October 27th: Hotel Chocolat Bells & Baubles / Chilli Penguins

Following on from Hotel Chocolat's Kissing Mistletoe/ Little Angels reviews, I have this week been sampling their milk chocolate 'Bells & Baubles' and spiced dark chocolate 'Chilli Penguins'.

These came in exactly the same nice looking packaging as last weeks products, in two separate festive looking boxes with plenty of inner wrapping for protection and freshness. The 110.0g boxes contained ten chocolates. Ten chocolates were more than enough to last me two servings, though I warn you now I wouldn't leave these lieing around your house opened ... I am sure they will be eaten in a matter of seconds :)

In essence, the only thing that differed the 'Bells & Baubles' from last weeks 'Kissing Mistletoe' was the design. Personally I much preferred the size and shape of the 'Bells & Baubles' ... but I will go into that in a minute. As for the 'Chilli Penguins', well again as with many of the products from this impulse range, I liked the design but they just weren't all that practical.

Hotel Chocolat Bells & Baubles:

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

As I have explained above these differed to the 'Kissing Mistletoe' only in their design shape. Comprised of the same 40% house milk chocolate, I was met with the same sweet cocoa scents when I opened the box.

You will be unsurprised to learn that the chocolate retained the creamy, clean milky flavours, which again provided a wonderfully long, lasting taste. The 40% Hotel Chocolat milk chocolate is one of my favourite formulations. I think the firm but friendly cocoa base tones are complimented perfectly by the crisp dairy flavours ... all of which are delivered superbly through the wonderfully thick, smooth melt.

So why did these score slightly better than the 'Kissing Mistletoe' ... well it was purely down to the shape. These 'Bells & Baubles' chocolates were smaller, but thicker. Though they were still too large to eat in one mouthful, the greater thickness meant that the nature of the melt was much more enjoyable in the two thicker bites, and meant that each bite lasted that bit longer in the mouth. Of course this was a very minor difference, but it was noticeable nonetheless.

A highly enjoyable milk chocolate offering, and one that I would highly recommend for Christmas this year. To be honest though its not as if were expecting anything less were we!?

8.9 out of 10

Hotel Chocolat Chilli Penguins:

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

'Hotel Chocolat 74% Dark Chocolate with a little warming chilli' .... and not a peppercorn in sight ... thank god :) The first thing I noticed about these 'Penguins' was the fact the dark chocolate was comprised of 74% cocoa and not the standard 72% ... this was noticeable on the packaging, though I honestly wouldn't of been able to tell had it been a blind taste test.

Opening the box I was met with a barrage of rich cocoa scents. The chilli element wasn't all too evident at this point in time, however this was soon to change. Placing the chocolate on the tongue, the rich cocoa flavours quickly made their presence felt creating a fantastically strong overall taste. Despite the cocoa flavours being very impactful, they were never too intense and the chocolate had a nice smooth milkiness to it. The texture was absolutely superb, the nature of the melt was wonderfully thick and progressed at a nice rate. I didn't care too much for the shape of the 'Penuguins', like the 'Little Angels' from the previous week I found their size somewhat awkward, in that they had to be eaten in the three mouthfuls rather than the favourable two. So ... the chilli element - despite not being all that noticeable in a single piece, when eating a few of these at a time the warmth from the chilli was very evident. It created a nice new dynamic to the chocolate - it didn't alter the delicious flavours, but created an extra dimension to the texture delivering a tingle in the aftertaste.

Overall these were my favourite from this particular Christmas range. The dark chocolate was near perfectly flavoured, rich but not overpowering or bitter in any sense. The chilli element was perfectly managed, providing a fantastic warming effect to the aftertaste. Although I will admit the look of the 'Penguins' was cute, I did have some small reservations towards the shape and size of the chocolates. This was a product I really enjoyed and would again definitely recommend this Christmas.

9.0 out of 10
Yet again Hotel Chocolat delivered on a grand scale. I am constantly praising Hotel Chocolat, probably to the point that it is getting boring for all you guys .... the fact is though you can't argue with quality. If you are gifting chocolate this Christmas I would personally recommend any of the Kissing Mistletoe / Little Angels / Bells & Baubles / Chilli Penguins ... all are fantastic offerings that would be great gifts or chocolates to have round the house for the entire family. More Hotel Chocolat Christmas goodies next week.