Last week, I reviewed Thorntons’ Jam Roly Poly Truffles which come from their summer range, ‘The Best of British’. Following on from that, I have another of their summer chocolates to look at today, this time a proper bar of chocolate. Described as ‘white chocolate with sweetened banana chips, vanilla seeds and custard flavour’ I was hoping for something a bit better than the Jam Roly Poly Truffles.
Thorntons- Banana and Custard Chocolate
I don’t know how British banana and custard actually is as a dessert, I can honestly say that it has never come up in conversation with a non-Brit. For any ‘rest of the world’ readers, have you had/seen bananas and custard before? It isn’t particularly sophisticated or complex… you chop up some bananas and pour custard on them. That is quite literally all that is involved!
I ate it a lot growing up, but always with pink custard rather than the normal yellow version. That’s right, PINK custard. It tasted exactly the same as regular custard, but the school cook consistently went to the trouble of making it pink, for reasons only beknown to her.
Having said it last week, I’d normally not mention the packaging and design again, however given how much flak Thorntons get from all angles, it’s worth saying again- I love the theme. The only negative of the Jam Roly Poly packaging was that it came in a bit of a crappy, plastic bag. The Banana and Custard Chocolate came, instead, in a sturdy and secure box. It looked classy with the Union Jack theme, and it felt decent in the hand, so massive credit has to go to Thorntons for that.
It was also foil wrapped inside the box. Having tried Whoppers recently which -rather worryingly- were loose and in an unsealed box (nice hygiene there Hershey’s!) the foil here ensured that the chocolate was fresh and in tip top condition when it got to me.
The best part of having a totally sealed, foil wrapper is that it keeps all of the smells in. That could explain why this was one of the most intensely smelling chocolate bars I can remember opening; it was like being punched in the face by vanilla. Sweet baby be-jesus! I hadn’t seen the chocolate itself at that point, therefore I hadn’t seen the generous scattering of vanilla seeds throughout the white chocolate. It wasn’t horrible to smell, in fact with the creamy notes of the white chocolate, I liked it.
It wasn’t banana and custard in the slightest though. The chocolate did smell like a dessert to be fair, but unfortunately it was more Crème Caramel than Bananas and Custard.
After taking a few photos of the stuff (hopefully the photos are getting better- practice makes…well not perfect, but better!) I broke a well portioned square of chocolate from the straw coloured bar.
There was a pleasing custardy element to the taste. Luckily, whilst the vanilla had been so brutally present when opening the box up, it tasted much more subtle and delicate. The chocolate had hints of vanilla, but they weren’t overbearing, with the creamy custard flavour coming through much more strongly.
The chocolate also had an agreeable melt; slow and (for a cheap-ish bar) surprisingly smooth, this was decent chocolate. The white chocolate wasn’t offensively sweet as can be the case, with more emphasis on the light, creamy flavours than just sugar.
Fundamentally though, this bar failed. And it failed for similar reasons as the Thorntons’ Jam Roly Poly Truffles did; this was called banana and custard chocolate, and there was a lack of any banana taste at all.
I don’t think it takes a brain surgeon to work out why this was. The ingredients listed the banana chips (which you can see poking out in the photo above) as only 2.5% of the chocolate. It just wasn’t enough for me- the banana chips did add a likeable crunch to the chocolate; providing a much firmer texture to the softer chocolate. But they didn’t have a taste; utterly bland and disappointing.
The Banana and Custard chocolate was more successful than the Jam Roly Poly Truffles from Thorntons, in that they did manage to recreate a custard flavour here. It really did taste similarly to an enjoyable custard, so Thorntons were half way there with this chocolate.
Putting my scientist’s hat on for a minute, I tried a little experiment with the bar. ‘Not enough banana’ my taste buds told my brain. ‘Well add some more banana yourself’ came the reply. So that’s exactly what I did- I chopped up a little banana, and put it on top of the chocolate. And it was delicious. Which showed two things, 1) this chocolate could be damn good with added banana (though the bar is limited edition so even if Thorntons were to see this…it’s a bit late now anyway!) and 2) my brain is very clever. Chocolate + added banana = a more banana-ry chocolate. My university education is obviously working…
I’l buy something else next time I’m in Thorntons, but bars like this (‘different’ chocolate, with rarer flavours and combinations) are definitely the way forward for Thorntons in my opinion. This might not quite succeed, but the very fact I chose the bar in the first place when Hotel Chocolat was only 30 seconds walk away shows that Thorntons are doing something right and providing more inspiring options than was the case in years gone by.