Gothenburg Goodies: The Salmiak Bar.

Part Three of a Pud-Hog Sweet Series from Sweden

Center Salmiac Bar

The Rolos that FORCE you to share

What? Salmiak – or Ammonium Chloride – is something you don’t often see in England (specialist shops aside). In Sweden, however, the flavour’s all over the place.

A type of salted Liquorice, it often crops up as a filling in various Chocolate Bars, and you might well assume that something so widespread would be reasonably tame. After all, if most people eat it, how weird can it be?

In a word: that s*** CRAY.

Take Center, a product made by Cloetta – a ‘leading confectionery company in the Nordic region’.

As Chocolate goes, you’d be hard-pressed to find something more intense.

Imagine a packet of Rolos on drugs: harmless soft Caramel fillings that have mutated into mouth-watering punches of salt, sweet and acid.

POW.

Ma Hog and I shared a packet between us – enraptured at first (‘It’s a taste SENSATION!’), then gradually overwhelmed by the strength of the flavour. By the time we were nearing the end, both of us found it a struggle to go on: we had found the Rolo’s antithesis.

You take the last one,’ I begged her.

‘No,’ she insisted. ‘You.’

I suppose we shouldn’t have been so surprised: we were eating Ammonium Chloride, for crying out loud; a chemical used in galvanising, found on coal dumps and volcanic vents.

I guess that explains why it felt like my taste buds were burning…

Where? You can buy Salmiak Chocolate in most supermarkets/newsagents in Sweden. Just don’t eat the whole pack alone

How Much? Our Center cost 13.9 kr (£1.40 at the time of writing)

Rating?

8/10 for bite one; 6/10 from thereon in

Mouth ulcer sufferers beware

Rated: The Dalston Crunchie Cake.

Gird your loins, Ogglers: things are about to get RUDE

What? Quite possibly the most OBSCENE-looking treat I’ve ever laid eyes on. Sold as a Chocolate and Honeycomb Cake, it’s essentially what happens when a Crunchie Bar and Cake Mix get it on.

Namely: goo galore.

The Sponge alone was a dream come true: extra golden, extra moist, and extra tasty – not too dissimilar to Honeycomb, in fact.

It was the Icing, however, which took the whole thing to another dimension.

As far as I could tell, this comprised primarily of numerous Cadbury’s Crunchie Bars that had been melted down and mixed with some sumptuous soft Cream Cheese (occasionally lending the substance a slightly strange tang).

As if that wasn’t enough to excite me, there were even generous shards of Crunchie studded across the top.

The richness of it all was immense – and, cheese-tang aside, transported me to a state of more-or-less babbling incoherence.

By the end, I too was a sticky, wet mess.

Like I said: OBSCENE

Where? The Dalston Superstore, a trendy bar-cum-eatery on the central Hipster Highway (a.k.a. Kingsland High Street)

How Much? £3 for a takeaway slice

Rating?

9/10

I say again: OBSCENE

The St Bart’s Body Parts Bake-Off.

Those of you who follow the Pud-Hog on Twitter might remember, way back in October, me mentioning a special little Cake sale here in London.

Held on the St Bart’s campus by a pop-up bakery movement called Eat Your Heart Out, it drummed up lots of web-based attention, and no wonder: it was full of medical edibles.

Lung Sponges, black with emphysema; kidneys, frosted with polycistic Icing; Cupcakes covered in STDs.

For the squeamish, no doubt it was gag-worthy.

But for pud pioneers like the Man and I, it was the chance to boldly go where no Hog had gone before…

Into the world of the edible Carbuncle!

… in to the world of the edible Carbuncle

With almost six months having passed now since the actual event, I’m aware that I’m rather behind in terms of reporting.

In my defence though, Ogglers, I was rather overwhelmed. With a whole file full of photos, and several tastings of note, my first drafts were several pages long.

