I was given a subscription to good food magazine for my Christmas present and amongst one of the leaflets that came with one of the mags was a leaflet for hotel chocolat tasting club.
There was an offer on at the time that meant you got signed up for the club at an introductory offer of £9.95. The box that you receive would normally cost £22.95 so it is a bargain! And you got a free gift of a little bag of chocolate nibs when you signed up. How could I refuse?
These chocolates are luxurious, they are meant to be savoured rather than scoffed! You even get a little chart to score the chocolates.
You can choose what selection you want to start with and then you get a new different selection every month so you get a real variety with this club. It goes beyond standard chocolate box caramels and truffles. They include some really innovative flavours, if you are more of a simple is best person, I would suggest this is not for you because the whole concept is based on chocolate lovers trying new experiences with cocoa.
Obviously the introductory offer is only for the first box the usual cost is £22.95 per month for this you get a box through your letter box every month.
I'll be honest and say that when I signed up to the club I knew that I would not be able to afford to continue. However, they do have a service that you can give someone a gift subscription for 3, 6 or 12 months. If you can afford to give your loved one this gift they will adore you for it!
I decided to give the Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club a go after spotting their introductory offer on Topcashback.co.uk (TCB). An introductory box of chocolates is £9.95, but you can get £5.50 cash back through the TCB site, making a bargain price of £4.45 for some very fine choccies.
The idea behind the club is that once a month (or every 2 or 3 months if you prefer), Hotel Chocolat will send you a selection of their chocolates at a cost of £17.95 per box. The chocolates are handmade from the finest quality ingredients to the highest standards. You can chose which types of chocolate you prefer (light, dark, non-alcoholic, mostly chocolate instead of filling etc), and they will tailor your box to your preferences.
This club is for true chocoholics, and has wickedly indulgent chocolates to try. The initial taster box comes with a personal taste test box, which is 10 batons of chocolate; 2 batons each of 5 different flavours to give you an idea of which chocolates you prefer. I was unable to eat the 2 darker selections as they were just too dark for my palate, but the caramel and praline were heavenly! You also get a scorecard with your taster box so you can rate your preference and use this to decide which types of chocolates you would prefer in future.
The main box of chocolates is where this company really comes alive. The initial box has a good selection of different types to try; lemon curd, champagne, salted caramel, chilli, praline, whiskey; you name it, and there is a variety in here to try. For the £9.95 introductory price (or £4.45 with TCB), you really have nothing to complain about. The chocolates are excellent, very rich, with some surprising flavours.
After my initial box I decided not to continue with the club; although I am a confirmed chocoholic, I do not savour chocolate enough to warrant this kind of spend. I would actually be happier with a box of Ferrero Rocher or a bar of Galaxy. At least I can scoff them without feeling like I am somehow being very disrespectful to the world of chocolate indulgence.
Customer services were very helpful when I decided to cancel my membership, there was no problem at all. I can reinstate it in the future if I wish, or I could treat myself to something from Hotel Chocolat's on-line shop. The website is easy to navigate, and the picture of the lovely treats will have you salivating.
This is an excellent club for the right person, but all that quality is unfortunately lost on me.
Oh the joy of the postman delivering that slimline box! every month - or in my case every three months because the whole event is just too tempting - the slimline tasting box arrives through the post. Sealed in a strong cardboard box with instructions for the postman, the cellophane wrapped box has always arrived in perfect condition. INside each box is around 14 different flavours - two of each. With each box comes a menu giving the name of the chocolatier who has designed the chocolate - along with a detailed description. This months box, for example, contained such chocolates as "Caramel Cheesecake" and "Coconut Kiss" - and are always sublime. Within each tasting box is also a score card which you invited to complete and return - either by post or online - so that Hotel Chocolat can see which flavours work and which don't. At the end of the year a box of the most popular flavours is offered.
There are three types of tasting box, I believe, a classic, a slab and an alcoholic one. I, however, have the classic box and consider the arrival a real treat. I do try to put the box away - it will keep for up to three months - but fail miserably - hence why I limit myself to one every three months. At nearly £18 this is an expensive if very moreish treat!
