Saturday, 3 December 2016

Snackmas Day 3- M&S Christmas Dusted Pearls: Mocha, Orange and Strawberry

Who's got their tree up? Too early? Well, maybe these M&S Dusted Pearls might just act as some inspiration.. They are glittery gold, silver and bronze after all!

Weighing in at 110g each and costing a rather pricey £3.50 a pop, the Malteaser sized, Mocha, Orange and Strawberry balls are made with Swiss chocolate and are all suitable for Vegetarians - Can't forget about Veggies at this time of year! Much to my disappointment, the Pearls don't actually come across as sparkly on camera as in person.. But fair warning, you and everything you own will end up glistening upon opening the plastic packaging! 


Lustred milk chocolate with coffee filling - 33% Cocoa Solids. 


Lustred milk chocolate with an orange flavoured filling - 33% Cocoa Solids. 


Lustred milk chocolate with a strawberry filling - 33% Cocoa Solids. 

L-R Mocha, Orange, Strawberry. 


Smelling strongly of freshly ground espresso, the ball immediately packed an authentic coffee flavour which was just the right strength and went wonderfully with the cocoa rich tones from the creamy and smooth chocolate. Texture wise, the melt was superb and not all to dissimilar to a butter-like, Lindt Lindor with the edible glitter exterior not adding anything gritty. One for the coffee addicts - A 4 out of 5 from me. 


Next up, the classic christmas flavour that is Chocolate Orange! The signature aroma was instantly recognisable and most inviting. Thankfully, it was just as decent in taste with the orange coming through plenty without being overpowering and as expected, pairing up with the melt in the mouth, Swiss Chocolate a treat. Would a dark chocolate have been better however? Perhaps. Another 4 out of 5. 


Lastly and sporting the bronze (Or as the cool kids would say, rose gold) dusting was of course the Strawberry. As seen with both other varieties, the melt and quality of chocolate was one again second to none with a ridiculously silky feel. A real tangy strawberry kick was provided which wasn't all that sugary sweet and generally very more-ish! Where is the white chocolate, I hear you ask? Good question. It's a final 4 out of 5 from me! 

Overall, these Dusted Pearls are most tasty indeed and would make a great addition to your Christmas party table or just in bowls for your family and friends to grab at over the holidays - They are certainly very striking and with flavours to please everyone.. There's nothing not to love! Yes, it is a shame that M&S didn't consider pairing the flavours with different types of chocolate to switch things up a bit but no matter.. Only a real Scrooge is going to moan about having too much of the decent Swiss stuff! 

Friday, 2 December 2016

Snackmas Day 2- McDonald's UK Festive Selection

They say the best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear. Usually I would concur.. But other sorts of spreads work too. Festive Fast Food ones from McDonald's for example - It's time, as promised, for The FFF! 

And what a selection the chain has put out for Christmas 2016 - There's the NEW Festive Cheese Feast Burger and Cheese Melt Dippers on the savoury side and a Terry's Chocolate Orange McFlurry and Chocolatey Banoffee Pie for those who want something a bit sweeter. Naturally, I wanted it all so got it all. 

Festive Cheese Feast

A 100% British and Irish beef burger with cheese, Beechwood smoked bacon, a cheese sauce, seasoned grilled onions, tomato ketchup and lettuce, all in a toasted bun. 

The McDonald's elves must have been in good spirits the day I purchased my burger for £4.49 as it looked like it had been put together with love.. And by someone who really likes lettuce - I've never seen so much of the green stuff on one thing, ever. 

I am not sure this picture really reflects the reality of the size of the Burger but believe you, me, it was massive! Starting with the bun itself, it was wonderful - Soft, fresh and plenty robust enough for the plethora of fillings. Munching my way through, the first flavour to come across was beef from the ridiculously moist and juicy patty. As expected, this went well with the double hit of creamy cheese which was relatively mellow and not likely to offend anyone. The onions were cooked to perfection and of just the right quantity with an injection of smokiness as well as a bit of a salty edge from the porky bacon rashers. Finishing things off nicely was a squirt of ketchup which I didn't think added much taste wise but did enhance the squidgy factor even further, and of course, an entire lettuce making for a fresh crunch. A 4.5 out of 5 from me! 

