Thursday, 8 December 2011

Lindt Excellence Passion Fruit Intense block

Lindt & Spr√ľngli AG, more casually known as Lindt, is one of those brands known world-wide for their amazing range and selection of quality chocolates. The company is based in Switzerland and was founded in 1845. Their collections include the ever-popular Lindor blocks and truffle balls, the Excellence blocks, gift boxes, and seasonal releases of their all-year-range selection as well.

Lindt are very good at keeping their range fresh and interesting, and the Excellence block range is no exception.

Introduced to the Australian market within the last couple of weeks, the Passion Fruit Intense block joins other popular flavours in the Excellence range, such as Blueberry and Sea Salt. Unlike some of the other flavours, Passion Fruit also includes pieces of almond dispersed throughout the 49% cocoa solid dark chocolate block. (I must reveal to my readers here that I am neither a fan of passion fruit nor nuts. Still, in the interests of providing a balanced and interesting blog, review I must!)

It's a warm day here in Melbourne as I begin the review, perhaps a little too warm for chocolate. As I tear open the well-sealed matte foil surrounding the block, I'm greeted with a strong, almost alcoholic scent, though it doesn't have distinct notes. On closer inspection, the passion fruit scent is clear - strong, bold and sweet, clearly the dominating flavour. Despite not liking passion fruit, the chocolate smells delicious!

The back of the block is gently rippled with hints of almond slices, more than I expected. The block breaks with a mild thunk - it's definitely too warm to be reviewing chocolate - and in the seams I can see pieces of almond, big pieces and small, that promise to provide an interesting texture.

In the mouth, despite the strong passion fruit scent the rich heady chocolate notes pop up first, before quickly being replaced with the bold and summery flavours of the passion fruit. Amongst the pieces of almond I can feel tiny little pieces of what must be the 'passion fruit preparation' listed in the ingredients. When I bite them I get a strong taste of what makes me think of Passiona if it were paired with vodka.

As with all Lindt chocolate, the melt is soft and creamy, interrupted with the sharp, thin pieces of almond. Despite the summery flavour, this isn't a block that should be scoffed a la Cadbury Dairy Milk, but a few pieces should be savoured on mild summer evenings.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Natural Confectionery Company Merry Blissmas

(My apologies for not posting sooner; I was on a team planning a national event and blogging fell by the wayside.)

I'm getting back into the swing of reviewing with this bag from Natural Confectionery Company.  A step up from its usual range, this bag of 'lime and raspberry flavoured jellies' clocks in at a huge 300g, and these little babies aren't cheap, either. At my convenience store we're selling them at $6.99 per bag; Coles Online is selling a bag for $6.42 ($2.14 per 100g) at the time of posting. They are pretty expensive for a seasonal product, so I hope they live up to the price.

The bag features a gold band with white stars, perhaps to help the package distinguish itself more easily from the rest of the TNCC range. The graphic on the front is of the familiar 'raspberry' shape we are all familiar with, with one raspberry in a light green colour, the other in a darker red, and tied together with a red ribbon. As with all TNCC products this item has no artifical colours or flavours. These jellies also have a 'soft, fruity centre' and already I'm wondering if this is a reuse of the machinery that makes the Tropical, Tangy and Berry Bliss ranges. The name certainly suggests so.

Upon opening the bag, I'm greeted with a faint, nondescript sweet scent that for some reason reminds me of the toy shop nearby. (Yeah, I don't know either.) The jellies themselves aren't as bright or glossy as the graphic on the front suggests; rather, the lime-flavoured jelly  is a boring and dull olive-green, while the raspberry-flavoured one is more of a muted dark pink. I'm seeing a little variation in the colour of the raspberry jelly, but the lime stays depressingly boring.

  As well as the raspberry and lime jellies, inside the bag I'm also finding these little blogs, which from the texture I think are escaped 'middles', or the soft centres. The funny part is that they have been through the moulding process; you can see the ripples. There were about four or five in my bag, and they were all from the raspberry jelly, not the lime. Interestingly, I've never had this problem with the rest of the Bliss range.

