Thursday, 31 December 2015

Happy New Year- Asda Extra Special Belgian Chocolate Layer Cake

Happy New Years Eve, Folks! I trust you all had a fantabulous Christmas with family and friends alike - To those who are still celebrating, I salute you and agree that the party may as well continue as 2016 is only hours away! Ever ones to go out with a bang here on R4R, the last review of the year has to be something Extra Special.. Something chocolatey and of course, something very much cakey! Asda have our backs..  

I actually picked up this Belgian Chocolate Layer Cake the week before Christmas for £10 but would assume there might be some still lurking about if one was quick - Search high and low in the celebration cake aisle! 

Luxurious layers of Madeira, caramel and chocolate flavoured sponge with rich Belgian chocolate ganache, encased within chocolate plaques and finished with lustered white chocolate. 

Look how well it cut - Even the thick slabs of chocolate, fencing the cake didn't crack or crumble! All 4 layers were very distinct, transitioning in colour from dark to light with visible ganache between each.. Not to mention the almost inch of the stuff on top! As this was a soft, yet robust cake that sliced like a a dream, I can't imagine that it would be a problem to cut thinner slices and achieve greater than the 16 servings suggested on the box - 20 would definitely be doable! 

I ensured that I got an end piece purely for the sneaky delight of a slab of chocolate on the underside -  It really was thick and I wasn't going to pass it up! Starting with the sponge, the texture was quite dense (As Madeira is) but soft enough to be tender and not dry in the mouth which is something never to stand for when it comes to cake! The base and darkest layer was not compromised by the use of cocoa at all and was full of chocolatey tones which paired nicely with the caramel cake it supported.. Fairly mild in flavour but with a buttery sweetness, the second layer worked perfectly and wasn't too much at all. The 2 remaining layers were a little harder to distinguish and I would say were essentially the same in being plain vanilla - Pleasant but nothing special. Sandwiching the lot as well as topping the cake was an indulgent, thick gooey ganache that was very rich and tasted of an extremely good quality thanks to the Belgian Chocolate used. The finishing touch was the solid chocolate "decorations" - The plaque had a satisfying crack to it and a deep flavour with the stars and ball made of white chocolate, being deliciously sweet and not cheap tasting. Yum! 

Overall, I am mightily impressed with this Extra Special Belgian Chocolate Layer Cake from Asda - The all round quality is superb, it looks spectacular and it will feed a crowd at not to great of an expense! My only real qualm is how the proportions of ganache are a little off.. I can't help but feel that the thick topping would have served better distributed throughout the layers rather than just all piled on top.. But that is just personal preference! Definitely one to give a go, if not this year then certainly next - A 4 out of 5 from me!

Enjoy yourselves tonight whatever tomfoolery you get up too! I shall see you all on the other side - Let's make 2016 our best year yet! 

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The 24 Days of Snackmas

Happy Christmas Eve, Snack Army! 

I can't quite believe that The 24 Days of Snackmas has now sadly, come to an end.. Even Santa agrees that all good things have to. 

It's been one yummy and busy month - We've flown around Europe, (When not in Tesco) to France, Germany and Italy with enough British Turkey in the sleigh to top Tezza himself. There may have been lows of crappy Chocolates and ghastly Gingerbread Bevvys but these moments have been far outweighed by the highs of, life changing Panettone, the Festive Sammie of dreams, fancy Parfait and the 8th Wonder of the World that is the Yule Log - Not to mention, the shock of the year.. The M&S turnaround! 

This journey has seen me quite possibly buy the Supermarkets out of their entire stock of festive snacks which I would say is an impressive achievement considering the 2319 variants of every single possible food type, ever made, ever. I fear there will be nothing left for any of those loopy, last minute shoppers but at the same time, feel reassured that I have eaten enough to get through Winter hibernation.. For the next 3 years - Although we all know that between now and New Year, the Christmas time snacks will still be well and truly, free flowing without a single "No thank you" from me! 

So who is ready for the big day tomorrow? Are the presents all wrapped and crammed under the tree? Is there more food in your cupboards than you could possibly eat? Are there numerous extended family members in your house with one who you haven't an actual clue who is? I really hope so to all 3 and do really hope you have enjoyed Snackmas and getting that little bit more festive with your resident Snack Warrior. 

