Welcome to Rawlingson Lane’s Taste Test Spooktacular! We’ve tried every autumnal treat we could get our claws on to bring you a definitive ranking of the frighteningly good (and not so good) cakes, cookies, and chocolates available this year.
With so many more options than we anticipated (buckle your broomsticks, we may have gone overboard), we decided to break things down into three categories; coffee shops, supermarket’s own, and name brand goods. We’ve ranked all moreish morsels out of a possible score of 30: 10 for taste, 10 for texture, and 10 for presentation, then averaged out the score to give you as fair a result as possible.
A Spooktacular Spread
To avoid going into a complete sugar coma, we decided to start off with some baked goods with our morning coffee round. While the office agrees that we hold Greggs’ sausage rolls in high esteem, the same cannot be said for their Bat Cookies (85p each). The adorable winged design was let down by texture, with everyone agreeing it was far too hard, bringing the average score down to 10.7 out of 30, meaning it was bottom of the bonfire in this round –though perhaps we were simply unlucky! Greggs did however manage to redeem themselves with their Spooky Bun cupcakes (80p each), which earned a very respectable 17.8 out of 30.
Moving on to Costa; the team tucked into Ghost shaped Shortbread (£2 each) and a Maple flavoured Blondie. While the ghost featured a simple, Halloween design, we didn’t rate it particularly highly on taste or texture – feeling it didn’t quite live up to classic shortbread. Meanwhile the blondie, while lacking the aesthetic, came through with strong, yet sweet maple syrup tones. While Costa has adopted a range of maple and hazelnut themed goods in a break from the standard pumpkin spice craze, some of the team were divided as to whether it was simply too sweet to be considered autumnal. We’ll let you make up your own minds on that. Speaking of pumpkin spice, no October taste-test would be complete without a quintessential Pumpkin Spiced Loaf Cake from Starbucks (£3.55 per slice). However, with an average score of 14.5 out of30, we felt somewhat underwhelmed. While the pumpkin seed topping and nutty ginger taste made the treat feel like a healthier alternative to some competitors, we agreed Starbucks could maybe amp up the spice aspect of pumpkin spice, and found it somewhat dry. Coming in in top place was the surprising Coffee Number 1 Halloween Cupcake (£2.50), with a score of 20.3 out of 30! The moist chocolate cake was topped with creamy, thick buttercream icing, though the orange and green sprinkles felt somewhat half hearted, we agreed to overlook this detail to crown it winner of round 1!
In between our coffee morning and the afternoon event, we also had a mini bonus round, trying Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew (£2.75 for a750ml bottle). This almond based drink went down a treat, earning an average score of 22.4 out of 30. Boasting a smooth, creamy texture and full-bodied autumnal spice, and subtle coffee notes, the drink is typically served cold –but that didn’t stop us testing it hot by popping it in the milk frother for a moment, and we can safely say it’s delicious either way. We also had the bright idea it could work wonderfully in a cocktail, adding a cheeky splash of Mr Black coffee liqueur for those who like a stronger coffee taste. This is one winter warmer you won’t want to miss out experimenting with this year.
Products going toe to talon in the brand goods category included the likes of Cadbury, Mr Kipling, and Wicked Kitchen. Cadbury’s Mini Bonfire Logs (£1.25, 5 servings) kicked off this round, with everyone agreeing you can’t go wrong with a mini roll, and loving the subtle honeycomb sponge. The team were also pleasantly surprised by Soreen’s sticky ‘Scream’ Cheery Jellies (£1.25, 5servings) – though some wondered if they were particularly autumnal. Wicked Kitchen’s Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes (£3.00, 4 servings) saw another win for vegan treats, with the team rating them an average of 21 out of 30. You wouldn’t be able to guess they were plant-based, though you may be tempted to scrape off some of the mountain of icing on each of them. Finally, we brought three Mr Kipling entries to the table; Sticky Toffee Pudding slices (£1.50, 5 servings),disappointingly weak flavour but decent sponge; Terrifying Toffee Whirls(£1.25, 6 servings), practically a standard Viennese whirl with a slight hint of toffee; and Fiendish Fancies (£1.75, 8 servings), which easily took the lead, earning 24.3 out of 30. The vibrant orange fancies were light and fluffy, and pulled through on taste as well.
M&S's Percy Pig Gets Spooky
By mid-afternoon we felt somewhat sickly as we sluggishly turned to the final round; supermarket’s own treats. In hindsight, it was probably a blessing that we couldn’t seem to find products in Tesco, Waitrose and Asda, as this may have finished us off. Instead, it boiled down to CO-OP and M&S.CO-OP’s Monster Bite Orange Choc Cookies (£1.50, 5 servings) were exactly what you’d want from a cookie – chewy and great flavour. The orange colouring was a nice nod to Halloween, though we felt a pair of icing eyes would’ve done more for a themed design. An M&S entry wouldn’t be complete without our favourite pig, so of course we had to try the Percy Pig Gets Spooky (£3.79)version, which included apple and orange versions of the classic pink porker, which were rated 21.8 out of 30. We then moved onto to not just any cupcakes –M&S cupcakes! (£4.25, 9 servings). These were devilishly good as well, though perhaps a bit heavy on the icing given that it was a 50:50 ratio of frosting and cake. Lastly, we tucked into M&S’s Eerie Eyeballs (£5.09, 5servings). While these came out as one of the most expensive products we tried, the team agreed they were worth it. The white chocolate exterior cracks open to reveal a juicy raspberry filling to create the impression of blood, gaining them high scores in the presentation category, bringing the average up to 25.8– the best scoring product of the day!
We’ve laid out our definitive list below, do you agree with our rankings?
M&S Eerie Eyeballs: 25.8
Mr Kipling Fiendish Fancies: 24.3
Cadbury Mini Bonfire Logs: 23.7
M&S Halloween Cupcakes: 23.2
Califia Farms Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew: 22.4
M&S Percy Pig Gets Spooky: 21.8
Wicked Kitchen Pumpkin Spice Cupcakes: 21
CO-OP Monster Bite Orange Choc Cookies: 21
Coffee Number 1 Halloween Cupcake: 20.3
Greggs Halloween Cupcakes: 17.8
Costa Maple and Hazelnut Blondie: 15.8
Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Loaf: 14.5
Costa Ghost Shortbread: 14.3
Mr Kipling Sticky Toffee Pudding Slices: 14.2
Mr Kipling Terrifying Toffee Whirls: 13.3
Soreen Scream Cherry Jellies: 12.1
Greggs Bat Cookie: 10.7