Friday, 24 November 2017
A big thankyou to Tiana Fairtrade Organics for today's post, who kindly offered me some of their new CocoTop "Organic Coconut Snacks" to review, an offer I couldn't refuse! There's two varieties in the range, which is available from Amazon in 50g pots. You can buy both varities together or the Savoury and Sweet versions by themselves. Both contain only natural ingredients, are suitable for vegans, organic and gluten-free. They're lightly toasted to reduce fat content.
Tiana CocoTop Savoury:
I tried the Savoury variety first, which are coconut chips "lightly salted with unrefined sea salt". I do like the little tubs these come in, they're super handy, and unlike other coconut chips on the market you can re-seal them and save some for later. No messy bits falling out into your bag!
The coconut chips are nicely toasted and taste very fresh and good quality. They would certainly make for a nice salty cinema snack in place of popcorn, with a lot more nutrition in. I could imagine these being even better with some pepper or spices added.
7.5 out of 10.
Tiana CocoTop Sweet:
Now these were the ones I was most excited about. Because, sugar! Coconut nectar to be exact, which is a lot healthier and lower glycemic than white sugar, meaning you don't get the sugar crash later on. They had a lovely golden appearance and tasted seriously, seriously gorgeous; the coconut nectar gives a moreish caramel edge which is perfect blended with the toasted coconut chips. The perfect combination! As tasty as they were, I didn't feel the need to eat the whole tub because they felt very satisfying (also, no sugar crash, yay!).
8.5 out of 10.
Overall, I have to say Tiana are winning with these new CocoTop snacks! Not only are they super tasty they're perfectly portable and make for satisfying, nutritious and tasty eats. If these appear in any local shops I would definitely buy them regularly, they're actually much better than other brands of Coconut Chips I've tried thus far!
Tuesday, 21 November 2017
Since Ben & Jerry's launched their Non Dairy Ice Creams in the UK (check out my review of the Non Dairy Chunky Monkey here), it seems that Vegan and Dairy Free products are finally making it into the mainstream. The options are variable, with the Ben & Jerry's Non Dairy range being pretty good, whilst the Alpro Non Dairy Ice Creams are rather poor in my opinion. So how does this Non Dairy Ice Cream from Almond Dream compare? The range comprises of a few varieties, such as Mint Chocolate Chip and Velvety Vanilla, and is available from supermarkets such as Morrisons, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Asda and Ocado.com.
I saw the Salted Caramel variety reduced to £3 in Sainsbury's recently (it's usually between £4- £5) so thought I would give it a try. It's made with almonds, cane sugar, maltodextrin (from tapioca) and a few other fillers. I'm not a big fan of fillers in ice cream but I suppose being non-dairy it needs to be bulked up with something.
When I opened the tub, I was surprised to find a layer of hard caramel at the top. Is that the salted caramel? I wasn''t sure so I dug in with a spoon...it's a strange, semi-brittle texture that tastes vaguely of caramel but not quite. It tasted ok but the texture was just odd.
The ice cream below was fairly uniform, it all tasted the same with a sweet and vaguely salty butterscotch flavour. It was pretty good; it melts in the mouth nicely and is very creamy, but it was lacking something. I think this tub would be much better with ripples of salted caramel sauce running through it, rather than the hard layer of brittle on the top. But maybe it's hard to make dairy free salted caramel? Who knows!
Overall, this isn't one of my favourite Dairy Free ice creams but it's not one of the worst either. I would buy it again if there were no other dairy-free options, but I think the Mint Choc Chip might be better. This one was let down by the weird layer of caramel "brittle" on top...they need to have a re-think of that in my opinion.
Ingredients: Water, cane sugar, almonds 5%, tapioca maltodextrin, vegetable oil: safflower, brown rice syrup, stabilisers: guar gum, locust bean gum, carageenan, emulsifiers: sunflower lecithin, soya lecithin, natural flavouring, salt 0.3%, colour: plain caramel, cocoa butter, soya protein, thickener: pectin.
Nutrition Information (per quarter of pack): 119 Calories, 5.2g Fat, 16.8g Carbohydrates, 12.4g Sugars, 0.9g Protein.
