Another adventure through Hotel Chocolat’s tasting selection brings me to the High Cocoa Tasting Box, which puts dark chocolate centre stage. One thing I have noticed making my way through the different boxes is that there is significant overlap; many of the chocolates from the High Coca were also present in other boxes, including, to my surprise, the Mellow Tasting Box. On the one hand, this is great news for those who want more of their favourites, but can be disappointing for those who are ordering multiple different boxes in the expectation of getting a multitude of different chocolates. However, when examining the High Cocoa Tasting Box as a stand alone, customers will continue to enjoy the same high quality and high standard of presentation.
As usual, you will receive a menu describing the all the contents, with a scoring table on the back so you can rate each one out of five to feedback to HC HQ.
1. Champagne Cocktail
The Champagne Cocktail is made with a 70% cocoa shell and a 62% cocoa ganache, which is infused not only with champagne, but also Cointreau. In all truth, this should be called the Cointreau Cocktail as that is by far the more prominent taste. The Cointreau carries strong orange flavours, which are hinted at with streaks of orange decoration and a tantalising orange scent. 9/10
2. Simple Dark Truffle
For those who like their chocolate untampered with, the Simple Dark Truffle is a delight to behold. Under its 70% cocoa shell is an even darker 80% cocoa ganache. By using less cocoa butter and more cocoa solids, HC creates extra smoothness and depth of flavour – not so much in the shell, but in the ganache, which has a slight tangy sourness to it. 9/10
3. Monkey 47 Gin
This truffle is almost as interesting as the story behind it. When Wing Commander Montgomery Collins arrived in Germany after the Second World War, he was troubled by the destruction he saw and wanted to help rebuild. His first project was to reopen Berlin Zoo, which he partly helped to achieve by sponsoring a monkey called Max. Collins later moved to the Black Forest region, which was well known for distilling fruit liqueurs. Collins decided to blend this with his passion for gin and ended up creating a gin, which used forty-seven botanicals. He named it after Max.
Using so many different ingredients gives Monkey 47 a deep floral flavour, making it ideal to use in chocolate, because its strong flavours do not get masked. The 70% shell gives off a fruity aroma, but inside is a not-so-dark white ganache oozing with warming gin. 8/10
4. Hacienda Iara 62% Milk Almond Praline – See previous review. 5/10
5. Blackcurrant Boost
The Blackcurrant Boost was also in the Mellow Tasting Box, but the white chocolate shell has been replaced with 70% cocoa. Inside contains both a blackcurrant flavoured ganache and mousse which gives a light creamy texture. The two different truffles are very close, but I have a slight preference for the white shell, as it counters the sharp fruity flavours. 9/10
6. Lemon Syllabub – See previous review. 9/10
7. Hacienda 82% Praline With Hazelnuts
An earthy hazelnut praline fills the inside of this chocolate, which is made with 82% cocoa from a single Ecuadorian estate, giving it very dark, piquant tones. The aroma is that of creamy hazelnut, but there are also crunchy nut pieces to add extra texture. 8/10
8. Cuba 73% Dark Tasting Baton & Peru 75% Milk Tasting Baton
You can read the previous review of Cuba 73% here, but the Peru 75% is a new offering. It is not often you the word ‘milk’ attached to a chocolate with such high cocoa content, but as you are probably aware by now, it is part of Hotel Chocolat’s unique ‘supermilk’ ethos of ‘less sugar’. It has a strong aroma of dark red berries and the flavour notes are reminiscent of a Port red wine. 7/10
9. Dizzy Praline
10. Irish Whisky
I can’t say I am very fond of whisky liqueurs; previous whisky filled chocolates have often left me gasping. This Irish Whisky truffle made for a pleasant surprise; made from Tyroconnell single malt, the flavour starts off very subtly, but then creeps up on you. As the taste develops you can detect warming citrus notes, which keeps the ganache mellow and not overpowering. 10/10
11. Salted Crispy Caramel – See previous review. 8/10
12. Florentine Isabelle – See previous review. 9/10
13. Kalamansi Cup
Swapping a white shell for dark makes the Kalamansi Cup look like an entirely different chocolate, but it still retains its unique citrus blend. The dark chocolate probably works slightly better here as it is not as sweet, but the difference is minimal. 9/10
14. Coffee Caramel – See previous review. 6/10
The High Cocoa Tasting box will definitely be a winner with dark chocolate enthusiasts and liqueur lovers, but even those who tend to stay away from the deeper flavours will probably be quite taken. Although every month’s selection is different, if this is anything to go by, there chocolates are not bitter, but actually quite smooth and mellow.