stollen cookies) I spied their fresh salted caramel custard, thought that looks tasty and promptly carried on my merry way. The little pot must have sparked my fancy though, because a couple of days later (when I was sat in a particularly dull lecture -strategies and objectives in P.R FYI), I dozed off and found myself dreaming of that salted caramel custard slathered over a warm mince pie. That was it. I had to have it. The yearning only got worse too, so yesterday afternoon I cycled into town in the cold, pouring rain on a mission. Fortunately, whilst the store was exceptionally busy, there was a few pots left. £1 for 300g isn't too bad either is it?

The golden coloured liquid was thick and smelt incredibly butterscotch-y. Oof. I love a good spot of Angel Delight, and couldn't help hoping that this custard would taste similar. My only concern was that it could be overwhelmingly sweet -especially considering that I was pairing it with a naturally rich mince pie. 

The custard can either be heated in the microwave for a few minutes or on the hob. For ease I chose the first option, although the liquid had to be first transferred into a microwaveable jug.

Boy, oh boy. Morrisons, you geniuses. It might not look particularly pretty, but the now warm custard was everything I hoped for: utterly flavourful, executing the seemingly difficult promise that so many brands seem to stumble upon of being both caramel and salted. The salinity wasn't overwhelming either and simply cut through the sweetness perfectly. The butterscotch element that I initially smelt also came through, and I guess that if you're a fellow fan of both custard and butterscotch Angel Delight then you'll also love this too. 

Whilst salted caramel custard may not sound like the most obvious partner for a warm mince pie, I absolutely adored it. My other half enjoyed his custard over a warm individual treacle tart -another Morrisons find, see pic below- and Bert said both custard and tart were "absolutely delicious".

I'm dying to try my next pot (yep, I think Morrisons have now got me addicted) with warm banana... Mmm. Bananas and salted caramel custard anyone? Yes please! 


Saturday 19 November 2016

Lambertz Milk Chocolate Lebkuchen Hearts (Waitrose)

I'm not shy about my adoration for Germany's Christmas treats; I believe that their use of spice is cleverly balanced, brave and quite frankly unsurpassable. Last year I reviewed ASDA's lebkuchen iced starsWeisse's Pfeffernüsse, Bahlsen's Zimtsterne, Lidl's marzipan stollen as well as Bahlsen's Poppy Seed Stollen, and this year I'm on a quest to discover the best on the market. 

Today's review is of Lambertz's apricot filled Lebkuchen hearts: the hearts were a favourite Christmas treat as a child, my grandmother was always dependable for a healthy supply of them too and I looked forward to gorging on them after school. I say gorge because it felt impossible to stop at one or two (I reckon they're even more moreish than Jaffa cakes) so I really hoped that Lambertz' version would live up to my high expectations. I bought the 150g bag from Waitrose for £1.

Gingerbread hearts with apricot fruit filling (28%), coated with milk chocolate (23%) and dark chocolate decoration (3%).

Now to some, the combination of gingerbread, chocolate and apricot might sound like an utterly absurd idea. Even to me it sounds like it shouldn't work, but it really does (hence why I thought to spread M&S' new gingerbread teacakes with apricot jam). 

The hearts weren't exactly perfectly formed, but I preferred the almost homemade look. The milk and dark chocolate coating was ample too, with none of the gingerbread peaking through (as often happens with the iced stars). I could smell a subtle gingery warmth, but only when I brought the hearts to my mouth pre-munch. 

For anyone who's not had Lebkuchen before (seriously you're missing out), the texture between varieties and brands can vary quite dramatically. Even in a single bag of ASDA's stars I've found that some have been very firm, whilst others have been soft and cake-like. The Lambertz hearts leaned towards the latter texture, with a lovely fluffiness that provided very little resistance when biting into. The spice was very mild though, too much so for my liking. The ginger was almost completely lost against the delectable chocolate and apricot jam. Yes, you heard correctly, the chocolate was super! The quality was much better than one might expect for a biscuit/cake covering and I'm sure I'd have been quite happy to enjoy a bar of the chocolate that Lambertz have used here. As for the jam, it was gooey, sweet and in abundance -exactly what I hoped for. 


