Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Audrey Hepburn stars in new chocolate ad!


There's bad creepy and there's good creepy. This has to be the latter because it involves someone as beautiful as Audrey Hepburn. The legendary Hollywood star has been digitally resurrected to star in a new TVC.

Renowned chocolate brand, Galaxy, recently released this ad, where a young Hepburn is seen in a commercial set in the 1950s at Italy's Amalfi Coast. Hepburn is seen stuck in a traffic jam in a bus with a bar of Galaxy, of course, and then is offered a lift by a handsome stranger.

While the ad is quite well made, some may find it a tad distasteful. However, Hepburn's sons say, according to the Toronto Sun that she would be "proud" of the advertisement, insisting in a press release that the star "often spoke about her love of chocolate and how it lifted her spirit".




What do you think?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pure Temptation Choco Blast



As a chocoholic and mother to a 3-y-o, I'm constantly on the lookout for new chocolate products. I recently came across these little chocolate cones in a supermarket and was heartened to see that they are from an indigenous brand. Usually, these fancy-schmancy goodies are from China or other South East Asian countries. Pure Temptation is an Indian brand based in Gujarat, founded by entrepreneur Harsha Gandhi. For retail, the brand makes a chocolate spread called Choco Spread and these chocolate cones called Choco Blast apart from other industrial chocolate products like sauces, pastes syrups and jellies.


Choco Blast is a small waffle cone filled with chocolate, fashioned after packaged ice cream cones. The paper wrapping and card circle on the card top make them resemble ice cream and keep the product intact. The 2-inch cones are filled with gooey chocolate, all the way to the bottom, making them quite a mouthful. The flavours are rather pronounced; the orange chocolate is rather orange-y, for instance. The Roasted Almond flavour has pieces of roasted nut in it and is one of my favourites. The texture of the cone is crispy, and the taste of the chocolate is quite satisfactory. By satisfactory, I mean not too sweet. Excessively sweet confections is the cardinal sin of all Indian chocolate makers.


Chocoblast is available in different chocolate variations like plain, orange, mint, coffee and roasted almond. Apparently, a white chocolate cone is also to be launched soon. The cones cost INR 12 apiece, but are also available in 10 or 15-piece boxes of one or assorted flavours. The price of the product may not be as much for the chocolate as for the innovation, but it is worth it. I certainly hope more Indian companies come up with innovative products like this.

RATING: 3.5/5

  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pillsbury Choco Spread


Owned by General Mills India here, Pillsbury is one brand which has always delivered products of good quality. I've been a fan of Pillsbury's cake and custard mixes and was pretty excited to see a new product from the brand. A lot of other brands have introduced chocolate spreads recently, and it was good to see some more competition being offered to the insanely popular Nutella. Because I've always believed that chocolate tastes best pure, the Hazelnut-heavy Nutella has never found favour with me. I picked up a jar of Pillsbury's Choco Spread excitedly and tried it immediately - only to be disappointed.


The product is a little grainy and almost liquidy, which makes it drip. Not cool. I think I prefer Nutella's creamy texture, although it tends to dry up and harden soon. The recommended best before time for the Choco Spread is just 30 days, but I'm sure mine's going to last longer and I shall draw conclusions about its shelf life then. The taste is a little synthetic too and only the 5.3% cocoa solids (per 100 g) explains why. The rest of the chocolaty taste is derived from flavouring. Not cool X 2.


For now, it makes for an okay pancake filling and will go well with bread, rotis and crackers as well. Priced at INR 100  for a 180 g jar, it can't be called very expensive. However, it is a little too sweet and 'fake' for my liking, and I don't see myself buying it again.

Dear Pillsbury,

You fare much better with your cake mixes.

Sincerely,
Chocosophy.

RATING: 3/5



News: Chocolate resume, chocolate glass and chocolate fashion



The 8th Annual For the Love of Chocolate Gala that was held on the February 23rd by French Pastry School had a fancy Old Hollywood themed chocolate-y regalia with the Dessert Dance Party and the dramatic apex of the evening, the Cocoa Couture Fashion Show! Sexy, eh? 


