No Added Sugar Chocolates (Sweets Without)

I arrived home last week to another package from Peter at Sweets Without. This time it had two bars of chocolate inside, one from a company I’ve not tried before and one from a company I had a very positive experience with previously. Is there anything better than coming home after a crappy week to “guilt free” chocolate? I can’t think of many!

Cavalier – Dark 85% Cocoa 

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The first chocolate bar comes from Cavalier, a Belgian company and is Belgian dark chocolate with sweeteners (Stevia to be specific) Oddly Cavalier seem very proud of the fact this is an 85% cocoa, going so far as to name it 85% cocoa, but really it only contains 80%! Confusing and as you’ll find out it doesn’t really matter anyway but the purists might like to know.

It’s quite a thin bar with a decent snap but it does weigh a little less than a standard “big bar” at 85g.

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Taking a bite, the first thing I noticed was that it has an incredibly smooth and velvety feel and taste. It does taste dark but definitely not 85 or 80% dark. If I had to guess I’d have put it more at a 55-65% and that isn’t even due to the sweeteners, it has an almost milky vanilla flavour and isn’t rich enough or “bitter” tasting to be like a normal 80/85% chocolate.

As for the Stevia, I didn’t notice it at all which unusually for something being reviewed purely on that ingredient, is a very good thing! Too often they have a nasty artificial flavour but I didn’t taste anything.

Rating: 7/10 

I did like this chocolate and it’s more than an acceptable replacement for standard sugar filled stuff but I’m a bit stumped as to why Cavalier used a decent dark base chocolate then added some natural flavourings, dark chocolate isn’t supposed to be sweet anyway! I still recommend it to my sweeter milk chocolate preferring, sugar free friends and family though.

Discover Dark Chocolate With Himalayan Pink Salt 

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The second bar comes from Discover, a company I’ve reviewed and really enjoyed before. Again the bar is sweetened using sweetener but uses a minimum of 72.3% cocoa solids and also contains Himalayan Pink Salt.

 I’ve heard that Himalayan Pink Salt is supposed to have various health benefits (and seen the ridiculous prices charged) and a quick Google tells me it contains 84 minerals which can: create an electrolyte balance, increase hydration, regulate water content inside and outside your cells, balance PH levels and help acid reflux, prevent muscle cramping, aid in proper metabolism function, strengthen bones and lower blood pressure.

This stuff is like Jesus crack then! And something you’d expect Discover to scrimp on right?

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Wrong! There was loads of it covering the bottom of the bar. So much so that I’m going to suggest you eat this bar upside down. Eat it salty side facing the roof of your mouth otherwise salt is going to be all you can taste, trust me.

Once I’d flipped it and got a taste of something other than salt, this bar was seriously addictive stuff. It has a gorgeous rich chocolate flavour, it isn’t bitter or overly dark tasting and thanks to the Stevia has more of a semi-sweet than outright dark chocolate but it’s delicious. Not that it tastes sweet like the bar before, any sweet flavours are countered by the most flavourful salt I’ve ever tasted in my life. I didn’t even know salt had a flavour other than salty until I ate this!

Rating: 8/10 

Such an addictive bar of chocolate, a delicious mix of rich salty chocolate all propped up by a hint of sweet stuff. Lovely!

Thanks again to sweetswithout.co.uk. The already large range of sugar free or no added sugar is growing quickly and (touch wood) apart from those liquorice Nipits that we both disliked, I’m yet to not enjoy a product on Peters recommendation. Ask him if you need some help choosing, he knows what he’s talking about!

Whitworths Mix’n’Bake

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I am a total sucker for a ready made mix. I completely get that it’d cost me half as much to buy the ingredients and mix them myself but above all else, I’m a lazy cow. I have good intentions, I wanted to actually bake these Mix’n’Bake mixes but I couldn’t be bothered.

The packet helpfully suggests mixing them into a cookie, brownie, flapjack or muffin mixture. Or if you can’t manage that you could swirl in yoghurt or sprinkle on ice cream. Or like me, just as a flavoursome snack.

Dark Choc Cherry 

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The first Bake’n’Mix is Dark Choc Cherry – a mixture of cherry infused cranberries, dark chocolate chunks, cherry infused apple pieces and raisins. Whitworths have cleverly kept all the ingredients similarly sized, the cranberries and raisins are just slightly larger but if you should decided to actually bake these into something you’ll have a fair mixture of all.

