Out of all of the products Hotel Chocolat have launched this festive season I must say it was these Winter Puddings that caught my eye the most, the menu looked absolutely delicious, filled with an assortment of tantalisingly tasty sounding chocolates. My dad, deciding to send me a nice treat, ordered me a box from the Hotel Chocolat website for me to enjoy.
Containing 13 different chocolates, 14 chocolates in the box in total, you get : Treacle Tart, Christmas Mess, Cinnamon Bun (2), Gooseberry Crumble, Pecan Pie, Jam Roly Poly, Caramelised Biscuit, Ginger Molasses Cookie, Fudge Sundae, Burnt Caramel Praline, Carrot Cake, Mousse au Chocolat and Caramel Cheesecake. Some of these I'd tried before, some I hadn't.
Caramel Cheesecake - "If you're going to do it, do it right: sour cream tang, French butter caramel"
I adore the cheesecake chocolates from Hotel Chocolat and this is probably my favourite of the bunch, it has a rich, luxuriously sweet caramel that balances oh so well with the slightly sour tang from the sour cream. I'd love to see this done in white chocolate too.
Christmas Mess - "Our Eton Mess, given a festive make-over. Subtle cinnamon with cranberry white"
I'd tried this chocolate before but it was quite some time ago. I love Hotel Chocolat's Eton Mess chocolate but unfortunately am not as big of a fan of this one, the innard was quite dry and crumbly and I felt the flavours of the cranberry/spice sort of muddled into one. Not the best of the pack but pleasant enough.
Fudge Sundae - "Go gooey. Rich sticky toffee, smooth hazelnut, mellow milk"
Although this chocolate is indulgently delicious I have a slight qualm that it's not really particularly fudgy at all. Maybe hot chocolate fudge but certainly not what I would normally associate with fudge. I'd love to have seen a layer of fudge added to this chocolate for a real point of difference. That's not to say it's not delicious, anything but, with its rich hazelnut praline goodness, but I'm not sure whether it's really living up to its name.
Carrot Cake - "A national treasure reinvted with real carrots and walnuts. It really works"
I'd tried this chocolate before when it was originally released and I have to say I completely agree with the fact that it really works. It's a gorgeously different chocolate, with subtle creamy spices and a hint of carrot. It's probably one of my favourites in the whole box.
Gooseberry Crumble - "Foraged flavours of gooseberry, refined by praline and white. The fruits of a blustery countryside stomp"
I have to say I love how this chocolate was described. It's not a chocolate I would normally buy as I'm not a huge fan of fruit in chocolate so I hadn't tried it before. It was a lot pleasanter than I was expecting, there was a slight hint of sour tartness but not overly so and the spiced praline adds a lovely, warming crumble like flavour to the eat, balanced with sweet, creamy white chocolate which acts like a custard to mellow the overall eat.
Cinnamon Bun - "Rush of cinnamon, notes of fresh-baked bread, syrupy finish. Better than the original"
I had never tried this chocolate before but I am oh so pleased that Hotel Chocolat decided to opt to put 2 of these in the box. It was heaven, in particular the texture, a light almost fluffy mousse like centre, flavoured delicately with cinnamon. I didn't pick up on many bready notes to be honest, but that's fine, it was still delicious.
Ginger Molasses Cookie - "Molasses caramel mingles with ginger and hazelnut praline. A bit of warming, crumbly comfort"
Not being the greatest lover of dark chocolate I had a feeling that I wasn't going to enjoy this chocolate as much of the others. Biting in my thoughts were confirmed, I found the dark chocolate exterior too bitter when paired with an already dark molasses caramel. I do think this would have worked better in milk chocolate to balance the eat as I felt the flavour of ginger also got lost against the more bitter backdrop.
Pecan Pie - "Crispy pecan praline and thick maple caramel in 40% milk pastry case"
A really comforting, indulgent chocolate. The maple caramel was delicious, luxuriously smooth and melt in the mouth, pairing well with the pecan praline. The texture contrast added from the crispy pieces in the praline also made for a nice change compared to the smooth fillings of the rest of the chocolates in the box, making for a nice, nibbly chocolate.
Mousse Au Chocolat - "The perfect balance of cocoa and cream"
The simplistic description says it all really, one of the more basic chocolates in the box. Having tried this before unfortunately I'm not a big fan, my main issue is that in a "mousse au chocolat" I would expect the filling to be mousse-like; however it's more like a truffle/ganache. Flavour-wise it's quite rich/bitter and could do with being a slightly bit creamier for my liking.
Burnt Caramel Praline - "Intensely treacly hazelnut praline in a mellow milk pastry case"
I'm so pleased this was done in milk chocolate rather than dark like the Ginger Molasses Cookie, I felt it allowed the burnt caramel praline to shine and balanced a lot better with the sweeter, creamier milk chocolate case. The caramel texture was gorgeous as per usual with Hotel Chocolat, rich and melt in the mouth.
Caramelised Biscuit - "Inspired by a Dutch festive favourite. Think nibbly caramel feulletine, almond and hazelnut praline and shortcake biscuit in a milk cup"
First time trying this chocolate and I loved it. I adore speculoos as a flavour and love that it's being incorporated into more things. Imagine taking a Lotus biscuit and dunking it into a jar of chocolate hazelnut spread and this is what you have here. Heaven.
Jam Roly Poly - "Also known as 'shirt-sleeve pudding' for the way it used to be steamed. Tangy sour cherry, creamy vanilla-white and custard rolled into 40% milk"
As stated previously fruit chocolates aren't massively my thing so I knew this wasn't going to be my favourite. Thankfully the cherry wasn't too sour/prominent and was mellowed out by the vanilla-white custard ganache. However I just felt it was lacking something and would have liked more of a custard note. I also think this flavour would have worked a lot better in white chocolate and would have been more reminiscent of the classic dessert.
Treacle Tart - "A childhood favourite. Sticky toffee and a squeeze of lemon served in milk, topped with cornflakes for that classic pastry texture"
I actually bought and reviewed this as an individual selector prior to having these, so you can read the full review here. However safe to say they're delicious.
A really tasty selection of chocolates from Hotel Chocolat..I can't say all of them feel like winter "puddings" but they certainly offer a delicious eat.
Taste - 8.2/10 - A really tasty selection with something from everyone.
Texture - 7.7/10 - Smooth caramels, rich pralines and melt in the mouth ganaches.
Appearance - 7.9/10 - A nice looking box of chocolates.
Price - 7.4/10 - At £12.50 for 14 it makes them less than a £1 a chocolate, fairly good value for me.
Overall - 7.8/10 - Another great offering from Hotel Chocolat.
Would make a great Christmas present for any chocolate lover.
WHERE TO BUY?
Hotel Chocolat stores nationwide or online here.