It's been a long while since Artisan du Chocolat last featured on the site and judging by the experience that my family and I have just had with this Tasting Selection Box I have to say it has been far too long. Hands up I have to admit we were a bit naughty and opened the box up without the 'Old Man' doing his usual mastery photography - the photos you see today are a mix of the ones I was sent by Artisan and the some shots the 'OM' took of the few remaining pieces left after our first attack on it :-D
I was sent this 285.0g selection last week and I was instantly struck by the classy presentation and overall high quality feel that radiated from the box. The outer packaging was decorated beautifully with sparkly, subtle branding and the sealing ribbon tie ensuring the inner content remained firmly intact. Opening the box up we were amazed at the sheer number of different chocolates inside - there were so many different colours and shapes in front of us it felt like there was only really one thing we could do about it ....
Assorted Os - These thin disk chocolates felt like a good place to start are there were several different flavours on offer. I went straight for the caramel, my mother the cherry, my sister the lychee & rose and my father went with the honey. All round we felt the chocolate was fantastic and we felt that all of the flavours promised were delivered with stunning accuracy. The fruit flavours were real tasting and distinctive, and the mint discs were refreshing and crisp. The other flavours we sampled were praline, pistachio, passion fruit, cinnamon and the aforementioned mint - all were every bit as tasty as the first lot we sampled. Superb.
No.1 Liquid Salted Caramels - Remember these? (See HERE). I needed no second invitation getting reacquainted with these golden nectar laden truffles. My words will never do these justice but I will try my best. These award winning caramels are some of the finest I've ever tasted and no surprises they all disappeared within seconds of the box being opened. As with everything in the selection the chocolate quality was incredibly high with semi-sweet shells establishing a crisp chocolatey base to every piece. The dusting of cocoa on the shell is a genius, yet slight messy touch with it bringing a welcome contrasting rich cocoa influence on the sweet filling. The caramel centres!? Well what can I say - elements of butter, maple, sugar, honey and salt all rolled in to one. Superb.
South Sea and Tahiti Pearls - (top to bottom) The top two were white and milk chocolates that contained a rich tasting cocoa ganache. These pieces were not only tremendously good looking, but they also tasted fantastic with the smooth feel centres bursting with cocoa flavours. The bottom Tahiti pearl chocolates were equally as good and hid a delicious hazelnut praline underneath the dark chocolate shells. Very Good.
Couture Chocolates - Artisan split these chocolates into six different types and we got to try representations of most of them: Fruits, Flowers, Herbs, Spices, Nuts & Seeds and Pure Origins. In our selection box the fruit flavours were the orange and passion fruit chocolates. My fruit chocolate loving mother thought the passion fruit flavour was wonderful and was an accurate depiction of one favourite fruits. Among the 'Flower' cotoures we simply got a honey chocolate - it got a big thumbs up from me. The herb chocolates were sadly not present among the collection. I despise smoking but even I was intrigued by the prospect of a 'tobacco' flavoured coture which was displayed on the menu. The other flavours actually present in the box more than made up for the lacking herb chocolates, the ones that drew the most attention and praise were the Tonka (Spices), Black Cardamom (Spices) and Madagascar Dark (Pure Origins) pieces. The variety each of these different flavours was terrific and made for an exciting and variable experience. Very Good.
Overall it's really hard to sum up this Selection Box without wanting to name every single piece as a 'stand out'. I tried to be succinct in my summaries above but there were just so many good things to say about each variety of chocolate in this wonderful collection that I just couldn't help myself. I get to try plenty of chocolate selections running this site but I don't think there has ever been one that has been able to offer as much variety and quality than this one from Artisan. I think £28.00 is expensive if you are buying a box of chocolates so it's going to have to be something extremely special to justify such a price tag. Well if you ask me Artisan du Chocolat's Tasting Selection Box warrants that price and is one I would recommend to absolutely anybody who appreciates fine chocolates. The truffles are outstanding, the coutures and discs amazingly varied and the caramels ... well ... they are just simply sensational. Before this starts sounding too much like I'm starting up an Artisan du Chocolat fan club (Edit: too late reading this all back haha!!) I will just leave you with the JCM scoring chart - trust me, try it and you wont disagree.
9.2 out of 10