Chocablog continues to have it’s finger on the pulse with a review of Thorntons’ new Metropolitan Box, launched today.
After Dom’s lukewarm review of the Milan and Paris boxes, I approached these chocolates with a little trepidation. Opening the box and seeing “Shhh! Listen carefully you might hear the chocolates gossiping.” emblazoned on the inner cover didn’t do anything for my confidence. (Who on earth came up with that? They should be drowned in a vat of Hershey’s.)
I was, however, pleased to see that Keith Hurdman had managed to introduce a version of the Quince chocolate we’d had a taste of six months ago. Renamed ‘Q Couture‘ and given a fancy pattern on one side, it had a lovely subtle citrus smell to it, and in the mouth the gentle fruit tang of the Quince came flooding through as the shell gave way and allowed the quince ganache free to spread fruitiness over the palate. I liked it six months ago and I still like it now.
Vanilla Heights (the marketing people have had a field day with this collection) was a more subtle affair. Milk chocolate and vanilla, cosying up together in another soft ganache. Not overly sweet, with good balanced flavours, I’m pretty sure this will be popular.
Cloudberry Hill almost had me going all Fats Domino, but I’m not sure I’d go as far as saying it was a thrill. It’s certainly a good companion to the Quince chocolate, fairly delicate in flavour (so as to allow the milk chocolate to make itself known) and with a good clean finish. Another thumbs up.
The Praline Pizza reunited me with crisp feulletine combined with a hazelnut praline. I really liked the textures in this one, and the praline had plenty of rich hazelnut notes to add to proceedings.
In a similar vein to other chocolatiers Keith Hurdman has devised an orange blossom chocolate, pairing the fruity flavour with dark chocolate ganache wrapped in milk chocolate. It’s quite sweet, and delivers good authentic light tangy orange flavours which work well with the chocolate. It’s another ‘safe’ combination, but one which many people will reach for.
The last of the flavoured chocolates sees Thorntons offer us their own version of what is fast becoming a ‘must-have’ flavour. I’m talking salted caramel here, and with the likes of William Curley, Paul Young and Lauden producing quite frankly stunning salted caramels, I was interested to see how a Thorntons version would come out. The upper shell is quite thin, and very quickly disappears in a burst of caramel, and yes, there is sea salt there. It’s not the saltiest salty caramel in town, but I’m keeping Thorntons regular customers in the back of my mind, and I think after an initial hesitance most of them will find themselves enjoying this version.
The final two chocolates are named Midnight Melt and Manhattan Melt (maybe “Midday Melt” didn’t quite have that ‘ring’) and are solid pieces of the two types of chocolate used in this collection. The dark chocolate version has good, bright citrussy topnotes coupled with a lively cocoa flavour, while the milk version (described as ‘exquisite with a crisp fruitiness’) is a 40% cocoa chocolate which will (hopefully) go some way to turning people away from inferior High Street chocolate products.
With milk chocolate from Ecuador and dark chocolate from the Dominican Republic, the chocolate itself wasn’t in question. What I wanted to know was whether or not Thornton’s were going to be challenging their customers with new and interesting flavours, and it would seem that times are indeed changing. Thorntons are never going to bring out a box of chocolates crammed full of wacky, adventurous and weird flavours – why would they want to alienate their customers? – but they’ve managed to push open the door of possibilities with this collection, and what’s more, I think it’s got the potential to sell rather well.
Just stop anthropomorphising chocolate, please?