If nothing else, Tim Tams, one of the pillars of Australian snacking (and also putting coconut in just about every conceivable snack item), is a prime example of how true luxury is a delicate balancing act.
Where a certain level of excess is expected, and indeed, appreciated. Especially here on The Snackdown, where excess is our watchword.
A good example is how you can option a Rolls-Royce with what the carmaker calls a Starlight headliner. This embeds over a thousand individual LEDs into the leather-lined ceiling of the car, creating the impression of a starry night sky.
If you ask nicely enough and append a suitable number of zeroes to the end of a cheque, Rolls-Royce can also further customise the Starlight headliner with your favourite constellations. You could also add shooting stars, if you so chose.
On the other hand, you have the Dartz Motorz Company, purveyors of “bulletproof opulence trusted by billionaires, tsars, superstars, generals and dictators since 1869”. It’s hard to tell if they’re having a laugh, but I want to think so, because anyone that unironically uses Zs in their name in 2018 doesn’t bear thinking about.
So anyway, in addition to you being able to order an all-gold Dartz automobile with a diamond-encrusted badge, or “specially for ladies… 360-easy parking video system (sic)”, you can even upholster the seats of your Dartz in whale foreskin leather. Don’t ask me how many whales it takes to upholster an entire car. I’ve long since learned never to ask questions you may not like the answers to.
Suffice it to say, Dartz tips the scales so far and so violently, it’s sent good taste into low earth orbit. Though judging by how it takes brickbats in its stride, proudly quoting negative press—“world most tastless SUV (sic, again)”—I think Dartz might take that as high praise.
But one snack item that’s managed to straddle that fine line (don’t worry, no whales were harmed in the making of said line, for seats or for ‘research’) is Arnott’s Tim Tams.
It’s two malt biscuits with a créme filling, and coated in chocolate. Now malt biscuits with any one of those two items would be great, but together, it’s the biscuit equivalent of a Starlight headliner.
And if you consider one of the special Tim Tam varieties like we have here, apparently inspired by some of Gelato Messina’s flavours, that would be the equivalent of a Starlight headliner with the shooting stars option.
Out of the five Gelato Messina flavours available, we’ve managed to secure three of them— Choc Cherry Coconut, Turkish Delight and Choc Mint. Don’t ask me why I didn’t manage to get all five, you ingrates.
Along with that, I do have one of their more traditional flavours, double-dipped chocolate, to act as a control flavour.
Gelato Messina Choc Cherry Coconut
There are some people who think that the Australian national obsession with pairing coconut and chocolate (fun fact: Cadbury Cherry Ripe is the nation’s oldest chocolate bar, making its debut in 1924; watch out for a Snackdown review soon) is sacrilege. Personally, I quite like it, though I absolutely loathed it growing up. I blame my mother for introducing to me to this unholy trinity of dark chocolate, cherry and coconut. I also blame her for my terrible sinuses, but anyway.
But I wish I could say I was as blown away by this one here. If anything, it’s gutless as hell. The chocolate is decent, the cherry créme nicely tart without being too sweet, but WHERE THE HELL IS THE COCONUT? Look Arnott’s, if you’re gonna be ballsy enough to call your Tim Tam Choc Cherry Coconut, at least make sure you don’t skimp on the coconut.
I’m sure there are extremely vocal people in the anti-coconut lobby who told you to go easy on the coconut, but Cherry Ripe and Bounty didn’t get to where they are by doing a half-arsed job of things. If not I’m liberally spewing dessicated coconut strips when I’m trying to talk with my mouth full, it’s nowhere near coconutty enough.
That’s not to say it’s bad, as such. Choc Cherry Coconut Tim Tams just isn’t good enough.
10-word review: O coconut, greatest of all chocolate pairings, where art thou?
Best paired with: A bag of dessicated coconut to make up for what Arnott’s didn’t give enough of.
Gelato Messina Turkish Delight
If I’m honest, I wanted not to like this one. If only on principle. For some reason, some people seem to think dunking Turkish delight in chocolate is a good idea.