My plan, you see, was to give you a thorough review; to impart my newfound knowledge on the taste of what we bought for a mere £3 a piece: a colourfully Wounded Bakewell (meh), a Macaroon Heart (crisp and creamy with buttercream innards), a fleshy pink Cupcake complete with rum-filled syringe (surprisingly dry), and a bar in the shape of a Carbuncle (Maltesers + Condensed Milk + dyed White Chocolate + Icing Sugar = waaaaay too much for even the sweetest sweet tooth).

After months of deliberation, however, I realised life’s too short for blog posts that long. And besides, you don’t buy goodies like these for the flavour; you buy them to wow your friends (and quite possibly make them feel sick).

So here you are Ogglers, without further ado: the photos you’ve all been waiting for.

Prepare to be awed and appalled, by…

THE WOUNDED BAKEWELL TART:

Bam!

Boom!

THE SKIN CAKE:

She'll have you in stitches!

She’ll have you in stitches!

THE ANATOMICALLY CORRECT HEART MACAROON:

Put THAT in your valves and smoke it!

Impossible to beat!

THE FLESH CUPCAKE:

STI Cupcake

A boost for your flesh AND your stomach!

THE LUNG CAKE:

A breath of fresh air!

A breath of fresh air!

THE ANATOMICAL WAX MODEL CAKE:

Head Tissue

Really gets under your skin!

THE POLYCYSTIC KIDNEY DISEASE CAKE:

Polycistic Kidney

How could you re-cyst!?

And last, but by no means least, what looks to me like

A BURNT LEG SPONGE CAKE:

INTO THE HOME OF DE-LEG-TABLE TREATS

De-LEG-table!

And with that, I’m all out of puns and photos.

I just hope you’re not out of sick bags…

Junk Bars, Dirtballs & Cookie Dough Truffles.

Do you remember when I wrote about Cake Pops?

They were delicious – but I couldn’t quite see the point of the stick. Why not just dole out balls of Cake, I wondered? Why bother adding to landfill?

Well, in December, I came across these, fresh from the Kooky Bakes stall (no.7 on my Top Ten Pud Producers list):

That's more like it

Not a stick in sight

These were more like what I’d envisioned – stick-free clumps with exciting fillings: Cookie Dough, ‘Dirtball’ and Peanut Butter Pretzel.

With each £4 bag holding four tasty Truffles, the only issue I then had was deciding what to buy.

For a while I stood there, agonising.

Then, just as I was ready to make my choice, I saw something even more thrilling: a bag of thick Chocolate shards, littered with Pretzels, Peanut M&Ms, and – wait for it – READY SALTED CRISPS.

And the name of this shameless creation?

Well, it could only be: the Junk Bar.

So filthy...

Filthy. In a good way

How the heck was a Hog to resist?

In the end I skipped home with a bag of goodies – not just slabs of Junk but Truffles too.

The Cookie Dough kind were delicious: extremely moist, jam-packed with Chocolate Chips, and – as far as my taste buds could tell – very faintly alcoholic (a hint of Rum, perhaps? Or maybe a potent shot of Vanilla…).

The Dirtballs, meanwhile, were not quite so much of a textural thrill, but tasty nonetheless, with innards of Chocolate Fudge Cake and Oreo crumbs on their Dark Chocolate coats.

In both cases, however, it was the size that really won me over: each ball took two or three bites to vanish (just as all good Truffles should).

And as for the Junk Bar… well… that’s a whole different class of Hoggery.

What with all those crunchy toppings, its shards were near impossible to eat slowly.

Indeed, its whole make-up demands that you chomp every mouthful with gusto, working your jaw like a garbage compactor.

Chocolate, Peanuts, Pretzel, Potato – none taste quite so good when sucked. Of course, this is great if you’re in the mood for a mindless few minutes of munching; not so much so if you’re after a night of indulgence.

Thankfully, that evening I fancied the former, so down the chute it went.

You can’t leave junk lying around, after all…

Choc Tales from Dean Street.

Chocolate got your attention? Good. Then gather round…

Imagine a house; a large house with numerous floors and a swanky Georgian interior. Sounds nice, doesn’t it?

