Will the new seasonal novelty cake live up to its promise of festive luxuriousness?
Apparently, nothing says ‘Christmas’ like chocolate orange. I suspect this is mainly down to the fact that many a child, stuck for a cheap yet ‘luxurious’ Christmas gift for their mother, would plump for the Terry’s Chocolate Orange – one of those confectionaries that, like Ferrero Rocher and After Eights, managed to pass itself off as a posh treat despite all the evidence otherwise. The sort of thing that made unsophisticated people feel sophisticated as they handed them around at smoke-filled Christmas parties and drank Snowballs or some other dreadful cocktail. Maybe that was just my family.
Anyway – chocolate and orange are now firmly established as both festive and posh, so unsurprisingly, everyone has climbed on the bandwagon. Mr Kipling, who has long mastered the art of making seasonal versions of their everyday cakes just by tweaking the colour and rejigging the box (just look at their Halloween variations), has actually pushed the boat out this year with not one but two new tarts: the Winterberry and Custard Crumble Tart, which is not bad but decidedly lacking in custardness, and the novelty under examination here: The Chocolate and Orange Tart. Why ‘chocolate and orange’ rather than just ‘chocolate orange’? Who can say other than the lawyers for Terrys?
This is effectively a standard Kipling pastry, minus the top and filled with orange-flavoured chocolate mousse, topped with chocolate icing and given that extra touch of je ne sais quoi by golden and bronze sugar sprinkles. You’re probably either drolling or gagging by this point and yes, this is certainly an acquired taste before you even taste it. To be fair, it scores presentation points: the foil cake holder aside, I’ve seen less impressive things in the window of posh cake shops being sold for five times the cost of a whole pack of these. But looks mean nothing if it doesn’t walk the walk when bitten into. Let’s have a go.
The tart tastes almost exactly as you might expect. More specifically, it tastes like chocolate mousse poured into a Kipling’s pastry shell and topped with crunchy bits. What doesn’t it taste like? Well, orange, frankly. I mean, it’s certainly there but not in the abundance that you might hope for. I think the major problem with a lot of chocolate orange products is getting that balance right – adding enough orange flavouring to break through the overwhelming intensity of chocolate without becoming too much – and this fails to do that. I’m also not a huge fan of chocolate mousse to be honest – I like my chocolate in solid form and anything beyond that starts to feel a bit sickly to me. I’m perhaps not the audience for this in that sense.
It’s not unpleasant. It’s certainly got all the right elements for that indulgent Christmas treat. But it’s not something I’m likely to buy again, to be honest. It is, in the end, exceedingly ordinary.
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