Now turn off the Tech and go Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas - May it be filled with nothing but love, joy, everything you ever wished for and most importantly.. Delicious Food!

Snackmas Day 24- Tesco Finest Cookies

One More Sleep, folks - One more sleep until Santa Claus Is Coming to Town! Who's excited? I'm excited! I don't know about you but the build up to the 25th has always been my favourite and there is no happier day of the year than Christmas Eve!

Since we are intent on Keeping the Dream Alive here on R4R.. Cookies for Santa will most definitely be being left out tonight and what better way to spoil him than with 6 of the Finest that Tesco have to offer - Salted Caramel & Chocolate, White Chocolate, Cranberry & Pistachio, Quadruple Chocolate, Fruity Flapjack, Maple Syrup & Pecan and Dark Chocolate Ginger. I realise, you can't put a price on Santa but these do cost £1.59 a pop with 8 Cookies per box. 

Salted Caramel & Choc and White Choc, Cranberry & Pistachio

L-R- All butter cookies with milk chocolate chunks and caramel fudge pieces and All butter cookies with Belgian white chocolate, cranberries and pistachio nuts. 

Salted Caramel & Choc

I appeared to pick a bad Cookie to start with as these really weren't good. Texture wise, it was more like a crunchy Maryland Biscuit than anything else with a flavour that was of caramel but really artificial. I couldn't taste any sort of chocolate but a bland creaminess was most apparent which made them quite sickly. The salted part was redundant as usual, just to twist the knife that little bit further. A 1 out of 5 from me. 

White Choc, Cranberry & Pistachio

Up next a Christmas classic combo! Once again. the texture was more of a biscuit but no where near as crisp as above and much more buttery in flavour. Big fruity chunks of cranberry were present in each Cookie which although were pleasant, I do think would have been better if they were a bit smaller and more evenly, distributed. The pistachios weren't exactly identifiable but a nuttiness did linger but sadly, the white chocolate wasn't anywhere in sight. A 2 out of 5 from me.

Quad Choc and Fruity Flapjack

L-R- All butter quadruple Belgian chocolate chip cookies half coated in milk chocolate and All butter cookies with sultanas, coconut, apricot, hazelnut, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. 

Quad Choc 

At first, I was a little annoyed with this packet.. Quality Control had obviously taken a break when in production as 1 of my cookies looked like it had been half eaten! I made a cup of tea to get over it and got dunking. These were amazing - Very chocolatey and rich in taste with big chunks of milk as well as sweeter white chocolate running throughout. Extremely moreish and almost perfection - 4 out of 5 from me! 

Fruity Flapjack

Anything oaty, I am sold and these certainly didn't disappoint - They tasted homemade, would you believe it? A soft bite with a super chewy texture, the buttery flavour which was slightly salted which paired perfectly with a sweet syrupyness and subtle coconut in the background. The seeds added a nice crunch and almost nutty flavour with the sultanas and dried apricot adding a gummyness. A big 4.5 out of 5 from me! 

Maple Syrup & Pecan

L-R- All butter pieces with pecan nut and maple syrup and Stem ginger cookies fully coated in Belgian dark chocolate. 

Maple Syrup & Pecan

I have no idea how many recipes Tesco has on the go as these Cookies had a completely different texture to both the first "plain" Salted Caramel and White Choc versions - Very Bizarre! I would say these were the hardest of the lot and not just because of the pecans which were few and far between! Taste wise, maple syrup didn't really come to mind but popcorn sure did - It was uncanny to the sort you get at the cinema with a slight nuttiness. Not bad, but not really its namesake - A 3 out of 5.

Dark Chocolate Ginger

Last but by no means least is the spicy Cookies which really weren't all that spicy.. The heat was extremely mild and nothing compared to a Gingernut. These had a nice crisp bite which would dissolve on the tongue with chewy pieces of crystallised ginger throughout. The dark chocolate which coated the entire thing was nice and rich and went well with the not so fiery but still pleasant flavour. Another 3 out of 5 from me!

