Archive for United Kingdom

Review: Cadbury Double Decker

The Double Decker is a British candy bar made by Cadbury. The name is presumably a reference to those red, two-level buses that are an iconic symbol of the country. Sadly, the packaging for the product has nothing to do with the buses. Instead, it’s bright orange and purple with a big, slanted logo across the front. Personally, I’m not a fan at all of the packaging design, but I won’t let that sway my opinion of the candy.

Structure
The name Double Decker fits the structure of the bar. It has two inner layers; the bottom one consisting of rice crispie balls spread amongst milk chocolate and the top one comprised of nougat. The whole bar is enrobed in milk chocolate.

Note: When your friends bring you candy bars back from overseas in their suitcases, don’t expect them to arrive in perfect condition.

Texture
The nougat is somewhere below a Charleston Chew and above a 3 Musketeers on the chewiness scale. The crispies are harder and larger than expected. I was thinking they’d be more like the kind in a Nestle Crunch. Instead, they reminded me of the ones in a Twix ice cream bar if you’ve ever had one of those before. Together, the chewy nougat, crispies and chocolate work well together.

Taste
There’s supposedly a light coffee flavor in the Double Decker. Either my taste buds were asleep or it’s REALLY light because I didn’t notice it at all. I’m sad because I thought this bar was bland. It was of course sweet, but neither the chocolate nor the inner layers had much flavor – just vanilla. I think a stronger coffee flavor would have helped.

Verdict
I’ve heard many times in my life that British candy bars are the best in the world. The Double Decker isn’t helping that cause. While the textures were good and different from anything I’ve had before, the flavor just didn’t cut it and ultimately, that’s what matters.

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Review: Cadbury Starbar

I was really excited to try this bar out. The packaging describes it as milk chocolate, peanuts, and caramel. That sounds like an awesome, simple combination that’s different from any of the mainstream candy bar options in the US. The closest I could think of was the limited edition Snickers Xtreme, which I hadn’t tried.

Star Bar wrapper

Structure
The center is caramel with chopped peanuts and crispies (not mentioned on the packaging) mixed throughout. The whole bar is enrobed with milk chocolate.

Star Bar cross-section

Texture
The milk chocolate is soft and mostly imperceptible. The “caramel” center is dry and chewy. I put caramel in quotes because I’m not sure it was actually caramel. It was dense like a nougat. The peanut bits were soft and scarce. Disappointingly, there were more crispies than peanuts.

Taste
The chocolate was again an afterthought. The caramel center doesn’t have much depth of flavor – just sweetness and vanilla. The whole bar has a weird aftertaste that lingers for a few seconds after each bite. The peanuts don’t deliver any roasted peanut flavor. This is all a detailed way of saying I was disappointed in the flavor.

Verdict
This is a big pass for me. On paper, milk chocolate, caramel, peanuts and crispies should all go together very well, but the Starbar just doesn’t taste very good and the caramel center is too thick and grainy. I’d recommend a Snickers Cruncher if you’re looking for something similar.

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Review: Nestlé Kit Kat Peanut Butter Chunk

Here in the US, Kit Kat bars are manufactured by Hershey’s. In the UK (which is where this bar is from), Nestlé makes them. This is a little red flag for me because I tend not to like Nestlé chocolate. On the other hand, I like plain Kit Kat bars and this version has peanut butter. So in theory, I should really like this candy bar.

KitKat Peanut Butter Chunk

Structure
The center consists of creme filled wafer covered on the top and one side with creamy peanut butter – all contained within molded milk chocolate.

Kit Kat Peanut Butter cross-section

Texture
The chocolate covering is quite thick, which is par for the course with these large single stick Kit Kat bars. Surprisingly, the wafer wasn’t the same as what I’m used to in American Kit Kats. It was lighter and not as crispy as I expected. The peanut butter is smooth and creamy, which works well with the wafer center. All together, not a bad texture; certainly better than it’s American caramel cousin.

Taste
The chocolate is a bit bland (I mentioned earlier that I’m not a huge fan of Nestlé chocolate) and the wafers don’t add any flavor. That leaves the peanut butter to save the day. Unfortunately, it does not. I don’t know how to accurately describe it, but the peanut butter tasted funny. Maybe it was too much artificial vanilla or maybe just too much sugar. Whatever it was, it just didn’t taste quite right to me.

Verdict
This was an acceptable candy bar (it’s chocolate and peanut butter after all), but I was underwhelmed. There are a lot Reese’s products I would reach for before this one.

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Review: Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Creme

In the interest of full-disclosure, I have to admit that I generally don’t like white chocolate. Since it doesn’t have any chocolate liquor nor cocoa solids, it’s not even really chocolate. On the flip side, I absolutely love Oreo cookies. They’re easily my favorite mass-produced cookie.

Before I try out a new product, I usually guess whether or not I’ll like it. Sometimes I’m surprised. Sometimes the candy bar is exactly as expected; both good and bad. With the Cookies n’ Cream, I earnestly didn’t know what to guess.

Hershey’s Cookies n Cream wrapper

Structure
A solid, 12 segment molded bar of white chocolate with little balls of chocolate cookies mixed throughout.