Oh, but doesn’t the natural bitterness of chocolate cut the punch-in-face sweetness of Turkish delight, those people will tell you. It adds another dimension to Turkish delight, those same people will say.
But as you’ve probably already realised by now, most people are daft as posts.
Turkish delight, when it’s done properly anyway is incredibly sweet, yes, but also incredibly nuanced. There’s the exquisite perfume of rosewater and delicate sweetness of icing sugar should be more than enough to act as a counterpoint to the treacle sweetness of the jelly.
Add chocolate to the mix and all that balance goes out the window. Why would you do that, other than to mask some inferior, shoddy Turkish delight? Or you could be a terminal sugar addict…
So anyway, Gelato Messina Turkish Delight Tim Tams. Milk chocolate coating two vanilla biscuits with a layer of rosewater créme (I think) and here’s the kicker—an actual genuine Turkish delight core.
Arnott’s could have just slipped in a Turkish delight-flavoured créme and called it a day, but they didn’t. Bravo. Magnifico.
One small bugbear, though. The instructions on the packet of any Gelato Messina Tim Tams requests you chill it in the fridge for a minimum of four hours before eating. Why anybody wouldn’t, even for regular Tim Tams, and eat it at room temperature is beyond me, but hey.
Well, I did know someone who ate chocolate at room temperature, but she's obviously a degenerate. Eating warm chocolate, a good reason as any to stop being friends with someone.
The problem with chucking Turkish Delight Tim Tams in the fridge is it renders the jelly centre a little too hard and prone to sticking between your teeth. Annoying, but thankfully not a deal-breaker.
10-word review: Otherwise normal, but lifted by a real Turkish delight core.
Best paired with: A knife to scrape away the offending chocolate coating; Turkish Delight Tim Tams certainly could’ve done without it.
Gelato Messina Choc Mint
There’s not much to say about this, aside from the fact it has a mint créme centre flanked by two chocolate biscuits and wearing a dark chocolate jacket.
Objectively speaking, this is the best of the lot. It’s the most balanced of the three Gelato Messina Tim Tams I’ve had. And yet, it also manages to be the most disappointing.
As you would know if you read my Yan Yan review (you did, didn’t you?!), what really gets my goat is mediocrity and lack of ambition.
As far as Gelato Messina Choc Mint goes, it’s the most friendly and consequently, the least challenging of them all.
Meh to the power of meh.
10-word review: Quite good, but yet somehow still utterly and thoroughly uninteresting.
Best paired with: A crushing lack of ambition and an aversion to offending anyone and anything.
For some, true luxury is about taking things to its logical extreme. Cladding your car’s seats in what was formerly the cladding of a whale’s dong is one way.
Or you can do something far more tasteful (and tasty), as expertly illustrated by what is quite possibly the holy grail of all Tim Tams. Better than all the Gelato Messina flavours and possibly even their other headline-grabbing collaboration with Australian patissier Adriano Zumbo.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tim Tams Double Coat. It’s a regular chocolate Tim Tam, but in the immortal words of Diablo 3’s former game director Jay Wilson, “… and then we doubled it.”
But while Wilson’s decision to double the difficulty of Diablo 3’s Inferno mode to the point of silliness is dubious at best (don't even get me started on this), doubling down on a Tim Tam’s chocolate outer coat is transformative. Nay, transcendental.
This isn’t Tim Tams elevated, this is Tim Tams ascended.
There's a good deal of chocolate your teeth have to get through before hitting the biscuit. This is, of course, a Very Good Thing.
Living proof again that greatness can be achieved fairly easily—by an excess of simplicity.
Don’t like Tim Tams Double Coat and prefer one of the more effete, la-dee-dah flavours? Good, because this means more Double Coat for me.
10-word review: Double the coat, double the chocolate and double the joy.
Best paired with: People who don’t enjoy ‘basic’ Tim Tams because they’re too basic.