Archive for category Chocolate

Chocolate Review: 65% Dark with Sea Salt, Rabot Estate

This is a very pretty bar, with simple, understated packaging that belies the complex and mature Hotel Chocolat treat. It’s one of the few chocolates grown on their own estate in St Lucia and its rarity adds to the luxury. Tasting reveals a dark, burnt flavour with a fruity undertone. It only has merest hint of sea salt that complements the chocolate very well, but might be disappointing if you are more used to Lindt’s saltier offerings.

Overall, another excellent offering by Hotel Chocolat. A mild, dark chocolate to sit down and savour. Just ignore the fleur de sel claims on the label.

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Chocolate Review: Hotel Chocolat – Hacienda Lara, Extreme Pralines 90% Dark

Another selection from the Hotel Chocolat Purist range. This small box of chocolates was described as ‘rare and vintage’. Something a little bit special from an already excellent chocolatier. Labelled as ‘Extreme pralines’, they live up to their name being made with an unusually high 90% dark chocolate (cocoa from St Lucia), which is then mixed with Piedmont hazelnut.

The dark chocolate actually contains a drop of butter oil, which isn’t something I’ve noticed before in chocolate of this cocoa percentage.

What hits me first is a smell of full-bodied red wine followed by the taste of red fruits. The chocolate is indeed dark and intense, and as it melts, a pleasant taste of burnt caramel comes through, followed by the first hint of hazelnut. The praline is very smooth, wonderfully nutty and not too sweet.

Perfect. A rare and special treat.

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Chocolate Review: Hotel Chocolat, Santo Domingo 70%

One hundred grams of dark, fruity Santo Domingo 70% dark chocolate. Full of flavour, smooth but not over-powering. I don’t really taste the bitterness mentioned on the packet, but I did notice and appreciate the ‘fruity and wine-like notes’.

More depth than their house chocolate and not as more-ish. Definitely one to savour slowly.

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Chocolate Review – Hotel Chocolat, 70% House Dark Chocolate

Hotel Chocolat sell a variety of gourmet chocolates at a number of price points to suit every pocket. Their house chocolate is their standard and probably most popular chocolate. It is used in their lollies, slabs and special shapes, as well as many of their selectors.

The house dark chocolate is very accessible and additive. It is 70% cocoa and delivers a strong hit of flavour, while still remaining smooth and without being over-powering. It’s very more-ish and a good introduction to fine chocolate. Yet, it’s not their best dark chocolate and I find myself gravitating more towards their single-origin bars.

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Chocolate Review – HC, Rabot Estate 66% Dark Chocolate Baubles

The Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia is what makes Hotel Chocolat the largest bean-to-bar producer in the country. It’s also rather sought after and only finds its way into selected HC chocolates in their premium ‘Rabot Estate’ brand.

I’m generally not a fan of HC’s seasonal offerings. They tend to be much more expensive than the rest of their selection. And while they do have quirky and fun concepts, I prefer just a plain ol’ bar of good quality chocolate. I thought I’d give these chocolate baubles a go though, not least because they were 50% of in the post-Christmas sale..

For chocolate that’s less than 70%, it’s certainly very powerful, with flavours of figs and red fruits coming through strongly (it was described as such on the back-packet and I happen to agree, haven’t tasted the liquorice flavour that was also supposed to be there though).

Overall, excellent taste. As usual, it’s something to savour and certainly memorable. Perhaps my new year’s resolution should be to hunt out some more of the Rabot Estate offerings.

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Chocolate Review – Riverside Chocolate House, Handmade Dark Coffee Chocolate

A very smooth bar with hints of caramel. This sweet and creamy dark chocolate is only 54%. The chocolate doesn’t seem to have any deep or sophisticated flavours, but it’s possible it’s being overwhelmed by the coffee, which is of extremely good quality.

Overall, it’s a very tasty bar, if not a little sickly. It’s like a smooth, well made espresso and best approached a few small pieces at a time.

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Chocolate Review: Thorntons, 85% Dark

The Thorntons 85% dark chocolate bar is a 90g square of “intensely smooth, super-dark chocolate”. It’s part of their new-ish range of good quality chocolate squares. I’ve found Thorntons can be very hit and miss, but I’ve heard good things about this particular range.

