Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Artisan du Chocolat Crème Brûlée Milk Chocolate Bar

Crème Brûlée milk chocolate - I mean really what couldn't be good about this bar were my first thoughts on seeing this bar, looking at the ingredients it actually contained crème brûlée in the milk chocolate and was described as 'velvety smooth with a rich taste of custard, caramel and vanilla'.

Artisan du Chocolat Creme Brulee Milk Chocolate Bar

I love good quality milk chocolate, I have a soft spot for the sweeter stuff but there's nothing like a really luxurious eat, with depth, rich melt and less of the sugar and more of the cocoa! This bar contained 35% minimum cocoa solids and 20% milk.

I was curious as to how they could get the flavour of custard in a bar but it's definitely there, subtly, it's certainly not a gimmicky custard bar but more of an elegant ode to the flavour, with subtle notes of it coming through underneath a rich, creamy caramel milk chocolate.

Artisan du Chocolat Creme Brulee Milk Chocolate Bar

It reminded me slightly of Hotel Chocolat's caramel milk chocolate, except that it wasn't as sweet and had more of a subtle vanilla custard undertone to it, like a chocolate crème brûlée.

The bar itself only weighed 45g, yet it seemed much bigger and more satisfying compared to similarly commercial weighted chocolate, I think partly due to the fact that it was long and thin, in a 100g bar shape slap, but also due to the fact that the overall eat of it was a lot more satisfying and you didn't need as much to satisfy the chocolate craving.

If you're not a big fan of the more bitter dark chocolate but want a more sophisticated milk chocolate eat that isn't necessarily just all about the sugar, Artisan du Chocolat have proved that this can be done, creating a milk chocolate bar that is sophisticated yet not too out there and massively delivers on flavour.

Taste - 8.7/10 - Really good, well balanced chocolate bar, subtle notes of custard, caramel and vanilla.
Texture - 8.7/10 - Smooth, rich, long lasting melt.
Appearance - 8.6/10 - Bar looks stunning.
Priced - 7.9/10 - At £3.50 for 45g it is a bit more expensive compared to other alternatives but the quality certainly makes up for it.
Overall - 8.5/10 - A delicious, luxurious milk chocolate bar.
WHO FOR?Anyone looking for an upmarket, more complex, luxurious milk chocolate bar.

I picked mine up at Harvey Nichol's, pretty sure this is stocked in Selfridges and Fenwick also, along with Artisan du Chocolat stores and online here.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Cadbury's Christmas Mega Post

Well we had our first snow of the year today, well in my area anyway and Chirstmas will soon be upon us so it only seemed to right that day was a festive related post.

Although Cadbury's chocolate may not be the finest artisan chocolate gift for Christmas I do think that that it still holds a soft spot for many people over the festive period; whether it be stocking fillers, selection boxes or advent calendars to open from the 1st of the month! I know my Christmas wouldn't be complete without a Cadbury's selection box....although I am still disappointed over their decision to stop making chocolate coins!

Cadbury's Christmas
    Cadbury's have lots of goodies available for over the festive period so this will just give you a brief overview of what's on offer, I'm sure all of you are now familiar with what Cadbury's tastes like (although I swear that it tastes slightly different every time I try some and not in a good way...I hope Mondalez aren't tampering with more recipes...). Nevertheless it still holds that creamy, milky, sweet flavour with a slight chalky like texture.

The Cadbury's advent calendar is Dairy Milk chocolate moulded into festive shapes and personally if I were going for an advent calendar that isn't going to break the bank would always be my first choice.

Cadbury's Christmas

The same Dairy Milk chocolate is used to create cute little Freddo Faces in individual bags in a tube for a tasty little stocking filler. Similarly the cute miniature Santa's are a new addition for Cadbury's this year and make a great small little treat.

Cadbury's Christmas

The Chocolate Mousse Snowman was one of the only products I'd never actually tried before, having only  tried the vanilla filled one before. The chocolate one is actually far superior and had a lovely creamy, smooth filling. Yum. Can imagine this would go down a treat with kids either in their stockings or as part of a homemade advent calendar.

Cadbury's Christmas

If you're a fan of Wispa, which I am, personally I love a bit of aerated chocolate, there's a huge 'We Wispa a merry Christmas', which looks like a giant Wispa but is actually filled with 4 full sized Wispas. After trying one I could have sworn they didn't taste as good as normal however; oh well.


Finally we have the festive looking Winter Wonderland bar which is Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate in an oscillating tree shape format, with certain sections topped with white chocolate. Personally I would have preferred it if certain sections were solid white chocolate but I can imagine that would be quite difficult to produce; nevertheless it's still pretty taste and you do get more a sweet, creamy note from the white chocolate topping.

Cadbury's Christmas

I mean Cadbury's is never going to be a luxury gift but it's safe, enjoyable and goes down a treat with most chocolate lovers, kids and big kids alike! I certainly know that I'll still be wanting some when Christmas Day comes around.

Taste - 7/10 - Standard Cadbury's chocolate - sweet, milky, safe.
Texture - 7/10 - Classic chalky texture.
Appearance - 8.4/10 - All look fun and really festive.
Price - 8.5/10 - All will be priced slightly differently depending on where you purchase them from but none of them are going to break the bank and offer good value for money for a tasty festive treat.
Overall - 7.7/10 - Some tasty festive treats.
WHO FOR?For any chocolate lovers in the build up or during the festive period.

