If I was to say I was either disappointed or surprised when these Hotel Chocolat Melting Hearts popped through my door I would be telling a lie. Indeed when Hotel Chocolat asked me which of their Valentines Day products they should send along for me to sample this year these immediately caught the eye. The billing of a 'breathtaking collection of flavoured chocolate hearts' sounded pretty damn good to me so I made sure I requested a box to try for myself to of course give you all an idea as to whether they were good enough for your special someones ... any excuse eh ;)
Included in this Melting Hearts selection box there were nine different flavoured milk and dark chocolates - six of which were portioned twice and three that were only portioned once. In terms of presentation it won't surprise you to hear that I thought Hotel Chocolat did a pretty good job of things and I liked everything from the well designed outer box to the inner tray and padding which came complete with a nifty menu.
Below are my brief thoughts on each of the chocolates - thanks again to my family who assisted me in rating each on the scale of Very Poor to Superb.
Chocolate Mousse - This was probably the least exciting piece in the selection but it wasn't exactly disappointing in its flavours. Like all of the milk chocolates the outer coating was formed of Hotel Chocolat's 40% recipe so it immediately established a kind cream based cocoa taste in the mouth. The inner filling wasn't the most progressive in terms of flavours, however it was wonderfully smooth melting with its soft texture. Good.
Coffee Praline - This was one of the pieces that I ear marked from the menu and I made sure that I nabbed both before other wandering hands could lay claim to them. Just as I hoped the dark chocolate was simply delicious and the volume of cocoa flavours was spot on establishing a deep and rich taste. Speaking of the inner coffee filling it was just as brilliant and the roasted bean flavours cut through the chocolate wonderfully. Superb.
Milk Praline with Cocoa Crispies - Crispies!?? Really!? I couldn't believe it when I read this on the menu. Normally I associate rice cereal with manufactures looking to 'pad' out chocolate as they often take up considerable amounts of space and are a cheap ingredient. Whilst the outer chocolate was still very flavoursome the bitty and crunchy filling was neither as sensuous as the chocolate mousse truffle or as flavoursome as the majority of the others. Standard.
Sticky Toffee & Banana (Left) - The three chocolates above were only portioned once so it didn't take long my mother to lay claim to this banana flavoured piece. According to her the outer chocolate melted nicely in to the centre which was slightly drier and tacky in texture with a golden syrup like stickiness. In terms of flavours the toffee element came through strongest establishing a delicious caramel like taste although it did somewhat dominate the banana fruit influence which came as minor disappointment to her. Good.
Pistachio Praline (Back) - I don't think it will take you to long to identify this piece in the picture above with its bright green filling. As with all the rest of the milk chocolate pieces the quality of the chocolate was very high and the creamy flavours led nicely in to the nutty filling. In the past I have been disappointed by weak pistachio flavoured chocolates but this chocolate really had a powerful pistachio influence that delivered a tasty salty kick to the taste. Superb.
Caramel Praline (Front) - I absolutely adored this chocolate! It sounded like it was going to be Superb and it simply was! The creamy outer milk chocolate melted softly in to the caramel praline filling and brought the standard cream rooted flavour base. The centre itself was sinfully smooth on the tongue and the raw hazelnut notes blended nicely with the butterscotch flavours to deliver a long lasting delightful taste. Superb.
Macadamia & Coconut - When are manufacturers going to get the message that they just don't do enough with macadamia nuts!? The last time I tasted a macadamia flavoured Hotel Chocolat chocolate was in their Seriously Dark Selection where their Macadamia Bite got a Superb rating. Quite frankly this chocolate was equally as good - the macadamia came through in the filling with a superb buttery taste that had a delightful salt hint. The coconut element was AWOL but this didn't matter to me one little bit - I nabbed both of these ones!! :D Superb.
Orange Praline - I left these to my mother and sister so we will have to trust them with their rating! Although neither are dark chocolate lovers they both enjoyed the outer coating and felt it was just about right in terms of strength. Both commented that the filling was fantastically smooth and the orange fruit influence came through nicely providing a long lasting sweeter side to the taste. Very Good.
Gianduja - Having eaten my way through a 300.0g box of Hotel Chocolat Gianduja Cubes not long ago I knew exactly what to expect here. The milk chocolate was creamy and delicious whilst the centre was nothing short of divine with its hazelnut lead taste and butter like melt. I needn't elaborate anymore on this chocolate apart from writing the word. Superb.
Overall with every Hotel Chocolat product I review and give over 9.0 out of 10 my recommendations must be getting more and more diluted in what they mean to you all. Unfortunately I just can't do anything but recommend these products when the quality is so consistently high - yet again Hotel Chocolat put together another fine selection of chocolates that are worthy of being gifted to anyone this Valentines Day. If you look above at all the individual ratings for each of the chocolates you will see there were some real standout pieces, namely the Gianduja, Coffee Praline, Macadamia & Coconut, Caramel Praline & Pistachio Praline. I guess a criticism that I could levy at this selection would be that out of the prestigious few named above two of them were portioned only the one time, which of course came at great disappointment when it was established just how great they tasted. I better round this up now as this review is getting a little on the long side ... summing up in simple terms this is a selection box that I am sure would go down an absolute treat to anyone it was gifted to - I very highly recommend it.
9.1 out of 10
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