I was in Paris just before Christmas this year and popped into a Pierre Marcolini shop; having only tried his chocolates once before when I picked up a few from the concession in Selfridges I just knew I had to buy myself a box. I loved his Christmas range this year - the giant snowman complete with chocolates, was of particular highlight to me, not only was it adorable but you could be assured that the chocolates would be of excellent quality - however I couldn't really afford the steep price tag, so I picked up this delicious looking box of 'Les Cristaux de Neige' - or translated to English, snow crystals.
Consisting of a box of 36 geometric design chocolates, octahedrons to be precise, they looked absolutely beautiful, all delicately arrange in the box; with a gorgeous pop up card sleeve. All of the flavours in the box massively appealed to me; white salted butter caramel, white hazelnut gianduja, dark hazelnut caramel, milk coffee gianduja, two layered dark chocolate & milk pistachio gianduja. You can tell this had mass nut appeal here.
The chocolates themselves are very light; from a Belgian chocolatier, this is quite different from the usual substantial Belgian chocolates many are used to, but the flavours are exceptional. Each chocolate is perfectly balanced, just the right amount of sweetness to almost season the flavours taking centre stage. These aren't sickly sweet but nor are they too dark/bitter that you feel you aren't even having a sweet chocolate treat. Also due to the shape of the chocolates, that are filled as two seperate pyramids, you experience almost a double filling with just a thin layer of chocolate in between. I think it would be really neat to see something done where the flavours in each half were different but complemented each other to produce unique creations.
My favourite chocolate of the box was most definitely the white hazelnut gianduja (the light red octahedron), it had such a gorgeous melt in the mouth texture whilst the rich nutty flavour of gianduja paired gorgeously with the creamy, sweet white chocolate.
The salted butter caramel (white octahedron with red splashes) was also incredible; again in white chocolate there was the perfect balance between sweet and salty with a smooth, sumptuous caramel that just melted in the mouth.
Dark hazelnut caramel (dark octahedron with gold splashes) was like something I've never experienced before; I've never quite had a nut flavoured caramel before and I was surprised at how well the hazelnut flavour came through, I still prefer pralines/gianduja but this was still delicious.
Hazelnut coffee gianduja (dark red octahedron) completely with nibbly coffee bits in the smooth gianduja filling provided a nice texture contrast; however I did find them a bit intrusive at times as normally I like my gianduja to be smooth, rich and melt in the mouth. The flavours were good though with a good bitter hit from the coffee balanced by the sweet nuttiness of the hazelnut filling and milk chocolate covering.
The pistachio gianduja (gold octahedron) was also beautiful; the pistachio flavour is obviously more subtle compared to its hazelnut counterpart but comes through well & the texture is superb.
The double layered dark chocolate (dark octahedron with white splashes) was my least favourite chocolate of the box; the texture was smooth but it wasn't particularly rich/sumptuous and melt in the mouth. I also found that it was quite a robust bitter dark chocolate which didn't lend itself well to any fruity notes. It was quite robust, whilst I prefer my dark chocolates quite light.
Overall a gorgeous box of chocolates, I'm just pleased I've still got a few left to enjoy.
Taste - 8.7/10 - Well balanced allowing the main flavours to take centre stage.
Texture - 8.0/10 - Generally good, felt the coffee nibs slightly intrusive + the dark chocolate wasn't the best I've had.
Appearance - 9.5/10 - Absolutely beautiful; the chocolates are delicate, don't make you feel like you're being too indulgent, a unique shape, gorgeous design all completed with a classy finish box/sleeve.
Price - 7.9/10 - I think I paid around €38.00 for these; which worked out around just over £30.00; for 36 chocolates of this standard I actually don't think that's too bad and for a special treat/gift, definitely worth it.
Overall - 8.5/10 - A great box of chocolates, one of the best I've had in a while actually.
WHO FOR?A nice classy gift for someone who appreciates finer quality chocolates.
WHERE TO BUY?I'm not sure whether these were just a limited edition Christmas item, but hopefully they should still have some in store/Selfridges concession, unfortunately I don't think you can purchase them on the Marcolini website.