Monday, 1 September 2008

September 1st: Hotel Chocolat Ginger & Lemon

Kcal ??? Fat ??? Fat(sats) ??? Carbs ???

The 'Dark Peepster Box' has served up a few treats so far - most notably of course the 85% house bar, Be sure to keep on the look out for a competition coming very soon to Chocolate Mission! You could be in with a chance of winning a Hotel Chocolat 85% to sample for yourself...as I said coming soon!!

This week I sampled another offering from the 'Dark Peepster Box' - the 'Ginger & Lemon'. The slab billed itself as an 'intriguing combination of ginger pieces set in lemon accented dark chocolate'. I must confess to being a huge fan of ginger and dark chocolate combinations; previous favourites including Duncan's 'Ginger', Thorntons 'Ginger Bar' and Montezuma's 'Culture Shock'. Despite being slightly cautious of the added Lemon element, I was pretty optimistic about this Hotel Chocolat offering.

The slabs came in two 50g servings - the 'flavoured' mini slabs seem to come in smaller servings (100g) compared to the 125g you get with the plainer variants ... im not quite sure why!? It all seems a bit odd to me as I guess it means you get significantly less chocolate from the slab, as a lot of the room is already being taken up by the extra flavour elements ... down-weighting it further doesn't really make much sense does it!? Anyway the slab looked nice in appearance, the 72% dark chocolate had a nice yellow rippled effect running through it - this was obviously supposed to signify the lemon flavour. The crystallised ginger pieces were very generously portioned accounting for 20% of the make up of the slab, they looked impressive, though it would have been nicer if they were dispersed throughout the slab a little more rather than the majority merely placed in the middle.

From the first mouthful it was apparent something about this bar wasn't quite right. The crystallised ginger pieces simply just didn't release their flavour unless chewed. Unfortunately chewing the ginger, meant chewing the chocolate, which you can probably guess wasn't to my liking as it just meant the full breadth flavour could not be savoured. Enjoying the chocolate in its usual manner - simply letting it melt on the tongue, let it release its flavours naturally. It had an initial intense cocoa flavour that mellowed as it melted, becoming ever increasingly smoother. When letting the chocolate just melt on the tongue the crystallised ginger pieces just simply remained intact - releasing no flavours whatsoever. When chewed they did release an explosion of sugary, spicy, fresh tasting ginger...something that wasn't the most pleasant in isolation ... it was just both too sugary and too intense. The lemon element wasn't very detectable until the aftertaste of the bar, at which point it really kicked in providing a nice longing freshness - unlike the ginger It was perfectly implemented. After eating these slabs I was left with a resounding feeling of disappointment - not a conclusion I was expecting.

Overall this bar is an instance where the combination of ingredients is simply dysfunctional. The dark chocolate and ginger pieces could only be enjoyed in tandem when mouthfuls were chewed - this just simply isn't how the chocolate should be enjoyed. When the chocolate was enjoyed in its correct fashion, letting it melt on the tongue, the ginger pieces just remained intact and were relatively flavourless until chewed, upon which their flavour was just too intense. The lemon element was implemented well, but the mismatch of the ginger and dark chocolate meant this bar simply lacked the quality of taste and textures it should of had. If this bar is to be improved Hotel Chocolat will have to find a way of either implementing the ginger flavour differently... maybe ginger oil!? Or making the crystallised ginger flavour enhancing without it having to be chewed. With so many other great variants in their portfolio I would recommend you go for one of them before trying this one. This slab was a disappointment, but I guess no ones perfect ... not even Hotel Chocolat!

7.2 out of 10
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