What do you think are the best German (or continental) Christmas treats? I'd love to know, so please do leave me a comment!

Friday 18 November 2016

Cadbury 5 Star (Poundstretcher)

As you might've gathered, finding and trying new chocolate is somewhat of a passion of mine. Purse strings are rather right as a student however, and I'm a natural born bargain hunter so nothing pleases me more than a cheap chocolate find (as long as it's good quality and/or a reputable brand of course). This is why I love to trawl the Saturday markets (which have heralded treasures such as the Côte D'Or FudgeNut, Cappuccino Twix, and Milka Oreo) the Polish Delis (KarmelLove was a game changing discovery) as well as B&M and American Fizz' online clearance section (for affordable American bars).  One store that doesn't ordinarily prove successful for chocolate finds is poundstretcher, but times might be changing. Snack hunting queen Emma (@emmasfood) recently spotted these Cadbury 5 Stars in the bargain basement chain, and I hotfooted it down to my local branch the very next day. Hurrah! At 4 for £1 (or 29p each) they ticked my favourite boxes: chocolate ✅ cheap ✅ branded ✅.

"Cadbury Milk Chocolate + caramel + soft chocolatey centre + crunchy biscuits."

So basically a Boost then? We'll sort of. The 5 star is made in Ireland and sold in Cairo, and there are some differences between the two:

The 5 star comprises of milk chocolate (31.5%), sweetened filling (34%), caramel filling (30.5%) and biscuit pieces (4%), whereas the Boost contains 26% caramel and just 3% biscuits. The chocolate recipe is very different between the bars too (5 star contains a minimum cocoa solids of 25% compared to just 23% for Cadbury's UK bars). I've often heard that Irish Dairy Milk is better quality than our version, so I was intrigued to find out if this would bear truth.

Slicing into the 5 Star revealed all of the components, which unsurprisingly appeared very similar to the innards of a Boost. Biting into it brought back childhood memories of my mid-morning snacks at school (normally either a Mars Delight, Galaxy or Boost -yes I've always been this healthy 👅). The combination of truffle like centre, tough (tooth-adhesive) caramel and biscuit pieces were -and still are- an absolute winner.

The point of difference however was the quality of the chocolate, which was much more noticeable than I originally considered. The melting smoothness of the milk chocolate was far superior to the version that we're now subjected to as a result of the Mondelēz takeover. I can't help but feel extremely bitter about this given that Cadbury's originated in the U.K, so surely by default we should be producing and selling the very best that Cadbury's has to offer. Of course I'm all down for the Egyptians eating yummy chocolate, but surely we should enjoy it too? That considered, I'm stocking up on 5 Stars whilst Poundstretcher have a glut (they're in date until June next year too!).


Thursday 17 November 2016

Pink Jammie Doughnut (Greggs)

Filled doughnuts: fantastic when they're actually filled, but utterly distressing if and when you're unfortunate enough to munch into a dud one. It's not just the Co-op who are guilty of empty 'filled' doughnuts either, I've heard many reports of void Krispy Kremes too -which I feel is even worse given their extortionate price point. I felt the need to rectify my doughnut disappointment of the apple crumble kind quick smart.

Pink ring doughnuts are my fiancés absolute favourites. We're not even allowed boxes of the mini versions in our house anymore because he simply can't resist their call and ends up munching all 30 in one go (not good when he's trying to cut ahead of holiday in January). He also loves jam doughnuts (as do I, who doesn't?) so the individually sold Pink Jammies solved our problem, and I picked us up a couple. I actually dropped them off with him during his workout at the gym I was working from -you should've seen the face of the exercising customers when they spotted the Greggs treat box, I'm cruel aren't I? Pahahaha. 😈

That evening I tucked into the Pink Jammie, and hoped it would live up to its promising title. The icing was ample, which was a good sign, as was the tell tale jammy hole on the one side.

