Sunday 16 June 2013

Hotel Chocolate H-Box Summer Selection - Review

Summer and chocolate are not normally two things I associate - as melting chocolate all over your hands is annoying and I'd rather have an ice cream when it's hot - but Hotel Chocolat has proved me wrong. They sent me their H-Box Summer Selection to review and the range of summer-inspired chocolate truffles - including Eton mess and raspberry pannacotta - was just perfect for this time of year.

I do occasionally shop in Hotel Chocolat and for the past few years have got my boyfriend's Easter egg from there, so I already knew they were high quality and worth the more expensive price. I wasn't familiar with their "H Box" range; a box with a cut-out H on the front allowing you to see the chocolates inside. According to the website the H Boxes contain Hotel Chocolat's most popular chocolate recipes and they are "the perfect size to surprise someone special or take home as a well-deserved treat".

I chose to review their Summer Selection box, which costs £12 and contains 14 chocolates in 11 different flavours. This meant you get one of each chocolate and two of just a couple of them - I actually wondered why they didn't just have one of each or two of each as the extra ones seemed a little arbitrary. But I'm not complaining!
The contents of the box are really colourful and look lovely.

The box itself looks very pretty and comes with a fold-out 'menu' listing all the flavours. The chocolates are different colours and finished with toppings or stripes and really look very attractive - I think anyone presented with this box would be pleased. Each chocolate is a good size as well.

I shared the chocolates with a couple of willing volunteers who gave me their opinions on each chocolate. Here's what we thought:

Trillionaire's shortbread - like millionaire's shortbread, with a caramel layer, hazelnut praline and little pieces of cookies on top. The cookie pieces were especially nice and this was one of the taster's favourite chocolates. It's the sort of thing you would want to eat in an entire dessert.

Blueberry cheesecake - a layer of blueberry truffle with a sour cream cheesecake layer. It looks very attractive and is an unusual colour; the blueberries flavour is intense, and the cheesecake layer is very creamy.

Raspberry pannacotta - again a really lovely looking chocolate and the first one I chose from the box. It has layers of raspberry and vanilla cream and is encased in white chocolate. The raspberry is really fruity and summery, though the aftertaste is mainly white chocolate.

Chocolate trifle - more of a traditional chocolate truffle but it has a layer of bisuit on the bottom, with praline and vanilla truffle. It melts in the mouth.

Eton mess - strawberry mousse and meringe encased in a less-sweet white chocolate, according to the chocolate menu. This chocolate looks very appealing and is the perfect flavour combination for summer; the strawberry taste is distinctive and the meringue is crunchy, while the white chocolate is not overly sweet so works well here.

Berrythyme truffle - in the picture in the menu this chocolate has a pink and green stripe around the white chocolate ball, which are separate with a gap in between. But on the chocolate itself, as you can see from my photo,  they are almost overlapping and it looks like one stripe so it's not as pretty. But appearance aside, it tastes wonderful, with a really zingy raspberry mousse. I couldn't detect the hint of thyme though that's probably more down to my unrefined pallet.

Sour cherry truffle - a sharp but sweet sour cherry in a creamy truffle centre, and really bitter dark chocolate wihch the tester said was delicious, but suggested she thought this one may not be to everyone's taste.

Summer berry - a summer fruit-flavoured truffle encased in dark chocolate. This is quite unusual and a great blend of different flavours. The truffle centre is so much nicer than standard chocolates that have a creamy or liquid centre (like traditional orange or strawberry creams).

Caramel cheesecake - a biscuit layer, soft caramel and a sour cream cheesecake layer. Another one for those with more traditional chocolate tastes, this one is luxurious and delicious.

Custard tart - the menu describes this as "the perfect balance of creamy vanilla custard truffle with a delicate hint of nutmeg", but it wasn't really one for me. The custard just didn't really work in a chocolate in my opinion.

Coffee and walnut torte - a deep layer of coffee praline with little pieces of walnut. This has a a gorgeous rich dark coffee flavour and even though  one of the tasters doesn't like nuts, he said the flavour was lovely and the texture of the nuts wasn't overpowering, so he gave this one the thumbs up.

The custard tart was the only chocolate that we felt missed the mark slightly, though of course this is a matter of personal taste. The other chocolates were delicious, high quality and a great range of original flavours that you wouldn't find elsewhere. The Hotel Chocolat H-Box Summer Selection would make a great gift at this time of year.

Disclaimer: I was sent the box of chocolates free of charge by Hotel Chocolat to review. I was not required to make positive comments.

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