30 Sep 2015

Review: Belvita Soft Bakes - Golden Grain & Red Berries


Belvita Soft Bakes are the newest addition to the popular Belvita range. As the name would suggest, the Belvita Soft Bakes, have a softer texture than traditional breakfast biscuits. Each Soft Bake is made with 5 wholegrains and provides a source of fibre. They're available in three flavours; Chocolate Chip, Golden Grain or Red Berries. 


Each box has five large soft bakes which are all individually foil-wrapped. 

Belvita Soft Bakes Red Berries: This one looks great, with plenty of visible berries and a lovely fruity aroma. The texture is soft, but not crumbly at all, it's more of a chewy softness. There is also an added texture from the inclusion of puffed cereal pieces and the chewier dried fruit. I really loved the fruity flavour here, which is mainly of a gorgeously sweet raspberry. 


Belvita Soft Bakes Golden Grains: The rest of the Grocery Gems household (who are not really fans of dried fruits) preferred the less sweet oaty flavour of the Golden Grains variety. I thought these had quite a strange texture at first. Without the added fruit pieces of the first variety, the crispy, yet chewy, cereal pieces in this Soft Bake seemed to be more prominent. It would have been better if these pieces were crunchier as the chewiness slightly spoils the overall soft texture somewhat. I was hoping the flavour might be similar to an oat flapjack, but since these don't contain any golden syrup they're not as sweet or buttery as a flapjack. The texture is also much lighter than a flapjack, but each Belvita Soft Bake is still very filling for breakfast or as a mid-morning snack. 

Grocery Gems Review: Belvita Soft Bakes

RATING7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes - especially the Red Berries variety.
Nutrition
 Golden Grains - 193 calories; Red Berries - 191 calories.

Purchased: Available at Asda, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Tesco. The Chocolate Chip variety is available exclusively at Tesco until Jan 2016.
Price: RRP - £2.79p .

PR Samples.

Arden & Amici Almond & Chocolate Chunk Biscotti


It's the semi-final of The Great British Bake Off tonight and way back at the start, in week two, the bakers were asked to make traditional biscotti. These delicious, twice baked Italian biscuits have a crunchy texture that is perfect with a good cup of coffee. Arden & Amici has long been my favourite brand for Italian baked goodies and their Almond and Chocolate Chunk Biscotti especially is always a popular treat. 


Inside the box there are six individual biscotti. Each Almond & Chocolate Chunk Biscotti is quite large, the perfect size in fact for dunking in a cup of coffee! 

There are large almond slivers and chocolate chunks visible throughout each biscotti. They have quite a hard texture and feel but don't be deceived into thinking they will be too dry or hard. I tried a bite of the biscotti without dunking it into coffee and it was slightly crumbly with a lovely crunch from the almonds. The chocolate chunks are also full of flavour and delicious, whilst the biscotti itself has a subtle citrus flavour throughout.


However, it's once dunked in the coffee (I made my usual strong Nespresso), that the magic really happens. The biscotti obviously becomes softer but it still holds it's shape and there's no danger of breakage. The coffee really tastes delicious with the biscuit, it seems to bring out the citrusy notes and gorgeous chocolate and almond flavours. It's just a perfect pairing and a must try for any coffee fans!

For more information take a look at: www.ardenandamici.com

There's also a lovely new recipe this September for a sweet Biscotti Chocolate Salami:  

Grocery Gems Review: Arden & Amici Almond & Chocolate Chunk Biscotti

RATING9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes
Nutrition
 128 calories per biscuit (approx.)

Purchased: Available at Waitrose and Tesco.

PR Samples.


27 Sep 2015

New Instore: Maltesers Cake Mix and M&M's Cookie Mix



Maltesers Cake Mix and M&M's Cookie Mix: I'm a big fan of Pinterest with all it's visual treats that are seemingly impossible to replicate. There are hundreds of photos of impressive looking Maltesers cakes and M&Ms loaded cookies on Pinterest so it's kind of a genius move from Mars to provide instant cake and cookie mixes for this. I would definitely be tempted to give both of these a try. Spotted in Morrisons - £1.98p and £2.43p.

A big thank you to Luci J. who spotted these and sent me the above photo. Thank you!




24 Sep 2015

Review: Mr. Kipling Elf Slices


Another day, another Mr. Kipling cake! I don't normally buy Christmas products so early in the year but I really couldn't resist these new apple flavoured cakes from Mr Kipling. As Mr. Grocery Gems put it "you just couldn't 'elf yourself could you".


