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My first look at Hotel Chocolat's Valentines Day offerings proved a tad underwhelming with my review of the Caramel Sweethearts. I am glad to say though, today things got an awful lot better. Today's review is a bit of a picture bonanza - indeed I got a little swept up in the magnificence of this Season of Love selection, and got a bit camera happy.
To save this review from being never ending, let me just say briefly that as you will no doubt be able to see the presentation was fantastic. Each of the fifteen pieces were uniquely crafted, and came wonderfully dressed in a fantastically designed 400.0g box. The selection came described as 'a balanced selection of irresistible, hand-finished truffles'.
Here are my views on the different pieces, with the usual ratings from 'Poor' to 'Superb'.
Incorporated a fantastically creamy outer milk chocolate shell with a simply sinful hazelnut praline centre. Nothing more to say other than it was one of the finest praline chocolates I have ever come across. Superb.
Champagne Love / Kirsch Love Heart / Blackberry & Prosecco:
These pieces combined wonderful outer chocolates with some divine sharp liqueur/alcohol truffle fillings. The Champagne Love was a real stand out with the white chocolate complimenting the tangy, acidic champagne centre perfectly. Very Good.
Another praline filled, milk chocolate piece that had a bit more emphasis on its cocoa flavours in comparison to the hazelnut heart. The aftertaste was longer sustained though it didn't have the same creamy breadth. Very Good.
A very intricately made truffle that was formed of a strawberry buttercream filling with meringue pieces, encased in a white and milk chocolate shell topped with strawberry. This not only looked wonderful but had the taste to back it up. The filling had a classic combination of creamy, sharp fruit flavours that went superbly with the inspired meringue inclusion ... the great quality of the chocolate topped off what was a really an outstanding piece. Superb.
Another milk chocolate praline but this time made with macadamia nuts. I wasn't a fan of the grainy texture that came with the macadamia influence, though the buttery taste was still highly pleasurable. Not my favourite but still a very credible chocolate. Good.
Raspberry / Dark / Milk Chocolate Hearts:
These are what the Caramel Sweethearts should have delivered - simply no frills chocolate pieces. The quality of the 40% milk, 74% dark can never be questioned ... fantastic every time. A special mention must go to the white chocolate raspberry heart piece, it was both creamy and fresh tasting. Very Good.
Vanilla / Orange Truffle:
Both of these truffles combined thick, tasty outer chocolates with creamy ganache centres. The vanilla truffle was a particular favourite of mine, and really delivered a wonderful vanilla flavour hit. They may not be the most inspired out of the selection but they still delivered wonderfully. Superb.
This piece had a mousse type hazelnut praline, contained within its milk chocolate casing. The lighter texture was certainly unique to the selection and made for a nice change. The milk chocolate was of course fantastic and a real warmth was brought to the aftertaste by the chilli. Another favourite of mine. Superb.
Caramel Baby Truffles:
These came as mini, half sized pieces that contained gooey caramel in milk chocolate. Probably the least exciting out of the entire selection, yet still delivered in terms of taste. The milk chocolate nicely went with the sweet, gooey caramel. Good.
Yet another milk chocolate praline, though this time topped with cocoa nibs. Very similar to the Gianduja Square piece, though the cocoa nibs added a little more interest to the texture of the piece with an added crunchiness. Very Good.
Wowzer! I don't think a review has ever contained so many superlatives - but this selection is simply worth every one of them. If you or your loved one enjoy liqueur and praline chocolates this selection will be a guaranteed winner. The presentation is fantastic, the selection is very vast and every single piece tastes like a little bit of heaven. I can't recommend this selection enough. Utterly superb.
9.3 out of 10