Monday, 29 August 2016

Review- M&S NEW Spirit of Summer: Very Berry Cheesecake

I've said it before and I'll say it again.. Cheesecake is up there, if not number 1 when it comes to my favourite desserts. When done well, it's hard to find anything better - The biscuit base, the creamy centre, the never ending list of flavour options and toppings.. Cheesecake is an amazing thing and I'll dispute anyone who says otherwise!  

Thankfully, there are no arguments in my house as we all love it and were pretty thrilled to see MSW had bought a Spirit of Summer Very Berry Cheesecake from M&S. Part of a 2 for £6 offer, the 560g chilled dessert which is designed to feed 6, costs £4 when bought individually and is happy to be consumed by the Vegetarians of this world as well as popping into the freezer for a later date. 

A creamy baked Madagascan vanilla cheesecake on a digestive biscuit base with a fruity summer berry topping. 

As instructed, I ran a sharp knife around the inside of the plastic container and pushed the cheesecake up through the centre hole of the base. Much to my delight, I managed not to send the whole thing for a purler and it came out in one piece, albeit a bit snagged around the edges.

The cheesecake cut well into pretty, picture perfect slices, staying completely intact as well as smelling super summery. Taking a forkful, the layers were all plenty thick with the biscuit base being crisp and densely packed, the cheesecake robust yet soft and the berry topping, jelly like with a cool feel. Flavour wise, the tang of fresh berry was the initial hit in being surprisingly tart with very little sweetness.. The taste actually reminded me a bit of the kids Frube/Choob, Forest Fruit (Or whatever they were called!) yoghurts from back in the day! The middle layer was as expected - Extremely creamy and rich with tones of vanilla throughout and far superior to a non baked cheesecake. As for the biscuit, this was where most of the sweetness came into play with the signature digestive taste that just paired up beautifully with the other elements. Yum! 

Overall, this Spirit of Summer Very Berry Cheesecake is a seriously good dessert from M&S! I can find very little fault in it apart from maybe the lack of overall sweetness not being to everyones taste.. I however wasn't fussed in the slightest! I will most definitely be having to try the Sunken Caramel/Dulce de Leche Cheesecake now too! It's a 4.5 out of 5 from me today! 

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Review- M&S NEW Spirit of Summer: Ultimate Burger Buns

Since it's been quite possibly the hottest few days ever as well as it being National Burger Day, chances are you'll have had or will be having a Barbecue at some point this week. This means you will most definitely be needing a Bun to contain all the meaty goodness.. M&S have us covered! 

I picked up the pack of 2 Burger Buns from the Bakery section* for £1 which I thought was relatively reasonable given the Spirit of Summer status and "luxury" feel. Suitable for Veggies as well as the freezer, the doughy delights are a source of Vitamin D and fibre.. Which for some reason M&S felt compelled to plaster on the side of their packaging. 

Egg glazed bun enriched with egg and butter. 

I cut the strongly butter scented, almost cheese like, gleaming Bun in half with ease to reveal the fluffy, aerated texture within which naturally, screamed for a smorgasbord of extras..

Cheese, onion and ketchup! - Doesn't it look a beaut? Taking a bite, the Bun proved to just as soft and squishy as expected with a lovely moist feel and zero in terms of stodge. Taste wise, it was extremely buttery as its aroma suggested with a subtle yeasty flavour as well as a hint of sweetness - This went well with a savoury filling and was by no means overly sweet. Thankfully, the other element I smelt, cheese, wasn't reflected in the flavour - Despite adding a slice myself, I am not sure how I would feel about an actual cheese brioche bun! A richness was definitely noticeable which I can only assume was down to the eggs (And butter no doubt!), to make for one all round fantastic burger buddy!