Crikey. When Greggs say Jammie, they meant jammie. In fact there was so much jam in this doughnut that it proved tricky to eat without becoming a sticky mess. It wasn't long until I surrendered to my clumsiness and embraced the nostalgic joy of the gooey, sugary filling. The dough was soft, but slightly bread like as I've come to expect from the high street bakery. Of course the icing was super sweet (it would be more of a shock if it wasn't!) and the jam was too. I'm not sure what flavour the jam was mean to be, but it tasted of berries and apple, and it was yummy.

The combination of icing and jam provided a little too much sweetness for my personal preference. For this reason I preferred the Greggs' caramel custard and standard sugar dusted jam doughnuts (Morrisons make the best I think, do you agree?). My other half however completely disagreed and revelled in the amalgamation of his two favourite doughnuts..


Wednesday 16 November 2016

Snickers: Rockin' Nut Road & Almond 2 To Go (American Fizz)

Today's double review is a bit baffling. Why am I reviewing not one but TWO American Snickers bars when I'm not particularly keen on either of the British flavours? I guess I'm still a bit confused as to why I'm not a huge Snickers fan when peanuts, caramel, milk chocolate and nougat are all absolutely delicious in my books! It might be because I prefer smooth nut flavours (I very rarely buy crunchy peanut butter) but then I love M&S' The Nutty One, so god knows! Anyway, I keep on buying and trying Snickers (including the Crisper) hence the purchase of these two bars from American Fizz.

Rockin' Nut Road

“Almonds, caramel and marshmallow-flavored nougat wrapped in dark chocolate."

A dark chocolate covered snickers is a new one for me. As you'll know, American chocolate is a different entity to our British stuff. This bar was the colour one might expect from plain chocolate, which was fine by me given my dislike of the darker, more bitter flavours.

Slicing it in two revealed the caramel encased almonds atop the nougat, which was hidden inside the chocolate. The layers were satisfyingly distinct.

Unfortunately the flavours just didn't quite work together for me. The marshmallow flavoured nougat tasted a bit odd, more like an overly sweet version and was ultimately quite jarring. The almonds were crispy, and the caramel of standard Snickers quality, but altogether the combination was far too sickly -yes, even for my sugar addicted tastebuds. The dark chocolate wasn't great either, reminding me of the super cheap value range cooking chocolate -not good.


Almond 2 To Go

Snickers have simply swapped their standard peanuts for almonds here, and given that the nuts were my favourite component of the Rockin' Nut Road, I was hoping for better things from the Almond Snickers. The 2 to go actually comprises of two (almost full size) bars.

The tiers were slightly less pretty and more smoothed in the almond bars, but I didn't mind that as long as the taste was better.

Fortunately it was much tastier. Although the milk chocolate was sweeter (of course) the nougat was less so and this resulted in a better harmony between the flavours. It's a shame that the UK doesn't make more chocolate bars using almonds really, as the combination can work very well.

Almond Snickers isn't a bar that I'd rush out to buy again in a hurry, but I wouldn't turn my nose up if I spotted a good deal either. Meanwhile, my search for the White snickers continues...


Tuesday 15 November 2016

NEW! Fresh Stollen Cookies (Morrisons)

What are the flavours and foods you look forward to over the festive period? I'd love to know. Personal favourites include Lebkuchen, mince pies and stollen -as well as pigs in blankets of course.

Tesco have stopped selling their Mince Pie Cookies this year, opting for a Black Forest version instead -which I'm dubious about. I thought Tesco was the only supermarket producing festive cookies, but yesterday I was early for the train so popped into Morrisons (where I promptly fell in lust with many of their fresh bakery lines) before spying these Stollen cookies. What caught my eye initially was their festive little bag -c'mon, how cute is it? At £1 for 5 they were pretty good value too, especially considering that they're a limited edition. 

"Spiced cookies with sultanas, currants, cherries and marzipan flavoured fudge pieces."

The pale little misshapen rounds looked rather delicious, although the smattering of dried fruit was all embedded on one side in my first cookie to bite the biscuit -pardon the pun- but admittedly the others were better spread out.