It uses French beans from West Africa apparently and is described as ‘smooth’, with ‘strong cocoa notes’. On tasting, it is indeed very cocoa-y. Not as refined or fruity as my current favourite, Lindt 85%. It reminds me of a slightly more intense version of the Cote D’Or 86% bar.

At nearly £2 for 90g, it’s not cheap and doesn’t particularly differentiate itself from similar bars that cost slightly less. However, it’s very pleasant and I’m looking forward to finishing off the rest of the bar. And of course, I’m now keen to try the other flavours in their range..

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Chocolate review: Chocolate Garden, whole real gooseberries in fine chocolate

I picked up a box of these unusual treats at Center Parcs Sherwood Forest, of all places. I’d never heard of Chocolate Garden before, but labelled as winners of the superior taste award 2009, the box of gooseberries coated in chocolate seemed too good and, well, too intriguing not to buy.

The chocolate used is 47% and while not labelled as dark chocolate does not contain any milk substance so I figured it counted as part of the series of reviews.

Further investigation (by which I mean, reading the packet) reveals that the gooseberries have been ‘candied’, i.e soaked in plenty of sugar. Rather ominously they have also had preservatives and flavouring added. The chocolate itself contains some vanillin, which implies a cheaper chocolate has been used.

Opening the packet reveals something a bit too uniform and shiny for something that’s labelled as homemade. The first bite uncovers a sticky centre that bares little resemblance in any regard to a gooseberry. Overwhelmingly sweet, there’s no taste of the tangy, tart tasting fruit I was expecting.

I can’t really comment on the chocolate, any taste has been drowned out by the incredible amounts of sugar and the (I assume) shellac glaze. I’d guess the glaze has been added to improve shelf life, but it’s a pity as it ruins the taste and texture of the chocolate.

In conclusion, they were not worth it. I’d rather save my money and have some cheap Tesco coated raisins instead, which is of comparable quality (but with less sugar!). Certainly not award winning produce.

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Chocolate Review – Hotel Chocolat, Nibbly Nibs

The dark chocolate ‘Nibbly Nibs’ from Hotel Chocolat are small rectangular pieces of perfectly formed chocolate in one of the ‘selector’ packets. The Hotel Chocolat selectors range being an affordable introduction to their range of chocolates.

Nibbly Nibs is described as ‘Caramelised cocoa crisps within dark chocolate for nibbly texture and flavour bursts’. There is no mention of the chocolate percentage on the front, but a look at the ingredients reveals that it’s 70%.  The next thing to mention is the wonderful smell upon opening the plastic packaging, these are not chocolates to be sniffed at.

Nibs are the resulting pieces of cocoa bean, after it’s been dry-roasted, cracked and de-shelled. It’s this which is normally used to create the chocolate. However, they can be eaten on their own if you want a real kick, or as is quite popular at the moment, sprinkled into chocolate to provide extra texture and flavour.

The chocolate here is lightly bitter, with a wonderful soft texture that easily melts away in the mouth to an explosion of a slightly fruity cocoa. It’s their standard dark chocolate, which is as tasty and more-ish as ever. The cocoa nibs are subtle; they aren’t evident until the chocolate starts to melt away and suddenly your mouth is full of them. They soon provide an extra kick though..

Not sort of chocolate to eat quickly, I nonetheless found my self snacking on my third piece before being able to stop myself. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to work off a chocolate buzz..

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Chocolate Review: The Riverside Continental Chocolate House, Rosemary and Sea Salt Dark Chocolates

The Riverside Continental Chocolate House is a tiny shop and café, hidden away in deepest, darkest Wales. It makes its own chocolate on-site and resales a few other well-known and less well-known brands. The selection is more limited than I would have expected for a specialist shop, but there were some interesting options. So obviously, I picked out a few to try. The one I picked out for review was a dark chocolate ganache with rosemary and sprinkled with a touch of sea salt.

It was excellent, one of the nicest and most distinctive chocolates I’ve had. The rosemary was strong but not overpowering and proved to be just the right amount to perfectly complement the chocolate. The chocolate itself I’m guessing was around 60%, with a nice well-bodied flavour. The sea salt provided an extra dimension, by cutting through the other flavours and preventing it from being too heavy.

A good experience and I’d happily stop off at the café again if I’m passing in future. However, I probably wouldn’t go out of my way, even if they do sell one of the most memorable chocolates I’ve ever tasted.


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