Ok, admittedley I used to be a member of Hotel Chocolat's tasting club. I mean, with gorgeous liquor chocolates and some amazing concoctions of ingredients we had only ever dreamed about, being delivered to your door monthly, what's not to like? Even quite handy for those who happen to miss the postman because they come in a handy rather long letterbox friendly package so no going to pick up chocolates from the post office and feeling 'guilty' about collecting chocolatem of all things.
The master chocolatiers at Hotel Chocolat are always experimenting and coming up with some stunners. They package up their finest creations and put two of each of their truffles, more of the gorgeous battons and puddles, in a tray with a chocolate tasting guide and scorecard.
The idea behind this is that once a month you get a box to share (although sharing rarely comes into it) the chocolate tasting experience with a loved one and discuss the flavours and the experience and enjoy it. You rate the chocolates and you can update your thoughts and scores online.
It does come through a little expensive. The introductory price on your first box is £9.95 and you can choose from classic, dark or solid selection. You also get a free helping of liquid chocolat which is meant for hot chocolate but could be nice on ice cream for the truly indulgent night in, and a free mini chocolate slab. After this the prices go up to £17.95 and they do seem to hide that bit of information on the website. You need to remember you are paying for the experience, a good alternative to game night and sharing them with someone the else. I still think its expensive but then again its only once a month and perhaps if your not the cinema type then this could be for you.
I love this tasting club, but a bit too pricey for me to keep up now. I love the alcoholic ones especially the creamy mousse textured one with a maraschino cherry soaked in sherry in the middle, it was gorgeous, I can't remeber the name now but the texture was unbelievable. I can honestly say these are far more luxurious than Thorntons (although I like them too!) and may be worth it as a treat, even if you cancel after your first months pack.
Now, if only they made a low calorie version with all the taste, then I would be in!
I love chocolate - quite a lot in fact . So, when a neighbour joined the Chocolate Tasting Club, she gave me a little slip so I could also join if I wanted to . Oh yes, I certainly DID want to!
Hotel Chocolat have even more of a passion for chocolate than I do. They work with master chocolatiers, sourcing wonderful ingredients from all over the world to create the most unusual, original and of course, delicious chocolates they can, which they sell both in stores and online via their website . Of course, a look at their website reveals a huge array of chocolates , and making a decision on which to purchase can be difficult, as they are priced to reflect their quality.
If like me, you want to try a little of everything, then the Chocolate Tasting Club might be for you - Essentially, you sign up, and a box of chocolates is delivered through your door every month, filled with all different goodies for you to savour . This costs £ 9.95 for the first month, and boxes after that cost from £16.95 , with the contents changing every month . These prices include delivery costs, and the boxes are sized so that they can fit through a standard letter box.
You don't need to have a box every month though - you can have it every 2 months, every three, or even just once a year if you so choose - and you can select your preference either on the website or by marking on your invoice that you'd like to skip a selection .
The boxes come well wrapped and sealed, and in 2 years of being with this club, I have never had a box reach me with any damage - a remarkable feat considering they are delivered by Royal Mail! They are airtight sealed, and wrapped in cardboard to pad the box and stop it getting damage . This package will also include your invoice .
Inside your chocolate box itself, you'll have a menu, and a scoring card . The scoring part is optional, but gives you spaces to put your marks out of ten for each chocolate, and to make any comments .It's worth filling this out and sending this back, as the chocolates in the box are still in the experimental stage, and are still being evaluated for flavour .
There are always at least 2 of each chocolate, which I like as it means I can share them with a friend and compare notes - should I feel so inclined .
The menu card is a nice touch , as it tells you the flavours and ingredients of each chocolate, and also indicates how much alcohol is in them. It will name the chocolate, and also name the chocolatier who came up with the recipe and what inspired them .
I've eated a lot of chocolate in my time with the club, and I couldn't possibly review everyone . But, I'll make mention of a few that have stood out for me - either for good or bad reasons . For most of them , I've forgotten the names, but remember the flavours .
