Monday, 29 October 2012

Lindt Extra Creamy Milk Milk Chocolate and Cookie Crunch

Lindt & Sprungli is one of those brands that is synonymous with quality. The brand is available worldwide and is just as widely known for their quality Swiss-made chocolate products.

Recently Lindt launched a campaign with their new 'Creamy Milk' range of 100g milk chocolate blocks. The campaign even included giving away free blocks through their Facebook page. I wasn't lucky enough to win one of the blocks, but that's how I found out about their new product.

The range comes in three flavours: Milk, Cookie Crunch, and Hazelnut. I have the first two flavours for review.

Since its launch, these blocks can often be found on special for about $1.99 (half price) at the two major Australian supermarkets, Coles and Woolworths. The packaging is surprisingly cheap for a Lindt product, just foil and a paper outer layer, but it still manages to look rather dignified with a raised gold logo and a brilliant royal blue background. The Cookie Crunch features a wide yellow swatch across the bottom to help distinguish it from the Milk Chocolate version.

The blocks are broken into small rectangles rather than squares, and each has the brand name impressed into the top.The block is slightly wider than Cadbury's 100g blocks, at a hair under 7.5cm wide and 16cm long, and 5mm thick. At first glance, there seems to be little difference between the Milk Chocolate and the Cookie Crunch, although on closer inspection the cookie version is a touch lighter in colouring. And of course there is the addition of cookie pieces: from the top they are mere specks below the surface, but flip the block over  and the texture fro the tiny pieces is wonderful. The back shows the pieces are well distributed, and just about all are covered by chocolate. The reverse of the Milk Chocolate block is smooth and mostly unmarred, although not glossy like the Cookie Crunch.

There's a definitely a strong milky note to the scent of both blocks - it reminds me of the Lindt Easter Bunnies. :) It's strong and creamy, and without much of a cocoa scent to interrupt the sweetness.

The first block, the Creamy Milk, has a firm snap to it, indicating freshness. In the mouth it melts quickly and evenly, spreading the sweetness all around. It is perfectly tempered and smooth, but quite sweet.

Cookie Crunch had quite a different flavour to it. The malty cookie pieces stole the show from the first taste, standing right in front and dominating the chocolate flavours. The tiny pieces are evenly dispersed throughout the chocolate, adding great texture to the chew but also imparting a strong malt favour. I honestly could barely taste the chocolate beyond a passing background taste. It was like eating a chocolate-dipped biscuit - the biscuit is the star of the show and the chocolate is the chorus. I wasn't disappointed, but I was baffled at the amount of biscuit. Dropping the amount would allow the chocolate's taste time in the limelight.

Both blocks contain a minimum of 30% cocoa solids and 20% of milk solids. Both may contain traces of almonds and hazelnuts.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Gossip: Mars Minstrels

I know some of my readers love the bags of Minstrels chocolates that Mars imported earlier in the year.  I have some sad news for you guys.

The Minstrels were brought into Australia by Wolworths and Coles on what is called a 'job lot'. Basically it means a seller (in this case, Woolies and Coles) requested a product to be imported. The sad news about this is that the stock is limited and won't stay around forever. Once it's sold out, it is gone.

I've seen Minstrels on clearance for $1.99 at Woolworths a couple of weeks ago (stock was still good through 2013). If you're a fan of these, I suggest snapping them up now before they run out!

Natural Confectionery Company Strawberries & Cream Bliss

One of the two new products The Natural Confectionery Company has put out this season is a new flavour in their soft-centre Bliss range. Previous releases include Tropical (now discontinued), the holiday release Merry Blissmas, and the currently-available sour Tangy Bliss and Berry Bliss. The newest flavour is Strawberries and Cream.

