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As a diabetic, I have to watch my sugar intake. Unfortunately I have never completely been able to tame my sweet tooth. Diabetic food products are all very worthy, but there's only so much sorbitol and aspartame a man can take. The fact is that my condition, shared by millions, is about control. My diet doesn't have to be completely sugar free so long as I am careful. To that end I try to follow a policy of having a little of something very good, even though it might be more expensive, rather than a lot of something not very good at all. In fact I find this to be a pretty good approach to life in general and applicable to most things, with the possible exception of money, which might not be a very good thing, but I'd rather have a lot of it anyway, thank you. When it comes to biscuits there is one in particular that rings my bell, pushes the right buttons and ticks all the right boxes. This is the Border Dark Chocolate Ginger. Currently available at £1.50 from Morrison's for a box of ten, this is something of a luxury item to a man who would more naturally be drawn to a value pack of Bourbons, simply on the basis that they are cheap and chocolatey. I am learning to aspire to greater things. I love dark chocolate. I love ginger. And sometimes I have an irresistible craving for something crunchy and sweet. The Border Dark Chocolate Ginger gives me all that, sublimely blended in a little disc of loveliness that miraculously I find satisfying. And that's the special part of this. I find them delicious, but one is often enough and two would be a good blow out. Perhaps it's the sharpness of the ginger or the richness of the dark chocolate ginger that means I can't take too many at once. Whatever the reason, it's a blessing and means that I enjoy what I have, satisfy my desire and get on with my life, happy in the knowledge that I have enough metformin in my bloodstream to cope with my little indulgence. OOOOOOOOOOO THE PACKAGING OOOOOOOOOOO I'm not one to talk too much about packaging, preferring to judge biscuits and people by what they do, rather than by how they look. In this case, however, what's on the outside demands discussion. The 175g packet, of which I have been writing, is a rectangular cardboard outer sleeve, holding a ridged plastic tray with a clear plastic cover, wrapped in cellophane. Once the cellophane is discarded, we are left with something in which we can continue to store our biscuits, theoretically. I say "theoretically" because I wouldn't consider this as air tight as my biscuit barrel or a regular tin. Interestingly, the packet advises us that once opened they should be kept in an air tight container, so clearly Border Biscuits Ltd don't have that much faith in the packet to do the job. Admittedly, the fact that I can see them through the clear plastic lid means that I shall be more tempted to eat them sooner than they could go soggy anyway, so possibly an air tight container isn't essential. The other thing about all this packaging is the cost. I suppose the point of the ridged tray is to keep the biscuits separate so that they don't get welded together in a sudden rise in temperature. Frankly, I'd rather pay less and take the risk of them sticking together, the consequence of which might be that I'd have to eat two at once - oh horror! The cardboard and tray are recyclable, it seems, so that's good. OOOOOOOOOOOO THE INGREDIENTS OOOOOOOOOOOO I won't bore you with the full list, but you might want and/or need to know that each biscuit contains 7.7g of sugars, 4g of fat and 83 Kcal. They sound wicked, I know. These are suitable for vegetarians, but contain wheat, gluten, cow's milk and soya. As with most such things they cannot guarantee that they are free of nuts or egg. OOOOOOO THE TASTE OOOOOOO The texture of these biscuits is almost as important as the flavour. When you take a bite, the first thing you get is the chocolate, of course, quickly followed by the crunch - not too hard - not like a regular ginger nut biscuit. It's nicely crisp, but gives way readily without crumbling too easily (the chocolate is obviously a key player here in holding it together). Then the ginger slowly makes its presence felt. I wouldn't call it hot, by any means, but warming and comforting. They use 1% ground ginger in the biscuits, so you're not going to come across any large chunks of stem ginger in there. Any sharpness in this is quickly balanced by the dark, rich smoothness of the chocolate, which impresses as good quality stuff. There's no suspicion of oiliness and no cloying after taste. As the chocolate melts in your mouth it blends with the biscuit and the result is heavenly. The aftertaste is where the ginger really kicks in - still not hot, although how hot it is perceived to be will vary from person to person, but certainly noticeable. Enjoyed with your favourite brew they make you want to take your elevenses at ten o'clock. I like one (or two) with a cup of freshly ground coffee. Some would prefer tea. Hot chocolate would probably clash. Sometimes, if I've been out in the cold all day and want to reward myself for my bravery, a cuppa and a Border Dark Chocolate Ginger will usually make all the pain and suffering worthwhile. It's a blend of tastes and textures that is really rather special. If you don't like dark chocolate and you don't like ginger - forget it. If you like one of those things, be prepared to be converted about the other. If you like both, why are you not at the shops already?
