Walking into Hotel Chocolat recently there were so many new products in their summer range I wanted to try; in particular their Summer Sleekster selection looked delicious - however I've been a member of their Tasting Club for quite a while now and it was their specific Summer Desserts selection that tempted me rather than the sleekster you could buy in store.
It has pretty much all of the chocolate in you'd be able to buy instore anyway; albeit a couple of unique ones but I just preferred the look of the overall selection. The box is split into certain 'sub units' of chocolates; there's 'The Sorbets' - Passion Fruit, Blackcurrant, Lemon & Lime, 'The Classics' - Chocolate Fudge Sundae, Banana Split, Caramel Chocolate Pot & Eton Mess, 'The Cheesecakes' - Caramel Cheesecake, Rhubarb & Ginger Cheesecake, Strawberry Cheesecake & Raspberry Cheesecake, 'The Patisserie' - Mousse au Chocolat, Carrot Cake, The Brownie & The Blondie and finally 'The Aperitifs' - Limoncello, Mojito, Cocoa Gin Martini & Peach Bellini.
Passion Fruit - Passion fruit ganache enrobed in white chocolate - I like the small dainty size of these sorbet chocolates, it doesn't make you feel as guilty as eating the two of them! A delicious, tropical, zingy passion fruit flavour. Pairs perfectly with the white chocolate. Reminded me of Artisan du Chocolat's Creme de la Creme Eggs I reviewed at Easter.
Blackcurrant - Blackcurrant ganache enrobed in milk chocolate - I'm not a massive fan of blackcurrant in chocolates as I normally find them too sharp and acidic; however I was pleasantly surprised, this was really well balanced between sharp/sweet. Personally I would have preferred this coated in white chocolate, but I suppose there needed to be some milk chocolate option in the sorbets.
Lemon - Lemon ganache enrobed in white chocolate - A lovely light, sharp citrus flavour that pairs perfectly with the white chocolate. A nice refreshing chocolate.
Lime - Lime ganache enrobed in dark chocolate - Definitely my least favourite of the bunch, the dark chocolate coating just made it a bit too much of sharp, bitter eat for my palette. Still pleasant but I wasn't tempted to eat the second one.
Chocolate Fudge Sundae - Rich sticky toffee sauce, 50% hazelnut praline, 40% milk shell - I've actually tried and reviewed this chocolate before here and absolutely loved it. It's everything I could possibly want in a chocolate, smooth, nutty praline, thick, sticky caramel and delicious milk chocolate. However...it doesn't really taste particularly of chocolate fudge!
Banana Split - Banana-white chocolate with lusciously thick caramel - This was one of the chocolates that I was really looking forward to trying within the box and Hotel Chocolat definitely nailed it here! The banana flavour is delicious - not artificial whatsoever and the caramel is gorgeously smooth. However I think this would have been better named 'Banoffee Pie' as it's much more like this than a Banana Split, which I think would be interesting to be seen done with the classic flavours of Banana Split - strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, banana and nuts! Maybe an idea for next year!
Caramel Chocolate Pot - Ooozing salted caramel, layered with 50% milk hazelnut praline - Quite similar to the Chocolate Fudge Sundae in terms of texture and eat, albeit with a slight tang of salt, hazelnut praline, is as always, rich, nutty and the most beautiful melt in the mouth texture.
Eton Mess - Creamy strawberry mousse, topped with meringue and raspberry - I've had this chocolate so many times from Hotel Chocolat and it never disappoints me, it's so good! I much prefer fruit flavours done as mousses as opposed to ganaches/creams. The strawberry flavour is light and fruity and paired with the creamy white chocolate and crunchy meringue it is utter heaven.
Caramel Cheesecake - Classic sour cream cheesecake flavours mingling with a layer of soft caramel - I love Hotel Chocolat's cheesecake chocolates; I think there are quite a few 'cheesecake' style chocolates out there that pose their simply under the name 'cheesecake' but offer little in terms of flavour of that cheesecake tang. This is certainly not the case here, the sweet caramel pairs really well against a slightly sour cheesecake layer. Utter heaven! Definitely my favourite cheesecake chocolate in the box.
Rhubarb & Ginger Cheesecake - Sour cream cheesecake contrasted with rhubarb & ginger truffle - This was probably my least favourite cheesecake chocolate; purely because I think rhubarb is quite sharp/sour anyway that paired with the sour cream cheesecake layer doesn't offer as good a contrast. It's still tasty, don't get me wrong, but I don't think I would go out and buy a selector of this, also I didn't feel the ginger flavour was particularly prominent.
Strawberry Cheesecake - Sour cream cheesecake with a layer of tangy strawberry - Extremely similar to the Eton Mess chocolate in terms of flavours offered; however with a bit more of a sour/tang back note. I couldn't decide which one I preferred more, as both are equally delicious!