There are six Elf Slices in each box which are helpfully wrapped in three portions of two slices. 


The cakes look really festive with their light green sponge topped with a bright red and green icing. Like all Mr. Kipling Slices, the sponge is lovely and soft, and the sugary icing is just melt in the mouth - a couple of bites and these are gone! Of course most people are going to be interested in the apple aspect and I'm happy to report that the sponge cake has a lovely, sweet apple flavour. It's a slightly strange experience at first because it's a bit like eating an apple pie flavoured cake, but the whole thing is ultimately very tasty. It would have been great to have some flavour in the icing too, perhaps a little cinnamon to make it really Christmassy, but that's just me being picky!

Also check out my review of the new Mr. Kipling Witches Hat Fancies from yesterday. 

Grocery Gems Review: Mr Kipling Elf Slices

RATING8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes but nearer to Christmas!
Nutrition
 108 calories per cake (27g).

Purchased: Tesco.
Price: £1.00p.

22 Sep 2015

Review: Mr. Kipling Witches Hat Fancies


Mr. Kipling have plenty of Halloween themed cakes out at the moment, from Terror Whirls to Chocolate & Slime Slices, but I was especially drawn to their new new Witches Hat Fancies. They're designed to play a trick on your taste buds as the green sponge is actually orange flavoured. Each cake is also topped with a vanilla flavoured cream and is decorated with black icing. 


I'm not actually the biggest fan of the original Mr. Kipling French Fancies, and I'm not usually tempted by their limited edition flavours either, but I just thought these ones looked extra special. The black icing gives the cakes a very unique appearance and they're certainly great looking little cakes for Halloween.


The flavour is just as sugary sweet as I remember these being (the last time I had Mr. Kipling French Fancies was this British version back in 2012!), but they do have a lovely soft cake texture and melt in the mouth topping. The orange flavour does come through strongly but it's funny how the green colouring does trick your brain into thinking they have a bit of a lime flavour in there too! Orange is not really one of my favourite flavours so I didn't enjoy the taste here as much as the rest of my family did. I would prefer to see a more interesting autumnal flavour used for these but I still appreciate Mr. Kipling giving us such innovative and fun themes for their seasonal cakes.

Grocery Gems Review: Mr Kipling Witches Hat Fancies

RATING7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes but nearer to Halloween!
Nutrition
 98 calories per cake (27g).

Purchased: Sainsbury's.
Price: £1.00p.


Schwartz Grill Mates Range & Recipe for Sticky Pulled Chicken Brioche Rolls


Schwartz launched a wide range of new flavours and marinades for their BBQ Grill Mates range. Even though the summer holidays are over, there's always hope for one more sunny weekend before the barbecue is packed away! I was sent a few of their different recipe mixes to try out; a Mediterranean BBQ Glaze and a Sticky BBQ Glaze, and also a Grilling Oil in Mediterranean Smoked Paprika & Garlic.


I especially like the Schwartz range of Grilling Oils, these little pots are very versatile and create tasty and quick meals. I simply coated the chicken in the Mediterranean Smoked Paprika & Garlic oil prior to cooking in the oven and the result was fully flavoured and delicious chicken. 


The Schwartz Mediterranean BBQ Glaze also made a super quick and easy family meal which the kids really enjoyed. Rather than being a marinade, the glaze is added to the meat near the end of cooking to seal in the flavour. The result is not as strongly flavoured as the above grilling oil but is a great way to add flavour to meat that is already cooked. 

Sticky Pulled Chicken Brioche Rolls

This simple recipe uses the Schwartz Grill Mates Sticky BBQ Glaze sachet - I'll definitely be giving this one a try at the weekend.

Ingredients:  

1 sachet Schwartz Grill Mates Sticky BBQ Glaze
6 Chicken Thighs, bone in, skin on
50ml cold water
6 Brioche burger buns
Crunchy coleslaw (optional)

Method:

Cook the chicken on the BBQ for 25-30 minutes (or in the oven until cooked through).
Remove and allow to cool slightly.
Heat the BBQ Glaze in a saucepan with the water for 3-4 minutes.
Meanwhile pull the chicken meat apart with two forks and remove bones and skin.
Place pulled meat in bowl and pour over BBQ Glaze sauce.
Stir to combine.
Add chicken to burger buns and enjoy!


21 Sep 2015

New Instore: Asda Cakes, Müller Light Coffee Shop Yogurts & More


Here's a few new products which I've spotted instores recently, including some more awesome cakes at Asda.

