|What's been going on? What have you been up to for over a month Nicey? Well I've been in a bit of an odd place biscuit wise, a sort of journey of self discovery that every committed biscuit critic has to make in order to rediscover what it is they are really trying to find. Yes, it does sound like a load of new age mumbo jumbo, doesn't it, but at least I didn't mention healing with crystals or aligning the sofa with the points of the compass. So lets start at the beginning then, that is, about three weeks ago (warning the following biscuit review goes on a bit)...
Whilst on a trip to Wales notionally hunting for waterfalls I had my eyes open for possible new biscuits. Passing by Baglan bay, Aberavon beach and the famous Sandfields estate I couldn't resist detouring the entire NCOTAASD team for a trip to Lidls. South Wales seems to be particularly well placed for them. Resisting the urge to buy a bargin set of hozes and attachments for a jet washer, which is something we don't have I headed for the biscuits. One quick raid later and I had two exotic looking packs of Euro biscuits branded Sondey, one of which I'm sure somebody had recommended to me. Surely between the two I would make some form of valuable discovery. Alas no. The splelt flour biscuits with linseed were indeed exotic but the odd flavour and seedy texture made me think I was eating something that wasn't strictly intended for humans but maybe parrots/cockatoos/budgerigars. Despite putting brave face on it I was knocked back to my second choice of thin oaty biscuits half coated in dark chocolate, surely some form of Euro choc HobNob. Nope. Whilst not as far fetched as the bizarre linseed and budgie flavour ones, and I suppose perfectly pleasant they failed to grab my imagination.
So on return to NCOTAASD HQ I was in desperate straits, with two largely uneaten packs of odd biscuits. Pausing in Tesco's next to the 'these are all very expensive so only buy them if you are trying to make some form of statement' biscuits I spied a tube of Austrian black-currant and yogurt wafers. These could make an amusing BOTW thought I, erasing memories linseeds trapped between my teeth I bunged them into the basket. Oh dear. Not only was the black-currant content a lowly 2% but the gritty sludge bearing it was plying its trade thanks to the inclusion of hydrogenated fat. Not too classy. The wafers, which generally would do well to keep a low profile raised a distracting rice paper sort of texture punctuated by the impression that they had the merest dusting of scouring powder (I'm guessing Vim). Overall a bit like nibbling on a sherbet flying saucer with a squirt of mutant black-currant custard cream filling.
My heart wasn't in it. Had it come to this after five years of BOTW sat in the dining room trying to get to grips with a tube of Austrian Black-currant wafers?
Then a ray of light. About a year ago we took a look at some Cadbury Oat and Fruit biscuits which went down a treat. Well Burton's the people behind them have been steadily growing the range and when Chris Davis got in touch to find out what was going with BOTW and suggested we try the Cadbury Choc Brownie biscuits it was the wake call I needed.
So here we are with a pack of Choc Brownies and for good measure a pack of Choc Rings. So first thing to celebrate is that both biscuits are substantial full sized specimens, no frilly thin coffee floosies here. Just as one gets a little mist in the eyes when spotting the big stainless steel vat of baked beans in the cross channel ferry restaurant after a fortnight on the continent, my woes with Euro biscuits faded as I beheld these fine examples of British Biscuit engineering.
The choc brownie is like a distant cousin of the Bourbon, its lost one of its biscuits the cream filling changed its shape and had a coat of chocolate, but the similarity is there. If it weren't for the shear scale of these biscuits (8mm deep by 64mm diameter) demanding your attention you might think you had taken a glancing bite from a Penguin and missed the cream filling. The ingredients made pleasant reading too no sign of dodgy fats and salt at trace levels per biscuit, which was quite unexpected in such a cocoa based recipe.
The Choc rings are even thicker at 9mm maybe to make up for their hole also delivered the goods. Their much paler cocoa biscuit had fine chocolate chips and a light texturing of oatmeal. Again the Cadbury's milk chocolate (27%) sat easily a top the biscuit forming a truly convincing whole and eliciting a rare 'these are nice' from Wifey.
When you are driven back to the kettle to make a second mug of tea to wash down the biscuits, you know you are back where you are supposed to be.