Well these are a bit of a mixed bag.. We started with rubbish in the form of the Salted Caramel and White Choc, things improved dramatically with the Quad Choc and Fruity Flapjack and then we came back to semi happy medium with the Maple Syrup and Dark Choc Ginger - Tesco is all over the place! I am thinking on that basis, I better leave out the middle duo for Santa to munch on to ensure I get a big present come tomorrow morning.. Tactics and all that. 

Enjoy the rest of your Christmas Eve and I'll be back later, to tuck you in with a Snackmas roundup!

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Snackmas Day 23- Tesco Finest Stollen Loaf

Since we have already said Feliz Navidad to our Italian friends with Panettone and Ricciarelli, it is only fair that Germany gets a look in too. Stollen - In all of it's dried fruit, marzipan laden, icing sugar glory.. It's essentially Christmas in a bread-cake cross and our 'Eve Eve review! 

I picked up this Finest Stollen Loaf from.. Wait for it.. Wait for it.. Oo the suspense.. TESCO! My home away from home! Situated in the festive aisle, next to all the other "premium" goodies, the cake cost a whopping £7 - Is it just me or is that ridiculously overpriced? Yes, I did still buy it but.. £7?! 

Our finest Stollen loaf is beautifully moist, packed full of soft and juicy rum soaked sultanas and raisins. A soft centre of rich marzipan offers a lovely almond flavour to the rum syrup and butter soaked loaf. Hand decorated with a glacè cherries and tasted almonds for a beautiful finish. 

A fat price tag and yet they couldn't even be bothered with any sort of fancy presentation - A flimsy, plastic tray, Tesco.. Really? 

My anger at the lack of show was fairly short lived once I had smelt and more importantly tasted the Stollen! The fruit cake scented loaf was deliciously, doughy and dense with a soft and super sticky feel and flavour somewhere between a Hot Cross Bun and Christmas Cake - Sweet, buttery and a hint of spice to go perfectly with the packed in fruitiness of raisins and sultanas as well as the citrus notes. The marzipan aspect wasn't all that strong until biting through the almost gooey, log that ran throughout the centre which went amazingly well with the, stronger than I expected, punch of Rum. On top it was almonds and then some which added a serious bite in contrast to all the squidgy elements.. Another in being, the line of glistening glacè cherries, adding that final bit of sweet goodness. Superb!

Overall and without a shadow of a doubt, this is the best Stollen I have ever had - It is ridiculously moist, packed, and generally all round scrumptious! It may be expensive for what it is and you probably will question if it will serve the suggested 8 on the box but it is well worth it and most definitely will considering its richness! Santa Baby, slip another Stollen under the tree for me - A 4.5 out of 5! 

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Snackmas Day 22- M&S Mini Turkey. Bacon & Cranberry Sausage Rolls

We may be reaching the end of Snackmas but there is always time for one last turkey/bacon/cranberry review and this time, paying homage to MSW, The Queen of Party Food and her love for Sausage Rolls - It's a post to please everyone.. In theory - Our fate lays in M&S', very slippery hands. 

I spotted the box of 24 Mini Turkey, Bacon & Cranberry Sausage Rolls in the freezer section and was immediately drawn in by the promise of all butter pastry filled with British turkey, pork, bacon and cranberries, topped with poppy seeds. I don't even like Sausage Rolls usually but I am easily swayed by the Festive Foods and purchased them for what I think was £5. 

Cooking these little darlings wasn't all that easy - Perhaps my oven is once again to blame but I found it increasingly difficult to not "burn" the tops whilst ensuring they were cooked inside.. Although that was problematic in itself as the meat stays pink even when scolding hot and cooked for 40 minutes. One thing I did enjoy during cooking was the lovely smell that wafted all throughout the house - It was like buttery cheese and cranberry with a hot pastry which was very inviting indeed. I let them cool slightly before getting stuck in as they really were piping and probably best enjoyed, Warm This Winter.. They were meaty as promised and tasted of turkey and strong pork flavour with smoky tones from the bacon in the background. Seasoned well with pepper but not to much for amateurs like me to handle with massive chunks of cranberry having been crammed in for lots of added sweetness, the flavour was spot on. Encasing the lot was just the right amount of puff pastry and was crisp, flaky and buttery with a sprinkle of poppy seeds on top which although didn't taste of a lot, added a slight satisfying crunch. Why these smelt of cheese when cooking though, I haven't the foggiest as it didn't translate in taste! 