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The cherry cranberries were sweet but with quite a sharp flavour, they do taste like cherry but they still keep a natural cranberry flavour too.  The raisins were fine, good chewy texture although the flavour seemed quite mild compared to the rest and surprisingly considering raisins are usually used as a filler, the least in number in my bag. The small chocolate chunks had a lovely fairly dark flavour, not too dark but perfect with the sweet sharp flavours of the rest of the bag. Unexpectedly the small apple pieces were my favourite. They didn’t have as strong or tasty a flavour as the cranberry pieces but they had a great soft but still chewy feel and were sweet and juicy throughout.

I really liked the varying amounts of chewiness and the juicy sweet flavours. The chocolate tastes really rich and luxurious in comparison and these were delicious to eat as a snack let alone how I imagine they would baked into muffins.

Rating : 8/10 

Choc Salted Caramel 

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The other flavour is Choc Salted Caramel – dried apple, chocolate coated salted caramel pieces and sultanas. Really this flavour was the whole reason I even noticed the Mix’n’Bakes!

There wasn’t the same continuity in sizing in this bag but what the tiny apple pieces lack in size, they make up for in number! Although they were so small I could probably inhale them, there were 100’s of the little gits to compensate!

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Those hundreds of apple pieces had a soft squishy feel with an authentic and natural apple flavour, in fact if you shoved enough in your mouth they’d probably pass for a bite of a “real” apple. Be warned, although it may taste lovely and natural it’s quite a mild apple flavour so if you are stirring this into yoghurt or using it for baking or whatever, it’d be quite easily lost. The sultanas are fine, usual texture but strangely quite bland and not very sweet. Not that any of that matters. Once I tasted those chocolate salted caramel balls I couldn’t have cared less about anything else. Delicious chunks of chewy salted caramel. Not salty enough to keep a glass of water nearby but hugely addictive with a wonderful mix of salty sweet milky salted caramel goodness. Can I find out where you’re getting these from please Whitworths??

Rating: 7/10 (Salted Caramel – 9/10!)

Grenade Killa Coffee

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Excuse the crappy photo, my Grenade Killa Coffee was drunk as intended – on the go!

I reviewed a Grenade Protein Bar a while ago and my husband still buys them from time to time. I said then that I don’t really buy protein bars and that’s still true today, even though he goes on at me that I should for after the gym. We were in Tesco picking him up a few when I noticed the Grenade Killa Coffee. Getting extra protein in the form of coffee is one way I’m definitely willing to try!

Each can contains 99 calories, 1g of sugar, 150mg of caffeine and a whopping 23g of protein! When you start work at the unsociable hours I do, caffiene becomes your best friend – usually in the form of a black coffee first thing and then a Monster but surely a coffee with this much protein (coming from milk protein) has gotta be better for me than an energy drink?

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I saved a swig for a photo and you can see it has a gorgeous caramel coffee colour. I’m not quite sure whether I expected to open the can and a puff of protein powder to erupt but all I got was a strong coffee scent.

Impressed isn’t the word. It’s thick feeling, granted it’s not quite like a milkshake but nothing like a protein shake. Of the two it’s much more like a milkshake but again.. not quite. It’s milky tasting with a delicious coffee flavour and 99% of the way through no “protein” flavour at all. It literally tasted just like an iced coffee. I say 99% as I think I should have given this a shake before I opened it, the very last mouthful had a bit of a strange chalky/dusty flavour but nothing that a good shake wouldn’t have fixed – again a lot like a milkshake!

Would 100% be a regular buy (gym be damned, that much protein? I had to force myself to eat lunch!) if it weren’t so expensive.

Rating: 9/10 

Cheestrings Scoffies

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At last someone has had the good sense to make a more savoury snack mix. Not entirely savoury mind you but it doesn’t matter as both contain cheese and I’m yet to find something some form of cheese doesn’t improve.

Today’s cheese comes from Cheestrings and are mixed up in two new offerings named Scoffies.

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The first Scoffies mix contains crunchy crackers, real (well I should hope so) cheese chunks and a sweet mix with white chocolate shortcake balls, raisins and dried apricot pieces. The idea is to “swap them, switch them, save them but don’t scoff them all at once” well Cheestrings there’s a slight problem there. If you wanted me to save some you probably shouldnt have sealed the three individual compartments with one large plastic cover!

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OK the edge is very slightly sticky but not enough to fully re-seal and nobody likes cheese that’s been left open!

Anyway on to the good stuff. The cheese crackers are little fish shaped crunchy light bites with an extremely moreish cheese flavour and just the hint of something herby. They taste a lot like Cheese Savouries – the cheese biscuits I only buy at Christmas or else the entire bag is demolished within the hour!

The sweet mix is enjoyable, the apricot pieces are semi firm and quite chewy but seemed to have quite a bland flavour especially in contrast to all that cheese! The raisins are better – big chewy and sweet – but the white chocolate shortcakes are the best in this box. More biscuit than chocolate if that makes sense with a delicious shortcake flavour and texture that was actually stronger than the sweet white chocolate.