What's better than beer? Chocolate beer. What's better than chocolate beer? Drinking it in an edible chocolate cup. Aye, chocoficionados. Japanese brewery Sankt Gallen, have introduced this genius of an idea with their Imperial Chocolate Stout. The cup aims to counteract the bitterness of the stout, is stable at room temperature and can withstand at least five beers. I want!



And a Nicholas guy somewhere on this planet made this fabulous resume, printing it on the packaging of a chocolate bar and got the job. Like, obviously! The image surfaced recently on Imgur

.

Friday, February 22, 2013

FUBAR Dead Soldier Chocolates

(Image credit: Fresh Juice Party)

These chocolates are Fucked Up Beyond All Repair (FUBAR) alright. And it is the err... brainchild of the Fresh Juice Party, which is basically a group of California-based activists. These chocolates are the party's way of making a political statement against the Obama government sending American soldiers to Afghanistan  like 'consumable commodities'.

The chocolates, resembling dead and maimed soldiers in coffins were created by amateur chocolatier and Fresh Juice Party head, Naomi Pictairn, according to the Huffington Post. The Obama administration did not respond to these, but the idea was just to make a "rude statement about something that's worse than just rude ... Our government is sending soldiers out, throwing them in a box and sending back the pieces," Pictairn was quoted saying.

 (Image credit: Fresh Juice Party)

While the chocolates are not approved for human consumption, Huffington Post editors tried them all the same, and they apparently taste like 'hardened cereal milk, far too sweet to be called anything but sugar'.

Well, chocolate can have a pretty grim face too. Who'd have thunk?


Trumpf Schogetten Tiramisu


A Schogetten wasn't perhaps the best choice to start my tryst with German chocolate, but it wasn't half as bad as one would expect from Germany's biggest manufacturers of 'cheap chocolate'. Owned by German food manufacturers Kruger, the brand Trumpf  makes chocolates like Aero, Edle Tropfen, Edle Pralinen and Schogetten, but it is Schogetten that sells the most. The brand offers many interesting flavours like Marzipan, Cappuccino, Yoghurt Strawberry, and Milk Caramel Creme, but I chose Tiramisu.


Schogetten chocolates are famously portioned, which means the chocolate 'bar' isn't a bar at all. Pre-cut into individual squares, 18 pieces form a neat rectangle within the pack and make for easy eating. With 65% cocoa, it is easy on the palate too - not too sweet, not too bitter. The chocolate pieces are filled with 'Tiramisu'. While the filling is generous, one has to focus very hard to experience the flavour.  



It's worse when refrigerated, because then it just tastes like a piece of mediocre, dark chocolate - it could be Amul or something your enthusiastic neighbour made. Neither is the chocolate smooth, nor is it flavourful. But at just INR 99 for 100 g of imported dark chocolate, you can't expect too much.

RATING: 2.5/5


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Mars' Snickers Original

If there is any brand that has perfected the marriage of chocolate, nougat, caramel and nuts, IT IS SNICKERS! No wonder  it sees annual global sales to the tune of $2 effin billion! A product of Mars - one of the world's largest food manufacturers, Snickers is perhaps among their largest selling products. It has been a favourite in the Western countries for the longest time (1930 to be precise), but it was launched in India in 2004. The television commercials followed only in 2008. Very recently (2012), yesteryear star, Rekha (and Urmila Matondkar) were roped in for another TVC, positioning the product not just as a chocolate but a snack.




The ad may not have garnered much attention, but Snickers bars are placed firmly in the candy shelves of every Indian supermarket. And there are surely as many loyal buyers, for example yours truly. I cannot resist a Snickers bar when I see one and the Snickers Minis  are a blessing. These bite-sized chocolates have all the goodness of taste, but merely a third of the calories.



