I have recently found a love of Hotel Chocolat, I never used to enjoy their chocolate that much, it was never sweet enough for me when I was younger but as my taste buds have matured it's now one of my favourite chocolates and I love how they do a non-alcoholic selection, don't get me wrong, I don't mind a little dash of alcohol in my chocolates but anything more than a dash and it just ruins the experience for me. I actually loved this box of chocolate so much that I got some more in the sale! At its original price it was £20, I then bought it again reduced at £12 and again at £6...£6!!! Who could pass that up?! The box contains 30 chocolates, 2 of each, apart from the main solid chocolate festive pieces.
I'll review each chocolate within the box and then give my overall opinion of the box, first up is the
Vanilla Ganache - 10/10
A creamy vanilla ganache enrobed in a thick white chocolate, I absoloutely loved this chocolate, sometimes I find white chocolate a bit too sickly but this hit the spot just right, it wasn't too sweet but was more creamy and sumptuous, it reminded me slightly of a vanilla ice cream and the texture on the inside was like biting into a little bit of heaven with real flecks of vanilla pod, I would probably have to say this was one of my favourite chocolates in the box, I honestly couldn't fault it.
Dark Salted Liquid Caramel - 8/10
I'd never tried salt with chocolate before and wow! The darkness of the dark chocolate paired perfectly with the salted sweet caramel inside, sometimes caramel chocolates can leave me with a bit of a sickly taste at the back of my throat but the dark chocolate powered through and manage to partner it perfectly. The texture of the caramel wasn't too gooey and slipped down perfectly.
Cinnamon Praline - 8/10
I am a huge fan of praline chocolates, they're the ones I would always go to first in a box of chocolates so I was intrigued to try this different seasonal take on a praline, with hints of cinnamon in a rich dense creamy praline it was a very satisfying chocolate, the only thing I could really improve on is maybe a bit stronger taste of cinnamon, for me I could taste other flavours coming through and thought it may have benefitted from a bit more of a cinnamon kick but that may just be personal preference.
House Praline - 8/10
Another delicious praline, this one is slightly more dense and richer than the cinnamon praline and has much stronger hints of cocoa and a much thicker chocolate coating, the texture is incredibly smooth and is a gorgeous melt-in-the mouth praline, this chocolate is extremely moreish as the stronger taste of cocoa in this chocolate helps to ward off any potential sugar overload and allows the true flavour of the chocolate to come through.
Peanut Passion Praline - 7/10
A praline with a twist again, I don't often see peanut pralines, they're normally all almond, hazelnut etc so I was looking forward to seeing what this one was like, it was pleasant, not anything I would rave about, it had quite mild peanut flavour, nothing too strong like you would find in Peanut Butter filled chocolates which I think I prefer, still a very satisfying praline with a different nutty flavour but not one which I would be inclined to buy if given the choice. Again the texture of the praline was perfect melt in the mouth but the flavour just didn't hit the spot as much as the other pralines in the box.
Chocolate Brownie - 7/10
This chocolate is meant to represent the good old chocolate brownie, with a thick chocolate covering the centre is filled with a chocolate like paste with bits of pecan and crunchy rice pieces; for me there wasn't enough filling and too much outer chocolate, I would have preferred it to be a bit more balanced. However the flavour of the chocolate was still good, very creamy and decadent but when I got to the centre I was expecting a bit more crunch as oppose to a more gritty filling, still a delicious chocolate in terms of flavour but let down a bit on terms of texture.
Gingerbread Truffle - 8/10
A gingerbread truffle with hints of nutmeg and cinnamon encased in milk chocolate; I love the texture of the Hotel Chocolat truffles; they're so creamy but yet light at the same time, the gingerbread in this was so warming and really hit the back of your throat even after you'd finished the chocolate, I couldn't really taste the nutmeg that much but I got slight hints of cinnamon here and there, this chocolate was definately really Festive and got me in a Christmassy mood.
40% Milk Chocolate Bell - 7/10
You can really tell that Hotel Chocolat uses higher cocoa solid percentage than other chocolates out there such as Dairy Milk, Thorntons etc, the flavour of cocoa is so much stronger and prominent in this chocolate and far less sweet, if you let it melt on your tongue you can taste slight woody notes and really appreciate the true depth of flavour. For me this isn't really a stand out in a box of chocolates as it's only normal plain milk chocolate but if you don't want anything different and just fancy some solid chocolate this is for you.
