Arnott’s Iced VoVo Lamington

November 11, 2020 at 06:20 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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I was so sure I had looked at these. So sure. Along with some other Lamington variant of something else for so long ago. Surely I’ve written extensively about Lamingtons. I feel sure I have.

Well, a search of this site reveals I have not. the word ‘Lamington’ does not appear anywhere in the eleven-odd years of blogging I have undertaken on the (undoubtedly important) topics of books, biscuits and bicycles. Amazing.

Apologies, dear reader. But never fear, the drought of content relating to Lamingtons is about to end, as we look at another biscuit variant from Arnott’s. (They seem to have dropped the ‘twisted faves’ tag, but I guess these are in a similar vein.)

But first, for my international readers, what is a Lamington? Well, along with the pavlova, it is Australia’s contribution to the great global dessert trolley. And, much like the pavlova, it was probably invented in New Zealand, but hey, Australians have never been shy of stealing the best ideas from their smaller antipodean neighbours (cf. flat white coffee and global pandemic management).

The (almost certainly untrue) legend goes that they were invented about 120 years ago when the chef to Lord Lamington, the then Governor of Queensland, had to rustle up some morning tea for unexpected guests and only had some stale sponge cake in the larder. So he cut it into squares, dipped them in melted chocolate and rolled them in flaked coconut. So delighted with the cakes were the Governor and his guests, they decreed by law that such cakes should henceforth be called ‘Lamingtons’, and should be served on the 21st July in every home in Australia for the rest of eternity. And to this day, police conduct random house-to-house checks on that day to ensure that Australians continue to observe this most important cultural and legal ritual.

So how are these biscuits? Are they authentic enough to avoid a $324 fine if eaten in place of actual Lamingtons during the July celebrations?

Well, to be honest I’m not really keen on Iced VoVos. They are rather fussy. And adding more stuff to them only makes them fussier. Now we have chocolate fighting with everything else. Possibly this goes slightly better with the coconut, but on the flip side seems rather ill-at-ease with the jam.

They are pretty much on a par with the originals, I think. Overdone, fussy, lacking in structure and with a bunch of toppings that don’t seem to get on that well. I’m going to give them a three out of ten.

Arnott’s Sunshine Coast Strawberry and Cream Tim Tams

October 27, 2020 at 16:18 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Good news; it seems the new range of ‘Crafted’ Tim Tams are still in production, so I was able to procure another variety to sample. The choc orange ones were pretty good, so how will this one fare?

Much like the choc orange flavour, Strawberry is a perennial Tim Tam flavour that seems to make a pretty regular appearance. In 2016 we had ‘Strawberry Champagne‘, and even further back in 2014 we had ‘Luscious Strawberry‘. Neither were a huge success, to be honest. Strawberry biscuits are a tricky thing. They tend to be too sweet, and have a nasty artificial tang. So have Arnott’s done a better job this time, or is it just another recycled effort?

Well, this time the strawberries come from the Sunshine Coast, so they must be terrific, right? The Sunshine Coast is up in Queensland, and the Chillikebab family have been on holiday there a few times. Right now, of course, visiting is verboten, as the state boarder is closed to us New South Welshpeople due to some sort of pandemic thing that is going on. I presume the strawberries have to get special permission to cross the border. Perhaps the biscuits have to go into quarantine or something.

So is it worth the effort? Well, I can report that these are definitely better than the previous attempts. The strawberry filling is less sweet, and has much more of a real strawberry tang. Yes, these are actually pretty good. At last, it seems Arnott’s have cracked it at the third attempt.

I’m going to give these eight out of ten. So far this new range is shaping up nicely. I’ll come to the last one in the series in due course!

 

Arnott’s Gisborne Orange and Dark Choc Tim Tam

October 22, 2020 at 10:16 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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Well! There is a new range of Tim Tams in town. And yes, dear readers, I am aware that they have been available for some time, so my apologies for the tardiness. But, you know, global pandemics and all that do tend to disrupt the blogosphere.

The chocolate orange Tim Tam is something that Arnott’s regularly flirts with. The last time was back in 2013, but that was merely a revival of a previous 2006 classic. I do enjoy chocolate orange. In my youth, it was associated with Terry’s Chocolate Orange, a fixture at Christmas when we would gather at my Mother’s knee and plead for a segment from the one that was always bought for her. (That, plus putting three pieces of coal on the fire, are my primary memories of Christmas as a kid. Those were the days.) It’s a decidedly retro combo, but definitely a classic and always worthy of a revisit.

