Tesco Finest Free From Belgian Dark Chocolate Rocky Road

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The Tesco Finest Free From Belgian Dark Chocolate Rocky Road are a gluten-free rocky road snack consisting of a chocolately mush filled with bits of biscuit, marshmallow and chunks of chocolate.

These are fine looking treats, with tiny pink and white marshmallows sitting on top of th edark chcolate base and laced with thin lines of white chocolate.

Sadly they don’t hold up quite so well once in the mouth.

The most immediate thin is the lack of texture. While these were eaten on a warm day so were a little soft I’d still expect more bite to the snack overall and certainly more crunch from the biscuit and chocolate chunks inside. I didn’t detect a single chunk of chocolate based on mouth feel while the presence of biscuit was more of a little powdery puff than a decent chunk of biscuit.

Otherwise the overall flavour is decent if unspectacular. There’s a reasonable chocolatiness, the little marshmallows are lovely and the overall sweetness is about right. It could definitely do with that last little something to take it over the edge – a salty caramel crunch, a sprinkling of sour cherry or just some stronger tasting chocolate.

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Most disappointing of all, though, is that these aren’t dairy-free as I first thought they might be, given they’re in the free-from section. Instead they’re just gluten-free. While that’s all well and good, it does mean that I’m expecting these to be exceptional, given how small a part flour plays in a rocky road recipe – if these are Tesco Finest they should be excellent, whether gluten-free or not.

In the end they proved sufficiently moreish but never quite had the truly luxurious satisfaction that makes the treat worthwhile.

 

 

Morrisons FreeFrom Millionaires Shortbread

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Morrisons FreeFrom Millionaires Shortbread come from the company’s own-brand range of gluten-free, dairy-free and wheat-free products.

Sold in packs of four, divided into two two-piece servings, they cost … a pack.

I’ll cut right to the chase – these are just awful.

Every single layer of what should be a luxurious treat just tastes wrong.

The biscuit is entirely bland, as is the caramel which lacks the true unctuous sweetness you’d expect and tastes decidedly like it has been flavoured with a caramel flavouring rather than come anywhere close to the real thing.

There’s also a strange hint of coconut throughout the whole thing. Not that I dislike coconut but it’s not right for a millionaires shortbread.

It also feels like it could do with a little salt. Not even to the level of a salty caramel but just the normal amount you’d expect for bringing out flavour.

Then there’s the chocolate, which just isn’t actually chocolate. Quite why Morrisons has taken away the one thing on here that could be served as is, without compromise for the sake of being gluten/dairy-free, I do not know – just use some normal dark chocolate.

In fairness, Morrisons may simply be obliged to call it a ‘chocolate flavour topping’ because it’s bulked out with other stuff and despite it containing cocoa mass and butter.

Also, credit where it’s due: the overall texture of the snack is very good. The chocolate has a good snap, the caramel is nice and squidgy and the biscuit has a nice crumble.

Regardless, the end result is a snack that is not just far from being the treat you’d hope for but downright unpleasant.

Avoid at all costs.

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Mince Pies Review 2014 – Waitrose Shortcrust Mince Pies

Waitrose’s standard shortcrust pastry mince pies make no grand claims, on the box or otherwise. These are simply the supermarket’s bog standard, but not budget, mince pies.

We’re talking about a relatively cheap mince pie here so the packaging has no frills – there’s no window here – but it’s finished in a nice classy green and white wintry scene.

Opening the box up and the pies look okay. There’s nothing fancy here but they’re smart enough. They have the popular domed top, rather than the flat version I tend to prefer but really they look like any other cheapish mince pie.

Sadly, that description can be applied to the eating experience too. In fact, these are actually a little worse than average.

That domed top serves no purpose, just adding extra air space between the filling and the top pastry and making for more of a mouthful. What’s more the pastry is crumbly with a lack of integrity and strength and it’s tasteless. There’s no particular pleasure inherent therein.

It’s a similar story with the filling. These pies clearly aren’t meant to be served warmed up as the filling is quite liquid straight out the box, unpleasantly so. The combination of the crumbly pastry and the sloppy filling makes for quite a messy pie.