A bite reveals that these are seasonal additions to the Bliss range. Like the other varieties in the range, these jellies have a similarly-flavoured centre. I'm finding as I make my way through the bag that the amount of soft centre, and the placement, varies a little with each jelly.  Though I haven't found any that are actively oozing, it's easy to make some of them burst just by squeezing it gently.

Disappointingly, the raspberry jelly doesn't taste very raspberry at all, and instead just gives me a vague 'berry' taste. There's a little tartness from the outside jelly, but the inside centre only serves to soften  the tartness rather than follow through with further notes. By itself, the centre is very jammy and overly sweet.

The lime surprisingly does taste strongly of lime juice (surprising, because I can't any mention of lime in the ingredients list). There's a big sharp note of lime from the outer jelly, and the soft centre continues with this rather than overwhelming it as with the raspberry. The lime is not as sweet as the raspberry, and eaten together they contrast each other nicely.

As with the rest of the Bliss range, the texture of the outside jelly varies. Some are tougher, like a cheap jelly, while others are very soft and easy to squish.

Just for kicks, I just happened to have on hand some Tropical Bliss (which I think have been discontinued), and I've pictured the Merry Blissmas alongside an orange-flavour jelly from the Tropical range.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Cadbury Furry Friends

Cadbury Furry Friends are one of the few lollies I can remember from my childhood, 20-odd years ago. Sadly, the packaging has changed since then.

The Furry Friends I remember was wrapped in a piece of paper-lined foil, and then held inside a paper sleeve that, like now, featured endangered Australian animals. The foil retained that delicious chocolate smell for several days, and inside the sleeve were several facts about the featured animal on the front. My late mother used to collect the paper sleeves. Unfortunately they did not survive my childhood, and I can't even find images on Google to share with you a bit of Cadbury history. Although, I did find these which look a little older than the ones I remember. (I couldn't even find Furry Friends listed on the Cadbury site.)

Inside the Furry Friends plastic wrapper you'll find a flat, thin bar of plain milk chocolate, moulded with the cursive Cadbury name. The bar itself is around 9.5cm long by 4.3cm wide. The raised edge is about 0.5cm tall, and the centre is thinner. Surprisingly, the bar managed to remain unbroken during its travel home in my handbag, although it didn't arrive home completely undamaged.

Disappointingly, inside the wrapper I didn't find any facts about the endangered Red Kangaroo on the front.

There's no difference in recipe between the Cadbury Dairy Milk used for this bar and for other Dairy Milk products; it is just presented differently, and in a more kid-friendly format. (A step up from Freddo Frogs, perhaps?) The bar itself smells fantastic, with the strong milky, creamy note that instantly reminds me of the chocolate-scented foil from my childhood. It's very sweet and inviting.

The long, thin shape makes the 15g of chocolate go a lot further than a Freddo of the same size, forcing you to take your time and savour the milk and sugar notes.

If you are not a sweet tooth, then Cadbury Dairy Milk may prove to be too sweet for your tastebuds. (I'm a sweet tooth, and I find it to be a bit much for me sometimes.) While it is a rather one-note munch, it is a dependable taste that hits the spot when you're craving something sweet and simple that doesn't fill you up.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Nestle Kit Kat Chunky 3 Cookies and Cream

Kit Kats are well known across the internet for having a large array of flavours around the world. (Just look at this list!) Kit Kats themselves have been around since the 1930s, although the Chunky variation, involving one super-sized wafer finger, was only introduced in 1999.

The '3' varieties of Kit Kat Chunky have been a recent development for Nestle, introduced in May this year here in Australia. There are three flavour varieties in the 3 range: chocolate, caramel and cookies and cream. Each bar is sectioned into three, and each section contains a different filling based around the flavour: fudge, crisp and sauce.

I've actually eaten these quite a few times before, but I thought I should pick one up to review as well. I did have a chocolate one in the review bin, although that one has mysteriously disappeared.

This variety is the cookies and cream-flavoured one. Those who think the light blue packet looks familiar aren't dreaming - it was used back in 2008 for the Cookie Dough variety of Kit Kat Chunky. Sadly that one has been discontinued.

