Monday, April 29, 2013

Baker Street Choco Nut Cookies

I saw this attractive box of cookies at a local supermarket and picked it up to see how much it would fare on a scale of local bakery ka maal to multinational-made biscuits. The store had a number of products from this new brand and I was surprised at the variety. Of course I chose the Choco Nut cookies, because CHOCOLATE!

The makers turned out to be some Sarjena Foods Pvt. Ltd. from Mumbai and one ought to laud them for churning out a fair variety and taking over supermarket shelves almost overnight. Yes, I know those spaces can be bought, but they've managed to hang around for a while now. On my subsequent trips to other supermarkets, I saw more Baker Street products. Also, hat tip for a wonderful choice of brand name, an ISO certification, and packaging, which has all the trappings of fancyass brands - you know, nutrition chart and all. Only the ingredients list had no mention of nuts in the said choco NUT cookies. :D

That, however, makes the cookies no less good. Although more bakery than multinational, the cookies were rather appealing in terms of quantity and quality. A 200 g pack costing INR 45 (INR 50 outside Mumbai)  has about 20 cookies that are crunchy, nutty and somewhat chocolate-y. They're a little greasy to touch, but taste good enough for one to ignore that. Apparently, the brand also exports to the US, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and the far East, if their website is to be believed. I won't go as far as to say, they're export quality, but they sure are a good attempt by a homegrown brand to make better than average quality stuff.

RATING: 3.5/5

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Chocosophy news: Kit Kat Final 50, chocolate taster and chocolate masters

The Kit Kat Final 50 Art Project

Okay, riddle me this. What does art and chocolate make together?
"SWEET!" Duh.

Yeah, so Kit Kat pulled off this fabulous art project in Australia to 'immortalise' its Final 50 bars of the Limited Edition Kit Kat White Chocolate bars.

Artist Mike Watt was invited to make 50 paintings from 50 bars of Kit Kat Limited Edition White Chocolate bars. Watt crushed and melted the chocolates, giving him 'white chocolate paint' to work with. Check out the video below to see how he did it.

Here are some of Watt's sweet work and you can see all 50 in their FB album.


Welsh woman bags 'chocolate taster' job

There's actually a job of a 'chocolate taster' and this woman has it! Jane Ballinger, from Glyn Ceiriog, Wrexham, beat 77,000 contestants to win the post of 'honorary chocolate taster' for Cadbury for a year. Much like Charlie in the chocolate factory, Jane will get a year's chocolate supply for free and will be consulted for taste before Cadbury's innovations are released to the public.

I waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaant!!!!!


Denis Karaca winner of Chocolate Masters Asia Pacific Selection

Australian chef  Denis Karaca took home the top honours at the World Chocolate Master Asia Pacific round. The World Chocolate Masters is an initiative of the three leading gourmet chocolate brands, Callebaut, Cacao Barry and Carma. Karaca was followed by second place Lei Fu Veng from Macau at the competition, that was held in Taipei. Both Chefs won a full travel package to compete in the World  Finals which will be held in Paris  between 28th and 30th October 2013.

Frey Dark Lemon & Pepper

I remember being SUPER EXCITED when I spotted this one at The Cocoa Trees and thinking 'Wow! But lemon and pepper are ingredients of soup. DAFAQ does anyone put them into chocolate!?' Even though I was less than impressed with my first Frey, I was willing to give the brand another go just for coming up with a flavour so innovative.And I'm so glad I did.The best-selling Swiss brand has more than salvaged its reputation.

The Frey Dark Lemon & Pepper chocolate is one of the most exciting chocolate products I've recently tasted. And it comes close to my Lindt Wasabi and Chilli chocolate experinces.

The dark chocolate contains lemon granules, black pepper and 55% cocoa among other things making for an exquisite combination. The primary taste is that of lemon, an unmistakable tang, that comes from thickly interspersed granules/crystals of lemon. These crystals are crunchy and release the lemony taste in bursts as you take the first bites of the chocolate. The chocolate itself is smooth, dark and with the right amount of sweetness. The taste of pepper is not evident in the beginning, but strikes in the end. The mild and pleasant burn of pepper can be felt in the throat after the chocolate has been swallowed. This tangy-sweet-pungent sequence makes for a brilliant taste experience.

One of the companies that import and market Frey products in India is Cosmo Fine Foods from Chennai. This 100 g pack cost me INR 225 and I'm so going to repeat this manner of shameless indulgence. You should too.


