November 20/21st: Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection

It does seem a little silly getting this review up a full month ahead of Christmas, but I felt this fantastic selection required your immediate attention. Indeed, replacing the usual '7Days of ....' post this weekend, I bring you my review of the Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection box. This box comes described as 'the essential collection for Christmas - brimming with a balanced array of exciting chocolates for everyone to enjoy'.

The Selection is available in several different sizes, though the one I shared with my family for this review contained 30 chocolates. Speaking briefly about the presentation, I really hope my photographs have done the selection justice because it simply looked fantastic. The outer packaging felt premium yet Christmassy (hard to pull off I tell you!!), whilst the inner chocolates were wonderfully crafted with some real standout pieces.

I hope you are sitting down with a nice cup of tea (and some chocolate of course!), because this review is a rather lengthy one due to the amount of pieces (17!!). For some of the chocolates I have been brief as you will have read my comments on them before. As usual ratings go from Awful-to-Superb.

House Praline - This piece combined an outer layer of thick, creamy milk house chocolate, with a delightfully textured hazelnut flavoured centre. Praline chocolates honestly don't get much better than this. Superb.

Cinnamon Praline - You can literally take what I said about the previous chocolate and just add in a well balanced note of spicy cinnamon. I loved the twist of the nut flavours and made sure I secured both of these pieces before they were nabbed by my fellow tasters :D Superb.

Rum Ingot - These first appeared in my review back in March 2010 of the Hotel Chocolat Boozie Scrambled Egg (See HERE). The rum was still a little too strong for my liking but it did bring a pleasant warming sensation to the mouth. Good.

Mousse au Chocolat - This was one insanely rich chocolate and was formed of an outer coating of 80% dark chocolate with a dark ganache filling. It was totally delicious despite looking like one of the more reserved pieces in the selection. You might call it a hidden gem! Superb.

Cranberry & Apple - The fruit content of this chocolate meant my mother was all over it. She reported that the cranberry tartness was evident from the outset and thought whilst it was tasty, it dominated the more subtle apple just a little too much. I myself thought she was spot on :D I think my family are getting to good at this now. Good.

Gingerbread Truffle - There were again mass fights over who was going to try this one. The mouth feel of the crisp outer milk chocolate with the smooth ganache centre was incredible, however both my father and I felt like the ginger flavours needed to be more forthcoming to overcome the strong cream based flavours of the chocolate. It was a little disappointing. Standard.

Milk Chocolate & Hazelnut Paste - This bauble shaped piece looked sensationally detailed and it's creamy, nut noted flavours ensured it tasted just as good. The flavour delivery was incredibly smooth for a nut flavoured chocolate. Very Good.

Caramel Chocolate Christmas Tree - This was one of the chocolates that I had reviewed in several different formats before but it proved every bit as tasty as a Christmas tree shape :D Creamy chocolate with hints of burnt sugar and salt. Superb.

Bell Shaped 40% Milk Chocolate - Do I really have to say anything more about the milk chocolate? No! It was a beautiful looking chocolate mind you :D Very Good.

Dark Chocolate with Chilli Penguin - I first reviewed these way back in 2008 (See HERE). I gave them a 9.0 out of 10 then and I still think the same. Superb.

Mulled Wine - There were some serious fights over who got to sample this piece :D The amount of different flavours forthcoming was quite incredible for a chocolate so small. The outer chocolate was creamy, yet the inner creme had influences of spice, cinnamon and orange. My Sister said it was like Christmas encapsulated in a chocolate. Superb.

Champagne Star - I didn't get a look in here :D Both my Mother and my Father picked out this gorgeous looking chocolate before I could try it. Judging by the 'oohs' and 'aahs' that accompanied consumption I think we can safely say they loved the combination of the white chocolate shell and creamy Marc de Chmpagne centre. The sprinkle of edible gold on top was a touch of real class. Superb.

Florentine Dream - Without doubt this was one of my favourites in the selection. The soft praline filling was expertly matched with the toffee and caramel flavours forthcoming from the crunchy almond pieces placed on top. Oh ... the milk chocolate wasn't half bad either :D Superb.

Red Berry Mousse - This was immediately set upon by sister who marvelled at how thick the outer chocolate casing was. The piece was enjoyable but she felt like the strawberry and raspberry influences in the mousse could have been stronger tasting. Good.

Crunchy Praline - The billing of praline with crispy baked pancake has us all intrigued, but reality was this piece tasted no different to the House Praline but just with a few crispy bits brought to the party texture wise. I personally thought the pancake bits were a little distracting, and would have preferred the smoother mouth feel. Standard.

Milk Liquid Caramel - This one was picked out straight away by my mother who really fancied the 50% milk chocolate and liquid caramel combination. She said the chocolate was delicious, but the caramel, whilst wonderfully soft could have done with being a bit saltier. Good.

Dark Liquid Caramel - Much like my Mother's thoughts above, I felt like the saltyness of the caramel could of just been a little more dialled up than it was. Regardless it was still one exceedingly tasty chocolate and the dark chocolate was incredible. Very Good.

Overall as you can see from the ratings this was one incredible selection of Christmas themed chocolates. As I said in my introduction, I really hope that the photos you see in front of you do the product justice, as it really was a superb looking collection of festive chocolate treats. The standout pieces judging by all the feedback from my family were the Mulled Wine, Champagne Star, Florentine Dream, House Praline and Dark Chocolate & Chilli Penguins. It's not often that you find a selection box that offers such fantastic variety, yet with no 'dud' chocolates to report of. If you are thinking of getting in a special box of Christmas themed chocolates for the household this Christmas I honestly cant recommend this selection enough. Thank you for taking the time to read my review, as ever your own thoughts are most welcome.

9.0 out of 10