March 17th: Hotel Chocolat Less Sweet Selection
In and amongst all the Easter goodies Hotel Chocolat sent my way this year they were also nice enough to include this Less Sweet Selection Box. Described as a collection of 'less sweet recipes so that the authentic flavours of cocoa and praline shine through' it sounded like a decent enough proposition to me, and I eagerly read the handy menu included inside which handily identified the chocolates inside.
The collection comprised of 21 pieces - milk and dark batons, gianduja cubes, mellow caramel truffles, hazelnut praline truffles and lastly some orange praline truffles. The presentation was was pretty familiar looking in style, and combined sleek and sophisticated outer packaging with several protective inner layers that ensured the freshness and high maintenance of each of the different pieces. As you will see from the chocolates below all of them looked pretty appetising, but it was the caramel piece that really stood out with some intricate swirls on the surface of each chocolate.
Below are my thoughts on each of the different chocolates rated from Awful-to-Superb ...
Milk & Dark Chocolate Batons - These were both excellent as I expected, with the milk chocolate batons formed of the 50% house recipe and the dark chocolate batons formed of the 74% house recipe. The milk chocolate was noticeably a little less sweet than the normal 40% cocoa recipe used across the majority of Hotel Chocolat products, though the dark batons really stood out taking the depth of flavour that stage further and had a richer, longer lasting taste. Both chocolates melted with infinite ease into their liquor states and provided an experience that was not only luxurious in taste but also wonderful feeling in the mouth. They were a real joy to eat. Superb.
Mellow Caramel - This pieces was the best looking in the selection and was the one that I was really looking forward to trying. Much like the dark chocolate batons the outer chocolate was superb and had a nice long, rich taste that grew in flavour volume as it melted. The inner caramel praline centre did bring a small notes of sweet toffee and butter to the party, however I was expecting more and would have really welcomed a minor hint of salt to play off the sweetness of the caramel flavours which would have made it truly outstanding. Good.
Hazelnut Praline - The outer 50% chocolate was super smooth in melt and established a creamy, rich cocoa taste as soon as it was placed on the tongue. Sitting below this glorious outer chocolate layer a drier filling of hazelnut praline provided strong woody hazelnuts which further reaffirmed the fresh tasting, crunchy whole hazelnut pieces that lined the top of each truffle. As hazelnut chocolates go this was absolutely fantastic, so much so I made a point of swagging all three before my family could nab them :D Superb.
Orange Praline - out of everything in the selection this piece appealed to me the least, however I am glad to say it wasn't out of place amongst the other fantastic chocolates. The outer 74% dark chocolate brought strong, unsweetened cocoa flavours to the party straight away and melted with a pleasant smoothness to reveal the soft, smooth filling below. Conversely to the outer chocolate the orange filling was sweet tasting, with some zingy citrus flavours that contrasted well with the dark chocolate. Orange chocolates are never my first choice but this was up there with the best of them. Very Good.
Gianduja Cubes - Well I have reviewed these on their own before (See HERE) so I need say very little apart from refer you that previous review. These are among the very best of all the great things that Hotel Chocolat make, if you haven't tried these already and love praline you really need to do yourself a favour and buy some. Superb.
Overall this Less Sweet Selection provides a good insight into some of Hotel Chocolat's capabilities, however I wouldn't rank it alongside some of their other finer selection boxes. The quality of the chocolate involved here is unquestionable - the 50% milk chocolate and 74% dark chocolate are amongst the best out there and I think it is a very safe bet to say you will get undoubtedly get a lot of pleasure out of the plain chocolate batons. The Gianduja Cubes are quite simply in a league of their own - I can't say anything more positive about them than that, you simply need to try them for yourself to really understand how good they are. Personally I think the truffles are what hold this selection back somewhat. Although I have classified all of them as Good or above, you have to consider the fact that if someone doesn't like orange, nuts or caramel the options are a little limited. This collection isn't the most varied that Hotel Chocolat offer but if you are looking for a small selection of fine chocolates you do well looking at this Less Sweet Selection.
8.3 out of 10