These, however, do not stop me from buying the bigger Snicker bars ever so often. Yes, the chocolate type is milk; yes, it is sweet; yes it has nougat, but I love it. The consistency of the chocolate is smooth, the caramel inside is stringy and the peanuts are pretty crunchy. Together, they create the perfect taste and texture and make for a great chocolate snack.


A small Snickers bar (32g) has 160 calories, 15g of sugar, and 9g of fat, making it fairly sinful. Basically, don't treat it as a snack if you're trying to lose weight. But it costs only INR 15, so resisting temptation will be just that much harder.

RATING: 4/5

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Ferrero Rocher

I still maintain that Ferrero Rocher is an overrated product, but they've slowly grown on me. My 3-yo is especially fond of them and you can imagine what happens when chocolates lie around in a chocoholic's house. What makes the chocolate so appealing is its trademark golden packaging. The round, uneven chocolates are wrapped in matt gold wrappers with a brand sticker on the top, and a mini brown paper cup at the bottom. The gold wrappers are ingeniously stuck to the brown bases so that they come off in one easy sweep. 




The chocolate is also popular for its multi-layering, a signature Ferrero concept. We've reviewed Raffaello here, and that too has four similar layers. Ferrero Rocher's outermost layer has chocolate mixed with nuts, giving it the uneven texture; the second layer has crunchy wafer; the the third has gooey chocolate and the fourth innermost layer a hazelnut.

The makers pride themselves on this original recipe, which takes into account all processes including the roasting of the cocoa to the picking of the hazelnuts. They claim that only the best hazelnuts, including the Tonda gentile from the Langhe area in Piedmont, are chosen for Ferrero Rocher chocolates.



I am not one of them, but since its introduction in 1982, Ferrero Rocher has earned millions of fans the world over. What I want to try, however, is the dark chocolate variation of the Ferrero Rocher called the Rond Noir. Haven't seen them around; don't think many places in India sell them, if at all.

Ferrero Rocher is immensely popular as a gift, and since it is available in many kinds of packs - starting with three pieces - it is very convenient. Priced INR 275 for a 16-piece (290 gm) pack, I find them a tad expensive, but I'm sure there are many Fererro Rocher zealots who don't mind it one bit.


RATING: 4/5

Saturday, February 16, 2013

RIP Diet


Yup, this was made for people like me.


Brown Bath and other chocolate art

The new chocolate zealot me was surfing the net for chocolate (since the GM dieter me couldn't eat any), when I came across this amazing slideshow on Artinfo.com that has 14 delicious Works of Chocolate Art. While all 14 are unique, I wanted to share two striking works with my readers.

Braunes Bad (Brown Bath) by Sonja Alhäuser

German artist, Sonja Alhäuser works primarily with edible sweets to bust that notion of immortality of art. Very often she invites guests to her show to bite off pieces of her art work! At a particular show in 2009, she actually bathed in a tub of chocolate and, in installations of the same work, guests were free to dive in as well. Boy, I'd have liked to do that!




You can't have your cake and eat it too by Leandro Erlich
In another artwork from 2009, Argentinian artist, Leandro Erlich created this incredibly life-like replica of the world-famous Barcelona style couch out of angel food cake and oodles of chocolate! The leather-like finish of the couch was created with chocolate and looked so real that guests at the American Patrons of Tate's Haunch of Venison Cake Party must have had real difficulty deciding whether to eat it or sit on it. Sweet, sweet dilemma!




Thursday, February 14, 2013

Axe Dark Temptation Deodorant



Like anyone concerned with basic grooming, I don't step out of the house without wearing deodorant. Over the years I've become a fairly old hand at trying out the sprays and deo sticks of all brands. I've taken recommendations, tried out newer names, scents, and generally been pretty open to subjecting myself to anything that can make me 'smell great all day'.

One such round of experimentation brought me to the Axe Dark Temptation - a chocolate-scented deo. Did anyone just say chocolate scented? Now that sounded shizz! The Axe commercial showed a guy made of chocolate walking down a street and women flocking to him to eat pieces of him. As silly as the commercial was, I was just curious to know how it feels like to smell chocolaty all day long.