Obviously a play on the traditional strawberry and cream jelly lolly, the Strawberries & Cream Bliss lolly features a 'creamy vanilla base', on which is a 'soft fruity centre' housed inside a red jelly shell. Unlike the Berry Bliss release, this version uses the same mould for the jelly shell. I'm not entirely sure what it is supposed to represent, as it looks like a child's drawing of a fingerprint and only covers one side of the lolly. The jelly itself is 2cm tall, and about 1.8cm wide at the base. The creamy base itself is thick, around 4-5mm in height. It's a cute size, enough by itself but you could choose to have several at once if wanted.

The Natural Confectionery Co. does not use artificial colours or flavours, so it was no surprise to find the scent not overwhelming. Although not immediately recognisable as strawberry or even generic berry, the gentle and sweet scent is pleasing.

I hope I'm not alone when I admit that the best thing to do with soft-centre lollies is to squeeze them and make the innards ooze out. With the creamy base to act as a solid plug, the textured top of the jelly gave out first, letting the crystal-like centre ooze out the top like a shiny little gem. By itself, the centre is similar in colour to the outer shell - a dark rose pink - but is full of tiny air bubbles that give it a somewhat crystal appearance. It's actually rather pretty. Still, with a whole bag of these on my desk I sucked it up and finished it for the review.

Alone, the centre is firm but a little slippery, and lightly flavoured, like cordial made to the perfect strength. The centre is nice and slightly floral, but although there is a tiny kick to it, there's nothing of the tang of a real strawberry. When the jelly is eaten as a whole, I got a muted version of the centre's flavour. The creamy base plays a nice background note to offset the mild berry notes, but by itself is nondescript. The jelly as a whole is certainly a nice, and more realistic, play on the all-artificial traditional strawberries and cream lolly. It's less sweet and definitely moreish. Just don't expect an in-your-face strawberry taste.

Strawberries and Cream Bliss are a glucose product, and they contain wheat. A serving size is 25g (approximately four pieces).

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Cadbury Little Wishes

Cadbury has teamed up for the first time with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a charity that grants wishes to children with serious and life-threatening illnesses. The range is to coincide with Christmas, and includes advent calendars, stockings and gift boxes, as well as the Little Wishes chocolate star.

I'm always happy to see brands team up with good charities, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation is an especially good one. A small amount of sales from each of the MAW-branded products will go to the Foundation; five cents from the sale of the Little Wishes star will be donated. I paid about $1.12 for this at Big W a few weeks ago.

Despite the name being plural, the Little Wishes product is one big 31g milk chocolate star. It feels a lot heavier than it actually weighs, but it is quite big, measuring 6.5cm across the widest point, and about 2cm thick. That said, to an adult it's probably only three or four bites. Although it looks like it would be the classic Dairy Milk milk chocolate, a review of the ingredients list shows that the milk chocolate used here is only 20% cocoa solids (Dairy Milk is 26%). Its scent is fairly mild, a little like milky hot chocolate.

The star is double-sided. On one side it has the Cadbury logo, while the other carries a message. According to the Cadbury site (linked above), some of the messages are:"A Special Wish Will Come True Because of You" and "Make a Wish for Someone Special". Mine says, "Believe in a world where wishes come true" which I think is sweet and whimsical.

Inside, the star is a combination of aerated chocolate (think Aero or Bubbly) and truffle. I didn't realise there was also a truffle centre when I cut the star open for pictures, so I was disappointed to find one half was dense (with big voids around the edges) while the other contained aerated chocolate. Yay for keeping wrappers!

The chocolate itself is unfortunately pretty average. It tastes cheap and boring, like discount chocolate from a substandard brand. It doesn't quite reach the depths of mockolate but it's disappointingly close. If the wrapper didn't say Cadbury, I would not have picked it at all. I was very glad this was only a small bar that I finished while reviewing it as I don't think I could have finished anything larger.

Save your money and make a direct donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation if you were buying this for the charity aspect.

