Sometimes, your average bar of chocolate from the corner shop just doesn't do the trick. Sometimes you want a bit of something more unusual and want to treat yourself with some hand-made, expertly produced chocolates with lots of different flavour combinations. Which is where chocolate tasting boxes come in.
I was asked recently to try out a tasting box from Cocoa Boutique, made up of hand-made chocolates created by leading chocolatiers. They describe themselves as a Luxury Artisan Chocolate Club and everything from the packaging to the actual chocolates really does feel special.
|Chocolates from Cocoa Boutique, showing the Rum Café Cream, Pamela, Pink Champagne Truffle, Salted Dark Chocolate Caramel and the Milk Chocolate Almond Praline chocolates|
As for the individual chocolates, here's a run-down of what I thought of them:
Pink Champagne Truffle
A white chocolate truffle studded with dried raspberry pieces, and a creamy centre. As the white chocolate breaks, you get the sweet creaminess combined with a warm burst from the champagne. One of my favourite chocolates in the box.
|The Pink Champagne Truffle from Cocoa Boutique|
Another of my favourite chocolates, this one is all about textures as well as flavour. It has a fluffy, whipped chocolate topping and a harder, melted chocolate base which makes this chocolate really silky and luxurious to eat. For me, it tasted of coffee but I couldn't detect much of the rum - I expected it to taste more alcoholic but absolutely loved it all the same.
Dark Chocolate Brandy Truffle
Firm but soft on the inside and dusted with cocoa on the outside, this tasted firstly of chocolate, but then you get that warm, cosy brandy flavour that comes through.
Cocoa Dusted Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels
Oh my word. I've had salted caramels before that weren't particularly salty, and some that were so salty it took the flavour of the caramel away but these were absolutely spot on. As they crack in your mouth, you get this ooze of the salted caramel inside. My absolute favourite chocolate, which I wasn't sharing with anyone.
|Cocoa Dusted Dark Chocolate Salted Caramel broken (OK, bitten) in half|
Inside this chocolate is an oven-roasted almond along with a smooth praline inside. Sweet, nutty and a little burst of saltiness.
White Strawberry Cream
This chocolate is really pretty. It's a crisp white chocolate, dusted with a pink, shimmering topping with a creamy strawberry filling. Not overly alcoholic, it's the textures and the fruitiness that I loved with this one.
Another very pretty chocolate, this is a dark chocolate casing with cassis-pear ganache. It has a flowery-looking colourful topping.
Milk, White and 70% Ecuador Dark Chocolate Buttons
In the tasting box, I got a range of chocolate buttons. The milk chocolate buttons were creamy and had a sweetness to them unlike regular milk chocolate. The 70% Ecuador dark chocolate buttons were creamy and silky and slightly bitter - they were smaller than the others. The white chocolate buttons the children claimed their own, but I managed to pinch one - sweet, vanilla-like white chocolate.
|The chocolates, as they come in the box|
Raspberry with a Hint of Orange
A milk chocolate casing with a creamy filling of raspberry and orange - very fruity.
Milk Chocolate Truffle
It's all about the milk chocolate: a crisp, milk chocolate coating with soft milk chocolate truffle underneath. I loved this one.
Vanilla Irish Cream
A half-sphere of chocolate with a creamy Irish whiskey flavour filling. Quite a strong alcohol kick in this one, but the vanilla brings that back a little, adding sweetness to the whole chocolate.
|A selection of some of the chocolates, with the Dark Chocolate Coffee Bean cut in half so you can see the coffee bean inside|
Milk Chocolate Honeycomb
Along with the chocolate buttons, there were these little nuggets of chocolate-dipped honeycomb. A burst of crunchy sweetness of the honeycomb with good quality chocolate coating.
Dark Chocolate Coffee Bean
These were gorgeous, and strongly flavoured. A coffee bean covered in a dark chocolate coating - the tasting guide you get does say that they are small but powerful and they are - but the dark chocolate worked so well with the whole coffee bean. Another of my favourites in the box, with an intense flavour.