Friday, 12 April 2013

Montezuma's - great chocolate, but...

I must be one of montezuma's greatest advocates, for the great vegan suitable (and therefore lactose free) dark chocolate products they make. They are the only place I can find nice lactose-free truffles, and make great dark chocolate blocks, buttons, and (as of recently) dark chocolate honeycomb. 

However, a visit to their shop in Winchester last week left me pondering their loyalty scheme, in a less-than-positive manner. Montezuma's currently run a loyalty card which they sign each time you visit. After 10 visits you get a free bag of truffles - all good. 

However, as far as I can tell (and I will be asking!), you don't get a stamp for a particular value of money. This means that, surely, it would be better to queue up several times and make smaller purchases? Mr LFL says not, as the signatures are date stamped and therefore you only get 1 per visit, regardless of what is spent. This is even worse! As only an occasional visitor, I spend quite a lot when I do visit - yet someone who is able to visit regularly as they are local could buy only £5 of chocolate each visit and accumulate a full loyalty card by spending much less than me!

I also raised the point in store, that you don't get signatures for a loyalty card when you shop online. This is my regular way of obtaining montezuma's chocolate, as the shops are not local. The Winchester store responded by giving me a 10% off voucher when you shop online, valid for May, but this was then instead of my loyalty card signature for that visit. 

Overall I think the system needs thinking about. I'm sure some small stickers could be put in an online order to be added to the loyalty card, and signatures/stickers allocated for a certain amount - 1 for every £5/£10 spent perhaps. It is a shame that such a great chocolate company don't seem to have got customer loyalty quite sorted etc... I will be e-mailing Montezuma's and feeding back on their response.


Dark chocolate Lindt bunnies!

So, Easter has come and gone... this year I have had some dark chocolate treats to fill the small (ok, fairly large) milk chocolate gap that has been left by this lactose intolerance malarky.

There was great excitement, therefore, when I chanced upon a dark chocolate lindt bunny when doing my tesco online shop. You can see it here:

I was so very excited by the prospect of lindt chocolate I could eat, I promptly ordered 2, and ate most of 1 before Easter really arrived! However, on careful reflection (and by the fact there is still 1 intact), I was left feeling a bit... meh. Definitely not as enthralled as I would be. I think it is perhaps because I am now used to fairly dark chocolate, as both Hotel Chocolat and Montezuma's have high cocoa percentages in their dark chocolate. The lindt bunny, although creamier and slightly more melty than the previously mentioned brands, just tasted a bit cheaper. I did enjoy it, and it was very more-ish (more so than the other brands, where a little is often  sometimes enough), but I wasn't as wowed as I expected to be. In addition, and it may be pure coincedence, I did find I had stomach ache and didn't feel great most nights after I ate some. This could be down to the quantity of chocolate consumed, of course, and there is definately no milk in the ingrediants, but it did leave me with clear memories of the sort of symptoms I encountered prior to my lacto free life. Which means, at some point in the future, another experiment will need to be conducted with the remaining chocolate bunny. What a shame.... 


Thursday, 21 February 2013

Review: A Gu product I can eat!

A regular scene in a supermarket these days consists of me checking the ingredients of every single pudding in the dessert aisle (yes, even those with "cream" in the title), whilst Mr LFL looks on in an annoyed-yet-defeated manner. I am of the opinion it is always worth checking, because you never know when the ingredients of a product may have changed. 

On Valentines Day, Mr LFL was in Waitrose, tasked with finding a suitable dessert for our meal that evening. He must have wanted to impress, because he found himself checking each individual pudding as well. Which is a good thing, because we found a Gu pudding I can eat!! 

Before I go into more detail, I must point out that it does contain butter - so those with severe intolerance's or allergies will need to continue the search for a chocolate dessert they can eat. Because I am more mildly intolerant, I can eat some butter (and believe me, it's worth taking the risk for anyway!).

The pudding I can now eat - and will be at every available opportunity - is the Gu Chocolate Orange Melting Middle Puddings: - available at most supermarkets. At £2.39 for 2 (when we bought them), they are not the cheapest pudding, but nor the most expensive, although you could sit and eat both in 1 go (or is that just me?) 

Both Mr LFL and I couldn't believe the only dairy was butter, and we checked the ingredients several times each. In fact, I was found to be checking the ingredients whilst eating it, because I couldn't believe something so yummy, creamy, and chocolaty didn't contain some milk or cream! The pudding needs to be heated for exactly 30 seconds, and apparently any more could lead it to be too un-melty in the middle. Both times I feel Mr LFL showed his microwave expertise, as they were done perfectly.

