Hot Cross Buns are one of the few cakes (buns to be specific) I enjoy. The word enjoy doesn't do justice to my love of the sweet, sticky balls of dough - adore, covet, obsess - these are all more appropriate words. Of course they're sold all year round unlike other Easter treats but the special ones are saved for the few months between Christmas and whenever Easter falls.
You can't beat a normal Hot Cross Bun, I don't think there is a bad way to eat one - plain, with butter, toasted, untoasted, for breakfast, lunch or a snack they are pretty much a perfect food!
Last year I tried (though I dont think I reviewed) the Tesco fresh bakery Double Chocolate Hot Cross Buns but I had vouchers to use up this year and so Marks & Sparks it was! I picked up two different flavours as a 2 for £2.50 promotion and got 8 decent sized buns for my troubles.
Toffee Fudge & Belgian Chocolate
First up had to be these. If I had to pick 5 of my favourite confectioneries , toffee, fudge and chocolate would be three of them (that would be purely confectionery - junk food in general I wouldn't know where to start!)
My excitement to eat these only grew once I'd got a look at them out of the wrapper, they're quite large and had that glistening sticky look which meant I knew before I'd even tried that these weren't going to be a stodgy dry bun.
They mainly smelt of normal Hot Cross Buns, though once I'd actually got up close and personal I could smell some deliciously chocolate undertones.
Sometimes appearances aren't deceiving and you should judge a book by its cover.. It was just as moist (shudder) as I expected, with a thick, quite dense mouth feel but it was far from stodgy. My first bun didn't have that many additional pieces to be fair, so around half of it was just a plain hot cross bun - the toffee, chocolate and fudge are in chips and pieces - and to be truthful, I'd have been perfectly satisfied with just this! It's sweet with the usual spices that aren't so strong to be overwhelming but enough to have that unmistakable Easter taste.
I'll be straight, in the first I was seriously lacking on the toffee front to the point I didn't taste it at all, but I didn't miss it in the slightest. The first and stronger flavour was the Belgian chocolate, dark and rich with a delicious flavour it complimented the spices of the bun and the sweetness of the fudge perfectly. The fudge pieces were an odd one, they provided the sweetness to wrap the overall flavour up neatly and while I could taste a milkiness to them that the Belgian chocolate chips didn't have, I'm not sure I'd have known they were Fudge had that not been in the name, I'd have probably guessed a milk chocolate. They were very tasty either way! Mr.1T's buns and the second one I had were chocked full of Toffee though, so I think its luck of the draw.
Speaking of the second bun, my God I should have tried it this way first!! I toasted it literally for seconds, just so it was warm but still soft and squidgy and it was even better. The extra toffee and fudge pieces were delicious, sweet and both had the appropriate flavour but the dark Belgian chocolate stole the show. It melted immediately into pools of gooey rich chocolate, its going to be a pain in the backside to clean my toaster but it was oh so worth it. Amazing.
Delicious!! I have another M&S gift card left, would it be wrong to spend it all on chocolate buns??
Berries & Cherries
We'd have both been quite happy with just the chocolate buns but pushed the boat out as we weren't paying and decided to take M&S up on their 2 for £2.50 offer. There were a few other choices, but the idea of apple or orange in my Hot Cross Buns didn't seem to appealing and we went with the fairly safe Berries & Cherries option - raspberries, cranberries, blackberries and cherries.
They don't look as tempting as the previous pack, but stick some chocolate on top of nearly anything and I'll want to eat it! That said, the actual bun looked drier and I pinched the juiciest looking ones for myself before Mr.1T noticed. The berries and cherries stood out, except for the blackberries which looked a lot like raisins, and a lot of the dough had been stained various shades of red.
They were the complete opposite to the Toffee, Fudge & Chocolate flavour - whereas that smelt like a Hot Cross Bun with a little chocolate this had a much fruitier scent and the spices of the bun seemed like an afterthought.
As before I tried each flavour twice, the first was un-toasted and I was a little surprised. Considering these should be the same base bun just with different ingredients (the chocolate/fruits) it had a completely different feel. I did eat the chocolatey bun the day before the fruity but there are still 4 days before the use by date. Where the bun was beautifully moist before it had a stodgier, chewier feel in the berries and cherries. It seemed a lot more work eating it if that makes sense, it probably wouldn't have seemed inferior if I'd eaten these first but the quality seemed poorer and I'm not sure 24 hours would make that much difference - and I picked the juiciest looking!
Texture aside, it seemed to have less of a Hot Cross Bun flavour to it too, the traditional spices were a lot duller and the dough tasted less sweet too.
The fruits were good though, very vibrant, juicy and fresh tasting. Happily there were four clear individual flavours and it didn't all mesh into one big vaguely 'red berry' flavour - they are the star of the show for sure.
Unlike the previous buns, the Berries & Cherries didn't taste very different toasted, the only real change was in the texture. Toasting it seemed to make it feel less doughy or stodgy so it was a slight improvement but not enough that if there were any more left I'd move my lazy arse off the sofa to the toaster!
It sounds like I'm really slating these but they weren't that bad, sadly they'd just suffered the fate of being eaten after the delicious Toffee, Fudge & Belgian Chocolate Buns!