7 out of 10.
You can't beat shortbread. It's one of those classic, timeless biscuits that's easy to make and always tastes good. All thanks to the wonders of butter. But when you're gluten free, sadly it's a lot harder to find a good quality shortbread, even if you make it yourself. Luckily, Dean's Original Family Recipes have come to the rescue! They are currently selling a few varieties of their Gluten Free shortbreads in the Free From section of Morrisons, including this: Choc Chip & Stem Ginger. By chance I found this for a mere 50p in a local discount store, so snapped up a couple of packs before they had all gone (the regular price in Morrisons is over £2 so these were a real bargain!)
Made with rice, potato and maize flour and butter, these also include dark chocolate chips and stem ginger pieces, for a nice warming spiciness. I don't usually go for ginger biscuits but on this occasion I couldn't say no since they were gluten free and so cheap.
They tasted absolutely delicious. I wasn't expecting a lot since many gluten free cookies don't taste of much, but these were just as good as regular shortbread. They were light, crumbly and buttery and very very moreish! The ginger and dark chocolate chips go perfectly together, a nice spicy and rich combination that tones down the sweetness of the biscuits a little. It didn't take me long to munch through most of the box - thank goodness I had bought another!
Overall, these are a definite win and biscuits that I would highly recommend if you're gluten free. A shame they're not dairy free, but if they were I suspect they wouldn't be half as good. Would I pay full price for them? As a one off treat, yes, I probably would! Find them in Morrisons, and if you're lucky enough possibly discount stores too.
Ingredients: Rice flour, butter (28%), sugar, potato starch, dark chocolate chips (sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, soya lecithin, natural vanilla flavouring), stem ginger (7%) (ginger, sugar), maize flour, ground ginger, xanthan gum, salt.
9 out of 10.
Monday, 20 November 2017
Another day, another review of Green & Blacks Velvet Edition. Why do I do this to myself? I should have learnt my lesson from trying the Velvet Edition Orange & Almond and Mint Dark Chocolate varieties, but as a dark chocolate lover I'm often tempted by special offers in supermarkets. When Green & Blacks 85% bar is on offer I'l buy it, but on this occasion the Velvet Edition range was on offer at £1.50 a bar in Tesco, so I thought I would see how the 70% tastes...naked so to speak, free from other flavours or nuts.
One thing I do like about these bars is that they contain no soy lecithin, which is always a plus. They're also dairy free and suitable for vegans (except for the Salted Caramel variety). I like the designs of the bars, too - they have nice clean squares that are easier to break than the likes of Lindt or regular Green & Blacks bars. This variety contains vanilla bean powder in the ingredients, so I was curious if this would enhance the taste at all.
To my surprise this bar was a tad nicer than some of the others I've tried in the range. It's definitely "smooth" in the sense that there's no distinct punchy cocoa flavours, instead this is replaced by a "softer" flavour of vanilla. It's pleasant, and a nice sweet bar, but I really don't see the point of it. If you're buying a 70% cocoa dark chocolate, surely you want it to taste rich, dark and punchy?
Overall, again I have to conclude that this is another pointless product from Green and Blacks and I honestly can't see this range sticking around. They've been given a good marketing push that's for sure, but fans of G&B's regular bars won't be buying them and fans of sweeter chocolates certainly won't either. I just don't think there's a gap in the market for them.
If you've tried these bars, do let me know your thoughts in the comments!
6 out of 10.
Thursday, 16 November 2017
When I'm on a health kick I do enjoy eating a lot of coconut butter. It's a healthy paleo fat that tastes sweet and is very filling to boot. I usually eat it right from the spoon, but sometimes I'll mix it with cocoa powder and make chocolatey snacks from it too.
I've never known of any flavoured varieties so I was super dooper excited when I spotted this Salted Caramel Coconut Bliss made by Biona, in my local vegan store recently. It costs £4.93 which is a standard price for coconut butter, and is described as "our Salted Caramel Coconut Bliss is made from high quality coconut flesh blended with coconut milk, coconut nectar and pink Himalayan salt".
A natural salted caramel coconut product, sounds like heaven!
