Don’t you hate inflation? This year’s Love Sleekster Valentine’s chocolates are a staggering 5p more expensive than last year! How dare they? On a serious note – I much prefer the design of this 2011 Love Sleekster as it seems more sensuous in the dark red colour with the chocolates photographed amongst some similarly dark red roses. If this doesn’t make you think this is the perfect box of chocolates for Valentine’s then I don’t know what will. Hotel Chocolat are the masters at branding and making their chocolates look sexy and appetising, and they totally hit the mark here for the vast majority of chocolate lovers.
In the box you’ll find 28 chocolates, two each of the various varieties and four of the absolutely delicious Caramel Sweethearts. You’ll also get the usual Champagne truffles, a strawberry love, a caramel, a ‘Peanut Passion’, a pistachio praline and some hot lips as well as six which I’m going to review in detail.
As I absolutely adore Bakewell Tarts I thought I’d start with this which has cherry brandy and Amaretto – reading that is like music to my ears. The brandy is very strong and completely dominates the experience but it does become subdued and let the milk chocolate shell play its part whilst the Amaretto kicks in part way though and combines with that velvety milk chocolate to produce an utterly divine experience – well one that you can get for this price.
Being a huge fan of banana flavoured chocolate too, I just had to go for the chocolate labelled as ‘Banana Split’ and really did have the flavour of heated up bananas that I really didn’t think it would manage to achieve! But what I also loved was the rounded nature of the caramel sauce which supplied a beautifully balanced taste that I could also eat copious amounts of. I’d like a box of these too please!
The Isabelle was next and this offered a chocolate which was more substantial and took considerably longer too finish off. Inside the chocolate square cup is filled with smooth praline which is topped with honey and almond Florentine. This was more of a meal than the others and also didn’t taste as refined, but it did offer an alternative and something different to the truffles that can become too prevalent in selection boxes.
I then went for the Blueberry Truffle as it’s a flavour that I don’t often get to try and I thought it’d be nice to have another citrus chocolate. Here’s there’s a wonderful acidity but still managed to be restrained. It may be a little bit less sharp than I normally go for, but the creaminess is a texture worth experiencing. For me it does go down the white chocolate line which doesn’t normally hit the spot with me, but for those white chocolate lovers I’m sure it’ll be a delight.
I next went for the Love-Me-Do purely because it mentioned Armagnac and I’m not one for turning down alcoholic chocolates. This was bitterer than I had anticipated, but that’s probably because along with the copious amounts of Armagnac present, the dark chocolate shell is pretty thin so there’s less to dampen down the effect of the alcohol. I think I need to wait a couple of hours before I drive after having this one.
And now for the last. I had to try out the centre-piece. Whether oysters are actually an aphrodisiac or not is not something I’m sure you’d like to read my personal experiences of. However, I’m willing to find out. These chocolate versions are a touch too ‘praline’ for my liking. But what I do like about them is that they’re a substantial chocolate against the backdrop of mainly small ones.
I’d say this selection box is a great one for Valentine’s given the price and that there are some nicely original chocolates that you won’t find just buying some from the supermarket. Dairy Milk just doesn’t cut it these days. If you’ve not bought anything from Hotel Chocolat in the past, now is the perfect time to give them a try.