31 May 2013

New Maynards Sour Patch Kids Soda Popz

Maynards Sour Patch Kids were released in the UK late last year (see my previous review here) and by the looks of things they've been very successful as they've already added this new Soda Popz variety to the range. I've been trying to find them ever since I heard they were being launched so I was very lucky to be offered the chance to try some packs.

There are five different flavours in each packet, all based on popular soda drinks; Cola, Orangeade, Cherryade, Tropical and Apple Fizz. It's a great selection of fizzy flavours!

Just like the regular Sour Patch Kids sweets these are described as "Sour then turning Sweet". This is because they're coated (liberally!) with a sour sugar coating that dissolves quickly, leaving behind the inner sugary sweet flavour. It's a great idea and the overall sweetness means they're especially enjoyable for those that don't usually like sour sweets.

I love the look of the Sour Patch Kids sweets - they're just like Jelly Babies but with a teenager spiky haircut. So it's probably fitting that as the jelly teenagers of the sweetie world they're now available in soda flavours! The Cola is the most sour of the five, as the fizzy flavour seemed to last the longest before the sweetness kicked in. The other flavours were a lot sweeter and not really that sour - the Orangeade, Cherryade and Apple Fizz are quite sour tasting at the start, but that is immediately followed by their sweet fruity flavour. The Tropical flavour was interesting, but quite hard to pin down the exact fruit - it just has that vague tropical taste!

Overall, the five flavours are all extremely moreish and tasty. I also like the fact that these are made with all natural colours.

I received this product from Maynards' PR company in order to provide an honest review and all views are my own.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Sour Patch Kids Soda Popz

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: The kids love them - so yes!
Nutrition (per 8 sweets)
: 80 cals, 14.0g sugars, 0.1g fat.

Vegetarian: Not suitable.

30 May 2013

Tea India Cardamom Chai Review, A Cookie Recipe & A Free Tea Offer!

Last year I reviewed some fantastic teas from Tea India, whose beautiful packaging and fragrant blends completely enchanted me. At that time, Tea India was quite hard to find, but in the last few months I've been pleased to see a full range of different Tea India blends for sale in my local Tesco. Tea India very kindly got in contact again and sent me a fabulously presented box of tea, including their Black Tea (reviewed here) and a Cardamom Chai blend.

Tea India is also offering a FREE selection of their finest tea blends for you and your family and friends via a Facebook promotion - keep reading for more details at the end of this review.

I just love the pretty and vibrantly coloured packaging of the Tea India range! I couldn't wait to try the Cardamom Chai  - the tea bags have such a wonderfully exotic and spicy cardamon fragrance.

The tea is made in the usual way, with milk and sugar to taste. The cardamom gives the tea a deliciously authentic flavour that is so warming and comforting. I absolutely love this tea and I'll definitely be buying it again in the future.

Tea India have also teamed up with chef Ravinder Bhogal to create some gorgeous recipes using their tea. I used the Spicy Black Tea Cookie recipe to make the above biscuits that were delicious and a huge hit with all the family! I've never thought of adding black tea leaves to an oaty biscuits but it's just genius! Do give them a try - they're very easy to make!

Spicy Black Tea Cookies - recipe by chef Ravinder Bhogal.


2 Tea India Black Tea Bags (leaves only)
125g butter
100g soft brown sugar
70g self raising flour
120g oats
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice.

  1. Preheat Oven to 160c
  2. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar.
  3. Add the oats, flour, Tea India black tea leaves and spices, mix until well combined.
  4. Roll the cookie dough into a log shape approx 5cm in diameter. Wrap in cling film and chill for five minutes. 
  5. To bake, remove from the fridge, unwrap and slice into 12 even sized pieces. Place on two baking trays lined with baking paper. (Instead of slicing I actually used a flower shaped cookie cutter).
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the edges are just golden brown.
  7. Allow to cool on the baking tray before serving warm.
  8. They will keep in an airtight container for four days.
  9. Enjoy with a cup of tea! (sorry couldn't resist adding that one!).

