Chocolate ‘Chip’ Ice Cream

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Chocolate ‘Chip’ Ice Cream

Chocolate chip ice cream, but not as you know it!

The ‘chips’ are actually bits of crinkle cut potato crisp, mixed with the molten chocolate into which the soft serve cone is dipped.

Chocolate covered potato chips are increasingly common – a lot of Asian confectionary companies are now producing them in a variety of different of different forms and flavours – so I suppose this is a logical next step.

There are 2 versions here, so you can choose either milk chocolate on vanilla ice cream or white chocolate on frozen yoghurt. A serving costs just 18 baht, from KFC in Thailand.

The ice cream is pretty horrible, of course (what would you expect at that price?) and it had a disconcerting way of forcing itself out in shiny beads through the chocolate coating. The crispy bits in the chocolate are surprisingly palatable, however. Eating this was rather like eating one of those ice creams with bits of crushed nut in the chocolate coating, except these crunchy bits left a potato rather than an almond aftertaste. It’s obviously very popular, and honestly, not half as bad as I was expecting.


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Ginger KitKat Balls

I can never resist the lure of a new type of KitKat, and there are so many amazing and/or outrageous varieties to be had in Japan that your taste buds can go into shock (wasabi and soy sauce, anyone??)

These ginger tea flavoured KitKat balls were a welcome contrast to some of the odder things I have sampled recently. They are new and different, but taste just the way you’d expect – slightly sweet and slightly spicy like a warming mug of ginger tea mixed with chocolate. The little bit of biscuit crunch is a bonus.

It’s always a treat to find something that is unusual but not a challenge to consume, and I really enjoyed these. Like most of the KitKat flavours it is probably just a short-lived special, but whilst it is around I will be buying it where I can.


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Cherry Blossom Chocolate

It isn’t even cherry blossom season any more, but I had never seen this version of Dars before so felt honour bound to try it.

To be honest, I am not a great fan of the sakura taste, although I have consumed it in tea, ice cream, and no end of delightful cakes where there is a piece of dried blossom as decoration. There’s nothing wrong with it, there just isn’t much of a flavour there to form an opinion on. So apart from the pretty colour, there doesn’t seem much point.

Here, the predominant flavour is the white chocolate, with just a hint of something extra which is hard to define. The pink colour is not particularly striking, either.

No, I wasn’t impressed, I only ate 1 piece and will not be buying this again.


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Chocolate Idlis

Anyone who loves Indian food will know all about idli – the spongey steamed ‘cake’ made from fermented rice and lentils. In southern India it is usually served at breakfast time, along with a tangy yellow dahl and coconut chutney, and I personally have always found it a splendid start to the day.

But the idli itself, whilst ostensibly a savoury item, is plain enough to go with almost anything, which is why I was tempted by this packet of chocolate idli mix. Yes, I know that packet mixes are a total cheat, but making idli at home requires hours of laborious preparation and life really is too short.

Anyway, I did buy this from an Indian store, despite the fact that it is made under licence from giant US food company Pilsbury. At least it meant the instructions were in English, which always helps.

Compared to the labour that would have been involved in making this from scratch, opening the packet and whisking in milk was easy. There’s even a helpful line drawn on the packet of powder, to measure the amount of milk you need. Unfortunately, the instructions tell you to add a lot of vegetable oil as well at this point, which did not appeal very much. So I cut back on that a bit, which in retrospect may not have been the best idea (daughters #1 and #2 would tell you I am incapable of following a recipe to the letter…)

Not having the specialist equipment needed to steam idlis the Indian way, I resorted to silicone cupcake moulds inside my rice cooker and a brief spin in the microwave. This worked a treat, even taking a mere 5 minutes as opposed to the 30 recommended on the packet.

The idlis turned out to be pretty dense, which was probably because I failed to add the necessary amount of oil, but never mind because otherwise they were very definitely the genuine article – surprising for a packet mix.

The only downside was that, like regular idlis, they did not have a great deal of taste and could have done with a sweet alternative to spicy sambar as a sauce. But all was not lost, apparently there is nothing that homemade super-thick chocolate orange vodka cannot improve…

 


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Scented Nail Stickers

I find this idea bemusing. ‘Scratch and Sniff’ stickers had a moment many years ago, and I don’t recall anyone who seriously thought they smelled anything like the fruits they were supposed to be channelling.

Fast forward to these chocolate scented nail decorations, all in cute cupcake and cake slice pictures. They have to be aimed at pre-teens, but daughter #1 gamely gave them a go (I expect the wine helped…), only to declare them “not terribly chocolatey”.

To be honest, this is probably a good thing, as being enveloped in the aroma of chocolate is highly dangerous. I will never forget the set of cocoa butter body products a friend once bought for my birthday – they were wonderfully rich but smelled so strongly of cocoa that I could not stop myself from feasting on the nearest available chocolate bar every time I used them. I am afraid they had to go…


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Molten Chocolates

This was a Christmas special at M&S which sounded too good to leave on the shelf – chocolates which you heat up so as you bite into the crisp outer shell the molten chocolate spills out. Sort of like the chocolate version of a lava cake, really.

Or would have been, if I had managed to make them work.