Raspberry Cheesecake - Sour cream cheesecake with a layer of tangy raspberry - The only cheesecake chocolate that isn't currently offered as a selector pack; not as good as the strawberry variety but still tasty, I don't love fruit flavours with milk chocolate and with this one being coated in milk chocolate rather than white I didn't feel it balanced as well. However still a lovely zingy, tangy, fruity flavour comes through.
Mousse au Chocolat - Soft and intense Ghana 85% dark cocoa, creamy 50% milk shell, panned in pure cocoa powder - Like the most rich, indulgent chocolate mousse you've ever had. The higher cocoa % gives quite a luxurious, dark eat, one to pop into your mouth and let melt to fully appreciate the more complex flavours offered and the gorgeously smooth, truffle like centre.
Carrot Cake - Natural carrot juice, spiced walnut praline, topped with vanilla-white - Since I saw these in store I was really excited to try them; I actually picked up a selector pack of these as I didn't realise they were contained in this box. The woman at the till who served me said she hated carrot cake but actually really enjoyed these chocolates; which kind of explains to you what they're like. Yes they're delicious chocolates that use some of the components of carrot cake, but it doesn't really taste like carrot cake. More of a sweet, lightly, spiced praline. I'd love to see one that incorporated the tangy flavour of the cream cheese frosting (in my opinion the best part of carrot cake).
The Brownie - A rich blend of dark and caramel chocolate, pecan praline and pecan pieces - I think this was one of the first chocolates I ever tried from Hotel Chocolat; they've recently restyled it however with a new, sleeker look. It still eats deliciously; the milk chocolate shell is thinner than I remember, allowing the centre to be the star of the show, which is exactly the way it should be, lovely and smooth with nice nibbly pecan pieces throughout that give a lovely crunch.
The Blondie - Caramel-milk, wafer praline, white chocolate custard with crispy caramel - Quite possibly one of the best chocolates I've had from Hotel Chocolat in a long time, utterly delicious, gorgeous contrasting textures and although it has a lot going on in it the flavours just work, light and nutty, sweet and vanilla-like with undertones of caramel. I think I'm going to have to go out and buy one of these selector packs now!!
Limoncello - Limoncello centre enrobed in dark chocolate - It's pretty much a given that I'm not a huge fan of alcoholic chocolates and Hotel Chocolat's alcoholic chocolates certainly pack a punch. I bit into this one and thought at first that the alcohol wasn't that strong just getting a lovely light refreshing lemon note and then the alcohol hit me. Wow it's strong!
Mojito - Made the classic way: strong on the rum, crushed mint, lime. - I thought the Limoncello one was strong! It was certainly nothing compared to this one, they're certainly right when they say strong on the rum! I ended up just nibbling the mint flavoured white chocolate, which was delicious, off of the chocolate and leaving the strong alcoholic centre!
Cocoa Gin Martini - A chocolate gin ganache enrobed in milk chocolate - Again, far too strong for my palate, a huge hit of alcoholic, burning gin, I just ended up nibbling the milk chocolate off again.
Peach Bellini - A peach & prosecco ganache coated in milk chocolate - I thought this would be lighter on the alcohol and would have a bit more of a lighter peach flavour; however it was still far too strong for my palette. Alcohol lovers will absolutely love these chocolates as they certainly are strong on the alcohol - however they just weren't to my taste.
Overall I'd go as far as to say that this is one of the best box of chocolates I've had in a long time; normally I find summer chocolates too fruit based for my liking so I liked how there were a selection of flavours to suit all tastes in this box. You can buy most of these chocolates in store at Hotel Chocolat now; but I would strongly recommend the Tasting Club, it certainly never disappoints me!
Taste - 9.2/10 - Spectacular; only disappointment was the alcoholic chocolates - purely my taste preferences though. Highlight has got to be The Blondie - I'll certainly be making a trip for some more of these!
Texture - 9.3/10 - Smooth pralines, rich, thick and sticky caramels, light ganaches.
Appearance - 9.3/10 - Stunning. The box is gorgeous as well.
Price - 8.0/10 - I paid £25.00 plus £3.95 P+P so £28.95 for 48 chocolates makes them £0.60 each; great value!
Overall - 9.0/10 - A beautiful selection of chocolates with something for everyone.
A chocolate to suit everyone's tastes - a great box to have in to share.
WHERE TO BUY?
You have to be a member of the Tasting Club to order these, they have an introductory offer on at the moment for your first box for £9.95. If you want to sample just some of the chocolates in the box though you can pick up most of them in Hotel Chocolat's stores or online here.