I’m starting with the simplest of the three sample products they’ve sent us this year. Caramel Sweethearts are “two-bite” pieces of milk chocolate flavoured with caramel and cherry powder and given a bit of crunch with the addition of small pieces of cocoa crispies and hazelnut.
The 170g box contains 28 chocolates embossed with a design that appears to be roses and doves. Very romantic.
The milk chocolate is 36% cocoa solids and tastes particularly creamy, but it doesn’t quite have the caramelly taste I was expecting. It’s quite different, for instance, from the caramel chocolate in the caramel Little Angels.
But what makes these different is the 3% cherry powder they contain. There’s no whole pieces of fruit, just a sublte, warm fruity flavour that comes out as the chocolate melts in your mouth. It’s really rather delicious but doesn’t overpower the milk chocolate notes at all.
The final piece of the jigsaw is the texture. The crunch is (apparently) provided by cocoa crisps and bresilliene (hazelnuts & sugar), but the bits are too small to get any real sense of what they are. Suffice to say the crunch is quite satisfying, whether you decide to munch on a whole heart or let a piece melt away slowly.
Which brings me to my final point about these. They’re described as “two bite” hearts because they’re a bit bigger than bite sized – and probably also because you could break one in half and share it with your partner.
There’s a distinct symbolism when you sit there and break a heart in two in front of someone you love. Part of me thinks they should have just made the chocolates slightly smaller… but then I remember, this is Hotel Chocolat, the evil geniuses of British chocolatiers.
These hearts are designed to be broken.