As you lift a can of Dark Temptation and bring it close to your nose, it gives out a very mild, distantly chocolaty aroma - not at all like the smell of Dairy Milk. for example. One might be forgiven for expecting a hint of chocolate, which is not too strong but pretty much dry and airy.

However, wearing the deo all day was not a pleasant experience at all. The chocolate scent seemed to become another beast altogether - an overpowering, obnoxiously semi-chocolaty aroma. So much so that at one point it almost made me want to puke out of dizziness.This overwhelming scent lasted well over nine hours. The good part was that it didn't bother the skin with any allergic reactions Personally, I would not recommend this, although a discerning consumer might want to give it a try.

As a parting note, I might add that chocolate scented deo is targeted majorly at the young, carefree consumer. It may earn this age group brownie points at a night-out, but a chocolate-scented deo may just smell out of place at workstations or business meetings.

Guest review by: Nikhil Deshmukh
Price: approx Rs. 140 for a 150 ml can.
RATING: 2/5

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dallas Chocolatier makes chocolate heels!


Ever lusted after a pair of Christian Louboutin heels, thinking they were pretty enough to eat? Now you can. Well, almost. Andrea Pedraza, a Dallas-based chocolatier has combined her love of chocolate and high heels in an interesting enterprise. She carefully fills gourmet chocolates in moulds and uses exquisite red ganache to create the red soles of the shoes - much like a real life CL pair.






And while it is women who are usually hooked on to shoes, her majority clientele for chocolate heels is surprisingly male. Prices start at $35 per shoe. They can be gifted just like that in beautiful boxes, or be filled with more chocolates! Well, men who gift their sweethearts beautiful edible chocolate shoes this Valentine's Day are sure to meet with success... ahem later in the evening.




Chocolate Bruce Willis to promote 'A Good Day to Die Hard'


Yup! That's a life-sized chocolate Bruce Willis alright! That the likeness is not great is quite another matter. The Japs went all out during a movie promotion for A Good Day to Die Hard and wheeled out a bigass chocolate statue of John McClane, the protagonist of the film, during a press conference.

Since the movie opens on Valentine's Day, this chocolate statue was made the highlight of the event.  If you ask me, all movie promotions ought to be done like this - Valentine's Day or not. And if they give me that chocolate gun, I'll even promise it good press. ;)


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Patchi's The Valentine Collection


Established in 1974 by Nizar Choucair in Lebanon, Patchi has become a global brand with boutiques in over 29 countries! Their 140 outlets are spread over the US, Canada, the Middle East, Hong Kong, South Africa, Egypt and India among others. Patchi Chocolates, are known for their originality, taste & consistency and are made from the finest ingredients, under stringent quality control.

Patchi in India offers not only chocolates, but also its exquisite gift items in specially crafted porcelain, each tailored for a special occasion, be it a wedding, birth of a baby, Diwali, Rakhi or simply any occasion. Speaking of occasions, what bigger and better occasion than Valentine's Day to give and get chocolates?

The Valentine Collection at Patchi is specially decorated and designed to be that perfect gift for your loved ones. The chocolates are wrapped in bright colors decorated with Valentine wrapping of hearts to make it a truly Valentine present for your beloved. The chocolates are then beautifully arranged in cradles and cane baskets to complete the festive look. Moreover, the chocolates are handcrafted and trimmed and can be molded with personalized messages. All the molding will be done with the finest of ingredients


Patchi range of chocolates also includes Classic; Deluxe; Patchi Specials; Patchi Patchino and a special range of sugar free & diet chocolates. These are available in wide variety of milk, dark or white chocolates with flavors like hazelnut, almonds, pistachios and rice crispy amongst others.

The Valentine collection starts at INR 3500.