Next imagine that five of its rooms are full of Cocktails and Chocolates. I think you’ll agree, that sounds even nicer.

In fact, let’s dispense with the niceties. It sounds pretty gosh-darn awesome.

Five rooms, each containing the best of British Chocolates, plus a fabulous drink made by top-notch mixologists? It almost sounds too good to be true – but last night this became a brief reality.

In one of the major highlights of Chocolate Week – and for yesterday evening only – 68 Dean Street became a veritable palace of delights; the home of a one-night Chocolate/Cocktail experience, known to the masses as Choc Tales.

It certainly wasn’t the cheapest event of the year (at £45 for a two-hour session – or the equivalent of £9 per room). Then again, this was a unique occurrence.

What’s more, in a life-affirming quirk of fate, your humble Pud-Hog scoped the joint for free.

If you happened to miss it (or lacked the funds) then don’t be envious: I made it my aim to sup sweet treats on your behalf.

Feel free to thank me later.

In the meantime, here’s a low-down of what went on…

Choc Tale the First:

Damp as I was from the driving rain, this glorious room was a welcome sight. In it, you see, was a barrel of hot Buttered Rum.

Just what the doctor ordered

I’ve never had Buttered Rum before but, blimey, it was delicious: thick, appley, warm and spiced – like Butterbeer for grown-up, guzzling muggles.

To be sampled with this was a Dark Rum Truffle from the luxury Chocolate company Rococo. With its slightly salty soft Ganache filling, it tempered the sweet drink perfectly, slip-sliding down the throat almost as quickly as the Rum.

Now you see it, soon you won’t

Choc Tale the Second:

Concerned that I should continue before the Buttered Rum fugged my senses, I soon trekked up to the next room I could find. There was Paul A. Young (he of the recent Truffle Tasting Session) with two exciting products to be sampled with a cooling Margarita.

Created with Aqua Riva Tequila, Agave Syrup and Lime, this Cocktail was not to be drunk before the first spot of gourmet Chocolate: a Parmesan Micro Bar.

See it to believe it – Parmesan Choc on the right-hand side

That’s right, Ogglers, you heard me: Parmesan-flavoured Chocolate.

Leave it on the tongue and, for a while, all seems normal… then POW, in comes the Cheese. Salty, sweet, and oozing with Umami.

After washing it down with the Margarita (so light and refreshing it felt like July was back), next up for gnawing was Paul’s Aqua Riva Margarita Truffle: a product which took four years in the making.

Completely sugar-free (and therefore fine for diabetics), it was basically the Cocktail in Chocolate form: alcoholic, but by no means harsh on the tongue.

Choc Tale the Third:

a.k.a. The Champagne Chapter

Tempted as I was to get a second Buttered Rum, or tipsify on Aqua Riva Truffles, room number three was beckoning: a collaboration between Aperol and Artisan du Chocolat (they of the Salt Caramel Sauce). Not nearly as experimental as its predecessors, it was nevertheless a tasty pairing: Grapefruit Champagne Spritz with a thin Salt Caramel Disc.

No time to linger though. Downstairs we go, to

Choc Tale the Fourth:

A room filled with plates of an utterly gorgeous Dessert.

So beautiful it deserves its own shrine

Creations of William Curley – a boutique Chocolatier – these were pretty much edible sculptures: a Chocolate Mousse filled with Crème Brûlée, dotted with Whisky-soaked Raisins, and perched on a Chocolate Sponge – not to mention a fruity pool of Vanilla and Apricot sauce.

Normally I can’t do Chocolate Mousse – too many of them contain gelatin – but this one was Pud-Hog friendly: rich, gooey, and vegetarian to boot.

If I’d downed the Whisky it came with, I might have killed my taste buds at this point. Instead, after only a tentative sip, I trotted towards the finale…

Choc Tale the Fifth:

I knew this was going to be good as soon as my feet crossed the threshold. Within moments, Damian Allsop (another of England’s most expert experimenters) had beckoned me to one side: ‘Welcome to the Energy Room,’ he said. And rightly so: there was no chance of losing pep here.