In this new variety, Arnott’s have made it posh. It features oranges for Gisborne, on the east coast of northern New Zealand. New Zealand? What is this? Yes, apparently this whole range is showcasing the regional glories of Australia and New Zealand. Why New Zealand get to be part of this I have no idea; perhaps it’s part of a marketing push to sell more biscuits there. Or maybe they just grow really nice oranges.

Actually, I think it might be the latter. You see, these biscuits are lovely. The orange creme is far from the sweet, brash, 80’s vibed concoction in the original. It is darker, more bitter, more, well, orangey. And that peerless Arnott’s dark chocolate sets it off nicely.

These are great. I’m gong to give them a 9 out of 10. Great work, Arnott’s. And cheers to the orange growers of Gisborne.

Arnott’s Scotch Finger Salted Caramel Tart

October 16, 2020 at 14:07 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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I do love a good tart. Ooh, please, vicar. A fresh strawberry tart, with creme anglaise underneath. A traditional tarte tartin. And of course the classic vanilla custard tart. But that said, the one sort of tart I’m less fond of is the caramel variety. They are generally too sickly sweet, and just leave you feeling unpleasantly sticky and thirsty.

Still, it is the caramel tart that Arnott’s have gone for in this limited edition take on the classic Scotch Finger. Now, the Scotch Finger is a terrific biscuit. And (chocolate coated ones aside), previous attempts to make it fancy have yielded mixed results. So how does this new version fare?

Well, it is essentially a regular scotch finger with small fragments of hard, salty caramel embedded in it. Honestly, it’s closer to the sprinkles you get on an ice cream than to a tart. The end result is, though, sort of reminiscent of a caramel tart, in that it leaves you feeling unpleasantly sticky and thirsty. They are very sweet, and honestly not that good. Well, they are not a complete disaster, as the underlying Scotch Finger is such a strong biscuit that even with this adulteration it still has some redeeming qualities, but it’s really not worthy of the Scotch Finger name. This is for sure the worst of the adulterated Scotch Finger line. Sorry Arnott’s, these only get a 4 out of 10.

Arnott’s Shapes – Chicken Parma Parmi

October 3, 2020 at 11:19 | Posted in biscuits | 1 Comment
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So here’s a thing. Another new variety in the Aussie Legends series. This one is the Chicken Parma / Parmi. We’ll come back to the alternative spellings later, but for those who are unfamiliar, a Chicken Parmy is a flattened, breaded chicken breast (also known as a chicken schnitzel), served covered in tomato sauce (like a pasta sauce, not ketchup), topped with cheese and grilled. The full name is chicken parmigiana, although it’s a world away from any sort of authentic Italian eggplant-based dish. The Chicken Parmy is heavy, full or carbs and fats, and invariably served with hot chips. You will find it in every RSL and bowling club in Australia, as well as many pubs. It’s the sort of thing you would definitely not order, except that after the fourth or fifth schooner of pale ale it suddenly seems irresistible.

So how well have Arnott’s captured this gluggy, salty, carb-laden mess? To be honest, I’m not sure that it really captures the spirit of a parmy that well, but that’s not so say they are not nice biscuits. They are quite salty, have a good cheese flavour and there is a slight tang of tomato which is actually pretty good. I like them a lot, they are quite light and delicious. So definitely one worth trying, but it’s some way away from the experience of the real thing.

One thing Arnott’s are seemingly desperate to do with this range is to stir up some sort of social media controversy. There was that whole Tasmania thing with the Vegemite and Meat Pie ones, and now they are trying to lean into the Parmi / Parma thing. You see, there are various ways to shorten ‘parmigiana’ (and indeed, many creative ways to spell it in full on bar blackboards), so Arnott’s have labelled one side of the box ‘Parmi’ and one side ‘Parma’. How droll. I’m not sure if the fact that the the correct way to spell it (parmy) is not included is a deliberate ploy to create further controversy, or it’s simply reflects a Melbourne bias (palmy is mostly universal in Australia, except in Victoria where they flirt with both parmi and parma). Anyway, you can look forward to this fizzing out on the socials within seconds, because no-one really cares.