All major retailers.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Marks & Spencer Spanish Praline Turron Selection

I always get massively excited when new Christmas products start coming in; sometimes I'll wait and give them as ideas for anyone looking to buy me a gift or sometimes I just end up buying them all before hand to enjoy and review before the other indulgences of the festive period. The latter definitely applies here.

As soon as I saw this Praline Turron Selection in M&S I wanted to buy them. Turron is typically a Spanish confection made of honey, sugar and egg white - resembling a nougat; so I was slightly confused as to how these were pralines. On greater research however it appears the name 'turron' can also be given to various other flavoured candies/chocolates sold around the Christmas period; typically rectangular or cake shaped.

Marks & Spencer Spanish Praline Turron Selection    
Priced at £12 you get 8 different praline turron sticks in the  box : Sea Salt and Potato Chip, Crema Catalana, Pistachio, Coconut, Salted Corn, Almond, Coffee and Cookie. All are really substantial and each one is like having an individual chocolate bar, all contain a praline filling of some sort and are coated in either white, milk or dark chocolate.

Marks & Spencer Spanish Praline Turron Selection

Sea Salt and Potato Chip -
'A dark shell hides a modern combination of almond praline with crushed potato chips decorated with sea salt flakes'

This variety was never going to be my favourite in the box, purely due to the fact it was coated in dark chocolate. However it was still absolutely delicious; the chocolate coating isn't so thick that the deeper dark chocolate dominants the eat, but instead adds a nice backdrop to the creamy, nutty almond praline. The crushed potato chips add a lovely textural contrast along with a slight savoury hint. Delicious.

Crema Catalana - 'Under a white chocolate blanket decorated with cinnamon lies a praline flavoured with traditional Crema Catalana'
So crema catalana is pretty much the Spanish version of Creme Brulee; except it can also be flavoured with lemon/orange/cinnamon, in this version I think they have just gone with the cinnamon as I certainly detected no lemon or orange (thankfully). Instead you are just greeted with a gorgeous custard cinnamon spiced praline with an added sweetness from the white chocolate, smooth, melt in the mouth and extremely satisfying.

Marks & Spencer Spanish Praline Turron Selection

Coffee  - 'Beneath a smooth layer of milk chocolate sits a chocolate praline topped with a chocolate coffee bean'
 Some coffee chocolates I love, some I'm not that keen on, it ultimately depends how it has been executed. I must say this was pretty good and certainly lives up to its coffee name as it packed a good flavour punch. Unlike a lot of coffee chocolates this wasn't sickly sweet and actually had quite a bitte back note to it. Like having a cube of chocolate dipped in your black americano.

Coconut - 'A delicious coconut ganache with roasted coconut is enrobed in dark chocolate and decorated with a coconut sliver'
This was probably the only variety I didn't enjoy in the box and a large part of it was probably down to personal preference. I'm not a huge fan of coconut nor of dark chocolate; also this is the only turron that wasn't actually praline based but ganache instead.

Marks & Spencer Spanish Praline Turron Selection

Salted Corn  - 'The traditional Spanish bar snack is re-imagined here in a praline enrobed in milk chocolate'
Salted corn sounds a peculiar flavour but realistically it is just the combination of salty meets sweet again; not too dissimilar in using salt in a salted caramel. Overall I loved this one; loved the nibbly yet smooth texture, the sweet yet salty interior and the creamy milk chocolate to top it all off.

Almond -
'A whole almond decorates this almond praline given bite with roasted almond nibs'

This one is slightly sweeter due to the white chocolate exterior; however the flavour of almond really comes through well; it reminded me of a sweet almond paste I'd bought whilst on holiday in Rome a few  years ago. Again a lovely interior, smooth yet crunchy and thoroughly enjoyable.

Marks & Spencer Spanish Praline Turron Selection

Cookie - 'Beneath a coating of dak chocolate lies a cookie an almond praline topped with chocolate pieces'To be honest I wasn't all that sure what to expect from this one; when I bit into it I actually got quite a surprise that the filling was a light beige colour as opposed to the darker more intense filling I was expecting. This turned out to be a positive as the sweeter, creamier filling provided a nice contrast to the dark chocolate coating, like eating a sophisticated Oreo.

Pistachio - 'A smooth pistachio praline studded with delicate roasted, chopped pistachios decorated with an elegant transfer motif'
This turron definitely stood out in the box with it's gold lustre and sophisticated looking design. It's taste certainly lived up to its visual with a lovely light, delicate pistachio flavour. Just the right level of sweetness and an unbelievable creamy melt.

Overall I thought this Praline Turron Selection was outstanding, both visually and flavour-wise they tick all of the boxes of what a perfect Christmas chocolate gift should be. In all honesty I would have no qualms about buying these again or having someone else buy me them over the festive period. I could quite easily eat the box all over again!

Taste - 9.3/10 - Think they are probably the best M&S chocolate product I've tried; really good flavours.

Texture - 9.1/10 - Smooth, creamy pralines. Nice textural contrasts added in some.
Appearance - 9.1/10 - Visually stunning.
Price - 8.6/10 - At £12 for 8 sticks they work out at £1.50 each; for an elegant looking Christmas gift I think that's pretty good value.
Overall -9/10 - A stunning product.
Would make a great Christmas gift.

Marks & Spencer stores nationwide.