Win A Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar

Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar

Update: This Competition Is Now Closed

Christmas is approaching fast and what better way to celebrate than with chocolate! We’ve teamed up with Hotel Chocolat to bring you a fantastic prize from their Christmas range that you can either share or keep to yourself!

This Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar To Share features two truffles behind every door. That’s 48 chocolates and a prize worth £26! Inside the calendar are a host of delicious seasonal flavours, including simple milk and dark truffles, salted caramel, gingerbread, almond and nutmeg, cinnamon, raspberry and hibiscus, and mulled wine.

To enter, just answer the simple question below! Subscribe to our email updates and your entry will count twice!

Update: This Competition Is Now Closed

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Hotel Chocolat Advent Calendar

Competition Rules

  • This competition is open to UK residents only. If you are outside the UK, you may still enter, but should you win, your prize can ONLY be delivered to a mainland UK address.
  • One entry per household.
  • The winner will be picked at random from correct entries and notified by email. The name of the winner will also be announced on our Facebook and Twitter pages.
  • Chocablog staff writers may not enter.
  • The competition is open to UK residents only.
  • The competition closes on Friday 21st November 2014.
  • The judges’ decision is final.
  • Rules are subject to change without notice.

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Baroness Chocolates Bars

Baroness Chocolates - Wrapped

When Ottawa’s Baroness Chocolates sent me a tweet asking if I wanted to taste their chocolate, I naturally said yes. Their name did sound a little familiar though, and it took me a while to remember that someone had sent me a link to their Kickstarter campaign last year. In that campaign, they were a touch hyperbolic about their chocolate but they seemed sincere and it was successfully funded – these seven bars are the result.

They are nicely presented with colourful wrappers that illustrate what lies inside, along with the humorous names they’ve been given. Baroness proudly proclaim that they use a blend of premium couverture chocolate to make their bars, which basically means that they buy good quality chocolate with plenty of cocoa butter in it to make it taste rich, then mix stuff into it. And all the stuff they mix in is homemade, apart from nuts and fruit. The chocolate they use is also certified organic and uses sustainably harvested beans, and they also say that they use different blends of milk, semisweet and dark for each of the bars they make although that wasn’t always obvious.

Baroness Chocolates - Subversive Squirrel

Subversive Squirrel was my favourite of the seven bars. It has some sizeable pieces of peanut brittle in the bar, then for maximum peanutiness there are salted peanuts stuck on the back too. It also helps that the chocolate is kept darker, at least in Baroness terms, adding a richness to the proceedings. This is definitely the one I’d come back to.

Tantric Tiger is dominated by the dried cranberries on the back, so how you feel about the bar is going to be determined by your opinion of cranberries. There are some almonds and a touch of sea salt which stops it from getting too sweet. But the berries were just a bit too much for me.

Love & Blessing is the least exciting simply because there’s nothing added to the milk and dark chocolate blend. Left by itself, it is kinda dull.

Mocha Krunhjay suffers from a bit of an overload of flavours, but in the best possible way. It has some wonderful big chunks of crunchy sponge toffee mixed through the chocolate, and the almond pieces which stud the back of the bar add some more texture. The coffee promised on the wrapper is really mild though and just lurks in the background although I’m not sure that’s actually a bad thing.

Baroness Chocolates - Dob Dobs

The problem with both Dob Dobs and Aiyaaaa! was that they took a beat of a beating thanks to Canada Post so by the time they reached me, both had had their innards squished out of them. Both of them are filled bars – the former with caramel and pecans, and the latter with butterscotch and almonds – but they were a bit of sticky mess when I opened them. I still ate them though. Both were a touch sweet for me, but since pecans always beat almonds, Dob Dobs wins the day.

Baroness Chocolates - Tummy Rub

Tummy Rub is the other satisfyingly good bar, with its combination of creamy milk chocolate and chocolate cookie pieces. Nothing too complicated at all, but still like a lovely warm hug in bar form. And that really sums up what Baroness is doing here – this is really good comfort food. The actual chocolate can’t compete with the best from the bean to bar world but it really works in this context. Baroness have definitely found a niche for themselves and hopefully they will continue to experiment with new varieties in the future.

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A Visit To Belgian Chocolate Village

Belgian Chocolate Village

On my recent visit to Brussels, I was lucky enough to be invited to Belgian Chocolate Village, a brand new chocolate museum. Belgian Chocolate Village occupies part of the old Victoria biscuit factory in Koekelberg in the of north west of the city.