I am not entirely sure what has happened to M&S* during Snackmas - Either they saw me coming or they have genuinely stepped up their game.. Or I just so happened to pick the best of a bad bunch of Christmas Products! I hope it is not a case of the latter as I have been super impressed and wouldn't want to be disappointed again if I went in store and purchased something else. Back to today and these Turkey, Pork, Bacon & Cranberry Sausage Rolls are delightful, not to mention, so much nicer than your regular bog standard jobby - Me and MSW are certainly going to have a Holly Jolly Christmas with them in the freezer! Its a 4 out of 5. 

*The measly 5% to Shelter with the Sammies and Soup, I won't ever overlook. Sort it out M&S.  

Monday, 21 December 2015

Snackmas Day 21- Tesco Finest Toffee & Pecan and Victoria Plum & Damson Sponge Puddings

As I mentioned in my Snackmas Intro, I have made 2 traditional Christmas Puddings this year.. Because clearly 1 was never going to be enough. They've been maturing nicely for a good few weeks now but of course, I needed something in the mean time to get that steam pud fix so went to Tesco, as usual and purchased some Finest range alternatives! 

Toffee & Pecan and Victoria Plum & Damson were the duo that appealed to me the most in the 2 for £4 offer of 200g puddings. There are Chocolate and Salted Caramel Bombes as well as a Panettone Sponge but didn't feel I could stomach any of them considering the sheer quantity of similar things I've eaten recently! 

I figure there is no point going to the effort of steam cooking something that you've already cheated in buying instead of making yourself so just whacked both in the microwave separately, once having pierced the lid as instructed - 55 seconds should do it. They came out scolding so I carefully peeled off the film.. And by that I mean, had a complete meltdown as the thing wouldn't come off for love nor money. Once I did eventually get into the thing, I let it stand upside down for about a minute before releasing the pud. 

Toffee & Pecan 

All butter sponge pudding with pecan nuts topped with toffee sauce. 

Check out the top third of the sponge - It was completely saturated in toffee sauce and there was still quite a bit left in the plastic basin which I scooped out! Very light and squidgy in texture with the most wonderful buttery taste along with the signature flavour of a traditional steam pudding, this was near perfection. The sauce itself was very sweet and sticky as well as blooming hot with a flavour of butterscotch and uncanny to that of a Quality Street penny Toffee - Always a favourite! Few and far between were the pecan pieces but the few bits I did notice had a satisfying soft crunch with a nutty edge making for a wonderful pairing to the sauce. Yum! A 4 out of 5 from me. 

Victoria plum & Damson

All butter pudding topped with Victoria plum and Damson Sauce. 

I had high hopes for this pudding after the success of above - Especially since fruity options are always a pleasant change from toffees, caramels and chocolates. Bizarrely, I thought this smelt a lot like Strawberry when I first tipped it onto the plate.. Boy, I wish it had tasted like it too as it was absolutely disgusting! It tasted just like one of the god awful, cough/throat sweets with a artificial, tart flavour that left a horrible bitterness in my mouth! A whopping throat burn also occured thanks to what was this time, way off in terms of sauce to sponge ratio. Trying the latter separately, it proved to be very nice with the same buttery flavour as seen previously with a light, fluffy texture with vanilla-y tones.. It's just it shame it was ruined by the medicinal, not Plum in the slightest, accompaniment it was drenched in! A 0.5 out of 5. 

Well, these 2 Finest Sponge Puddings as a bit like chalk and cheese - Both in, what they are and how they taste! I loved the Toffee & Pecan and would buy it again tomorrow but the Victoria Plum & Damson needs to be eradicated, as soon as possible.. That really is My Only Wish (This Year).  

Snackmas Day 20- Baxters Cranberry & Caramelised Red Onion Chutney

I'm not dreaming of a White Christmas.. I long for a deep, purply red affair from Cranberries and nothing but! We all know that a successful festive meal involves Tezza the Turkey being smothered in the stuff but what about the surrounding snacks? A chutney just has to feature!

