Part of the fun of moving to a new city is exploring a whole new retail landscape. On a recent stroll through a strip mall in northwest Calgary, I stumbled across an amazing little U.K. import shop called British Pantry. True to the name, it’s packed full of delicious sweets and treats from Great Britain, a land known for delicious candy and quirky culinary tastes. From tea and scones to lemon curd and raspberry butter, I’d say I’m a wee bit of an anglophile. (And don’t even get me started on James Bond.)
Now that I have such a fantastic resource of U.K. yummies within easy reach, you might want to get used to seeing a few more British things on NEAROF!, starting with these Tunnock’s Milk Chocolate Tea Cakes.
The Pitch: “A delicious biscuit base topped with marshmallow and covered with real milk chocolate.” Sounds a little bit like what I’d call a wagon wheel, though these are smaller and more bulbous, maybe more like a Viva Puff. These little beauties hail from Uddingston, Scotland.
The Look: Spectacularly old-school packaging. Subscribes to the theory of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Design nerds will understand what I mean when I say it has a spot-colour look. I’d place it in the 1960s, with some modifications for present-day requirements. (Nutritional info, a “Suitable for Vegetarians” label, etc.) The teacakes are round domes of mallow on top of a cookie, then coated in milk chocolate. They’re wrapped in retro foil with red-ink printing.
The Taste (#1): For a marshmallow centre, it isn’t all that springy. Sweet, with more crunch than I thought there’d be, courtesy of the cookie base. Chewy, too. Considering how light they are, I thought they’d be more airy.
The Taste (#2): But wait! I just sampled a second one, and it was much more moist and soft. The top collapsed around my teeth as I bit into it. Nice mix of soft, smooth and scratchy textures. Still very sweet, but the cookie is less dried out in this one. The first teacake must have been a dud. They’re not past expiry date, so I’m not sure what happened with teacake #1.
RATINGS AND DETAILS
Cost: $4.29 for a six-pack at British Pantry in Calgary.
Value for cash money: Good.
Availability: Very limited around here. Look for them in import shops. I think I spotted some several months ago at the new U.K. import room at Hub Cigar in Edmonton.
Nutrition?: Per tea cake (24 grams): 106 calories, 4.6 grams of fat, 50 mg of sodium, 0.6 grams of fibre, 1.2 grams of protein.
Vegetarian friendly: Yes, surprisingly. That’s what the box says. One of the main ingredients in marshmallows is typically gelatin, but it’s nowhere in the ingredients listing.
The verdict: I like it. A bit too sweet, yes, but the chocolate and sticky mallow should go perfectly with a hot cup of tea. If you can’t handle sweet sweets, you have no business mucking about in U.K. import treats.