“ Brand: Mr. Kipling / Type: Cakes „
Another teatime: another challenge. How to find something to satisfy the kids that we haven't had many times already and that slips in under the psychological £1 barrier. I didn't think I was in luck until I saw the stack of Mr Kipling 8 Fondest Fancies on clearance at half price in the Co-op. Or rather I didn't see them because I thought they were French Fancies and didn't notice my mistake until I opened the box.
The box, if I had looked carefully gives it away that these are not regular French Fancies, though they are certainly a sort of French Fancy (more of that later). First it has a red and deep pink background with what looks like an iced heart with two kisses in it and a picture of a half-eaten Fancy. In case you still haven't got it (and I didn't get it either at first) these are a Valentines' Day special edition of the French Fancy.
A Valentines' Day French Fancy indeed! I can't help but think that Mr Kipling has got his marketing knickers in the proverbial twist here. Who would give these as a Valentines' gift? Who would want to receive them? I know that if I gave these to my wife the rebuke would be sharp, swift and terrible. Shock and awe would have nothing on it. After eating all eight (!) of these one's beloved would be well on the way to making love handles, and not sweet, sweet love...
So much for the mistakes (mine and Mr Kipling's). How are the cakes? My first impression was the colour, which is a really vibrant pink (they are all the same, unlike regular French Fancies). On opening the thin cellophane wrapper it was the smell: overpoweringly strawberry but obviously not natural strawberry. Thinking about it I am reminded of Opal Fruits, or Starburst whichever name is used now. Thankfully, the intensity faded a little after the wrapper had been open a few seconds. The cakes looked quite pretty though with delicate traces of piped white icing. So pretty that I ate one.
First in my mouth was the icing, which was soft and sweet with a strong strawberry-ish taste, then my teeth sank into the thick fondant on top of the cake and I got quite a surprise. It was a bit firmer in texture than I had expected - more like a thick paste - but that wasn't it. The really odd thing was the taste. To borrow from the wine-tasters' jargon, there were heady top notes of Danish Blue cheese! These top notes did fade after a moment or two and the mid notes of vanilla started to come through, followed by the plangent low notes of strawberry, which was a relief.
Concerned that the cake might be mouldy I inspected it carefully but it seemed fine and the box confirmed the cakes were within their best-before date. I ate the remaining sponge, which is quite plain and a little on the firm side in texture. Unsure whether this was a freak sensation and perhaps my taste buds had played a trick on me, I decided to try another. It was exactly the same. Possibly there is a perfectly good reason why a combination of vanilla and strawberry should taste like Danish Blue though I have certainly never noticed it before. I'll leave that to the food scientists out there to explain.
Coming back to the point I made earlier that these are of course a sort of French Fancy, I have since worked it out that these are identical to Mr Kipling Strawberry French Fancies, which have previously been marketed as a summer special edition. The only difference - and I would stake my Valentine on it - is the box. Exceedingly cheeky marketing that, Mr Kipling.
~Ingredients and (anti) nutritional information~
The main ingredient is sugar, followed by water, wheat flour and glucose syrup, vegetable oil, icing sugar (that's a lot of sugar so far) with about 20 other ingredients in smaller and smaller proportions. Despite the claim of 100% natural flavours, strawberry is not listed as an ingredient, only "flavouring". The free range eggs referred to prominently on the packaging turn out to be dried, not fresh.
You probably wouldn't expect these to be balanced nutritionally either. From the back of the box I can see that you get 105 kcal in every cake, which contains over 70% carbohydrate and nearly 10% fat. Protein and fibre levels are low too.