Asda Claudia The Cat Cake (above): Judging by her menacing appearance, Claudia would appear to be a rather Grumpy Cat. £10.00p at Asda. 


Asda Paloma The Pug Cake: For dog fans there is a much cuter looking celebration cake in the form of this adorable pug, complete with a pink bow and collar. £10.00p at Asda.


Asda Nigel the Night Owl Cake: This one is my favourite though, it's a really well decorated cake for such a reasonable price. £10.00p at Asda. 


Asda Chocolate Pinata Surprise Cake: I was pleased to see a chocolate version of the fab Rainbow Pinata Surprise Cake. I think this new chocolate version would be a popular choice for the chocoholics in my family! £12.00p at Asda.


Asda Checkerboard Cake: The black and white squares inside this checkerboard cake look really impressive (going by the photo on the box at least!). Let me know if you've tried it. £12.00p at Asda.


Asda Rainbow Jazzie Cake: A new version of the popular Asda Rainbow Cake. This new one has fewer rainbow layers inside but has more decorations in the form of rainbow sprinkles. £12.00p at Asda. 


Swizzels Rainbow Drops 2 Tier Cake: A Madeira sponge cake with raspberry jam, covered in Rainbow Drops to create a retro inspired treat. £12.00p at Asda.

Photo: Müller UK
Müller Light Coffee Shop Multipack: The Müller Light Skinny Cappuccino yogurt pots from earlier this year were so popular that Müller has decided to bring the flavour back already (although just as a limited edition again). Joining the Müller Light Cappuccino is a new Müller Light Skinny Latte flavour. I'm sure these will be just as popular - let me know if you spot this pack instore! 
New York Bakery Co Soft Pretzel Knots: These look really good! They're available in three flavours; Original, Sweet Cinnamon or Cheddar & Red Onion. I'll be looking out for these Soft Pretzel Knots this month. 


Cinnamon Flowerpot Danish: Oh my this looks amazing! I love anything cinnamon flavoured so this is a must try for me. I'll hopefully have a review soon. A big thank you to Richard W. via Twitter for this great find and photo! £1.00p at Waitrose.

If you've spotted any new products instore then I'd love to hear from you - email grocerygems@gmail.com or tweet me @grocerygems. Thank you!



17 Sep 2015

Warburtons Soft Brown Sandwich Thins - Asda's Tickled Pink Campaign


In support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Asda's Tickled Pink campaign has launched a range of gorgeous pink products which will be available instore through September and October. Warburtons Soft Brown Sandwich Thins are just one of the products that have been Tickled with Pink and 10p from each pack sold will be donated to the 2015 Tickled Pink fund, helping to support the over half a million women in the UK currently living with or after a diagnosis of breast cancer.


Warburtons Soft Brown Sandwich Thins are a healthier alternative to bread that are also incredibly versatile too. Each sliced Sandwich Thin has 100 calories and I like to use them for lunchtime sandwiches or toasted and served with soup. Even though they re thinner than sliced bread, they're still lovely and satisfying for lunch and it's easy to justify adding a bit extra to the filling!


There are lots of other Tickled Pink products available at Asda also, including these fluffy pink ribbon George slippers and a gorgeous Raspberry Shower Scrub from NSPA Fruit Extracts.


Warburtons Sandwich Thins are £1.28p including the 10p donation. They are available instore and online at asda.com. 

PR Samples.

15 Sep 2015

Edge of Belgravia Black Diamond Knife Block & Precision Chef Knife Set



Edge of Belgravia is an innovative brand of edgy and contemporary chef knives. I've been looking for the perfect knife block since we had a new kitchen fitted last year so I was delighted to hear from Edge of Belgravia about the Black Diamond Knife Block with it's sleek, modern design.


The Edge of Belgravia Black Diamond Knife Block, designed by Christian Bird, is inspired by the angles of a rough-cut diamond combined with the style and beauty of contemporary art. Tightly packed it can hold up to 11 knives, with a maximum of 4mm blade thickness, but looks just as good with fewer. The result is certainly a very striking piece and one that is not only functional but looks like a piece of art in the kitchen.


Of course, I absolutely adore the way it looks but I had to test out how user friendly the Black Diamond Knife Block is as well. Even though it has a quite open design, the knife block still feels very sturdy and solid. The well thought out design and weighting means that it doesn't topple when removing the knives and there are simple grips on the bottom to ensure it stays in place. 