The Cadbury Little Wishes star contains milk and soy, and may contain traces of tree nuts. Interestingly, this bar has been made in the United Kingdom. Do I have any UK readers who can confirm the cocoa solid percentage of your Dairy Milk? If this is what you guys have then I feel sorry for you.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Power Poppers Fairy Floss Popping Candy

Fairy floss (cotton candy in North America, and candy floss elsewhere) in and of itself is a pretty simple confectionery. Colourings and flavours are added to spun sugar, resulting in a large, air-filled fluffball on a stick. It's also very light, with servings on a stick often weighing 30g or less. It's a product that is best fresh, but recently mass-produced fairy floss has become available. Here in Australia, we rarely see flavours outside strawberry, although you can occasionally find other flavours here and there.

AIT (Australian International Traders), a distributor, have recently introduced a fairy floss product made in China to the Australian lolly market under the name 'Power Poppers'. Two varieties are available: Fairy Floss Bubblegum' and 'Fairy Floss Popping Candy'. I'll be reviewing the Bubblegum version later this week.

Mass-manufactured fairy floss just doesn't compare to the fresh stuff, in my opinion. When stuffed into packaging, it loses a lot of its volume (which is where a lot of the appeal is for me), and if not carefully packaged, can harden and turn a bit icky. I've also never seen fairy floss (fresh or otherwise) with a product added to it. Wikipedia doesn't mention this either, so this might just be a whole new ball game.

Inside the foil packaging, we have a small, firmish handful of bright pink, strongly-scented fairy floss. The scent is truly ridiculous - I can smell it from outside the package. It's definitely strawberry, and will clear your sinuses if you're not careful! It's a brighter shade of pink than in the picture, similar to the pink on the wrapper.  It's a small amount of fairy floss, about the size of a child's clenched fist.

At first I was disappointed with the amount of popping candy that I found in the bottom of the package. There was barely a teaspoonful worth, just kicking around at the bottom. It wasn't until I gently tore apart the bundle of fairy floss for photos that I discovered a small void inside, that held more popping candy. The popping candy is in honking big pieces too, as you can see in the photo.

The strawberry flavour is quite evident, in both the floss and the popping candy. It's sweet but pleasant, a bit like the cheap hard lollies you can find in the $2 shop. There's no tang or kick to it, but then again the package isn't exactly making any claims as to the quality of their flavouring.

On finishing the fairy floss, I still had a large amount of popping candy at the bottom, so it was fun to tip all of that into my mouth at once. Good popping!

Monday, 15 October 2012

Nestle Kit Kat Limited Edition White

In one of the more curious limited edition releases this year, Nestle has released a White variety of their classic Kit Kat bar. Interestingly, the LE flavour seems to be only available in king size.

The first thing I noticed is that the description on the side of the package describes the bar as "Crisp Wafer Fingers Covered With Smooth White Choc" [horrendous overuse of capital letters courtesy of Nestle]. The red flag is the word 'choc', which indicates that the outer layer on the bar is not real chocolate but instead some delicious mockolate. Awesome. Just to confirm my thoughts, on the ingredients list, cocoa (not even cocoa butter, just 'cocoa') is way down in seventh place, behind delicacies such as vegetable fat and yeast. Cocoa butter is ninth out of fourteen total ingredients. Oh, and 70% of this bar is this delicious 'white confectionery'.

To give Nestle credit, the bar's outer layer does smell a little like white chocolate. There's that buttery, creamy tang that reminds me of Cadbury's Dream white chocolate (in which cocoa butter is the third ingredient) but there's a note of something there that I can't identify. It's a little bit chemical in nature. The colour is spot-on, although the shape of the finger and its sharp edges, combined with the bars faint gloss coating, all makes me feel like it resembles a Lego brick.

The finger has a solid snap to it, indicating freshness (probably due to the foil packaging Nestle introduced a few years ago). If there's supposed to be identifiable white confection between the wafer layers, I can't see it. It's the same colour as the wafers so even if I wanted to try and dig a bit out for a tasting, I couldn't.