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Lastly the cheese. There seemed to be two types, I’m not sure if my eyes have convinced my taste buds but the darker more orange yellow cheese seemed to have a more typical Cheestrings flavour whereas the lighter was more like a normal cheddar. Both tasty, very cheesy and surprisingly fresh tasting.

The cheese cubes and the crackers together are just as good as you’d expect but I wouldn’t really recommend a mouthful of everything. That was one experiment I didn’t repeat!

A decent, if a bit weird little mix. 

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The second mix contains another sweet mix, this time with apricot cubes, cherry cubes and yoghurt covered raisins, the same mix of two differently coloured cheeses and tiny pretzels instead of crackers.

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Same stupid seal! This time round I really concentrated on the cheese and purposely ate cubes without looking. My brain was playing tricks on me I’m 99% sure they taste exactly the same! It’s more cheddar-y than proper Cheestrings and has quite a strong flavour.

I preferred this sweet mix actually. I’d normally pick chocolate biscuits 100 times over yoghurt and fruit but the yoghurt coated raisins seem to fit better with the cheese and pretzels. It’s still sweet though with a lovely milky flavour rather than the tang that you sometimes find. Sadly we both only had four in our packs so some more would be nice please Cheestring!

The apricot cubes are better too, they have the same firm but still soft chew and seemed to have a much stronger apricot flavour. The cherry cubes are the best though, it was hard to believe they were actually dried fruit cubes rather than a Haribo sweet, the flavour was that strong!

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Finally the best part of this box, the pretzels. Wicked crunchy with a delicious pretzel taste and just the right amount of salt. The star of the show and nicer, in my (but not his) opinion than the cheese crackers previously. I would say though that all the different parts to this variety taste better individually but I think the cheese and fish crackers beforehand complimented each other better.

Rating: 7/10 

It made a nice change to have something savoury based and the fact it’s somewhat healthier is a bonus too.

Pizza Express Chocolate Fudge Cake Gelato

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I say it about lots of things, but hand on heart, if it came down to it and I could only pick 1 of each, I would happily eat pizza for my savoury and ice cream for my sweets for the rest of my life. That isn’t to say though that I expected Pizza Express, the pizza restaurant and sellers of bake at home pizza, to release an ice cream. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anybody say “oh I know, let’s go to Pizza Express tonight for some gelato!” I still bought it though!

Today I’m reviewing the Chocolate Fudge Cake Flavour, Amy reviewed the Tiramisu and there’s a Sicilian Lemon flavour too.

Chocolate gelato swirled with chocolate sauce and chocolate fudge cake pieces 

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Oddly this smelt just like a chocolate cake!

Now according to Google, gelato is supposed to be churned much slower than ice cream leaving you with a much denser feel, is served warmer so also has a softer and silkier feel and has a lower fat percentage so the flavour is meant to really shine through. Remember these three points.

First I’ll address point one. The chocolate gelato felt thick and heavy both on my spoon and in my mouth but it had a fluffy mousse like texture. It’s not light and airy at all but I wouldn’t necessarily say its denser than any ice cream I’ve eaten recently.

Point two. I wasn’t aware of it supposed to have been being served warmer at the time but this melted ridiculously fast. I ate it in front of the box last night and it was actually quite cold but within 20 minutes this was a liquid. No exaggeration, we had chocolate soup with cakey croutons.

Point three. The flavour is meant to shine through. Well, what flavour? The chocolate gelato itself was a disappointment. Very mild, almost bland and lacking the chocolate overload I expected.

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At least there were some additional treats to try and salvage it. In fairness, there wasn’t much plain chocolate gelato though – I swear I must have had half a whole chocolate cake in my tub!

The cake pieces were very good, not only were there loads but they were all pretty big too and despite a freezing had a decent soft and fluffy cakey texture. The cake was slightly more chocolatey than the ice cream but not enough to make a noticeable difference. So far so disappointing.

Why have I included this ugly photo below of a 3/4 eaten tub?

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Because this is where the chocolate sauce finally decided to appear!

Yep, that’s it all melted up the sides and around the bottom – not swirled about as you’d expect. I’d say it was an issue with just mine but my husbands was exactly the same.

It’s such a shame as if the sauce was rippled throughout as I’m guessing it’s supposed to be this would be a solid 8. It has a really intense and rich chocolate flavour with a silky smooth consistency and finally I got my chocolate explosion.

The sauce without a doubt saved the day, I finished thinking that I’d quite happily eat another again but it’s only looking back at the photos and writing this review that I remember how disappointing a good 3/4 of it was.

Rating: 6/10