Friday, 24 October 2014

The Grown Up Chocolate Company : Crunchy Praline Wonder Bar

I've come across The Grown Up Chocolate Company a few times now but hadn't actually had the chance to try that many of their bars; thankfully that's about to change as I got to sample their range recently and find out what they were all about. Their ethos is that they produce chocolate bars that remind us of when we were children but with an adult twist, using higher quality ingredients and just making the bars a tad more sophisticated - no they haven't gone as far as William Curley in his Nostalgia range, but they are that step in between.

The Grown Up Chocolate Company Praline Wonder Bar

Naturally, being such a big praline fan, the first one I wanted to try was the Crunchy Praline Wonder Bar - that ironically had me wondering what bar this was based on; I can't quite think of any commercial chocolate bar in my time that had a crunchy praline filling? Either way it was tasty.


The bar itself is quite hefty; well if you want to be really correct about it, once you open the box there's two small bars inside, each weighing in at 35g, but you know you're not just going to eat one of them, well not unless you have self control of steel - so a pretty heavy 70g serving.

The Grown Up Chocolate Company Praline Wonder Bar

There is a thick milk chocolate covering and a mixture of pieces of caramelised wafer and praline centre; to be perfectly honest I prefer my pralines rich and smooth, with no mix ins, I often think adding pieces of caramelised wafer etc detracts from the quality of the praline. Nevertheless it was still a tasty bar, the texture of the praline isn't quite there but the caramelised wafer bits do add a nice 'crunch' element meaning that this is a bar you are more likely to chew and eat quickly than one you are going to allow to melt and savour.


The Grown Up Chocolate Company Praline Wonder Bar

The actual flavour of the bar was good; the praline is a great mix of sweet/nutty whilst the caramelised wafer pieces add a slight caramel undertone, the milk chocolate provides lovely creamy rich cocoa notes, made with 38% cocoa solids, this definitely comes through in the flavour.


The Grown Up Chocolate Company Praline Wonder Bar

I can't think of many other praline bars like this on the market; pralines are often only found in their single chocolate form, so in that aspect I think its a really good offering and if I was out and about in my local department store and fancied something satisfying yet also still good quality then I would most definitely pick this up. You can tell it's made with higher quality ingredients but isn't so unreasonably priced or high end that its polarising.


Taste - 7.4/10 - A tasty, satisfying, good quality praline chocolate bar. Not too sweet and a good nutty,creamy flavour.
Texture - 6.9/10 - I wasn't massively averse to the caramelised wafer bits, just I would have preferred that they probably weren't in there and a rich creamy praline was allowed to take centre stage; others I am sure will love the crunchiness of the caramelised wafer though - so I think it's just a personal preference thing.
Appearance - 7/10 - Good size chunky bars, packaging is cute; although I'm not sure whether they're missing a trick by saying that this bar "isn't meant for kids" - although I'm sure some parents would probably buy it for them anyway if they wanted a higher quality treat, a bit like Yorkie and "not for girls". I guess it's just part of their marketing.
Price - 6.9/10 - Priced at £2.50 for 70g its obviously more expensive than your typical commercial chocolate bar but I definitely think the price here is relative to the quality.
Overall - 7/10 - A nice step inbetween your standard commercial bar and your high end artisan offering. If I was a child I'd be a tad bit jealous that I wasn't "supposed" to have this bar.
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WHO FOR?Apparently adults only! Honestly, if you're a praline fan then you're probably going to enjoy this bar.

WHERE TO BUY?I picked my bar up at a local Fenwicks, you can also purchase online from The Grown Up Chocolate Company's site here.

Monday, 20 October 2014

The Chocolate Smiths Halloween Bars : Chocolate Spiced Pumpkin & Toasted Caramel Toffee Apple

On a recent trip back up north I popped into my local Fenwicks store and was delighted to see a couple of limited edition Halloween bars by the guys at The Chocolate Smiths; I love how virtually every time I'm in there, there's a new bar from themselves, boasting unique flavours and helping to keep the range fresh.

The Chocolate Smiths Halloween


The Chocolate Smiths Halloween

These are both classed as 'Bizarre' bars but I don't think there's anything in these bars that are too particularly out there when you compare them to some others they offer in the range; the major one that appealed to me was the milk chocolate bar filled with delicately spiced pumpkin - I absolutely love pumpkin so I was quite sure that this was going to be a winner in my books.

The Chocolate Smiths Halloween

Opening it up the bar has been dusted with a light gold shimmer and thankfully, unlike some of the other filled bars from The Chocolate Smiths, this one was a lot easier to snap into cubes, filled with a light brown ganache like filling. Taking a bite of the bar it was delicious; lightly spiced with lovely hints of cinnamon and nutmeg with a background sweet,nutty,earthy flavour brought from the pumpkin. If you're a big fan of Starbucks PSL, which I am, then you are going to absolutely adore this.

