Arnott’s Salted Choc Slice

June 27, 2016 at 10:01 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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The Mint Slice is an Australian icon. Ysalted choc slice packes, perhaps slightly overshadowed by it’s better known Tim Tam brother, but to my mind actually a superior biscuit.

Arnott’s have taken this classic, and ‘twisted’ it, with an oh-so-trendy salted version, replacing the peppermint cream with what appears to be Tim Tam filling, enhanced with the addition of salt.

Salt seems to be the magic ingredient being added to all manner of confectionery and cakes at the moment. I suppose that making things even more unhealthy usually enhances the appeal. These biscuits rate a whole ‘0.5 out of 5’ stars on the Health Star Rating, so you know there’re going to be good.

salted choc slide biscuitAnd they are good. Smooth chocolaty cream, with just a hint of the salt at the end, on that rich biscuit base enrobed with thick dark chocolate. Oh yes, these are at least as addictive as the original. Eating a whole pack of these is waaaay to easy.

I’m giving them a nine and a half out of ten. Top stuff, Arnott’s.

Arnott’s Ginger Nut – the ultimate taste-off

June 20, 2016 at 14:19 | Posted in biscuits | 2 Comments
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Arnott's ginger nut full set packsYes folks, this is it. The one you have been waiting for. Buckle yourselves in, because we’re going deep into the heart of a great Australian controversy. Just who has the best Ginger Nuts?

To refresh your memory, Arnott’s make a slightly different kind of Ginger Nut for each state. In fact they make four different types, to cater for the different sensibilities of Australians. They were forced to do this after riots broke out when, after consolidating all their baking operations into NSW, they tried to foist the NSW Ginger Nut on the whole country. This is all familiar history, of course; we all know the story of how the GG had to step in, parliament was dissolved, elections were held and Arnott’s were forced, by deed of legislation, to recreate each type of Ginger Nut as used to be baked by its regional bakeries. (And you thought the Dismissal was a CIA plot…)

So let’s get into this. We’ve looked at the NSW Ginger Nut before in some detail, but to help me with this important quest I trawled through my little black book of biscuit fanatics to pull together a small team to help with the tasting – including representatives of each state to ensure a balanced panel.

First, some key stats.

ginger nut basic stats

All the packs are a uniform 250g, but as you can see the number of biscuits you get varies very widely. Queenslanders have a wide diameter but are lightweight, and the biscuits Arnott’s bake for them are large and thin. Heaviest are the New South Welsh, who are also amongst the thickest, and the biscuit Arnott’s bakes for them is of average diameter. (Hmm, I sense this line of humour is going to get stale rather quickly. Unlike Arnott’s biscuits, which have quite a satisfactory shelf life. (Please stop now. Just stop. Ed.))

ginger nut biscuits 2They do actually look quite different – the QLD one is darker, for example, and has sugar glistening on the top. Interestingly they all have exactly the same list of ingredients – but the order of the ingredients is different on each pack. So the recipes are a bit different, it’s not just how long they are baked.  They also have slightly different energy ratings – with the QLD variety having a few more calories than the others. Those on the diet should stick the the NSW ones, which are 5% less calorific than the QLD variety.

Yes yes yes, I hear you cry impatiently, that’s all very interesting, but what do they taste like?

Wginger nut biscuitsell, they do actually all taste different. The Victorian ones, for example, are more gingery than the others, whilst the QLD ones have more of a gingerbread taste, rather than a ginger biscuit flavour. Less hot, more mellow.

And of course, the texture varies quite a lot. The extraordinary hardness of the NSW variety is utterly unmatched by it’s brethren, with the SA/WA version seeming very chewable by comparison. The QLD version is much crumblier, which coupled with the thin biscuit makes them very easy to eat fast. The Victorian version has a nice crunch to it, and texture-wise is probably the closest to the Ginger Nut archetype.

Interested in some more statistics? Here’s the biscuit density, in grammes per millimetre cubed, along with the tensile strength:

ginger nut strength

Of course, there is another aspect to the Ginger Nut which is very important – that that is its dunkability. The NSW Ginger Nut, it has been oft observed, meets hot tea like a <insert inappropriate metaphor here>, yielding into soft, chewy goodness (but never crumbling into the tea, heaven forbid!).

