Saturday, 19 July 2014

William Curley Nostalgia Hazelnut Raisin Caramel Bar

I love William Curley's Nostalgia range; a range of essentially "commercial" chocolate bars jazzed up to finer levels. This Nostalgia bar is similar, in essence, to a Picnic bar; albeit hazelnuts instead of peanuts. Consisting of a milk chocolate hazelnut feullentine base with a layer of sea salt caramel, sprinkled with raisins and enrobed in 70% Toscano chocolate.

William Curley Nostalgia Hazelnut Raisin Caramel Bar

I absolutely love what William Curley has done with this bar; I'm not a massive lover of Picnic chocolate bars, I find them basic, boringly sweet and if I was going for a cheap pick me up chocolate bar there's not a chance I'd buy one. However this bar is obviously on a completely different level; the sea salt caramel has that lovely salty hint that contrasts delightfully with the sweet chewy raisins that add a great texture profile along with the milk chocolate hazelnut feullentine base.

There's the perfect mix of chewy, crunchy and smooth runny caramel all topped off with a rich delicious 70% Amedei Toscano dark chocolate. What I love about this bar is that it's neither too rich/dark nor too sweet; because of the sweeter filling the chocolate used to coat it helps provide that balance which means that it would appeal to those not only with a big sweet tooth but also those who like darker, richer chocolates.

William Curley Nostalgia Hazelnut Raisin Caramel Bar

The best thing about this chocolate bar is how satisfying it is; because great quality ingredients have been used you finish it feeling completely satisfied with no further desires to seek out any more sugary chocolate which can quite often be the case with sweeter commercial chocolate bars that this has been based on.

I highly recommend this to any individual who wants a "finer" version of an old simple classic.

William Curley Nostalgia Hazelnut Raisin Caramel Bar

Taste - 8/10 - Delicious salty caramel, praline hazelnut, sweet raisins and rich dark chocolate.
Texture - 9/10 - Great texture contrasts going on here.
Appearance - 6.8/10 - Simplistic.
Price - 7.1/10 - At £3.50 this is obviously a lot more than you would pay for a regular chocolate bar of the same weight but the quality you get here is far superior.
Overall - 7.7/10 - A great take on a commercial chocolate bar.
Any individual who wants a "finer" version of an old simple classic.

WHERE TO BUY?Any of William Curley's stores in London/Harrods or online here.

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Discover Milk Chocolate with Salted Popcorn and Peanuts

I was contacted recently about reviewing some chocolate bars that used Stevia as a sweetener; to be fair I have never really got on the 'Stevia bandwagon' as such; when it came out as a new 'natural' sweetener I thought it might be a nice change to the usual sucralose I use to sweeten my oats, yoghurt and other things I concoct; however I found the taste to be repulsive. It had a bitter aftertaste and an awful aniseed flavour that lingered at the back of your throat, to put it simply it made me feel quite sick.

Discover Milk Chocolate Bar with Salted Popcorn & Peanuts

Therefore I wasn't the most excited to try a Stevia sweetened chocolate bar but when I went on to Discover's website I actually found that there were a few different and interesting flavours which enticed me to give them a go and hope for the best. The first one I'm reviewing out of the 3 I received is this salted popcorn and peanut milk chocolate bar, containing 33.9% cocoa solids its actually a pretty high percentage milk chocolate bar compared to the likes you'll find gracing the supermarket convenience aisle.

Discover Milk Chocolate Bar with Salted Popcorn & Peanuts

The actual bar weights 50g and is studded with pieces of popcorn and small pieces of peanuts; when you snap a cube off you can tell that it's quite a creamy bar and popping a piece into my mouth this is reflected in the melt. The melt of it was surprisingly good, smooth, creamy and rich leaving you with some nice crunchy bits of popcorn and peanuts to nibble on.

You definitely couldn't massively tell that Stevia had been used to sweeten it; there definitely wasn't that cloying aniseed flavour and I think for the average consumer they wouldn't be able to distinguish it from a regular chocolate bar in terms of sugar/sweetener flavour. The flavour is creamy, rich with light caramel notes whilst the peanuts and popcorn aren't massively salty they do add a slight savoury element to it which is nice.