This bar is decently-sized, weighing in at 65g - a good 12g more than a standard Mars bar. The bar gives off a crispy, wafer scent as is removed from the packet. Sure, there's chocolate there, 65% of it, but the wafer is the first scent to say hello. Once fully unveiled, the bar is shown to have a dark milky-coffee-coloured chocolate that smells of a mild sweetness. Sadly, there aren't many cocoa notes to be found, but since the chocolate contains a minimum of 20% cocoa solids, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. The bar features the Kit-Kat logo (without the Nestle add-on) on top of each of the three pieces.

Dived into three 'breakable chunks', the bar's three different centres are separated. Some customers might enjoy the thrill of not knowing what filling they will encounter upon their first bite. Breaking the bar into three reveals the wafer that continues along the entire length of the bar. It's chocolate flavoured and has three layers, with a mild chocolate centre in between each layer. The wafer has a nice crunch to it, although when I sliced the bar for photos, it crumbled easily.

My first bite reveals the 'vanilla fudge' centre. By itself, the fudge is quite stiff, and is reminiscent of cheap plasticine that has been left unprotected. The vanilla flavor behind is is rather strong, but also somewhat unnatural, and I'm reminded of homebrand vanilla ice cream. Disappointingly, when eaten as part of the bar, the fudge all but disappears under the taste of the strong and sweet chocolate outer and the crunchy wafer.

The middle section of the bar is the 'cookie crunch' filling. It seems to be white chocolate with biscuit pieces - perhaps it's some of the chocolate from the Milky Way Milk & Cookies bar. When removed from the bar (via surgery to remove the top layer of chocolate), the filling doesn't taste like much on its own. There's too little of it to have any real impact on my tastebuds. When eaten as a whole piece though, the filling is an interesting comparison to the outer chocolate. The extra crunchy pieces of biscuit are a nice bonus, echoing the wafer finger. Surprisingly, I can also tell there is a smidgen of white chocolate present, and it adds an extra touch of sweetness.

Finally we reach the 'cookie cream' filling. The ingredients list gives no indication of what it is made from. The cream, unlike the image on the packet, is actually a pale caramel or tan colour. It has a nice string to it, and is more stretchy than the caramel found in a Mars or Snickers bar. When sampled by itself, the cream is disappointing in taste. There's no real flavour of anything beyond sweetness and burnt sugar.The cream really comes alive when tried with the rest of the bar, though. The soft and smooth texture contrasts the crisp wafer and adds an element of surprise, especially when the top layer of chocolate caves in under your bite.

Overall, the bar is an exercise in the overly sweet. The play on the differing textures for each filling is a fun novelty, although it is nice to have the consistant wafer throughout that ties it back to the original and well-known Kit Kat. For someone who is not a sweet tooth, I suspect they may have trouble finishing the entire bar in one sitting.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Natural Confectionery Company I Love Red Snakes

The Natural Confectionery Company is fully Australian made, and has its roots in early Australian confectionery. It originally began as Sunrise Confectioners in 1941, a company which also made other products, such as aniseed rings, barley sugar, bulls eyes and chocolate bullets. Their second factory was based in Prahran, Victoria, and in 1991 they moved to a bigger factory in Camberwell. 

The following year, Sunrise Confectioners founded The Natural Confectionery Company, and focused on their all-natural range of jellies. In 2003 they were bought out by Cadbury Scheweppes (now owned by Kraft, and the range of lollies, which are free from artificial colours and flavours, is now the most popular range on Australian shelves.

TNCC jellies have a nice soft chew that doesn't stick to your teeth. The flavour generally isn't overpowering, but this factor also makes it very easy to eat a whole bag in one sitting.

I spotted this new offering from The Natural Confectionery Company in Coles last week, and had to pick up a bag. The Coles Online website lists this as a limited edition product, although I can't find any mention of it on the TNCC site.

