February 25th: Thorntons Dessert Gallery

I don't think there can be any further accusations of me not reviewing enough Thorntons products - already in 2011 I have reviewed three of their selection boxes (Classic See HERE, Premium See HERE, Continental See HERE), and today sees me finally fulfil several reader requests by giving their Dessert Gallery selection a crack at the ChocolateMission rating system.

Judging by the price, this Dessert Gallery should be perceived as being on the same product quality tier as the Continental Selection. When it came to the product presentation, packaging and chocolate craft, I thought this was consistent, and I liked the aesthetic design work of both the box and chocolates, which looked suitably more premium than some of the lower priced Thorntons products featured earlier in the year on the site. The selection came described as 'a collection of dessert inspired chocolates' and 'an assortment of milk, dark & white chocolates'. All eight pieces were portioned twice within the 215.0g box and were easily identifiable through the classy menu featured in the box.

Almond Torte - On the menu this was a chocolate that promised 'shortcake pieces with in it's praline centre' though both proved to be MIA from what I tasted. Despite over promising on it's contents, the milk chocolate cream centre was still tasty, and the wholenut almond topping at least brought the nut element to the taste. It over promised, but it was still a fair tasting chocolate. Standard.

Creme Brulee - Due to their being four of us taste testing, and only two chocolates of each flavour, there were a few arguments as to who got to taste this one as it was universally regarded as the most appealing on the menu. Taste wise I personally thought it was a little disappointing as the wealth of Demera sugar placed on top was portioned too greatly and subsequently dominated the cream based flavours of the centre. Texturally it was spot on, but the flavours were unbalanced. Standard.

Lemon Meringue - Easily the best chocolate in the box. This one not only looked stunning visually, but it backed it up when it came to the taste, with the sweetness of the white chocolate beautifully contrasted by the cream and tart, sour lemon centre. Texture wise the crunchy meringue and thin biscuit layers created the dessert experience wonderfully. I could eat a whole lot of these. Superb.

Tiramisu - This was another piece that over promised and under delivered. Promising 'lashings of brandy, mascarpone, coffee and Italian amarretti', what I actually tasted would be what I would describe as milk chocolate with a very musty, light hint of coffee. This was one of the chocolates I was most looking forward to trying, but it woefully let me down. Poor.

Toffee Mousse - Being an avid toffee lover this was quickly snapped up my by father who subsequently demanded I give it a good rating. His evaluation of it was that whilst the outer dark chocolate could have been thicker, the toffee element was integrated very well with both the crunchy toffee pieces and liquid toffee centre providing a solid buttery caramel taste. I wish I had got one! Very Good.

Kirsch Torte - I don't know if it was just the colour but my mother and sister were both drawn to this chocolate so we will going by their judgement here. Although not quite as enjoyed by sister due to it's sweetness, my mother thought the layers of brittle marzipan and cherry sugar complimented the sour, boozie flavours of the Kirsch filling very well and gave it a big thumbs up. Both commented the chocolate should have been thicker - this was a common thing mentioned about all the 'cup' chocolates. Good.

Summer Fruit Pudding - Not only was this chocolate visually imposing, but it actually tasted nice to :D The red jelly topping was by all means superb as a unique mouth feel experience, though it was soft fruity filling below that delivered the delightful real tasting raspberry flavour burst taste wise. This had the look of 'gimmick' written all over it, but it was sensational chocolate. Superb.

Double Chocolate Pot - From the great to the downright average. If any chocolate in any selection could ever be accused as being a 'filler' offering this has to be it. Whilst the chocolate in my photograph above would go a long way to suggest this piece would of had dark and milk chocolate influences, the taste proved to be totally non-progressive, and it lacked any of the clever textural elements of many of the other chocolates in the box. Sometimes you get those chocolates that you wish manufactures hadn't bothered including - this was one of them. This wasn't an offensive piece, but it was an unnecessary one. Standard.

Overall this Dessert Gallery selection delivered a largely consistent sort of experience than the Continental box in that it was a mixture of both high and low quality. As you will have determined from the ratings awarded above, it was surprisingly the fruit flavoured desserts that came off best, with both the Lemon Meringue and Summer Fruit Pudding living up to stunning aesthetic appeal with their stunning real tasting fruity experiences. Unfortunately like most Thorntons selections (I'm not saying they are alone in their guilt of this!!), the Dessert Gallery also featured some pretty drab offerings, most notably the Double Chocolate Pot and Tiramisu pieces which were almost mirror images of each other flavour wise. If you were to push me towards suggesting either the Continental selection or this Dessert Gallery over one or another, I would edge towards the Continental selection as there were just one or two more chocolates in that selection that were to my liking. Having tried a fair deal of these Thorntons selections now it would appear that they can't compete with the likes of Hotel Chocolat consistently on quality, but price comparator wise, at roughly half the cost they are worth considering.

7.8 out of 10