To claim a FREE selection of Tea India, including their Vanilla Chai and Masala Chai blends, then join in with their "You & I with a cup of Chai" campaign via Facebook by filling in your details here.  The offer is open until 6th June!

I received a selection of teas from Tea India for review but all views expressed are my own. 

Ferrero Hanuta Review - Chocolate Hazelnut Wafer

The Hanuta consists of a layer of hazelnut chocolate, sandwiched in between two crispy wafers. The name comes from the German word Haselnusstafel meaning hazelnut bar. This is a new addition to the range at online chocolate and candy specialists, Monster Sweets, and they kindly sent me it to review. Seeing as it's made by Ferrero, I can't help but see it as a larger, simpler, version of a Ferrero Rocher chocolate!

Inside the pack there are two squared wafer bars, each sitting in their own little gold foil packaging. The appearance reminds me of the fabulously named Knoppers Bar which I reviewed here.

The wafer layers are a lovely golden brown colour, there's no horrible cheap cardboard tasting wafer here. These are crispy, sweet and delicious. The inner hazelnut chocolate is quite dark in colour and tastes just like the rich chocolate centre of a Ferrero Rocher, whilst being much denser in texture. There are lots of hazelnut pieces in there too, giving it that classic chocolate and hazelnut combination that we all love so much here at Grocery Gems.

It's fair to say that Mr. Grocery Gems absolutely loved these Hanuta wafers. They were crunchy hazelnut chocolate perfection for him. So much so that he kept asking me if we had anymore even though he knew the answer was no - which is basically the universal code for "buy some more". At least I know what I'll be getting him for Father's Day now!

Overall, these are fantastic wafers that are definitely worth a try. I love that it's now easier to find these delicious German treats at reasonable prices in the UK. I reviewed another similarly flavoured bar from Ferrero called Duplo here, which is also available at Monster Sweets.

Monster Sweets kindly sent me this product for an honest review but all views expressed are my own. Check out Monster Sweets online to view their full range of US and European chocolates and sweets 

Grocery Gems Verdict: Ferrerro Duplo Chocolate Bar

RATING: 9 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Purchased: Available at Monster Sweets.
Price: £0.89p.

29 May 2013

DIY Candy Kit - Kracie Neru Nerune - Ramune Soda

These Japanese DIY candy kits from Kracie successfully combine two of most kids' favourite things - eating sweets and playing with their food. There are lots of different types of kit available, from the Popin Cookin' and Happy Kitchen ranges, in which you can create perfect mini candy hamburgers and candy sushi, to the slightly simpler Neru Nerone range that only needs to be "mixed and kneaded" in order to create a dipping candy set. The latter comes in various flavours, including Cola or Grape. I was very happy to be sent the Ramune Soda (which usually means lemonade) set to review by Oyatsu Cafe, an online Japanese store that delivery worldwide at great prices.

The set comes with three little sachets, all helpfully labelled, and very clear instructions.

Simply add water and stir! The powdery substance then becomes a fluffy soft consistency. Then all that's required is to dip the spoon into the gooey candy and then into the crunchy pieces to create a delicious treat.

The soft mixture has a pale blue colour and really did have a lemonade flavour, even with a slightly fizzy edge. The hard candies are chalky type sweets which are needed to balance the tart flavour of the gooey section. A very intriguing and fun candy and my eldest son has now asked for some more sets for his birthday!

Oyatsu Cafe have offered my readers 15% discount on all orders, simply use the following discount code at the checkout: GROCERYGEMS. This is available for all orders internationally and with no limits. See HERE for more details.

This product was very kindly sent to me by Oyatsu Cafe for review but all views are my own. I don't receive any compensation if you order from Oyatsu Cafe or use the above code.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Kracie Neru Nerune - Ramune Soda

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Absolutely.

