Have a break, have a…matcha Kit Kat? Sunday, Jan 13 2013 

I love Kit Kats. They’re one of my top go-tos if I’m feeling stressed, probably because I have a weird way of eating them. Using my teeth, I prise off the top layer of chocolate. Then I eat the small thick square pieces off the ends. Then the long sides. And finally the long layer of chocolate at the bottom, so that I’m left with just the wafer. Then I eat the wafer (you didn’t think I was going to do something weird like throw it away, did you?!). And so onto the next bar. If this is one of those 4-bar Kit Kats, this takes quite a while. (It’s quite an intricate operation, you know.) And by the time I’ve finished, I’ve forgotten whatever it is I was worrying about.

The entire delicate process of eating an ordinary Kit Kat means that the Kit Kat Chunky just doesn’t have the same appeal. I therefore wasn’t really aware of any other types of Kit Kat. UNTIL, for the pot luck lunch at my work, one of the parents brought in a whole box of these:

matcha kk

This is a matcha (green tea) flavoured Kit Kat from Japan. This is what happens when you work in a fairly international climate. You hear about four different languages as you walk down a corridor, you hear a range of accents and levels of language acquistion in the classroom and staffroom, and you get to try weird new foods.

So how was the matcha Kit Kat? The chocolate is a pale green, and so is the cream that fills the wafer. Disappointingly, though, it just tastes like white chocolate, with any green tea flavour not being distinct.

I was surprised to learn, though (thanks, Wikipedia!), that Japan has introduced over 200 Kit Kat flavours since the year 2000, including ginger ale, crème brûlée, and café au lait – all of which I’d love to try. The power of the internet also permitted me to recall the existence of the orange Kit Kat, which was briefly on sale in the UK (if I remember rightly, it didn’t actually taste that nice). I also discovered that a Cookies and Cream version of the Kit Kat has been available in Britain since 2012: now just how did I not know that before?!

So what flavours of Kit Kat would you like to see? Continuing along the tea theme, I reckon a version flavoured with one of my favourite teas, Lapsang Souchong, would have plenty of mileage…

Ohhh fudge. Friday, Aug 17 2012 

Having been lucky enough to make two trips to Fortnum and Mason in three months, we were also indulgent enough to purchase fudge on both occasions. Both boxes have made us very happy 😀  And while both boxes were Fortnum and Mason’s own brand, this could perhaps open the door to further fudge-related posts in future…so watch this space.

The first box we bought was in a commemorative tin, in honour of the Queen’s Jubilee. (It’s difficult to say which was the primary consideration…the beautiful tin, or the beautiful fudge…although this pic doesn’t exactly show it in its full glory.)

At £15 for 454g, it didn’t come cheap (although obviously this includes the tin, so you need to account for this). However, cost of the tin aside, it seems to be in line with other high-quality fudge makers, such as The Toffee Shop, Linden Lady, and Burnt Sugar, which all charge between £8 and £10 for this amount of fudge. We found that the texture of Fortnum’s commemorative fudge was extremely pleasing, combining the crumbly/soft feeling we all remember to create the pinnacle of fudgey perfection.

On our second visit in July, we felt a second tin would be unreasonable (we already have a silly amount of tins kicking around our place – although saying this, we always manage to fill them with something…), so instead we bought this:

At around £6 for 227g, it’s also available through Highgrove’s official shop. Gram for gram, it’s verging on overly expensive (you don’t even get a tin with it :p ), but we found it had a richer, less overly sweet taste than the commemorative fudge. Par contre, this fudge seemed to hold together less well. Crumbly is good, but at the same time you need to be able to rely on being able to cut it into manageable pieces (as opposed to flakes and crumbs).

So what’s your favourite fudge? I’m beginning to feel a post on the Fudge Kitchen coming on myself. Do you consider yourself a fudge connoisseur? Is Cadbury’s version enough for you? Or are you even brave enough to make your own (NB.: I’m not, due to too many failed attempts to record…more of which anon)? Let your fudgey stories come to me 😀

Confectionery Review: Quality Street vs. Roses Friday, Aug 19 2011 

The ultimate debate perhaps: Cadbury’s Roses, or Nestlé Quality Street?

I have personally never been bothered about either of these boxes ever since both brands withdrew their coffee cremes some years ago (big mistake, guys. Big mistake.). However, this came up because my husband happened to mention that actually he rather used to like Quality Street when he was smaller. This amazed me because a) he’s French, and for some reason I had only really assumed that Quality Street tins could be found in French supermarkets up here to cater for the expat market living in and around Paris; and b) he’s French, and he generally likes a higher quality of chocolate.

Not wishing to miss this opportunity, I quietly commissioned my sister to bring me a box of each for a serious tasting session on her next visit. So, first impressions: Quality Street initially seems to be mostly comprised of toffees, caramels and fudges, which appear to be more dominant in this box than in the Roses. But the Cadbury box is equally guilty – like the Quality Street, it also contains 6 chocolates along this theme. Actually, this is worse, as the Roses box only contains 10 types of chocolate while the Quality Street contains 12.

