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This summer Hotel Chocolat have continued to add several new products to their range with additions being made right across their different product formats. As well as the Summer themed selection boxes such as their Summer Cocktails Collection (See HERE), and their signature chocolate slabs, they have also innovated some of their 'smaller things' offerings - with these Caramel Drops being recently introduced. Around May 2009 you might recall me reviewing their Salted Caramel Puddles (See HERE). Seemingly this year Hotel Chocolat have taken a 'smaller is better stance' as these came billed as 'caramel milk chocolate drops'.
Despite being small in terms of individual size, these chocolate drops still came in a 140.0g size, which is the same as last years Caramel Puddles. As both products were price aligned from this year to last, its good to know Hotel Chocolat decided not to cheat consumers in terms of quantity (the likes of Cadbury/Nestle please take note!). Whilst it was nice seeing that the sizes were still the same, I was less enthralled to see that the Drops came packaged in much the same way as the previous year Puddles. I don't want to get at Hotel Chocolat too much about their packaging as I still think it's passable for what it is, though I would have thought that they might have looked to have progressed from this very basic plastic packet style.
Taking my first handful the first thing I observed was how the Drops lacked the dusty, scuffed surfaces that the Puddles had. In terms of smells the Drops radiated a decent set of chocolatey aromas, and promisingly there were hints of burnt toffee also detectable. Due to the Drops being so small I ate several pieces per mouthful - about five was a comfortable amount to put in the mouth at one time. Being quite familiar with Hotel Chocolat caramel chocolate, the flavours were instantly recognisable with the taste predominantly lead by the creamy cocoa progressing in to a sweeter, buttery burnt sugar taste. This flavour progression developed as the Drops slowly transcended from their solid to liquid state, with the finish noted by a delightful salty influence which left a pleasant taste in the mouth. The taste was delicious, but never came through as strongly as the bigger sized Salted Caramel Puddles. As I so often find with smaller products like this I didn't find these particularly satisfying, they reminded me of Maltesers a bit in the way they generated great flavours yet were pretty unfulfilling.
Overall these were a nice enough product from Hotel Chocolat, but I would suggest there were a bit of a step back from their Salted Caramel Puddles from last year. Given how the company has risen in stature with heightened consumer awareness I would of thought that an upgrade of their packaging might not have been out of the realms of possibility. Whilst that is me nit picking at areas where they might have improved, one thing is for certain is that these Caramel Drops weren't quite as effective at generating the same flavour impact that the larger sized Puddles did last year. Of course it would be silly (and wrong) for me to suggest that the delicious cream based caramel chocolate flavours weren't there, but it was more that they weren't as loud or sustained for as long in comparison to the Puddles. I know some people may prefer the smaller sized format, but personally my preference would be for the larger sized pieces. To cut the long story short, these are better than your average chocolate offering, but in terms of Hotel Chocolat's range there are certainly better options available.
7.5 out of 10