Lets start with a relatively simple chocolate that I adore - Kirsch Cherries - Whole de-stoned cherries, softened by a long soaking in kirsch, then enrobed in layers of milk then dark chocolate.
When they say enrobed, they mean enrobed - the bitter, obviously high cocoa dark chocolate around the outside was generously thick, giving way with a satisfying crunch to a moist, sweet cherry with a very satisfying alcoholic kick .
Another chocolate I really enjoyed was a square of intensely bitter dark chocolate scattered with Chilli and Peppercorns. It looked like a thick after 8 with pink bits on - it tasted like heaven , so slow to melt with the spices and the bitterness really laying into your tastebuds.
One that I personally didn't enjoy combined apricots with a crumble topping and thick chocolate . It was just too big and bulky, and the balance of flavours wasn't quite right - the crumble was dry, and the flavour of the apricots was somewhat masked by the chocolate .
Overall though, there have been very few chocolate that I absolutely hated . There have been many that I have really enjoyed, a few that I fell completely in love with, and a couple that were just so-so . Part of the joy is never knowing what you're going to get in each box, and the surprise when you read some of the unusual flavour combinations used .
The only downside is that if you do it monthly, it is a little pricey - so I now tend to do it only once every three months, as I'm also trying to lose some weight and lets face it, boxes of handmade chocolates are not the best way to go about it . That said, I think it's definitely worth at least signing up to get the £9.95 introductory box - there is no commitment to take any other boxes from them, and its a great way to get hold of some good quality chocolate for a treat .
I love it - and I'm sure the chocoholics amongst you will too!
I've been a member of Hotel Chocolat's Chocolate Tasting Club for about 5 years now. My parents were both members and introduced me. I have since 'converted' about 10 of my friends to join and truly think it's a great thing!
How it works------------
When you sign up to the club you pay about £10 for your first box. You choose how often you would like to receive the boxes, i.every 4 weeks, 8 weeks etc and which you would like. There are various options now for dark chocolate lovers, solid chocolate fans etc. but I always stick to the classic box.The lovely people at Hotel Chocolate send you your box 9which fits through your letterbox), a menu and a scoring card. Each month you receive your box you can rate the chocolates in it and add your scores to the website. By doing this you get entered into a draw for a special treat, but you certainly don't have to do this. I never have, me and my flatmate just enjoy rating the chocolates for the fun of it. You always get a different box and there are sometimes some slightly experimental chocolates in there (chocolate and chilli anyone?) but all in all they're pretty good. As we say a Hotel Chocolate 3 is about the same as a Dairy Milk so you know you're getting quality! Speaking of which cheaper chocolate contains vegetable oils and other fillers which is what makes them bad for you, Hotel Chocolate have chocolate and milk, fruit, nuts and alcohol - that's it.
In addition as a member you also receive exclusive collections at Easter, Valentines and Chistmas and also a 5% discount in Hotel Chocolat shops and online. The club currently costs £17.50 a month (or box) which is expensive but so worth it. I find I buy no other chocolates and even desserts as I know I always have some Hotel Chocolat available, and the quality is unbeatable. Obviously now there are Hotel Chocolat shops on lots of high streets but for me you still can't beat the sound of your monthly box arriving through the letterbox and the lovely variety that you get - not to mention the satisfaction of getting a 10!
One of my presents last year was being a member of the Hotel Chocolate tasting club.
There is a tasting club for both milk chocolate and dark chocolate lovers. As well as the classic and dark selection there is now a solid selection as well.
You pay £9.74 for the first box of chocolates and around £15 for each box of chocolates after that you receive through the post and you can choose to have the chocolates as often as you wish. To start with I was getting sent a box every month and then I changed it to receive a box every two months. To start with even though I had changed this they still sent me a box the next month so it is as if they need a full months notice.
First they send you a book about how chocolate is made and a card to use in the Hotel Chocolat shops which entitles you to 5% discount. I also received my introductory chocolate box.
The boxes of chocolates would arrive inside a brown cardboard box. The box of chocolates was the right size to fit through my letter box. Inside the box of chocolates they put the menu which shows the chocolates in the selection box you have just received. They also include a Hotel Chocolat club news and scoring card.
