January 14th: Thorntons Premium Collection

In last weeks review of Thorntons Chocolate Collection selection box it was suggested to me by a number of ChocolateMission readers that I take a look at the Thorntons Premium Collection. This box of chocolates seems to have been a popular gifted item last Christmas, as a number of readers reported receiving the collection in one form or another.

For the purpose of this review I picked up the 105.0g pack from my local convenience store. For a product billed as the 'Premium' brand offering I was somewhat disappointed to find it on sale in this channel. I would of thought they would have been better off saving this line of products as an exclusive to their own branded stores - this would certainly have given it some aire of prestige other than the higher price.

In regards to presentation, I was again a little mystified to what I found. The outer box was reasonably inviting and informative, but the care taken to preserve the inner chocolates was sloppy. The chocolates themselves looked decent and relatively smart, though this was little helped by the fact they were all mixed together in a tatty looking clear plastic packet. Within the collection there were eight different pieces - my brief thoughts and ratings are below:

Vanilla Velvet - One of the more exciting pieces in the selection turned out to be rather dull flavour wise which came as a real disappointment. The outer crisp shell of white and dark chocolate initially established a pleasant cream based taste, but this was a poorly built upon by the very lacklustre flavoured sugary truffle centre. Poor.

Cafe Latte - The outer shell of white chocolate sprinkled with ground coffee acted as a nice lead in the coffee flavoured filling and established pleasant tones of dairy cream. The Latte name for this truffle proved to be a very accurate one, as the coffee flavours were tasty, but mild mannered amongst the sweeter cocoa hints that developed. Good.

Amaretto Truffle - I wasn't expecting this at all, but this was my favourite piece in the collection. The thick outer portion contained crunchy bits of amaretto biscuit which contrasted wonderfully with the softer filling. The inner almond and booze flavoured centre was weak, but spot on for my own taste. Some may question it's strength of alcoholic flavours, but I loved it. Very Good.

Dark Champagne Truffle - This was a very average champagne truffle that did it's job, although in a very unspectacular fashion. The exterior layer of dark chocolate was more unsweetened rather than raised in cocoa volume, but it did it's job nonetheless and created a decent amount of chocolatey flavours. The filling below had a boozie tartness to it that was reminiscent of champagne, however the chocolate flavours were there more dominant. Standard.

Chocolate Marquise - This was a truffle that had some good ideas, yet executed them to an average standard. The on pack description stated this piece was to have a layer of layer of crepes, but this was nowhere to be found. Instead small crunchy pieces of pancake were dispersed throughout the light textured truffle centre, which subsequently left them having little impact on the taste. The chocolatey taste created was sound but unprogressive. Standard.

Dual Layered Praline - The sound of white and milk chocolate praline together in one chocolate sounded very ambitious, but I'm glad to say they didn't do a half bad job of making it happen. The milk chocolate shell was fine for what it did, but it was the woody hazelnut flavours of first the milk, and then the creamier nut flavours of the while praline that dominated the taste. At last a chocolate with real flavour progression. Very Good.

Framboise Ganache - One of the surprises from the last Thorntons Chocolate Selection review was that I enjoyed the strawberry fondant piece in that selection, and this raspberry truffle wasn't half bas either. The sweet red fruit flavours were evident from the outset, but were thankfully quite mild mannered and avoided the fake tasting sugaryness that plagues so many other fruit flavoured chocolates. The dark chocolate could be improved but this was ultimately enjoyable. Good.

Triple Chocolate Mousse - This truffle created the most luxurious of mouth feel journeys. Starting with the crisp, thick outer layer of chocolate, the chocolate sprinkles placed on top further added an extra snap to the bite which complimented the soft whipped feel of the inner ganache below. My only disappointment with this truffle was that it failed to progress the flavours of the sweet cocoa and milk from what was established in the mouth in the first few seconds. Good.

Overall this Premium Collection was definitely a step up in quality from the Thorntons Chocolate Selection I reviewed last week, but it certainly wasn't without it's faults. As with most selection boxes there were still one or two weaker pieces, (namely the Vanilla Velvet) mixed in with the better offerings, but on the whole there were some pretty nice chocolates in this selection. What frustrated me a little bit about some of these pieces was that many of them had some really great ideas that could have been even better had they totally delivered on how they had been billed. Another slight annoyance for me is that the collection is labelled as 'Premiuim' - I don't know what other people may think, but to name a chocolate selection 'Premium' and then have it on sale everywhere (and I mean everywhere!!), in a slightly sloppy presentation style, isn't a great way to establish a premium brand offering. There are better boxed chocolates out there, but these are far from a horror show.

7.5 out of 10