The tartness of plump cranberries is balanced beautifully by the sweetness of caramelised red onions. Serve on a warm ciabatta with a soft, creamy farmhouse brie and salad.

I picked up this jar of Baxters Cranberry & Caramelised Red Onion Chutney from trusty old Tesco which I can't remember the price of nor can I find it on the website.. Always one to be highly informative, me!

If I had smelt this with my eye closed, I would have thought it was a Branston Pickle wannabe - Between that and a onion jam anyway! Regrettably, I took a taste of this straight out of the jar (Not the whole spoonful, mind!) and almost had my socks blown off. It was ridiculously vinegary acidic and tangy which burnt on the way down and would most likely set off the most horrific bout of a Gaviscon required ailment. Once the sharpness had subdued, I thought it had a salad cream sort of taste along with full on onion from the big chunks and as it smelt, a pickle edge. My tongue was a bit sore from just trying a little but I am happy to say that when eaten as suggested with a creamy cheese, the flavour did mellow with a slight cranberry sweetness making for a wonderful accompaniment - Not to mention a bit different to your usual chutney!

Overall and after my little mishap of taste testing a fresh jar of chutney by it self, along with living to tell the tale, I very much enjoyed this offering from Baxters. I will definitely be trying it on my boxing day sandwich instead of the usual Cranberry Sauce and can easily see myself going all out and maybe even using it as a dip for hot Camembert Bites - A 4 out of 5 from me! 

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Snackmas Day 19- Joe & Seph's Mince Pie Popcorn

What a better thing to cuddle up with in front of a film than a big bowl of Popcorn - There is no need for Mistletoe and Wine but you do need a Mince Pie in the other hand so why not go for a hybrid! Joe & Seph's have us covered..

I picked up the 80g bag way back in October for £3.15 in a little Deli in Southwold - I knew Snackmas was coming so started stocking up early! The golden sticky pieces are designed to start with smooth caramel, followed by Brandy infused fruit and nutty almond to finish - Rich and aromatic just like a Mince Pie.

Buttery and boozy was the smell of these coated nuggets which had a perfect light, airy crunch with no lurking unpopped kernels at the bottom of the bag - Something I always appreciate. Munching my way through I soon realised the description was bang on - First smooth caramel and then the kick of Brandy followed by fruity and spicey tones with a mild nuttiness and what I can only describe as a molasses sort of taste. The flavours transitioned from one another seamlessly although I do think the brandy element was the strongest which really is probably to be expected. Obviously there was no taste of pastry so it isn't exact a mince pie but Christmassy mincemeat, very much so! 

Another fine offering from Joe & Seph's - The quality of corn really is something else with a flavouring to match! It is definitely a bag to get you in the festive spirit and I, myself haven't actually seen anything similar from any other Popcorn people so get yourself a bag whilst you can! Its a 4 out of 5 from me!

Friday, 18 December 2015

Snackmas Day 18- Tesco Finest Puff Pastry Nibbles Selection

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.. If you like Cheese! Its everywhere you turn. Its taken over the dairy aisle, its in all Crisps, Hot Snacks.. Nibble Selections! Embrace it with open arms as there is no escaping.. Especially not today with this Tesco Finest Puff Pastry offering! 

I picked up the 150g box for £2.50 but it is currently on offer with 50p off - Bargain hunters rejoice! 

selection of cheese straws with gouda cheese, cheese straws with almonds, cheese straws with pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and linseed and cheese palmers. 

L-R Almond, Gouda, Seed, Palmier


I started with the one I figured I wouldn't enjoy simply to get it out of the way - How do cheese and almonds belong together? Biting through the crisp layers of pastry the buttery flavour hit first followed by a strong flavour of cheese with its richness and slightly salty edge. As I expected the almonds weren't my cup of tea and added that horrible sick "dry" taste at the back of my mouth although they were pleasantly crunchy. Not one for me sadly. 


These were essentially the same as above minus the yucky nuts which was much more to my taste. The gouda was plenty potent with a good tang before mellowing into a smooth and creamy edam which was still full bodied in terms of flavour. Texture wise, the light and airy pastry was beautiful and consistent throughout the selection of straws - No quality control issues here! 


