Sometime last week I was getting ready to go to work when Postie knocked at the door. Instead of the parcel I was expecting I was delighted to discover that I had been sent this. . .
.. and equally pleased to see the words ‘Exclusive Edition’ on the box. When I checked the Hotel Chocolat website, I found that this box might be so exclusive that you cannot currently buy it – either that or I have been given a ‘review copy’, rather like music journalists receive advance copies of new albums. I can only assume the latter, as it wouldn’t make much sense for them to have me review something they weren’t trying to sell, would it?
Despite my inner Fat Bloke yelling at me to crack open the box and at least try one chocolate before I left for work, I refrained. Of course, most of that day was spent trying to second guess what Hotel Chocolat might have come up with THIS time.
The ‘menu’ described this box as containing “mellow, warming chocolate recipes that perfectly capture the changing of the seasons” and a glance at the names of some of the chocolates suggested that these were going to be nutty, fruity (and in a couple of cases slightly boozy) choccies. As you can see, the presentation of the contents is excellent, with a branded centrepiece chocolate on each layer.
Something I noticed right away (aside from the slightly rude looking Raspberry and Prosecco Truffle) was that a couple of old favourites are included in this selection. The Blackcurrant Bombe and Lemon Truffle were part of the contents of the Signature Easter Egg, and to my mind they are excellent examples of the way that Hotel Chocolat have managed to bring together citrus and chocolate flavours. I can’t think of any other manufacturer (to date) who have produced a Blackcurrant truffle, and this one bursts with exuberant berry flavours. On a similar note, the Lemon Truffle has a zesty, tangy taste which almost makes you pull that ‘lemon face’, it’s so zingy.
Aside from being delicious in their own right, Hotel Chocolat’s products always seem to have been made with a great deal of thought regarding the look of the finished item. Take, for example, the Chocolate Walnut.
Now, anyone could take a walnut and smother it in fine dark chocolate, but Hotel Chocolat have created a beautiful ‘half egg’ look which offers a tempting peek at the contents.
Similarly, the Caramel Canape has a topping which lets you know that these are indeed hand made items. There’s even a Praline Filled Acorn, something which immediately put me in mind of the box of John Lewis chocolates which were recently reviewed by Dom. Honourable mention also has to be given to the Crispy Pancake and Pecan Praline (and no, it doesn’t come in minced beef or cheesy flavour). This delicious square of dark chocolate conceals a filling of wonderfully crispy, wafer thin pieces of pancake held in a light, moussy praline, and there are two in each layer!
I’d have to come out and admit that it’s hard not to like Hotel Chocolat. They obviously have a great passion for what they do, and it shows, There isn’t a ‘bad’ selection to be had here. There’s no ‘padding’, nothing second-best. Every one of these chocolates offers a unique flavour combination, and while they may not veer off into the more eccentric or unusual, they’re all winners.
This is definitely a great box of chocolates. Give this as a gift and you can’t go wrong. First off, the recipient will know that you love them enough to buy them what will undoubtedly be a rather expensive gift, and secondly if they love their chocs then this box will have them loving you even more with every one they eat. To cap it all, the chocolates are made from cocoa grown on Hotel Chocolat’s own estate and they have a great attitude to what they call ‘Applied Ethics’. My advice to you is to keep an eye out for this becoming available and to buy it for someone you love, especially if that someone is you.
Update From Dom
I don’t know if we’ve mentioned it before, but Hotel Chocolat now have a US web site – and yes, you can buy online…