At its height, this factory employed 1,500 people and produced 6,000 tonnes of chocolate and 4,000 tonnes of biscuits every year. Until recently was home to Godiva, so it’s a place steeped in chocolate history. The 900 square meter museum had been open less than a week when we visited, so we were honoured to be amongst the first visitors to look around.

Although a little off the tourist track (we took a taxi for the short journey from the centre of town), Belgian Chocolate Village offers an exciting glimpse into the history of chocolate and Belgium’s part in it. Wandering round, it feels a little like a modern science museum with interactive displays and giant touch screen presentations mixed in with all kinds of chocolate making equipment and memorabilia.

Belgian Chocolate Village

All the interactive and audio visual displays are in multiple languages (as is the accompanying audio guide, should you choose to use it), so everything is very accessible and easy to understand. You can learn about the history of cacao in Mesoamerica, how it was prepared, its introduction to Europe, the economics of cocoa trading and the birth of of the vast array of brands we have today.

My favourite exhibit is the small tropical greenhouse which houses growing cacao trees and some of the shade trees that are often grown with it, including bananas. Things you wouldn’t normally expect to see growing in Belgium!

Belgian Chocolate Village

What struck me most was just how well produced Belgian Chocolate Village is. It’s clear that a lot of thought – and money – has gone into making an interesting experience, with the interactive displays in particular feeling particularly slick.

Belgian Chocolate Village

I believe that the museum will also be hosting workshops, classes and demonstrations, although there didn’t happen to be anything on during our visit. If you’re planning on visiting yourself, it’s probably worth checking to see what’s on before you come, as my only real complaint was that there was nothing to taste on our little tour. There is a cafe upstairs, but I’d love to see tastings as an integral part of the standard tour.

As it is, the museum can easily be done in a couple of hours and it’s a fun and interesting diversion for any chocolate lover who finds themselves in Brussels.

Belgian Chocolate Village
Rue De Neck 20
1081 Brussels (Koekelberg)
Belgium
tel: +32 (0)2 420 70 76
www.belgianchocolatevillage.be

Entrance fee: €8 Adults, €5 Children. Open daily except Mondays.

Thanks to VisitFlanders for organising our trip to Brussels and making our afternoon with Laurent Gerbaud possible.

Belgian Chocolate Village Photo Gallery

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Whisk & Whites Chocolate Selection

Whisk & Whites Chocolate Selection

Whisk & Whites are a new British chocolatier that launched earlier this month at The Chocolate Show. Their beautiful stand with wooden bookshelves and movie props was the talk of the show. And as it happens, the chocolates are pretty good too.

Whisk & Whites Chocolate Selection

I met owner Marc Hambrook at the show and had a good chat, but I still know relatively little about the business. The website is very nice, but doesn’t go into a great deal of detail about the history of the business, how the chocolates are made or where ingredients are sourced. When I discover a chocolatier I like, these are exactly the kinds of things I want to know more about.

Whisk & Whites Chocolate Selection

The chocolates themselves are elegant, well made and very nicely presented. The box I purchased at the show is a little bashed about (entirely my own fault), so there are a few loose bits stuck to the otherwise pristine chocolates.

My only real complaint here is that there’s no menu, so I had to use the website to work out which chocolate was which, best I could. In fact, there was no information of any kind in the box, including ingredients list. I’m sure they’re coming though, so I’m not too concerned. (Update: Marc tells me menus are now included in every box!)

Whisk & Whites Chocolate Selection

There are some great chocolates in this box including some wonderfully smooth ganaches, but the highlights for me were the caramels, in particular the cobnut caramel (the square chocolate with the ribbon design above). I cheekily stole… er… asked nicely and sampled one of these on the opening night of the show, and they really are fantastic.

Whisk & Whites Chocolate Selection

I’m not a fan of nuts by any means, but the rich, toasted flavours combined with the deep muscovado caramel in this chocolate are to die for. I could easily eat a whole box of these. The black salt caramel is almost as good, but at around half the size of a Paul a Young caramel, I really wanted this one to be bigger!

Whisk & Whites Chocolate Selection

There are things that didn’t work so well for me in the box too. One of the chocolates – I think a Mulberry Gin Truffle, tasted amazing but was dusted in white icing sugar. Not the most appetising looking chocolate, and the cause of most of the stray bits on the chocolates you see in my photos.

The same goes for the Cherry & Almond Crumble; Wonderful flavours but the chocolate itself is coated in a crumble which doesn’t look so good and tends to float around the box.

Whisk & Whites Chocolate Selection

These are very minor issues though, and in all honestly, only an annoyingly finicky chocolate reviewer would even mention them. The box is packed full of great chocolates with well balanced flavours and would make a fantastic gift for any chocolate lover. Highly recommended.

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