Thursday, 30 September 2010

September 30th: Hotel Chocolat Sushi Collection

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

As promised here is your second helping of Hotel Chocolat for this week - Good times! Back in early June this year I brought you all my review of Hotel Chocolat's recently updated 'The Purist' range (See HERE). As part of that range update, Hotel Chocolat also brought out a few new offerings to go alongside those single origin bars. One of these products was this 'Sushi Collection Foursome' which they describe on their website as 'a collection of our most prized cocoa recipes, specially created to complement the characterful flavours of these rare chocolates' - fancy sounding huh!?

Well as good as this all sounded there was a problem - my 'Sushi Collection Foursome' unfortunately turned out to be a 'Sushi Collection Threesome'. Indeed due to some issues at the factory, the 'Extreme Dark Caramel' were suffering from caramel leakage problems (they made the outer shells too thin!). This left me with the 50% Milk, and the 65% and 90% Dark Intense/Extreme Pralines which you can see pictured left to right in my photograph above. All three variants came in 55.0g packs of 5 that were presented in some simple, yet stylish looking plastic try boxes.

As ever my family were at hand to help me sample all three of these different chocolates - below are our tasting notes on the three, the scoring charts for each are below.

50% Milk Intense Pralines - Hailing from the Island of Saint Lucia these were the first we tried out of the selection and they went down well with one and all. Despite being billed as milk chocolate, the main flavour contribution came not from a cream based flavour set but more the unsweetened cocoa flavours which were just a little less forthcoming than the 65% pieces. The outer chocolate shell was soft in and melt and well paced at revealing the lighter textured praline below. The hazelnut flavours of the praline came to the fore of the taste within a matter of seconds of exposure, rounding off a quite simply delicious tasting chocolate.

65% Dark Intense Pralines - Despite being billed as just having a slightly elevated cocoa content of 65%, these pralines were differentiated enough in their taste to be viewed as the best out of the three we tried. Compared to the 50% pralines I have written about above, the cocoa flavours were just a little more intensive and the flavour depth of the outer chocolate just seemed bit richer with some additional notes of roasted coffee joining the party mid melt. As with the 50% the melt and mouth feel of the outer chocolate to the praline centre transisiont was superb. Despite the slight volume increase of the cocoa, the creamy hazelnut flavours offered by the centre were just as profound. These were the first to 'disappear' :D

90% Dark Extreme Pralines - A few of my family members were a little cautious about trying these but I did eventually get them all to try one. Opinion was split when it came to the taste - my father and I quite enjoyed the richness of the roasted and intense cocoa flavours, however my sister and mother found them overly bitter and didn't enjoy the chocolates until the more calming, soothing flavours of the creamier praline came to the party. One thing that we all could come to a consensus on was our dislike of the textures established by the melt. Compared to the other 50% and 65% recipes, the mouth feel of the melting chocolate wasn't as nice as it felt like it cloyed and became lumpy in the mouth as it changed state.

Overall these were a fabulous set of pralines that really made for an enjoyable tasting experience sampling the delights of each variety. Out of all three the 65% Dark Pralines were considered to be our clear favourite as they had an intensity that sat well with all four of us. Whilst I have mostly talked about the quality of the chocolate in my tasting notes above it is worth reaffirming the quality of the praline filling that sat in the middle of every single one of these chocolates. The hazelnut flavours were sinfully creamy and the woody nutty flavours were about as delicious as you could hope for from any praline chocolate. That said I wouldn't consider either the 50% or 90% varieties to be perfect - the 50% could probably have been better as a creamier 40% option, whilst the 90% was probably just a little too excessive. Fingers crossed next month I can bring you my views on the fourth variety, for the time being I still would recommend this selection as well worthy of checking out based on these pralines alone.

Hotel Chocolat 50% Intense Milk Pralines - 8.3 out of 10
Hotel Chocolat 65% Intense Dark Pralines - 8.8 out of 10
Hotel Chocolat 50% Extreme Dark Pralines - 7.5 out of 10

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