I love anything seeded and these certainly didn't change that, I am happy to annouce! The base straw was once again perfectly flaky and flavoured but this time paired with a almost hard, crunchy topping of sprinkled seeds. This added both seedy and nutty tones that weren't anything like the almonds and made the straws feel very substantial - I found myself filling up after a handful of the things! 


Out of the foursome, the Palmiers most definitely smelt the strongest which is bizarre considering they didn't contain the most gouda listed in the ingredients. These were melt in the mouth perfect with a very light texture after the initial crisp exterior. As with all of the nibbles, the flavour was very buttery as puff pastry should be with a decent kick of cheese without a mass load of salt. Yum yum!

Overall, I am quite pleased I picked this box of Finest Puff Pastry Nibbles Selection up - They are very moreish and pack a punch in terms of flavour.. Even if I didn't love the Almond Straws! I imagine they would prove to be very popular to all those with a class of Sherry in hand - And not just because they are to tipsy to realise what they're eating! Its a 3.5 out of 5 from me!  

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Snackmas Day 17- Thorntons Gift Finder ft. Marvellous Mint Favourites

I don't mean to alarm anyone but there is only 7 shopping days left until Christmas - And thats including today! Do you have all presents purchased? Are your cupboards filled to the rafters? Do you have more alcohol than your local boozer? No? Well, You best get your act together. Present wise.. I have always gone by the motto that "If it ain't food or socks", it probably isn't worth taking the risk in buying - No one is ever going to decline either and therefore, I think it is the way forward.. Which brings us to today nicely! 

I was recently contacted by Thorntons Chocolates who have released a new Gift Finder especially for Christmas! Stop groaning, this is one Gift Finder that is actually fun.. And will keep your kids entertained for a few minutes!

Behold! The Amazingly Choctastic Christmas Gift Finder! 

The pretence of the thing is really quite straight forward. Whack in your recipients name and go through the various "factory' steps deciphering whether your buddy (Or yourself) is a believer, naughty or nice, Scrooge or Santa.. 

Decide whether they are worthy of a Sleigh or Stocking-ful of goodies. 

Add some Finishing Touches which obviously have to be a candy cane and twinkly lights. 

Have a festive sing song to the orchestral prelude of Little Drummer Boy in a dramatic fashion whilst waiting for it to Process..

And like magic, a selection of Gift recommendations will be chucked out at you based on the answers you submitted! You can then go directly to the online store and purchase any of your results (There is 20% off using the code XMAS20, until Monday 21st!) - It's as simple as sprouts! 

Christmas Celebration Bundle

Thorntons very kindly sent me a Christmas Celebration Bundle containing enough chocolate to choke Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer - Continental Milk, White & Dark Collection x 2, Classic Milk, White & Dark, Classic Milk, Classic Turkish Delight, Original Special Toffee Box, Classic Bag, Continental Vanilla Truffle Bag, Classic Milk Strawberry Bag, Classic Mints, Classic Favourite Puddings, Milk Chocolate Santa, Classic X Factor Promo Box, Continental Chocolat Riche Bag x 2. 

Marvellous Mint Favourites

Since we don't just plug random, albeit spiffing, Gift Finders here on R4R.. Today's actual review is of the Marvellous Mint Favourites included in my bundle - Mint Chocolates are an essential part of Christmas after all!

A selection of 7 Chocolates are included in the box - 2 on each layer apart from the Love Thorntons solid piece which is only seen twice in its entirety. 

Gooey Mint Caramel and Creamy Mint Fudge

I didn't have a lot of confidence in these chocolates at first as they really didn't smell all that minty. I am not sure how this was possible considering it didn't correspond in taste! Starting with the Caramel, the outer casing was cocoa rich with a liquidy centre that remarkably tasted both of buttery toffee and mint at the same time - The combination of the 2 flavours went beautifully together with the latter not being overpowering in the slightest. Similarly, the Fudge was perfectly balanced with its dense, vanilla interior with undertones of mint and once again paired with dark chocolate - Yum! 