I’m going to give these an eight out of ten. Pretty good job Arnott’s.

 

Arnott’s Shapes – Meat Pie flavour

February 1, 2020 at 12:42 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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This is the other flavour in the new Arnott’s ‘Aussie legends’ range (we looked at the Sausage Sizzle ones a little while ago), and I suppose is another iconic Australian comestible. When we moved to Australia I recall going into a pie shop and being somewhat confused by the range on offer. Sure, there was Steak and Mushroom, Steak and Cheese, Chicken and Vegetable and all the rest, but the one at the top of the list was simply called ‘Plain Pie’. Plain? What was a plain pie, I wondered. So I bought one.

It was some sort of meat (I think beef), mostly minced, in a sort of thick gravy. It was salty, and not very nice. Clearly it is this type of pie that Arnott’s set out to celebrate with this new flavour, rather than any gourmet or specialty variety.

I know this because these new Meat Pie Shapes are disgusting. They are even worse that that plain pie. They are worse than that mass-produced, been-in-the-warmer-for-hours pie you get from the servo late at night when you are hungry on a drive, and that’s all there is and you buy it even though you know it won’t be very nice (and it isn’t). They are absolutely revolting.

I suppose if Arnott’s were setting out to celebrate just how low and just how nasty the meat pie can be in Australian culture, they have succeeded admirably. When you open the packet, the first thing you notice is the smell. It is horrible. AsI opened them, my whole family (at the other end of the kitchen) called out ‘what’s the horrible smell? Smells like dog treats.’ If you touch them, the smell gets onto your fingers, and is extremely hard to wash off. I washed my hands four or five times in the end, but that disgusting smell still lingered to my fingertips, making me heave if I brought them to my nose.

The flavour is nasty. Honestly, I can’t really make a clear assessment of how closely they resemble a meat pie in taste, as I was kind of gagging as I forced a few down for this review. Just accept that they are not nice at all.

I’m not the only one who thinks this, btw.

I think they might even be worse than this abomination from a few years ago. Just No, Arnott’s. No.

 

Arnott’s Dark Choc and Sticky Raspberry Tim Tam Slam

April 1, 2019 at 16:58 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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tim tam slam cherry biscuitSo today, we move on to the next in the Tim Tam Slam range – Dark Choc and Sticky Raspberry Flavour. They are certainly going to town with the long names for this range – it causes all kinds of problems with the page title going onto two lines. I must remind Arnott’s to avoid this in future.

If you don’t know what a Tim Tam Slam is, then you should read my post about the Choc Hazelnut and Gooey Caramel Flavour. I’m not going to repeat it here. Hopefully since them you have been practicing, and can undertake The Slam with aplomb.

tim tam cherryI was immediately hopeful about this flavour. Dark Chocolate is always a cut above milk, in my humble opinion. But then I was also somewhat suspicious about the ‘Choc’. ‘Choc’ can mean some sort of fake chocolate, rather than the normal high quality chocolate that Arnott’s for the most part use (with the execrable Tim Tam White being the dishonourable exception). Thankfully here real chocolate is in evidence; I presume that with the already inflated character count in the name there really wasn’t room on the pack for ‘Chocolate’.

Once again, I didn’t feel these slammed any differently or better than regular Tim Tams, but they were actually quite nice. Bit of a tang to the raspberry, nice rich chocolate. I also quite liked the dual-textured filling – the raspberry creme contrasted with the softer jam.

These are pretty good. I’m going to give them a seven out of ten. Just one more flavour to go – will it continue to improve, I wonder?

Arnott’s Choc Hazelnut and Gooey Caramel Tim Tam Slam

March 26, 2019 at 14:27 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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tim tam slam packThere are new Tim Tams from Arnotts! How exciting. They are a new rage specifically designed for ‘slamming’.

What is the Tim Tam Slam, I hear you ask? Well, let me explain the correct way to do it. (And this is the correct way, by the way. If you read, see or hear differently then you should take it upon yourself to correct any misapprehensions).

First, you bite off the two ends of the biscuit, taking off as little biscuit as possible to expose the biscuit and filling at each end. (Not the corners, not just the chocolate. You need to take off 1-2mm of biscuit from each of the shorter sides).

