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Arnott's Gaiety

Tuesday 9 Dec 2003

Today the England Rugby team paraded the Rugby world cup trophy through the streets of London and were bestowed with the freedom of the city. Jubilant fans waved large stuffed Kangaroos which had the St Georges cross spray painted on them. At NiceCupOfTeaAndASitDown we are certainly not going to gloat over this especially as the Wife is in charge of Rugby supporting and is, as many of you know, Irish. So as a gesture of goodwill we have dipped into our Simon Smith box of Aussie goodies to pull out this weeks biscuit, Arnott's Gaiety.

Now there are signs that the great Tescos Arnott's Tim Tam experiment is on the wane, with the antipodean chocolate biscuit bar disappearing from our local Tescos store. When Ross Arnott was looking around for a name for the biscuit he had just invented based on the British Penguin bar he took the name of the 1958 Kentucky Derby winner 'Tim Tam'. Presumably at some point there must have been another horse, or possibly a pony named 'Gaiety'. Naming products after race horses could be a very good plan actually, as in general they have fairly daft names, and it would give everybody a good laugh. It would be nice to clean the oven with a big can of 'Shergar', or maybe spreading a good thick layer of 'Red rum' on your toast. Arnotts obviously think they have a blinder of a name as the have made it a trademark. So what ever it was you wanted to call Gaiety forget it, you've been beaten to it, try and rebuild your shattered dreams and move on.

The waft of chocolate emanating from the pack definitely has the unmistakable scent of Tim Tam about it, and the sheen and finish is also like that of the Tim Tam. So I'll hazard a guess that the two biscuits share more in common than just their manufacturer. In fact the pack goes on to say "At Arnott's we make our own real milk chocolate. We source the finest cocoa ingredients from around the world, and blend them with milk products from Australian pastures. That's why your Arnott's Gaiety tastes so much better!". Of course the neglect to tell us, what it is it is that tastes better than. That's a pity as of course we would have been keen as ever to compare them.

What isn't immediately obvious is that the wafers have been sandwiched together using Hazelnut praline and honey, as neither of these flavours is particularly obvious at all. At a mere 52x28x15mm the Gaiety isn't exactly large, but at least Arnotts have put 12 in a pack unlike the odd numbers we associate with the Tim Tam. So yet again Arnotts have produced a sweet and carefully put together little biscuit. I'm not sure how it would fare against some of the great chocolate covered wafers of the northern hemisphere, such as the Tunnocks or Blue Riband who have a distinct size advantage. The fancy filling seems a little bit lost, but presumably its necessary to get the taste Arnotts were after.

Just in case you thought I had made the name up here is a parting pack shot.


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.