As with room number two, my final experience came in three parts. First: thin discs of Pacari, a raw Ecuadorian Chocolate. The best on the market, said Mr Allsop, and I could well believe him: despite being small it was smooth and bursting with flavour.

Proof that size doesn’t always matter

Next came something I’ve not seen before: an Open Truffle, smeared with a quiff of Ganache. This was Willy Wonka food: inside were two bright stripes of Meringue; one of Green Tea and one of Blackcurrant.

Observe: two stripes (but soon to be zero)

Nibbling it every way I could (both stripes at once, one at a time) I soon found my Truffle had disappeared.

Never mind though. On the very next table, to help me drown my sorrows, was a drink called the Deconstructed Bramble: another wacky (yet oh so drinkable) offering made with Gin and Blackcurrant ‘Caviare’ (i.e. small gel balls of Blackcurrant Juice).

Let the deconstructing commence

The rim was smeared with Ganache and Matcha, so by the time my glass was empty my chops were all smeary and green.

Did I mind though?

Did I heck.

After five Cocktails and five Chocolate chow-downs this Pud-Hog was feeling fine (if somewhat creaky on the floorboards).

Twas a tasty tale, as I’m sure you’ll agree – and a very happy ending.

[POSTSCRIPT:

Since writing this piece I have had some exciting news: the folks behind most of these cocktails – a Broadway-based bar called Manhattans Project – are more than happy to share their Buttered Rum recipe.

It’s in my inbox now, Ogglers, so WATCH. THIS. SPACE.]

The International Chocolate Awards: Judging the World Final.

Polenta, Water, Chocolate; it’s time to get down to bidness!

I think my career might have peaked – should I just retire now, and go out in a blaze of sugar-coated glory?

Last week I received an email, the first line of which had me rubbing my trotters with glee: ‘We’d like to invite you to judge at the World Final of the International Chocolate Awards‘.

Id like to say, ‘Hell YES,’ I thought, so I RSVPd straight away.

The regular Ogglers among you might remember my first foray into Chocolate Judging at the European Semi-Finals of the same awards, back in May. On that occasion, I learnt the basics of tasting Chocolate properly, and tired myself out with a four-hour afternoon session.

This time I was able to pace myself, with a single two-hour stint on two consecutive mornings (the Tuesday and Wednesday of Chocolate Week, no less). Each session contained around 15-16 samples, placed in anonymous pots just like before.

This being the World Final, the stakes seemed that much higher: we were told we were tasting the ‘best of the best’; things which had already survived three previous rounds of judging, including numerous products which had won Gold and Silver Awards.

Following the same routine as last time, we warmed up our palates with three Dark Chocolate samples, tracking the evolution of flavours and comparing our results.

In a room that was filled with Grand Jury members – people who really knew their stuff – it was easy to feel a bit like the Great Pretender. Then, as decades of dedicated piggery kicked in, I soon got into the groove.

In the first two-hour session, we worked our way through Dark Origin Bars – a round I was familiar with from before. It quickly became apparent that, yes, the group overall was far superior to what we had judged in May: finer textures, fuller flavours; bars that were just more exciting to eat.

Not that I liked them all, mind you. At this stage I can’t get into specifics – the results have yet to be announced – but certain flavours had me pulling faces (and not the blissful/wowzers kind either). I expect this was down to personal taste, but thankfully they were few and far between.

In my second day’s session, our category was Ganaches, Pralines and Filled Truffles, mainly of the Dark variety.

Boy, do I love tasting Truffles, but they were no less of a challenge than the Bars.

Not only is there the filling to examine, but the presentation, the Chocolate shell… the whole shebang. It’s weird. In the semi-finals I remember them being easier to judge – this time each one took me minutes to prod and ponder.

Perhaps it was the quality issue: again, the standards were generally higher, with less to distinguish the great from the good. At times, the challenge was tricky. We were out to track down the globe’s finest, after all – you can’t slap on labels like that willy-nilly.

