Sainsbury’s Choco-Hazelnut Squares

I have to give some credit to Sainsbury’s here.

Most imitations are blatant, wholesale rip-offs of the branded good. Today we’re talking about an imitation product of the Kellogg’s Krave cereal: cereal squares filled with chocolate or hazelnut ganache.

Sainsbury’s took this idea, but with one pretty major difference. They’ve sold it in handy lunch-box sized packs, marketing it as an “on-the-go” breakfast cereal alternative which does not require milk. Although this concept is new in the UK (cereals as packaged on the go-no-milk snacks), an earlier review of Cadbury’s Chocolate Squares in SouthEast Asia on this blog shows that it’s been around in the eastern market for a year or two.

Sainsburys choco hazelnut squares(2)

Although Nestle has got it’s 5-in-1 sachets of Cheerios and Cookie Crunch in supermarkets, those aren’t advertised as “milk-free” alternatives (then again, eating cereal out of the box has been something so many of us have been doing!)

So you see: the packet itself is small, at 40g, constituting what “should be” one serving of cereal. I paid 59p for this; which is pretty expensive considering an average 375g box of cereal costs less than 2 pounds per box, and which contains upwards of 8-10 servings.

I don’t like the animal on the packet. I (think) it’s an Owl, and 20 guesses how Sainsbury’s related that to it’s Choco-Hazelnut squares. It clearly does not exclude the “children” target market, given its colours and graphics which could appeal both to young and old.

Small squares. Deformed. Bent? Sheesh. Talk about some bad product consistency here. In my history of eating “squared” cereals, I’ve never encountered such mishaps. Broken is fine, but totally misshaped? That points to some manufacturing defects in the product “baking / forming” itself, which shouldve been picked up early in the developmental process.

Sainsburys choco hazelnut squares

At least it’s light and puffy, despite it’s thi character. To me that’s a good thing, since this leads on to the thicker (texturally) ganache. Too thick an exterior wouldn’t let you enjoy the smoothness of the inner filling; and this cereal avoids that pitfall. It’s got a good crunch initially as well, which collapses into the light puff, and finally, the ganache.

I wonder if it’s worth mentioning this; but I thought the corners were  sharp; angular squares are appealing, but I can imagine something too “sharp” being dangerous to little mouths (I.e Kids).  This might be due to the thin-ness of each piece, since a “fat” corner wouldn’t be sharp would it; but I guess that’s something we’ll have to ask the manufacturer.

The outer shell of the cereal didn’t taste very wheaty: some might like this, some might not. It was more like a “pillow puff” version of Cornflakes, with a clear corn / grit taste to it. It’s also lightly sweetened; I did not detect any “distinct” sweetness worth mentioning on its own.

The ganache was dull as well. It wasn’t “bad” tasting. It had little hazelnut aromas, not even the cheap-sweet-nutella-esque that is so common in hazelnut confectionery. I suppose one can’t expect very much from a grocery store brand. Kellogg’s Chocolate Hazelnut Krave beats this on Hazelnut taste hands-down. There was “chocolate”. Nothing deep-cocoa-ey, but just plain sweetness. As you can tell, I’m having difficulty explaining the taste characteristics of this cereal. It’s just that bland.

A sad thing then, that what was the perfect “canvas”  (the puff) for the ganache had ultimately gone to waste. Sainsbury’s Choco Hazelnut Squares’ ganache was a let-down.

Nutritionally, I’d expect this to fare better, sugar-wise, then Krave. This wasn’t the case. There isn’t much too different between this cereal and Krave’s nutritionals. At 420kcal /100g, they’re roughly identical, sad to say. The 40g serving-size  pack that you buy this in will surprise you as well, as 40g isn’t very much.

(Sorry for not having a picture of this one. I snapped one, but it was blurry, and oddly enough didn’t show that it was blurry when I previewed the shot after.)

Sorry Sainsbury’s, but Kellogg’s Krave takes the cake, and it’s cheaper for the box too.

-The Exercising Male

Tesco’s Finest Nut Granola Review

Warning – major grocery chain housebrand ahead. Those who are strongly against purchasing goods from these “big” players, turn away.

Tesco’s Finest Nut Granola – such an average, non-bombastic name.


Let’s attempt the rational review: a cereal review dependent on logic and justification (I’m hoping to draw some relevance to my current degree here; practice some reasoning skills amidst writing this)

I bought this for two reaons, in order of significance:

1) It won a prize in the nation-wide Quality Food Awards 2011: which made me decide, even before leaving my home, that I’d go to Tesco’s to buy this. (Note the blue logo on the top left of the package)

2) I’ve been on a bit of a granola streak lately, so I had some leftovers from the previous weeks to taste and compare this with.

The difference between Tesco’s “Finest” and the regular granolas can be seen in several ways. Price is the thing we jump straight to on the aisle: this costs GBP3 for 500g; while the equivalents from Quaker and Jordan’s cereals are priced at GBP1.99 each.

