It was only a matter of time before Hotel Chocolat brought out their summer range of chocolates; after the major chocolate "season" of Easter it is quite sometime before another appropriate chocolate "event" such as Halloween or Christmas comes around so there is certainly a need for chocolates like this to be released to bide some time whilst we wait for our next release of seasonal chocolates!
This year it seems that Hotel Chocolat have decided to go for a range of Summer Desserts & Retro Style Beach Themed chocolates and one of these products is the Summer Dessert H Box that I am going to be reviewing, consisting of 13 chocolates : 1 Red Berry Mousse, 2 Chocolate Brownies, 2 Mousse au Chocolat, 2 Neapolitan Truffles, 1 Coconut Bombe, 1 Lemon & Passionfruit Tart, 2 Eton Mess & 2 Summer Pudding Truffles.
On initial reading of the chocolate contents of the box I was quite disappointed to be honest, 3 of these chocolates actually appeared in the Christmas Selection from Hotel Chocolat (Chocolate Brownie, Mousse au Chocolat & Red Berry Mousse) and although Red Berry Mousse seems to fit the Summer Desserts Box quite well in terms of it being a fruity refreshing chocolate I really saw no place for the Chocolate Brownie or the Mousse au Chocolat and felt that they could have been replaced with something a bit more appropriate.
The chocolates itself, as always looked beautiful, and the box had a real classy feel to it with it's vibrant blue packaging, so I was hoping that out of the other chocolates that were chosen for this box that I was really going to enjoy them. I decided to start with the ones I had tried before and move my way onto trying some of the newer features.
Red Berry Mousse - 7.6/10
Although this chocolate had appeared in the Christmas Selection I did feel that it had a place in this box with its light strawberry and raspberry whipped mousse filling coated in thick milk chocolate. The fruit flavours in it were wonderful and fresh and not artificial tasting whatsoever and it was so nice to see strawberry & raspberry paired with milk chocolate for once as opposed to white chocolate. The texture was light and fluffy and offered a wonderful refreshing chocolate, my only fault was that on finishing this chocolate it had a slightly sweet after taste that lingered in the mouth which put me off slightly.
Brownie - 6.7/10
I wasn't really sure what this chocolate was doing in this box to be honest; although it is a dessert a chocolate brownie doesn't really scream red hot summer to me, with its slightly gritty chocolate filling and thick dense chocolate covering. I always feel that with this chocolate it's slightly bland and that in terms of proportion theres far too much outer covering compared to the brownie filling inside; it certainly is substantial but is just offers a typical chocolatey flavour. Althought it's not a bad chocolate as such, it's not one of my favourites from Hotel Chocolat by any means, it is pretty simplistic in terms of its flavours and I didn't really feel it had anything to do with summer.
Mousse Au Chocolat - 7/10
Again this was another chocolate that I felt had no place in a Summer Desserts box; this dark chocolate with its smooth mousse filling was delicious, the rich filling was more ganache like than mousse however but offered a sumptuous chocolate that melted wonderfully on the tongue with its delightful rich dark chocolate flavours. This definately is a nice classic chocolate for any chocolate lover and it does have its place in other Hotel Chocolat boxes, unfortunately just not the Summer Desserts one.
Eton Mess - 8.8/10
Although this isn't a new chocolate from Hotel Chocolat I believe it has certainly earned its way into this box and was actually probably my favourite chocolate, I had tried it before, but would never pass up an oppurtunity to try it again! With a wonderfully rich strawberry filling that is slightly more dense than a mousse, with a milk chocolate & meringue base then coated in white chocolate topped with meringue pieces and freeze dried strawberries, it is absolutely delicious. The strawberry flavour is fresh & fruity without being artificial and surprisingly despite being coated in white chocolate doesn't become overly sweet, just offering a nice creamy fruity experience.
Neapolitan - 5.8/10
This wasn't a chocolate I had seem before from Hotel Chocolat so was excited to see what new sort of things they were coming up with, this chocolate is meant to represent the classic ice cream flavour Neapolitan, white a strawberry & vanilla truffle filling double coated in white and then milk chocolate. The filling itself was smooth and easy on the palate but I found the flavour to be overly sweet and the strawberry flavour, unlike the Eton Mess chocolate, quite artificial. To be honest this chocolate reminded me of a Strawberry Milkshake and wasn't really too fussed about giving the 2nd one in this box to one of my family.
Coconut Bombe - 7.9/10
It's quite rare that coconut chocolates get featured in a box of chocolates in this form, all too often coconut chocolates are your typical Bounty style, filled with a disgusting desicated coconut filling; however this offering was not. With a smooth light whipped textured filling with slight hints of coconuts appearing throughout the chocolate and coated in thick milk chocolate before being rolled in small coconut flakes, I found it a far cry from horrific artificial coconut tasting chocolates that are so often present, with the coconut in this chocolate nicely mellowed and the coconut flakes adding a nice change in texture to the creamy filling.
Lemon & Passionfruit Tart - 4.7/10
It's quite rare for me to find a lemon chocolate I like, I'm not sure what it is, I think the lemony tang is always just a bit too sharp for me, reminding me of cleaning products & certainly not making me want to tuck into a chocolate. Unfortunately this was the same for this new offering from Hotel Chocolat; a lemon & passionfruit ganache filling double encased in dark and then white chocolate, I found that the lemon was just far too much for me. The filling was reminiscent of lemon curd and although having slight hints of passionfruit in it the lemon was far too over powering whilst being paired with sweet white chocolate, not really a chocolate for me to be honest.
Summer Pudding Truffle - 8.8/10
The last chocolate I tried in the box, the new Summer Pudding Truffle, was actually one of the tastiest within the box. The smooth rich berry filling contrasted perfectly with the creamy white chocolate exterior and was both wonderfully fruity and creamy at the same time; never getting too sickly & easily allowing me to try and get my hands on the second one in this box! The texture was smooth and sumptuous and the light dusting that was given to this truffle provided it with a wonderful chew, delicious!
Overall although there are a couple of good chocolates in this box I was fairly disappointed, with a couple of chocolates that I feel have no place there and a couple of new offerings that just didn't hit the spot for me it wasn't a box of chocolates that I would go running back to. Yes, they are tasty, but not outstanding and don't really eminate the feelings of summer desserts, the Chocolate Brownie & Mousse au Chocolat maybe could have been replaced with something like a Rhubarb Crumble or Strawberry Trifle?
I know that Hotel Chocolat's Tasting Club are offering a Limited Edition Summer Desserts Box and on looking at the selection featured in there I just wish that maybe that the box that is actually going to be sold in shops could have brought a little more to the table.
Taste - 6.8/10 - There were a couple of nice chocolates within the box but I wouldn't say the selection was amazing.
Texture - 7.3/10 - All of the textures in this box were pretty good, all exactly what they should be, my only fault could be that I always find the brownie chocolate slightly disproportioned in terms of filling to casing.
Apperance - 7.5/10 - A lovely looking box, nothing really visually unappealing.
Price - 6.7/10 - This box is priced at £11, the standard H Box price, and although I think this is fine value for a box of chocolates, I don't think I would pay this in terms of this Summer Edition box simply due to the fact that I didn't feel it was summery enough.
Overall - 7/10 - A fairly average box of chocolates that I just wish could have been so much better.
To take a full look at Hotel Chocolat's Summer Range you can visit their website at www.hotelchocolat.co.uk