Even now I’ve got no idea who might come up trumps – there were several disagreements once the plates were cleared away.

There is one thing I’ll say for certain, however: there’s a world of exciting Chocolate out there. So no, I won’t be retiring.

As long as there are taste buds on my tongue, I’ll be darned if I stop using them.

Pud-Hog: Judge! The International Chocolate Awards.

Crikey O’Reilly! It’s the Pud-Hog’s hundredth post! What better way to celebrate the centenary than by wallowing in chocolate?

That’s right, Ogglers. For those who didn’t already hear me squealing from the rooftops, a couple of weeks ago I was invited to judge the European semi-final of the International Chocolate Awards in London.

You heard.

Pud-Hog. Judging. Chocolate. Funnily enough, I said yes.

What madman would say ‘no’ to this?

Anyhoo, yesterday was my day of duty, so I made my way to the Southbank in earnest, having eaten a scanty old lunch of rice and cabbage (and put on my most sack-like outfit – the bigger the waistband the better).

The plan for the afternoon was as follows: two two-hour judging sessions, for which we would sample no more than twenty chocolates a piece, judging them on the specifics of taste, texture, aroma and appearance (as well as a whole host of other criteria – check out the forms if you’re interested).

Now, I’ve never judged chocolate before (not for awards at least), but I had a sneaky feeling I’d found my true calling…

Before our first session, we were thoroughly briefed on the dos and don’ts of judging, and given handy tips by various members of the Grand Jury. So, should you wish to create your own judging experience:

  • Allow the chocolate to melt in the mouth, don’t chew (ach! Ma Hog was right!)
  • When judging dark chocolate, start with the lower percentages and work up
  • Likewise, leave strong flavoured products – e.g. coffee ganache – to the end
  • Pace yourself – stick to little niblets, rather than eating all you’re given
  • Don’t discuss the chocolate while the room is in sampling mode – or, as speaker Martin Christy put it, ‘Try and contain yourself as much as you can’ [at the International Chocolate Awards?! No mean feat for a Pud-Hog]
  • Finally, be sure to ‘calibrate your palate’ as you go…

For those of you who’ve never heard of Palate Calibration before (like myself, about two days ago), this involves trying four set samples before the judging begins, noting down exactly how they taste (options include ‘woody’, ‘floral’ and… ‘chocolatey’), then retrying them at various stages throughout the judging process. That way, you can remind yourself of how your taste buds are supposed to be working.

Anyway, when at last we were fully equipped – with knowledge, water, spittoons and bowls of soupy polenta (of which more later) – it was time to get down to business.

In the first two-hour session we were judging dark chocolate origin bars (i.e. chocolate from a single origin cocoa bean) and the difference in taste was amazing. It was more like sampling wine than anything else, with flavours changing on the tongue (sometimes subtly, sometimes not), and the more experienced choosing to use the spittoon (not me though. I couldn’t let go).

As well as a great deal of concentration, the process demanded plenty of major palate cleansing. It was at this point that the bowl of lukewarm soupy polenta became my closest ally. Tasting of virtually nothing, with a texture like wet cotton wool, I gobbled it down between chocolates, clearing my mouth with cold water.

Bliss.

Two hours (and fifteen chocolates) later the origin bars were done. And no, before you ask, I can’t tell you which ones I liked the most because (a) they weren’t named and (b) a good judge never tells… Until the results are announced, that is.

Anyway, at last it was time for a break and a buffet, with everyone craving salads and salt (and some obsessives – myself included – unable to resist trying a cream-topped chocolate mousse. In hindsight I probablyshouldn’t have…).

At 4pm we launched into the dark chocolate truffles – much less intense than the origin judging, but (for me, at least) even more exciting. Again we had fifteen samples. Again I gorged on polenta. And by the end, like most of my fellow judges, I was ready to go on a detox.

