The chocolates will form part of Thorntons’ special 100th Anniversary ‘Wonder Box’, a beautiful limited edition box costing £100. But they were kind enough to send journalists this specially made gold-embossed box containing just the winning chocolates, so we could try them.
The three winning chocolates are:
A soft, gooey caramel with a smooth vanilla flavour and a hint of sea salt. Vanilla is often used to cover up bad flavours in chocolate, so it’s really nice to find it being used on its own merits. This is somewhat sweeter than some of the sea-salted caramels I’ve had in the past, but the caramel itself has lots of flavour and the dark chocolate takes a little of the sweet edge away. A really delicious caramel.
Raspberry & Rose
A beautifully soft and smooth filled chocolate in a perfect, thin dark chocolate shell. Bite into it and the first flavour you get is the rose, giving a hint of a Turkish Delight flavour, but very quickly the sharp, zingy raspberry comes to the front and takes over. The flavours are perfectly balanced and neither too sweet or too sharp. Another great chocolate.
I’m not a huge praline fan, so this one didn’t really do it for me. But like the others it was beautifully made. It’s light and crunchy, and at least as good as the high-end French pralines I’ve had recently.
Overall then, three exceptional chocolates that are deserving of their Academy of Chocolate Gold Awards.
All of which makes the situation Thortons are currently in even more perplexing to me. It’s over two years since we first met Keith Hurdman and talked about the future of the company, and while some progress has been made, it’s been painfully slow.
Thorntons stores are still ugly and uninviting, they still have horribly branded franchise stores with staff who know little about the product, and worst of all, they’re still pushing the awful Continental range, in a bid to keep the ‘traditional’ Thorntons customer (most of whom are older than Thorntons itself now, I’m sure) happy.
Meanwhile, the chocolate market in the UK has undergone a revolution. The likes of Hotel Chocolat have taken over the High Street, and Thorntons are still pushing 70′s style chocolates from their tatty stores. That makes me particularly sad when the company has such talented people capable of producing chocolates as good as these.