How do the others stack up? Well, the QLD is a complete failure in this department. It goes soggy very fast, the structural integrity is gone, and the texture quickly goes to mush. Not good at all. The Victorian version is a little better, but only a little, with the exterior of the biscuit going squishy too quickly – also the stronger ginger flavour kind of fights against the tea. The SA/WA biscuits are really not bad at all in hot tea – they hold up well, and soften nicely delivering an enhanced taste. However, it comes as no surprise that the NSW Ginger Nut holds up as dunker supreme. Indeed, whilst we were doing the tasting, the SA taster (who up until then had been deeply suspicious of the NSW variety) went into raptures over his dunked NSW biscuit. ‘Oh yes,’ he moaned. ‘Oh yes, this is sensational…’

And so, we come to the final tally. For, in biscuits as in life, there can be only one winner. Only one state can stand tall. There is only one best Ginger Nut. And with that, let us reveal the final scores:

NSW:  8 out of 10

VIC:   7.8 out of 10

SA/WA:   7.6 out of 10

QLD:   5 out of 10

 

Let the riots begin…

Arnott’s Tim Tam Pineapple

June 14, 2016 at 11:52 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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The pineapple tim tam packArnott’s flavour innovation machine just keeps cranking ’em out. It seems not a week goes by without yet another Tim Tam variety hitting the shelves.

I imagine the overlords in the marketing department standing over the poor cream filings development team, whipping them mercilessly and crying ‘more new flavours, and make them tasty!’, whilst the poor, downtrodden fillings team frantically concoct new flavours whilst dodging the flailing lashes. And having previously created the Pina Colada flavour, it seems they grabbed the pineapple part of this recipe, left out the coconut and then held it up in trembling hands to their masters, whimpering, ‘try this new Pineapple flavour, oh great ones’, in the hope it would appease them and earn a brief respite from the relentless pain.

Oh yes, it’s no fun being an Arnott’s cream filling developer.

pineapple tim tam biscuitSo I eat these in solidarity with those poor folks, but at the same time feel a bit cheated that it’s essentially the same as the Pina Colada without the coconut. Whilst I think is actually less good, as the coconut adds richness. And to be honest I’m still not sold on this whole pineapple / chocolate combo thing.

Sorry, this one only gets a two and a half out of ten. But please, Arnott’s, don’t take it out on your poor filings team.

Arnott’s Ginger Nuts. It comes…

June 13, 2016 at 14:26 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Arnott's ginger nut full set packs

I did it. I finally assembled a full set of Arnott’s Ginger Nuts. A life ambition.

The full review arrives on the 20th June 2016.

In the meantime, here’s the original 2011 review of the NSW version, and the more recent follow-up.

Oh, and if you want to know what sort you have at home so you can play along, here’s a handy reference to the barcodes:

ginger nut bar codes

 

Tim Tam Chocolicious Velvet Mudslide

June 11, 2016 at 18:41 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Finally, I get around to writing tim tam velvet mudslide packthis one up. The last in the quartet of new Tim Tam flavours, based on ‘virgin’ cocktails. Not an actual Tim Tam, but a variety of the rather good ‘Chocolicious‘ line.

When I first reviewed the Chocolicious line, I noted that when you open the packet you get a strong smell of spirits – so I suppose it’s only natural to make use of that in a version inspired by a vodka cocktail.

tim tam velvet mudslide biscuitThese are good, ladies and gentlemen. Not quite as good as the dark chocolate ones, but pretty close. They are very grown-up and moreish, with a hint of coffee in in the truffle and a rich chocolate flavour. I liked them, and ate most of the packet in one go.

I’m going to give them an eight out of ten. Definitely the best of the ‘mocktail’ bunch.

 

From ‘d!ckhead’ to ‘Sir’ in the blink of a camera…

June 4, 2016 at 15:57 | Posted in bicycles | 2 Comments
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patrolThe other evening I was riding home from work when I happened to ride past a Highway Patrol car. Usually they just ignore me, but on this occasion, the officer evidently felt the need to share his opinion of me. Leaning out of the window, bogan-style, he yelled across to me.

‘Where’s your helmet, dickhead?’

The default approach for the NSW police is, in my experience, to be rude and aggressive. With the notable (and honourable) exception of the velocops, my interactions with highway patrol officers has rarely been pleasant. However, this was the first time I had ever had a police officer shout outright abuse at me.

I stopped, and a conversation ensued, where I pointed out I was unable to wear a helmet for medical reasons. He continued in the same aggressive tone, ‘Yeah? Yeah? You gonna tell me what it is? What’s wrong with you?’.

barcamThen, suddenly, he clocked something. I have a camera mounted on my handlebars. And it was pointing in his direction. Suddenly his tone changed. No, he didn’t need to actually see my medical certificate. He was just concerned for my safety. ‘Ride carefully, sir’, he implored me, before pulling away.

I run cameras partly for fun, partly in case a driver does something dangerous around me, so I have evidence.

But it seems they are also necessary protection against aggressive policing.

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