Monday, 9 November 2009

November 9th: Thorntons Metropolitan Chocolates


You have to realise that your reviewing too many chocolates when a package arrives at your house with a note saying 'as promised please find enclosed' and you have no idea you are expecting them. Hey, I'm not complaining - perks of the site and all, suffice to say I was happy to receive this Thorntons Metropolitan selection box courtesy of one of their PR agencies SALT.
As they normally do with boxes of chocolates I get sent my family were all too happy to 'help me out' tasting them and giving their input for the ratings.

Just to make things difficult we all had differing opinions when it came to the presentation of the product. Although we could all appreciate the relatively nice looking design work on the outer box there were comments about the choice of colour and decoration of the inner pieces. Indeed, I myself didn't like the fact that half the pieces had cool looking patterns printed on their surfaces, whilst others looked boring and plain ... why not all of them!?

Described as chocolates inspired by chocolatiers from cities around the world, this selection included both milk and dark chocolates and constituted of 8 different pieces. Below are my thoughts on each with the customary rating ranging from Very Poor to Superb. Words have been kept light in the interest of review length :)

Vanilla Heights:

This was one of the unloved pieces that looked really plain sitting in the box. Unfortunately it wasn't only just unremarkable in looks but also in taste. The filling had a dense mousse like feel on the tongue but failed to add anything to the sweet tasting milk chocolate apart from a minor vanilla essence note. Poor.

Praline Piazza:

I had high hopes for this chocolate with its promise of 'velvety roasted hazelnut praline' but it didn't quite deliver the quality I was hoping for. The milk chocolate was unremarkable, whilst the hazelnut flavours were pretty much lost within the strong brown sugar notes generated by the inner crunchy feuilletine. It wasn't a horrible chocolate by any means but can be best summed up as disappointing. Hey ... at least it looked pretty! Poor.

Orange Garden:

This was the other of the long finger like pieces in the box and it was thankfully a lot better than the other. My mother is a big fan of chocolate orange and really enjoyed the way the orange essence flavours established themselves in the latter stages of the melt leaving a lasting fruit note in the mouth. The intensity of the orange wasn't over bearing on the chocolate which delivered a friendly, yet full flavoured dark chocolate experience. Good.

Manhattan Melt:

I laughed out loud when I read the description of this chocolate having just eaten one. 'Equsitie Ecuador milk chocolate with a crisp fruitiness and delicate hints of flowers & herbs' ... sorry Throntons but who are you kidding!? Granted this chocolate had a smooth enough melt in the mouth but lets be honest here it offered nothing like the intricacy in flavours that it built itself up as having. The taste was predominantly milk led with the undertones of cocoa present throughout. Summed up nicely .... Standard.

Q Couture:It probably won't surprise you to read that I thought this one looked the nicest sitting in the plastic tray. Billed as filled with a ganache noted with quince I wasn't all that excited by the actual prospect but it was actually one of the more enjoyably pieces in the selection. The dark chocolate was flavoursome with its unsweetened cocoa led taste and melted nicely into a sweeter fruit noted filling. This one looked great and it delivered .... simple really! Very Good.

Cloudberry Hill:

This piece was very similar to the above Q Couture but just had an outer coating of milk chocolate rather than dark. For this very reason it just simply wasn't as good. Yes it had one of the pretty patterns on it's surface but as with the other pieces from the selection the milk chocolate wasn't a patch on the dark chocolate pieces. The cloudberry ganache had a minor blackcurrant like hint to it but it's tartness was balanced by the sweeter tasting milk chocolate. Good.

Midnight Melt:

No prizes for guessing whether this was better than the equivalent milk chocolate piece! In comparison the depth of flavour was just far greater with the taste nicely balanced with unsweetened cocoa flavours that never entered the world of bitterness. It was by no means the greatest tasting dark chocolate I have ever had but hey, given the averageness of the milk chocolate on offer here it was made to look all the better. Good.

Soho Caramel:

I immediately thought 'Uh-Oh' when I saw this one! Not only did it look exactly like Paul.A.Young's award winning salted caramels but it was billed exactly the same as 'caramel hinted with an after-hint' of saltiness'. With such a tough benchmark no surprises these came off quite poorly and frankly they didn't match up whatsoever. The chocolate was thin and lacked presence in the taste, whilst the caramel had an odd floral note that over rode the promised salt lick. I don't want to be too harsh given the standard of the obvious comparator. Standard.

Overall I think the ultimate score and individual ratings give some perspective to how disappointing this selection box was. With an RRP of £10.99 you have to expect consistent quality and this is just something Thorntons don't seem to be able to do. The milk chocolate was frankly pretty average and wasn't up to scratch with what you would expect from such a costly box of chocolates. In fairness the dark chocolate was better and there are some nice chocolates in the box such as the Q Couture and the Orange Garden. At the end of the day though, a few nice chocolates don't make a well rounded selection box and there were just way too many poor ones. I think it is a fair assumption that a lot of us will be buying chocolate selection boxes in the next few weeks to gift for Christmas and I would have to say given the price you should avoid this one.

5.8 out of 10

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