March 8th: L'Artisan du Chocolat No.1 Sea Salted Caramels

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

Back in September 2009 a ChocolateMission reader by the name of Miggins dropped me a comment on my 'Requests Page' asking me to review L'Artisan du Chocolat's Sea Salted Caramels. Now I will admit I wasn't the quickest off the mark sending L'Artisan du Chocolat an e-mail asking for some samples, but when I finally got around to doing so the kind souls were more than happy to oblige and within a week I had a lovely wrapped package from them delivered right to my door. Just as requested included in the box of samples were these 'No.1 Sea Salted Caramels' - a creation that L'AdC say were made in 2003 by lead chocolatier Gerard Coleman for Gordon Ramsay's Claridges restaurant. Surely as Gordon would say these had to 'f***** fantastic?'.

Now I have reviewed many, MANY chocolates in time but these were possibly the fanciest looking ones I have ever had the pleasure of reviewing. The packaging and presentation oozed class and straightaway set the mood that this was a premium chocolate offering. The outer box was quite plain but the simplicity of the design nicely pulled off an understated look. Inside this box sat a plastic screw-top container that wouldn't have looked out of place if it had contained jewellery. The truffles themselves were kept in immaculate condition within the air tight container and the strong smelling, rich cocoa scents that emerged were nothing short of being outstandingly alluring.

The 140.0g box of truffles I received contained about twenty pieces I thankfully didn't make the mistake of sharing them amongst colleagues, friends or family as from the very first one I knew they were going to be something I would want to savour. Each truffle was an indulgent experience from beginning to end from the initial dusting of cocoa powder hitting the tongue, right up to last salt lick that kicked in as the remnants slipped down the throat. Rewinding to the start like I said the first really flavour hit came from the cocoa powder which quickly established a dry, earthy cocoa influence in the mouth. Letting the chocolate sit on the tongue the depth of the cocoa flavours soon got even grander once the outer shell of dark chocolate was revealed when the warmth of my mouth began the elegant, smooth melt. The dark chocolate shell was extremely strong in its chocolatey flavours though I would imagine no one would find it too intense given the sweetness of the caramel centres. Once the crisp dark chocolate was soft enough to yield the liquid caramel centres joined the party and they were every bit as luxurious as the chocolate. The caramel was sweet, buttery and had a strong lick of salt that kicked into effect in the latter aftertaste. I can't quite find the words to describe how perfect the contrast of the sweet and salt elements were - you just have to taste it for yourselves to understand.

Overall I needn't say anything more than these L'Artisan du Chocolat No.1 Sea Salted Caramels were absolutely luxurious. They were presented immaculately, smelt divine and tasted utterly delicious, they were almost perfect ... almost! Just like I have said about previous salted caramel truffles, the only improvement I think could be made on these would be for the fillings to be thicker as that would made of further helped each leave a longer lasting impression in the mouth. That ridiculously minor nit-picking aside I hope I have been able to do these justice with my description above as Mr Gerard Coleman has crafted one of the finest truffles I have ever tasted here. What I think was also great to see was that these came presented as a product that gave the consumer confidence. The outer box, inner container and truffle pieces all reeked sophistication and I don't care what people say - first impressions are important and these all set a classy tone from the outset. I wouldn't be silly enough to suggest that these are the sort of product to replace anyones everyday Mars or Snickers, but if your are gifting chocolate anytime soon or looking for some suitable after dinner chocolates to wow your guests with I can't suggest these enough.

9.2 out of 10