Monday, 30 November 2009

November 30th: Hotel Chocolat Cinnamon Crunch

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

It is the start of another working week (boo) but that also means it is Hotel Chocolat Monday (Yay!) and I today bring you another review of one of Hotel Chocolat newest chocolates. The second of the four new Hotel Chocolat Christmas slabs I tried recently was this Cinnamon Crunch variant which came billed as '40% milk chocolate with cinnamon spiced praline'. Thinking about it now this has to be one of the first cinnamon flavoured bars I have reviewed that has come from the UK. You may remember my Christmas reviews last year being dominated by cinnamon flavoured chocolates but most of those chocolates came from Germany/Middle Europe (Ritter, Milka & Lindt) so it was nice to see a UK firm try their hand at the combination.

This Christmas slab came in a slightly different format to the Hotel Chocolate Orange Nice Spice and came in a single 100.0g form. Of course this was a bit of a pain in the backside when trying to break pieces off but there is no doubting how awesome the slab looked aesthetically. The outer packaging incorporated the same look as the Orange Nice Spice and managed to combine both a prestigious and colourful looked with the box awash with gold fonts and silver patterns. The slab itself looked brilliant with the clean cut milk chocolate decorated with a snowman centre piece and small white icing sugar pieces for a snow effect. After I had stopped admiring the slab I noticed the sweet and spicy smells that were emanating from the foil wrapper ... can a chocolate smell Christmassy!? ...This one did for me :)

One thing that I was never worried about with this chocolate and knew was going to be of a good quality was the 40% milk chocolate which has to be one of Hotel Chocolat finest recipes. As usual it had a creamy taste that was laced with the finest degree of cocoa to give it an extremely smooth, friendly, strong flavoured appeal. The defining element of this chocolate was of course going to be the implementation of the cinnamon to the chocolate and I can say it was done really well. Although having a great presence in the smell of the chocolate the flavours didn't really come to the party until the latter stages of the melt and encountering of the rice pieces. Rice is often used as cheap 'filler' for chocolates but this was not the case here as the cereal element delivered a biscuity element to the taste whilst also delivering the cinnamon element. The spices weren't overpowering and were nicely balanced with the chocolate to bring a nicely well rounded taste experience. Just as if this all wasn't enough the snowman centre piece was formed of Hotel Chocolat caramel flavoured milk chocolate which brought notes of burnt brown sugar and toffee to the taste. With the slab portioned a single serving it was hard not eating the thing all in one go with its moreish taste. I don' think this would survive two sitting for most people.

Overall I wouldn't say that cinnamon flavoured chocolates are necessarily my favourite but what this slab did prove is that it is a terribly underutilised ingredient in this country. As this chocolate proved when implemented correctly cinnamon can really be a flavour enhancing spice and this was definitely very much the case here. With the spice flavours not coming through until the latter stages of the taste this allowed the chocolate to be enjoyed first before the full on effect of the cinnamon was experienced. One thing I have failed to mention yet is how gloriously the textures worked together. The thick melting chocolate was nicely studded by the cripsy cereal pieces whilst the aftertaste had a warming spice effect which I can only believe was brought about by the touch of paprika that was present in the chocolate. If you are looking for a real festive chocolate to get you in the mood this Christmas or perhaps just fancy trying something a little different this is another Hotel Chocolat option well worth looking at.

8.8 out of 10

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