Then we attempt to justify the price. Finest Granola is sweetened with Tesco’s Finest Honey (boy.) And contains premium nuts such as WHOLE hazelnuts, chopped pecans, sliced almonds, and some pumpkin seeds. The other mid-priced granola brands can dream of whole hazelnuts and pecans; Dorset’s Cereals gives you those, but they’re priced (gulp!) even higher than Finest Granola.

(END logical discourse: you can’t describe taste and texture without being subjective)

I absolutely love the packaging: ziplock bag, useful for retaining freshness. Not to mention that the interior of the bag is lined with aluminium foil. I’m not sure how this helps preserve granola, since there isn’t a specific temperature it has to be stored at, and given the UK’s temperate climate.


Ooh yeah: large chunks, small chunks, pulverized granola bits: you’ve got them all. Medium and minisule coconut shreds too. The textural sensations are quite remarkable, since the chunks are crunchy owing to the well-toasted oats (or, perhaps caramelized sugars); while the coconut shreds are lightly chewy.

The nuts are DEEPLY roasted too (in fact, they remind me of the roasted hazelnuts in Tesco’s Finest Roasted Nuts), where biting into one will reveal an inner “char”. (Darnit I shouldve grabbed a biopsy photo).

So, ok. Crunchy, chewy.

The most crucial element of such granolas which tout a variety of ingredients is how well they meld together. “Cinnamon Granola”, “Chocolate Granola“: these are easy. Just contain the name-sake ingredient in a balanced amount, and you’re safe.

Here though, balanced amounts are needed, but they need to COMPLEMENT each other.

Raw Pumpkin seeds – slight bitterness, yogurty-tang; mental impression of a dense forest.

Roasted hazelnuts – a warm fire; depth of a typical roasted nut.

Coconut – bursts of richness, akin to that of butter, but of a different flavour profile. I have no idea how to describe what “coconut” tastes like.

Pecans – these were the best. Partially roasted to retain the bitterness present in its raw form, yet bearing that crunch to match the textures of the other ingredients.

Honey – couldn’t tell. Tasted like Lyle’s golden syrup, or brown sugar to me; the taste of molasses was prevalent here.

After these descriptions, I wouldn’t say the above flavours “complemented” each other. There’s variety, yes. But it seems as if that’s the ONLY CARD Tesco’s Finest Nut Granola plays. I did not get any distinct flavour that would allow me to recall this granola on a blind test, since it is so dependent on each ingredient.


At 500kcal / 100g, this is hefty. Note that 500g is a small bag – ultimately containing 500 x 5 = 2500kcal (the daily calorie-total recommended for an average man)

I guess I can see how Tesco’s Finest Nut Granola won that award. It’s ingredients are certainly worth the label. However, the chemistry between the ingredients just isn’t there. I’d buy it again though, for the decadent quality alone.

-The Exercising Male

Kelloggs Country Store

Kellogg’s Country Store seems to be one of those cereal that isn’t all that widely available; I’d heard about it yes, but never had really seen it around any supermarkets before until my local Sainsbury’s greatly expanded and started stocking far more yummy cereal products. Yippee! Obviously anything new, that hasn’t been tried before simply has to be bought for..ahem..research purposes..especially when it is a product of the muesli variety.

Kelloggs Country Store

Us Brits are weird..we’re one of the only countries in the world that actually eats our muesli, generally, dry, without soaking it in anything; I remember one year when I was holidaying to Madeira marvelling at how delicious their soaked muesli was with huge juicy raisins and a creaminess akin to nothing I’d tried before. Anyway enough of my ramblings, quite simply put this is a muesli made up of : oats and little cornflakes with sultanas, hazelnuts, dried apple pieces, honey and a sprinkling of brown sugar.

Kelloggs Country Store

When you peek into the packaging some of this muesli appears to be just dust..but oh wow how this dust tastes good..quite simply put like a sweet oaty brown sugar that you just want to shovel down your throat. This is a cereal that may not even make it into the bowl as it is so good to eat dry; so sweet and moreish..which I must say many mueslis are not.

However this is where the weird part comes..Country Store is good dry, yes, but is it good just poured into a bowl and topped with milk. Hell no! The mini cornflakes lose their crunch, the dust just becomes mush and all the cereal just seems to loose its sweet honey sugar oat flavour; fair enough the hazelnuts add a nice crunch here and there but ultimately its drab.

Kelloggs Country Store

 

Do not fear though..Country Store can be saved. Simply soak it overnight! I don’t care what you soak it in but soak it!..Ok maybe milk may be a good idea haha! I soaked mine in almond milk overnight and then topped it with a bit extra milk come morning time. I cannot express how good it makes the cereal; once the oats etc have been allowed to absorb the creamy milk overnight everything just becomes ideal; the flavour stays and just becomes a refreshing sweet bowl of brown sugar muesli heaven; the sultanas are rich, juicy and succulent, the apple pieces are moist and refreshing and although the hazelnuts lose a little bit of their crunch it doesn’t matter because ultimately the taste is just so much better.

 

Kelloggs Country Store

 

If you want a breakfast cereal that is relatively healthy but still feels so indulgent you’ve just gotta grab yourself some of this if you can find it..just make sure to do it the continental way and soak it overnight!