These brightly coloured ‘tasting boxes’ from James Chocolates arrived unexpectedly recently, so I thought I’d take a break from my current diet of single origin bars to look at something a little sweeter. In the seven years I’ve been writing about chocolate, my tastes have changed significantly, but I do still like the occasional sweet treat.
As you might expect, each box contains a selection of chocolates around the themes of ‘salted caramel’ and ‘chilli’.
The boxes carry the distinctive James Chocolates pink and purple colour scheme. They’re not quite dayglow, but you’re not going to misplace them easily either. Inside the boxes, the pink theme continues.
I was a little disappointed by the internal packaging. Each of the four ‘tasters’ is simply sealed in a plastic bag, wrapped in pink tissue paper and thrown into the box. It does the job of protecting the chocolates, but it looks a little thrown together to me. I guess that internal packaging is one of the challenges if shipping irregularly shaped chocolates.
Starting with the salted caramel box, and the first bag I took out is something I’ve already reviewed. It turns out that I found the salted caramel honeycomb quite addictive if a little sweet when I tried that recently, and you can go and read that review if you want to find out more.
Also included are Salted Caramel Truffles, Salted Caramel & Vanilla Beans and Cherry Salted Caramel Discs.
Of these, the truffles were my favourite. Despite not being close to a fresh, handmade salted caramel from an artisan chocolatier, the buttery caramel was pleasant and melted nicely. The solid caramel milk chocolate beans are also quite addictive and made more interesting by occasional crunchy salt crystals that reveal themselves as the chocolate melts. The dark chocolate discs with dried cherries didn’t quite do it for me.
In the Chilli Chocolate Tasting Box, we have a similar selection: Chilli Honeycomb, Raspberry & Chilli Beans, Firecracker Discs and Chipotle Chocolate Chillies. There’s quiet a chilli kick to some of the chocolates in this box, but I wasn’t as much of a fan of it as the salted caramel. I found that where the caramel added a little depth to the otherwise quite plain chocolate, in this box I just got plain chocolate with heat. This might be the kind of chocolate you would take to a party to show off some chocolates with a bit of heat to them, but I’m not convinced they’re the kind of chocolates anyone would buy for themselves.
I could certainly see people buying the salted caramel box as a little personal indulgence though. As to whether it’s worth £10 for 180g of chocolate, that’s a different question. If I had £10 to spend on a tasting box, I’d probably visit my local artisan chocolate shop and have them put a small selection together just for me.