Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to offer the most finest of chocolate, in the classic sense, to get good ratings here. Marks are awarded based on many factors, most notably: “giving people what they desire”. If you wanted a Christmas stocking full of chocolate that will appeal to young children then you can’t go far wrong with this one from Hotel Chocolat. Of course the stocking is solid and fit for purpose – it’s even re-usable for future Christmases. And although it doesn’t contain anything that you couldn’t buy individually, as a complete package it’s pretty much exactly what you’d want on Christmas morning.
Attention to detail is something I associate with Hotel Chocolat. Of course they’re not a small boutique that pays a premium for the cocoa it uses in all of its products and then turns them into attention-getting crazy products. They’re a chocolatier that basis its success on producing chocolate that the vast majority of the country love – I’d certainly not call them “mainstream” however. They’re mass-appeal innovators – which I believe more British companies should try and mimic. They add twists to national favourites and continue to surprise – not least by what I have before me.
I’ve previouslytried three of the four chocolate gifts inside previously, and I’m sure many of you have too. But despite that I always enjoy their ‘standard’ milk chocolate. It always has a curious flavour that’s certainly unique to them. It may not exhibit a mouth-feel of Porcelana or intense flavours of an Ocumare, but those bars would be completely wasted on the vast majority of the British population on rushed and excitable Christmas morning. These treats are exactly what I’d want – something to enjoy and share around as the Downtown Abbey Christmas special gets going and as the fire quietens down to a soft glow and the sherry gets passed around. They’re about a family moment enjoyed together, without pretence and circumspection. They’re for chocolate lovers not, dare I say it, chocolate snobs. They’re for real people who enjoy sophisticated, but not excessive pleasures. They’re for you and me.
I’m saving these. I know what they taste like. But one person who’d absolutely appreciate them is my wife. She’ll love getting a Christmas stocking. I wish I had one too.