Monday, 27 August 2012

Lindt Excellence Strawberry Intense

Remember back in December when I reviewed the Lindt Excellence Passion Fruit Intense block? Well now Lindt have come out with another variety, Strawberry Intense. (There's also a coconut version, but I'm sorry coconut lovers, I won't be reviewing that one!)

Made with mildly dark chocolate (47% cocoa solids), Strawberry Intense combines 'strawberry pieces' with Lindt's 'fine dark chocolate'. The ingredients listing reveals that the strawberry pieces are in fact pieces of freeze-dried strawberry. Silly me, thinking Lindt would use sub-par ingredients!  Actual strawberry pieces are of course a good thing, and I can't wait to see what kind of flavour they impart on the chocolate.

As with all of the Lindt Excellence range, the block is long and thin, similar in size to the Cadbury 200g blocks, although half the thickness. Still, when I open the matte branded foil I can tell from the strong chocolate-dipped-strawberry scent that 100g will be plenty! It's a delicious and warm scent. If you find the scent of plain dark chocolate to be a little off-putting like me, you should find this block's aroma inviting and friendly.

On top, the block is branded with the Lindt name and distinctive lined pattern. The back shows a surprising number of bumps from the pieces of strawberry - although the block contains1% of strawberry pieces, the rippled reverse indicates that far more is included.

Snapping off a piece reveals the pink and white strawberry pieces, bright against the rich mahogany-coloured chocolate. It reminds me a lot of the cross-section of the strawberry Froots I reviewed earlier this year. The pieces themselves are small (the biggest is around 3mm wide) but if the scent is anything to go by, the flavour they impart should be rich and strong. It's interesting to note that all the pieces are at the base of the block - there are no bumps to mar the smooth and glossy logo side.

When bitten, the chocolate starts out as the main flavour, but soon gives me to a gentle flavouring from the strawberry pieces. Surprisingly, the berry flavour isn't as strong as I had guessed - instead of tasting like a chocolate-covered strawberry, the dark chocolate is still the dominant flavour, but the strawberry adds a light, playful dimension to the normally boring high cocoa content. It's a less-serious version of dark chocolate.

For those who don't lumps and pieces in their chocolate, you may come across the occasional seed, but the actual pieces themselves crumble easily into the chocolate so as to be barely detectable.

The block is made in France, and may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Nestle Aero Caramel

I honestly meant to review this bar months ago when it first came out, but every time I purchased it, it seemed to mysteriously disappear from my review basket...

The Aero product originated in the UK, where it has a strong following, but it is also available in many other countries, including Canada, Ireland, South Africa, Argentina, and mainland Europe. As far as I'm aware, this caramel-filled version is Australian-only at this time.

Typically, the Areo bar is wide (about 8cm) and long (12cm for a medium bar), with an average height of about 1.5cm. The outer chocolate shell is moulded into short rows (seven in a medium bar), which are easily broken for sharing. The Aero Caramel breaks somewhat with that traditional, instead opting for a more modern long but upright and narrow bar style.

It only has five moulded, domed bite-size pieces, each of which are a hair shy of 2cm tall, and 2.5cm wide. Despite the relatively small shape, the Aero Caramel manages to clock in at the same weight as a normal Aero medium bar - 40g. The entire bar itself is 12.5cm long.

The outer chocolate layer is emblazened with the Aero logo, complete with bubbles coming off the O. The scent actualyl reminds me a lot of the old Nestle Double Blend blocks (RIP). It's quite sweet, and there's a bit of a warm hot chocolate note there. It's friendly and very inviting. It doesn't smack of quality chocolate,  but this is Nestle we're talking about here. To be fair, it's a lot nicer than $2-shop compound chocolate. It is pretty rich and sweet on its own, though not teeth-searing as Cadbury.

Inside, the bubble layer runs along the bottom of the bar, and is immediately visible when a piece is snapped off. The bubbles are beautifully round and glossy, and they do look a little bit plastic-like (although not as much as the bubbles in the Peppermint version).

The caramel is stored under the domed top, and there's a thick layer of plain chocolate between it and the bubbles, which leaves a surprisingly small amount of the runny caramel. Despite its tiny size, however, the caramel has a huge impact on the taste of the bar. What was fairly rich and sweet just becomes obnoxious and very in-your-face. The caramel almost dominates the chew and demands your attention, barely letting the chocolate get a word in edgewise. By itself, the caramel is gooey and almost honey-like in its taste. There's no depth or notes of flavour though. It kind of reminds me of caramel topping for ice-cream - one-dimensional. There's a bit of sweetness, but surprisingly it's not too bad on its own. It's only in combination with the chocolate that it turns deadly. 

