Thursday, October 31, 2013

Milka Noisette

Established in 1826 by Philippe Suchard, Milka is one of the oldest Swiss chocolate brands in the world. The brand name Milka was trademarked as early as 1901 and it has been derived from the German words 'Milch' (milk) and 'Cacao' (cocoa). Some suggest that the brand name was Suchard's tribute to a famous soprano of those times, called Milka Ternina.

The brand changed many hands over the years, and was finally bought over by Kraft Foods, now Mondelez International in October 2012. Today, the brand famous for its trademark purple packaging, the purple cow mascot and quality products has a global presence. Especially so now, since I could buy it off the supermarket's shelf in Mumbai.

Despite my sworn dislike for milk chocolate, I will say one thing. This is the best milk chocolate I've ever had. The Milka Noisette (hazelnut) Milk Chocolate is a very rich-tasting chocolate with a beautifully dense texture. It's smooth as silk and melts in your mouth releasing the sturdy flavour of hazelnut. It's as sweet as any other milk chocolate, but I didn't mind that for the first time. Hell, I love it and if I had to pick one milk chocolate among the many I've ever had, it would be this one.

At INR 160 for 100g, it's not very expensive either and it has Chocosophy's love!

RATING: 4.5/5

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bobbi Brown Limited Edition Rich Chocolate collection

I reckon models make themselves happy by looking and sniffing this sort of chocolate. Poor things. But hey, anything chocolate works for me. So here's presenting the Bobbi Brown Limited Edition Rich Chocolate collection.

Reminiscent of your favorite decadent chocolate bar, this fall’s must-have palette offers a range of beautiful brown tones in an array of textures and finishes – from matte to soft shimmer to sparkle. These shadows are designed to be worn alone or layered for a smoldering look. Plus, the palette includes a Dual Ended Eye Shadow, Eye Liner Brush and mirror for easy, on-the-go application.

Shades: Bone Eye Shadow, Cocoa Eye Shadow, Stone Eye Shadow, Frappe Eye Shadow, Champagne Truffle Shimmer Wash Eye Shadow, Caramel Sparkle Eye Shadow, Rich Chocolate Eye Shadow

Price: INR 2940 /-

Sunfeast Dark Fantasy Choco Meltz

I'll have to admit that I'm quite partial to the ITC Sunfeast's Dark Fantasy brand. While their other food products have fared an average, they've cracked it with Dark Fantasy. I've reviewed their Chocolate Cream biscuits and centre-filled cookies, Choco Fills, before, and I've bought them over and over. They recently launched a variation of Choco Fills called Choco Meltz and it immediately went into my shopping cart.

Basically, Choco Meltz are a richer version of Choco Fills, because these cookies have chocolate not just on the inside, but outside as well. It might be one of the first indigenous product, inspired by the famous Tim Tam format. Tim Tams are chocolate-coated cookies that relatives from the US/UK brought you during their annual visits. But Tim Tams are now easily available here too. More about that later.

Choco Meltz basically are the chocolatiest biscuits there can be and are quite awesome. And here's what you do to make them awesome-er. Dunk them in hot chai or coffee to let the top layer of chocolate melt a little and go mmm...But frankly, it's a little overwhelming. As a product concept, I think I prefer Choco Fills to Choco Meltz, because the former has a crisp cookie shell that complements the filling. In the case of Choco Meltz, the outer coating of the chocolate dominates, and the inside filling is kinda lost. But hey, no one died of an occasional chocolate overdose, right?

A 120g pack costs INR 60 and has 6-7 individually packed cookies. Try it, I say.

RATING: 3.5/5

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Royce store @ Palladium, Mumbai

Here's the deal about Royce chocolates in two words - effin overrated!

Back in July 2013 when the store first opened at the Palladium mall in Mumbai, there was so much media hype around it, one thought Royce was THE best brand of chocolate in the world. Article after article gushed about the exotic nature of the products until one wondered if one was really missing out on something extraordinary. I finally found the time to check out the Royce outlet last month.

The Mumbai shop, the 12th outpost of this Hokkaido-based brand, has opened under the aegis of Burgundy Hospitality, a new company founded by entrepreneurs Avani Raheja and Samir Gandhok. Tucked away on the ground level of the main hall, the Royce 'store' is really a large counter. However, it is brightly lit and tastefully decorated.

