* Prices may differ from that shown
*A palatably original royal*
The Duchy Originals brand is well known for bringing good quality treats and classics to the shelves of upmarket supermarkets and department stores across the land. Founded by the Prince of Wales in 1990, it has an expanding product range of delectable items created with ingredients that are often local, sustainable and organic. Profits are donated to the Prince's Charities Foundation and according to the website www.duchyoriginals.com, the figure donated since the inception of Duchy Originals stands at over £6 million.
I wouldn't class myself as a royalist by any stretch of the imagination, but Prince Charles has always struck me as an individual who has a genuine belief in sustainability and improved living standards for all and this brand is a good realisation of all his best intentions. Please note, this is my personal opinion and not a cue to start royal-bashing!
*Quality over all else*
Looking at the box for the chocolate and orange biscuits, I can't help but be won over by the obvious quality of both the presentation and the immaculate pedigree of the ingredients used. The off-white box features plenty of blurb about the brand, the coat of arms of the Duchy of Cornwall and some very well laid out photos, depicting the biscuits resting in delicate shavings of chocolate and a tangled nest of shredded orange peel.
Everything that could be organic here is organic - from oats and wheat sourced in the UK, to the crystallised orange peel sourced from Southern Italy. In fact, from a list of roughly twenty ingredients, only orange oil, sea salt and a raising agent aren't certified organic. This is a brand that practises what it preaches.
*Availability, cost and nutritional infomation*
I have to be honest and admit that I didn't pay for these and at ~£3 a box I'm fairly glad. In our house, this sort of money for a box of chocolate biscuits would definitely class as a luxury purchase. These are typically sold in the dearer supermarkets (Waitrose etc.) and are also sold in a range of delicatessens and department stores. I've not seen them in Asda and Sainsbury's, but I didn't scour the shelves religiously.
These are fairly well behaved as regards nutrition - weighing in at 64 Kcal, 3.5 g of fat (2.1 g of which is saturated) and less than 0.1 g of sodium per biscuit. I'm not a nutritionist, so don't quote me, but that sodium content must be verging on making these a low sodium food?
They contain milk, wheat and gluten and are not suitable for nut allergy sufferers.
*All fur coat, some knickers*
For their ethical, charitable and organic credentials, I wish I loved these more than I did. While they are definitely tasty biscuits, they won't have you salivating with orgiastic joy in quite the manner the box makes you think!
In reality, they are a tasty, crunchy wheat biscuit, with some chunks of crystallised orange peel and a thick milk chocolate coating. The biscuit base is particularly good (as is to be expected by a product made under license by Walker's biscuits) and offers great texture and lovely cereal flavours. The crystallised orange is something of a non-event for me - a pleasant taste, but the pieces often lodge themselves inconveniently between your teeth and are overly sticky. Perhaps non-crystallised peel would have worked better? The chocolate is delicious, as is to be expected of good quality organic milk chocolate. It has a rewarding 'snap' when you bite into the biscuit, is a decent thickness and is good and creamy.
These look great on a saucer next to a cup of coffee - a real touch of class. But the fact of the matter remains that the slightly cloying crystallised orange makes for a somewhat indifferent eating experience of what could have been a great biscuit. Good for socialising, but lacking that moreish quality that I expect in a top biscuit.
As I'm basing my score on the quality of the product and not its credentials, I have no choice but to give these a somewhat low three stars.
Oh my goodness, I love these biscuits!
Funny thing is that I rarely like anything with orange in it, but here it is so subtle you are not overpowered by orangeness, and it is actually a very pleasant taste, complimenting the delicious dark chocolate coating very nicely.
I love the fact that they are organic. Duchy Originals came about in the early 1990's, established by the Prince of Wales (though it seems reasonably unlikely that he has his actual royal hands in the cookie dough!), as a means of promoting organic farming, and raising the profile of wildlife and nature initiatives, which I think is terrific.
Ingredients are: Organic plain chocolate (50%), organic wheat flour, organic butter, organic oats, organic raw cane sugar, organic crystallised orange peel (5%), natural flavouring: orange oil*. Sea salt*, raising agent (ammonium bicarbonate)*, organic malted wheat flour. The ingredients listed with an asterisk are approved non-organic.
These biscuits will cost around £2.49 a pack, so not an everyday biscuit for everybody, but certainly nice as an occasional treat, or even if you just fancy trying them as a one-off. You get ten in a pack, which sounds like not much, but they are so divine you really do want to eat each one slowly, savouring it, making the most of (because in my case, I don't know when I might get some again!).
Enjoy a fine biscuit!