I am not sure quite what happened, as I followed the instructions carefully, but the shells started cracking before the oven time was up, yet the chocolate inside was stubbornly lukewarm and solid. In the tropical heat of our Singapore climate, maybe I should just have left them on the kitchen counter to achieve the right effect.


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Cactus Chocolate

Here’s another slightly bonkers souvenir from Korea, which is full of fascinatingly ‘different’ things just begging to be sampled.

The cactus in this chocolate is from Jeju Island, which with its volcanic scenery and reputation for pure, organic produce, is a major tourist destination. Here, the cactus fruit is apparently freeze dried and powdered to retain all its natural goodness before being made into the filling for individually wrapped chocolate pieces.

As a single cactus fruit is supposed to contain almost a quarter of your daily vitamin C requirement, this could be the healthiest chocolate treat I have eaten, although as the packet of 5 pieces weighs in at 232 calories, it is not what you’d call a diet aid.

I admit, I was originally attracted as much by the packaging as the ingredients, because the bright purple of the cactus fruit in the illustration really caught my eye. As it turned out, the colour of the filling was more pink than purple, and the whole thing had a very odd and slightly fibrous texture. The flavour was hard to distinguish, and did not really remind me of the cactus fruit I have eaten fresh.

Daughter #2 thought they were weird but not unpleasant, which summed it up fairly well. She added: “I thought they might taste like tequila, but apparently not…”

These do not appear to be available in Singapore, but even if they were, I think trying them once was enough.


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Magic Ice Cream

 

OK, I admit, I should have known better, but there is something in me which finds it hard to resist the off-beat and bizarre.

This packet of instant, easy, DIY ice cream called to me from the shelf of an Indonesian supermarket, and was in my kitchen before I knew it. Luckily, the instructions on the back came in English, too, so there was no problem puzzling out what to do.

Basically, you measure out 300cc of iced milk or water, whisk in the contents of the sachet of powder for 5 to 10 minutes (an electric mixer of some sort is clearly needed here…) then add the chocolate chips and freeze for 5 hours.

Simple!

Hmm… In truth, you cannot beat fresh and lovingly sourced ingredients for something like this, rather than opening up a packet of premixed powder whose main ingredient seems to be sugar. This was never going to be as delicious as the carton claimed, but in fact it was so tasteless and weird that it was binned after 2 spoonsful.

Luckily I went for the chocolate flavour rather than the durian or mung bean varieties that were also on sale. This was from Pondam, but I don’t expect any other manufacturer can do a better job.


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Grilled KitKats

 

Japanese KitKat flavours are a thing of wonder, and I am sure I will run through the full menu at some point fairly soon.

This one, however, seemed to merit a mention all on its own – here is a mini chocolate bar which, although already an interesting cheesecake flavour, is also  is designed specifically to be grilled before eating.

There is no special magic involved, you simply unwrap it, pop it under a very hot grill for just a couple of minutes (not hot enough and it will simply melt, plus keep your eyes on it, as it cooks very quickly…) then enjoy the unusual variation on a familiar snack.

This particular KitKat is covered with white chocolate, presumably to enhance the appeal once the colour changes to golden caramel complete with bubbles and crispy edges. I don’t especially like white chocolate but here the hot melting texture gave a whole new depth to the flavour and made it a deliciously naughty treat.

Many of the 200+ KitKat variations unique to Japan are available only in limited and/or seasonal editions, so you have to snap these things up when you see them. These came as a bag of 13 miniatures from Shiok Japan in Singapore, for a very reasonable S$8.90.

 


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Chocolate Covered Crisps

jaga-1 royce-4 royce

I’m really not sure what I think of this idea. I like crisps, I like chocolate, but together..?

But they seem to be very popular in Japan, where you can buy a range of different variations on the theme, from cheap snacks in little tubs from the convenience stores, to expensive boxes from upmarket brands, to actual takeout portions freshly prepared at stalls in trendy shopping districts.

At the bottom end of the scale are Jaga Choco chips in small pots with a peel-off lid. They could be worse, but the chocolate is very poor quality and there isn’t really very much of it so the taste is predominantly potato with just a hint of chocolate.

A more polished product comes from Royce, a Hokkaido based confectionary firm that has been operating since 1983 and now has branches in 18 countries outside Japan. They offer chocolate covered potato chips in regular, caramel, and cheese flavoured white chocolate variations, all of which seem to be best sellers. The tagline on these products reads: ‘by breaking down old customs and producing consistently original items, we are pursuing a new level in chocolate enjoyment’.

Well, Hokkaido is famous for both its potatoes and dairy products, so I guess it makes sense to try putting them together. In this case, the chocolate is top quality and thick enough to hold its own against the potato. It’s still a bit of an odd combination for a western palate, but these are not unpleasant.

The best place to buy them is at Sapporo’s New Chitose airport, where there is also a Royce Chocolate World mini factory and museum as well as ample opportunity to shop.

Back in Tokyo, in particular on teen haven Takeshita dori, you can satisfy your craving for chocolate chips at several stalls where the hot crisps come topped with molten chocolate sauce and ice cream  – but be prepared to queue!

Finally, also spotted in Japan (but left on the shelf…) not just crisps with a chocolate coating but shrimp flavoured potato sticks, from Calbee. This was simply a taste sensation too far!

choc-chip-2 royce-1 choc-prawn-1


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