I don't know about you but I love receiving mystery parcels, especially those brandishing the word 'chocolate'! I almost had to wrestle my postie for the box - in a socially distanced manner of course.
The parcel was a bundle of Niederegger treats courtesy of Hertfordshire-based Chocolates Direct. They'd kindly sent me a box of treats including Niederegger's Loaf of the Year 2020 (hazelnut and toffee) and their Mini Loaf of the Year 2020 (in chocolate and banana) .
Niederegger, in case you're not familiar with the brand, was founded back in 1806 in Lübeck, northern Germany. Heralded as some of the most delicious marzipan in the world, Niederegger prides itself on using 100% marzipan paste in its products (other brands often supplement their marzipan pastes by adding as much as 50% additional sugars according to Niederegger). Less sugar results in a finer quality marzipan, which explains why the brand has the reputation it does.
So, what do I think of this year's flavoured marzipans? Read on to find out.
In this article:
- Niederegger Hazelnut Toffee Loaf of the Year 2020 Review
- Niederegger Banana & Chocolate Mini Loaf of the Year 2020 Review
- Other Niederegger Treats
- Where to Buy Online
Niederegger Hazelnut Toffee Loaf of the Year 2020 Review
Haselnuss toffee marzipan mit zartbitterschokolade (Hazelnut toffee marzipan with dark chocolate)
125g | RRP: £4.25 | Shop
Scooping the accolade of the limited-edition Loaf of the Year 2020 is a bar of marzipan studded with pieces of hazelnut and toffee, smothered in dark chocolate.
Niederegger Hazelnut Toffee Marzipan Loaf ingredients:
Almonds 38%, dark chocolate 22% (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract), sugar, hazelnuts 7.1%, toffee piece 3.6% (sugar, sweetened condensed milk, fondant (sugar, glucose syrup, water), glucose syrup, coconut oil, butterfat, natural flavouring), invert sugar syrup, alcohol, caramel (sugar, maltodextrin), natural flavouring. Cocoa solids: 50% minimum (dark chocolate).
It's certainly a handful and I completely reject any suggestion I scoffed this in one go. Honest! If you can exercise self-restraint though, you might get a couple of portions out of this loaf, or possibly up to four if you are being really stingy.
As I closed my eyes as I breathed in the wondrously sweet and creamy aroma of the chocolate shell on this bar, I was instantly transported my to my favourite Belgian chocolate shops. It's such a comforting smell.
On tasting, the almond marzipan is the first dominant flavour. Then, subtle bursts of soft toffee (although this tasted more like butterscotch than toffee) come through alongside crunch from the large chunks of hazelnuts inside.
The flavours of butterscotch and hazelnut are subtle, so it's Niederegger's almond marzipan that takes centre stage, accentuated by the other two flavours, and the chocolate shell. That's the way I like it, and that explains why this loaf disappeared in one go - or not if you'll believe otherwise!
Niederegger Hazelnut Toffee Loaf of the Year 2020 Review
RRP: £4.25 | Niederegger | Shop now
Delicious almond marzipan accented with butterscotch flavoured soft toffee pieces and generous chunks of hazelnut. The additions work to enhance Niederegger's marzipan rather than hijack it, the chocolate shell wraps it all up nicely in a bow.
Niederegger Banana & Chocolate Mini Loaf of the Year 2020 Review
Marzipan Klassiker Schoko-Banane Mit Zartbitterschokolade (Chocolate banana classic marzipan with dark chocolate)
100g | RRP: £4.50 | Shop
If you've not seen Niederegger's mini loaves before, get Googleing right now as they are colourful rainbows of little bites of heaven. Niederegger's mini loaf gift packs are hugely popular at Christmas and range from 8-piece boxes up to the mammoth - and incredibly beautiful - 86-piece gift set.
The Mini Loaf of the Year for 2020 is a fruity little number. It pairs a banana chocolate marzipan with a dark chocolate shell. There's eight marzipan loaves inside the 100g pack which is what I'm testing here.
Niederegger Banana & Chocolate Mini Marzipan Loaf ingredients:
Almonds 39%, dark chocolate 27% (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract), sugar, invert sugar syrup, banana fruit powder 2.2%, alcohol, low-fat cocoa 0.7%, natural cocoa flavouring, natural flavouring. Cocoa solids: 50% minimum (dark chocolate).
Unwrapping the mini loaf, I was surprised by the lack of banana aroma. This is held inside the rich, slightly bitter chocolate shell. One bite of this tiny chocolate and the banana is unmistakable. The flavour is clear and pronounced, and while it's not too strong, it does mask the almond marzipan flavours. The banana does, however, almost verge on tasting a little synthetic flavour, and reminded me of foam bananas in a pick and mix sweet selection.
The texture of the marzipan was quite dry too, although there was a helpful dose of creaminess from the chocolate shell. I also felt this one could do with being just a notch sweeter.