The Chocolate Smiths Halloween

The other bar I picked up was Toasted Caramel Toffee Apple, a white chocolate bar boasting a filling of toasted shards of caramel and a sour toffee apple filling - this bar has been a bit more elaborately decorated with 'booo' written across it. This bar however was a lot more messy to break into pieces and ended up being quite a sticky affair; the toffee apple filling is quite sweet but does have that slight acidic backnote due to the sour nature of it, balancing quite well with the creamy vanilla white chocolate. My only problem, I didn't find any caramel shards! I don't know where they were, or what they were meant to be like but I couldn't see any in my bar.

The Chocolate Smiths Halloween

The Chocolate Smiths Halloween

If I had to choose between the 2 then I would probably opt for the milk chocolate pumpkin bar; although both are really good and I think make a nice alternative to the generic chocolates bumped into just different novelty packaging/shapes that are often seen around Halloween.

Taste - 8.2/10 - Both really good, the pumpkin wins for me though.
Texture - 7.4/10 - Smooth creamy fillings, the toffee apple bar was a bit messy though and I couldn't find any caramel shards.
Appearance - 7.5/10 - Both look great.
Price - 6.9/10  - I'm pretty sure I paid about £3.99 for these in Fenwicks; more expensive than your bog standard chocolate bar but not extortionate when you consider the different aspects/novelty flavours of the bar.
Overall - 7.5/10 - Two nice bars, I'm really excited about The Chocolate Smiths as a brand to see what they develop in the future - look out for my review of their Christmas bars that will be following in a few weeks!
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WHO FOR?
I'm not sure whether people give out Halloween gifts these days, but if they do it would be a great treat for that, or if you're just generally a fan of trying different chocolates then I would certainly give these a go.

WHERE TO BUY?
In Fenwicks, certain delis in the North East or online here.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Visiblia Sushi Chocolate Experience

Anyone who knows me knows that although I love my quality high end chocolates, I'm also a sucker for anything novelty - so when my birthday came around last month, one of my family decided to buy me this Sushi Chocolate Experience box; complete with 5 different filled chocolates made to look like sushi pieces and even your very own set of chopsticks if you wish to complete the whole experience!

Visiblia Chocolate Sushi Experience

I was worried that the chocolates weren't going to be that good quality; quite often with novelty the chocolates are a bit under par when it comes to delivering on flavour. By no means were these chocolates ground breaking and of course they're not your high end artisan hand made chocolates but they still tasted quite pleasant and actually possessed a flavour - as opposed to some novelty chocolates I've had which have taste of virtually nothing.

Visiblia Chocolate Sushi Experience

There was some slight blooming on some of the chocolates when I opened them so I presume if they had been kept at the correct temperatures then they could have tasted even better. My favourite chocolate had to be the "hand roll/temaki" style chocolate which was a pine nut, white chocolate and coconut ganache like centre coated in dark chocolate and sprinkled with chocolate flakes. The texture was deliciously, lovely and smooth with some slight texture added by the coconut pieces. Yum.

Visiblia Chocolate Sushi Experience

Another particular favourite of mine was the grapefruit boat made in the shape of a "gunkan-maki" inside was a white chocolate ganache flavoured of grapefruit with a dried grapefruit piece on top; I maybe would have liked slightly more of a tang from the grapefruit but there was definitely some citric undertones which paired nicely with the milk chocolate exterior.

The other "gunkan-maki" was a hazelnut praline style chocolate; the texture was lovely and smooth but it didn't really deliver on flavour. Being a bit of a praline snob I judge everything to Hotel Chocolat's Dizzy Praline, which in my favourite praline, and unfortunately this fell just short of the mark - it just didn't possess that rich nutty flavour that I desired.

Visiblia Chocolate Sushi Experience

The little "maki" rolls were complete with either a pistachio praline filling or a raspberry/white chocolate filling both coated in a dark chocolate "nori" again these were quite pleasant; easy to eat and tasty enough, but didn't possess really punchy flavours, I would have liked the raspberry a bit more zingy.

Visiblia Chocolate Sushi Experience

Nevertheless these are still nice chocolates, I don't know what the person who bought me these paid for them but they make quite a nice novelty gift for any chocolate lover; however if a little more attention to detail was paid to in terms of flavour these could quite easily have risen from quite good to spectacular.

Taste - 5.7/10 - A couple of really nice chocolates in the box, a couple that were a bit short of the mark.
Texture - 7.5/10 - Textures were all really good; smooth ganaches/pralines.
Appearance - 7.9/10 - Look great, only problem is that they had bloomed slightly.
Price - 7/10 - Unsure of what was paid for these, but on Harrods website they were priced at £12.95, which I think is reasonable.
Overall - 7/10 - An unusual novelty chocolate gift.
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WHO FOR?I think these are much more gift appropriate as opposed to something you would buy for yourself.

WHERE TO BUY?I think the person that bought me these picked them up from TK Maxx; as of present I haven't been able to find anywhere else that seems to sell them, Harrods did stock them online here but they seem to be out of stock at the moment.