The nice guys at Hotel Chocolat sent me these a month or so ago but as I’ve been caught up in Easter, just like most of the rest of the country, so I’ve only got to reviewing them now. If you wanted a quick two-word summary, try “classy fiesta”. If you wanted a bit more detail then continue as I explore about a half of the selection box – there were just too many for me to consume in one go.
The Hotel Chocolat Signature collection is a chocolate selection box full of 24 of their finest truffles, ganaches and bon bons which would make a perfect romantic chocolate gift for a wife or girlfriend as they’ve nice, wonderfully presented and good selection of flavours so they should be able to find a good number of ones that really hit the mark, and some that will surprise them.
The first I tried was the pure vanilla which I thought was creamily fantastic and boozy with it. The white chocolate shell may not have been all that flavoursome, but the truffle centre was a delight – although not as punchy as I expected. It may not have been overly complicated in terms of flavour, but I’m still sure it will be popular.
When I realised there was a Caramel Cheesecake bon bon I just had to go for it next. The sour cream was a bit of a shock – it shouldn’t have been as I don’t know what I could have expected really. What I loved about it was that it was very crumbly with sticky caramel. I’m not entirely sure if the flavours went well together as they were a bit strange. I’d have to say that this one is an acquired taste. The textures were great, but I just think the flavours didn’t really complement each other.
The Kir Royal took my eye next – what being a sort of pinky, purple colour, it really stood out from the rest. When I cut into it to expose the inside it crumbled into oblivion. Thankfully the truffle centre remained intact. When you actually bite into it the white chocolate outer layer doesn’t get a look-in against the sweet nudge of the Ribena-like flavour of the Kir centre. It’s got Marc de Champagne in it, but I didn’t manage to recognise any hint of it. Overall this was a nice, original truffle, but not as flavoursome as I’d like.
I then noticed the Banana Split bon bon. I just had to give it a go next. The aroma isn’t as strongly banana as I’d expect – more mild than anything. The shell had a great, crisp bite to it whilst the centre was smooth caramel. I did think that the banana had a slightly strange taste and then realised that it was made with red bananas. Having grown up in South Africa I’ve tried a few strange fruits and know that red banana has a more obtuse flavour. I actually adored this one as the banana and caramel completed each other exceptionally well.
I then followed it up with the Rum Hot Shot seeing as I’m partial to the odd glass of rum. And the rum aroma will probably hit you as soon as your teeth sink into it – it is that strong. And the aroma appetiser is followed with a strong and exceptionally interesting rum truffle centre. This one gets a huge thumbs up from me. It is fairly powerful, but it dissipates fairly quickly into a low level rum flavour at the back of your mouth. Very nice indeed.
I then tried the Amaretto Amarena which incorporates a whole Italian cherry into the mix which has been soaked in amaretto and surrounded by a white chocolate ganache and then enrobed in dark chocolate. Doesn’t that just sound fantastic? What I found was the dark chocolate was fairly tough to bite into, but when you’ve accomplished that feat you’re met with a most divine flavour of the cherry with the white chocolate ganache – which was right up my street! It’s a shame you can’t buy boxes of these! I’d making (even more) regular orders if they did. It may be a touch on the sweet side, but that’s what this bon bon is all about. Simply wicked!
I was surprised that I hadn’t noticed the Stealthy Chilli option before. As I’m a huge fan of chilli chocolate I made this one my next one to be subject to the reviewer’s taste buds. I wasn’t so impressed with this one as it was combined with praline which masked a lot of the initial chilli flavour. It was only after all the chocolate and praline had dissipated and left the chilli itself that any vigorous flavour could be noticed. Even with that chilli was kind of chewy. All, in all this wasn’t my favourite of the selection.
There may be 24 chocolates in this selection box, but I need a break or have a sugar-induced coma, so I finish for now with the Marc de Champagne truffle. I slightly demolished this one as I’m used to the Charbonnel de Walker truffles which has very thick and stiff shells – this one didn’t. As a result the truffle was almost crushed to nothing. Even after a good battering it did taste very nice. It sort of had a sweet buttery taste which was cut through with a rose, cherry alcoholic quality. The inside, was very cold, which I couldn’t work out. It was, however, a good, clean way to finish off my chocolate tasting experience for the day but I’m inclined just to go and buy a couple of these boxes of Hotel Chocolat Champagne Truffles just because they’re comfort food.