Available at Patchi’s boutique at located at

Atria – The Millennium Mall, Shop No 65, 66 Ground Floor, Dr Annie Besant Road, Worli, Mumbai -18.  Tel: 91-22- 2481 3430/ 3431.
Phoenix Market City Kurla, Old Mukund Iron and Steel Company, Opp. Naaz Hotel, L.B.S. Marg, Kamani, Kurla (W),Mumbai- 400 070 Tel: +91-22-61801276/77 ; +91-22-33401277/76.



Monday, February 11, 2013

Easter Collection by Leonidas India


Premium Belgian chocolate brand, Leonidas, which came to India in 2009 has made inroads into the Indian sweet palate. With quality chocolates, the premium chocolate brand has been retailing a vast variety of chocolates including bars, cigars, gourmet, vegetarian, white, dark, etc. They also make theme-based chocolates from time to time. Leonidas India now presents Easter-themed chocolates for 2013, which include a cute line-up of bunny chocolates and other Easter thingamagics. The range includes:


1) Bunny Lollipop: This Bunny Lollipops made for kids (and adults) that’s fun to eat, lasts longer than regular chocolates and is every bit as rich and tasty; are so simple and yet so delicious.
Price: Rs 200/-

2) Yellow Ducky: Peep, chirp, quack! Little Ducky is here.
Price: Rs 250/-

3) Bunny in an Easter Egg: In legend, the Rabbit brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Father Christmas as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holiday.
Price: Rs 500/-

4) Hen: Made up of Leonidas Milk Chocolate.
Price: Rs 300/-

5) Bugsy-Bunny rabbit: In legend, the Rabbit brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children, and as such shows similarities to Father Christmas as they both bring gifts to children on the night before their respective holiday.
Price: Rs 500/-

6) Easter Egg Sleeve: Rs 1200/-



Product Availability: At all leading retail outlets.
 

Friday, February 8, 2013

Nestlé Milkybar


This is one of those reviews that must be written because there are Milkybars in the market. I wouldn't be caught dead with one, because who the fuck eats white chocolate? White chocolate isn't chocolate at all! Yeah, yeah, it's made of cocoa butter (and milk solids and sugar and salt), but what does not have cocoa  solids in it, and therefore none of the goodness of the theobromine and other thingamagics, is as good as useless. Basically, chocolate without cocoa = no sexy compounds = no serotonin = FAIL! I mean, there should be something in chocolate besides its waist thickening properties, right?

So, basically white chocolate is useful only for your enemies to get fat and yes, aesthetics! A slab of white chocolate is a beautiful thing to look at and touch with its creamy, ivory surface and makes for excellent chocolate porn. ;)


Okay, coming back to Nestle's Milkybar, it still sucks. I ate a bar after I don't know how many years, and it still is that sickeningly sweet product that put me off white chocolate as a child. It is smooth in the way all white chocolates are, given the amount of cocoa butter they contain. But taste wise, it is below average than even most other Nestlé chocolates.


Unsurprisingly, few other indigenous brands make white chocolate in the country. Chief players, Cadbury and Amul, have no white chocolate products for example. But if Milkybar has managed to stay in the market for as long as I remember, it must have a strong enough demand. At INR 10 for an 18 g bar, I guess it has enough takers. Milkybar even comes in variations like Milkybar Choo (in Strawberry and Chocolate flavours) and Milkybar Crispy Wafer.

  
 I don't know who eats them. I certainly don't [but for the love of this blog].

RATING: 2/5

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Chocolate Happy Land Exhibition, Shanghai


Fancy a life-sized chocolate car, a chocolate 'Terracotta' army, or Eiffel and Pisa towers of chocolate? Not good enough for you? How about a chocolate Mona Lisa or a chocolate David by Michelangelo? These huge works of chocolate art bear testimony to how chocolate manufacturers of the world are going completely crazy trying to break into the Chinese market.



