December 3rd: Hotel Chocolat Winter Treasures (Free Gift)

I've had a few e-mails and Tweets recently from ChocolateMission readers asking me about the Hotel Chocolat Winter Treasures Free Gift that they have seen on my Offers Page - See HERE. Most of the  questions posed to me have been along the lines of - 'Jim is it worth it?' - 'Jim what chocolates do you get in it?'. Well folks to answer all your questions all at once I decided to take a look at it :-) Any excuse eh ;-)

The Hotel Chocolat Winter Treasures is a 110.0g selection box consisting of 9 different Christmas themed pieces. Aesthetically the presentation is impressive. The box is suitably festive and the chocolates are decorated nicely with some very smart shapes and intricately detailed, tempting looking truffles. Here are my thoughts on the chocolates:

The three you see above are the plain chocolate pieces in the selection. The Milk Chocolate Bauble, Milk Tree and White Christmas Bell are obviously not the most exciting of what the box has to offer, however the quality of the chocolate is undoubtedly high. I would have liked to have seen a richer, plain dark chocolate offering than the 50% Bauble.

These round shaped truffles were the Zesty Christmas Caramel and Clementine Truffle. The Zesty Christmas Caramel was my favourite of the two, combining a lovely orange oil flavoured creamy milk chocolate casing with a very generous portion of buttery caramel inside. The Clementine Truffle wasn't far behind mind you! This piece had bits of sweet candied orange sitting on top of a delicious 70% dark chocolate truffle that had obvious orange oil flavouring within its midst. The taste was a combination of rich, powerful cocoa and sweet orange - wonderful.

The two square shapes were the familiar looking Chocolate Brownie piece and the all new Pistachio Crunchie. The Chocolate Brownie was its ever self high quality with it's double textured milk chocolate coating and truffle combination, but it was the Pistachio Crunchie that will longer live in the memory. This piece was stunning! Combining 70% dark chocolate and whole pistachio nuts, the taste was just incredible with the strong, rich cocoa flavours beautifully enhanced by the salty, earthy flavours of the nuts - I could have eaten a whole box of these.

Lastly the two finger shaped pieces were the Praline Dream and the Ginger & Marmalade Pudding. I needn't bore you all to tears with my laudings of the Praline Dream as I have commended HC for their praline skills many a time before :-) I thought the Ginger & Marmalade Pudding may make it one to many chocolates on the orange flavouring side of things but it was more the ginger element that came through in the taste and the sweeter orange tempered the spicyness well.

Overall I'm going to conclude that this is a very competent selection of Christmas chocolates - hence my high rating. Whilst I rate it very highly, Hotel Chocolat say the box has a worth of £11.00 but I'm really not sure I could justify that. The box has some superb pieces in it - notably the Zesty Christmas Caramel & Pistachio Crunchie, but to say you should be making an order of say £25.00 up to over £40.00 to qualify for it would be misleading. Chances are if you are ordering a substantial amount from Hotel Chocolat this Christmas you are going to be in the qualifying region for this Free Gift anyway. I think it's a great gesture from Hotel Chocolat - you will certainly thank them for it.

8.5 out of 10