Friday, December 17, 2010

Hotel Chocolate Christmas Selection: Cinnamon Praline and Starberry

Is there any chance you are looking at getting somebody on your Christmas list a small add-on gift of chocolate? In general, the goods from Hotel Chocolat seem to get great reviews. But what about their Christmas Selection in particular?

The most notable thing about this petite box of four chocolates is that the chocolates are so clearly labeled by compartment – no more hunting and hoping.

I started off with the cinnamon praline, as its milk chocolate exterior looked quite smooth and appealing.

It certainly was smooth, and seemed to have a hint of ginger flavor in it, which was a nice touch to enhance the chocolate shell.

Inside, the praline is also soft and smooth. The hazelnut taste is evident immediately, and is enhanced by cinnamon and just a bit of salt. The cinnamon flavor lingers longer than the chocolate, but is not overwhelming against the creamy milk chocolate center. In general, the flavor is well-balanced, and the spice is evident but doesn’t overwhelm the chocolate and hazelnut flavor. I’m most impressed with the perfect matching of textures of the shell and filling, as this allowed me to enjoy small bites of this praline without catching stray broken shell pieces or oozing filling. I must find more of these.

I also checked out another milk-chocolate-covered chocolate from this cute little box: the starberry.

The milk chocolate is again creamy and smooth, with what seems to be a hint of a strawberry flavor infusion. This shell is sufficiently soft and thin to give way to the filling inside – a feature that I’m beginning to think this is a Hotel Chocolat signature.

The filling itself is smooth and creamy, like a high-quality mousse or buttercream. It has a strong, tart berry flavor that contrasts well with the sweet milk chocolate. The flavor combination, and the fact that the texture matches to allow for an easy bite, makes this a chocolate that I would certainly want to get more of the next time I get to Hotel Chocolat.

Which unfortunately might not be for a while. Drats.

Do you like fruity pralines/truffles or spicy pralines/truffles better?

14 comments:

  1. I like all truffles. Might have to go with spicy, though because that cinnamon one looked and sounded amazing!!!!

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  2. It depends on the fruit and spices used. These two both look very nice. I'm willing to try anything with cinnamon and anything with lemon, orange, cherry, pineapple, grapes. Then there are spices and fruit I cannot stand: anything pepper, chili, bananas...
    I think I'd probably choose a third option - boozy ones :)

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  3. @fitchocoholic It was definitely amazing - like super-soft chocolate gingerbread.

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  4. @Ana I am totally with you on the pineapple - pineapple+dark chocolate+a bit of salt=heaven. I am actually not a huge fan of boozy chocolates personally - I'm a non drinker, which might be part of it. I also don't like liquor filled ones because I make a mess. I'm like a 5 year old when I eat.

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  5. Fruit all the way!! Those look absolutely amazing..you made me crave chocolate right now ha!

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  6. Definitely spicy! I used to really dislike fruit and chocolate, but by eating so much for my blog I've come to appreciate it a bit, at least!

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  7. @The Hungry Runner Girl They are really good - if only Hotel Chocolat were in more locations in the US!

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  8. Hotel Chocolat has a tasting room?! Get me to a plane...

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  9. @onebrewhouse Lauren, not only do they have a tasting room, but the minute you walk in, they offer you a piece of either dark or milk chocolate.

    Chocolate shops seem to love expanding to Vegas, maybe you'll luck out.

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  10. Haha, most of my alcohol consumption is probably due to chocolate :)) Other than that, I only meet with a glass of alcohol on special occasions like daddy's birthday or the New Year. In chocolate, I usually prefer creamy alcoholic fillings or, if they're liquid, without a sugar shell. I don't like the texture of sugar shells and fruit liqueurs are usually sweet enough anyway.

    PS - I also manage to make a mess when I'm eating. That's why I avoid eating juicy pears or peaches in public... or wearing long sleeves when I eat them... my arms end up being sticky all the way to the elbows :))

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  11. @Ana I like the creamy alcohol chocolates better, but they usually still have a bit too much of a bite for my personal preference. And the mess factor - well, if I'm eating $78/lb Teuscher truffles and the thing crumbles on me, I'm like "woah, I just dropped 75 cents of chocolate"

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