I was recently sent a surprise box of chocolates through the post from a company called 'Cocoa Boutique' in a similar way that Hotel Chocolat have launched their mail order Tasting Club, this is a similar concept in the sense that you sign up to receive chocolates through the post either on a monthly, bi-monthly or tri-monthly basis.
To be perfectly honest I had never heard of Cocoa Boutique before but after browsing their website I had high hopes for the selection I had received; set up by a man named Barry Colenso he had a long list of accolades to his name including making chocolates for the Queen and helping to create the chocolate wedding cake that was at Prince William & Kate's wedding.Along with Barry there are also many more talented chocolatiers producing for Cocoa Boutique with Barry tasting every chocolate that is produced and vetoing them personally as to whether they should be included in the selection.
The selection that I received was a special Easter limited edition box and opening the box up they looked lovely with a colourful menu detailing the chocolates and which chocolatier had produced them.
Raspberry Champagne Bombe - 'A white chocolate shell filled with a raspberry truffle made with real raspberries and laced with boozy champagne for added indulgence'This looked similar in appearance to Hotel Chocolat's Eton Mess chocolate and I was hoping for a similar hit of flavour albeit with a champagne addition; unfortunately this wasn't particularly pleasant. There was no 'zing' from the raspberries and the champagne was barely recognisable, it just tasted bland.
Dark Chocolate Marzipan - 'A spiced marzipan wrapped in 72% dark chocolate' - I'm not a huge fan of marzipan to be completely honest so I knew I wasn't going to absolutely love this one; it's pretty much your standard marzipan. I've definitely tasted better as the filling was slightly gritty as opposed to silky smooth marzipan I've had in the past which I've actually enjoyed.
Salted Caramel - 'A liquid caramel with a smacking of sea salt encased in dark chocolate and dusted in cocoa' -
Unfortunately I have to say that this is one of the worst salted
caramels I've ever tried; it didn't even taste like caramel, it tasted
really artificial and I got no hint of salt whatsoever.
Hot Cross Bun - 'A dark chocolate take on a spiced hot cross bun' - This chocolate was essentially two half chocolates joined together to make a huge sphere like Hot Cross Bun chocolate; biting into it I felt the shell was too thick, this could have been done much better if it were daintier giving more limelight to the filling as opposed to the thick shell and join. The flavour was okay, slightly spiced/sweet, nothing amazing however.
Dark Chocolate Cointreau Egg Cup - 'A boozy treat with a tribute to a very famous creamy egg' - This provides a light orange/citrus flavour with a good hit of alcohol from the Cointreau; however the texture of the filling isn't particularly pleasant at all and is quite sickly sweet. I feel this would have been much better done as a truffle as opposed to a fondant like filling.
Egg On Your Face - 'A smooth milk chocolate bar with a cracked egg and a smiley face' - Reminiscent of Hotel Chocolat's little bars you get in their Tasting Club this milk chocolate bar is pretty much a bog standard bar of milk chocolate; it doesn't offer any particularly complex flavours, wasn't massively creamy and didn't particularly taste like very good quality milk chocolate at all.
Sahnetruffel Egg - 'A milk chocolate egg filled with a cream truffle'
- Apparently this chocolate was meant to 'leave me wanting more with
every single bite'. It made me want to put it down after one
nibble...the truffle tastes very poor quality and I'd be pushed to even
call it a 'truffle' as the texture is nothing like that; more like a
sticky fondant filling, not melt in the mouth, not luxurious and just
tastes blandly sweet.
Rote Grutze Truffle Egg - 'A white chocolate egg with a layered core of creamy white truffle and a fruity berry jelly of strawberries & raspberries' - I was really excited to try this chocolate; it sounded really interesting and unusual. Unfortunately it wasn't well balanced at all and was extremely sweet and cloying, it had that awful throat burning sensation and the flavour of the berries were pretty much just lost against a background of sweetness.
Zabaglione Truffle - 'Whipped egg yolks with Marsala wine truffle in a milk chocolate coating' - This was probably the best chocolate in the box and that says a lot as even this wasn't particularly good, the texture of the truffle in this one is slightly better but it's still certainly not melt in the mouth. The flavour is average, there's not a massive hit of Marsala wine.
Vanilla-Mohn Truffle Egg - 'Poppy seeds in a smooth vanilla truffle wrapped in dark chocolate' - Again to call this a truffle is slightly misleading; it's more like a fondant creme again, no real flavour of vanilla, not really sure what the poppy seeds add to the chocolate. Dark chocolate coating tastes poor quality.
Tiramisu Truffle Egg - 'Milk Chocolate shell encasing a truffle laced with a hint of amaretto' - Once more, texture is very poor, flavour is average, a light hint of amaretto, just overall sickly sweet.
Lemon Smoothie Cotton Tail - 'A white truffle with a hint of natural lemon oil wrapped in white chocolate' - Ridiculously sweet, tasted like I was eating a really bad lemon sherbet. Wasn't well balanced at all and the texture was really poor, it wasn't fondant like the other truffle but more of a stodgy dry filling.
Speckled Eggs/Titchy Speckled Eggs - Pretty much like Mini Eggs I was thinking these couldn't really be that bad...unfortunately the quality of the chocolate used in them means they taste pretty much like Pick n Mix mini eggs; which I don't have a problem with but when they're included in what's meant to be an 'upmarket' chocolate tasting selection then I think it's extremely disappointing.
Strawberry Buttons - 'White chocolate buttons flavoured with a hint of strawberry' - Sweet, light hint of strawberry, a bit of a waxy melt. Average.
As you can see from my review I wasn't particularly impressed with this selection of chocolates at all; what made it even worse I think is when I was on the website looking at where the price point of these was I was shocked to see that your first selection you buy to join up was priced at £34.95!!! With Hotel Chocolat's introduction selections often being priced at £9.95 and being far superior quality I cannot see how these can justify such a higher price point. Although the monthly selection is lower in price at £19.95 as opposed to £22.95 that Hotel Chocolat's are I still think that is extremely expensive for the quality of chocolates contained in here.
I was pretty surprised to be honest; as what with what sounded like such talented chocolatiers could produce a box of chocolates that in all honesty didn't taste very good at all - all I can think of is that they're not particularly using very good quality chocolate.
Taste - 3/10 - Very poor.
Texture - 2.4/10 - The 'truffles' were some of the worst I've had in terms of their texture.
Appearance - 5.4/10 - Looked relatively pretty but think some refining may be needed on some of the chocolates.
Price - 2/10 - At £19.95 these are definitely not worth the money.
Overall - 3.2/10 - Unfortunately I think a lot of improvement is needed before these can compete with the likes of Hotel Chocolat.
Unfortunately the quality of these wasn't great so I can't massively recommend them.
WHERE TO BUY?
If you want to check out Cocoa Boutique then you can visit their website here.