As a whole bite, the bar isn't terrible. There is a fair bit of sweetness, but it's not throat-searing like some poorly manufactured white chocolates can be. It is a little bit bland and uninteresting though. The almost-savoury wafer does  a good job of balancing things out, and adding a great crunch texture to the chew. Unsurprisingly, the white confection doesn't melt or become a delicious creamy mess in your mouth. It just hangs around until you've finished, like an unwanted visitor.

The Nestle Kity Kat Limited Edition White bar contains milk, wheat and soy, and is mad eon equipment that processes products containing peanuts and tree nuts.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Gossip: Mentos Mystery and Strawberry, and $25k Promotion

The current Mentos release, Mystery, is now in limited-edition status, with all replenishment stocks sold out. My Stuart Alexander rep has also revealed the flavour of the Mystery roll (not the gum): it's not lemonade as many of us thought, but grapefruit! Geniuses amongst us might have had the bright idea to check out the ingredients list, where grapefruit is listed third. Oh well!

I've also heard that the next Mentos flavour to be released is Strawberry. Strawberry is one of the flavours available in the Rainbow and Fruit rolls, so if you've ever wanted a roll of just strawberry, then your wish has come true! The roll is set to be released early next year.

The last of my gossip on the Mentos products is linked to the $25,000 prize promotion Stuart Alexander is currently running. The promoter is aware that some stores still have stock on hand from last year, which is branded with last year's $25k promotion. If you have purchased a promotional Mentos roll and have found you've picked up older stock (last year's promotional stock has a best before date of 2013), you can still use the roll to enter this year's competition. Just visit the promo website, or call the number on the roll and attempt to enter, and you will automatically be sent a roll branded with this year's promotion, which you can then use to enter the competition. So pretty much a free roll of Mentos - sweet! Let me know if you attempt this - I've love to know how you go.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Ring Pop Spinners

Everyone remember Ring Pops? The gigantic lollypop on an uncomfortable plastic ring? Yep, they've reinvented the wheel and pushed out a new version - Ring Pop Spinners.

Available in four flavours, the Ring Pop Spinner is your average Ring Pop, with the addition of a patterned cardboard circle that slips onto the plastic base, and you can then use the base as a spinning top. There are nine cardboard patterns to collect, as illustrated on the back of the packet. The four flavours available are blackcurrant, orange, cola and strawberry. I picked up the orange for review.

Ring Pops are still as huge as I remember. The actual gem lollypop part measures a bit over 2.5cm tall, and is the same at the widest point (the base, by comparison, is just 1.5cm). It's a pretty decent-sized mouthful, whether you're a kid or an adult. I can't tell from photos online if the base has been modified to allow it to spin or not.

The lollypop is quite transparent but not quite clear, adding to its gem-like appearance, with a few tiny bubbles scattered throughout. There are no voids or large bubbles, which should mean it will be a smooth melt. The edges of the mould are already slightly smoothed-off, helping to avoid those nasty mouth cuts I'm sure many of us remember from childhood.  Disappointingly, there's no scent, and the flavour is mild, like watered-down cordial. There's no zing or kick, although that's to be expected when the only flavouring is from sugar and ambiguous 'flavouring'.

I finished it quickly in about 20 minutes. For what it's worth, the spinning was interesting (my pattern was half black, and the other half had four sections of  lines in a jagged fashion) but not a motivating factor in purchasing this again. I played with it for thirty seconds and then binned it.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Cadbury Mousse Raspberry Chocolate

Last year Cadbury released their 'Mousse' blocks in three flavours: Caramel, Hazelnut and Chocolate. For something a bit different, the pieces were large triangles, each one roughly the width of the block. The interior was filled with fluffy chocolate mousse (flavoured as needed). Although they were delicious, they were very sweet, a factor not helped by the large pieces.

