Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Hotel Chocolat Crostini Fruit & Nut Slab

Crostini Fruit & NutFor at least a year I’ve been reading about Hotel Chocolat on Chocablog. The products seemed inventive, if a little over the top. But the company story, the fact that they’re bean to bar and pride themselves on sourcing their chocolate ethically is pretty compelling. While I love many of the fair trade chocolates that I try, I really want some chocolate candy sometimes.

Hotel Chocolat contacted me a couple of months ago with the news that they were opening a webstore in the US. So I could get my own taste of their product line. At first they offered to send me a sample package with their Peepsters, which were little slabs of chocolate with items mixed in. For some reason that wasn’t possible and they up and sent me the Crostini Fruit & Nut Slab and a bag of Macadamia Turtles. (Neither of these items are available on their website.)

The American website focuses on images of folks with great skin using chocolate as seduction (probably successfully since by the time you get to the Christmas chocolate there’s one image that shows the “couple” with a small child). Their products seem designed to entice with sensuality and abundance. Instead of teensy pieces with cute little images molded into them or imprinted on the top, Hotel Chocolat goes whole hog with clear plastic packages that show off vast real estate of chocolate. Images on the website reinforce this with couples sharing bites of bars of chocolate larger than their head.

Crostini Fruit & Nut (Milk)

While the marketing of their products doesn’t quite mesh with my demographic, I am certainly interested in quality and flavor/texture combinations. I also enjoy innovative styling and packaging.

The Slab of Chocolate comes in a black paper package with a clear plastic front and a carrying handle (though be aware that the package opens on the bottom ... so reseal it completely before swinging it around). A little longer than a size of A4 paper, this is a substantial piece of chocolate. Clocking in at 500 grams (17.5 ounces) the abundance is a selling point.

This beefy slab had some uneven distribution of the mix-ins. It includes: cranberries, sultanas, crunchy crostini, almonds and hazelnuts. (You can see in the photo that the corners are sadly lacking in inclusions. While this gives it an artisan quality, it also meant that sometimes I had to break off more pieces in order to get to the ones with the “stuff.”

At first I was disappointed that they sent me milk chocolate products, but this is pretty dark milk. According to the package it’s 50% cocoa solids and 20% milk. It has an authentic milkiness to it (none of that powdered dairy tastes). It’s middle of the road as chocolate flavors go, not terribly complex, just good chocolatey-chocolate. My candy dream! A nice melt, not too sweet and a good complement to the tangy sultanas & cranberries. The hazelnuts were great, the almond slivers were few and far between but the crostini were fun when I encountered them.

The retail on this product is $25 plus shipping. Not too bad for an upscale chocolate bar.

Macadamia TurtlesThe other product they included was a bag of these cute little Macadamia Turtles. I love turtles! Caramel and nuts are a fantastic combination.

But wait a second ... these aren’t American-style turtles. There’s no caramel in there. Just a macadamia nut at the center and some crisps in the milk chocolate. The whole thing does look rather like a turtle though.

After I got over my resistance to them because of the name, they were fun. The same high cacao milk chocolate, a good bit of crunch and then the fresh macadamias. (I would probably opt for another nut in the future though.)

I’m certainly curious to give some of the other Hotel Chocolat items a try, their gift packages look especially interesting. (They’ve timed their launch for the winter Holidays.) I don’t know if I’d buy the slab though, it’s an awful lot of one thing and I gravitate more towards variety when trying a new brand. It’s certainly an impressive looking gift though! The shipping box was great, nicely packaged for the warmish weather, I have to mention that because some companies just don’t “get” how to ship chocolate products to Los Angeles.

The package says that the product is suitable for vegetarians and is alcohol free.

More on the Hotel Chocolat expansion into the US market here.