The pudding is basically a very soft chocolate sponge filled nearly to the edge with an chocolate orange sauce. It is gooey and yummy and very chocolaty and should definitely be tried by everyone! As said previously, I could have eaten both in 1 sitting, although I may have been sick as they were very rich. There is no bitterness from the dark chocolate thanks to the orange addition, and yet the orange doesn't overtake the chocolate flavour, hence  the rich texture and taste. 

Overall, I plan to buy many of these for any occasion I can think of, and enjoy every one of them!


Review: Dark Chocolate Brownies by Ok Foods

In my real life (as opposed to the blissful world of blogging!), I am a Maths teacher in a secondary school. On various occasions (birthdays, good days, bad days, days when we just want to), biscuits, cakes and other sweet treats are bought in by a kind soul for the rest of us to enjoy at break time. Since becoming lactose free, I'm a lot more limited in what I can eat, and so sometimes don't get to partake in the eating. It's not a problem, and I always have enough food to feed an army with me in any case. However, I have some lovely colleagues who, on occasion, try and find something I can eat to bring along. This often takes the form of ginger nut biscuits, as they contain no dairy and are a safe option - I eat many ginger nuts on a near daily basis now! But the other day, one of my great fellow Maths teachers bought in Dark Chocolate brownies, by Ok foods. These are stocked in Co-op (and somerfield, according to their website). I must confess I've never tried the free from food in co-op, and as the brownies were also wheat and gluten free, I must admit I was a little unsure of how good they would taste (many a bad experience with nice looking, bad tasting free-from-everything food!), and the addition by a not-so-kind colleague of "taste free" on the packaging didn't quell my fears!

But, these were good!! They contain no dairy at all (or wheat, or gluten, as I said). The chocolate in them is dark chocolate, and there is also some sort of nut added. The texture is very very slightly different to a "regular" brownie, but only when you are trying to spot the difference. The nut taste is quite strong (presumably to try and replace the not-normal-flour twang you sometimes get?), but there is a good hit of chocolate and overall a really good brownie.

Now, I can't vouch for the value for money, as I didn't buy them (and can't find individual products on the co-op website), but if you're completely dairy free (or wheat/gluten) I think they're worth a try! You can find out about the company here:

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Taste Trials: Dark Chocolate 1

So, a brilliant new idea I've had which happens to include tasting lots of chocolate (what a shame!) is to compare the different brands of dark chocolate. I plan to do this in several rounds, partly because I had the idea and wanted to start straight away so had to use what was to hand, and partly because there are lots of different types and subgroups to try. 

For this first round of taste trials, I decided to compare the 3 plain dark chocolate (so no additional fruit or other flavours) we had at home - Hotel Chocolate 85% dark Ghana chocolate, Montezuma's 54% giant dark chocolate buttons, and Tesco everyday value plain chocolate (which we tend to use a lot for baking etc). 

Obviously in terms of price there is a huge difference as well, so I have split my research into overall impressions, value for money, and then a summary comparison

Overall Impressions:
The Tesco Everyday Value Plain Chocolate is ok in its own merit - but not when compared to higher quality chocolate. It has a fairly sweet taste, unusual for dark chocolate, but which makes it more-ish in the way milk chocolate is. It does melt in the mouth very well, a key aspect of a good chocolate experience (think Galaxy or Dairy Milk!). 
Montezuma's Giant Chocolate Buttons have a much richer flavour than the Tesco chocolate, but with this comes a slight bitterness as well. There is a deep flavour with a good aftertaste, which the tesco chocolate lacked. It didn't have quite the melting properties of the Tesco chocolate.
Hotel Chocolate was a very strong dark taste that was very bitter. It also didn't really melt-in-the-mouth, but both of these could be because of the very high cocoa content (85%). I actually found it a bit too bitter for my liking, especially when compared to the other 2 chocolates. 

Obviously, at 35p for 100g, the Tesco Everyday Value Plain Chocolate is the best value for money! 
Montezuma's Giant Dark Chocolate Buttons 54% cocoa cost £2.79 for 180g.
Hotel Chocolate 85% Dark Chocolate from Ghana is the most expensive at £3.50 for only 100g. It's worth also noting that this isn't because of the high cocoa levels as all the 100g selector bars are this set price. 