Cheese Melt Dippers

Four breaded cheese dippers, made with camembert and served with a Festive Tomato dip. 

Moving onto the modestly priced, £1.59 Dippers which felt mighty toasty in the bag! Cooked to a golden perfect, the decently sized circles were crisp and crunchy on the outside with a contrasting, satisfyingly soft interior of just set Camembert - Nothing runny or sloppy here! Similarly to above, the potency of cheese wasn't too strong but instead creamy and went well with the Tomato dip.. Even if it was a tad on the sweet and borderline, artificial side. It's a 4 out of 5! 

Terry's Chocolate Orange McFlurry

Soft dairy ice cream swirled with Terry's Chocolate Orange pieces and chocolate orange sauce. 

So I can't say this one looked anything like the promo picture.. Granted, I did have to get it home but even when it was passed through the drive-thru window, it didn't look much more attractive. It's a good job that it's all in the taste as this one was a beaut! An abundance of chocolate orange pieces were distributed throughout the signature soft and sweet McDonald's ice cream which combined with the splodge of runny sauce, made for a chocolate orange lovers dream! My only real qualm was that the difference in quality between the aforementioned and Terry's nibs was only to apparent.. But overall, didn't ruin things - Another 4 out of 5 from me and £1.39 well spent! 

Chocolatey Banoffee Pie

A hot crispy pie filled with a thick Banoffee and Chocolatey sauce.  

Last up and the one I expect many Folk are excited for.. The Chocolatey Banoffee Pie, priced at £1.19. I like to think I saved this little fella from a sad Christmas fate - It was due to be disposed of at 12.33pm and I gave it a home in my belly at 12.15pm! For something so close to the mark, I have to say it was pretty darn good! The pie was hot, plenty crisp with the usual almost, greasy fritter feel. A generous strip of both Banoffee filling and ooey-gooey chocolate ran up the inside, packing a bit of a flavour sensation - Nothing but sweet banana paired with not exactly the highest quality but plausible cocoa tones. Almost Banoffee as I tasted no actual toffee but still yummy - A final 4 out of 5. 

Well, well, well, McDonald's you merry old bunch of mistletoe - This little lot is a complete winner and there is absolutely nothing here to let down anyone looking for a festive fix. I highly recommend you get yourself down to your local chain, order everything and embrace your rotund, Christmas pudding, post Fast Food state.. I won't be far behind! 

Spicy Chicken Winter Melt

Aaaaaand then MSW and the Spicy Chicken Winter Melt happened - A return from last year but a new one for us.

Succulent chicken breast fillet in a crispy coating with an Emmental cheese slice, fire roasted pepper sauce, slivered onions, a cool mayo and lettuce. 

Good god. Seriously, who is manning the lettuce station at my McDonald's and why the heck are they so heavy handed? I realise the likes of these Burgers aren't exactly healthy but I hardly think forcing that amount of leaf upon us is going to counteract the "bad".. Someone have a word. 

MSW did well in not losing the whole lot when taking a big bite - As you can see, it was really quite loaded! The bun was up to par with that of the Festive Cheese Feast in being just as bouncy, fresh and containing a generously sized piece of chicken. As succulent as suggested with a satisfying crisp coating, the fillet was second to none and tasted delicious with the warmth from the pepper sauce and abundance of raw onion. The cheese once again added some creamy and mellow tones with the squirt of mayo cooling things even further. Seasonally spicy - A 4 out of 5! 

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Snackmas Day 1- Chiostro Di Saronno Tiramisu Panettone

On the first day of Snackmas, John Lewis gave to me.. A severe case of deja vu-ey? Yes, Chiostro Di Saronno is back and back with a bang at that! We've moved on from the wonder and awe of the Al Cioccolato of last year to bigger and better things.. It's 2 of my favourites combined - It's Tiramisu Panettone! 