Overall, it was a pleasant bite, and the eight mini loaves vanished easily, but it's not one of my top favourites from the Niederegger mini loaf collection.
Other Niederegger Treats
Chocolates Direct also kindly sent me four other products from the current range, and I thought I'd share with you below. There's a marzipan loaf from the Black & White range (fusing dark and white chocolates), a rum and sultana marzipan loaf, a snack-sized classic bar, and a box of pralines.
Niederegger Black & White Chocolate Marzipan Loaf
Kakao marzipan mit weisser schokolade in zartbitterschokolade (Chocolate marzipan with dark and white chocolate chips)
125g | RRP: £4.50 | Shop
Launched in 2019, the Black & White marzipan range has now become part of the core range. Available in mini and classic loaves, I've got the classic 125g loaf to taste here. The core of the Black & White range is a chocolate marzipan speckled with dark and white chocolate chips, creating a black and white effect.
Niederegger Black & White Marzipan Loaf ingredients:
Almonds 38%, dark chocolate 23% (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract), sugar, chopped white chocolate 8.6% (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, skimmed milk powder, lactose, whey powder (milk), emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla flavouring), invert sugar syrup, alcohol, low-fat cocoa 0.9%, natural cocoa flavouring, natural flavouring. Cocoa solids: 50% minimum (dark chocolate).
If you're hoping for classic Niederegger marzipan here, look away now as this features their chocolate marzipan.
It starts with a rich aroma from the dark chocolate shell. One bite of this and you'll instantly picture a moist chocolate cake or triple chocolate cookie. It has a soft cake-like texture, with the white chocolate jewels delivering bursts of creaminess to balance the richness of the chocolate marzipan and shell.
While the chocolate completely masks the almond flavour of the marzipan, the cake-like texture and flavour means this one is ever so easy to chow down. It has a lovely texture, nicely balanced flavours, and is extremely satisfying. No wonder Niederegger has made the Black & White collection a permanent feature.
Niederegger Rum & Raisin Marzipan Loaf
Rumtrauben-marzipan mit vollmilch, zartbitter-schokolade und gehackten mandeln (Bittersweet milk chocolate-covered rum and raisin marzipan)
125g | RRP: £4.75 | Shop
Rum and raisin are partners in crime and star in a lovely duet in ice cream. But does the legendary combo work just as well - or even better - swirled inside Lübeck's famous almond marzipan?
Niederegger Rum & Raisin Marzipan Loaf ingredients:
Almonds 42%, sugar, milk chocolate 13% (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract), sultanas 9.8%, bittersweet chocolate 5% (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract), invert sugar syrup, rum 1.8%, alcohol, sunflower oil, rapeseed oil. Cocoa solids: 50% minimum (bittersweet chocolate), 33% minimum (milk chocolate). Milk solids: 14% minimum (milk chocolate).
As with the banana marzipan loaf, the rough-textured chocolate shell did a great job of sealing in all traces of what was held inside. There was a little fat bloom on the surface of the shell around the flecks of almond.
When it comes to flavour, Niederegger isn't shy, and so there was no mistaking that this was a rum marzipan bar as I cut into it. Boozy wafts of rum instantly filled the room.
The rum flavour was full-on from start to finish, punctuated by bursts of sweet sultanas. The almond in the chocolate shell and marzipan was lost to the forceful nature of the rum, although shone through at the very end and into the aftertaste as the rum taste died back.
If you like rum or rum and raisin ice cream, you'll love this. If you're not so keen on rum, this might be a bit too full-on for you.
Niederegger Marzipan Stick 'n Go
Klassisches Marzipan mit Zartbitterschokolade (Classic marzipan with bittersweet chocolate)
40g | RRP: £1.45 | Shop
My previous experience with Niederegger's Classic Marzipan bar wasn't so great as the chocolate had bloomed and the marzipan had turned musty thanks to poor supermarket handling. This Stick 'n Go bar was an ideal opportunity to try a fresh marzipan bar and to see it in a handy new snack-sized portion.
Niederegger Marzipan Stick 'n Go ingredients:
Bittersweet chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract), almonds 20%, sugar, invert sugar syrup, alcohol. Cocoa solids: 50% minimum.
With my critical head on, this long and slender stick of chocolate-covered marzipan looked quite fragile. It didn't scream pocket-sized either - unless you have deep pockets (literally). Handbag-sized, perhaps, but pocket-sized it was not.
Surprisingly, my 6-piece bar was in tact, despite taking a precarious journey through the postal system. On closer inspection, I discovered it has an extra thick chocolate shell. While this was great news for its integrity, it did also mean relatively less marzipan compared to a classic 110g Classic Plain Chocolate Marzipan Bar.
That was noticeable in the taste too. While the sweet almond marzipan balanced the rich and slightly bitter chocolate shell, the levels didn't feel quite right. I wanted to taste more of Niederegger's finest almond marzipan and slightly less chocolate per bite.
