Grilled KitKats

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.

 


Chocolate Covered Crisps

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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!

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LKY Chocolate

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I’m a bit behind the times with this one, because Singapore’s 50th birthday celebrations were of course last year, and unfortunately the father of this island nation did not live quite long enough to mark the special day. However, I still think it is worth a mention.

Lee Kwan Yew, founder, former prime minister and the driving force behind everything Singapore has become today, is commemorated in innumerable ways, but I rather liked this one.

Local confectionery firm Chocoelf, which produces all manner of ‘Singapore-flavoured’ chocolate including durian, chili and orchid, marked SG50 with a pair of unique bars illustrated with the great man at both ends of the half century.

The 1965 bar featured tiny dried shrimps and chips of almond in milk chocolate, to capture the ‘early difficulties faced by our small island state’.

The 2015 bar referenced the celebratory fireworks of ‘the remarkable achievements of Singapore and her people’ with popping candy and crispy rice in dark chocolate.

I didn’t much fancy chocolate with dried shrimp in, but the popping candy version was very nice and at S$7.80 a bar, not unreasonably priced. Quite a few people received these bars as gifts over the holidays…

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Chocolate Wrappers

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You know how it is when you pop into the £1 Shop, or your local equivalent – which in my case happens to be Daiso – you end up coming away with all sorts of ridiculous bargains and items you never knew you needed.

Once in a while, however, you discover a little gem, which is what happened with these S$2 packets of foil chocolate wrappers with stick on bits and pieces.

Look at them! In just a few seconds you can transform your confectionery creations (or something you bought in the store) into a masterpiece of irresistible cuteness. The packet I found contained enough decorated foil sheets for 12 chocolates, complete with the faces, tails and paws to turn them into adorable little animals.

Perfect for tea parties, especially with small children…


Cake Shake

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Also known as ‘freakshakes’ in Australia, which is where the trend apparently started, this completely over the top creation is somehow a teetering combination of dessert and drink which (unless you plan to explode) is enough for several people.

Most popularly available at Cake Spade here in Singapore, it’s a milk shake with ice cream in, topped with a cookie. And a slice of cake. And popcorn, and cookie sticks. And marshmallows, and cream. And drizzled with various sauces. Not to mention stuck together with gooey paste that also holds more tasty sprinkles down the sides of the glass.

It is a virtuoso display of dessert art, clearly requiring a steady hand and excellent balancing skills. It is no wonder each creation costs S$16.90 and takes a good 15 minutes to arrive.

This is the ‘Mudslide’ version, which starts off as a dark chocolate ice cream milk shake, with chocolate cake balanced on a digestive biscuit which acts like a plate on the top of the glass. Nutella holds everything else on top and also on the sides of the glass. Fruity and green tea versions are also available.

It was delicious, it was decadent, it defeated three of us. I know we will be back for more.


Indian Chocolate

Category : Food

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Who knew they grew cocoa in India? It was a surprise to me, but I suppose the southern states are pretty much on a level with that part of South America where most of the world’s cocoa beans come from, so it does make some sort of sense.

I found home grown chocolate bars in Mumbai airport, whilst hunting down ways to spend my last remaining rupees, and was delighted at the chance to give them a try. The cute packaging was a nice bonus, too.

This was billed as ‘silky chocolate’ and there was nothing wrong with it, although it has a long way to go before coming anywhere close to the Swiss and Belgian versions which currently rule the chocolate world.

But this relatively new industry is well worth supporting, as it gives business opportunities to Tamil Nadu farmers, has introduced the concept of organic agriculture to a whole new area, and can only get better as time goes on. I wish them lots of luck and look forward to trying this again next time.


Chocolate Print Moulds

Category : Food

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These could only be Japanese… a marvellous way to create at home those posh chocolates topped with ‘printed’ artwork designs.

They come in little kits with transfers ready sprayed into flimsy plastic moulds. All you have to do is pour in melted chocolate, leave in the fridge until set, then pop out your finished masterpieces, ready to eat.

(Chocolate buttons are provided for you, but you might prefer to use your favourite brand instead)

The whole process is remarkably easy, takes very little time, and gives professional looking results. Each kit costs around ¥800, which is very good value, and I shall be buying more of these the next chance I get.

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Chocolate Tea

Category : Food

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This is an odd one. However, chocoholic that I am, I was intrigued, especially by the promise of zero calories a cup and a drink ‘rich in antioxidants to help you stay calm, focused and relaxed’.

This coco and ginger infusion, looking like an upmarket teabag containing bits of brownish bark, is from Hotel Chocolat, a British firm which uses their own grown cocoa in all sorts of things from vinegar and marmalade to beer and body lotion as well as producing a great range of chocolate treats.

The ‘bark’ turned out to be crushed cocoa shell with bits of dried root ginger, which I infused in hot but not boiling water for 4 minutes as instructed. It is supposed to be a pick-me-up, but I wasn’t all that impressed. Maybe I should have left it steeping longer, because there really wasn’t more than a hint of cocoa, and I couldn’t detect the ginger at all.

I don’t know who I am kidding, really. If I want chocolate, I should just go and eat the real thing rather than messing about with half-hearted substitutes.


Oreo Cadbury’s

Category : Food

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I have to confess that the ‘Limited Edition’ on the packet is what persuaded me to pop these into my shopping basket at the supermarket. I don’t especially like Oreo cookies, but anything a bit different always catches my eye and I thought I might be surprised.

(Oreos are unaccountably popular in Asia, and daughter #1 must have eaten her weight in them as the next best thing to breakfast on various challenging Julietours excursions into darkest China…)

Cadbury’s may be famously British, but out here it usually comes from Australia and these bars are no exception. Purists swear they can taste a huge difference between ‘real’ and ‘colonial’ Cadbury’s, but when the chocolate is filled with flavoured cream and crumbled cookie it is all so far from the original that comparison is pointless.

It would have been nice to have smaller bars of these particular flavours, as I suspect the remains will be sitting in my fridge for weeks. Not that there was anything especially wrong with them… although the strawberry and mint flavourings tasted a bit odd and I didn’t really enjoy the gritty texture of the cookie crumbs. The verdict from daughter #2 was a grudging ‘it’s alright’, but no-one ate more than a single square each, which is a fairly damning judgement from a family of chocoholics.


Piss Bolls (and Nockers)

Category : Food

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These made me laugh so much that I had to buy them, from a convenience store in a Jakarta suburb. I should explain at the outset that pisang means banana over there, and that most local shoppers would see nothing funny in the contraction that makes the name. In my defence, I was out to cheer myself up after checking in to a horrible hotel on a trip planned less than 24 hours ahead, which is why my basket also contained a chocolate bar called Nockers.

It would be nice to tell you that Piss Bolls are delicious, and distracted me from the wildlife in the bathroom, but sadly I cannot. I am not quite sure what I was expecting, but something tasting of banana might have been nice. Instead, these were crunchy, hollow, and had a flavour more like a greasy ice cream cone. But I am sure the ants enjoyed them.

The Nockers bar was equally tasteless, although it looked so much like it might have been a local Snickers Bar that I had my hopes up. I am sure I deserved my disappointment, as punishment for making fun …

 


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