Purchased: Available from Oyatsu Cafe. 
Price: $2.89 (approx. £1.81).

28 May 2013

Border Biscuits Launches Big Baking Bonanza!

It probably won't surprise any of you that I'm a big fan of BBC show The Great British Bake Off. I was excited to hear that one of my favourite biscuit brands, Border Biscuits, has teamed up with Tesco and GBBO finalist James Morton to launch a nationwide search for the best biscuit recipe in Britain.

The Big Baking Bonanza is open to any amateur baker and the winner will receive £2000 and a place on a fantastic baking course - BUT the best bit is that the winning recipe will be turned into a limited edition new product by Border Biscuits, which will go sale in Tesco!

I really enjoyed watching James Morton, known for his favourite Fair Isle tank tops, on the Great British Bake Off - he had a great flair for inspired flavour combinations. About the Big Baking Bonanza James said: "If you're a lover of home baking and like to experiment with delicious ingredients, textures and tastes, then this could be your chance to show off your skills. We're searching for the best innovative, creative and delicious biscuit recipe to join the Border Biscuits family."

I'm sure many of you have some lovely family biscuit recipes to share. Personally, I would enter my recipe for vegan oat cookies - they're super simple to make, absolutely delicious (well I think so!) and can be modified to be nutty, chocolately, fruity - whatever you fancy :)

I can't wait to see what the winning biscuit will be and I'll make sure to review it here on Grocery Gems!

Max Dino Candy Haribo Ice Lollies

There are lots of new ice lollies in the freezer aisle this year and I loved the look of this new range featuring the mascot Max the Lion. Sure to be a hit with most kids, these fruit ice lollies also contain Haribo Dino sweets inside!

Each box comes with four ice lollies - two orange and two lemon flavoured. They're made with real fruit juice and don't contain any artificial colours or flavourings. Each lolly contained two of the Haribo sweeties, at the top of the lolly.

Kids will have fun digging the sweets out and finding that they are perfectly preserved Haribo sweets! The ice lolly flavours are quite simple "ice water lollies" flavoured with orange and lemon. As you would expect they are refreshing and very sweet - a fun treat and only 60 calories each.

Other new kids ice lollies I have spotted:

Perfect for Mickey fans of all ages! Mickey Shaped Ice Cream Lollies - £2.00 at Morrisons.

White chocolate - need I say more? Nestle Milkybar Minis Ice Lollies - £2.49 at Tesco.

More mini ice lollies! Walls Big Bite Mini Mix - £1.99 at Waitrose. Toffee, chocolate and vanilla lollies.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Max DinoCandy Haribo Ice Lollies

RATING: 6 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition (per lolly)
: 60 calories, 0.5g protein, 14g Carb, 11g sugars, 0.5g fat.

Vegetarian: No.
Purchased: Iceland.
Price: £2.00p for 4 lollies (or 2 packs for £3.00).

27 May 2013

Grace Aloe Vera Drink - Mango

I picked this up mainly because it's from Taiwan and I thought it'd be a cool addition to my Around the World challenge. It turns out that Grace is actually a Caribbean based company, but this particular product is made by one of their divisions in Taiwan. I've heard about the health benefits of the aloe vera plant in general and the juice is said to maintain good health, energy and prevent illness. These Aloe Vera drinks are available unflavoured (usually in bright green bottles) but also in several fruity versions. I bought this Mango variety from a local corner shop.

There are lots of "bits" floating in the drink that at first glance look like fruit pulp that you might get in any juice. However these are the actual pieces of Aloe Vera that make up 20% of the drink. They are clear and almost jelly like in texture, as you can see in the photo below.

I was a bit worried that the aloe vera pieces would be unpleasant texture wise but I was pleased to find that the whole drink was absolutely delicious. The mango flavour is sweet, fruity and very tasty. The aloe vera pieces are slightly strange at first but they actually make this drink extremely refreshing - perfect for those rare hot days! I loved this drink and I'll definitely be trying some of the other flavours.

