I’ve lost count of the number of times the postman has knocked on my door with packages from Hotel Chocolat. But this time my reaction was more “Oh.” than “Oooooh!” The box was much smaller than I had been expecting…
ripping open carefully opening the outer packaging, I was greeted with this:
A rather nice black box with embossed decorations on the lid and a tasteful red band holding it together. The box is only slightly larger than the Green & Black’s egg I reviewed last week, but at 490g, this egg weighs nearly four and a half times as much. All the good stuff must be packed inside.
Opening the lid, you’re greeted with a simple “menu” of the chocolates inside and a red insert, which for some reason is in the shape of a keyhole. I imagine this is to give the impression of “spying” through the keyhole to the chocolates inside, but it doesn’t quite work for me.
And then came the first time I’ve been disappointed by a Hotel Chocolat product:
Removing the egg from the box, you’re left with two halves, individually wrapped with a bag of chocolates in each half. Except when I say “wrapped”, I mean half covered in (what looks like) Bacofoil. The chocolates inside are in a fairly flimsy paper bag and appear to have been forced inside the egg in order to get them to fit.
There’s no subtlety here. It looks to be a case of forcing as much chocolate as possible into the smallest possible box. Now normally I wouldn’t think twice about this kind of packaging, but it’s simply not up to the high standards Hotel Chocolat have set themselves. Whether or not this is a one off, or if it’s repeated on the other eggs in this year’s range, I have no way of knowing.
Anyway, after finally removing the rest of the wrapping, you’re left with two egg halves and two identical bags of chocolates. The chocs inside the eggs may be the same, but the actual egg halves are very different.
One half is the “Rocky Road” – thick milk chocolate with chunks of cookie and puffed rice embedded into it. The other is thick milk chocolate covered in a layer of Hotel Chocolate’s rather divine caramel chocolate. I really like this idea – and the chocolate is so thick, I can guarantee it’s going to last a while. In fact, it’s so thick, I had a bit of an issue breaking the shells into bite-sized pieces and ended up smashing them onto the kitchen counter.
Once you do get into the shells though, they are really tasty. I adore the caramel chocolate, so that would have to be my favourite, although I think I would have preferred it if it were solid, rather than a thin layer on top of ordinary milk chocolate. The “rocky” layer is of equal quality, but so far I’m finding it hard to eat as it breaks into such irregular shapes with unpredictable hard and crunchy bits.
Now we get to the small bags of chocolates inside. Each bag contains “Cocoa Crisp”, “Caramel Crunch Praline”, “Crispy Pecan Praline”, “Macadamia Turtles”, “Pod Bunny”, “Caramel Canapés” and “Easter Chick”. They’re all nice enough – they’re just a little…. boring.
They’ve obviously tried to take the crunchy and caramelly theme over to the actual chocolates, but I found them slightly boring – there just isn’t enough variety of taste. No unexpected fruitiness or alcohol hit. No surprises. And worst of all, the chocolates in one bag had been squashed so tightly into the egg shell that they’d fused together.
Now make no mistake, all the chocolate here is delicious and of the highest quality. But it just doesn’t quite have the same level of attention to detail as I’m used to from Hotel Chocolat. I would still be happy to receive this as a gift, but it just didn’t excite me in the way Hotel Chocolat products usually do.