The menu lists all of the chocolates with a picture of them and it gives a description of each chocolate and says what it contains and whether it contains alcohol.
I always really liked the look of the chocolates that were decorated very well. The taste of them was always great and I don't think I ever had a chocolate I really disliked. In total there are around thirty two chocolates in each box. They put two of most chocolates inside the box and three of each tasting baton. It is possible to order the same box again if you had a box you really enjoyed. Each box contains fruit, praline and alcohol based chocolates.
The scoring card in the box is for you to give each chocolate a rating out of 10 and then you can post the card or enter the scores online for the chance to win a prize each month or an end of year prize.
I liked being a member because I got a good selection of chocolates and could try lots of different types rather than going in to the shop and not being sure which ones to buy and then buying a pack of six of the same.
Through out the time I was a member I would be sent their catalogues and order forms for other special boxes of chocolates they were selling but I never bought and of these as I was already spending enough.
The chocolates I received were paid for online using a debit card but I think that the could have taken the money by direct debit.
When I came to canceling the membership because I decided to go to the shop to buy chocolates when I wanted rather than spending quite a bit every month I phoned up and cancelled it very easily.
I love eating chocolate! You probably already know this if you have read my last review, and now you probably think that this is all I do. My excuse - it's Christmas, and we've been given loads, and now I can turn my bad habbit into something useful - a dooyoo review!
It was the turn of the in-laws to visit during this festive period and yet again my mother in-law came up trumps. She really is a wonderful woman. Out of her bag of goodies she produced a huge 630g 'CHRISTMAS 2008 CLASSIC' box of chocs from Hotel Chocolat's Tasting Club (she is a member).
Before I embark on a frenzied chocolate tasting session I thought you might like to know about Hotel Chocolat and the Tasting club (If you are only interested in the actual choclate tasting then please feel free to scroll down to the subheading ' Now to the Actual Chocolate Tasting!') ....
Hotel Chocolat started over 15 years ago, founders Angus Thirlwell and Peter Harris had one goal in mind - they wanted to make a better type of chocolate available to UK consumers 'bored by the mediocrity of that available in supermarkets and on the high street'. I guess by this they mean your typical Cadbury, Nestle or even Thorntons selection. Hotel Chocolat is a British-owned phenomenon committed to real, authentic chocolate.
So they started the first catalogue-based business making an exclusive brand of chocolates available to UK consumers. Their web site gained awards in 2004 and the first of many Hotel Chocolat stores appeared on the high street. There are now over 30 high street stores - just not one near to where I live. (Probably a good thing!)
The company believes that authentic, wholesome ingredients are key to their success. A position that is strengthened by their historic West Indian cocoa plantation, Rabot Estate, where they grow their our own fine flavour cocoa.
This company also has a great ethical policy which you can look at on their web site. They do not exploit their workers. I have been made aware in recent months of how important it is to try to source fairly traded and 'traffik free' chocolate. (Trafficking is to be deceived or taken against your will, bought, sold and transported into slavery for sexual exploitation, sweat shops, child brides, circuses, sacrificial worship, forced begging, sale of human organs, farm labour, domestic servitude). Children and adults alike are exploited in third world countries in order to satisfy our desire for chocolate. This is something that we chocolate lovers really do need to be aware of - maybe a discussion topic for later?
This wonderful company don't just sell boxes of chocolate, but a vast range of chocolate goodies, from a variety of sweet lollies and canapés to their 'Purest' collection which offers the discerning customer the opportunity to taste chocolate made from most sought after cocoa from the world's best growing regions in a range of single estate and single origin chocolate. To list all the products on sale would be foolish, so I suggest that you visit
The chocolates I am reviewing came from the Tasting Club. This started about 10 years ago and you can become a member. Each month you are sent a completely new selection of what they describe as 'artisan' chocolates. The chocolates are made in separate ultra-fresh batches exclusively for the Club and each selection is carefully balanced to provide an exciting and stimulating range of chocolates and textures. In the Classic selections all genres are featured: dark, milk and white; ganaches, pralines, truffles, manons; pure and whole enrobed fruits, spirits and wines. For dark chocolate lovers you can opt for the Dark choclate selection where all the chocloates are dark!
