November 27th: Hotel Chocolat Fruit & Nut Christmas Wreath

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

Hotel Chocolat have really spoilt me this Christmas sending me a whole load of goodies - this one though really was a bit special. This Fruit & Nut Christmas Wreath was humongous and incorporated '74% dark chocolate with, pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, cranberries and jumbo golden raisins'. Weighing in at 450.0g the blurb on the back of the box suggested I 'slice and share' with friends ... so I did, and my were they grateful!!

My one criticism of the 'Christmas Peepster Box' so far has been its failure to incorporate a festive theme on its outer packaging, this was not a problem with this Christmas Wreath. The Wreath came in a really stylish looking outer cardboard box, it had a nice classic Christmas feel - it didn't go over the top with the design work but just had a few elegant patterns. Inside the box the Wreath was kept well preserved in an inner plastic tray, which was an additional nice touch. This brings me to the look of the Wreath itself ... neither my words or photos will be able to do it justice ... it simply was the most extravagant and fabulous looking chocolate product I have ever seen ... we all nearly felt guilty eating it. The artwork of the Wreath shape was fantastically crafted into the surface and it was just full to the brim of all sorts of fruit and nut pieces. Frankly it just looked absolutely superb, and was a real talking point when we were consuming it. The smell of the Wreath was also pretty enticing, with woody, nutty scents highly prominent in and amongst the ever forthcoming cocoa aroma.

Although some of the fruit and nut pieces were slightly hit and miss, there was no doubting the credentials of the 74% dark chocolate - it was excellent. It had a very thick melt, that released ever strengthening lovely cocoa flavours. The dark chocolate resisted ever becoming overly intense with a delicate vanilla note that when combined with the sweetness from the fruit made for an exquisite aftertaste. As I have mentioned some of the fruit and nut elements were far superior than others. The taste and textures of the nuts were largely very good, with the hazelnuts and almonds adding some enjoyable buttery, nutty crunchy elements to most bites. The same however can't be said of the pistachios - they didn't seem to contribute too much too the taste aside from a slightly awkward tasting savoury note - their softer texture was also least enjoyable of the three nuts. The raisin and cranberry pieces both highly contributed to the taste where present, both providing sweet fruity elements. The more acidic nature of the Cranberries were vastly enjoyable against the creamy chocolate, though the dried nature of the cranberries meant the skins of the pieces disrupted the smoothness of the texture. Five of us managed to eat this Wreath over the course of a night, breaking pieces off every so often. It was a bit of a messy business but it just added to the whole extravagance of the product even more.

Overall I have to say this proved to be one of my favourite ever products I have reviewed on Chocolate Mission - everything from the presentation, smell, taste ... it was all absolutely sensational. There were some minor issues with some of the fruit and nut pieces, but I must stress this was real nit picking. The combination of the dark chocolate and fruit and nut pieces provided a rich taste that was highly variable due to the range of the different ingredients. The real sell point for me has to be the look of the product, I don't think I am exaggerating when I say it was a piece of art. Although like me you may be tempted to keep this all for yourself, it was really satisfying sharing with friends and would be an ideal centrepiece for any Christmas celebration. I needn't bother probably writing this as you could probably guess as much from my lavish praise - this is a product I really recommend.

9.1 out of 10