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I have good and bad news...after this review I only have one Hotel Chocolat slab left in my current selection to reiview ... :( as JLC would say BAD TIMES!! The good news? Hotel Chocolat themselves have recently been in contact and will soon be providing me with samples of some of their new products..... :D GOOD TIMES!! Digging into my 'Peepster Box' for the third time, today I tryed out the Crostini Fruit and Nut slab.
This particular variant came in a 100g slab and described itself as 'Tangy cranberries and succulent sultanas meet silky smooth milk chocolate, studded with pieces of roasted almond and crunchy crostini'....no mention of the hazelnuts hmmmm weired!! As you can see above the slab was highly authentic looking...bits of whole nut and different fruit dispersed throughout...I will admit it looked great but the dispertion of the ingredients was beyond clumsy! The middle part of the bar was nearly all fruit and nuts whilst the outer edges of the slab nearly all chocolate! It would of been nice for a bit more consistancy though I guess some artistic appeal may be lost. The bar smelt gorgeously creamy with just a hint of nut - it looked great, it smelt great...all that was left was to dig right in.
The milk chocolate used in this bar was of the same formula as the current 'Chocolate Mission number 3 top rated' 40% house bar....40% cocoa and 20% milk solids. It had the same gorgeous taste - a nice rich but deliciously creamy rooted cocoa flavour that delicately melted in the mouth...milk chocolate dosen't get much better. Though still masivelly enjoyable the flavour of the milk chocolate did feel slightly disrupted at times due to the volume at which the other elements were packed into the slab in some areas. The fruit elements in the slab were a joy...richly fruity and with a slight sharpness to their taste which played nicely agaisnt the sweetness of the chocolate. The sultanas were unlike any I had seen before...abolutely huge with a nice soft texture, the cranberries were far smaller in size but still added an equally as strong tartness to the overall flavour. The other components in the slab were the crostini and nut elements. Due to the strength of all the other flavours, the crostini biscuit and almonds were hardly detectable and struggled to make an impact on the overall taste. Unlike the almonds the hazelnuts implemented were whole in their implementation, and they subsequently provided a buttery crunchyness...they had a very distinctive and fresh taste.
Overall this is yet another great standard bar from Hotel Chocolat and one that I again whole heartidly recommend. The milk chocolate is gorgeously creamy and full of flavour and the fruit and hazelnut elements further provide some divine flavour and textures contrasts. My one small gripe with this bar would be the dispersion of the ingredients....in places the slab was overly busy in its flavours and the weaker ingredients simply faded into the background agaisnt the stronger tasting ones. Hotel Chocolat should maybe strip down the bar a little and rid of the crostini and almond components...this would allow the milk chocolate to have more presence but still retain the fruit and nut diversification of flavours through the cranberries, sultanas and hazelnuts. Despite this small modification you can't doubt the excellent standard yet again...another tremendously satisfying offering from Hotel Chocolat.
8.8 out of 10