March 18th: Hotel Chocolat The Cocoa Pod Egg

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

Having seen my way through the first of my Hotel Chocolat Easter 2009 offerings last week in the form of the 'Egg Sandwich' I this week have been tackling the prospect of this 'Cocoa Pod Egg'. This was a product that constituted of a 150.0g hollow dark chocolate egg, with a selection of dark chocolate pralines to accompany (60.0g).

The presentation of the product on the whole was stunning. Both the egg and chocolates were presented in a nicely decorated cardboard box, that had large transparent windows on both sides so that the contents could easily be viewed. Below are my thoughts on both the egg and the praline selection:

Dark Chocolate Egg:

Although not actually coated by any sort of foil layer or wrapping within the box, the dark chocolate egg maintained a truly immaculate look. As you can see above there were some stunning cocoa pod patterns woven into the chocolate that combined with its gleaming, smooth surface made it look an entirely appetising prospect - I almost felt guilty breaking it up!

The egg was formed of the 74% Hotel Chocolat recipe, one that I have really developed a taste for. Despite the lack of wrapping the chocolate maintained a magnificent aroma, that became very active as I broke the egg into pieces. Strong cocoa scents quickly emanated from the chocolate, leaving very little to the imagination for its dark sensuous taste.

I really liked the thickness of the egg as it meant that even really small pieces exerted a great deal of flavour in the mouth. The 74% chocolate retained its usual flavour development, with the initial flavours in the mouth substantiating a firm basis of cocoa with a slightly milky undertone to avoid any bitterness. The rich cocoa flavours then developed with the smooth, thick melting transcendence into its liquid form; with elements of coffee and hints of red berry coming and going before a delightful vanilla note finished the aftertaste. Simply put ... Superb!

Serious Dark Pralines:

Accompanying the fantastic dark chocolate egg were these dark chocolate pralines. In the selection of six were two of each of the Chilli (left), Valencia orange (darker coloured) and Gianduja (cross-sectioned) variants. The pack came neatly displayed with the chocolates sitting in a plastic tray within.

Opening the pack I was instantly met with quite a strong hazelnut smell - there was no doubting that these were gonna deliver some fine praline flavours.

I am going to get my minor criticism out the way; you may be able to see above that two of the three variants contained a 'dusted' coating. Personally I found that these coatings quickly dried the mouth, leaving a none to pleasant feel. The minimal dusting of sugar on the Valencia Orange was far preferable in my opinion. Sitting below all of these coatings were thick layers of 74% dark chocolate, you only need to read my description of the egg above to ascertain how highly I rate that. Just as the smell suggested the large majority of the overall taste was led by the praline centres.

The Gianduja variant was very hazelnut focused, and the thick paste like centre delivered creamy, nutty flavours in abundance. A really rich, finely flavoured chocolate praline. Superb.

The Chilli praline delivered the same hazelnut flavours, though the aftertaste contained a ferocious chili kick ... it was seriously spicy! For those that don't like spicy food it might be too much, but conversely for people like me who enjoy that sort of thing it was highly enjoyable. Very Good.

The Valencia Orange had a fantastic zesty nature about it. The orange flavours intertwined with the creamy hazelnut were absolutely stunning and incredibly refreshing. It was another truly satisfying truffle. Superb.

Overall I am sure you have been able to gather that I pretty much savoured every last bit of this product. I wasn't expecting anything less from the dark chocolate egg; the 74% chocolate was as good as ever and just bursting with rich, yet friendly cocoa flavours. The praline selection was also a very welcome addition, and mixed a variety of flavours within a dark chocolate praline context that really worked extremely well. If your buying chocolate this Easter for a dark chocolate fan that likes praline I think you needn't look elsewhere. This is a wonderfully presented product and yet another instance of Hotel Chocolat bringing quality in abundance.

9.0 out of 10