Just before Easter I received an email from Peter who runs Sweets Without, an online stockist selling sugar free sweets, wondering if I’d be interested in trying a few samples. Well Peter must be psychic, not only had I had an awful experience with a sugar free sweet the week before (and not got round to blogging about it) but I’m also having some serious issues with my teeth lately – wisdom teeth but let’s be honest, all this sugar ain’t helping!
It might well be a good idea to find some sugar free goodies that actually taste nice too, we all know the sugar tax won’t stay at just drinks for long.
Anyway I jumped at the chance and within 24 the postman was on my doorstep with a box full of treats for me to try.
Thorne’s Sugar Free Liquorice Toffee
I felt the Liquorice Toffees from Thornes would be a good place to start, I’ve recently eaten the God awful Bon Bons Gourmet Sugar Free Toffee and the very tasty Walkers Liquorice Toffee so I’ve got a good mix of both aspects of the sweets to compare.
The sweets are roughly the same size as a Blackjack, individually wrapped but with a very decent amount for the 100g bag inside. They had a wickedly strong liquorice scent with no toffee to be found.
Initially they have a pretty hard chew (compared to the Bon Bons Gourmet they’re like eating marshmallows though) but within one or two chews they blended to the familiar sticky, chewy toffee texture.
I was very impressed, the outright flavour is liquorice, a very tasty liquorice actually and one I’d be happy eating at any time, not just when my teeth are playing up! Soon the underlying toffee came through and it’s just as nice, creamy and rich with a delicious toffee flavour and the best part of all is that I have no furry feeling, sugar coated teeth afterwards!
Strangely, this actually reminded me a lot of the Walkers Nonsuch Liquorice Toffee, the taste is very similar and just as authentic. It could be quite dangerous actually – they’re that nice I don’t think you’d realise they were sugar free and it’s far too easy to eat the lot in one go!
(And that’s an 8 in general – not based on sugar free sweets!)
The Lite Chocolate Company – Dark Mint
Dark chocolate with mint, sweetened from stevia extract from natural origin.
Also included in my box of (artificially) sweet stuff, was a chocolate bar made by The Lite Company. It’s a dark chocolate – not quite as dark as I usually go for at 52% and is made with Belgian chocolate, is a low carbohydrate product, has no added sugar, is gluten free and interestingly has 0.0g of milk protein so while it doesn’t state it is lactose free I wonder if this is the case too.
It’s packaged like a “fancier” chocolate, wrapped in a gold foil tucked neatly inside a cardboard packet. I love little details like this, they are what set chocolates apart from bog standard Cadbury and the like.
I get a strange satisfaction from ripping open the foil and doing so released a strong mint scent mixed in with the delicious dark chocolate.
The bar looks like an unbranded Green & Blacks THIN bar, and actually ended up reminding me a lot of one. It does weigh just a little less than a standard block but you wouldn’t guess to look and feel it and is sectioned into large squares. There’s no excessive consumption warning, not that I’d have listened anyway, so I figured 8 squares is a perfectly acceptable serving.
Typically, the first square I tried didn’t have as much mint as the rest of the bar. Happily this meant I got to try some of the unadulterated chocolate and it’s quite good actually. It tastes a lot darker than its cocoa solid percentage is, I think this is thanks to the lack of anything dairy in the ingredients and while the cocoa butter provides a creamy, thick mouth feel the actual taste of the chocolate is allowed to shine. It’s deep, quite rich with a good snap and a smooth melt.
The other squares had plenty of mint, I don’t normally like mint but it was very vibrant and fresh tasting and paired with the dark chocolate was surprisingly (for me) addictive. This bar has actually encouraged me to try mint chocolate again! At first I noticed the lack of sugar – for me, it’s a positive, for once I could taste authentic chocolate completely rather than for a nanosecond before the sugar kicks in. I did begin to taste what I’m assuming is the Stevia. It didn’t take over the flavours of the chocolate but rather blended into the mint and made a wonderful mix of deep cocoa flavours and sweet refreshing mint.
Even sitting here a while later I can still taste this on my tongue and it’s making me want another! I don’t think I’d have guessed this was sugar free in a million years, I’d have been impressed with this as a “proper” chocolate bar but the fact it’s gluten free, low in sugar and carbs and seemingly dairy free (there is a may contain dairy warning) makes it even more so.
Monarch Sugar Free Banana & Custard
Lastly I tried a bag of sugar free Banana & Custard sweets, made by Monarch Confectionery and hand packed in Scotland apparently.
There were 20 little boiled sweets in the bag and the photos don’t do justice to how brightly coloured they were. They have a glossy finish and looked more like tiny silk pillows than sweets.
There was an overall quite sweet scent, nothing that screamed banana or custard but they smelt a lot more like sweets than they looked.
They have the same slick feel in the mouth as they look, almost syrupy in nature and a bit like a lollipop without the stick. Texturally I like a good crunch rather than a sweet to sit and suck on for ages and you have the choice of either with these.
It seems that most of the flavour is in the centre of the sweets, the outside has a mild custard flavour but mainly just a general sweet taste. Considering there is no actual sugar (just Isomalt, Citric Acid, Flavouring and Colours:E102 & E110) it doesn’t have an artificial taste and I don’t think I’d have noticed anything out of the ordinary had I not known otherwise.
I got a bit bored waiting to get to the centres of each sweet so I started chewing them. They were much better this way in my opinion, but be warned, there’s no way you could eat these in the cinema – they’re rather noisy to crunch through!
I’m a little torn on these, as you can see in the photo no two sweets were the same visually. Some were more orange, some yellow and some a mixture of the two and it seems the flavour was the same. Some were quite plain with a mild custard flavour, some were plain until the centre and some were just banana. The banana was lovely actually, it’s quite strong, not overly artificial and was immediately recognisable, it was just a shame that this was the flavour in the minority in my bag.
They are a little too mild for my personal tastes, I like my sweets strong and fake tasting and the Monarch Banana & Custards had a much more natural flavour to them. I totally appreciate that’s personal preference though and I may well be in a minority there. Let’s say I do like a more authentic tasting sweet, these would be right up my street if they had had more of a balanced distribution of the flavours. The sweets that got it right though, were very enjoyable.
Not one of the sugar free products I tried was bad and I’m actually thinking of ordering a selection for a family member with diabetes who always misses out.
What I would recommend 100% though, and I really am not just saying this because they kindly provided today’s review, is using Sweets Without for your sugar free treats. There is a large variety of goodies, they are reasonably priced and delivery is prompt, but I like the personal touch. Peter seems to have tried most of the products on the market, can direct you to whatever you’re looking for and knows what to avoid – were where you when I was buying the Bon Bons Gourmet Sugar Free Toffee Peter??
Big thanks to www.sweetswithout.co.uk for providing the goodies!