Crispy Mint Disc and Luxury Dinner Mint

The relatively thick Mint Disc comprised of 60% cocoa solids most definitely reflected in the quality of the chocolate - It was dark and full tasting without any bitterness. Honeycomb pieces ran throughout although not all that visible when pictured, adding a crunch as well as a slight sweetness. The flavour of mint once again wasn't to much and pleasantly lingered to produce one fairly plain but delicious button. Moving onto the Luxury Dinner Mint which I would say is the most similar to an After Eight! The centre had a lovely smooth, creamy texture with a soft bite which added sweetness without a throat burn a long with the minty edge. Another delightful duo! 

Peppermint Crème and Mint Baton

The last of the minty Chocolates! I wasn't as much of a fan of the Peppermint Crème as I thought.. I would say it is the strongest of the box in being the most similar to toothpaste unfortunately. The centre was much denser than the fondant above and wasn't as sugary as I expected which I am unsure if helped or hindered! Another disappointment came from the Baton - Although great in texture with a truffle like filling as well as crunch from the honeycomb pieces, a strange liquorice taste was apparent.. Not something I am a fan of personally! 

Love Thorntons

Last up was the plain solid piece of "Thorntons" embellished chocolate.. It tasted uncanny to the Green & Blacks 70% Bar in being deep, cocoa rich without the bitter edge and generally all round, fantastic quality - I was mightily impressed! 

Overall, this box of Marvellous Mint Favourites really is quite marvellous and would make a very welcome change to the yearly box of After Eights. Yes, there are the couple of Chocolates which aren't all that wonderful but chances are, if you're sharing them with your family and friends, there will be someone who takes a shine to them! Its a 4 out of 5 from me - Thanks Thorntons!* 

*If you're still with me, do go have a play on the Gift Finder and find something yummy for your loved ones.. Because guess what all mine will be receiving this year? 

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Snackmas Day 16- Tesco Finest Chicken Parfait with Balsamic Onion Chutney

Patè.. Oo the controversy! The Power of Love makes me eat it all year round, be it smooth or coarse but as with everything else during the festive season, things get a hell of a lot more fancy and the likes of Chicken Parfait with Balsamic Onion Chutney turn up on our shelves, just screaming to be purchased. 

Made in small batches in rural Scotland with British Chicken liver and pork, blended with British cream and apple jelly. Hand topped with a tangy balsamic chutney. 

I picked up this Finest 200g block for £3 in Tesco where it was situated with the premium meat slices and antipasti - There are a whole array of flavours so do go check your local store out to see whats on offer. 

I was in 2 minds on what to have this on.. I first thought toast but then figured a cracker would picture better. A good choice it turned out to be - The parfait spread beautifully and smelt deliciously of pork, spices with acidic notes. Taking a bite was pure heaven. Seriously smooth and light in texture with a creamy taste and herbiness along with the signature taste of traditional liver Patè, although I wouldn't say this was as full on. The jelly like, balsamic onion layer was of perfect thickness and added a tangy sweetness which complimented the parfait beneath with its garlic kick. Absolutely scrummy!

Overall, this Finest Chicken Parfait is pretty darn wonderful - Both as is but with the added layer of Balsamic Onion Chutney.. It's so much more tasty! Yes, it is very luxurious, rich and will most likely fatten you up like the bird it came from but as a 'once' a year indulgence, I don't think its one you want to miss! A 4.5 out of 5 from me. 

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Snackmas Day 15- Betty Bakes Christmas Bonanza!

Betty Bakes has put on her Christmas chefs hat and come up with some delightful Festive Cakes - All of which are Gluten Free of course! We can't have anyone with intolerances missing out and although I don't suffer myself, I was very kindly sent the range to give a whirl especially for Snackmas!

T-B Orange & Ginger Tiffin, All-Butter Shortbread, Christmas Meringue, Cinnamon Shortbread, Midnight Mint, Crimbo Crumble, Christmas Pudding and Christmas Snowball 

Now, if I had been smart I would've weighed each bar prior to scoffing so am going to have to assume that each was around 70g with the Pudding and Snowball obviously being a lot lighter given their puffed rice composition - If anyone is even interested in said numerical happenings!