The name didn't lie.. These Ultimate Burger Buns really are ultimate! They are top notch in both texture and taste and I think you would struggle to find better.. And that's coming from someone who adores her bread products! Get yourself some pronto, *M&S even make it easy for you by having a stand right next to their Barbecue meat fridge section. It's a 4.5 out of 5 from me.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Review- Ikorn NEW Gourmet & Health Kick Popcorn: Sweet, Salted & Himalayan Salted

Last week, a lovely chap called Richard (Hi Richard!) from Ikorn Popcorn contacted me asking if I would like to try their recently released, brand spanking NEW Premium Gourmet Popcorn. I was never going to refuse such an offer and in no time at all, an assorted box of 12, 25g bags landed on my doorstep.

Ikorn is proud to present you with our Popcorn. We use the highest quality non GM, butterfly corn along with premium coconut oil to bring you this delicious snack. Using the finest corn, finest ingredients and finest recipes, we satisfy the finest popcorn connoisseur. We're sure you won't be disappointed. Gluten and Wheat free. 

Inside was 3 flavours, all having under 120 calories each.. Sweet Korn and Salted Corn (RRP £1.29) along with a Himalayan Salted (RRP £1.49) coming from the Health Kick range - With some very fancy thick packaging that was almost a struggle to get into, I might add! All made from the most poppy, voluminous corn known to man, the team at Ikorn tried and tested over 40 different varieties of the stuff to ensure only the best was to make it into their product with refined coconut oil and Virgin Organic coconut oil (Used in the Health Kick) being the catalyst to ensure for the most fulfilling, healthy snacking option - None of this "cheapy" Canola oil which is slowly killing us all. 

Tech to your eyeballs, Folks.. Or save and zoom for those less frivolous. 

Sweet Korn

Starting with the Sweet and my personal favourite when it comes to Popcorn flavours, upon opening the bag an immediate buttery scent was apparent with what I thought was lemon tones despite none being in the ingredients. Taste wise, the sweetness I envisaged wasn't quite there and certainly not the sugary stuff I am used to with some pieces being more coated that others, in turn being a bit hit or miss on the flavour front! It did however have that "cinema-esque" feel with a satisfying airy crunch, transitioning into melt in the mouth goodness. A 3.5 out of 5 from me. 

Salted Korn

Moving onto the Salted.. I have to say I was dubious - I have never been one for savoury Popcorns with the whole notion just not sitting well with me quite frankly! Trying to keep an open mind, the Popcorn once again had the buttery and lemon scents mentioned above but of course this time, not remotely sweet in taste. The salt was undeniable and at first a bit of a shock for me but thankfully with the buttery tones, things mellowed and along with another fantastic texture, it really wasn't half bad! It's a 3 out of 5 from me. 

Himalayan Salt

Some salt is good for you too, don't cha know! Get zooming and reading please.. Apologies for the blue hue!

Last but by no means least, the Health Kick Himalayan Salted, designed for those super duper health conscience. Tearing into the bag, as seen previously it was almost full to the brim with the decently sized Popcorn pieces although this time not having the familiar buttery aroma. I grabbed a handful and got munching.. Salt. That is all I can say. I found this variety to be overly salty - Almost to the point where it was unbearable. I can't fault the light, melty feel and total lack of hard husks or kernels but the sheer amount of salinity was all to much for me.. But brilliant, I expect if you're on a bit of a sugar rush! It's a 2 out of 5 from me. 

Overall, it is mixed bag from Ikorn. I really can't fault the texture and quantity found in an individual bag but I do feel the flavours need tweaking ever so slightly.. Ideally, more sweet in the Sweet and less salt in the Salt with a better distribution of coating to ensure the flavour flows throughout. The team at Ikorn are currently working on obtaining retail outlets (And expanding the flavour range!) so in the mean time, do check out Ikorn online if you fancy ordering yourself some Popcorn in bulk and go say "Howdy Do!" on Twitter. Thanks Ikorn!