I don't love it, but it's a bar I would pick up if I needed a serious sugar hit.

The Aero Caramel bar is made in Australia, contains milk, wheat and soy, and is made on equipment that processes products containing opeanuts and tree nuts. (Interestingly, Wikipedia tells me that Nestle overseas produces Aero in nut-free enviornments. Australia is the special child, apparently.)

Oh, and this bar will soon be available in block format.

Gossip: Milky Way Berries and Cream

Due out in the next couple of months, Mars will be introducing their next seasonal release of the Milky Way bar - this flavour is Berries and Cream.

It will be available as a single 25g bar, and in multipacks.

(Sorry about the rotated pic - apparently Blogger doesn't like my phone!)

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Gossip: Nestle Milky Bar Big Rounds

Next month, Nestle Australia will be launching an exciting new variation of the beloved Milky Bar Cookies & Cream bar. The white chocolate bar will be released in a round 'cookie' shape, with lots of cookie pieces for that great crunch. Each pack will feature one round, a little bit smaller than an Arnott's single Wagon Wheel, and while the marketing will be aimed at kids, I do think this sounds like a great product for adults who are young at heart.

I can't wait to review this one - I love the Cookies and Cream Milky Bar!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Starburst Limited Edition Mixed Berries

Starburst is a US brand, owned by Mars Incorporated. The range is distributed in Australia by The Wrigley Company, which is owned by Mars Snackfoods.

'Limited edition' seems to be the trendy term this year, and Starburst has also jumped on the band wagon. I'm not sure of their frequency, though I would bet it's about the same as the six month-ish on-sale period that Mars uses for their seasonal M&M products. Last season Starburst had a 'summer' flavoured bag (and prior to that was the Smoothie release), while this season's bag is of mixed berries. Rather well-suited to winter, I must say!

The bag itself weighs 170g, which is 10g lighter than the other regular Starburst bags. The package is emblazoned with bold 'Limited Edition', just so you know that, you know, it won't be around forever. The mixed berries are described as having 'full on ... fruit flavours', and the package shows a huge graphical representation of the three berries featured: strawberries, blueberries and raspberries.

When I briefly opened the package for photos, I missed that there are actually four berries in the pack; blackberry is also included, as per the lengthy description on the back. I'll go back and update the photos, but for now you'll just have to imagine that camera-shy blackberry is hiding off-frame.

As soon as the bag is opened, you're hit in the face with a bold, somewhat generic berry smell. It's extremely sweet and one-dimensional, more like jam than herbal tea. Unfortunately, even when separated, the berries all small the same; that doesn't bode well for the tasting.

Blueberry is the smallest berry in the package, and is represented by a deep violet jelly with a flat base, complete with a small rim to impersonate the fruit's crown of leaves. It is just shy of 1.5cm tall at the highest point. and the base is 1.9cm wide. It's a tiny little bite, made to be paired with others. Despite the strongly-sweet scent, blueberry is surprising in its richness of flavour, although it's a far cry from the real fruit. It is mildly jammy, and would combine well with other flavours. This was

Strawberry is large (almost 3.5cm long by 2.5cm wide by 1.5cm high), and there were only a few of these in my bag. The moulding is very cute, with little marks to indicate the seeded skin, and nice detailing on the leafed top. As soon as I've bitten into it I can tell it's an artificial flavouring;  it's a fairly cheap flavour that reminds me of strong but watered-down herbal tea. It's a nice bright flavour, but uninteresting.

Raspberry comes in the generic uninspired 'berry' mould that many confectionery manufacturers use. These dominated my bag, along with the blueberries, probably because they are similar in size. Raspberry itself has a mild tang that allows you to tell the difference between it in and strawberry, but there is no real flavour present. It's boring and extremely generic. I wouldn't be able to tell this apart from any other 'raspberry' lollies produced by any other manufacturer, except for the soft gummy texture that Starburst has down pat.

Lastly is camera-shy blackberry. It has similar dimensions to the strawberry gummy, and its mould looks similar to a bunch of grapes at first glance. The colour is lovely, like a redder version of blueberry's violet tinge. Unfortunately that's where the appeal ends. Like strawberry, there's a nice 'dark berry' sweet flavour, but I didn't get any notes that resembled a blackberry at all. This flavour could resemble a loganberry or even a blackcurrant if you weren't aware of what it was supposed to be.

I was somewhat disappointed with this release. They are very nice if you like the sweet, bold Starburst flavours, but if you're looking for true-to-life taste, keep looking.

A serving size is 25g (approximately five pieces), the product is glucose-based, and contains wheat.