The Edge of Belgravia Precision Chef Knife Set, features a collection of four different knives - a bread knife, a chef's knife, a Deba knife (inspired by traditional Japanese salmon knives) and a pairing knife. The sculpted black handles and design look so stylish and match the Black Diamond Knife Block beautifully. I've been loyal to one particular brand of knife for many years now but without a doubt the Edge of Belgravia knives are the best I've ever used - super sharp precision cuts, easy to use and with a comfortable grip. 


Overall, I highly recommend the new Edge of Belgravia Black Diamond Knife Block and also the Precision Chef Knife Set. It looks modern, stylish and simply stunning. I've had so many compliments about it since it's been in my kitchen - it's such a striking focal point and is definitely a piece to invest in. 

The Black Diamond Knife Block has an RRP of £99 (but is currently £89 on their website) and the Precision Chef Knife Complete Set is £69. Take a look at their website for more information: www.edgeofbelgravia.co.uk/collections/black-diamond

PR Samples.

13 Sep 2015

Review: Limited Edition Ribena Winter Spice


The limited edition Ribena Winter Spice was released a few days ago and I was able to find it so quickly thanks to a recent comment from TarkyTarks who had spotted it in Asda. I really wanted to track this one down, more so for Mr. Grocery Gems who's a big fan of cinnamon and non-alcoholic "mulled wine" style spiced drinks. 

It's described on the packaging as Ribena with a seasonal twist - "a delicious blend of our blackcurrant flavour that you know and love, mixed with flavoursome spices to warm you up this winter". The ingredients list doesn't really give any information as to the specific spices but I was hoping for a warming mix of cinnamon, clove and nutmeg in particular. The directions are to "serve hot" but it does also say that it can be consumed cold. 


The initial scent doesn't give much away and really didn't seem any different from standard Ribena. I decided to just make it with cold water first of all to get an initial impression. The main flavour here is still of the sweet blackcurrant Ribena base but with fairly subtle, warmer notes of spices coming through. Unfortunately this spiced flavour then gives way to unmistakable taste of the artificial sweeteners which somewhat ruins the overall warmth. I did enjoy the initial spiced flavour but Mr. Grocery Gems thought the spices were nowhere near strong enough, even after I added more Ribena to the mix for him. 

When made with hot water the spices do become more pronounced and this obviously creates a more warming drink overall. The Winter Spice flavour is still quite light but I could certainly taste some cinnamon and clove. My kids really enjoyed the mild combination and the spices were noticeable enough for them, but fans of stronger mulled drinks will probably be disappointed. It's certainly not the "non-alcoholic mulled wine option" that it's described as in the press release. The lightly spiced flavour, however, makes it more of an everyday drink, rather than a heavily spiced treat.

Grocery Gems Review: Ribena Winter Spice

RATING: 6 out of 10.

Buy them again?: Maybe (I just don't like the artificial sweeteners aftertaste).
Nutrition: 13 calories per 250ml serving. Contains aspartame.
Purchased: Asda.
Price: £2.50p (850ml).


Cadbury Milk Tray Celebrates 100th Birthday


Cadbury Milk Tray is celebrating it's 100th birthday by unveiling a cheery new box design alongside three new chocolate flavours. 


The Milk Tray selection boxes are available in four different sizes, starting with a pocket-money friendly 78g box for £1.00p. It seems that Cadbury are pitching the Milk Tray as more of a budget gift idea nowadays. With lots of competition out there for chocolate assortments it's definitely at the cheaper end of the market. 


The three new Milk Tray flavours are; a Salted Caramel Charm, a Truffle Heart, and an Apple Crunch. It's been over a decade since I last tried a Milk Tray box so a couple of the other chocolates seem new to me too, such as the Surprise Parcel (a white chocolate truffle centre). I have to start by saying that all the chocolates here have a waxy and slightly bland flavour - it's certainly not the Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate that we all know and love. Although, it's a shame, I have to admit that the Milk Tray selection box as a whole was still mostly popular with my family and friends. In fact nearly everyone went back to it more often than the box of Thorntons Continental chocolates that I also had opened at the same time. 


Apple Crunch: The filling here is quite interesting and not what I would expect to find in a Milk Tray box. It's nice to see such a different flavour included in what is a fairly simple assortment overall. The white chocolate truffle centre is not too sweet and is filled with crunchy cinnamon flavoured pieces. I liked the slightly spiced flavour of the cinnamon but I didn't get too much of the apple flavour.