Since it's now Winter it was of course rock solid in the jar, and some of the fat had separated from the coconut nectar leaving unpleasant looking lumpy bits. I took a spoonful whilst on the bus as I couldn't wait to try it and....it didn't taste good. I was so disappointed. I could only describe the flavour as somewhat meaty, sickly and unpleasant. I suspected the problem was the separation of the coconut nectar from the fat, so when I got home I melted it down in a pan into more of a liquid, fudgey paste.
And it tasted a lot better! In fact it tasted lovely, like a caramel coconut fudge of sorts, and was super easy to eat from the spoon. Yum! I will admit, I ate a bit too much, although compared to real fudge with tons of sugar and dairy, this was a lot more filling and satisfying. I was able to actually put it down and stop eating, haha!
Overall, I'm glad I put aside my initial reaction to this and saved the day by melting it down - in liquid form it's lovely and makes for a nice natural fudge substitute. I can see a lot of potential for using this to make various vegan and dairy free sweets, if you add nuts, dried fruit or seeds to it. Definitely worth a try if you're vegan, paleo or into healthier eating!
8 out of 10.
Tuesday, 14 November 2017
I always love a new chocolate bar variety, so when I spotted this mini bar of Doisy and Dam Dark Chocolate in a local Sainsbury's Express recently, straight into my basket it went. Costing £1 for 25g it certainly ain't cheap, but that's because it contains organic cocoa and has won a Great Taste Award. I had high expectations, especially since I've reviewed Doisy & Dam before - do check out my Doisy & Dam Maple, Toasted Rice & Pink Salt Review.
This bar contains coconut flakes and vanilla as well as lucuma, which is a type of fruit with caramel undertones. There's 4 segments per mini bar.
Considering the price I was expecting something special from this, and luckily it didn't disappoint. The coconut chips add some nice toasty crunchiness, whilst the lucuma and vanilla both give it a smooth, sweet caramel-like flavour. This is balanced by the rich dark chocolate, which is good quality and has a finer taste than the likes of other dark chocolates such as Green & Blacks or Lindt.
Overall, I have to say I really enjoyed this bar! It may be small but it's super tasty. Suitable for vegans, dairy free and gluten free too. For more info and ingredients check out the Doisy and Dam website: https://doisyanddam.com/products/coconut-lucuma
8.5 out of 10.
Monday, 13 November 2017
I do enjoy Madecasse chocolates, ever since I was introduced to them a few years back I've been a fan. Their range is made with Heirloom cocoa - "Earth's original and most flavourful variety of cocoa", which is quite the claim but may just be accurate. Madecasse work directly with farmers in Madagascar, making them "Direct Trade". To learn more about their story visit www.madecasse.com.
Madecasse have changed their packaging recently, and I have to say I do prefer it over the previous look. There's now a monkey holding a cocoa pod on the front which is very fitting. This Honey Crystal variety caught my eye in a large Waitrose store - but it's also available from waitrose.com. I found it on special offer of £1.99, and if you hurry it might still be on offer!
As well as a new packaging design they are also using gold foil to wrap the chocolate, which I love - it makes the bar feel super special! The chocolate contains 63% cocoa solids, with honey granules mixed in.
I ate it whilst on my travels and it was the perfect energy boost for a stroll in the park. The chocolate is rich and flavoursome - especially for a 63% cocoa bar, often at this percentage dark chocolates can lack a good flavour. The Heirloom cocoa sure does have a lot going for it! The honey crystals give the chocolate a nice sweet crunchiness which balances the flavour perfectly - you've got the rich cocoa flavour of the chocolate and the natural sweetness of the honey working in perfect harmony together. Sorry to sound corny, but it really does work well!
Overall, I have to say this is a lovely bar and one I enjoyed a lot more than most dark chocolates. The honey crystals make a nice and natural substitute for crunchy caramel, and combine perfectly with the chocolate. This is one I would buy again as a special treat, or maybe even for Christmas.
Ingredients: Cocoa liquor, cane sugar, cocoa butter, honey granules (6%), emulsifier sunflower lecithin.
9 out of 10.