Monday, 17 May 2010

May 17th: Hotel Chocolat Chocolate Gemstones

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

Summer is nearly upon us, and there seemed no better way to warm up for my Hotel Chocolat Summer 2010 reviews, than by checking out one of the few remaining products I am yet to try from their standard range. After receiving e-mails from ChocolateMission readers Rachel & Chloe, I let their requests be known to my contacts at Hotel Chocolat, who were more than happy to send me some samples for a review. The product requested for a run through the ChocolateMission rating system were these Chocolate Gemstones, which Hotel Chocolat describe as 'individual little white and dark chocolate drops, which are fused together to create rather beautiful glossy gems of marbled chocolate' - no understating there then :D

The Chocolate Gemstones came in a 150.0g bag that I shared amongst my ever willing taste testing family. As I have mentioned above, Hotel Chocolat describe these as 'beautiful', and I can do little but agree. As commented on in previous reviews, I wouldn't say that the transparent film packaging looks all that prestigious, but what it did allow was visibility of the splendid looking inner pieces. One thing I do hope is that my photograph above has done these justice, as up close the sparkling marble effect created by the blended dark and white chocolate looked nothing short of magnifecent. Putting aesthetic observations aside, a thing of real note was the lack aromas emanating from the packet. Aside from a very minor hint of sweetness, these offered little in the way of true smells, which is not something I would usually attribute to Hotel Chocolat products.

Nowadays, whenever I review something from Hotel Chocolat I often have to remind myself (and my family!!) that I have ti judge the taste based on the average chocolate offering, and not on what I have come to expect from Hotel Chocolat. Despite this grounding context, I unfortunately have to report that these Gemstones didn't deliver anywhere near expectations, and they proved to be really disappointing. The main problem cited by all four of us that tasted them, was that they were really, really poor at generating a substantial volume of flavour. My own conclusion was that this issue was driven predominantly by the outer coating, which seemed to have a glazing agent like finish, despite nothing of the sort being stated in the ingredients. This glossy outer layer gave the Gemstones a waxy feel in the mouth, and made the melt initially feel really laboured and unlike any Hotel Chocolat chocolate I have ever had. Once the melt was underway it was extremely fast paced, which meant there were only suggestions of cream and cocoa offered taste wise before each mouthful sizzled out. To be frank it took a really large handful of these Gemstones to be eaten at any one time for a meaningful flavour impact to be created. In turn this made them feel very unsubstantial - my sister even exclaimed they seemed like a 'waste of calories'.

Overall simple maths would tell you that Hotel Chocolat white chocolate + Hotel Chocolat dark chocolate = Hotel Chocolat amazingness, but this unfortunately just wasn't the case with these Gemstones. Thinking about it now, Hotel Chocolat chocolate doesn't strike me as the sort of thing that would be best suited for this type of product. One thing we all know is that Hotel Chocolat chocolate is usually bursting full of wonderful flavours - this product format just simply didn't let them come to light, and put to waste all the potential of the chocolate they were formed with. As I have written above, a lot of the blame has to lie with odd outer texture which each and every piece had. Yes the glossy finish made them look good, however it spoilt them in regards to balance of taste and texture, as the melt began laboured with very little on offer in terms of flavours, but then suddenly quickened, melting away entirely before the true taste could be substantiated. Hotel Chocolat produce so many other outstanding chocolates in a whole variety of different formats. This sadly was just not one of them, and I would strongly suggest you are better off looking elsewhere in their range.

5.8 out of 10

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