Orange & Ginger Tiffin 

Nothing is more Christmassy than Clementines and all things Orange which makes this bar a pretty spiffing place to start! It smelt super citrus and real rather than artificial extract - I personally feel the stuff should be banned as its good to no one so am pleased to see peel was used here! I took a bite through the crunchy biscuit set within dark chocolate and was greeted with the most amazing taste combo of cocoa and strong Orange with undertones of what tasted like a Gingernut with its signature mild heat in the background. Each flavour was significant on its own as well as pairing perfectly with one another producing something which I would say was near perfection! A 4.5 out of 5 from me.

All-Butter Shortbread

Another Christmas classic - Shortbread. It smelt and tasted as its name suggested.. Buttery! Texture wise, things were far softer than I envisaged. The bite to the bar wasn't crisp nor did it crumble which produced a almost chewy feel that I would liken to a very dense brownie rather than a biscuit.. Although it was still very pleasant! The sprinkle of sugar on top was a lovely finishing sweetness to what was well done but essentially, quite a plain treat. A 3.5 out of 5 from me.

Christmas Meringue

Given that it was so packed with almonds and meringue pieces, this bar was a bit of a nightmare to cut and it did disintegrate in places - I did try my best to patch the bits back together for the good of a decent picture but it wasn't easy, believe you me! Popping some of this crumble into my mouth, I was surprised to discover it was full on dark chocolate and strong Bakewell which was a flavour sensation! The light, airy and dissolving meringue pieces added a sweetness as well as contrasting in texture to the abundance of crunchy almonds and squidgy sultanas, making for a spectacular mishmash of a mouthful. Another 4.5 out of 5! 

Cinnamon Shortbread

Why have normal All-Butter Shortbread when you can add some festive warmth to your life in the form of cinnamon?! I see no reason to be plain and this was not the sole difference either.. The texture was far firmer with a crispness to the outside before the familiar melting interior that wasn't "cakey" and transitioning from buttery to the spicy kick of cinnamon with the sweet sprinkling of grainy sugar - Yum! A 4 out of 5!

Midnight Mint

After Eight in bar form? Surely not? I am happy to announce, oh yes! A soft base of what I assume was chocolate shortbread was the first layer of cocoa goodness before hitting a sugary sweet mint fondant that was most certainly potent and uncanny to its confectionary friend! The dark chocolate was the ideal pairing to mellow the mint slightly but I would say this is one to have with a strong coffee otherwise things might get a bit to much given the richness! Its 3.5 out of 5 from me.

Crimbo Crumble

Well would you look at that.. It's Mince Pie but in a bar - It wouldn't be Christmas without such a thing! The scent was uncanny to your jarred mincemeat which I could smell all day.. As well as eat of course! The base and crumble topping was fairly soft but did not crack as some of the other offerings had. It has a melt in the mouth feel once beyond the initial chewiness, with crunchy almonds for a harder feel and nutty edge. The same buttery taste of the Shortbread was apparent but boosted by a thick medley of tangy citrus, brandy and dried fruit which certainly tickled the tastebuds! A 4 out of 5.

Christmas Pudding & Christmas Snowball

Last but by no means least were the Christmas Balls.. Check out that clean cut of the knife - Impressive, right?! I have to admit.. These were the ones I was most looking forward to since Rice Krispie cakes were pretty much my life as child.. And I suspect they were yours too! These bad boys were densely packed with puffed rice to ensure for a firm, satisfyingly crunchy mouthful. The toffee used to hold the lot together was super sticky and sweet with the white chocolate of the Snowball adding further sweetness and tones of tropical coconut - Always a good pairing! I wasn't such a fan of the Christmas Pudding as the plain chocolate itself just didn't meet my expectations in terms of quality but overall did have a slight salty kick which went a long way given all the sweet elements. A 4 and a 3 respectively. 

Well, that was well worth the potential diabetic future I face upon crashing from the sugar rush that's currently having me, Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree! This Christmas Collection from Betty Bakes is marvellous! Did anyone notice how I failed to mention the lack of gluten throughout the post? There is little need as you really wouldn't know they didn't contain 'normal' ingredients. They are baubles above any Free From equivalent you might find in the supermarkets and can/should be enjoyed by everyone, no matter the circumstances. Thanks Betty for spoiling me and more importantly, those who need you the most - You little cracker!