Close on the heels of the Chocolate Wonderland Show in January, the rival Chocolate Happy Land Exhibition (yeah, the Chinese and their English) is being held in Shanghai now. Both shows are held in the prime gift-giving occasions of the Lunar New Year and Valentine's Day. The Chocolate Happy Land exhibition boasts edible re-creations of world-renowned icons of refinement, glamour and heritage, from a giant Mona Lisa and Marilyn Monroe to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Winged Victory of Samothrace. 

With shows like these, manufacturers hope to tap into the gifting traditions of the Chinese, if not their non-existent sweet tweet. Say organisers, I got a huge sweet tooth. Keep my invite ready for the next year, yes?





Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Chocolate things at Costa Coffee


Scoff all you want at my teenager-like preference, but the Costa Coffee outlet in Chembur, Mumbai is one of my favourite hangouts. What else is one supposed to do with teetotaler friends, aye? Drink coffee at a cafe, and if you're stupid like yours truly, you go ahead and order chocolate beverage. And if you're doubly stupid, you coerce your friend to order some more chocolate beverage.


So we waited expectantly for our Hot Chocolate, Double Chocolate Cooler, and Choconut Cookies to arrive hoping to die a chocolate overdose death by the end of the hour. Our pretty-looking drinks arrived in Costa's typically-pretty glassware but the contents were disappointing. The hot chocolate was insipid, and I could very well be drinking watered-down Bournvita. We hoped the Double Chocolate Cooler would fare better, but there didn't seem to be even a single portion of chocolate in there. At INR 110 for a small cup of Hot Chocolate and INR 160 for the Double Chocolate Cooler, the disappointment seemed magnified. If Costa is trying to do subtle here, I'm not sure it's such a good idea.


My last hope were the Choconut Cookies. At INR 80 for a pair, the cookies had better be good. Thankfully, they were. While I'm no fan of soft-baked cookies, these tasted quite decent with the dark chocolate and a generous amount of nuts - cashews and almonds. But these are not something I'm buying again.


Overall, the chocolate things at Costa Coffee were a disappointment, and you'd do best to stick to what Costa is known for - their coffee.

RATING: 2.5/5

Monday, February 4, 2013

Le Chocolatier Caramel-Chocolate Bar (by The French Loaf)

When I was taking in the sights of Chennai on my recent maiden trip there, I noticed several outlets of The French Loaf. I made a mental note of checking out one of these yummy sounding joints, but couldn't due to lack of time. However, on my way out, I happened to spot another one of The French Loaf's kiosks at the airport. But this one was a chocolate counter (joy of joys!) and not an outlet for bakery/patisserie items.


 I immediately headed over and saw the most beautiful display of chocolates I have seen in a while. I felt an almost child-like joy in seeing those variously-shaped chocolates in the display cases and revolving shelves. There were bikes and bells and spoons and rabbits - all made of chocolate! I clicked on zealously, while other airfarers looked on amused.





After a totally 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' moment, I made the tough decision of a purchase and bought a Caramel-Chocolate Bar for INR 165. I picked this one because I've never have a 2-in-1 bar before and who can say nay to milk chocolate, white chocolate, chocolate chips and caramel all at once?


Packaged simply, much in the manner of homemade chocolates, the products at Le Chocolatier are tempting to look at because of their see-through covers. Unfortunately, prettiness is all there is to Le Chocolatier chocolates - at least the Caramel-Chocolate bar.


Teeth-numbingly sweet, this chocolate bar was a put complete put off for me. It is probably an adherence to the standard Indian preference for supersweet chocolates, but a chocolate has to have some taste of cocoa, no? There is hardly any difference between the milk and the white chocolate, given the overriding sweetness, though I found the white chocolate to be a tad smoother. The chocolate chips do little to salvage the product, and the only saving grace is the caramel in it. The caramel sprinkling over the milk chocolate makes it look appealing and also lends it a welcome crunch.

I don't know how The French Loaf fares with its core bakery products, but going by this one specimen (which, frankly, is unfair), chocolate does not seem to be their forte. I'm definitely going to try some other products from the chain before I form an opinion about them, but my rating for this bar is surely going to be a lowly two.

RATING: 2/5

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