The Ultimate Christmas Hamper by Hotel Chocolat Review

Hotel Chocolat are renowned for their fabulous chocolates, and for good reason. Hotel Chocolat are an origin chocolatier, meaning that they grow their own cocoa. Founded 20 years ago in Britain, Hotel Chocolat are still the only company in the UK to grow cocoa on their own plantation. They opened their first retail store in 2004. Since then their popularity has skyrocketed, they now have 69 stores in the United Kingdom alone.

Hotel Chocolat’s Engaged Ethics programme has been providing sustainable benefits to their cocoa farmers in Saint Lucia and Ghana for 8 years now. For 20 years the cocoa business in St Lucia has been declining sharply; but this is something that Hotel Chocolat are combatting with their Engaged Ethics programme, and it is working. They offer high-quality seedlings to the farmers, alongside technical advice, know-how and more.

Contents of the Hotel Chocolat Ultimate Christmas Hamper

The Yule Bûche Collection, Classic Christmas Sleekster Selection, Christmas Desserts Sleekster Selection, 75cl Classic Prosecco, 75cl Sparkling Pink Rosé, 37cl Port for pairing with Milk Chocolate, 37cl Port for pairing with Dark Chocolate, 10 Mini Crackers, Winter Warmers H-Box, Serious Dark Fix H-Box, Milk Chocolate with Caramel & Sea Salt Canapés, The Festive Wreath (100g), Gingerbread Men, White Tiddly Penguins, 4 Icicle Christmas Tree Decorations, Christmas Caper Milk Chocolate Slab, Milk Pocket Penguin, Dark Pocket Penguin and the Party Piece.

Partridge in a pear tree not included.

Usage

Of course, you can eat and drink it all in a night and sleep for a week in a chocolate and alcohol fueled coma, or you can take the healthier route and get creative. Share! Try dispersing the contents to members of your family in the form of gifts; this is an awesome way to save time shopping for Christmas. You could even just open it on Christmas eve and have a family chocolate tasting session to pass time until the big man arrives.

Packaging

The Ultimate Christmas Hamper’s 20 delectable goodies come packaged within a sturdy wooden box. To access the goodies, one simply slides open the wooden door, which has the Hotel Chocolat logo printed in high-gloss black onto it. Inside, the box is split into two sections, one for the four bottles of alcohol to fit snuggly into and one for all of the chocolate. Wood shavings fill all the gaps giving it an organic feeling and fresh smell; it also absorbs moisture and maintains temperature. However, the wood shavings are incredibly dry and burn incredibly easily, so keep it away from one’s fire this Christmas! Another downside to using the wood shavings is that the dust from some of them gets into the packets that aren’t packed as air-tightly as some of the others; but the chocolates that this happened to all had extra packaging inside.

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The hamper is huge! It is 55cm long and 40cm deep and weighs about 25kg including the packaging when fully loaded with goodies. That’s a lot of chocolate, fine booze and wood!

Alcohol:

Prosecco Superiore (75cl)

Presented in a lovely green bottle with a little about the Prosecco on the back and a label of authenticity on its neck, the bubbly is great even before even opening it.

And what an amazing bubbly it is! It goes along with all chocolate like a house on fire, but I recommend drinking it with white or milk chocolate for the best experience.

Unlike most champagne, this Prosecco is clearer and less yellow; but still with an off-white colour. This gives it a fresher appearance; making one expect it to be a lighter flavour as well.

The aroma is sweet, bright and uplifting with some floral notes. The Prosecco’s taste is also sweet, bright and uplifting with some notes of juicy green apples and apricot which makes for a lovely light flavour.

Sparkling Pink Rosé (75cl)

Hotel Chocolat’s Sparking Pink Rosé is brilliant. It is presented in a clear bottle with labels much the same as the Prosecco Superiore. The clear bottle offers less UV protection than the green bottle, but lets one see its seductively peachy shade of pink.

This is one of the most sparkling rosés I’ve tasted, on one’s tongue it is a surprise and excites the senses.

I recommend this rosé with lighter chocolates, like salted milks and vanilla whites; but it is still great with darks up to about 80% where it gets slightly bitter and too harsh of a contrast.

The sparkling pink rosé’s aroma is sweet, light and fruity; again similar to the Prosecco. Its taste is lovely, much like its origin: a juicy red grape. It is far from dry but also not the sweetest rosé I’ve tasted, it’s somewhere in the middle.

Port for pairing with Dark Chocolate (37cl)

This ruby port is produce of Portugal, blended by Master Port Blender Jorge Poças. It is his Special Reserve Aged Ruby Port and it is delicious.

It is packaged in a corked green bottle with a bold label back and front with the back explaining proper chocolate and port tasting etiquette as well as its origins and technical information.

The ruby port’s smell is how you would expect; like fortified wine. And it tastes great. It is best served at room temperature, which paired with its label makes for a great presentation piece in a display cabinet or elsewhere.

