These two Valentine’s Day pieces came to me from Belgian chocolatier Neuhaus. First is a heart box filled with nineteen pralines. Its red siding gives a modern look to the box’s top pattern of a lace pattern of grey-on-white. Inside, we have one side of dark chocolate hearts, one of milk chocolates, and a circle of red-wrapped Coeur Pralines around one more dark chocolate
The six milk chocolates have a creamy praline that is accented by the minutest specks of biscuit, which are perhaps what keep them from being too cloying. As it is, I rather like these–the praline is light not dense, and the chocolate (at 30% cacao) doesn’t come across as too sweet. The dark hearts are the same idea, only without the crunch and with a dark praline. There is a glossier mouthfeel here, and the 52% dark chocolate I’m tempted to call boring, even though it is the kind of “just dark enough” chocolate most people will go for.
The red hearts are a respectable size larger than the rest, containing a good portion of hazelnut and almond praline in a thick milk chocolate shell. You really get to dive into both, witnessing the marriage of nuttiness and chocolate until you’re not sure where one ends and the next begins.
With the second box, what we have is a regular ballotin wrapped up in red paper. In a way, I appreciate that there is no pretending the product is entirely exclusive to Valentine’s Day when it isn’t. (On a note of practicality, though, this box can get annoying to open and close as there are four flaps to the box and four paper ones underneath–that’s too many barriers for me.) There are eight chocolates included in my box, including another Coeur Praline. The Mephisto and Satan are, respectively, milk and dark chocolate pralines comparable to those in box one. The Sapho and Napoleonette, both milk chocolates with the latter also containing coffee, were my favorites. Cool and creamy, with a delicious almond taste and a rich yet light coffee one.
Two of the eight do not have praline, the Prestige and Art Nouveau. The former instead has a just-barely-free-flowing caramel that seems to enhance the chocolate, while the Art Nouveau has a “dark ganache with a hint of grilled hazelnuts.” Not that I could detect any hazelnuts, which means that this one is also much like the dark chocolate hearts.
Being mostly pralines, these are all very similar, and keep in mind that for anything better than supermarket quality, you won’t be paying supermarket prices. However, I would venture to say that either box would make a welcome appearance for Valentine’s Day.