It's been a while since I wrote a food review, but lacking inspiration, I felt now might be a good time to discuss my love of my favourite biscuits, Border Dark Chocolate Gingers. I've only been buying these biscuits for around a year now. In general I'm not really a biscuit person, but I spotted the packaging of these and thought they sounded nice one week about a year ago and have been buying them ever since. The packaging for this product has changed from the picture above. The chocolate gingers now come packaged in a plastic box, with ridges holding the biscuits, presumably so they don't stick together. Although the box looks nice and you can tell from looking that this is a premium biscuit, I do have two small niggles with the packaging. Firstly it's quite bulky, so takes up a lot of room compared to your standard biscuit packaging and secondly the lid doesn't stay on very well once opened. Onto the biscuits themselves, which Border say have been their best sellers for over twenty years. Each biscuit is coated in plain chocolate on both sides, with the underside being smooth and the top side has an appealing rippled effect. The downside of the biscuit being chocolate coated on each side is of course that there's a chance they will melt onto your fingers, so I have turned into my mother and now eat my biscuits on a side plate! When you bite into the biscuits there is a satisfying crunch, but with a surprising lack of crumbs. The dark chocolate tastes smooth as well as slightly creamy and also has a very slight bitterness to it. This really compliments the tangy taste of the ginger inside. The chocolate is a nice thickness too - thick enough to give a good chocolate taste, but not so thick as to overshadow the biscuit inside. Looking at the ingredients the biscuits are made with ground ginger not stem, but they still have a strong ginger flavour, which is fiery, but not overpowering - the chocolate seems to calm it down somewhat. The biscuit is quite dry, but not overly so and the dryness works well with the creaminess of the plain chocolate. As these biscuits are so rich in flavour, I cannot eat more than one at once, which I'm sure my waistline is grateful for! I also find that I eat these very slowly in comparison to other biscuits, as the strong flavour means I can't just wolf them down as I probably would with other brands! In fact, I do limit myself to just one a day most days as they are expensive and you only get ten biscuits in a pack. For a pack of ten biscuits (a 175g pack) you should expect to pay around £1.60. They are available in both Tesco and ASDA. This week I actually saw them on special offer for the first time ever, as ASDA had them for just £1 - so of course I stocked up! In terms of nutritional information, each biscuit contains... 83 calories 0.8g protein 11.1g carbohydrate of which 7.7g is sugars 4g fat 0.1 g sodum The biscuits are suitable for vegetarians but are made in a factory that produces nut, egg and sesame seed products. As I said at the beginning of the review, these are my favourite biscuits. If you like dark chocolate and strong ginger flavours, then I would definitely recommend these to you.