Next, take a hot cup or tea or coffee (it doesn’t matter which; this is according to taste, although hot chocolate or Milo are frowned upon). Dip one end of the Tim Tam a few millimetres into the hot beverage, and place the other end between the lips, leaving the beverage on the table (so you are bending down over the cup). Quickly suck up the hot liquid, using the Tim Tam as the straw.

As soon as you feel the hot liquid reach the top of the biscuit (and you need to move fast here), grip the biscuit between your lips and / or teeth, and raise your head. Continue putting your head back, until the biscuit is pointing at the ceiling. You should not be holding it with your fingers at this point.

Now, using your tongue, allow the biscuit to slowly slide into your mouth. The effect for the viewer should be that it slowly disappears from view, sinking into your head like a sinking thing.

Close your mouth, put your head to a normal position and finish chewing the biscuit, enjoying the hot, softened confection. It is best to transfix your audience with a wild stare at this point, before breaking into a satisfied smile as you finish your Tim Tam. (The absolute master of this art, and the person I learned from, is my mate Ian. He elevates Tim Tam Slamming into an art form. Next time I’m up in QLD I’ll get him to demonstrate in a video).

tim tam slam biscuitAnyway, it seems that Arnott’s are celebrating this ritual by creating a range if Tim Tams optimised for slamming. There are three in the range, and the first one we will be looking at is the Choc Hazelnut and Gooey Caramel Flavour (which also wins a prize for the longest name for a biscuit ever).

Arnott’s seem to have attempted to engineer these biscuits with a softer strip of filing up the middle that works as a ‘straw’, with regular creme filling either side. Whilst they slammed quite satisfactorily, to be honest they were no more effective at this than a regular Tim Tam.

The flavour, though, is not quite there. It’s a bit sweet; the hazelnut is fighting with the caramel and it somehow doesn’t quite work all together. It’s not a bad Tim Tam, but not a classic. I’m going to give it a five out of ten. Perhaps the others in the range will be better?

Arnott’s Tiny Teddy Cheesy Crackers

July 23, 2018 at 21:31 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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There is a definite phenomenon in my life that when I like something, they stop making it. It all started with ‘All Butter Crunch’, an own-brand biscuit from the UK supermarket Sainsburys. It was a feature of my youth – all the elder Chillikebab clan loved them. In some ways, my passion for biscuits perhaps stems from that one sweetmeat, fondly remembered from when I was eight years old. And then they stopped making it. (The same thing happened with Coffee and Walnut Angel Delight, I recall).

More recently, they stopped making Cheesy Stars. These were a star-shaped cheesy snack that you could buy in Coles. They were quite a feature in the contemporary Chillikebab household – especially by Mrs Chillikebab, who loved them, ploughing through packs ostensibly bought for the kids lunchboxes. Anyway, they stopped making those too. But never fear, dear friends, for into that breach has stepped Arnott’s, with a re-imagining of the Tiny Teddy into a whole new dimension.

Yes, savoury Tiny Teddies. Who would have thought? They are cheesy, and crackery. This brings a whole new level of chompability to the genre – they have an excellent crunch, and a good salty, cheesy flavour. We like them. Not quite as much as cheesy stars, but almost. I wonder if Arnott’s are planning any over savoury cross-overs? Other than the famous cheese Tim Tam, of course.

I’m going to give these an eight out of ten.

Arnott’s Mini Jatz

May 25, 2018 at 11:34 | Posted in biscuits | Leave a comment
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Arnott’s have been expanding their range of ‘mini’ biscuits, perhaps driven by the glowing review I gave to the Mini Scotch Fingers. There’s quite a few now, so this week we turn our attention to the Mini Jatz.

First of all, is there also a mini Savoy? The whole Savoy / Jatz thing intrigues me. It would be cool to have a selection pack with both mini Savoy and mini Jatz in it. It would facilitate very easy comparison tastings, for example.

As it is, we get the mini Jatz in a pack together with Mini Scotch Fingers and Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies. They look, well, like mini version of regular Jatz, They are crispy, salty, and quite moreish. So moreish, in fact, that I ploughed through them forgetting to count the number of biscuits in a pack. There’s enough there for a small snack. But you will want more after you finish them.

A solid eight out of ten for this mini contender.

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