September 8th: Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Serious Dark Fix Selection - Part 1

If you took a look at the site last week you would have seen my two part review of Hotel Chocolat's The Sleekster White and Light Selection, which managed to get a score of over 9.0 on the prestigious ChocolateMission rating system. Well as you may have been able to ascertain by now this week I have been casting my eye over this 'Serious Dark Fix Selection', which I will be reviewing in the same way I did the white selection, split over two days. Hotel Chocolat described this as 'a collection full of dark chocolate adventure and exciting flavours' and it sounded right up might street.

Just like last weeks review this collection was formed of 16 different chocolate pieces which were all doubled up. Like last time being the kind guy I am I decided to give half to the rest of my family so they could also provide their input with some welcome second opinions. Straight from the off we all concluded that the presentation of the product was every bit as good as the White Chocolate selection and everything from the outer packaging to the chocolates themselves were equally as glorious in appearance.

What with their being so many different types of chocolates in the box I understand these posts can get rather long ... so lets get on with it. As usual I will be using the rating system ranging from 'Terrible, Very Poor, Poor, Standard, Good, Very Good to Superb'.

Mini Slabs selection - 85% Ghanaian, 75 % Tanzanian, 72% St Lucian, 72% with Ginger - I thought I would have a little fun with these and mix them up to try tell them apart. Obviously the ginger one was very easy to pick out and it was certainly one that went down well with my ginger loving father. Personally I couldn't detect to many differences between the 75% and the 72%. One was a little more acidic and crisper tasting, whilst the other had a slightly smokier, aged taste ... both were exceptional. The one that I could pull out from the rest was of course my all time favourite chocolate - the 85% Ghanaian. I still think it is the tastiest chocolate I have ever had with its full on, yet non-bitter cocoa flavours and thick, smooth melting. Superb. Dark Gianduja - Having tasted this it I think it only further added weight to the arguement that Hotel Chocolat need to bring back their Gianduja Squares product. This was one of the more milder choclates from the selection though the addition of the hazelnuts to the creamy cocoa flavours made for an interesting and variable taste. Due to the silky smoothness of the melt this chocolate didn't last all that long in the mouth, though it didn't manage to leave a lasting impression with a strong hazelnut aftertaste. Very Good.

Orange & Lemon Sandwich - This wasn't one of my favourites from the White and Light Selection and this was again the case here. I thought the acidic fruit flavours worked a little better with the dark chocolate, though I again just didn't fully get on with the cirtus influence in the praline. The rest of my family thought a little more of this one than myself but we were in agreement it was one of the weaker ones from the lot. Standard.

Caramel & Rum Truffle - This truffle was described as a 'smooth chocolate with a generous splash of rum' and it was very good indeed. The outer chocolate substantiated a fine set of cocoa flavours from the outset and once melted revealed a centre that was very finely balanced in terms of taste. The centre was milky with a nice alcoholic edge that was finished nicely with a sweet note of caramel. We were all in agreement that this was an exceptional chocolate. Superb.

Plum Pannacotta - I thought this one was one of the more adventurous chocolates from the selection and I thought it was reasonably well executed. The inner filling was described as a 'ganache contrasted with a light and fruity panacotta' and it managed to substantiate both a creamy and fruity tasting centre with combined well with its outer dark chocolate shell. The older generation member of family who tried this one thought it was outstanding and was suprised at how strong the plum can through in the taste. Very Good.

Chunky Nut - Yum Yum Yum ... brielfy sums up what I have to say about this one. If your nuts about nuts then this is a chocolate to die for. This small chocolate managed to cram in pistachios, hazelnuts and almonds all into this one small chocolate. What was so utterly fantastic about his piece was that each of these different nuts were detectable at one point in the taste experience and it made for chocolate that was not only variable in terms of flavours but with some wonderfully fresh, crunchy elements to the texture. The hazelnut piece on top was a nice touch and it really capped off what was a delicious chocolate. If you like your nut based chocolates you will love this one. Superb.

Coffee Caramel - I hate to finish off on a slightly disappointing one but this one really didn't deliver the strength of coffee that I wanted it to. Don't get me wrong the outer dark chocolate and creamy inner, caramel and hazelnut noted centre was tasty but the coffee element just wasn't executed with the impetous I wanted it to be. Hotel Chocolat should take note here ... make your coffee chocolates a bit stronger. Oh and whilst your at it - a coffee flavoured slab wouldn't go amiss ;) Standard.

Remember to check out the site tomorrow for Part 2 of The Sleekster Seriosuly Dark Fix Selection review which will of course contain the all important ChocolateMission rating.