For any non British readers, you might not have a clue who Marks and Spencer are. In the UK, they’re so well established as an upmarket department store that they’re almost a British institution I guess. Whilst they mostly sell clothes, M&S are renowned for selling some top quality food as well- not just the odd thing here or there either; rather a fully developed food range like any of the major supermarkets here. However their emphasis is on producing higher quality stuff than the likes of Tesco or Sainsbury. So I was looking forward to try this White Chocolate Crème Brulee bar, which is a new addition to their small but growing chocolate range. It arrived courtesy of my Dad who thought it looked interesting so got it for me to review- cheers big man!
The bar is obviously a take on the Crème Brulee, which is traditionally a creamy, soft dessert which is then topped with sugar and blowtorched (or briefly grilled) to crystallise the sugar on top and create a crunchy texture to contrast the very smooth soft texture below. M&S’s homage to the famous dessert is ‘White extra fine chocolate with vanilla flavouring, sprinkled with caramel granules’. I thought it was cool idea- it’s always interesting to see companies attempt new ideas with their chocolate, and Marks and Spencer have definitely tried that with the White Chocolate Crème Brulee- I’d never seen a bar like this before.
I tend to try and take a good look at whatever I’m reviewing before I eat it. Otherwise it can be a bit difficult to write about it if you have no idea what you’re eating! Having had a bit of a gander at the ingredients and stuff, I saw that this bar was 56.1% sugar. WOWZERS that’s a lot of sugar! So regardless of what this tastes like, already I’d advise any diabetics out there to give this a wide berth! As with any review, I was intrigued to see how this bar tastes…but I was also very curious to find out whether or not M&S could accurately recreate the Crème Brulee experience.
Given Marks and Spencer’s reputation for high quality produce, I have to admit I was a bit disappointed with the aesthetics of the bar. It looked surprisingly ‘budget’ for an M&S bar- like it had come from Poundland or something. That isn’t to say that I have a problem with budget chocolate (hey- I’m a guy who once bought 21 bars of Sainsbury’s basics chocolate which cost 20p each) but I expected better from Marks and Sparks to be frank. I thought they’d be capable of making the bar look a bit nicer than this.
I get the feeling that they’re trying to give the White Chocolate Crème Brulee that classy, ‘simple’ look with the plain, slightly gold tinted wrapper. Kind of like the Lindt White Lindor bar I reviewed a few weeks ago, which looked great. M&S miss the mark for me though here and the bar’s presentation is poor in my humble opinion. But (to throw is a generic cliché) never judge a book by its cover. Appearances matter, but they’re not the be all and end all.
Once taken out of the outer cardboard box it was in, I became a lot more positive towards the White Chocolate Crème Brulee. I tore open the foil which revealed (in the main) an ordinary looking bar of white chocolate. However the creamy looking chocolate was slightly unusual in that it was speckled with golden coloured flakes- clearly M&S weren’t going to skimp on the Brulee part of this Crème Brulee themed bar!
It smelt mother fudging sugary. Which probably shouldn’t have been a surprise I guess bearing in mind the 56.1% sugar content that I mentioned earlier! The bar wasn’t the conventional white chocolate smell though (just plain sweetness and creaminess) as there was a strong caramel element. In fact, it was quite similar to a Caramac bar with a blend of white chocolate and caramel. With a bit of vanilla thrown in as well, this was one sickly smelling bar- not horrible I hasten to add- but so unbelievably sugary sweet that it left me wondering how edible this bar would be.
I’ve reviewed stuff in the past where companies have tried to recreate famous desserts and, whilst they’ve produced nice tasting bars, they haven’t been successful in imitating the desserts they promise too- examples include Montezuma’s Eton Mess Bar, and Thorntons’ Banana and Custard chocolate. Well Marks and Spencer’s White Chocolate Crème Brulee is kind of the opposite really- the biggest success of this bar was that it replicated a Crème Brulee quite well. The biggest negative was the taste. Which is obviously a bit of a problem!
So, let’s start with the biggest positive. This bar has granules of caramel in it and they make it very reminiscent of an actual crème brulee- the little crunches of burnt sugary flavour they have is exactly like the topping of the dessert it sets out to copy. They were very prevalent throughout the bar and that ensured that the bar as a whole as a decent ‘spin-off’ of an actual crème brulee.
The biggest negative, as mentioned a second ago, was that the bar didn’t taste great. Well, that’s putting it nicely- what I mean to say is that the bar was so sweet that I could barely eat it. Now, I have a mega sweet tooth, but a piece and a half of this left me feeling sick as anything. It just doesn’t work as a combination of flavours- the white chocolate tastes of nothing but sugary, throat-burning sweetness and, coupled with the caramel pieces, that makes the White Chocolate Crème Brulee bar horribly sickly. The caramel pieces actually have a nice flavour to them, but the balance of the bar as a whole is totally wrong- perhaps it would have worked better with a better, creamier, white chocolate.
I don’t want to go majorly overboard- it’s a great idea from Marks and Spencer to create a new bar based on an original idea. However, given the high quality food that they normally sell, I won’t lie and pretend that I didn’t feel disappointed by the White Chocolate Crème Brulee bar.
It just struck me as slightly ill-thought out, almost as if a few guys in a Marks and Spencer office had got together and picked the ingredients that they thought would most taste like a Crème Brulee, and then, without tasting it, just put it straight on the shelves. Surely somebody, at some point, must have tried this and found out that it was like spooning sugar neat into your mouth?!
M&S- I love your food, and I love some of your chocolate that I’ve tried…but I most definitely didn’t love this!