Must… taste… everything…

Strangely tiring, is chocolate judging. In five whole hours I had sampled only 34 small pieces (and, ahem, a chocolate mousse), but was ready to drop by the end of it. At the bar I listened to tales of mass-sampling with a newfound respect for their tellers: 40 in a single sitting, over 130 in one day…

All that caffeine, all that sugar, all that critical thinking. It’s a blooming hard job, you know.

Still. Would I do it again?

Hell yes.

But next time I’ll try the spittoon…

Easter with Damian Allsop.

This is probably a bit late for a post about Easter chocolate, isn’t it? Oh well. Like it or lump it, that’s what I’m going to do. It kinda makes sense: yesterday the Man and I ate the only Easter chocolates we were given – two boxes of Damian Allsop goodies – so it seems right that I tell you what they were like.

From the outset I should probably let you know that this particular chocolatier has an awful lot to live up to. You see, once upon a time, in a Christmas package many years ago (2010, as it happens), a certain Man gave a certain Hog a Damian Allsop Chocolate Bar: Valrhona White Chocolate with Cinnamon, Lemon and Popping Candy.

It. Was. Incredible.

I tell you, Ogglers: a tastier more surprising combo I have never eaten (crackly, mouth-watering, zingy, intense. Brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it). So, this time, expectations were high.

Unsurprisingly for Allsop (who specialises in chocolates made with spring water), yesterday’s nibblings were not your traditional Easter treats (though the first box, of Golden Caramel Eggs, was clearly made for the purpose). No. These were far more exciting than a Mars Bar in a mug.

Clouds and Eggs: the kind of lines I like to snort.

Let’s start with those Golden Eggs, filled with a ‘Muscovado and Sea Salt Oozy Ganache’. First of all, whoever wrote that description should get a medal. There’s something about the word ‘Muscovado’ that makes me want to unhinge my jaw and fill it with waves of pudding (preferably using an oar, not a spoon). As for the phrase ‘Sea Salt Oozy’? Yep. That’s me. I’m sold.

Sadly the eggs were a wee bit too wee to cause drowning in oceans of caramel (my death of preference, second to drowning in chocolate). Plus, of course, I had to share (d’oh). Overall we had seven between us: half-eggs, coated in dark and milk chocolate. They were certainly tasty, but my preference was, as always, for more ooze.

In my mind, you see, I had pictured a burst of luscious salt caramel, dribbling down my tongue and the sides of my mouth. Something really indecent. Then again, considering Mr Allsop’s chocolates are served in various swanky restaurants (including those of the Michelin-Starred variety), it’s probably best that things were kept more civil. I suppose.

The Lime Clouds, on the other hand, were far more unconventional. Made from a dehydrated foam that’s created out of real lime puree, his website describes them as a ‘completely new texture.’ Turns out that ain’t no lie.

The closest thing I can liken them to is a mini meringue without the chew: airy, crisp, light, and ever so slightly fizzy on the tongue. If you’re looking for moisture you won’t find much here (apart from the dark chocolate coating, of course). Still, the Man and I had fun trying various eating methods (Sucking? Chomping? Shmooshing? All of the above?). My favourite way in the end was a good old fashioned quick grind in the molars. Nice.

Anyway, as you’ve probably guessed by now, it didn’t take long until Easter was over in the Hog House – a mere month after it finished for everyone else. Not nearly as spectacular as the Valrhona Bar, our treats remained in a far superior league to your average chalky egg. Only now they’re gone! Boo hoo. 

On the plus side, given our tardiness, there’s only 11 months (or thereabouts) to wait until Easter returns once more. Hooray! Just enough time to fashion an oar – and work on unhingeing my jaw at will.

Can’t be too difficult… can it?

Fa(s)t Food.

If there’s one thing you should do today, it is this: visit This Is Why You’re Fat. There you will find forty-seven pages of the most ludicrous edible creations known to man, more often than not involving doughnuts, bacon, copious amounts of cheese – or all of the above. I’ve seen dishes on there that have made my head spin: from the utterly disgusting (try Chocolate Brie en Croute), to the totally weird (Tempura-Fried Cheesecake, anyone?) and frighteningly tempting (if I’m honest, I could murder a Deep-Fried Peanut Butter covered Brownie wrapped in Cookie Dough right now).

