While Dom was busy blindfolding himself and playing games with Hotel Chocolat’s Secrets and Desires box, I was nibbling my way through this – the Love Selection. A seasonal selection of Hotel Chocolat’s slabs which included two Love Slabs (one dark, one milk chocolate), a Milk Chocolate Praline Fusion slab, and a milk chocolate Crostinin Fruit and Nut slab.
The Peepster Box is a novel way of packaging a set of four slabs. In effect, if you choose to go the Peepster route then the contents are your choice.
The first one to come under scrutiny was the Crostini Fruit and Nut slab. Having sampled many a HC chocolate, this was surprisingly busy. I’m used to tasting chocolates which rely on the subtle blending of one or two flavours with high quality chocolate, but this slab was a riot of cranberries, sultanas, almond pieces, whole hazelnuts and pieces of crostini biscuit. It was definitely quite unlike my usual Hotel Chocolat experiences, and while I enjoyed the combination of flavours, I did begin to wonder if HC had somehow decided to reinvent the greatly missed Fuse Bar. Despite the over the top nature of the bar, it was possible to make out the flavours of all of the constituents, and the fruit and nuts were of a very high quality. The sultanas are enormous, very juicy and bursting with flavour, the cranberries are similarly large and provide an excellent tart counterpoint to the chocolate, and the hazelnuts are perfectly roasted and very crunchy. A very posh Fuse Bar indeed!
The two Love Slabs contain the crispy pancake pieces which I made note of when I reviewed the Seasonal Selection Box. I really liked the crunchy layers in the chocolate, and they make a welcome re-appearance in this bar, alongside some very tart little sour cherries. The bar itself is made of either dark or milk chocolate blended with white chocolate which has been colourised pink with beetroot extract. I have to admit that I’m not a big fan of white chocolate, but I’m sure there are plenty of people who would love the creamy, milky taste of one half of these bars, especially when the crispy pancake pieces start to make themselves known to your tongue, or you hit one of the wonderfully tart little cherries.
The Milk Chocolate Praline Fusion Slab is a combination of milk and white chocolate and hazelnut praline. The addition of he white chocolate gives it a slightly sweet flavour and the overall blend has the most incredibly soft feel in the mouth. It’s almost bordering on melting in the packet, and as soon as you pop a piece in your mouth it’s melting away. The combination of praline and the two chocolates is lovely and creamy, if a little on the sweet and rich side (don’t overdo it!).
My overall impression of this selection is that it tends to err on the side of the softer, sweeter tastes – not something I have come to associate Hotel Chocolat with, but having said that they do carry it off very well (as one might expect from a premium brand). If you love your milk and white chocolate and occasionally visit the Dark Side then I’d say this was an excellent selection. It’s certainly another great way of exploring Hotel Chocolat’s increasingly diverse range of bars and slabs, and as ever it’s tastefully packaged. An excellent gift for your (chocolate) lover.