Thorntons Academy of Chocolate Gold Award Winners

Posted by in Chocolate Reviews on June 20 2011 | Leave A Comment

Thorntons won four golds at this year’s Academy of Chocolate Awards. In addition to the Tonka bean block, three of master chocolatier Keith Hurdman’s fresh chocolates also won golds.

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:

Vanilla Caramel

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.

Crunchy Praline

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.


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Comments On This Post

  1. Paul Vincent

    I notice Thorntons are already selling a “Jubilee Wonder Box” for £35 (£25 bought online). Is this the same as the Wonder Box you refer to in your review, but costing rather less than you’d been led to believe? Or is there going to be a “super-deluxe” version of the Wonder Box, priced at £100, later in the year? If the latter, then their branding’s a bit confusing (which is VERY Thorntons, alas). Sad that the Continental Selection has fallen into such disrepute – it was my gateway into “posh” chocolates during my teens in the 1970s, but I agree it seems very dated now, and incredibly over-sweet, which is probably the key problem with their actual product – as opposed to their image and marketing, which is dreadful.

    • Dom (Chocablog Staff)

      No, the £100 box is something much fancier altogether. But yes, I agree it’s very confusing – and it’s the reason I didn’t put a link to the Thorntons site in this review. It’s definitely not the £25 box on the website.

  2. Aaah, Keith promised me one of these, but nothing has arrived in my wonder post thus far…

  3. Alyssa Steffes

    Such a shame that these can be so good but the branding of their products is still not up to par. I think it is a really important factor, especially keeping employees knowledgeable of the products. Great review, those pictures make them look delicious!

    Alyssa Steffes-

  4. Wow, £100?! YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! And this is Thorntons, not Lindt or Guylian or anything like that. When you mention Raspberry & Rose though, the flavor description reminds me of a Ghirardelli dark chocolate raspberry square. Although different shapes, are they comparable?


    • Dom (Chocablog Staff)

      It’s quite normal to pay > £1 per chocolate for quality, handmade fresh chocolates. I’ve seen & sampled the £100 limited edition box (100 chocolates), and it really is something special.

      In terms of quality, the best of what Thorntons produces is significantly better than Lindt, Guylian or Ghirardelli. Keith Hurdman jointly won the Academy of Chocolate chocolatier of the year award for these chocs.

      Your reaction sums up the image problem Thorntons have. People don’t associate them quality chocolate because of all the low-end confectionery they also make.

  5. manuela

    From what i’ve heard the chocolatier there is seriously good.However this rather begs the question what on earth is a seriously good chocolatier doing at thorntons?

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