September 25/26th: Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Everything Selection
'7Days of Chocolate Reviews' takes a break this week as I bring you an extra dose of Hotel Chocolat. If you guys have been checking out the Hotel Chocolat site recently you would have seen that they have added a number of new selection boxes to their existing range. Some of the highest scoring products ever to feature on this site have been their Dark and White Chocolate Sleekster Boxes (See HERE & HERE), so when I was sent a sample of this Everything Selection I had seriously high expectations.
Described as a 'balanced collection with a little bit of everything, so there's something for absolutely everyone to love' I of course couldn't do the rest of my family the injustice of not sharing it with them. Hopefully my photos will do the presentation of the box and truffles justice - everything was superb looking and the chocolates terrifically crafted and detailed. What with there being 14 different pieces in the selection it's probably best we get down to business ...
Amarena Cherry - This piece was large in size but had a soft filling centre that yielded with a real elegance under the crisp outer shell. The flavours of this piece were wonderfully progressive with the sweet cocoa flavours of the outer milk chocolate taking on a grander creaminess from the buttercream filling before leaving a well balanced note of red berry liquor. Very Good.
Going Nuts - Formed of a milk chocolate coated praline with crunchy hazelnuts this was a very accomplished nut chocolate that combined smooth and crispy textures well. The milk chocolate let the nut constituents do most of the talking, but this sat very well with myself and I very much enjoyed the woody flavours contributed by both the different nut elements. Very Good.
Amaretto - Hotel Chocolat liqueur flavoured chocolates are always too strong are they not!? Well if this chocolate was anything to go by that statement would be very wrong. The crisp outer chocolate constituents were terrifically complimented by an outstanding buttercream filling that by my estimation was perfect in it's strength of boozie almond flavours. Superb.
Crispy Praline - This was a somewhat odd piece that combined an inner praline filling with small crunchy pieces of 'crispy pancake'. Whilst the pancake bits didn't detract from the creamy hazelnut flavours, the impression they created texture wise was not to my liking in the slightest - it was almost as if it was like dreaded popping candy *shivers*. Standard.
Within this selection box there were also several pieces that I had come across in other Hotel Chocolate reviews (or chocolates extremely similar to them!). If you are interested in my views on (from left-to-right/front-to-back) the Caramel Melter, Mousse au Chocolat, Billionaire's Shortbread, Brownie, Orange Praline and Orange Liqueur Melter - please click on the name of the piece to be redirected to those reviews.
Milk House Praline - This was pretty simple piece that combined a hazelnut praline centre with a milk chocolate exterior. Whilst it was undoubtedly very tasty I almost felt like it was a bit of a generic choice of chocolate to be included in the selection. I was told by the rest of my family that I was just being overly critical - they loved it. Very Good.
Praline Cup - This again was very similar to the praline truffle above, however had a base of dark chocolate. The dark chocolate provided a somewhat less sweet introduction flowing in to the praline, however I think it could of done with a full coating of dark as opposed to the suggestion provided at the bottom. Again it is hard to rate this anything other than Very Good despite it being very alike other pieces.
Butterscotch Ganache - Now if the two chocolates above were a little similar to each each other this truffle was one that very much stood out as offering something a little different. The outer milk chocolate was a perfect foil for the inner toffee flavoured ganache and established a creamy caramel noted flavour sensation. The shortbread biscuit piece on top capped off a truly exquisite truffle. Superb.
Isabelle - We get to end with yet another phenomenal chocolate. This was yet another piece that had a praline centre, but this one really was all about the florentine on top. In addition to the hazelnut and sweet cocoa flavours already on offer, the florentine biscuit brought additional hints of honey, caramel and almond to the party, all within it's delightful crispy chewy texture. Superb.
Overall this has been a very difficult Selection Box to rate as it could easily be argued that it could be deserving of a better or worse rating. On one hand this was a delicious collection of chocolates that contained no 'duff ones' and had some real stand out pieces like the Isabelle, Butterscotch Ganache and Amaretto. However, on the flip side, it could also be noted that for a selection that was meant to contain 'Everything' the actual variety was a little limited. As a lover of praline chocolates I actually fancied every single piece in the box. Unfortunately though my sister (who doesn't really like nuts!) felt very limited, with only the three fruit options really taking her fancy. With this in mind when it came to the scoring of this box I couldn't quite give it the highest marks like I did Dark or White Sleeksters. Saying that, if I was gifting this box to a person who I knew loved pralines, I would feel very happy with my choice - this box contains many of them, and they are all delicious.
8.4 out of 10