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Bahlsen Orange Choco Leibniz

Sunday 30 Nov 2003

When all else around you is letting you down there is one fruit above all others that you can rely on. The Orange. Oranges have a special role in the universe by providing one of the key reference points in our perception of reality, and the bonus is that they grow on trees. Not only do Oranges taste of orange, but they smell of orange too. Putting Clementines and Kumquats to one side for a moment, then we find in general they are about the size of an orange too. But their master stroke was to get a whole colour named after them. Not some dodgy made up Homebase paint chart colour like 'Watermelon', no a proper colour that appears in the rainbow. This is the point at which Lemons throw in the towel, along with Limes and Pink Grapefruit who were only along to see what all the fuss was about. To make sure that Orange continues in its unassailable position it has ensured that no new words have entered the English dictionary that might properly rhyme with it. That's why there is no such thing as a 'boringe' or a 'morange'. And now another feather in the cap for Orange as it has recently been selected by German biscuit bakers, Bahlsen, to appear in their much admired Choco Leibniz.

Now the Orange has always had a deep affinity with chocolate, and often goes head to head with Mint when manufactures are looking for a more refined taste for their confectionary or biscuits. We are very lucky that Bahlsen has chosen the UK as the place to launch their Orange Choco Leibniz, so we'll be munching on them before even the Germans who make them. Orange has taken to the Choco Leibniz like a duck to water.

One of the first guest reviews we ever received was Alan Bromley's Choco Leibniz review. Alan did such a good job that we thought it would be churlish to review the biscuits ourselves. However, Bahlsen have now given us the excuse we needed. The Choco Leibniz is really a cult biscuit that enjoys a fiercely loyal following. This ensures that there is always a place for Choco Leibniz in your supermarket. The substrate biscuit is essentially a German version of the French Petite Buerre, and is simply called the Leibniz. They have been baking them since 1891 in Hanover, when Bahlsen had a mere 10 employes. The Leibniz is actually quite a pleasant little biscuit, with the butter flavour clearly present.

The Choco Leibniz prides itself on its unique construction, which involves filling moulds with chocolate then just as it is starting to set dropping in the Leibniz biscuit. The result is a biscuit that has a frill of chocolate and very fine detail in its chocolate relief. Obviously the first thing to do when eating one is to remove the frill of chocolate with your incisors. Having done so you can hold the biscuit securely without getting chocolately fingers.

Bahlsen tell us that people are most loyal to the plain chocolate version, however when the product is in any sort of promotion then the milk chocolate one takes the lions share of sales. Therefore to launch the Orange version it was decided to go for milk chocolate. However, its a fair bet that all you plain chocolate fans will be catered for in due course.

The taste of the new Orange version is at once familiar to any fans of Dawn French's allegedly favourite confectionary. Bahlsen reckon that if you put the two head to head theirs tastes better, and it might well do given the famous quality of their chocolate. The crisp biscuit with the rich orangey chocolate did remind me briefly of vintage orange clubs, so that is praise indeed.

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Sainsbury's Ginger Crinkle

Tuesday 18 Nov 2003

We don't get ourselves into Sainsbury's as often as I would like, which is a pity biscuit wise, as I really like their comforting biscuit ambiance. Sainsbury's own label biscuits shine like a little beacon of light, with such gems as All butter biscuits with currents, and half coated round Rich teas in milk or plain. Wandering the aisle we find several sensible mixed triple packs for 99p. Forming a posse with a pack of malted milks and lemon thins, which we previously reviewed, was a pack of Sainsbury's Ginger crunch. This was fairly exciting stuff the triple pack obviously means these are standard issue cannon fodder type biscuits, but there was an eclectic feel to this grouping. I grabbed a single pack and decided to investigate.

The biscuits have an appealing texture which at first glance seems like a coarse broken corduroy. I've not seen anything like it before and its great to see some innovation on an entry level biscuit. However, putting any two side by side and and its clear that the details of the texture are the same. It would have been nice if the truth had been obscured with a few more moulds. Having now studied them its a bit like when you have worked out the pattern repeat on wallpaper when you weren't supposed to notice. It stares you in the face each time you look at it.

Change the record Nicey you are no doubt about to say, as I bang on yet again about the unexpected inclusion of desiccated coconut in this recipe. However, the ginger does come through above that and the inclusion of little bits of stem ginger really elevates the taste and provides noticeable little chewy ginger bits. There's some rolled oats too, syrup and malt extract to keep it all crunchy.

So all in all a great little biscuit. Its the sort of thing that shows that Sainsbury's once again have brought that little bit of extra thought to what is so often the lack luster end of the biscuit market.


Strawberry Newton

Monday 10 Nov 2003

Last time I reviewed a Nabisco biscuit, sorry cookie, I gave it a pretty hard time. Well if the number one selling biscuit on the planet can't take a bit of criticism then we must be stuck in some kind of biscuit autocracy. Well we're evidently not, and just to show that free speech is alive and flourishing I get the very occasional hate mail disagreeing with my summing up of the Oreo. However, there is a biscuit by Nabisco which I admire for its sheer take no prisoners approach. If you ever messed about with fruity biscuits then you might have thought that you could handle a bit of citric acid or maybe even malic acid in your biscuit. If you want try the hard stuff get hold of a packet of Strawberry Newtons.

Now we have mentioned the Strawberry Newtons' sibling the Fig Newton before, and were impressed by its powers of bending the flavour of the noble fig into its strange cough syrup and vanilla contortions. Obviously with the Strawberry Newton Nabisco have taken that charming little soft fruit and subjected it to the full might of their industrial process. Just in case you were left a little disorientated by the taste and were wondering what on earth you were ingesting then the pack helps out with the helpful strap line 'Made with real fruit'. Well I do remember that there was a rather nasty pie filling in the 70s, that era of Surprise freeze dried peas and Angel Delight, that had pieces of something that wasn't real fruit. You could get one with pieces of un-real cherry, or un-real apple, which retained their shape when the pie was baked. This was considered an admirable goal for food back then. The triumph of shape over taste. Hoorah, how mad was that? So hats of to Nabisco for evoking those heady days of food technology gone mad through the medium of real fruit.

I actually do like these, I know it sounds like I don't. The Newton has its own texture which seems to be the inverse of most biscuits, sort of a fluffy foamy outside with a chewy slightly fibrous core. Actually that isn't really like anything I can think of inside out or not. The aroma from the pack is so strong that just sitting here next to the outer wrapper I keep getting over powering wafts of the something not of this continent. Could that be the Californian strawberries or is it the high fructose corn syrup?

Thanks once again to biscuit hunter Jonathan Dean for risking life and limb in California by walking around the streets and into stores to get hold of the Newtons. Out there if you don't arrive in a car then you are in the social bracket below crack addicts and recently defrosted cave men, causing nervous shop keepers to keep one hand below the counter.

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