Warning: This is not a happy review.
The first time I tried a piece of millionaire’s shortbread or Caramel Shortcake was in my third year of university… I was sat in Tavistock Square opposite the bronze statue of Gandhi with not one, but two Starbucks’ lattes in my hand… it was November 3rd, and the Red Cups had arrived early bringing “new,” “festive” drinks. I was sat with my friend, Maxine who offered me a small piece of the bar she picked up whilst buying her coffee. The shortcake was crisp, slightly salty, the caramel was warm and not excessively sweet, and the chocolate was rich but not too dense. The three layers were quite well balanced with a slightly salty finish. It lingered pleasantly on my tongue as I sipped my coffee(s) they cool at the same time so you have to drink them both or risk cold coffee…I have since tried Thornton’s mini-bites version which is not bad either.
Two years down the line I’m sat in Victoria, looking out at the London Eye from the upper floors of my office building reminiscing about that morsel. There is an M&S just at the base of this building… given that my cravings would not subside, I resolved I would seek out the shortbread again; decreeing Mondays as Millionaire (shortbread) Mondays as a sad way to make the day pass quicker during the post lunch lull a.k.a The Graveyard Shift!
I returned to my desk after having procured a slim bar of the aforementioned contraband and proceeded to break off a small piece. Corporates must be deft, yet dainty whilst handling desserts… It looked quite good, but it tasted AWFUL! My heart sank with a similar intensity to that of the Starbucks’ Porridge incident of March 2013, whose memory still plagues me with mental nausea! The shortbread was under-baked and tasted of raw flour, the caramel tasted like sour milk and the chocolate was not chocolate… it was like a brown sugarsnap if anything, with a vague hint of chocolate amongst the plasticky fillers and binding agents used to create this abhorrent bar.
I broke off a second piece to verify the feelings of shock and disbelief that were coursing through my system like adrenaline, missing out the chocolate this time. This was not so bad, but the taste of raw flour wouldn’t leave my mouth, and the caramel left a sticky coating at the back of my mouth no amount of hot water would shift… and into the bin it went.
Surprisingly Starbucks and Thornton’s iterations win this challenge… who would have thought?
To sum up in M&S brandspeak: This is not just any Millionaire’s Shortbread, this is an M&S Millionaire’s Shortbread… and if you see it you should run far far away; after violently knocking/kicking/karate chopping it off its pedestal in store. Go all out angry gorilla on it… no-one deserves this punishment.
“NOPE”/5 *shakes head*……