I'm not sure how you like your bakery cookies, but for me they have to be soft and chewy. Fortunately Morrisons must agree with me as these were perfect in consistency. There was a delicate spice to them, which perhaps could've been a bit stronger (they've certainly not been as heavy handed with the cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves as Graze, that's for sure) but then Stollen does tend to have a subtler flavour than many of our British Christmas treats. I enjoyed the currants, cherries and sultanas, and the fruitiness gave the cookies a lighter flavour.

Of course the star of the Stollen Cookie show should be the marzipan, and it was this element that I was most excited about. The trouble was, it wary much lacking in quantity. I thought Morrisons had once again pulled the wool over my eyes and sold me a dead dog. Then, just as I had almost finished, a lovely almondy flavour greeted my tastebuds like a long lost friend. There you are marzipan, it's a shame you couldn't stick around.

These cookies are very sweet, but not as much as the discontinued Mince Pie cookies. They don't scream stollen at me, but they're a novel idea, and a welcome addition to the 2016 Christmas treat line up.  They would be getting very high marks if they contained more marzipan, but I still think an 8 is pretty respectable, don't you? I'm certainly looking forward to my next one this evening...


Monday 14 November 2016

Reflex Nutrition Chocolate Diet Protein & Banoffee Instant Whey™ PRO (Online)

When Reflex first contacted me at the beginning of the summer, I had only just returned to exercise after a lengthy period away from the gym but I realised that I would need to increase my protein intake inline with my new weight training regime to support muscle growth. I started off with bars and have gradually established a range of bars that are pretty damn good. I choose between them depending on my needs for the day, normally White Chocolate & Raspberry Ripple R-Bars if I require a soft, tasty & nutritious bar away from home and Mocha Carb Killas if I need a sweet protein hit. I've also found that pre-made shakes are a simple way to get protein in (especially in the morning or if I'm in a hurry) and you can't get better than Reflex's Protein Coffee.*

I've recently got to the point now where I wanted to check out the real deal, the Whey protein powders that kind of intimidated me when I started working out again. Luckily Reflex kindly sent me a tub of both their chocolate flavoured Diet Protein and Banoffee flavoured Instant Whey™ PRO to try.

Chocolate Flavoured Diet Protein

Now I'm not on a weight loss diet, but I am trying to tone up and build muscle, so I was interested in discovering the benefits of Reflex's Diet Protein. Their proud of this product, and rightly so, considering the intensity in which they believe in delivering only the very best in sports supplements. 
The benefits of Reflex's Diet Protein include:

  • It's the only diet whey shake to contain 3,200mg of patented Clarinol® CLA per daily serving
  • CLA dose in line with Double Blind Placebo Controlled Studies
  • No Chinese unbranded CLA which is found in nearly all competitor products
  • Lifetime Guarantee
  • EU Sourced Grass Fed undenatured Milk and Whey Protein
  • Free From Soy Protein
  • Free from GMO ingredients
  • No added sugars
  • 50,000,000 friendly bacteria spores per 50g
  • 150mg green tea extract per 50g
  • 250mg L-Carnitine L-Tartrate amino acid per 50g
If you want to discover more about why Reflex's Diet Protein is so special, please read their blog here.

But does it taste good? Surely there's no point in having a premium product that tastes revolting. One of the reasons I put off trying powders for so long is that my other half used them when we first met (almost 9 years ago) and used to have to drink his shake with a banana because the taste was so bad. I really hoped I wouldn't have to suffer the same!

Thankfully not. Whilst the chocolate shake didn't taste like a Frijj milkshake, it was pretty damn good and had a better taste than most other pre-made protein shakes I've tried. 

I have become addicted to the diet protein though, just used in a different way -or should I say whey ;) ?