Friday, 19 August 2016

Review- M&S NEW Spirit of Summer: Chocolate & Coconut Slices

Sorry if anyone was under the illusion that the Spirit of Summer reviews had finished - I've still got half a dozen more to trot out but am trying to stagger them in hope of not sending you all completely over the edge.. Is anyone still with me? Let me know your edge status whilst I crack on with todays Chocolate & Coconut Slices! 

As soon as I saw the pack of 2 slices, I knew that they had to be mine given my love of all things coconut and I gleefully skipped to the checkout with £3.50 in hand. As with a lot of M&S desserts, the chocolatey treats are suitable for vegetarians but not for the freezer and nut allergy sufferers should be wary due to the manufacturing methods. 

Supporting the 85g each slices was of course, the handy dandy plastic tray which is both a godsend and a nightmare - Thankfully these were relatively robust so didn't break but I do wish companies would add a little tab on the side to pull and slide out their desserts! 

A sweet pastry tart with chocolate (37%) and coconut (6%) layers topped with swirls of caramel and a decorated chocolate plaque

Cutting the slice in half, the texture proved to be satisfyingly dense thanks to all the layers with a glorious chocolate scent that screamed "eat me!".. So I did as I was told and fell into heaven. Super rich and fudge like, the top layer of ganache was so thick, a fork left imprints with an equally stunning flavour of dark cocoa and not much sweetness. The sticky, gooey coconut was really quite potent and went perfectly with the chocolate tones as expected, as well as adding a decent chew. A further hit of deep cocoa came from the softer layer of chocolate which wasn't exactly needed considering the sheer amount of richness already apparent but it certainly didn't ruin things in the slightest. As for the pastry, I can't say it added much in terms of flavour but it did make for a stable base.

Wow. These M&S Chocolate & Coconut Slices are sensational! They're everything any Bounty fan could want in a chocolate, coconut dessert with not enough sweetness to ruin things but enough to balance out some of the richness, making them all to easy to get down - They are definitely one for the chocoholics however! It would be top marks if the promised swirls of caramel were present but alas.. It's a 4.5 out of 5 from me!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Review- M&S NEW British Bramley Apple Crumble Cake

I have news. Big news. Everyone hold their breath.. A M&S Simply Food is being built approximately 0.8 miles up the road from me! I don't know when it is to be open but I can barely contain my excitement - Just think, I will no longer have to "trek" the current 7 miles to get my fix.. I will be able to go on a whim, multiple times a day and waste all my money on all the snacks! The green eye monster in all of you best be rearing it's glorious head right now. 

Talking of all things green and making for a super smooth transition, this rather Kermit-esque and somewhat elusive, British Bramley Apple Crumble Cake is todays review! It's since June that I have been taunted with the label on the shelf of the 450g, Veggie friendly baked delight with what seemed like no chance of it ever coming in stock! Thankfully, as of last week it eventually did and I promptly bought myself one for £2.75. 

Moist apple cake made with Bramley apple pieces with a buttercream and apple jam filling, topped with an oat crumble. 

The cake looked scrumptious and cut into slices well, with minimal mess despite the general stickiness and crumbly top. I would say however, if like my household you don't do things by halves, you are more likely to serve 4 instead of the recommended 6! 

Boy, did the cake deliver in terms of being apple-y! - The scent was what I can only assume an orchard would smell like and was generally, most inviting! Texture wise, it was a bit of a funny old mish-mash.. The base was soft and squidgy thanks to being loaded with big apple chunks which contrasted completely to the much denser top half of a madeira type sponge - Both were very pleasant but it did feel as though 2 random cakes had just been sandwiched together! Sweet and creamy buttercream was in the centre along with a slick of jam which added a further undeniable zing of fruity apple whilst keeping things extra moist. The crumble on top was plentiful and a nice touch but I found the oats to be really quite solid in places and in turn, all to easy to get stuck in ones teeth - Not make or break but I suspect some might mind! 