Its taste is deep and rich, much like the dark chocolate that it is to be paired with. It has somewhat Christmassy notes with deep flavours; almost like dark mulled wine.

Port for pairing with Milk Chocolate (37cl)

This is the tawny port, also blended by Jorge Poças. It has the same bottle with its front label’s colours inverted to make it black on white rather than the other way around to indicate that it is lighter.

The tawny port’s smell is lighter, more playful and fruity than the ruby port for pairing with dark chocolate. The port’s colour is also lighter and more transparent than the ruby port.

Its taste is much more sweet and less rich than the ruby port, with more of a daring and exciting lightness to it. It is easier to drink, but still 20% Vol, so be careful!

Boxes of Chocolates:

The Party Piece

A round box of a huge variety of chocolates. 80 of them! The round box is a perfect centerpiece at a party or for just lounging. Its round shape makes it great for having as a centerpiece on a round table. I highly recommend sharing this; the variety of flavours are interpreted differently by everyone and comparing experiences is always fun. To taste this box, I invited over a few friends and shared a bottle of Prosecco Superiore. A difficult working evening, right?

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Contents:

Vanilla Canapé White

A wide and creamy taste complemented with vanilla seeds throughout.

Caramel Canapé

Sweet caramel chocolate containing a distant but distinct note of cherry. With a sprinkle of cocoa crispies, magic is showed upon this one.

Dark with Nibs Canapé

A very dark 82% chocolate with a decisive and smooth flavour, containing pieces of cocoa Nibs to further intensify the flavour.

50% Milk Coffee Canapé

On top of the milk chocolate, that is delicious on its own, lies a couple of coffee beans. Crunchy coffee covered chocolate goodness.

Raspberry & Basil Canapé

A really weird but wonderful flavour of zingy raspberry in white chocolate and a subtle refreshingly mint coming from the bazil.

40% Milk with Éclat & Sea Salt Canapé

Very smooth milky chocolate with sea salt which accentuates the flavours as well as some nibbly caramel pieces.

50% Milk Earl Grey Canapé

Earl Grey is one of my favourite teas with its citrusy bergamot flavours, and this is exactly how you’d expect and want chocolate with Earl Grey to taste like.

Ginger Canapé Dark

Cast dark chocolate with a few nibbly crystalised ginger pieces set on top.

Orange Tangs

Just as the name suggests, these dark chocolate sticks are tangy and orange. Inside the dark chocolate is pure orange juice set with some pectin (used in jam). Mmm.

Succulent Ginger

The all-out spice of the ginger is complemented by its dark chocolate outers. A smooth bite and pleasurable chew.

Caramelised Hazelnuts – Dark

The best Italian hazelnuts are caramelised to add crunch and sweetness before being enrobed in dark gloss chocolate. A deep flavour.

Salted Peanuts – Milk

These taste like the Sea Salt Canapés, but with more nuts!

Mini Pecan & Feuilletine Bûche

Soft and velvety chocolate containing crunchy pecans and lovely feuilletine.

Mini Hazelnut Bûche

An honest and smooth milk chocolate with a hazelnut taste.

The Sleekster Selections:

Hotel Chocolat’s two Sleekster selections are included in the hamper. The Christmas Desserts Sleekster Selection and the Classic Christmas Sleekster Selection.

The Christmas Desserts Sleekster Selection

This is the more contemporary box, with the chocolates stylishly laid out in varying quantities and positions. Its packaging is matted with the contemporary colour scheme that is found throughout Hotel Chocolat’s Christmas range, notably on the 10 Mini Christmas Crackers; blue, white and silver. This is also the only box that contains the alcoholic truffles, and their alcoholic content is displayed cutely on the menu with a “tipple” guide with a scale that goes from no alcohol to “could blow your head off”.

Contents:

Gingerbread Truffle

A sleek and contemporary exterior meets a more traditional and luxurious inside. Awaiting one inside the milk chocolate shell is a smooth, warming, ginger truffle. The ginger taste isn’t as intense as you might expect, it’s actually less intense than the Twelve Gingerbread Men.

Christmas Mess

This white chocolate has dried strawberry and crushed meringue sprinkled on top, inside is a mild and beautifully delicate berry mousse.

Mulled Wine

This one pairs with the ruby port incredibly! Containing notes of orange, cinnamon and clove over a base of wine in a milk chocolate shell.

Rum & Raisin Marzipan Marvel

Chocolate-encased marzipan with tones of rum and raisin. Lovely if you like marzipan, bad luck if you don’t.

50% Milk Christmas Bauble

Shaped like an intricate bauble, this is lovely and milky.

70% Dark Christmas Tree

Just like the bauble, the tree has an intricate design on it. Cast in 70% dark chocolate.

White Christmas Bell

Wonderfully creamy white chocolate with vanilla seeds throughout.

