Now in case anyone sees this review and thinks "OMG! She ate the entire box?". No, I didn't. Well, not in one sitting anyway. *wink*
No, I truly didn't. I had help from the chocolate connoisseur that is son & heir. Regrettably, hubby was unable to take part in this review as the sugar would have sent his head all floaty light and we might have lost him as a result. He opted to suck on an occasional 70% Ecuadorian Dark Chocolate Button as a consolation prize.
Cocoa Boutique bills itself as "The Luxury Artisan Chocolate Club" and profess to "scour the globe" to find the best Chocolatiers who produce the best chocolates. I have to confess that (other than the berry flavoured ones, but then that's my "funny about strawberry" thing coming into play) these are indeed extremely good chocolates. However, do they truly represent in excess of £30-worth of chocolate? I can see how it could be so, but my heart recoils that something so - I hesitate to say it - but, ordinary as chocolate can be worth so much money. I'm afraid it's another case of "the world has gone mad".
However, as a package, the Tasting Box is a lovely thing. I can just imagine that to receive one in the post as a present would be something very special. The box is postbox friendly (although our postman wasn't convinced and rang the doorbell - but that was probably just as well, as I'm sure our three dogs would have had an interesting few moments with the box, otherwise) and is well packaged.
The initial cardboard outer layer hides a neat black and white box, under which are the hallmarks of expensive chocolates - layers of delicately overlapping tissue paper which make the unwrapping of the box akin to discovering treasure. The aromas that issue forth from the chocolates within are lovely and do a very good job of tantalising your taste buds!
Two of the chocolates had suffered a little in transit, which was a shame, but the majority were looking as good as they did when they went into the box. One of the White Strawberry Creams had split, but the damage did no harm to the flavour. The Rum Cafe Creams had unfortunately both suffered a squashed top - perhaps making them a teensy bit smaller in height would help?
Aside from that, the box of chocolates were all intact and looking mouthwatering.
Here's what we thought of them, individually, together with marks out of 10 :
Pink Champagne Truffle .. 4/10
The truffle inner to this chocolate was slightly on the greasy side, I felt. It didn't leave a feeling of greasiness, it was just as it melted it was more akin to a slippery, greasy feeling than not. The flavour is good, although the champagne element soon disperses, to be followed by the white chocolate of the casing and the tartness of the raspberry pieces that decorate it.
White Strawberry Cream .. 1/10
I loved the glittery pink sugar that coated the white chocolate shell of this one. It really is very pretty, but unfortunately that is where it stops. Again, the inner is just so greasy feeling. It is rather like eating your way through a chocolate filled with bland butter. Very little strawberry flavour and just GACK! ~shudder~ I was very glad I only had to eat one of these little babies!
Raspberry with a hint of orange .. 7/10
The milk chocolate in this one is really lovely and goes so well with the raspberry and, literally, a hint of orange. If you like fruity, creamy milk chocolates, you'll love it!
Milk chocolate almond praline .. 11/10
Notice that score? Eleven out of ten - that's how good this chocolate is. It is a big mouthful of creamy milk chocolate that is good enough on its own, but then when you add in a roasted whole almond that has been rolled in a touch of salt and the accompanying praline, oh, heaven. Sheer, complete and utter heaven. By far and away my favourite chocolate of the lot.
White Chocolate Buttons .. 5/10
At one time, white chocolate was my favourite. These days it takes a back seat to a good milk and sometimes even a high percentage cocoa dark chocolate. These white chocolate buttons are what they say they are. Albeit a tad too sweet for my taste these days, they do - which is unusual - taste of chocolate, at least.
Milk Chocolate Buttons .. 7/10
If only all chocolate buttons tasted as good as these do! The flavour is rich, rounded and gorgeously chocolatey with a lovely hint of caramel in there somewhere. Perfect for a quick chocolate fix!
Pamela .. 4/10
These little lovelies caught my eye as soon as the box was opened, with their lovely freckled tops looking all Jackson Pollock in shades of raspberry, lemon and white. They are supposed to be flavoured with Cassis and Pear, although I couldn't really find any pear in the one I tried. The dark chocolate casing seems to overpower the flavour, leaving them quite disappointing in that they didn't live up to their appearance.
Cocoa Dusted Dark Chocolate Salted Caramels .. 10/10
It is only a shame that these share the same box as the Almond Praline, as without that they'd have got the high score of eleven out of ten. However, as my second best - but second only by a hair - they will have to score a full ten out of ten. What's not to like? A casing of dark chocolate that has been dusted in cocoa and filled with rich smooth caramel and that mouthwatering hint of salt. I'm only glad that there's three of them!
Milk Chocolate Truffle .. 7/10
Now don't get me wrong, these chocolate truffles are by anyone's measure good chocolate truffles. However, in company with the great chocolates that are in this box, they tend to sit back into the shade of their companions. They also suffer from the same greasiness as the two berry chocolates but to a much lesser degree.
Rum Cafe Cream .. 8/10
Milk chocolate, dark chocolate, coffee flavouring and rum - four of my favourite things. For me, the only thing that stops this chocolate becoming one of the greats is its tendency to be a little too sweet. However, that's nitpicking. The coffee flavour is fabulous and the mix of the two types of chocolate give this little fellow a depth that others would do well to emulate.
Dark Chocolate Brandy Truffle .. 8/10
Initially a texture more than a flavour, the dryness of the cocoa rolled onto the dark chocolate shell dries the tongue out where it touches. The flavour of brandy then emerges from the background as an aroma that wafts up the back of your nose prior to gently warming the tongue. All wrapped up with the glorious richness of dark chocolate, this is a little bit of chocolate mastery.
Vanilla Irish Cream .. 6/10
This one doesn't score so well basically because it lacks the flavour of Irish Cream. The chocolate is creamy and delicious, but you are left wondering what that faint flavour was and did I miss the Irish Cream somewhere?
70% Ecuador Dark Chocolate Buttons .. 9/10
If there are any left of these by the time this review is done, I am SO going to put them into some muffins. Yes, it might be a terrible thing to do to expensive chocolate, but then, they'd be superlative muffins. Oh yes.
Milk Chocolate Honeycomb .. 6/10
I can't help but think that these little knobs of chocolate covered honeycomb were included so that you adults can have something to give to the kids when they spot you're munching your way through a box of fancy chocs. Yes, they're tasty little morsels, but there's nothing really earthshattering about them.
Dark Chocolate Coffee Bean .. 10/10
I give thanks to whoever decided to include a handful of these coffee flavoured bombs in the Tasting Box. They are whole crispy coffee beans that have been encased in dark chocolate and as such, are just totally out of this world - so long as you love coffee, which I do. I like these so much, in fact, that I have taken three and hidden them in a little baggie in my underwear drawer, for those chocolate emergencies or alternatively where I hope I'll forget about them and - one day - find them. Lucky, lucky me.
Cocoa Boutique is a new company, and they run a membership scheme. Membership entitles you to receive a monthly box of their chocolates, or alternatively 3-monthly or 6-monthly. As they go along they will be engaging different Chocolatiers, so the selections will be quite different each time.
You can find out more about Cocoa Boutique and the chocolates on their website, their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/cocoaboutique or follow them on Twitter at @cocoa-boutique where there's even a link to sign up as a chocolate taster - and you wouldn't want to be one of those, now would you? *wink*