As a member of Hotel Chocolat’s Tasting Club, I was given the opportunity to buy an experimental new product line. It looks like HC is considering expanding into the realm of baking by presenting a range of brownies. As a limited special edition, they are not currently available in store or online, but I am sure it will not be long before they start to hit the shelves. Just to get you in the mood, I thought I would give you a heads up as to what could possibly be up for grabs in the future.
My £20 Brownie Gallery was sent through the post in a plain cardboard box, but inside was a beautiful looking array of fifteen brownies, consisting of seven different varieties.
The Original Brownie
Kcal 462 Fat 27g Fat (Sat) 16.7g Carbs 50.8g (per 100g)
It was at least a week after receiving these brownies that I started to tuck in, but their plastic wrapping sealed in all the fresh cocoa aromas as if they had only just emerged from the oven. Soft and squidgy, these brownies melted in the mouth like molten chocolate. Although the brownies are fairly small, they are extremely rich, so even just half a portion proved satisfactory. The only thing I did not like about them was the white chocolate chips hidden inside; they added no flavour and merely interrupted the beautifully crumbly texture. 9.5/10
Maple and Pecan
Kcal 462g Fat 25.7g Fat (Sat) 12.1g Carbs 55g (per 100g)
Although made with 65% supermilk, these Maple and Pecan brownies gave off a slightly bitter aroma. The smell, however, is in complete contrast to the taste as the maple syrup makes them so sweet that it completely masks the taste of the chocolate. I could not detect any pecan notes either, probably because the nuts were only there as decoration on the top, and in miniscule quantities. I think they could have been utilised better if they were part of the filling, as that would have added both taste and texture to what seems more like a sponge cake than a brownie. 6/10
Kcal 492 Fat 31.2g Fat (Sat) 17.3g Carbs 51g (per 100g)
With its extremely sweet scent of syrup and honey, the most alluring of all the brownies is the Salted Caramel. It has a subtle saltiness, but the most standout element is its squidgy gooey filling, which reminds me of melting fudge. 10/10
Kcal 496 Fat 29g Fat (Sat) 14g Carbs 53g (per 100g)
A classic British tart puts a twist on a classic American brownie - or should I say blondie? These creamy white chocolate cakes smell exactly like a bakewell tart, and if I had had my eyes closed I would have said without the slightest doubt that it came courtesy of Mr Kipling. The blondie tastes reminiscent of a bakewell too, with notes of marzipan, caramelised almonds, and a thin layer of jam (more would have been nice). It isn’t quite as sweet as a bakewell tart because icing sugar has been swapped for white chocolate, but HC do show good attention to detail by replicating the pastry base with crunchy biscuit. 8/10
Lemon and Pistachio
Kcal 418 Fat 19.6g Fat (Sat) 10.2g Carbs 56.9g (per 100g)
Given the success of their Raspberry Bakewell, I was disappointed at how poorly the Lemon and Pistachio blondie came out. While it gave off a pleasing citrus aroma of orange and lemon, it failed to deliver elsewhere. The flavour of lemon curd was nice, but the pistachios were ground so finely that their presence was completely lost. The blondie tasted very dry and the crumb was dense and rubbery. 4/10
Kcal 519 Fat 34.3g Fat (Sat) 15.2g Carbs 52.4g (per 100g)
Described as a flat white in cake form, the Coffee Walnut brownie smells like a milky latte made from freshly ground beans. The mild nuttiness and mellow coffee are perfectly counterbalanced by strong toffee notes, which give it a very creamy soft fudge texture. 8.5/10
Kcal 531 Fat 35.1g Fat (Sat) 25.3g Carbs 51.4g (per 100g)
The combination of dark chocolate and toasted coconut provides a rich, yet refreshing aroma. Topped with a thick layer of bittersweet chocolate icing and filled with chocolate buttercream, this brownie is very moist, but could have done with a tad more coconut in the actual sponge mixture. 8/10
Hotel Chocolat has already brought out a number of products in its cocoa cuisine range, including biscuits, condiments, pasta, beer, etc., so brownies were only a matter of time. I for one am glad that time is nearly upon us. Apart from two below par recipes, the rest of the selection was exceptional and I can’t wait to order another box of treats.