First up for testing then was the Quality Street box. Despite the huge popularity of the Green Triangle and The Purple One with the UK market (leading to large versions thereof at Christmas), these both just made me go ‘meh’. Perhaps living in France has led to me tasting nicer praline than that existing in the Green Triangle. There’s no direct equivalent in the Roses box though, so if you like it, you should probably buy QS. As for the Purple One, I was amazed in a blind taste test to find that I actually preferred the Roses version (called Hazel in Caramel). The Purple One seemed more chocolate and very little nut and caramel (perhaps I just got a dud?) while the Hazel in Caramel seemed much more substantial. So as long as we’re working with direct comparisons – Roses 1, Quality Street 0.

Quality Street does offer a greater selection of orange-flavoured chocolate, in the form of the Orange Chocolate Crunch and the Orange Creme. The Orange Chocolate Crunch is surprisingly addictive with its great flavour and generally pleasing crunchy-smooth texture combination, and has no equivalent in the Roses box. The Orange Creme is harder than its Roses counterpart, the more liquidy Tangy Orange Creme. I wouldn’t kick any of them out of bed, though. So for orange-flavoured sweets: Roses 0, Quality Street 1.

Some more direct comparisons: the Roses Cadbury Dairy Milk pwns the QS Milk Choc Block, due to the former’s creamier and more familiar texture and taste. The Strawberry Delight in the QS box is, again, of a harder texture and less sickly taste than the Roses Strawberry Dream, while the quality of the Quality Street Fudge is about equal to the Roses Country Fudge by just about all accounts, although the Quality Street version is arguably of a more pleasing size and shape. Nevertheless, a draw: Quality Street 2, Roses 2.

This is where the Quality Street box begins to get a little silly. Does any sane human being really need a Toffee Finger, a Toffee Penny, AND a Toffee Deluxe? The Toffee Penny just gets stuck to the wrapper, and the Toffee Deluxe is far more satisfyingly chewy than its equally chocolate-covered but wimpier finger-shaped cousin. But equally, does the Roses box really need two caramels (Caramel Velvet and Caramel, between which I could see no discernible difference)? No points for anybody here.

The only remaining direct comparison is that of the Golden Barrel (Roses) and the Caramel Swirl (Quality Street). The Golden Barrel is significantly bigger, giving you more chocolate and caramel for your buck (given that it’s yet another caramel in each box, though, are we not all getting a little bored by now?). The Roses version wins, then. Roses 1, Quality Street 0.

The Quality Street box only has one chocolate type remaining – the Coconut Eclair – and it doesn’t seem to be very popular with anyone. This is a shame as it is one of the few deviating from the box’s general toffee/caramel trend (it’s one of only half the box containing nothing to do with caramel, toffee or fudge). The Roses has two variants remaining – the Brazilian Darkness (yet another caramel, this time with nuts and dark chocolate) and the Hazel Whirl, which is comprised of a praline-type centre incomparable to the Green Triangle, and a whole hazelnut, all encased in a circular chocolate. I didn’t get a chance to try either of these (presumably because my husband and sister snaffled them while I wasn’t looking) but it seems pointless to include them given their similarity to other chocolates in the box. No redeeming features here for either box; nul points.

The overall scores, then, come to Roses 4, Quality Street 3.

This is both surprising and unsurprising. Predictable because I had started out feeling rather pro-Roses, perhaps due to their winning Hazel in Caramel, the inclusion of the Dairy Milk, and the initial impression that they had more variation in the box than the Quality Street (which is a lie – they don’t. In fact, you could argue that they have less due to the lower number of varieties in the box.). My husband and I also both declared that we did prefer Roses (despite him indoors’ initial preference for QS) once both boxes were finished.

However, I am surprised that the Quality Street has been able to defend itself so staunchly (even though they still ‘lost’ in my totally unscientific tests above). They have too many similar chocolates; they have the abomination that is the Coconut Eclair; and the public favourites of the Green Triangle and Purple One just don’t do it for me. However, the Toffee Deluxe on its own gives all of the other sweets of this variant – in BOTH boxes – a run for their money, I could eat a whole box of the strawberry and orange ones on their own, and I probably do prefer the fudge in this box too if forced to choose.

So in a more accurate way, it’s probably a draw. Some suggested improvements for both boxes: have only ONE type of toffee and ONE type of caramel in each box, with the possible exception of the Purple One and the Hazel in Caramel, because that’s different. QS needs to ditch the Coconut Eclair (just who in their right mind put this in?) and Roses’ Hazel Whirl equally can probably be cut. Use the spaces these free up to bring back the Coffee Creme, the Hazelnut/Peanut Cracknell (a discontinued variety in the Quality Street box that seems to still have a loyal online following), the Montélimar nougat (again a discontinued QS chocolate), and/or some of the more interesting varieties from Roses boxes in other countries, such as the Lemon Cheesecake, Turkish Delight and Cherry Ripe. Variety’s the spice of life, you know 😉