M&S Cheese and Chilli Hot Cross Buns

I’m not a particularly religious guy. I appreciate the benefits, such as Christmas Pudding and the architecture of a church or temple, and of course Easter Eggs, but I can’t say I’ve contributed much ‘faith’ in any Idol by return, so I guess enjoying a Christmas Holiday or Hot Cross Bun are guilty pleasures for me.

And the Hot Cross Bunny has caused quite a stir in the UK this week.
M&S (Marks & Spencers in old money) have this week launched a range of HCB’s with a twist – there’s a Bramley Apple flavour, Salted Caramel, Belgian Chocolate and a Cheese & Chilli variety too.

So why the kerfuffle? –  I’ll tell you.
Hot Cross Buns are one of those twee things that us Brits pretend to hold sacred – like afternoon tea, hating the French, ‘proper’ baked beans and ruining their NHS.

Following the press launch from M&S, social media awoke defenders of the Lord and foodies alike, and their keyboards clapped like His raging thunder with comments such as ‘Its only January!’ and ‘that’s not a Hot Cross Bun – it’s a cheese roll!’.
‘Don’t mess with the recipe of a Hot Cross Bun’ warned one reader… ‘take the cross off it and call it something else’.

Are we really that bothered? Personally if it’s a bun, served hot, and with a cross on it, I’m satisfied to call it a hot cross bun by default, irrespective of its taste – what else could it be?
‘Judas’, they cry. Meh.

Religion done. Let’s taste this Cheese and Chilli ‘thing’.

So as not to detract from the taste, I simply heated mine, split it and layered it with proper full fat butter (another passion of true Brits – you can keep your marg and other low-cal spreads).
‘Fatty’ they cry. Meh.

These would also be great with a slice or two of bacon inside I thought, but – lead not into temptation – I kept it plain for the review.

My M&S Food Hall were knocking these out at only £1 for a pack of 4. In the hope that they were good I really splashed out and bought 2 packs!
‘Parsimonious’ they cry… Look it up.

The buns were slightly sticky on top, they were beautifully soft too. The first flavour I picked out was cheese, not too strong but prominent. Second came a sweetness of caramelised onion, working superbly to compliment the cheese. As the sampling continued a soft hint of pepper – chilli – started to come through. The whole thing worked so well.

Once it’d gone, I interrogated the ingredients and packet description to see if it matched my now-tingling tastebuds. The front of the packet claimed a ‘dash of hot sauce’, which was a bit non-descript – we all know how they can vary. The ingredients list gave a bit more away, claiming Cayennes, Jalapeño and Chipotle all present.

It’s more accurate to call this a cheese and onion flavour, with a hint of chilli, but nevertheless these were actually a really good twist on hot cross buns, a mix of sweet and savoury flavours and at that price, well worth a try if your ethics allow. And they really would benefit even more with a slice or two of bacon inside.

I’m not going to try the other flavours, that’d be stupid. I mean, how can anything with Bramley apple in it be called a hot cross bun?