It’s certainly not a site for people who like playing by the rules (melted cheese? In a mug made of BACON?!) – and it’s probably not great for dieters either, given all those naughty ideas. Still, I find it extremely liberating – and can’t look at it without grinning maniacally. As you scroll through the hundreds of glistening photos, it’s as if healthy eating just never existed. There’s no such thing as too much. No such thing as ‘nutritional value’. If the components exist you can squeeze them together – then chuck ’em in a fryer if you fancy it. Just don’t go blaming anyone else when your arteries burst…

Anyway, the reason the site was in my mind this morning was down to a TIWYF-type homage I munched through last night. My friend Mimi came round for dinner, having promised to bring along pudding. In her typical way she appeared at my door with two. One of them – a chocolate trifle from Sainsbury’s – is safe in the fridge for a later date. But the other was pure fatty fantasy.

It was a DIY job, assembled in the kitchen from a few choice ingredients, and apparently a favourite from her childhood. The ‘recipe’? A supermarket raspberry jam doughnut, covered in slices of Mars Bar, blasted in the microwave and served with a pouring of cool double cream. Woah.

Go on: dive in.

As insane as it might look and sound, the results were surprisingly lovely (and virtually akin to carrot sticks, compared to most of the puddings on TIWYF). Now, I’ll admit I’m not the biggest doughnut fan, but I am a huge fan of goo (as you Ogglers all know by now), and it turns out that this is one of the gooiest things you can make in under a minute. Melty fudge sauce, warm raspberry jam, soft mushy dough and oodles of sugar. Not for the faint-hearted of course (by which I mean those with a dodgy ticker), but an excellent example of what I will term ‘To Hell With It’ puddings.

To put it another way, to hell with the fat! To hell with the calories! Give in to your pudly desires! Every once in a while can’t hurt.

Just don’t zap the doughnut for too long – it might explode. And apparently molten jam hurts quite a lot…

Milo Nuggets.

In my childhood days, when chocolates were rationed to one a week, and Ma Hog stole my Easter eggs, I turned to various alternative sources in order to get my sweet fix. Sugar cubes on café tables, niblets of raw jelly, cake-mix-covered beaters from my Granny’s kitchen – they all helped me get to the end of the week, when Ma would bring out the Chocolate Jar.

My ultimate fix, however, was a secret spoonful of drinking chocolate. Powdered undiluted crystals, mushed up in the mouth. Easy to do when your ma’s not looking –and hard to notice when levels are lowering too. Apparently undetected, I developed quite a habit.

Now, thank goodness, I control my own access to chocolate supplies. My powder-eating days have slipped by the wayside and spoonfuls only pass my lips through the medium of hot milk. Still, I look on my old habit fondly – and expect it is partly why I like Milo products so much.

Milo – if you don’t already know it – is a chocolate malted drinking powder, hailing from Australia. The company doesn’t limit itself to liquids, however. Namely they make the Milo Bar (my mother’s favourite): a solid malted bar dipped in rippling milk chocolate.

There are Milo Nuggets too, of course – though I only discovered them recently. Brought to me via Hong Kong– and the last of my cousin’s exotic treat haul – I opened a packet last week, and spent an ecstatic few minutes introducing each one to my belly.

There was something about the texture which really got my Happy Bells ringing. They were simple but delicious: compressed clumps of malted powder, modestly covered with a layer of thin milk chocolate. I loved the way they crunched and disintegrated, filling the gaps of my teeth, crumbling on my tongue. Did they transform into hot chocolate on the way down to my stomach? I like to think so – but it’d probably take a scalpel to find out (I think I’ll pass on that one, thanks)…

Anyway, with packaging and a chocolate shell, I feel like my childhood habit has been legitimised. It only begs the question: did Mr Milo’s mother steal his chocolate? Did she drive him to the powder with her rationing? If so, I’m mighty glad she did. Those nostalgia-filled Nuggets make it all worth while.