Truffle Heart: This one just tasted quite bland and waxy to me. I don't think it's really terrible either, it's just not the type of chocolate I expect from Cadbury. Having said that, my kids liked this one and it was the first one to disappear from the box. My kids are usually quite fussy with chocolate (they don't really choose it very often and even in a newsagent would ask for crisps rather than chocolate bars) but I guess they enjoyed the simple flavour here.


Salted Caramel: This is a very chewy caramel centred chocolate with a decent salty edge. It definitely has enough of a salted caramel flavour to justify the name. Personally I'm not keen on chewy caramels (and neither is anyone in my family) so this is the only chocolate that there is lots left of in the box. 

I've said before on this blog that I don't often buy chocolate assortment boxes (such as Quality Street) because there is just too much waste involved - too many flavours left at the end that no one will eat. Of course we always end up with quite a few boxes as gifts and it was interesting to note that the Milk Tray was still a popular selection overall (basically there are hardly any left!). Even though it's obviously more of a budget range now it's nice to see that Cadbury are still introducing new flavours into the mix. Now if only they could bring back the proper Dairy Milk chocolate this would be a great selection of flavours!

What's your favourite chocolate assortment box? I think my favourites are usually ones that involve mini versions of chocolate bars such as Cadbury Heroes but I'm open to new recommendations!

PR Sample.



11 Sep 2015

Review: Walkers Bring It Back Flavours Beef & Onion and Marmite


A quick review for the last few flavours in the Walkers Bring It Back flavours campaign - Beef & Onion and Marmite. Even though the Marmite flavour seems to be part of this revival campaign, in terms of featuring voting info on the packaging, it's not actually included in the vote itself. The Marmite flavour is already back permanently (well for now at least), but since I've never tried this flavour before I decided to review it too. The flavours you can actually vote for are: Toasted Cheese, Lamb & Mint, Cheese & Chive, Barbecue or Beef & Onion.


Walkers Beef & Onion: These are really good! The crisps are meaty with a rich and distinctive beef flavour. The onion flavour also comes through strongly with each bite, adding a robust and slightly sweet edge. It's a great combination and one that is more enjoyable than standard Roast Beef flavoured crisps. In fact they've risen straight to the top of my Bring Me Back crisps ranking - I'll definitely be voting to bring back the Beef & Onion!

Grocery Gems Review: Walkers Bring it Back - Beef & Onion

RATING: 9 out of 10.

Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 168 calories per pack.
Vegetarian: Suitable for vegetarians.
Purchased: Newsagent.

Price: 2 packs for £1.00p (32.5g each).


Walkers Marmite: As I've already mentioned, Walkers have already chosen to bring back the Marmite flavour for now, with the public voting for the second retro flavour they want to see return. I'm not keen on Marmite at all but I found these crisps surprisingly tasty. The initial taste is quite salty and beefy, but this is joined by tangy edge that lifts the whole flavour. I can certainly see why Walkers have decided to bring this flavour back and I'm sure I will be tempted to buy them again.

Grocery Gems Review: Walkers Marmite

RATING: 8 out of 10.

Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition: 168 calories per pack.
Vegetarian: Suitable for vegetarians.
Purchased: Newsagent.

Price: 2 packs for £1.00p (32.5g each).


Check out my previous reviews from the Walkers Bring It Back retro flavours:

Lamb & Mint and Toasted Cheese
Barbecue and Cheese & Chive


Overall my favourite was the Beef & Onion, followed closely by the Cheese & Chive. Which ones will you be voting for?

9 Sep 2015

Review: Snickers Intense Choc Limited Edition


I bought this Limited Edition Snickers Intense Choc in a local newsagent. I think this is originally a Polish release, although it's difficult to tell from the packaging as there are several languages on the back.


The Snickers Intense Choc is basically a dark chocolate version of a regular Snickers, all the other elements are the same apart from the thick dark chocolate covering.


I was initially disappointed with the flavour of the dark chocolate here. It just lacked any real depth or intensity (especially given the name of this edition!). But the more I tried this bar, the more I enjoyed it overall. Unlike the milk chocolate covered version, with it's far creamier and sweeter flavour, the chocolate coating here does not dominate any of the other flavours. It's not a bitter dark chocolate, but just has fairly strong cocoa flavour, that actually works to accentuate the delicious peanut and nougat centre within. It's a successful combination, and even though I wish the dark chocolate flavour was a bit more intense, I still think I prefer the overall balance here compared to a regular Snickers.

Grocery Gems Review: Snickers Intense Choc

RATING8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition
 244 calories per bar (50g).

Purchased: Local newsagent.
Price: 3 for £1.00p.

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