Related Candies

  1. Charles Chocolates Bars
  2. Chuao Chocolatier
  3. Jacques Torres
  4. MarieBelle Chocolates
  5. Scharffen Berger - Cacao Nibs
Name: Crostini Fruit & Nut Slab of Chocolate
  • 10 SUPERB
  • 9 YUMMY
  • 8 TASTY
  • 7 WORTH IT
  • 4 BENIGN
Brand: Hotel Chocolat
Place Purchased: samples from Hotel Chocolat
Price: $25
Size: 17.5 ounces
Calories per ounce: 156
Categories: Chocolate, Nuts, Cookie, Cookie, United Kingdom

POSTED BY Cybele AT 9:36 am Tracker Pixel for Entry    

  1. Holy Cow! That’s a big slab o’ chocolate. And the website is hilarious. I sense they are “taking the piss” with some of those photos. Quirky Brit humour. At least I hope so!

    The Rocky Road slab looks intense, even if it is not rocky road at all. And it comes in a mini-slab… Too bad Thanksgiving has so little chocolate. I could go for a slab over pie any day.

    Comment by KateC on 11/21/07 at 11:30 am #
  2. I know one of the founders of HC - really lovely guy.  Oh, the (occasional) samples…divine.

    Comment by L on 11/21/07 at 3:57 pm #
  3. Wow…the guy on their website is really, really enjoying his chocolate. I don’t see the need for the blindfold when his eyes are already closed in ecstasy in all of the other pictures.

    Comment by Ace on 11/21/07 at 6:25 pm #
  4. I think the slabs are probably only ever bought as gifts - they are fabulous, but I don’t see people buying them for themselves. But there’s definitely value in presenting someone you love with such an awesome looking chunk of chocolate.

    They have some interesting looking Christmas gifts too, although they don’t appear to be on the US site yet:

    Comment by Dom on 11/22/07 at 1:35 am #
  5. Oh I LOVE Hotel Chocolate chocolate.  Their caramalised milk chocolate buttons are *divine*.  And I have a penchant for the milk chocolate with orange and chilli that they do (I don’t think that’s on the website).

    Comment by Fay on 11/22/07 at 5:35 am #
  6. i love going into their shops…too expensive for a student like me unfortunatly

    i’ve splashed out on Zotter for christmas though…their adent calander seems like a great sampler

    Comment by Julian on 11/22/07 at 5:49 am #
  7. Am a member of their chocolate tasting club. Their chocolate is stunning, and me and my other half take great delight in sharing.
    I don’t know if they plan to put the alcholic chocolates on their US website…but they are pure alcohol. Stunning chocolate.

    Comment by Cassie on 11/23/07 at 12:30 pm #
  8. Humm.. Their website is so cheesy that I am turned off by their chocolate. The slabs don’t look appealing, and their Liquid Chocolate left me confused. Chocolate shouldn’t be confusing. I’ll pass on these people.

    Comment by Uda on 11/26/07 at 12:28 pm #
  9. I’d heard of Hotel Chocolat from a friend who got addicted to their stuff - she joined their Chocolate Tasting Club, and would receive a box each month. It was mainly a London-area thing I couldn’t try any, not living near there. One day, when visiting relatives up north, I saw one had opened up there, so I bought some dark chocolate caramel truffle butterflies. 6 of them, for ?2.50 (HOW much?!?!)

    They were dark and bitter (more than you’d expect - I LOVE dark chocolate). I couldn’t taste much caramel at all, and I was thoroughly disappointed.

    Then a friend, knowing I like chocolate, sent me one of the slabs you mentioned. Unfortunately, she forgot I don’t like most nuts, and hate nuts in chocolate (it contaminates the chocolate flavour). I broke bits off and fished the nuts out, but most of it is still in the wrapper, in a corner of my room [doh].

    But in the recent redevelopment of a part of the shopping area of my local city, a new Hotal Chocolat has opened there! I’ll think of you whenever I see it lol. I prefer Thorntons, myself!

    Comment by Helen (Sammy) on 11/29/07 at 8:57 am #
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