This is one of those ‘experience packs’ that they’ve started selling in gift shops and supermarkets across the UK. Moon Estates are the people that will sell you a piece of the moon among other things, and as you can see it offers the lucky recipient the chance to have their selection placed on the ‘Chocolate Foundation’ database – whatever that means.
So, as the lucky recipient it was my task to select my ten from the forty on offer. There were a couple of new twists on familiar flavours and a couple I thought I’d try as ‘benchmark’ chocs. I also tried to mix up the flavours (although I avoided chocolate covered fruits, nuts, and coffee beans and all of the marshmallow and fudge, which accounts for a whopping forty percent of the catalogue!) and included only white and dark chocolate because frankly the milk chocolates weren’t as interesting.
The rest of the tin contains a little book a few sheets of paper with some chocolate facts and recipes, a rather unconvincing scratch and sniff notepad, and a certificate from the ‘Chocolate Foundation’ confirming me as a chocoholic. Ho hum.
So, what did I choose?
Well, from the white chocolate selection I took a Whiskey truffle and a Womersley Golden Raspberry with Geranium Truffle.
The Golden Raspberry and Geranium truffle was rather lovely. An initial burst of floral sweetness, reinforced by the white chocolate, was quickly followed by the slightly tart and tangy raspberry, cutting some of the sweetness and rounding off the whole thing with a very enjoyable burst of summer fruit flavour.
The Whisky Truffle was a more complex affair, a balancing act between the sharpness of the whisky and the sweet white chocolate. I’m not a great fan of Scotch whiskey but I did find this promising. Unfortunately it didn’t quite develop enough for my liking, with the whiskey not quite reaching its full potential.
My dark selection began with a Lemon Truffle. It delivered exactly what was promised – smooth lemon flavour in chocolate. Well balanced, not too tart and a smooth filling with good mouthfeel.
The mint chocolate was, according to the catalogue ‘one of the best mint chocolates we’ve ever tasted’ and therefore a definite candidate for tasting. Mint and chocolate (like coffee and chocolate) is so often done badly that it’s probably a public service to track down a half decent mint chocolate. This one packed a proper minty punch, almost to the point of overpowering the truffle centre. The mint was there from the first bite, and lingered long after the filling and shell were gone. Possibly a little over the top for some, but definitely minty without being too sweet and sickly.
A Plymouth Gin Truffle was chosen to see how they fared against Cocoa Bean’s Gin & Tonic Bar, and I’m afraid on this occasion I wasn’t overly impressed. There was some flavour there, described as delicate in the brochure but perhaps a little too delicate.
A Womersley Balsamic Cherry Vinegar Truffle had me intrigued as soon as I saw it. It had a quite unusual, slightly tart flavour to it (as balsamic chocolate tends to) and to be honest I would have liked to have had a second one to hand to ‘continue’ the flavours in order to see how they developed. It was definitely an enjoyable combination, but I wanted to build on the experience and see whether it went fruity or vinegary when concentrated.
The Raspberry (Womersley, naturally) with Lavender Truffle was outshone by the Raspberry and Geranium Truffle with white chocolate. Lavender is something of an odd flavour still, and this combination just didn’t offer the refreshing burst of citrussy, floral top notes that it’s fellow had delivered earlier.
I had my forebodings about ordering both the dark Chocolate Violet Cream AND the Rose Cream, but I haven’t had a rode flavoured chocolate since another Cocoa Bean bar, and I used to love Parma Violets as a child, so my final two selections were certainly going to deliver big on flavour.
The Violet cream wasn’t too unpleasant but still conatined way too much sugar for my liking, and the violet flavour quickly overpowered any chocolate that might have been attempting to impress my palate.
The Rose cream was both the wrong choice to end on and the perfect choice. Had I started this tasting with this little dayglo pink monster, it would have been abandoned as soon as I’d bitten into it. I can only describe this as resembling the distilled essence of an old lady’s chest of drawers. A screamingly pink filling which packed an almighty wallop of overpowering rose flavour which obliterated both smell and taste in seconds. I couldn’t get beyond the first bite!
Having seen the price of this selection (£26.74 / $45.03 / €32.30), I’d be more inclined to visit a good chocolate shop and pick your own fresh ganaches and truffles. The ‘extras’ aren’t particularly informative or useful, and I can’t help but feel that the chocolates were not at their best after they’d been sent to me by post. You could buy a dozen handmade truffles in a lovely ballotin for about half of the price of this set, and you’d be guaranteed better use of flavour and better ingredients. I can see how Moon Estates have spotted a gap in the gifting market for something like this, but I don’t think the vital part of the deal – the actual chocolates – justifies the price.