To coincide with the two new flavours released recently (Raspberry Chocolate and Double Chocolate), Cadbury has changed the shape to 'pillow-shaped bites', large rectangles that are roughly the size of two square puffs (the shape that contains flavours like Caramello or Turkish Delight) smushed together. The result is not a block contains 12 pieces (compared to about eight pieces in the prior format). The top of each bite is emblazened with the curly C of the Cadbury logo (rather than the entire word).

There's also slightly new packaging. Instead of being a top-opening box, the new Mousse blocks now open like an envelope on the long side, and it allows more elegantly tuck away the flap between samples. Even the foil has changed, moving to a floral design on the matte outer.

As with all Dairy Milk products, the chocolate is a warm milky brown, glossy and pristine. I have the Raspberry Chocolate version here for review, and the raspberry scent is very strong on these.Even before I tore open the pretty (but feminine) foil I could smell it. I bet this is the type of product to give your storage spot a new scent if you're not careful. At least it's an attractive scent - like a more flavourful berry jelly with hints of cocoa.

The layer of raspberry coulis (thick sauce) is quick thick. I don't know if you can see it well in the photos but there isn't a whole lot of mousse going on here. I'm not all that disappointed though. The coulis is fantastic. By itself, it tastes sweet but tart like a real raspberry (and - woohoo!) it does contain real raspberry puree) and is delightfully refreshing. It's smooth and melts well. The mousse, when I could get to it, is firm, but not as stiff as a truffle, and tastes like a mild, softer version of Dairy Milk.

Add the typically-sweet Dairy Milk chocolate outer layer, and ooh baby we're onto a winner. What looks like a lot of coulis is actually a perfect amount to offset the sweetness of the chocolate. It's still a very sweet bite and you probably won't want more than a few pieces at a time, but the tart raspberry is a perfect accompaniment.

If I gave stars on this blog you can get that this would be a five-star review.

(I just want to note that while Cadbury generally do a good job of sealing the pieces so that the filling doesn't escape, I did have a couple of instances where the coulis tried to make a run for it. I would recommend wrapping this in a ziplock bag or something else airtight if you have a problem with ants.)

Now, can someone get the coulis recipe from Cadbury so we can add some booze to it? This would be incredible over vanilla bean ice cream.


A serving size is 25g, or two pieces. The Cadbury Mousse Raspberry Chocolate contains milk and milk solids, wheat, soy, glucose syrup and hazelnut. It may contain traces of peanuts, other tree nuts, egg and wheat.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Chupa Chups Caramel

I was excited when I heard at the Accredited Trade Show back in July about a new Chupa Chup flavour to be launched in the Australian market. From what I can find online, I don't think this is a flavour new to the world, as I can find references to it in the UK, and ltos of caramel-flavoured Chupa Chup lipgloss (?), but it is new to our little island market.

As one would expect, it's a 'milky' Chupa Chup (opaque) and skim milk powder is included in the ingredients list. It's been ages since I last had a Chupa Chup (plus I don't particularly enjoy the milk ones anyway), but I was surprised to find 'with milk' written on the wrapper beneath the 'caramel flavour' tag. The wrapper itself is an orangey-colour with pale green-yellow lines, and includes little pictures of caramel being poured as the graphical representation of flavour. The colour reminds me a lot of orange Chupa Chups (RIP *sniff*).

The lollypop itself is a muted dark tan or medium brown colour, complete with moulding markings. Happily, it smells delightful: warm, gentle notes of what smells like caramel topping. It's sweetish but not overpowering like you might find in a fudge. On tasting, the sweetness comes to the forefront, sharpening the previously mellow brown sugar flavours. It's a lot like a strong caramel milkshake, especially with the bright-but-not-overpowering sugar flavours. The melt is smooth and there is very little grain texture, plus I was lucky enough to not have any air bubbles. (Yay for no mouth cuts.)

I usually give up on lollypops after a while and crunch them, but I took this one all the way through. If I'm looking in the future for a long-lasting caramel flavour hit, this will be the one I choose.