December 14th: Hotel Chocolat Christmas Desserts Sleekster Selection

As I informed you all at the start of the month I've been the lucky recipient of a vast amount of the Hotel Chocolat Christmas 2012 range including several of their new selection boxes. The first one which I am showing you all today is the Hotel Chocolat Christmas Desserts Sleekster Selection - a collection billed as being 'specially created for Christmas sharing and inspired by everyone's favourite desserts'.

The 300.0g box contained 26 chocolates with 9 different flavours on offer. The presentation was absolutely first class with the usual Sleekster Selection look and feel given a very Christmassy overhaul with the cool looking sky blue and silver colour scheme. To put these 9 different flavours to the test I got the rest of my family to help me out - here are our views on them:

Baked Alaska - All of us that tried this were very impressed with the contrast in flavours provided by the tart raspberry truffle centre and the sweet, creamy outer white chocolate. The small pieces of meringue on top were a welcome addition tempering the sourness of the fruit. Very Good.

Christmas Cake - The prospect of walnut praline, raisins, cranberries, cinnamon, orange and nutmeg had me terribly excited however I'm afraid this didn't match up to expectations. The walnut praline for me was very underwhelming and the majority of the fruit and spice influences were highly indistinguishable. Not a bad truffle but I expected better. Standard.

Zesty Christmas Caramel - This was one fantastic chocolate. The outer milk chocolate was it's creamy sweet self and hid below it a gooey, liquid caramel center. The caramel had all of it's delicious butterscotch toffee flavours and in addition had an added further hint of citrusy lemon zest to further bring interest. I could eat these all day. Superb.

Coconut Bombe - When I read the menu this was my first port of call as I instantly recognised the coconut truffle filling and outer milk chocolate combination could be one of great potential. Thankfully this was not a misguided preconception with the coconut flavours wonderfully established by both the ganache and dried coconut dusting. Very Good.

Christmas Mess - Was it cheeky to take the usual Eton Mess chocolate and just give it a little name change? Maybe, but do we really care when the chocolate is this good!? Not me! Creamy, light, refreshing and with the most sensational of real tasting strawberry flavours. Need I say more? Superb.

Apple & Blackcurrant Cobbler - This was an entirely new piece to me and I absolutely loved it. This milk chocolate had an amazing white chocolate filling that was flavoured with both apple and blackcurrant. Topping things off each piece had a sprinkle of amaerrti biscuit that added just a mild nuttyness to the sour fruit and sweet chocolate elements. Very Good.

Gingerbread Truffle - I've lauded over this truffle before but I have no issue whatsoever telling you just how brilliant this chocolate was again :-) The taste started out with a standard milk chocolate flavour delivery, though upon revelation of the filling the cinnamon influence well and truly took over establishing a spicy hint and warming sensation to the mouth feel. Superb.

Pecan Brownie - Out of a selection of really fantastic chocolates this was one of the least eventful flavour wise. The dark chocolate base some delicious earthy cocoa flavours but the pecan and caramel elements were not significant enough to provide comparable levels of flavour progression compared to others in the box. Good.

Ginger & Marmalade Pudding - Another all new chocolate for 2012 and it went down a storm. Unfortunately there were only of these in the box but both my mother and I agreed it was one of the best. The zesty orange and warming spicy ginger were the perfect match for the dark chocolate and created a delightful array of flavours and textures. Superb.

Overall this was a really enjoyable collection of chocolates that was expertly mixed in terms of chocolate type and flavour theme. The dark and white chocolates may be a little out numbered compared to the five milk chocolate options, however I think is a fair reflection on common taste so it makes sense to me that the latter is better represented. Whilst I will spare you all me lauding over the quality of each of the truffles individually again, I would like to reiterate just how grand the collective package looks and lives up to the Christmas theme intended. This is a good start of the Hotel Chocolat Christmas 2012 selection boxes - I hope the other few live up to these high standards.

8.7 out of 10