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The number of shopping days left until Christmas are starting to dwindle so expect a bombardment of Hotel Chocolat reviews over the next week or so. This time last year, Hotel Chocolat debuted a new format of product in the form of their Hotel Chocolat Chocolate Log. That pistachio based gianduja chocolate registered and impressive 8.6 out of 10 on the ChocolateMission rating system, and earned itself the glowing praise: 'the 72% recipe was once again outstanding with it's finely balanced cocoa rich taste wonderfully complimented by the superb hazelnut paste and chopped nut ingredients ... I would certainly recommend you take a look at grabbing one of these this Christmas'. This year, the format of the product is back - though Hotel Chocolat have seen fit to release three different varieties. Today I tried the Dark & Fruity offering.
This Hotel Chocolate Yule Log Dark & Fruity came described as 'gianduja praline with orange, cranberry and morello cherry pieces', and came in a plentiful 190.0g log shape. Compared to last years, the packaging and presentation had it's positive and negatives. On the bad side, the log no longer came in a smart looking box, and was rather just contained within a plastic sheath and clear cellophane packet. On the more positive side of things, the log looked altogether more tempting, with the fruit pieces clearly evident spread throughout.
Unsealing the plastic packet, I was immediately greeted by a waft of nutty, fruity chocolate scents. These smells turned out to be highly indicative of the taste of the taste to follow, which was equally bursting at the seams full of different flavours. The method for eating one of these logs was simple - grab a dark coffee, a knife, a napkin (messy stuff to eat I tell you!) and slice away. Although the fruit content was pretty well dispersed, the fruitier looking sections were the first to be cut in to when it came to sharing amongst my family. When it came to getting their feedback on the taste, I was met with whole hearted approval all round, and unsuprisingly I totally agreed with them! For my taste the chocolate could have been a touch stronger, but it was still packed full of delicious cocoa and hazelnut flavours that grew with intensity as the soft gianduja mouth feel was created once heated in the mouth. The fruit constituents were similarly well implemented, with the candied orange pieces and morello cherries really standing out in the bites were present with their juicey sweet fruity flavours. The delivery of the sweet fruit and savoury nut experience was absolutely top notch, and made for a rich tasting chocolate that left a serious impression in the mouth for a long time after.
Overall when a product is met with such wide spread recognition for being totally delicious I can do little but award it a score that is as worthy as 8.6 out of 10. The size of this Yule Log Dark & Fruity was pretty big (190.0g) yet it only managed to survive a day in a household of four as we all couldn't resist slicing off a piece everytime we passed it on kitchen sideboard. Fundamentally it just tasted great - the gianduja was both luxuriously nutty and sinfully chocolatey, whilst all the added fruits brought an extra flavour dimension with their fresh tasting, sweet appeal. Compared to the Christmas Log last year I would have liked to have retained the pistachio nuts as well, but those looking for a nuttier alternative could always check out the Yule Log Nutty. Just like I did last year, I have no problems whatsoever recommending this to anyone that fancies it. I can promise you if you like your praline/gianduja chocolates that you wont regret it.
8.6 out of 10