I was like a child on Christmas morning upon stepping foot in my local John Lewis at home store and  making a beeline for the Italian Cakes display - My little beady eyes can spot Panettone from a mile off at the best of times but put coffee into the mix and I charge! Rather disappointingly however, the ornate tin of last year has been done away with, in exchange for a rather lack lustre, albeit festively illustrated, cardboard box which I can't help but feel is a bit of a disservice and takes away that "luxury" feel.. Not to mention the fact that the change in aesthetics didn't reflect in the price! - The 750g Italian Cake was still a relatively costly £15! 

A twist on the classic Panettone, it is filled with a smooth Tiramisu cream and chocolate chips. 

The Panettone cut perfectly with a knife, slicing through as easy as anything to reveal an interior which was surprisingly nothing like the golden yellow dough seen previously. Thankfully, this didn't affect the texture and it delivered the same bouncy, fluffy and all round delightful quality that just can't be beaten. Nothing was hindered taste wise either with a pure, rich buttery flavour combined with sweet hits from the abundance of cocoa morsels. This was complimented by the pockets of silky yet sticky, smooth cream running throughout which provided an almost boozy, European feel that I would say to be more similar to ice cream than actual coffee.. Not that it mattered in the slightest - Amazing. 

Chiostro Di Saronno have done it again. This Tiramisu Panettone is almost faultless.. And that's when it doesn't even really taste that much of it's namesake! Perhaps I am bias given my sheer, undevoted love of the stuff but if you were to have it with a cup of coffee anyways.. Who cares? I certainly don't. It's a cracking start to Snackmas and a 4.5 out of 5 from me!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The 24 Days of Snackmas

Happy Holidays, Snack Army!

I don't want to alarm anybody but tomorrow is the 1st of December.. Already. Everyone take a deep breath and relish in the peace and quiet whilst you still can.. Who am I trying to kid, of course I want to put the frighteners up you! Get a grip, get excited - It's Christmas, you bunch of Cotton-Headed Ninny-Muggins! 

With the annual festivities well under way at my end thanks to being a self professed, enthusiastic elf of all things Yuletide, naturally I am soaking up this time of year. From baking up a dried fruit storm to trips to every garden centre in the country, reaping in the decorative delights to bursting into merry melodies at any opportune moment, it is safe to say I am a sucker for this time of year and as MSW would say.. When a lot of us come alive and really do shine. 

This can mean only one thing.. Yes, Snackmas is back! A festive food review will be coming at you every day for the next 24, until the arrival of the Big Man is imminent. We've got Puddings, we've got Popcorn, Chocolate, Crisps, Coffee, Curd, more Cheese than you can choke on and what I'm branding, "The FFF".. Festive Fast Food! There will be no need to get your tinsel in a twist with the obligatory all time favourites of Sammies, Panettone and Stollen chucked in a long the way for good measure and combined with classic Christmas flavours.. I am hoping there's something to please everyone!

So are we all ready to Rudolph? Are you now excited? You best be. Don't make me come over there because I will. Santa doesn't just see you when you're sleeping or know when you're awake.. He knows if you've been bad or good so get into Snackmas for goodness sake! See you tomorrow, Folks! 

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Review- PG tips NEW Caramel & Vanilla Black Tea Capsules

As a big drinker of both tea and coffee, I am always on the look out for different hot beverages to try. Thankfully, there are a lot more options nowadays and today's review is something I've been on the look out for a good while - NEW Black Tea Capsules from PG tips to go into ones Nespresso machine! 

Located and purchased in Waitrose, the box of 10 capsules cost £2 and are made with real black tea leaves combined with the creamy notes of caramel and vanilla. 

As instructed, I removed the top lid of the capsule to reveal the filter paper beneath and whacked the capsule in my Nespresso ready to add about 200ml of water. 