Almost entirely done in wood with red accents, the store is a warm little place. Product pictures line one wall, and boxes and display cases populate other areas. However, when I visited, there was very little stock and hence the products on display were few.

One of the interesting things that caught my eye on the main counter was this 'Chocolate Education Set'. It had real cocoa bean samples and a variety of pictures on the process of chocolate production in it, but the text was in Japanese. :-/ So yeah, interesting and quite useless.

Coming to products, I was most keen on trying the chocolate-coated potato chips, which is perhaps the most novel product of Royce's range. However, it was out of stock. So I turned my attention to Nama Chocolate - another extremely hyped product.

I did not, could not bring myself to buy a mere box of 195g for an eyewatering INR 995, but I did sample a teeniest bit of the chocolate at the store. And no, I wasn't impressed. The chocolate is subtle and has a pleasant texture, but it wasn't good enough for me to shell out those many bucks. Nope, Royce doesn't quite cut it for me.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

El Almendro Turron Almond Crocanti with Chocolate

The website for El Almendro doesn't work, but from what I gauge from the box and their inactive Facebook page, it is a very old Spanish company, having been established in 1883.Their products are apparently exported to a number of countries, judging by the number of languages of information there are on the packaging. The brand El Almendro seems to sell many versions of the Spanish tourron. Turron is basically a nougat confection typically made of honey, sugar, egg white and almonds or other nuts. Spanish tourrons come in hard and soft varieties. The soft variety has oil in it, which makes it stickier.

The El Almendro Turron Almond Crocanti with Chocolate is one of their many variants. The Spanish word 'Crocanti' roughly translates to 'crisp' in English. This 'crispy' bar has almonds and nougat on one side and a layer of milk chocolate on the other. However, the chocolate does nothing for the product because the taste of nougat and whole almonds is so dominant. I also am not a fan of the sticky texture of nougat, so this combination didn't work for me at all.

In India, El Almendro products are imported and marketed by Mumbai-based Tree of Life Pvt. Ltd. This 75g bar costs INR 160 and may be found in specialty confectionery stores in and around Mumbai. It isn't anywhere on my preference list, but nougat fans might enjoy it.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chocolate Chicken!

So when the curiosity got the better of me, I headed to IMAX, Wadala (Mumbai) to watch 'Gravity' and see what the huge fuss was all about. I was unimpressed by the movie, especially so because we I an eye-watering Rs 630 per ticket. And I would have completely forgotten the outing had it not for this exciting dish I discovered at an eatery called Zenzibu at IMAX.

Chocolate-loving gentlemen and ladies, I present to you, CHOCOLATE CHICKEN! This nondescript looking oriental restaurant on the ground level of IMAX sells something called Velvet Chicken, which are chicken wings tossed in chili chocolate sauce. Sounds perfectly sinful, doesn't it? That which is chicken, is fried and has chocolate in it cannot theoretically go wrong. But I wanted to put it to the taste test, of course. I was a little skeptical, because few, if any, restaurants perform culinary experiment with chocolate.

But when the dish arrived, it smelt good and tasted even better. It looked like ordinary chilli chicken or chicken manchurian, but the sauce was distinctively different. A perfect blend of soy, chilli and chocolate, the sauce had a spicy-sweet taste. Its sweetness was not overwhelming yet distinct and the dish retained its typical '(Indo) Chinese' taste. It was a success as far as experiments go, and if you are at IMAX, I suggest you try this.

Priced at INR 250 for a smallish serving, it may seem a tad steep to some, but it is definitely worth a try.

RATING: 3.5/5

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Hintz Chocolate Hazelnut Spread

There's very little to glean from their basic, unpretentious website, but here's what Hintz is all about. A German company, based in Bremen, Hintz has been producing food (and non food) products for over 25 years. They export products like Cocoa, Coffee, Drinking Chocolate, Honey, Jam, etc. to many countries the world over and are known for their quality. I recently spotted a Hazelnut Chocolate Spread by them, and wanted to know how it would fare as compared to the formidable Nutella.

