Over the past three years I've been treated to many Hotel Chocolat Christmas themed selections including:
*Hotel Chocolat Sparkling Stars Caramels (See HERE),
*Hotel Chocolat The H-Box Christmas Selection Without Alcohol (See HERE)
*Hotel Chocolat The Sleekster Classic Christmas Selection (See HERE)
Well quelle surprise they have updated and refreshed their Classic Christmas Selection for 2011. Below you will see what I made of all the new flavours.
Before I give you my verdict on some of the new chocolates in the collection this year, it's only right that I inform you of some of the 'old school' favourites that retained their places. Above there you can see (from left-to-right) Simple Milk Truffle, House Praline, Rum Ingot, Caramel Chocolate Baubel, Mulled Wine, Champagne Truffle and a Salted Caramel Dome. I suggest if you want to see remind yourself of how they all faired, you check out the older reviews I posted above.
Gingerbread Truffle - The dark chocolate shell was a good match for the inner ginger filling and the melt transition was perfect. The mouth feel of this dome shaped piece was super soft, yet had a little grip to it which meant the spicy flavours were longer sustained. Very Good.
Zesty Marzipan Star - This was a stunning chocolate and one notable for it's dexterous flavours and textures. The crisp outer dark chocolate contained a beautiful, cool, juicy orange ganache that topped a small under layer of firm, delicious almond marzipan. Superb.
Christmas Mess - This Christmas variation of one of my all time favourite chocolates was better than the normal HC Eton Mess for just one simple reason .... it was much bigger :D I needn't say more. Superb (times a million!!).
Cherry Florentine - You will have seen several reviews before where I have expressed my love for HC's Florentine chocolates. This one here was every bit as good as it has been previously, just with a touch of cherry fruit to give it a sweet, real tasting red berry taste. Very Good.
Ginger Cheesecake - This piece also features in the smaller Cheesecake Dessert pack so I was well versed what to expect here. It again presented itself as sensational piece, with the sugary, gooey ginger layer at the bottom contrasting perfectly with the sour cream notes of the firm cream ganache ontop. Wrapped in thick dark chocolate this was only ever getting one rating. Superb.
Star Anise - I adore aniseed so I can't tell you how much I was looking forward to this one. Unfortunately I was left feeling extremely underwhelmed as the booze element overwhelmed the very subtle licorice undertones. This should have been so much better than it was. Poor.
Overall it wont come as any surprise to you folks that Hotel Chocolat have maintained this as a simply fantastic selection box offering. I genuinely think you are going to be hard pressed to find another collection where the range of flavours and different truffle types are as variable as they are here. By and large, the range in the quality of the chocolates is very narrow - a good 90.0% of them being either very good or superb. In terms of the retained pieces from previous years, I think they chose right keeping some of the plainer chocolates for the less adventurous, whilst also keeping the more unique offerings such as the Mulled Wine and Rum Ingot in the mix. For the third year running I feel entirely comfortable recommending this selection. There is something there for everyone, whether it be a highly intricate Zesty Marzipan Star or just a simple Caramel Bauble. A double JCM thumbs up from me.
8.6 out of 10