The flavour of the filling is okay, with bits of fruit clearly present but the overall texture is more of a thickened paste akin to a cheap chicken pasty filling.

To be clear, they’re not the absolute worst by any stretch but they really are only average or just below.

Price: £1.70 for four

Score: 4/10

Mince Pies Review 2014 – Duchy Originals from Waitrose

Among the most expensive mince pies available from the main supermarkets, the Duchy Originals from Waitrose cite the use of all-butter pastry and the addition of cranberries as their main selling points.

As ever the package has a classy look to it, suggesting a quality product, though the little window in the front reveals a fairly lacklustre looking pie. They’re flat-topped and not obviously finished with an fancy extras.

Taking the pies out of their wrapper, though, reveals the rather thick looking pastry top has a light sprinkling of granulated sugar.

The blurb on the front of the pack suggests serving these warmed through and with a dollop of cream – generally the best way to serve any mince pie, though some target a good eat when served straight out the box – but I chose to try these straight out the box.

First impressions weren’t great. The pastry is quite thick and the depth of the pie makes them quite a mouthful, to the point where the first mouthful was almost all pastry. However, a couple of chews and the pie comes to the life.

The pastry may be thick but it’s tasty, with a welcome sweetness to it and the rich, tastiness that butter always brings. The filling is plentiful and, while thick and almost dry – as any good mincemeat should be when cold, it’s nice and evenly flavoured; there’s a hint of spice, plenty of sweetness and lots of fruit.

There could be a bit more of it and I’d prefer a little more spice, plus there’s no booziness here and some may find them just a little too sweet.

Warmed through and eaten as suggested with a bit of cream they do even better, with the filling lightening up and the pastry softening too.

Are they worth £4 for a box of six? Not quite. Although pretty good they don’t quite wow enough when even Heston Blumenthals signature pies are only £3.50.

Price: £4 for six

Score: 7/10

 

Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Review

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My latest post for TrustedReviews:

“Both mechanical-switch keyboards and multi-colour backlit keyboards have been around for a while. However, what we haven’t ever had before is a keyboard that combines the two, marrying the high-end typing ability of mechanical switches with the pizzazz of 16.7 million different colours of backlighting. That makes the Corsair Gaming K70 RGB a first. It also makes it one of the snazziest keyboards you can buy.”

Read the full review at TrustedReviews

Corsair Gaming K70 RGB Video Review

Logitech G402 Hyperion Fury Gaming Mouse Review

 

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My latest post for TrustedReviews:

“Logitech has a long and enviable history in the gaming mouse market and its latest model looks set to continue that line. While it may not include every possible feature, it packs in a high-speed, high-sensitivity laser sensor, a 32-bit ARM processor and oodles of programmable buttons, so it’s got all the performance you should need.”
Read the full review at TrustedReviews

Gig: Burden of the Noose – 27th Sept – Wolverhampton

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Burden of the Noose has announced its latest gig. They’ll be headlining the opening of the Inferno night at Fixxion club in Wolverhampton. Also playing will be Paraletica.

Doors open 10pm and close again at 4am! There’s free shots and, er, flamethrowing ladies??

For more details head to Burden of the Noose on Facebook

Why I won’t be buying an iPhone 6

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My latest post for TechyTalk:

“Tomorrow is expected to see the announcement of Apple’s latest phone, the iPhone 6, and it’s sure to be as lovely as ever. However, with many of the details of its design now leaked I can fairly safely say I won’t be interested in getting one almost regardless of exactly what the device turns out to look like.”

For the full article head to TechyTalk

Elgato Game Capture HD 60 Review

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My latest article for TrustedReviews: the Elgato Game Capture HD 60 is a little device for easily recording video from your games console, or any other HDMI source. It’s among the first products of its type to offer 60fps recording, allowing it to capture the full majesty of the latest consoles’ graphics.

Users can also stream the footage to Twitch and YouTube, adding live commentary and recoridng at the same time.

For the full review head to TrustedReviews

What is Smart TV?

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My latest article for TechyTalk: A guide to just what Smart TV means and what to look out for when buying one.

For the full article head to TechyTalk