Monday, April 22, 2013

Bernique Sugar Free Dark Chocolate

I chanced upon this curious brand of chocolate at a local supermarket in Mumbai and picked it up because one rarely sees a dark chocolate variety that is also sugar free. Most Indians would find that combination unpalatable. But I wanted to see what a weight management, diabetic friendly chocolate tasted like.

Bernique is one of the many chocolate brands manufactured by the Malaysian company Francestle (nope, no website!). Its other brands include Alfredo, Chaumet, Checkers, and D Cocoa, of which Checkers and D Cocoa are value-for-money brands, while the other three are more high end. Alfredo and Bernique have a lot of varieties. Bernique's range includes sugar-free milk chocolate, Tiramisu, milk chocolates with fruit & nut, hazelnuts, almonds, and even white chocolate.

Established in 2009, Francestle produces Halal-certified chocolates and they are sold in countries like Japan,China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Africa, India, and Vietnam among others. Besides their own brands, the company makes chocolates on contract for private labels. The brand is known to use 100% pure cocoa butter for its chocolates - at least the high end ones.

Elegant yet fuss free in its packaging, the Bernique Sugar Free Dark Chocolate is appealing in an elemental way. The chocolate bar is basic looking too, with no branding on it. You might as well be eating chocolate compound as far as appearances are concerned.

The chocolate itself is rather pleasant to taste and has a wonderfully smooth texture. The pack doesn't mention the cocoa percentage, but I would peg it around 55-60%. It isn't bitter nor does it have any strange aftertaste as happens with most sugar free products due to artificial sweeteners.

A 100 g pack costs INR 210. While it is quite steep, it would make for an ideal gift for a chocolate-loving diabetic or a calorie-counting freak.

RATING: 3.5/5

Nestle Aero

I finished the many pending posts of Chocosophy yesterday after much badgering by chocolate stakeholders at home. Because without my photographing them first, no one gets to open a new chocolate bar. This baby had been sitting in the 'collection' for quite some time and boy, I didn't know what I was missing!

Bubbly chocolates are an absolute joy. There are many brands making this kind of chocolate today, but Nestle was the pioneer with Aero. It has come up with many variations over the years like mint, orange, white chocolate and even biscuit, but the USP of the product remains its amazing texture.

Aero is basically an air chocolate, which is made using a complex process invented by one Mister Rowntree in 1935. Head to Wikipedia to know more about this process. The bottomline is, the air bubbles in the chocolate increase the taste experience manifold and look like coarse foam material on the inside - see this?

I was so mesmerised by my first air chocolate experience that I almost didn't notice how sweet the milk chocolate bar was. Aero also apparently has a couple of dark chocolate variants - plain and orange, and it would be quite something to taste those. Other Aero products include caramel and truffle bars and even hot chocolate!

If you haven't tried an Aero or any air chocolate yet, do. The laws of chocolate addiction compel you to! At INR 65 for a 41 g bar, it is every bit worth your money and more.


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mars' Twix Cookie Bars

I'm pretty sure the company Mars is aiming at world domination, at least as far as chocolate production is concerned. Every second imported chocolate I pick up turns out to be a Mars product. Can't say I've seen a lot of Twix around in India, but I've 'seen' a lot of it, thanks to global television. And now, because of Chocosophy, I've turned into this compulsive chocolate buyer-eater person and recently picked up a pack of Twix to see what the big deal was all about.

And like an obsessive chocolate blogger, I read about it before I ate it. Never mind my taste experience later, but I was quite blown away by the Twix website. It is most definitely one of the most clever websites (based upon their North American 2012 advertising campaign*) I've ever seen.

So, typically a Twix is a pack of two chocolate-coated biscuit/wafer fingers with some caramel in it. They're called cookie bars and many, many variations and flavours have been made in different countries over the years. Dark chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter, coconut and coffee (java) are some examples.

Twix also has ice cream bars, which have a milky, creamy filling along with caramel instead of the standard cookie insides. Even Twix ice cream flavours have made a way into the market , showing just how popular they are.

I don't see why, though. I found the classic Twix chocolates to be rather boring. Well, it might have to do with my general dislike of milk chocolate and sticky caramel, but even the whole taste experience is rather underwhelming. Let's say, I feel as much love for Twix as the home-grown 5 Star, which isn't much. I'm definitely not paying INR 50 again for a 58 g Twix pack when I can find similar boring milk chocolate-waffer-caramel combinations much cheaper.

RATING: 2.5/5

Friday, April 19, 2013

Mc Vitie's Choco Cream biscuits

McVitie's is over a century-old biscuit-making company, with a global presence. But they're now part of the UK-based United Biscuits group and are produced and marketed in India by them since 2009. McVitie's has a small-ish range of biscuits in India and I daresay they aren't the best ones around. There has been some aggressive marketing going on with freebies on offer, but a basic lack of quality can't take one too far.