I now can't start my day without a bowl of porridge made with Reflex's chocolate diet protein, and this is how I make them:
  • 45g oats 
  • 300ml milk
  • 25g Diet Protein
  • 1x portion of fruit  (frozen cherries or fresh pears are my favourite).
Microwave the oats and milk for 2-3 mins until bubbling, add the fruit & microwave for another 30 secs. Top with the powder, a little boiling water, and give a good stir. It's heaven in a bowl, NOT GRAINY, and perfect before a morning workout. 


Banoffee Instant Whey™ PRO

Unlike the diet whey, the  Instant Whey™ PRO doesn't contain Micellar Casein. The Instant Whey is Reflex's leading high protein powder, and as always the company goes above and beyond to deliver the very best. The benefits include:

·         Use of Native Whey
·         No Soy
·         EU sourced
·         Grass fed
·         Instant Whey™ PRO delivers a high level of protein at 80% where the main ingredients include whey isolate which has an unchallenged reputation.  This isolate incorporates native whey, which is made using a process that keeps far more of the important amino acids in place.
·        Every single batch is tested to guarantee its protein content with the results published on our website.

Now, I'm a HUGE banoffee fan, so I really hoped the flavour would be on point. As soon as I peeled back the lid on the tub I was met with a delicious aroma that smelt like the beautiful baby of both Butterscotch and Banana Angel Delight (the two best flavours). 

Again, the shake tasted rather good -although I prefer the thickness created by adding milk instead of water. The whey is sweet enough to avoid adding syrups too -always a bonus. Proats are also easy to make with this whey, although I slightly prefer the texture achieved when using the Diet Protein.

I've been busy dabbling with a few recipes too, and here are my absolute favourites: 1 of which must be made and eaten at home, the other I can take to uni with me for an afternoon treat.

Single Serving 'Beltsander' Peanut butter and Banoffee Blondie
This recipe is an adaption of the Beltsander Brownie.

  • 25g Banoffee Instant Whey PRO
  • 50g milk (I use dairy)
  • 5g Banana Nesquik
  • 10ml Jordan's Skinny caramel syrup
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 heaped tsp peanut butter 
Mix the first five ingredients together until it forms a smooth batter. Add the dollop of peanut butter into the middle. Microwave on high for 90 seconds(ish). Ewat whilst still warm and enjoy! The peanut butter goes all gooey, and it'sabsofreakinglutely incredible. For info, the Diet Protein doesn't work with this recipe due to the casein. 

Chocolate Banoffee Protein Cupcakes
This recipe is an adaption of Nat's white chocolate and banana protein cake -her creations are genius, so give her a follow if you love a good protein creation (and food porn in general)! 
  • 150g Skyr (I use a pot of Lidl's plain Milbona)
  • 40g Reflex Banoffee Instant Whey PRO 
  • 60g oat flour (I just blitz oats in the blender)
  • 1 large banana (approx 150g)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 20ml Jordan's Skinny Caramel Syrup
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40g Dr Zak's Chocolate Fudge Brownie Peanut Butter

heat oven to 200c/ 180 fan Whisk the first six ingredients together until smooth. Half fill 8 muffin cases with the batter. Dollop 1 tsp Dr Zak's into the middle of each, top with the remaining batter. Bake for approx 25 mins until golden brown. I love these, and at approximately 111kcal per cupcake (including the peanut butter) it means I can easily eat 2-3 in one sitting! 
I've also made the mix in a loaf tin without the hidden centre and sandwiched it with Dr Zak's instead. 

Macros per cupcake/ quarter cake mix sandwiched with 10g Dr Zak's:
Kcals 221 / P19.8 / C21.5 / F5.7 

Note: This recipe does work with the chocolate whey, but the cake is slightly more dense (but equally delicious when covered in Sweet Freedom's choc shot!).


All of Reflex's protein tubs are available to purchase on their website, and they've currently got some super savings as part of their November offer. Go check them out! 

As ever, a massive thank you to Reflex for the samples!

*Before you start thinking that Reflex are paying me to praise them, I'd just like to reassure you that they're not, and I'm always honest in my reviews (I wasn't overly keen on their Apple & Blackberry R-Bar for example). Reflex have just got exceptionally high standards!