Well, this NEW British Bramley Apple Crumble Cake was certainly worth the wait.. The apple aspect is fantastic with M&S striking the perfect balance between tart and sweet whilst not being artificial in the slightest - I can only describe it as a real treat! Yes, the texture of 2 different cakes threw me at first but it didn't make it any less appealing or enjoyable overall and I, without a shadow of a doubt will be buying another.. Even if a tooth is lost in the process! It's a 4 out of 5 from me. 

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Review- Oreo NEW LE Strawberry Cheesecake

The search has been high and low with everyone appearing to have struggled but finally, the NEW Oreos have been located! Well, the Mint option is still unobtainable but the Strawberry Cheesecake now seem to be in most Asda stores which is who I need to thank for todays review! 

The strawberry cheesecake Oreo is a tasty sandwich biscuit filled with creamy strawberry flavour centre. Yum!

I picked up two, 154g packets for 50p each, passing one on to my fellow Oreo enthusiast and general BFF, NibsnScribs (Go read her review!). Having read the description of the Veggie friendly biscuits, I was instantly dubious to just how "cheesecake" they would be.. The list of ingredients did nothing to reassure me either.

I was practically engulfed in a strong strawberry milkshake scent upon opening the packet - It was very sweet, slightly artificial and undoubtedly familiar. Having a munch, the biscuits themselves were up to the usual standard in being crunchy with the signature chocolatey, Oreo flavour that we all know and love. As for the cream centre, it certainly packed a punch, tasting just as they smelt - Not cheesecake in the slightest but instead uncanny to the centres of Strawberry Hello Panda. Together, I am not sure how well the two elements complimented one another given that the centre was so overpowering - A bit of a strange match! 

Overall, I can't say these NEW LE Strawberry Cheesecake Oreos do it for me unfortunately.. I love Hello Panda but in my opinion, such a strong strawberry flavour just doesn't suit this kind of chocolate biscuit - Not to mention the fact they aren't cheesecake in the slightest! Here's to hoping the Mint fair better.. If we ever find them that is! It's a 2.5 out of 5 from me. 

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Review- Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding is an all year round dessert, right? I see no reason why something so delightful should be limited to the winter months.. The sun appears to have seen August coming and done a disappearing act in exchange for rain anyways so I say, now is as good as time as any to indulge! 

It was Sainsbury's where I bought my 450g, Taste the Difference Sticky Toffee dessert, currently on offer at £3.. I haven't tried any of their "premium" puds before but the selection is vast and they all looked mighty tasty so it's worth a browse if you're a newbie like me! 

All butter and Delget Nour date sponge pudding with a sea salt toffee sauce and decorated with whole Delget Nour dates

Designed to feed 4, the Veggie friendly and freezable treat got a slightly bit smoshed in transit - I was pretty lucky not to lose all the sauce considering the thing was practically upside down by the time I got home! I chose not to heat mine up in the oven or microwave out of the fear of it having the horrible "nuked" sponge pudding taste and texture but if hot things float your boat.. Go for it*. 

How good does the golden toffee look? That thick, gooey texture would be lost to a liquid puddle had I heated it! Taking a forkful, the sponge proved to be light and soft despite its chilled state with zero in terms of stodge and beautifully buttery in flavour. I found the date aspect not to be all that overpowering as the main taste was nothing short of full on toffee! - Not to dissimilar to Werther's Originals in taste, the abundance of sauce added oodles of sweetness, felt silky smooth in the mouth and generally, something I could eat by the bucketful given the chance! The date on top was a substantial finishing touch being soft and squidgy, adding further to the toffee tones and almost feeling like a treat itself - Yum!

Well, I for one am very pleased I stumbled across this Sticky Toffee Pudding in Sainsbury's - It's absolutely smashing and without a shadow of a doubt, the best supermarket bought version of the classic dessert, I've ever had! Serve with ice cream or custard and you'll be on to a winner.. It's a 4.5 out of 5 from me. 

*Heat at 160ºC fan oven for 25 minutes or zap in the microwave for 2.. Or appreciate the full flavour by having it cold with hot custard.. I promise you, it's the way forward!