Discover Milk Chocolate Bar with Salted Popcorn & Peanuts

The best thing about this bar for those trying to avoid sugar is that it only contains 3.6g sugar in the whole bar and 240calories, meaning that this milk chocolate bar is only 480kcal per 100g which is around 60kcal lower than a regular sugar sweetened chocolate bar you would pick up. Whether this was sweetened with sugar or Stevia if it tasted the same as it did when I tried it this would definitely be a bar that I would pick up again and if you're trying to cut down on your sugar intake but still fancy a bit of a sweet treat then yes I would definitely go for it! As a Stevia hater I can say that I actually enjoyed this product and that says a lot about the execution of the bar!

Discover Milk Chocolate Bar with Salted Popcorn & Peanuts

Taste - 7.5/10 -
Really good, not just for a Stevia sweetened chocolate bar but for any chocolate bar.

Texture - 8.3/10 - Loved the texture, really smooth, creamy melt, a few more peanuts could have possibly improved the bar further.
Appearance - 7.2/10 - Look good, good dispersion of mix ins.
Price - 7.4/10 - Priced at £1.60 it's definitely affordable.
Overall - 7.6/10 - A decent chocolate bar in its own right whether it's sweetened with Stevia or not.
WHO FOR?Anyone looking for a good sugar substitute chocolate bar.

Online here.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Hotel Chocolat Summer Selector Packs

I always love it when I pop into my local Hotel Chocolat store and am greeted with some new limited edition selector packs; having pretty much exhausted all of the regular range that I am interested in, it's always nice to see a few new additions. I'd heard a lot of good things about the Summer Selectors this year, in particular the Choc Fudge Sundae; however it was the Peanut & Bananas that mainly appealed to me...and whilst I was in could I really resist the Summer Cooler!

Hotel Chocolat Summer Selectors

We'll kick things off with the Choc Fudge Sundae; a toffee fudge  sauce topped with a hazelnut milk chocolate praline in a milk chocolate cup. I can certainly see why this has got such rage reviews as it's utterly delicious - the hazelnut praline is smooth and exquisite; as Hotel Chocolat's pralines always are, with the toffee fudge sauce being sweet and sticky. The texture of the chocolate is what completely makes it; it's almost a light fudge like texture contrasting with the smooth thick liquid caramel. My only one qualm - it tastes nothing like a chocolate fudge sundae; it's a beautiful creamy praline/caramel chocolate but of all the ice cream chocolate fudge sundaes I've tried I can't say it tastes like it.

Hotel Chocolat Summer Selectors

Chocolate Fudge Sundae

Moving on to the Peanut & Bananas; as I've said numerous times, I love peanut butter chocolates and I always find banana flavours interesting as they are quite hard to carry off well without it becoming too artificial or sickly. This chocolate consists of a peanut praline with a smooth banana ganache underneath; the banana flavour isn't strong whatsoever, quite subtle and just lingers in the background. I debated whilst eating it whether they should have made it a bit stronger but came to the conclusion that I think if they had it would have been too sickly sweet; it's better to let the delicious peanut praline steal the show with its delicious nutty flavours.

Peanut & Bananas

Peanut & Bananas1

Finally finishing on something slightly more unusual; I've noticed this year that cucumber seems to be a frequent addition to many products, drinks, desserts and now in this chocolate, along with apple and mint in a ganache wrapped in vanilla white chocolate. In all honesty the idea of cucumber in a chocolate wasn't one that initially seemed massively appealing to me; but it sounded unusual so I was opening to giving it a go. I'm glad to say that I'm extremely pleased that I did as it was absolutely gorgeous - the apple and cucumber flavours work so well together being light and refreshing but also having a slight sharp tang, whilst I think that the mint white chocolate was certainly the best choice to use for this chocolate as it adds a lovely creamy sweetness with the mint providing an added "zing" to the chocolate.

Summer Cooler

Summer Cooler1

Overall I would highly recommend all three of these chocolates and I'd be hard pushed to actually choose a favourite; I'd say go for them all!

Taste - 9/10 - All delicious, rich, satisfying and indulgent.
Texture - 9.3/10 - Again all deliver on a great level but I think that the Choc Fudge Sundae pips the other two for its rich, fudgy, almost chewy texture.
Appearance - 8/10 - All look great and I'm glad that Hotel Chocolat have started adding nutritional information onto their packaging.
Price - 7.4/10 - They're priced at £3.85 each or £3.25 for 3+.
Overall - 8.4/10 - One word, amazing.
WHO FOR?I think the Selectors are great to pick up just to have in the house so you can have a couple of chocolates as a treat after your meal on an evening.

You'll be able to buy them in Hotel Chocolat stores now, or online here.