The Melting Hearts Selection is available in a number of various sizes this year - as you can see I chose to go for the fifteen piece H-Box. This format included six different flavoured hearts (some portioned three times), each of where easily identifiable through the menu which for once was highly accurate for identifying each beautifully crafted flavour. Below are my brief thoughts on each ...
Strawberry Love - Unfortunately I didn't manage to get at one of these myself but I was 'thankfully' informed that it was delicious by mother. This piece combined a white chocolate shell with a strawberry ganache centre and looked marvellous when cross-sectioned. I was informed the taste was balanced to perfection with cream and tangy real red fruit flavours creating an indulgent strawberries and cream bite size experience. Superb.
Chocolate Brownie - This was the weakest of all the flavours that I tried but the rating tells you alot of how bad that really was. The centre of this piece wasn't particularly differentiated in terms of taste from the outer chocolate shell, but it was noticeably denser in texture, so to an extent the 'brownie' proposition was delivered. Normally the lack of progressiveness in terms of flavours would get an instant downgrade for a filled chocolate like this, but we are talking Hotel Chocolat 40% milk chocolate here. Good.
Peanut Passion - What do you think the chances were of me letting this one slip into other peoples hands :D I ate all three. The Peanut Passion combined a gorgeously soft praline centre with Hotel Chocolat's creamy 40% milk chocolate. The peanut praline tasted incredible with its delicious smooth roasted nut flavours that had a wonderful hint of salt as an end note. Superb.
Pistachio Praline - Last year the pistachio praline was coated in a layer of milk chocolate and managed to get a 'Superb' rating. Why change it this year to a dark chocolate shell then!? .... because it just made it even better of course :D This was another absolutely gorgeous chocolate. The synergy created by the rich cocoa of the less sweet chocolate and the savoury, earthy pistachio filling was incredibly unique and by all means indulgent. Superb.
Liquid Caramel - Whilst the other centres soft in texture, this was the only one of the hearts that had a liquid based filling with it's flowing, oozing caramel. Had I the choice I would have gone with Hotel Chocolat's dark chocolate to encase the buttery sweet caramel, but the milk chocolate still made for a flavour experience that was sensually luxurious. Very Good.
Raspberry my Heart - Aesthetically this heart looked beautiful with it's pink coloured raspberry creme centre really standing out from the white chocolate exterior. Once again the textural play from crisp outer chocolate to melt-in-the-mouth filling was a complete joy, and was only surpassed by the competency of the flavour progression with the cream based outer chocolate taking a turn for a tangier red fruit emphasis. Very Good.
Overall I believe Hotel Chocolat have managed to defy the saying 'Why fix something that isnt broken' with their efforts with this Melting Hearts Selection this year. Seemingly they have achieved this by keeping what was great about the product last year, and then applying some basic flavour rotation to keep things interesting. Ask me to pick a winner from one year to the other and I simply wouldn't be able to do it - there were both marginal improvements/disprovements from piece-to-piece. Essentially the crux of the matter is, that this is a high quality set of chocolates that will no doubt please anyone that appreciates the finer chocolates of this world. Hotel Chocolat are offering a vast amount of products this year for Valentines day - if you ask me you cant do better than these.
8.9 out of 10
NB. The lower score for 'Selection' is a consequence of the smaller format I reviewed vs last year ;)