The most important bit, the cost. These are not cheap! I'm lucky as my mother in-law is a member and we benefit from her purchases. As you look at prices you do have to remember that you are paying for quality - these really do taste amazing!
At the moment you can join the tasting club and recieve your first box of chocs for a reduced price £9.74 or you can purchase gift subscriptions ranging from 3 months £46 , 1 year £176 or 5 years £930 ( I nearly fell of my cahir when I saw this!!)
When your chocolates arrive by post they come with a comprehensive menu card complete with a 'tipple guide'. Quite a few of the choclates contain alcohol - a perfect reason to say to the kids "sorry these are for adults only, you won't like them - you stick to the cadburys!" There is also a score card which allows members to score and comment on each chocolate. You do not have to complete this but the idea is that it provides feedback as to what members like and don't! The scores are reported in Chocolate News - the free periodical which accompanies each selection. I admit that from the boxes I have been given I've not sent back my scores but that is because I've been given the boxes. I would also find it hard not to score each chocolate much lower than 9/10 because they are all so gorgeous!
Now to the Actual Chocolate Tasting!
It's taken me so long to write the above I feel like I deserve a chocolate or two (or may 3!). I couldn't possibly describe the whole selection in front of me so I'll just pick my favourites and give them a score out of 10. As you will see from the descriptions of each choc, these truly are different and for those with a real passion for good quality chocolates. I need to say that most of these choclates are quite large, which is great as you can have at least 3 bites before it's gone. There are two of each chocolate in the selection. (Don't forget if you were to join the club the selection you get would not be the same as this one as each month there is a new offering).
This chocolate was decorated with a little christmas hat - it has a milk chocolate shell. Inside is a rich chocolate ganache with tiny chocolate Brownie pieces in it , as well as another layer of a smooth whisky ganache. You can really taste the alcohol! Absolutely gorgeous, hard to describe, incredibly rich and chocolaty . 9/10
(This is the biggest chocolate in the box!) It is a milk chocolate filled with a cherry butter cream that melts in your mouth. It is topped with a layer of chewy cherry Florentine, made with honey and nuts that have been infused with sweet cherry tea. This is out of this world and my favourite from this selection. 10/10
Oh so much better than the chocolates I reviewed yesterday, and they weren't bad - but these don't compare! Made with prime marc de champagne white chocolate cream encased in a mellow milk chocolate shell then covered in more white chocolate and topped with pretty, naturally coloured, blueberry sugar crystals. Not only did this taste divine, it looked exquisite too. 10/10
This white chocolate case houses a lovely milk chocolate praline which contains chopped cranberries. The sweet is topped with a shiny cranberry - very Christmassy! This was lovely too, but not my favourite. 8/10
Fig and Walnut
Now I don't particularly like walnuts but for the sake of this review I thought I would manfully try this one - The walnut flavour actually comes from a walnut liqueur which they have used to soak the figs. The figs have been blended into a light crème that has been encased in milk chocolate. Mmmmm I feel like I've had a glass of something! Can you get drunk on chocolates?! 9/10
This is a smaller and much 'lighter' chocolate. The blackcurrant ganache has a bit if a zing to it. It has a white chocolate case dusted with blackcurrant powder. A bit different but still 9/10!
I could keep going but the box contains 18 different chocolates as well as 9 chocolate wildcards (3 of each flavour) - solid chocolates with different flavours - one just milk chocolate - 40% cocoa milk chocolate. The second a solid caramel milk chocolate and the third (I've tried this one!) is again 40% cocoa milk chocolate but this time spiced with cinnamon 10/10.
I have no idea how much this box cost, and on seeing the price of the membership, I didn't like to ask! However I can only say that these truly are exceptional chocolates and put Gordon Ramsays efforts to shame!
For more information on the Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club visit www.chocs.co.uk
Every month founder Angus Thirlwell and his team create a completely new selection of chocolates delivered by post for your delectation.