Notting Hill’s Melt Chocolates has long been one of my favourite chocolate shops, although its location has meant that I don’t get to visit it anywhere near as often as I would like.
Last week I was invited along to get a sneak peek at their Christmas range, which has been inspired by a ‘Byzantium’ theme, with lots of Eastern symbolism and jewel like colours. Melt will have a range of Christmas themed products which we’ll cover closer to the time, but one of the interesting decisions they made was not to concentrate too much on traditional ‘Christmas’ themed flavours. Instead, they’re keeping their most popular flavours, but presenting them as hand painted jewel like chocolates. They have the Christmas look, but inside are the popular flavours that regular Melt customers know and love.
I think this is the perfect Christmas gift for the slightly conservative Notting Hill locals who form the bulk of Melt’s customers. They want beautiful, quality Christmas gifts, but are less interested in experimental flavours.
The chocolates I have here are part of Melt’s standard range – not in their Christmas outfits – but as we haven’t actually reviewed the fresh chocolate range before, I thought now would be as good a time as any!
Of course, the first thing you’ll notice is just how pretty they are. Each chocolate is handmade on site by head chocolatier Chika Watanabe and her staff, and while there’s a lot of different formats, they all look beautiful.
I’m not going to review each chocolate here, but instead just pick out some of my own favourites. Starting with one of their best sellers – a simple vanilla bonbon in dark chocolate, with a sprinkling of pink sea salt on top.
You might not think a vanilla flavour chocolate would be very interesting, but Melt use the whole vanilla pod in these chocolates for an intense, fresh vanilla flavour. Vanilla is often added to chocolate to hide bad flavours, so we sometimes forget what a wonderful flavour it can be when it’s the star of the show. The sea salt really lifts the flavour and the dark chocolate shell counteracts some of the sweetness. Melt also do a version of this in a white chocolate shell, but I recommend going for the dark version myself.
The red, white & blue gianduja dome was made to celebrate the Jubilee & Olympics, and was interesting as we got to see how they effect is achieved. Coloured cocoa butter is painted onto the inside of the mould and left to set before another colour is added. Finally, dark chocolate is poured into the mould and the chocolate is made as usual, with the design becoming part of the chocolate itself, rather than looking like it has been painted on. Clever.
Another of my favourites is the pistachio marzipan. As a child, I didn’t particularly like marzipan, but it’s something I’ve grown to love lately. I’ve always loved pistachio, and when they’re paired together, the result is a wonderfully creamy chocolate that works perfectly with the 66% dark chocolate. I could eat these all day.
Every other chocolate in this box is made to the same standard, but rather than me go on about them, I think you should just try them for yourself. I highly recommend making the journey to the Notting Hill store if you can, but if not they also have concessions in Selfridges Oxford Street, Lidgates in Holland Park and Whole Foods in Kensington. Plus you can buy them online. So you’ve really got no excuse!