Especially sad are their chocolate cream biscuits that they called Mc Vitie's Choco Creams. Insipid chocolate cream inside equally insipid chocolate biscuits makes for (no prizes for guessing!) insipid chocolate cream biscuits. The pack claims the product has no artificial colours, which might explain the lack of 'character'. While it is a good thing, tasteless and colourless food just isn't appealing.

They make up for it with their packaging, though. Bright colours and yes, Doraemon on the packet make it an easy pick-me-up. The INR 10 pack weighs 63 g and has just about six biscuits and a small Doraemon jigsaw puzzle. Cute, but the pieces and interest are easily lost.

Sunfeast Dream Cream Bourbon biscuits

I've said this before and I'll say it again, ITC's Sunfeast is not the best of biscuit brands barring one or two exceptional products. ITC forayed into the biscuit market almost nine years ago with the brand Sunfeast and has since expanded to include pastas and instant noodles in their profile, but it might never catch up with the Nestles, Parles, and the Britannias of the world. Why? Because they've consistently made below par products like this one.

Sunfeast has replicated all popular biscuit types including Marie, Nice, and Bourbon. The Dream Cream Bournbon Delight is your typical chocolate cream sandwich biscuits with a sprinkling of sugar on the top layer.

As you can see, the amount of cream is quite meager and they don't look too good either. The taste is just as average. There's no reason why anyone would pick up a Dream Cream Bourbon over a Bourbon biscuit of some other brand, except maybe because they were the first things one saw on a supermarket shelf.

Sunfeast is probably worried about keeping the price on the lower side for affordability's sake, but the quality is compromised. At INR 12 for a 75 g pack, they are very easy on the pocket, and also perfectly forgettable.

RATING: 2.5/5

Friday, April 12, 2013

Chocosophy product launches: McVitie's, Valrhona, Tayto

McVitie's launches The Big One - a Jaffa Cake that really is a cake

McVitie's world-famous Jaffa Cakes, that the company started selling as long back as 1927, now has a much bigger twin. Called the Big One, these Jaffa Cakes are really 'cakes' with the characteristic chocolate top coat and orange jelly layers in a sponge cake base. The recipe, named after Jaffa oranges, is replicated and sold by many other brands such as Cadbury's and Tesco. Typically, Jaffa cakes are biscuit sized and are also sold as bars or small packs.

The Big One is priced at GBP 7 apiece and is being sold in the UK in Asda and Morrisons. Importers in India, do you hear me?


Crisps maker Tayto introduces limited edition chocolate

The more I learn about chocolate, the more I'm convinced that the possibilities with chocolate are endless. Here's an example that may sound like sacrilege to some. Renowned Irish crisps maker, Tayto, has turned their popular Cheese & Onion crisps into a limited edition chocolate bar!

Images such as these of plain chocolate bars with a typical Tayto packaging have been doing the rounds of the Internet for a while now, but the real thing was made and put out in the market for sale only recently. This milk chocolate bar is infused with bits of the company's famous Cheese & Onion crisps.

The company is reportedly making only 10,000 such bars, which are much in demand and are expected to be sold out soon. Would you like crisps in your chocolate?


Valrhona's Dulcey is world's first blonde chocolate!

Love it or hate this, this is one chocolate innovation you gotta sit up and take notice of. French chocolate company, Valrhona, has introduced the world's first 'blonde' chocolate as the Dulcey bar in what looks like a wonderful union of the sweetness of white chocolate and the smoothness of milk chocolate. Blond chocolate was discovered quite by accident by Frederic Bau when he left white chocolate in a boiler for 10 hours. The long roasting gave the chocolate a unique colour, aroma and flavour. The creamy chocolate smells like roasted almonds and tastes like mildly salted shortbread.

Although just introduced, Dulcey has already won two distinguished awards: Le Grand Prix de l’Innovation (Grand Prize of Innovation), at the world renowned SIRHA food trade show in Lyon, France and the Readers’ Prize from La Toque, a magazine for artisan bakers, pastry chefs, chocolate makers, confectioners and ice-cream makers.

Presently, a 2.99 oz. bar is priced at $7.99. I sure want to try this one.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Chocosophy news: World's first chocolate hotel, stamps and VERY low cal chocolate

The Chocolate Boutique Hotel - the world's first chocolate themed hotel

Bournemouth in the UK has introduced the world's first chocolate-themed hotel - The Chocolate Boutique Hotel. All of its 13 chocolate-themed rooms are fitted with chocolate fountains and there are midnight treats for chocoholics like me. The hotel also has chocolate workshops for guests and a bar which whips up a vast range of chocolate cocktails. The place hosts hen and slumber parties and the room tariffs range from GPB 65 to 170 for the best suite.