Mousse au Chocolat - 8/10
Mmm wow this chocolate wasn't what I was expecting, sometimes I find dark chocolates in a box too bitter but this was perfect, the mousse inside was so smooth and almost ganache like and melted perfectly on your tongue, the 70% dark chocolate that coated it wasn't bitter at all and just provided a very moreish chocolate experience.
Red Berry Mousse - 8/10
This is the only fruity chocolate in the whole box, with the exception of one which has slight orange pieces in, I was so pleased this was a mousse rather than a cream, the light raspberry and strawberry mousse inside is just so refreshing in the box of quite rich and earthy flavours of the other chocolates;I wasn't sure it would go with the milk chocolate as I normally prefer fruity chocolates with white chocolate but this was so good, it had a slight sweet after taste which was the only fault I could find with it but other than that I could not fault it.
Billionaire's Shortbread - 7/10
I thought I would love this one, a thick milk chocolate shell with a caramel praline with crunchy biscuit pieces; however I actually found it too sweet and sickly, the caramel praline is a bit gritty and I just think that I wouldn't be able to eat a lot of them. They do represent Millionaire's Shortbread excellently, which is maybe why I wasn't such a fan of this one, as I find them a bit too sweet.
Caramel Chocolate Tree - 8/10
A lighter version of the Hotel Chocolats 40% milk using less cocoa solids and giving way to a caramel solid flavour chocolate; the texture of this chocolate is far more smooth and is slightly praline texture like; it melts amazingly on the tongue and despite having hints of caramel isn't too sweet. I think I prefer this to the Milk Chocolate Bell because of the smoother texture of it and you don't see caramel solid chocolate all that often.
Dark Chocolate Orange & Almond Crunch - 6/10
This chocolate was nice, just nothing amazing for me, I prefer filled praline chocolates, or something with a bit of a centre, the flavours in this were good, dark chocolate pressed with crystalised orange pieces and almonds provides a nice crunch and the orange flavour balances out the richer flavour of the dark chocolate. For anyone who prefers dark solid chocolates with something a bit different this one is for you, but for me I'll have the pralines please!
Milk Chocolate Liquid Salted Caramel - 6/10
Hmmm..sickly, yak...perfect until about 3 seconds afterwards where the sweetness of the caramel and the milk chocolate burns your throat, I much prefered the Dark Liquid Salted Caramel, just for me extra sweet caramel + milk chocolate just didn't go as well in this, I mean I wouldn't say no to it..just prepare for burning throat afterwards!
Dark Chocolate Chilli Penguin - 5/10
Ok I've gotta admit that on first try of this I didn't like it and actually didn't eat it all and put it in the bin!! But in my 2nd box I decided to give it another try and enjoy it more slowly and although it didn't move the earth for me it actually was quite pleasant, this one is definately to be enjoyed slowly to get the true flavours, the dark chocolate is quite sweet to begin with and the chilli kick comes through just as you've swallowed it, it wasn't too spicy but to be honest I don't really enjoy chilli in my chocolate...however I must admit the penguin is extra cute!
Crunchy Praline - 10/10
Yum Yum, and Yum!! This was my other favourite chocolate in the box, firstly I love the santa hat decoration on the top and secondly this was just such a nice chocolate, the praline inside is amazingly smooth but the addition of crunchy pancake pieces adds a twisty crunch to the texture, the flavour is amazing and just leaves you wanting more, the chocolate shell is thick but is in proportion with the delicious centre inside, definately a winner!
Chocolate Hazelnut Praline Bauble - 8/10
Again love the different texture of this one, it's much smoother than normal milk chocolate, I couldn't really taste the praline flavour too much but it definately has a different flavour to the milk chocolate bell, another perfect one to enjoy slowly with a nice warm drink it's a shame there is only one of these in the box.
Taste - 9/10 I wouldn't say there was any chocolate in this selection that I really disliked, I would eat them all and with 4 different pralines to enjoy this was definately a good box for me.
Apperance - 8/10 Presented in a beautiful box and love how the chocolates are themed festively
Price - 7/10 At £20 a box these are quite pricey and not something you would just buy to tide you over on chocolate supplies but reduced to £6 a box..an absolute bargain!
Texture - 8/10 Ultra creamy & dreamy, loved it!
Overall - 9/10 I love Hotel Chocolat and they definately didn't disappoint with this selection, well worth the buy!