It's that time of the year when Hotel Chocolat launch their Christmas Gifts range. The clocks have gone back, the dark nights are drawing in and fallen leaves damp with November rain squish and slide underfoot. It would be positively depressing if it weren't for the anticipation of Christmas excesses to come. Christmas excesses including chocolate!
It's easy – especially if you spend a lot of time with top chocolatiers and dedicated chocolate experts – to focus only on the top end stuff. And I do love Rococo, Paul A Young, Artisan du Chocolat and countless other fabulous brands.
It's easy to forget the better known (and more readily available) delights that most of the country know and enjoy. Delights like Hotel Chocolat.
I'm happy to put my hand up and tell you that I am a fan of Hotel Chocolat. Ever since I stumbled into their first shop shortly after it opened, I've been happily eating my way through their chocolates. I'm particularly keen on their tiramisu truffles, rum soaked sultanas, Yule logs and the new Purist chocolate bars (some of which are from Hotel Chocolat's own Rabot Estate in St. Lucia).
When they approached me to ask if I'd like to review some of their Christmas products as well as share the love with my readers, I was happy to accept.
Win Hotel Chocolat Deliciousness For Yourself
1st Prize = Christmas Collection Gift Bag Luxe (worth £35)
2nd Prize = Goody Bag Of The Season (worth £15)
3rd Prize = Christmas Chocolate Goody Bag (worth £15)
Not one, not two but three prizes for Kavey Eats readers!
How To Enter
- Leave a comment here on the blog sharing a Christmas chocolate memory. Please include your name and email address in the comment; entries with no email address provided will not be entered into the draw.
- Enter on twitter by tweeting the following:
Yes please, @kaveyf I'd like to win one of your 3 Hotel Chocolat Christmas prizes #kaveyeatshotelchocolatprizes
The competition deadline is midnight GMT on Friday, 19th November 2010.
One blog entry per person.
One twitter entry per person.
Winners will be chosen using a random number generator, from all valid entries received by the deadline.
The prizes can be delivered anywhere in the UK and Europe.
The prizes are provided (and will be delivered) by Hotel Chocolat.
Pick-Me-Up Gift Bag (£10)
Containing a 100 gram bar of chocolate (with a moulded reindeer decoration), 6 liquid caramel chocolates and a bag of little chocolate "gemstones" this gift bag is good value. The lightly salted liquid caramels are decent, though the salt is a touch too light for my tastes. The gemstones are lovely – simple chocolate nibbles that are surprisingly moreish. The chocolate bar is simply a (decent) chocolate bar. At this price point, I think this bag would make a great gift for work colleagues with a sweet tooth or friends you'd like to treat without breaking the budget.
Gingerbread Liquid Chocolat (£8)
A friend gave me a bottle of the regular Hotel Chocolate drinking chocolate recently and I've been enjoying it daily at work, mixed into hot milk. This gingerbread version is absolutely fantastic with a strong ginger flavour and even a touch of ginger heat. The tiny chips of chocolate are fairly easy to dissolve too. I really, really like this.
Mulled Wine Cherries (£7.50)
I don't love these as much as the regular kirsch cherries (also £7.50) but I do like them a lot. The mulled wine spices are subtle and balance nicely with the moist cherries and chocolate. A great stocking filler!
The Ultimate Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar (£17)
£17? I'm afraid it doesn't matter how good the chocolate is (and it's decent enough milk chocolate, certainly), it's pretty hard to justify spending so much money on so little chocolate even when it's hidden behind pretty numbered doors. Tastes good, looks good but just isn't good value for money. And it's difficult to prize the individual chocolates out of the plastic mould into which they're slotted.
Personally, I'd buy something like this adorable fabric gingerbread man and pop my favourite chocolates into its advent calendar pockets!
Chilli Penguins (£7)
I'm a little disappointed when I open these, as I expected penguin figures that would be able to stand up. Instead, there are two layers of flat moulded shapes which bear little relationship to any penguin I've seen.
I know, I know… with two trips to Antarctica and a month in the Falkland Islands, I've spent more time watching and photographing the strange creatures than your average chocolate shopper but really… these don't even look like the cute little cartoon penguins in Madagascar or Happy Feet!
And I think HC have missed a trick in not combining white and dark chocolate to make the penguins look more like, well… penguins!
But on a more serious note, what do they taste like? The chocolate is a fairly sweet 70% dark chocolate with a mild hint of chilli that provides a little warmth but not much of a chilli kick. Pleasant, but will disappoint those looking for a more obvious chilli presence. There's more heat in the gingerbread hot chocolate than in these penguins.
Here are some real penguins I spent a few weeks with in the Falklands in February:Hotel Chocolat Christmas Range here.