'Edible' chocolate stamps debut in Belgium   

Okay, this was introduced last month, but for the latecomers, Belgium has introduced the world's first stamps infused with rich cocoa oil. The infusion is on the front and back of the stamps, so the sender as well as the receiver can experience the rich taste and scent of famous Belgian chocolates. Belgian stamp collector Marie-Claire Verstichel tried them out and declared that the taste was a little disappointing, but that the smell was good. A sheet of five stamps cost about $8.


New fruit juice chocolate formula to reduce fat in half

Scientists at the University of Warwick have found a way to reduce the fat content of regular chocolate bar! Super news, right? What's incredible is that this breakthrough formula replaces the fat with tiny droplets of juice of fruits like oranges. A concoction of water and Vitamin C instead of the fat makes the chocolate just as smooth, although it makes it taste fruity. The new process also prevents the unsightly ‘sugar bloom’ which can appear on chocolate which has been stored for too long.

The study, entitled Quiescent Water-in-Oil Pickering Emulsions as a Route toward Healthier Fruit Juice Infused Chocolate Confectionary was co-authored by Thomas Skelhon, Adam Morgan, and Nadia Grossiord at the University of Warwick.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Deliciae Patisserie

The first week of April was a week of many firsts for Chocosophy. After reviewing my first exclusive chocolate store, I went on to review my first patisserie. It was the dessert cafe of the now-famous Out of the Blue restaurant at Carter Road in Bandra, Mumbai. While not much of an establishment by itself, Deliciae Patisserie can hold its own with a varied menu and offerings.

Out of the Blue is one of the more popular eateries amidst the throng that lines Carter Road. Their off beat menu has made a name for itself, and going by Deliciae's standards, the desserts are going to be talked about very soon too. The tiny patisserie/ dessert counter if you will, is placed near the entrance of the Le Sutra Hotel building (where OOTB is by the way) and unmissable with its colourful selection displayed in the showcase.

The showcase is quite arresting with cupcakes, mousses, cakes, pastries, tarts and pies calling out to sweet-toothed customers. Some of the sexy things on their menu include Blueberry cheesecake, Tiramisu, Frozen Mud Pie, Meringue and Chocolate Truffle among other things. There is a wide enough selection for pukka vegetarians too with things like Banoffee, Blueberry Lemon Flan, Broadway Brownie, and Choco Cherry Mudcake.

Among savouries, I spotted only sandwiches and what looked like quiches. But who cares for savouries in a patisserie, right? A few chairs are also placed opposite the showcase for those who are looking to quickly dig into a dessert and not go in for a full meal at the restaurant.

My eyes, however, were glued to the showcase, wondering which of these beauties I should sample. I decided upon one egg-based dessert and one eggless variety based on their most popular items. Their highest selling offerings are Death by Chocolate (egg) and the Belgian Chocolate pastry (eggless).

When the first dessert arrived (served with ice cream no less!), I must have looked like the cat that got the cream. :D Who would not want desserts for dinner, afterall!? Death by Chocolate is a heavenly combination of mousse, chocolate, meringue and cake. And if my tastebuds weren't lying to me, there was some awesome liqueur in it too. The rosette on top was made of mousse and tasted like pure heaven. When contrasted and combined with the slightly chewy meringue and soft cake, it flooded my mouth with delightfully varied textures. As if these weren't enough, I scooped in some vanilla ice cream too. The mildly bitter chocolate and the basic sweet of the vanilla took it to another level.

Next up was the eggless (almost sounds racist, no?) Belgian Chocolate pastry, which looked as promising, if not more with dark, sinful chocolate flowing right into my heart and yeah, the waistline. This one came with a scoop of vanilla too and looked like a more fitting complement. I tucked into its creamy richness and nearly died of pleasure at the sight of its gooey insides. Soft, melting dark Belgian chocolate can kill, okay? So, that was a 10 on 10 for texture. The taste was great too, despite the egglessness, but it was one dimensional.

Perhaps, it seemed that way because Death By Chocolate was such a profusion of flavours. But since no mad person will eat these two desserts one after the other like I did, there is no scope for disappointments by comparison.

So, I was saying, don't go overboard like your friendly neighbourhood queen of cacao excesses, but definitely try the desserts at Deliciae. They're ace.

Deliciae also makes customised cakes for weddings, birthdays and all such.

They can be contacted on:
Phone: 9029023000

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