____What are they exactly?___ 10 Dark Chocolate Ginger hand tray-baked Scottish biscuits in a cardboard carton box. I must say I'm particularly partial to all things ginger. I haven't got much of a sweet tooth and like the sensation spicy ginger plays my tongue. To boot I prefer my chocolate to be dark. So natural selection was only taking its course when I found myself drawn to these biscuits. They are available to two sizes: 200g Dark Chocolate Gingers gift pack and a smaller standard 150g carton pack (pictured)which retails for £1.55 which I tried. . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . The pack . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . The packaging has the obligatory tartan with a photo of an elderly (experienced?) baker and illustrations of the biscuits. There is also a cellophane window giving us a tantalising glimpse, I suppose, of what lies inside. In my mind's eye Scottish biscuits speak high quality, traditional - something akin to the standards we expect of infamous Scottish Shortbread. Reading the pack I'm certainly made aware of how traditionally made these biscuits are. "Hand prepared" and "Slow, slow tray baked for maximum flavour" it says. Just how that affects the flavour I do not know but it sounds a different production method to the majority of biscuits we buy. "A little bit of an obsession but one we are proud of" admits Border. That's what I like: dedication. Somewhat hidden away on the side of the pack is a paragraph that starts with a bit of a warning "Not for the faint hearted. Most ginger biscuits are tame by comparison." Blimey Sounds like they are going to blow my face off! Apparently they use the very best ground ginger to create a full flavour which doesn't have the "peppery burn" they call it, found in "cheaper spices". Also these biscuits have a high syrup content giving them a "unique texture". "A biscuit for the connoisseur" they say. . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . The taste, the smell, the experience . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . Inside the pack is a tray of 10 biscuits. Here goes There is a tab to tuck in to keep them fresh if, as the makers say, "they haven't disappeared in the first half hour of opening". As if The moment I lifted the lid a powerful aroma of chocolate wafted in my direction. Oh my word, I gonna gulp the lot Steady now The biscuits are 6cm in diameter (yes, I measured them for you) with a rippled chocolate covering and a smooth underbelly. Biting into them I found that the chocolate was thinly spread but as it was strong and rich in flavour this doesn't matter for me. The biscuit is fairly thin and golden brown in colour (like a Hob Nob) but in terms of texture not dry at all but moist and slightly chewy. The moistness aided by the golden syrup came through which added some sweetness and slight greasiness but nothing unpleasant. The taste of ginger was not overpowering like I expected but just right. It seemed to lack the powdery dryness and overwhelming intensity of most ginger biscuits. A biscuit that avoids the burn. Overall very nice. I particularly like the sweet and spicy combo that's going on. The sweetness silky smoothness of the dark bitter chocolate competing with the spicy kick of ginger and its lingering aftertaste. This isn't just food, this is gourmet hand baked monarch-of-the-glen-assured biscuits generously wrapped in genuine Blackwatch tartan Scottishness. Sorry, I'm getting carried away there. _____Ingredients____ Starting with plain chocolate which makes up 40% of its ingredients followed by Wheatflour, Vegetable Oil (Palm & Rape Seed), Sugar, Golden Syrup, Ginger and so on. There are no E numbers in there, nothing artificial by the look of things. The chocolate has a minimum of 49% Cocoa Solids, so is on the bitter side, and contains Cocoa Liquor so presumably is richer than most chocolate. ____Nutritional info____ How much nutritional value you can gain from eating biscuits is debatable but here's the lowdown - Fat per 100g 20.1g (5.2g - saturates) - Fat per biscuit 3g (0.8g - saturates) - Energy Kcal per 100g 445 - Energy Kcal per biscuit 67 - Fibre per 100g 2.9g - Fibre per biscuit 0.4g As you can see in terms of fat they are pretty bad - so if you are particularly conscious of fat levels in your diet best not gorge too much on these. The fibre content looks a bit pitiful. ___Allergy info___ Contains Wheat, Gluten, Cow's Milk and Soya Baked in a factory that processes nut products ___Other facts we are told about__ - Baked in Lanark, Scotland - Recipes created by the Cunningham family over the last 20 years . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . To sum up then . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . The price is fairly expensive at £1.55 when you consider that there are only 10 in a pack but then again considering their ingredients and traditional method of production are more of the gourmet variety so would only be a purchase as an occasional treat. They compare favourably in price with another gourmet brand - Prince Charles's 'Duchy Original Chocolate Ginger' biscuits - £1.99 for 125 grammes' worth. A biscuit that is different to any that I have tasted before and one that I will definitely buy again. . . .. . . . . . . (a few crumbs, sorry) . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . Other tasty trivia . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . At the website (www.borderbiscuits.co.uk) you can find out all manner of biscuit related trivia and read such proud boasts that Border won the Biscuit World Cup 2003. If only Scots could be as good at football they might well win another famous World Cup. Only joking! Other biscuit products made by Border include: Milk Chocolate Gingers Chocolate Almond Crunch Chocolate Coconut Crumble Chocolate Crofters Crunch Chocolate Shortbread Rings Chocolate Viennese Whirls All Butter Viennese Belgian Chocolate Chip Butterscotch Crisp Butter Sultana Chocolate Chip Dairy Butter Crunch Ginger Crunch Glace Cherry Shortbread Rings Dark Chocolate Shortbread Rings Petticoat Tail Shortbread And more Previously published by myself, aka simoncjones, at Ciao.