Category Archives: cake

(Belated) Tesco Halloween Cupcake Review

As of this week, my local Tesco is selling its Christmas cupcake range. Which has brought to me attention that I’d been planning to review its Halloween cupcakes – which it’s really much too late for, but I took photos and sampled the whole range specially, so I don’t want to waste my effort.

On the whole, with one exception I wasn’t really that impressed. Mainly because there was a sad lack of pumpkin cupcakes (or there was in my local, at least) – really, Tesco? No pumpkin flavour? For shame. In general I’d say the range lacked the joyful delight of the British Summer cupcakes, but I’m not quite sure why – it might just be that they weren’t as homogeneous and I like my baked goods to match. None of them used the standard vanilla sponge, which is a definite plus.

3. Trick-Or-Treat Chocolate Chilli Cupcakes

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I feel like ranking these ones lowest is doing them a disservice, because my problem with them is this: I just don’t really like chilli. I tried these because I figured I might maybe like it with chocolate to balance it out, but nope – I found the chilli uncomfortably hot and while it didn’t ruin these for me I couldn’t face a second one, which is unusual. I made sure to get a second opinion since I knew I’d be biased and oddly enough they also said it’d be better without the chilli.

That said, they were exceptionally chocolatey without being too sickly – probably the upside of the chilli at work – so if you do like chocolate and chilli as a combination these would be perfect. Unfortunately I just can’t handle spicey things.

I also quite liked the idea of a chocolate-and-chilli Halloween cupcake. I’ve not see that particular flavour/holiday association before but it works.

 

2. Chocolate Orange Cupcakes

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First of all, got to give these ones ten out of ten for the aesthetic. That is one eye-searing orange you got there, cupcake. And when you squint the chocolate curls look sort of like bats. Impressive.

But beyond that, while I definitely enjoyed these more than their sinister chilli cousin, I remember finding them disappointing, especially the frosting, which despite its lurid looks was actually quite bland. I really do like chocolate-orange as a combination most of the time (I have a recipe for chocolate-orange/orange sponge swirl cupcakes and they are delicious) but these were just boring. No cupcake with icing that orange should be boring.

1. Toffee Apple Cupcakes

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These were far and away the highlight of the range. And I don’t usually like toffee-flavoured cakes!

The fudge pieces on top are delicious and had a great consistency, the frosting is lovely (I’ve never found a toffee or caramel frosting I liked before, so kudos to Tesco), and the sponge was surprisingly good – honestly, most of Tesco’s sponges are, it’s just the vanilla which is a let-down.

My only real complaint is that the frosting was a bit too heavy and overwhelmed the sponge – which to be honest would not normally have been a problem as it was only good relative to other mass-produced cupcakes. These are not the kind of cakes you buy for the sponge. However, as I recall the sponge was the source of all of the apple flavour so it was a mite unbalanced. I think maybe some apple flavouring in the frosting would have worked wonders.

 

That ends this piece of Halloween cupcake-related inanity. But never fear – I’m already planning a Christmas cupcake review.

 

 

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Review: Tesco Jubilee Cupcakes

I have a confession: I am an monarchy apathist. I honestly could not care less. I’m not by any stretch pro-monarchy, but neither am I really a republican; I have ever so slightly too much of a sentimental attachment to the royal family to really fall into the anti-camp. So when it comes to occasions such as this, I can neither get into the spirit of things nor can I work up the energy to do what as my more staunchly republican friends do and use it as an opportunity to protest. I spent the entire royal wedding day in the university library studying for my exams – not as an anti-monarchist gesture, just because I’d honestly forgotten.

My interest in the Diamond Jubilee therefore extends to one thing and one thing only: the myriad array of different food products (not to mention ordinary food products in special wrapping – I bought a large bar of Dairy Milk today just because it came in a Union Jack) that supermarkets have been trotting out. More specifically, Tesco’s Jubilee Cupcakes.

As best I can tell, they did four varieties of these, but I never did get around to trying the Jam Splatter cupcakes. But going by the other three flavours, I doubt I missed all that much. So here are the three I did try, ranked from ‘worstest’ to ‘bestest’.

3. Ice Cream Sundae Cupcake

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These? Thoroughly disappointing. To start with, the packaging claimed they were decorated with chocolate flakes (as an ice cream sundae should be), but as you can see, that is clearly a chocolate button. For shame, Tesco. Then again, going by the product page on their website, they were supposed to be topped with actual flakes, so I suppose I must blame the staff at my local Tesco who did the finishing. For shame, local Tesco. It wasn’t even a very nice chocolate button.

Other than that, these were mostly just basic vanilla cupcakes. The coloured balls on top were a nice touch, I guess, but Tesco’s basic vanilla cupcake just isn’t particularly nice. It’s kind of bland and something about the texture is ever so slightly off – a bit too chewy, maybe? The frosting is also nothing special, and there was way too much of it, but that goes for all of these.

I’m not really sure what I was expecting an ice cream sundae cupcake to be, given that actual ice cream cupcakes need to be stored in the freezer, but if you can make birthday cake icecream I am sure you can make an ice cream sundae cupcake. All in all, good presentation, disappointing cake.

2. Custard Cream Cupcakes

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The other two varieties were the really fun ones, and far more interesting than their ice cream-y brethren. For one thing, they actually do taste like what they’re supposed to! Unfortunately, I neglected to photograph mine, so have Tesco’s photo instead.

These ones have a really gaudy presentation, which I’m not sure what to make of – they don’t exactly look like custard creams, but there’s still something weirdly fitting about them. The frosting most definitely does taste like the filling in a custard cream, though I think the flavour could be more pronounced. However, the cupcake has all the usual problems – this is why I doubt I missed anything with the Jam Splatter cupcakes, I suspect the jam would not have been very nice and the base would have been slightly-off vanilla – and the biscuit crumbs on top don’t really add much.

Still, though, points for actually tasting like what it’s supposed to taste like, and it’s certainly exceedingly British.

1. Bourbon Cream Cupcake

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I am completely in love with these cupcakes and most put out that they have to go away. They should make these all year round. I’d buy them! It’s nice to finally see a British equivalent to a Cookies and Cream cupcake.

My only real complaint here is that the biscuit crumbs on top are generic chocolate biscuit rather than actually tasting like a Bourbon Cream, but then again Bourbon Creams are not the most exciting-tasting chocolate biscuit in the world, so perhaps that was for the best. The frosting is fantastic – everything the Custard Cream frosting should have been but wasn’t. It really does taste just like a Bourbon Cream filling. And on top of that – or inside that, rather – they have a chocolate syrupy filling!

Thankfully, Tesco’s basic chocolate sponge is far more palatable than it’s vanilla. It tastes remarkably like the Co-operative chocolate sponge, actually – I suspect foul play at work. But aside from the possible nefarious inter-supermarket recipe swapping, this is a really good cupcake and I am sad to see it go.

So, that has been a completely inane review! Hopefully someone will enjoy my thoughts on supermarket own-brand baked goods. Until then, though, I have a novel to write, and hopefully much blogging to do.

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