One of the most important aspects of a selection box plays its part even before you’ve purchased them. For me, knowing full well what you’re buying is crucial, when choosing one selection box from one chocolatier or another being tantalised by product photography and engaging text can be the difference between making a sale and not – and this is what Cocoa Black excel at.
The Cocoa Black Signature selection features a wonderful tool where you can see close-ups of the individual bon bons and a good description of their flavours . Generally you’ll find slick websites fail to deliver, either in customer support or quality of the product but certainly that’s not a charge I can point at Cocoa Black – the whole experience is just plain fantastic.
Often I’ll get chocolate selection boxes which lack imagination, you’ll have the same old pralines rolled out with dark ganaches and the odd fruity caramel, but here there are some imaginative bon bons including some with Baileys, five spice, banana, Muscat, pear and chestnut and this review was somewhat delayed because I just couldn’t decide which to review.
I finally plumped with the Baileys and I couldn’t really have wished for a more enjoyable opener. The Baileys flavour was present but in no way could be considered to overpower either the sweet caramel nor the wonderful dark chocolate mould. The typical Baileys flavour was first to come to the fore but lasted the entire distance of the melt, wrapping itself around the caramel and the dark chocolate as each played its turn. I must say it was truly wonderful.
Being a big fan of spice I just had to try the truffle infused with Chinese five spice. It’s the decadence you’ll notice first. The filling is immensely soft and creamy and the ‘coating’ is thin and just as soft. To me this is exactly how truffles should be. Too often they’re coated with 5mm of hard shell to try and protect the truffle centre – it may be good for convenience but detracts from the true, creamy nature of the perfect truffle and this comes as close as I can remember in recent months. Another wonderful feature of this truffle is mildness of the flavour, it seems to be balanced feel almost cleansing – and does a great job of it.
The blood orange came up next as it reminded me of the time when my parents bought some home and encouraged me to try them. The shell was very colourful and despite being dark, managed to balance the orange acidity held within. But it’s nowhere near as intense as it could be – just like the others, the core flavour serves to support the intrinsic nature of the caramel and not dominate it. It’s this caramel that I found intriguing, instead of being intensely sweet, it had much more of a personality – and certainly seems to be missing from most caramels I try.
Again from my roots I’ve always loved bananas and if they could be cooked banana too its all the better. And this one carries that baked banana flavour though in spades. It combines it with the more tart passion fruit and then plays it off against the vanilla-esque white chocolate. Just out of choice I might have preferred it housed in milk chocolate, but I’m sure the collection as a whole is better for the presence of a white chocolate bon bon or two. One of the aspects I liked most was as I closed my teeth into it, the caramel squished out into my mouth – and gave an instant shot of the fruity flavours. This was most delicious!
The Muscat was next. This was in the form of a ganache with chopped hazelnuts and soaked raisin. And sweet Jesus was this delicious. It’s incredibly intoxicating but offered an instant contrast as soon as your taste buds met the sweet flavour of the raisin.
If life was like a box of chocolates like these then you’d never have cause to complain.
Perhaps I just chose the most interesting and unique chocolates? And perhaps the pralines and more traditional ones weren’t that great? Just to put my mind at rest I can confirm the pralines were pretty damn fine too.
You don’t see these guys tweeting, they’re pretty quiet on Facebook too, they don’t often send their products out to the chattering masses of food bloggers, all they do is make damn good chocolates. Ok, so they’re better than that, they’re fantastic chocolates that a remarkable price. These 24 ganaches, truffles and pralines just cost £19.99 – which I’d say is under-selling their quality!