As a quick snack on the go, the Stick 'n Go concept works a treat. But if you've got some willpower, I recommend you opt instead for the larger 110g marzipan bar and split that over two servings, especially if you are as fond of Niederegger's almond paste as I am.
Niederegger Praline Minis Bakery Style
16 pralinen mit vollmilch und zartbitterschokolade (16 pralines with milk and dark chocolate)
120g | RRP: £8 | Shop
The packaging on this one caught my eye, thanks to the pictures of a chocolate cupcake, tiramisu, blueberry cheesecake, and toffee. Briefly, I expected to open the box to find miniature chocolate puddings. Alas not, as instead the box contains four variations of rectangular chocolate covered pralines. A missed opportunity, perhaps?
Niederegger Praline Minis Bakery Style ingredients:
Milk chocolate 40% (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, emulsifier (soya lecithins), vanilla extract), white chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithins), vanilla extract), dark chocolate 17% (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder emulsifier (soya lecithins), vanilla extract), cream, condensed partly skimmed milk, alcohol, apple juice concentrate, glucose syrup, sweetened condensed milk, amaretto liqueur, skimmed-milk curd powder, wild blueberry, invert sugar syrup, natural flavourings, butter, soluble coffee, brandy, apple pulp, butterfat, sugar, invertase. Cocoa solids: 50% minimum (dark chocolate), 33% minimum (milk chocolate). Milk solids: 14% minimum (milk chocolate).
The aroma of blueberry was unmistakable as I lifted the lid. It masked all the other aromas from the box.
Not everyone can like everything, and this to me was the most disappointing product in my delivery, perhaps as there was no marzipan in sight. While the flavours were strong and clearly defined, the eating experience wasn't as satisfying as with the marzipan bars.
- Chocolate Cupcake: This was very sweet, rich, dark, and creamy. It was less cake-like in taste and texture than the Black & White Chocolate Marzipan Loaf above.
- Blueberry Cheesecake: Despite its powerful aroma in the box, this chocolate was actually quite gentile. The sweet bite was particularly mild on flavour, although it did border on tasting floral and perfume-like. It didn't taste like cheesecake to me either.
- Toffee: Much like the Hazelnut Toffee Loaf above, this nibble exhibited tasted more butterscotch than toffee to me, but that's not a bad thing. Again, it's another sweet bite with a relatively subdued flavour, but if you like butterscotch then this may be your favourite in this box.
- Tiramisu: The saviour of this box for me is the tiramisu chocolate. Coffee dominates against a creamy backdrop, with a bitter start and a satisfying rich finish. Close your eyes and this tastes like the last tiramisu dessert you enjoyed. It's uncannily close to the real deal. I'd have been more than happy with a box full of just this one.
I imagine the praline boxes - Confiserie Pralines, Bakery Desserts, and Nougat - have gift appeal, and are undoubtedly popular either as travel gifts or birthday and Christmas gifts, but I don't think they sit in the same league as Niederegger's marzipan products.
These 16 sweet dainty bites, each imprinted with the Niederegger coat, are sweet and enjoyable, and easily eatable in front of the telly. If you're given a box as a present, you'll chomp through them in no time at all. But if you're buying yourself a treat, stick to the marzipan. It's what Niederegger truly does best and is much more satisfying in my opinion.
Where to Buy Online
You can find a massive range of Niederegger marzipans and pralines - including the Chocolate Banana Mini Loaf of the Year 2020 - over at Chocolates Direct.
For true Niederegger fans, a trip to the Hanseatic city of Lübeck should be on your wish list. It's an hour away from Hamburg in northern Germany, and is home to the three-storey Niederegger Café. I'd be like a kid in a candy shop here which is why it's high up on my travel bucket list once the world heals from the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Niederegger Dark Chocolate Liebt Marzipan & Kirsch Soaked Cherry
Niederegger Kirsch Marzipan. Each box features 6 cherry kirsch soaked Niederegger marzipan pieces. The Chocolate Emporium.
NIEDEREGGER Xmas Milk Chocolate Nougat Gift Box | Spekulatius | Cinnamon | 200g
Niederegger Christmas Nougat Pralines Mini Loaves in sealed gift box. 8x Spekulatius nougat praline in festive milk Chocolate. 8x Cinnamon nougat praline in festive milk Chocolate. 200g in total. The Chocolate Emporium.
Niederegger Classic Dark Chocolate Marzipan Mini Loaves 200 g
Niederegger Lubeck Frohes Fest 200g. Marzipan pralines with dark chocolate marzipan filling 71%.
Niederegger Milk Chocolate Liebt Marzipan & Walnut (102g sealed box)
Niederegger Walnut Marzipan Gift Box. Each box features 6 large walnuts in Niederegger marzipan and milk chocolate. New & Sealed 102g Gift Box.
Have you tried the Mini Loaf of the Year 2020? What did you think of the banana-chocolate-marzipan combo? Let me know in the comments below.