Those of you lucky enough to have someone to send chocolates to this Valentines Day will be happy to know that I will be running through the finest selections on offer from Hotel Chocolat in the coming weeks. Today I started off by taking a look at the Caramel Sweethearts - a product that I have seen Terry and Chocablog already get their mitts on (Click names for their reviews!). These were formed of 'caramel flavoured milk chocolate hearts with bresilliene, cocoa crispies and cherry powder'. For those that are unaware 'Bresilliene' constitutes of grounded hazelnut and sugar.
As with every Hotel Chocolat product these came wonderfully presented in a pink tinted 170.0g box that contained 28 chocolate hearts. The pieces looked incredible, with very intricate engravings present on each of the chocolate hearts - it all looked incredibly impressive. I was a little less struck by the aroma of the product. A quite minor diary smell was present, though the most forthcoming influence came from the subtle savoury smelling rice crispies.
Although the pieces looked fantastic it must be said they were quite awkward to eat. They were a little to large to eat in one bite, but also broke into several bits when snapped. This was something fundamentally caused by the crisped rice and proved to be not the only downside of the rice inclusion. The milk chocolate had a a pleasant enough melt in the mouth, however the pieces also had a degree of roughness due to the bresilliene and rice ingredients ... after eating four pieces the roof of my mouth was actually quite sore. It wasn't just the textures that let this product down though. The combination of the sweetened caramel milk chocolate, and bresilliene made for a very sweet overall taste, one that seemed to rely on sugar a lot more than most Hotel Chocolat products I have reviewed before. The influences of the hazelnut and cherry powder elements seemed lost within the sugary nature of the chocolate, which was just a real shame. I ate these about six at a time, though with each serving they failed to really satisfy or give me that much pleasure.
Overall I am not very often underwhelmed by Hotel Chocolat products, but I really didn't hit it off with these. Hotel Chocolat have set their own standards, a quick look through the archive will show that no doubt they are a company who deliver quality on a regular basis. Unfortunately though, I wouldn't place these in that category. These Caramel Sweethearts were overly sweet, and the roughness of their texture caused quite considerable irritation when eaten on mass. Not the best start to my look at their Valentines day range ... but trust me there are some corkers to come.
6.9 out of 10