In terms of overall taste, I would rate the Montezuma's top, with Tesco second and Hotel Chocolat third - but with a proviso that this may be down to the particular Hotel Chocolat tested as I am not a fan of very bitter high cocoa chocolate. I will re-run the test at a later date with more similar cocoa percentages.
In terms of texture, the Tesco brand had the best texture, with Montezumas second and HC third.
Finally, when considering how well the chocolate melts in your mouth, again the tesco came first, with Montezumas 2nd and HC third (again).

So, for me at least, higher price has not equated to better taste! 

I plan to run further trials with green and blacks chocolate, lindt dark chocolate, and other varieties of HC and Montezuma's. If there's anything you think I should be trying, feel free to comment and let me know.. I'm always up for trying more chocolate! 

And last of all, if you want to try some for yourself (or buy some for me!)...
Tesco Everyday Value Plain Chocolate: 
Montezuma's 54% Cocoa Giant Dark Chocolate Buttons:
Hotel Chocolate 85% Dark Chocolate fomr Ghana:


Saturday, 26 January 2013

Recipe Review: Chocolate Torte

So, picture the scene.. Boxing Day, extended family over, 14 people squashed round an extended dining table. Desserts bought out and nearest to me is the delicious Cook Chocolate Torte. Yum. Except, of course, I can't eat it.

Possibly the low point of Christmas 2012 (mince pies might be nice, but they just don't compare with chocolate torte!), Mr LFL assured me that we would make a lacto free chocolate torte in the New Year. I didn't really believe him for many reasons...
1. We wouldn't get round to looking for a recipe
2. We wouldn't find a suitable recipe if we did get round to looking for one.
3. We wouldn't be bothered enough to make the chocolate torte. 

However, at the start of 2013, Mr LFL had a look on the Internet, discounted any with raw eggs in, and found a recipe on the following link:

As we can substitute double cream for lacto free cream (as mentioned before), and lots of dark chocolate doesn't contain milk, this recipe was worth a go. So we tried it! 

The recipe:
The recipe itself was clear and we made it without any problems. It definitely doesn't set in under an hour, as we discovered when we lost patience and ate some that evening.
The consistency of the torte we had wasn't quite what the picture looks like either - whether this is because we used lacto free cream which is slightly different or did something else wrong, we are not sure. 

The taste:
It was very creamy, very chocolaty, and really good! We did cut down slightly on the coffee suggested as I am not a coffee person (and why taint chocolate with coffee!). Saying that, it still had a fair coffee taste, and when we try it again I may reduced the coffee even further to try and get a more chocolaty hit. As mentioned before, the consistency wasn't quite right, and it was more of a mousse than a torte in our opinion. This wasn't a problem, as I can't have chocolate mousse either, so it was nice to have something I've not enjoyed for a couple of years now. 

Other points:
It said in the recipe it would last a week in the fridge, but having fresh cream in it we doubt this fact. We didn't test that out as it was gone in 3 sittings very easily! 

Overall, I would definitely make it again, and enjoy it again! We are considering adding a base (such as in a cheesecake) to it so it is easier to cut and to add a little something else - will keep you updated if this works! 


PS. Did you know the chocolately is in fact a word, but it is not spelt as I would presume (as I've written in this sentence), but actually chocolaty. I guessing it is still the same word... 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Review: Dark Chocolate Brazil nuts

I'm not usually a nuts-in-chocolate fan, as I tend to think any kind of fruit or nut in chocolate ruins it and detracts from the full chocolate-y taste. 

However, I purchased a tin of Dark Chocolate covered Brazil nuts from Hotel Chocolat - mainly because they were half price in the sale, I was paying £4.99 for postage, and so I wanted to get as much dark chocolate as possible. So whilst I wouldn't pay £10 for a tin of chocolate covered brazil nuts, I did pay £5 quite happily. 

Having received the product, I am pleasantly surprised. The brazil nuts come in a nice tin, and you get a lot of brazil nuts for your £5 (although I wouldn't consider it amazingly good value for £10, obviously). Even better, each brazil nut is covered with a very generous coating, so there is plenty of chocolate to accompany each nut. This means that whilst you obviously taste the brazil nut, it is not so over-riding as you miss the lovely chocolate. The chocolate itself is good quality (as one would expect from Hotel Chocolat), and goes well with the nut inside. 

Overall, I'm finding I'm opting for the brazil nuts over some of the other products I bought - a surprise indeed! And whilst you can't get the tin anymore (it was a Christmas promotion I believe), you can get a packet of them for £3.50 in the selectors section (, which I may just be tempted to do.  

So if you are a nuts-with-chocolate sort of person, or even not, these are by far the best I've ever tried, so much so I'm tempted away from those Rose and Violet Cremes.....