The tea dispensed perfectly and somewhat bizarrely, smelt uncanny to the caramel sauce that Costa use - Not something to ever complain about! Very drinkable even without milk, the tea was plenty strong and provided a good flavour with the promised creamy vanilla and caramel tones really shining and providing lots of sweetness. The caramel aspect certainly lingered for a delicious aftertaste and I quickly found myself making another cup! Lovely! 

Overall, this Caramel & Vanilla Black Tea from PG tips is really quite delightful. The capsules work perfectly in a Nespresso machine, not to mention, being a far quicker way to get your caffeine fix than having to wait for the kettle to boil.. To then have to wait for a teabag to brew.. To then find such a nice flavour has been far from achieved! It's a solid 4 out of 5 from me. 

Friday, 25 November 2016

Review- M&S NEW Chicken & Butternut Bake

Things seem to come and go in M&S as quick as anything nowadays. I do like how they pump out NEW products but it can be quite frustrating to see a favourite being taken off the shelf when it has only been there itself for a few months! Today's Chicken & Butternut Bake however, is one thing I was only to happy to embrace with open arms for a quick, easy and healthy dinner! 

Part of the Mix & Match, 3 for £10 deal across selected prepared meals, the 370g Bake cost £3.50 (Give or take!) individually and is freezer friendly - Perfect for stocking up and enjoying at those busy times. 

As instructed, I preheated my oven to 180ºC Fan and whacked the foil tin, with the sleeve removed, onto a baking tray and cooked for 25 minutes until bubbly and deliciously smelling of garlic/casserole.  

Not to disappointingly, the kale caught in the oven so I removed it before getting stuck in.. Although  I have to say, it still tasted of seaweed whether it was burnt or not! An abundance of slightly herby, soft on the inside, crispy on the outside, potato cubes were the main flavour with a decent amount of succulent chicken chunks distributed throughout. The sauce provided a bit of moisture but by no means made things sloppy and tasted a bit like a vegetable "gravy". As for the butternut and the mushroom.. Both were few and far between with 2 lonesome slices of the latter and a little over half a dozen pieces of the squash. 

All in all, this NEW Chicken & Butternut Bake is delicious.. And definitely a dinner for the potato fans amongst us! There really is a mound of the white stuff which personally, I don't mind but I can see how some may be despondent over the lack of squash in the name. I'll certainly be having another! - It's a 4 out of 5 from me. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Review- The Co-op Irresistible Gingerbread Latte Cake

Gingerbread. Latte. Cake. Hell to the yeah? Lets do this! 

I stumbled across this rather autumnal, Veggie friendly sponge when nipping into The Co-op with the intention of buying milk and nothing else - It isn't often that I can go into a shop and not saunter up the bakery aisle so why I expected any less, I do not know. I made my purchase as part of a 3 for 2 deal, although I think their cakes are priced at £2 (Ish) each usually. 

Coffee cake, filled with ginger frosting, topped with a creamy frosting and decorated with a chocolate mocha sauce and ginger crumb. 

Rather annoyingly, The Co-op don't provide any sort of base for their cakes to sit on, not even a pathetic paper liner.. So I just plonked the entire thing on table as is and hoped for the best - Can't be doing with making a plate dirty, unnecessarily! 

The sponge cut very neatly for something that was super squidgy and moist with not a single crumb out of place or the chance of the whole thing falling to pieces. Coffee was immediately recognisable although relatively mild and not likely to offend anyone. The warmth of ginger came through which complimented the aforementioned perfectly with just the right balance of sweet yet creamy and a decent ratio of frosting to cake. A crunch came from the sprinkling of biscuit crumbs to break up all the soft textures whilst adding another spicy element.. But only to be pleasantly mellowed by the the sticky mocha swirl, enhancing the original coffee tones as well as the addition of chocolate - Marvellous! 

Overall, this Gingerbread Latte Cake is exactly what it claims to be.. Spicy, coffee-y and cakey - There is nothing not to love and I highly recommend you get yourself down to The Co-op if you're a fan of any of the things I just listed! It's a 4 out of 5 from me.