I'm amused by the bag's title. They aren't just 'Red Snakes'; they are 'I Love Red Snakes'. The front of the bag also says: 'Taste our new raspberry flavour'. I had a bag of regular TNCC Snakes at home and checked; the original range also includes a ripe raspberry flavour, so I'm curious to know if this bag really is new. Unfortunately I didn't have any raspberry snakes from the original bag left, so comparisons will have to wait for another post.

As soon as the bag is opened I can smell a strong scent that reminds me of raspberry jam, and there is a very slight medicinal note there as well. It's not an off-putting scent; it's warm and inviting.

The snakes themselves are the same length and shape as standard TNCC snakes, and the texture is the same. Up close the jam notes are stronger, but the first flavour that comes to the taste party is of a very mild, sweet berry tea. It doesn't lean directly towards raspberry - there's no tartiness or sharpness like you would expect from the fruit. The chew is almost as stiff reluctant to break as a gummi bear. While the jellies are soft, they are not as soft as some of the other jellies available, such as Allen's Snakes. However, there are no little pieces left in my teeth and the snakes leave a pleasant, somewhat floral taste behind, but it doesn't stay for long.

I can see this product being popular with kids. The TNCC range of jellies have a mild flavour that could work well for littlies, and they have the benefit of being free from artificial colours and flavours.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Cadbury Cherry Ripe Dark Cherry

These little beauties have been around for a few months now, although there has not been much media on them as I would have expected.

The Cherry Ripe is one of Cadbury's most popular chocolate bars, and it is fairly unique in the Australian confectionery market. An original Cherry Ripe consists of a moist cherry-flavoured coconut centre, spotted with glace cherries, and enrobed with Cadbury's Old Gold dark (45%) chocolate.

It's been around since 1924, when it was originally made by Australian company MacRobertson's, and was acquired by Cadbury in 1967. Officially it is Australia's oldest chocolate bar, and is one of the most popular bars in the country.

The new Dark Cherry version of Cherry Ripe is similar to the original only in some ways. Instead of the metallic firetruck red packaging of the original, it sports a warm maroon and gold-themed wrapper, and is easy to spot on the shelf. Unlike many brand variations, the Dark Cherry version is the same size as the original, weighing in at 52g. It also comes in a twin pack (king size) version, which weighs 80g.

What sets the Dark Cherry apart from its relative is not immediately clear. The package indicates the bar is made up of "ripe juicy dark cherries and coconut in Old Gold rich dark chocolate." I'm not entirely sure what dark cherries are in this context (the ingredients list refers to them as 'dark glace cherries', consisting of cherries, sugar, glucose syrup, fruit juice, natural colours (extracted from fruits and vegetables, acidity regular (330), flavour, preservative (220)) and they don't sound hugely different to the glace cherries found in the original Cherry Ripe.

The outer Old Gold chocolate is rich by Cadbury's standards, and has a nice warm scent to it. There's a little bit of al alcoholic note in there too, although the bar contains no liqueur. It reminds me a little of black forest cake. It's coated thickly over the coconut centre and has five neat straight lines on the top, along the length of the bar. For its size, the bar is quite solid and heavy.

Inside, the coconut mixture is darker than the original Cherry Ripe, and is slightly wine coloured. It matches well with the packaging. The chocolate scent mixes well and I get a little whiff of a dark red wine in there too.

Coconut is not my favourite thing in the world to eat (I hate the flakey texture), but the outer chocolate helps to keep it together in the mouth. The chocolate overpowers the cherry flavouring - a thinner coating might help here - but the studs of the glace cherries do help to bring the cherry flavour back into focus, if only momentarily. I can't taste any coconut flavour by itself, and that's where Cadbury have done an excellent job - the inner centre is well combined and the coconut carries the flavour well. The taste lingers for a few moments after the bite, although it is of mostly chocolate.

I can see this bar appealing to an older audience. It definitely strikes me as a winter treat, and I would not be surprised to see sales fall as we go into the warmer months.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Coming Soon!

This blog will be dedicated to reviews and photos of new releases in the Australian confectionery world. I was inspired by to review Australian confectionery, so soon you will see lots of unique Australian (and sometimes imported) stock featured here.