I've seen other brands of Aloe Vera drinks in the World Foods sections of most supermarkets.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Grace Aloe Vera Drink

RATING: 7 out of 10.
Buy them again?: Yes.
Nutrition (per 100ml)
: 37 calories, 0g protein, 9.3g Carb, 8.3g sugars, 0g fat.
Purchased: Local corner shop.
Price: £0.99p for 500ml bottle.

26 May 2013

Who Knew it Was Not So New? Review: Part Two!

Some of you may remember my previous tongue-in-cheek post where I discussed a bugbear of mine - old products that still carry the label "new" on the packaging (check out my Who Knew it Was Not So New? Review: Part One! here). As a blogger of new and limited edition products I have an especially low tolerance to the misuse of the label "new". For me a product is only new in the first few months, after that - it's old news. The following products have been spotted with "new" on the label even though they have been on the shelves for months, and in some cases years.   

All photos were taken in the last seven days - because unlike the following product manufacturers I like to play it fair!

You know something? I love Cadbury Dairy Milk with Oreo. It was hands down my favourite chocolate bar of the entire year... LAST YEAR!

These Yorkie Man Size Buttons were piled HIGH in my local Asda and look how many boxes of the "new" stuff they have. Kev's Snacks Reviews featured them in January this year but it looks like they'll be "new" all the way through to 2014.

Also piled high are these NEW Cadbury Dairy Milk Golden Biscuit Crunch. I didn't even know Cadbury were still making these bars. Chocolate Mission reviewed these back in September 2012 here.

"New" Cadbury Boost Cake Bars? Sigh. You're not new to 2013. You weren't even new in 2012 when I last featured you in the "Who Knew it Was Not So New? Review: Part One". And I predict that you won't be new when I write Part Three - so I'll see you then.

The cereal bar section of the supermarket is one of the worst offenders when it comes to faking newness. I lost count of the number of boxes that still used the word "new". These Nature Valley Sweet & Nutty were a new release back in October 2012.

I love M&S, I really do. But one thing I've noticed about them is that once a product has the word "new" on the label it's not coming off until they do a packaging revamp. Luckily for us all, M&S tend to update their packaging quite frequently, but there are still plenty of old "new" products on their shelves. This White Chocolate Fudge Sauce has been "new" for over six months.

Dear Crusha, your Jelly Wobble Gobble Pots are not "new". Sincerely, Grocery Gems.

p.s. Neither are your Milkshake Puds.

The idea of taking Angel Delight and making it into an ice cream mix is probably a product that should never have existed in the first place. Sadly for us all it's been on the shelves since the summer of 2012.

Vice Versas were new back in the 1991 when they were first released. They were not really new when they were re-released in July 2012. But they're definitely not "new" when they've been on the shelves for nearly a year!

Using the word "new" is obviously rule number one in the marketing guidebook on How To Grab the Consumers' Attention. LOOK AT THIS NEW CHOCOLATE. IT'S NEW! *whisper* in a slightly bigger size.

And a special mention for the "Not So Limited Edition After All" products. When I bought this Limited Edition Orange & Fig Onken Biopot yogurt last week, I should have realised that when they called it a "Seasonal Limited Edition" the season they meant was last Autumn.

Of course there are still plenty of genuinely new products in-store, and here's one to look out for - Twix Sundaes!

New Caffè Nero Iced Frappé Crème - Coconut & Chocolate

I was very excited when I heard about the new range of Iced Frappé Crèmes at Caffe Nero, the latest flavours are very appealing to me! There's a classic Strawberry & Vanilla, a Banana & Caramel, but my first choice was the Coconut & Chocolate.

