The autumn is certainly upon us now; the weather certainly seems to have taken a turn for the worst and there is definitely a chill in the air that wasn't present a few weeks ago. Don't get me wrong though, I love the autumn/winter period; not only does it mean Christmas/Halloween and chocolate related goodies but also the delights of crisp leaves, conkers, pumpkins, spices and nuts galore.
Hotel Chocolat have once again seized the opportunity to create a range of "Autumn" themed chocolate; one item that particularly caught my eye was the "Squirrel's Stash" consisting of 5 praline chocolates filled with crunchy whole nuts these sounded as if they were made just for me, an avid praline lover.
Once again Hotel Chocolat have excelled themselves in terms of presentation of the chocolates; consisting of 2 beautifully looking acorn shaped chocolates filled with a praline truffle bottom and soft liquid caramel top, 2 hazelnut shaped pralines filled with a whole hazelnut and finally a half hazelnut praline topped with a crunchy walnut. I particularly liked the look of the acorn chocolates; perfectly autumnal looking.
Obviously the acorn was the chocolate I went to first; however I was expecting slightly better; although I liked the way that the chocolate was set up in terms of truffle/praline on bottom and caramel on top and despite the textures being good I found that there was an unpleasant alcoholic tang to this chocolate that detracted from the usual delicious Hotel Chocolat praline/caramel flavour. Looking on the ingredients it did show that there was a generous dash of alcohol used but on the chocolate description it wasn't really mentioned - it tasted almost rum like and ruined the experience of this chocolate for me slightly.
Nevertheless Hotel Chocolat did prove once more that they know what they're doing with the other 2 additions to this box; the whole hazelnut praline reminded me just how well Hotel Chocolat execute their pralines, not too sweet and delightfully nutty with the smooth luxurious texture of the hazelnut praline contrasting perfectly with the whole roasted crunchy hazelnut in the centre. I could quite honestly eat these all day long.
The hazelnut praline topped with walnut was similarly pleasing; despite not being a huge fan of walnuts by themselves I always seem to enjoy them when they are incorporated into chocolates; once again the hazelnut praline was delicious and melted wonderfully in the mouth, whilst the walnut atop added a nice savoury element and added crunch to the overall texture.
Although enjoying the other 2 chocolates to be honest it was the acorn that I was really looking forward to; it looked so different and novel that I just hoped that it would live up to expectations, unfortunately this wasn't the case, I just wish Hotel Chocolat had used a bit less alcohol and it would have been divine. Never mind, if you don't mind a generous tipple in your chocolates then your bound to love all of these and they make a perfect indulgent treat for the cold rainy autumn nights.
Taste - 6.5/10 - The hazelnut pralines were excellent as usual but I was let down by the caramel praline acorn.
Texture - 8.3/10 - Textures were great, creamy, smooth with good contrast provided by the roasted nuts.
Appearance - 8.5/10 - Hotel Chocolat's products always look divine and although the acorn didn't taste great it sure looked it.
Price - 6.9/10 - These are priced at £4.50 working out at 90p per chocolate which is pretty expensive, I don't think I'd pay this again especially as I wasn't a huge fan of the 2 acorns and could get something cheaper + more chocolates from their selector range.
Overall - 7.5/10 - A bit of a disappointment on the taste front but still pleasant.
WHO FOR?Anyone who enjoys their pralines and doesn't mind the taste of alcohol in their chocolates.
WHERE TO BUY?You can buy these from Hotel Chocolat stores or from their website here.