It’s been nearly five months since I last reviewed something from Hotel Chocolat, and obviously that’s just not good enough on my part. Now I find myself trying out this Hotel Chocolat 70% Purist dark chocolate bar with a dash of milk bar thinking it must be the same as the Rabot Estate bar of the same name I reviewed last September.
One of the main issues I have with chocolate bars these days is that if they’re of a good pedigree, as this one is, that there is often usually very little information for people to consume whilst they do the same with the chocolate itself. Hotel Chocolat, hover, give a very good account for the cacao’s provenance – they detail that the variety of bean is Trinitario, but with a higher genetic leaning more towards Criollo than Forastero. We’re also told that the conch time is fairly short at 48 and that there is significantly less sugar than could normally be expected. For most this information will just be a blur of words and pictures as they dive in to unwrap the inner wrapper. That’s cool, but over time it’s nice to build up a profile of a chocolate maker, bean, region and to actually see how much interest the chocolate maker actually takes in the cacao’s origins.
To be honest completely honest – I love this bar. The purists amongst us may not appreciate the use of vanilla or soya lecithin, but if it’s good enough for the vast majority of dark chocolate makers then why not for Hotel Chocolat? All this bar proves is that it’s one of the better within that category.
The light colour may lull a fair number into the thought that this bar would be reminiscent of a milk chocolate bar – although it most definitely is milky; there is a great acidic backdrop that much of the ‘fine chocolate’ makers allow in their bars. But along with that slight tobacco notes their lies a fruit and nut-type flavour that is incredibly moreish. As I break off a bit, let it melt in my mouth, type a few more words I feel my left hand reaching towards the remains of the bar. Like some form of involuntary reaction as the wonderful flavour diminishes I just have to have another fix. A more intense bar of dark chocolate, for me at least, wouldn’t offer that addictive quality.
This bar is attempts to be a half-way house between the standard bars of good chocolate that people may pay £2.50 to £3.00 a bar and those bars offered by very highly regarded chocolate makers that would cost £7.50 to £12.50 a bar, and although they’ve hit the nail on the head with the price, I actually feel they’ve made a bar that is better than that mid, Volvo-like, range of dark chocolate – perhaps a BMW 4 Series. It’s too good to have as a lunch-time treat, but not enough kudos to have at a gourmet chocolate tasting event – wrongly so. I suggest if you are having a dinner party with people that know their chocolate, break some up and let them try some and ask them to guess who made it. Even though the milky flavour is distinctive, I’m sure many people would be surprised as to who actually made it.