Turns out the Hintz Chocolate Hazelnut Spread is as good if not better than Nutella. Before Nutella fanatics scream 'SACRILEGE', let me help you compare the products:

1. Packaging - Hintz comes in a glass jar like Nutella, although the label design may not be as attractive
2. Price - Hintz is relatively cheaper than Nutella
3. Consistency - Hintz has the same creamy, smooth consistency as Nutella
4. Taste - Hintz has a taste very similar to Nutella with the perfect balance of Hazelnut and Chocolate; I think I prefer Hintz to Nutella

I make these points, having used this product for quite a while. It is oh-so-spreadable and goes wonderfully with breads, crepes, pancakes, dosas, and what you will. What's more, it dissolves very well in milk, thereby making beautiful chocolate milk/shake. It costs INR 225 for a 400g jar and is totally addictive. I recommend.

RATING: 3.75/5

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Clif Energy bar - Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch

I'm not a fan of cereal bars, with the exception of Nature Valley Crunchy Oats & Dark Chocolate Granola Bars, but I couldn't resist the absolutely beautiful package design of this product. Besides, who can say nay when words like chocolate chip and peanut are floating before their eyes? So I picked up this Clif Energy bar from my trusty supermarket, Ratna Stores at Maitri Park, Chembur. These bars came all the way to Chembur from the US of A, where Clif Bar & Company make a host of organic health foods.

The company was set up by Gary Erickson in 1992 and is headquartered in Emeryville, California. Erickson got the idea of the flagship product, a basic health bar, in 1990 during a day-long bike ride. Back in those days, there were hardly any good energy bars and Erickson decided to make his own, starting his experiments in his mom's kitchen. Happy with his formula, he set up the company and named it Clif after his father, Clifford. The rock climber illustration, which is used to this day, was made by his friend, Doug Gilmore, on a napkin over dinner in San Francisco. Wikipedia cites, "in the the first year itself, sales of CLIF Bar exceeded $700,000, fueled primarily by strong sales in bike shops and the growth of the healthy and natural foods movement."

Today, the brand is highly popular not just for its products but also its CSR activities and commitment to organic foods. Clif Bar & Company produces a hot of products today, including nutrition bars for kids, protein bars for body builders, granola bars, fruit & nut bars and special bars for women. The Clif Chocolate Chip Peanut Crunch Energy Bar is one among their popular categories.

The bar comprises organic brown rice syrup, soy protein isolate, rice flour, barley malt extract, organic rolled oats, organic peanut butter, chocolate chips, cocoa butter and peanuts among other things. The taste of peanut/peanut butter comes through, but the barely-there chocolate chips don't do anything for the bar. The consistency is sticky-soft and the taste is moderately sweet. However, it isn't tasty (as is the case with all healthy foods), and has that unmistakable cardboard-like flavour that raw oats tend to have. Don't ask me when I ate cardboard.

But the taste wasn't the only turn off. Price at an eye-watering INR 210, the 68g bar is hardly affordable for everyday consumption. I would have liked to try their double chocolate bar, but I think it's way too expensive.

RATING: 2.5/5

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Fazer Angry Birds Chocolates @ The Cocoa Trees

Singapore based brand, The Cocoa Trees has recently introduced internationally renowned Fazer Angry Birds Chocolates first time in India to its vast range of chocolates for its Indian audience. The Angry birds and the pigs have now turned into sweets, lollipops and chewing gums.
The Cocoa Trees have launched Fazer Angry Bird Sweets, Lollipops, Chocolate Eggs and Chewing gums into the market.

The Cocoa Trees have launched Fazer Angry Bird Sweets, Lollipops, Chocolate Eggs and Chewing gums into the market.

  • Angry Bird Lollipop: Super popular Fazer Angry Birds have now wrapped themselves in lollipop costumes. The three fruity flavoured, groovy looking lollipops have a sudden surprise hidden inside. The Angry Bird Lollipops are available in three flavours strawberry, pear and cola. Available at Rs.290 for 120gm.
  • Angry Bird Chewing Gum: The super popular Fazer Angry Birds are now also chewing gums! Tooth-friendly chewing gums come in four flavours, summer, strawberry and cool, refreshing eucalyptus. Available at Rs.495 for 70 gm. 
  • Angry Bird Chocolate Eggs: Fazer Angry Birds Surprise Eggs are really big milk chocolate eggs with surprises in every chocolate egg. Available at Rs. 795 for 100 gm.
  • Angry Bird Candy Bags: Fazer Angry Bird Candy Bags contains 5 unique characters and shapes, from strawberry Red Bird, to the crunchy and chewy caramel eggs. The colourful and tangy birds taste like familiar strawberry, spiky lime, delightful orange, wild berries, and punchy cola with a fresh lemon filling. Available at Rs. 190 for 120 gm.