Image: Caffe Nero

The Coconut & Chocolate Frappé Crème is a blend of creamy coconut and chocolate finished with fresh whipped cream and decorated with chocolate flakes. I'm not a fan of whipped cream so I had mine without. The frappé was absolutely delicious, just the thing on a hot day - it was actually quite sunny in London yesterday! There was just the right amount of sweet coconut and rich chocolate. The ice was very well blended, so the drink was not too thick, it was very easy to drink and so refreshing too. Just perfection!

Image: Caffe Nero
I really want to try the Banana & Caramel next. It's described as "sweet banana and vanilla on a layer of golden caramel, topped with freshly whipped cream and caramel sauce". Sounds so good! It's fantastic that banana and coconut seem to be such popular flavours at the moment. I hope some of the other bigger coffee chains take note!

24 May 2013

Kingdom Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Centre @Waitrose

I spotted a range of chocolate in Waitrose that I had never seen before, all in bright quirky packaging. The Kingdom Chocolate range is described as "Modern British Chocolate" featuring "British Creativity". There are lots of interesting flavours to choose from, such as Dark Chocolate & Orange Marmalade, Dark Chocolate & Lemon and Lime Centre, Milk Chocolate Rhubarb & Vanilla, but I plumped for the Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Centre.

The 100g bar is made with quality all natural ingredients, including a 34% minimum cocoa solids chocolate that is ethically sourced in Uganda from the Cocoa Development Project. I love the fact that the list of ingredients doesn't run into paragraphs or include any scientific sounding additions!

I was surprised when I cut into the bar that it was solid chocolate all the through. From the name "Peanut Butter Centre", I was expecting there to be a more obvious separate layer inside.

The centre of the chocolate does have a slightly different texture to the rest, almost like a dense praline. The flavour of the chocolate is absolutely delicious, with rich cocoa notes indicating a quality product. The peanut butter flavour is very subtle, it's more of a salty kick after the initial milk chocolate flavour has subsided. This is quite a restrained version of a peanut butter flavour, with 90% chocolate and 10% peanut butter, compared to the over the top flavour usually found in American chocolates. Overall, it's a very delicious chocolate but don't expect a massive amount of peanut butter flavour.

Ingredients: Milk Chocolate (Sugar 38%, Cocoa Solids 34%, Milk Powder 27%, Natural Vanilla Extract & Emulsifier; Soya Lecithin) 90%, Peanut Paste (10%) & Salt.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Kingdom Milk Chocolate & Peanut Butter Centre

RATING: 8 out of 10.
Buy them again?: I would try more from this range.
Nutrition (100g)
: 560 calories, 10g protein, 44g Carb, 40g sugars, 38g fat.

Vegetarian: Yes.
Purchased: Waitrose.
Price: £1.89p.

23 May 2013

Meiji Bon Macadamia Chocolat - Fran Collections

The last of my reviews for Candysan, an online Japanese store, are the Meiji Bon Macadamia Chocolat. They are part of the Fran Collection which seems to be Meiji's version of Pocky sticks - but just much BIGGER. 

Inside the box there are three individual packets with a distinctive harlequin pattern, each containing three sticks.

The sticks are much bigger than standard Pocky, at least three times the width. The inner stick is more of a biscuit rather than a hard pretzel stick. It has a softer texture but is still nice and crunchy.

There is a generous layer of chocolate on the outside of the biscuit, that has a deliciously sweet and creamy flavour with a decent cocoa hit. The inner stick is lovely and chocolately too. These are basically like eating a delicious chocolate covered biscuit in a stick format! There isn't much flavour from the macadamia pieces, but the lovely chocolate itself more than makes up for that omission.

The Meiji Bon Macadamia Chocolat were very kindly sent to me by Candysan for review but all views are my own.

Grocery Gems Verdict: Meiji Bon Macadamia Chocolat

RATING: 8.5 out of 10.
Buy them again?: I'd love to try more from the range.

Nutrition (17g): 95 calories.
Price¥165 (approx. £1.06).

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