Hershey’s Cookies n Cream cross-section

Texture
The white chocolate is very soft; it’s almost not even like chocolate. There’s absolutely no snap when you bite in. Normally, this would be a deal breaker. However, I enjoyed the contrast between the crispy cookie bits and the soft chocolate.

Taste
Again, the white chocolate fails if you apply traditional chocolate rules. It’s very sugary and tastes like artificial vanilla. But, it kind of evokes an Oreo center. The cookie pieces do have some chocolate flavor, but they’re a bit overpowered by the white chocolate.

Verdict
The chocolate in this bar feels and tastes cheap. Any self-respecting chocolate connoisseur would probably thumb their nose at this product. But I’m going to go against traditional wisdom and recommend this product for those who like Oreo cookies. Though, if you’re looking to buy a product called “Cookies ‘n’ Cream”, I’d assume you already are and there’s a good chance you’ll also like this product.

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Review: Dove Galaxy Ripple

In the UK and the Middle East, the Dove brand of chocolate is known as Galaxy. This particular product from them seems very similar to a Flake and possibly an Aero. It seems that outside the US, people like air in their chocolate. I’ve never seen anything like this regularly sold over here in the States. I previously enjoyed Mint Aero, so let’s give this one a try.

Galaxy Ripple wrapper

Structure
The whole bar is very long and thin. The center consists of thin layers of milk chocolate, separated by pockets of air. The layered centered is enrobed with a thin shell of milk chocolate.

Galaxy Ripple cross-section

Texture
It crumbles a lot. I had to put my hand below my mouth to keep the small pieces from falling on the floor. The scraps of chocolate do melt quicker in your mouth than a big hunk of solid chocolate would. Overall, it’s very light and delicate.

Taste
It tastes like milk chocolate. In terms of quality, I would put it a half-notch above Hershey’s. Dove (i.e. Galaxy) is marketed as a high-end chocolate, but I’m not convinced it’s all that good.

Verdict
There’s nothing particularly offensive about this bar. It’s just boring. I like plain chocolate bars, but I usually reach for something higher in quality if that’s what I’m going for. If the only distinguishing feature of the bar is that it has a unique texture, it should improve upon the regular feel of chocolate. I’m not sure that Ripple accomplishes this.

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Review: Nestlé Mint Aero

Aero bars have actually been around since the 30’s. Though as an American, they’re new to me. The name comes from the air bubbles that are pumped into the chocolate right before it solidifies, leaving a honeycomb-like structure.

I’m a huge fan of the packaging. Maybe I’m a little biased because the green and the bubbles remind me of the Candy Bar Lab logo, but the graphics made me want to eat this bar. Also, chocolate paired with mint is a classic flavor combination. Needless to say, I was excited to tear open the green foil and bite in.

Nestle Mint Aero wrapper

Structure
The center is mint-flavored white chocolate tinted green and filled with bubbles of air. This is covered with mint-flavored dark chocolate – molded into a seven-segment bar.

Nestle Mint Aero cross section

Texture
The air pockets make this bar very light and easy to bite through. It crumbles a bit, which helps the chocolate melt on your tongue. Without the air pockets, this would just be a flavored chocolate bar. The bubbly center elevates it to something special.

Taste
No surprises here – it tastes like an Andes mint. I really like that the mint flavor is found in both the inside and the outside. You can’t miss it. As a side note, Mint Aero smells wonderful as soon as you open the packaging; easily the best smelling confection I’ve reviewed thus far. Then again… anyone surprised that mint smells good?

Verdict
I definitely recommend Mint Aero. It is tasty and refreshing. Most importantly, the texture is unique. The only problem is they’re a little hard to come by. But if you ever see one in the store, don’t miss the opportunity give it a try.

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Review: Cadbury Crunchie

I was able to find a few British bars at a local candy store, so this will be the first of a few I will soon write about. This candy bar from Cadbury is different from any of the mainstream American bars. It’s mainly comprised of honeycomb; a light, brittle confection. Its made by heating sugar to a hard crack or caramel stage then mixing it with sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and acid. This combination releases carbon dioxide (CO2), which forms bubbles. The sugar then hardens as the mixture cools to create the final product.

I first tried this bar on a trip to Bermuda a couple years ago. I’m curious to see how much I like it when I really put it through a taste testing.

Cadbury Crunchie wrapper

Structure
A long, square honeycomb center enrobed in milk chocolate.

Cadbury Crunchie cross section

Texture
Crunchie is surprisingly easy to bite through; it’s very light and crispy. It breaks apart cleanly as soon as you bite in. The honeycomb melts quickly in your mouth and you can feel it dissolve when your tongue touches it. The negative is that the whole bar, including the chocolate, is really dry – almost powdery. I’m reminded of a freeze-dried ice cream sandwich I ate recently. I really think this needs something liquid (i.e. caramel or honey) or even waxy to counter the dryness.

Taste
You’ll mostly taste milk chocolate. The honeycomb releases an odd burnt flavor into your whole mouth as it breaks apart. I’m not sure if this is from the CO2 in the manufacturing process or if it’s burnt sugar. Either way, it didn’t work for me.

Verdict
This is a beautiful looking bar that I appreciate for being different from what I’m used to. Ultimately, the texture is one-dimensional and it doesn’t taste that good. I don’t recommend Crunchie unless you’re curious to try something different.

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