Fazer Angry Bird Collection is now available at all The Cocoa Trees outlets, two stores in Mumbai and one at Mumbai airport, three in Pune, one in Delhi T3 domestic airport and Goa.

Clayspray Chocotherapy Pure Cocoa Mask

While this one's made for the face, I have little doubt that most of it is going to go in my mouth if I ever lay hands on it. I'm pretty sure the laying my hands on it bit will never happen because this damn thing costs INR 6070! So, basically this is a resentment post. But oh ye, the rich amongst us, you ought to try it.

Why? Because the Clayspray Chocotherapy, a mask for the face and body, is pure chocolate Emulsion with natural mineral water. Imagine smearing pure cocoa on yourself and getting all those amino acids, proteins and minerals. The product serves as a moisturizing and soothing treatment, which is also revitalizing and energizing.

And if you don't buy into all that froufrou, think of it as an expensive way of improving your mood, reducing stress and fatigue. And hey, if can be used on the hair too.

Buy it at: JCKRC Spa Destination Pvt. Ltd., Tel: +91-22-27757532

Price: Rs. 6070/-

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Valor Dark Chocolate 70% Cocoa

I love dark chocolate, but I usually draw the line at 70% and am not among those chocolate snobs who pretend to enjoy 98% cacao in their bar. I find it way too bitter and much prefer a 60-70% concentration. Always on the lookout for new brands to try, I picked up this bar of 70% dark chocolate by Spanish chocolate brand, Valor, literally meaning value. The brand aims at to offer... ahem... 'adult pleasure' through its chocolates.

Established in 1881 by one Don Valeriano López Lloret on the small scale, the business was formalised in 1916 and there on, Valor steadily grew in size and the variety offered to their patrons. The company celebrated 125 years in 2006 and through their franchise model, have taken business to a new level. Their current range of products include chocolate bars, chocolate bonbons, hot chocolate, bakery products and gourmet chocolate.

The 70% dark chocolate bars are something of a specialty and is available in different flavours like mint, toffee, pear, banana, coffee, orange, etc. However, I picked the plain dark chocolate as a first preference and a measure of the true taste of the chocolate. The chocolate isn't too smooth, but that's something I think is true of all chocolates with a cocoa concentration of 70% and more. It has a fair taste, but not much aroma and will probably taste well when paired with other things. It is a no frills chocolate and easily passable. However, I'd love to try some of their unconventional flavours like Banana Dark Chocolate.

RATING: 2.5/5

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Droste Holland Almond Milk Chocolate XXL Pastille

With a heritage of over 150 years, Droste is one of the better known names in the world of chocolate and confectionery. I first came across it at The Cocoa Trees, a multi-brand specialty chocolate store in Mumbai. However, a good friend and colleague brought me this to sample and review for Chocosophy.

Droste was founded by Gerardus Johannes Droste in 1863 in Haarlem, The Netherlands. The company prominently sold drinking chocolate in the beginning and its ads with a lady holding a Droste pack and a mug on a tray become very popular. The ad shows the Droste pack with the same image as the ad, creative a visual recursive effect. This effect was named the Droste effect after this company and its iconic ads.

Over the years, the brand changed many hands and is currently owned by German company, Hosta. However, it continues to operate as an independent business unit ans retains the famous brand name. Droste's products can be found in over 60 countries. One of its most famous products is the Pastille. A pastille or troche is a type of sweet (or medicinal pill) made of a thick liquid that has been solidified and is meant to be consumed by light chewing and allowing it to dissolve in the mouth. In this context, it means a round centre-filled chocolate, usually sectioned into four quarters.

The Droste Holland Almond Milk Chocolate XXL Pastille weighs about 50 g, and costs INR 125 per piece. As you see in the picture, it doesn't have much of a 'filling', but has abundant almonds. The milk chocolate, with 34% cocoa, is smooth but much too sweet and of a rather mediocre flavour. It is quite forgettable and I'd even go as far as to say our Indian Cadbury chocolates fare better if sweet, milky chocolate is what you want. This one's an easy miss.


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