Gianduja Bombe

A dark, sugar-coated chocolate containing luxuriously dark and silky hazelnut praline. The initially sweet sugar on your tongue is then further complimented by the crunch of the chocolate and smoothness of the praline.

Vanilla Dream

Wonderfully creamy liqueur with a chocolatey smooth centre and a wide note of vanilla to soften it further. In a milk and white chocolate shell.

Salted Soft Caramel

The soft caramel is wonderfully oozy with the salt bringing out the flavours.

Praline Dream

A dreamy praline chocolate with a great texture and taste.

Hazelnut & Ginger Crunch

The combination of hazelnut and nibbly ginger together gives this chocolate a unique flavour with an enjoyable texture.

Christmas Cake

The thought that must have been put into this chocolate is phenomenal. It even looks like a Christmas cake! Inside is walnut praline playing the ‘cake’ part of a traditional cake, complemented by raisins, cranberries, cinnamon, orange and nutmeg.

Tawny Port Truffle

Made with the port that is included for pairing with milk chocolate, this truffle is clearly a winner. Soft, sweet and mellow enough to be gentle.

Clementine Truffle

This smooth chocolate has a subtle clementine flavour which is tamed by the dark chocolate. A few chewy orange pieces are riddled throughout the top section of this chocolate.

Classic Christmas Sleekster Selection

In golds, whites and the occasional blue, this box is more classic and a touch less adventurous in terms of packaging and layout. Inside the box, one is presented with eight rows of three chocolates. Because there are three of each chocolate, this box is great for sharing and comparing thoughts on, especially if there are only three of you.
Hotel Chocolat Chocolates
Contents:

Christmas Cake

As above

Baked Alaska

This is one of my favourite chocolates… Ever. A thin layer of crushed meringue-topped white chocolate covers the structural shell of dark chocolate, giving it an aesthetic comparable to an alaskan landscape with blocks of ice covering a snowy landscape. Filling the inside of the chocolate is raspberry ‘ice cream’ truffle, this has an awakening tangy taste comparable to the Rhubarb Crumble.

Christmas Mess

As above

Ginger & Marmalade Pudding

If you didn’t know what this chocolate was, you might have a hard time figuring out.The citrus notes presented from the marmalade and spicier and more interesting notes from the ginger combined with the dark chocolate makes for a trip around a bitter but tasty place.

Coconut Bombe

This chocolate is rolled in dried coconut flakes making it look a bit like a muddy snowball with its milk chocolate shell showing through. Initially it is dry on your tongue with the dry coconut soaking up your mouth’s moisture, but as soon as you bite into it the creamy chocolate truffle’s moisture solves this.

Pecan Brownie

The pecans give this chocolate a nice texture to make it a bit nibbly and chop up the dark chocolate’s taste slightly. Its taste is consistent throughout the eating experience from the first bite because of its relative lack of additional, more complex flavours.

Zesty Christmas Caramel

The milk chocolate shell of this chocolate, decorated with white chocolate, bites open to an oozy caramel center. The caramel is supposed to be ‘zesty lemon’, but to me it is more of a orangey taste; somewhat of a fusion.

Gingerbread Truffle

As above.

Apple & Blackcurrant Cobbler

This milk chocolate number is another strong taste, and I love it. Amaretti biscuit sprinkles cover it makes it attractive. But it is not just a pretty face, contained inside is a sweet yet sour blackcurrant and apple truffle in a deep purple colour.

The H-Boxes:

You get no prizes for guessing why the two H-Boxes are called that: they have two windows that make the box look just like a capital H. They are packaged with a little menu slipped into a slit in the back of the box and some further information surrounding it.

Winter Warmers H-Box

It’s not called the Winter Warmers box for nothing. Every chocolate contains a generous serving of alcohol rated ‘a generous dash’ and ‘could blow your socks off’ on the tipple guide. This box has a silver and gold colour scheme, perfectly describing the sharp flavours.

Boy are they warming! Eat this box on Christmas eve and you’ll have no problem sleeping.

Mulled Wine

This one pairs with the ruby port incredibly! Containing notes of orange, cinnamon and clove over a base of wine in a milk chocolate shell.

Champagne & Cranberry Truffle

Delicate Mercier champagne truffle with a contrasting sweet and tangy cranberry flavour throughout in a dark chocolate shell.

Apple Pie Shooter

In accordance with the tipple guide, my socks are no longer on my feet. An initial bite of a shot of calvados and a splash of Martinique rum, the apple flavours become more pronounced further on with the cinnamon. All within a white chocolate shell.

Grand Marnier & Cherry

An interesting truffle with a strong flavour of Grand Marnier with notes of the cherry within its smooth centre and dark chocolate shell.

Drunken Hazelnut

A lovely light hazelnut truffle centre with a shot of Frangelico hazelnut liqueur within a milk chocolate shell. This is one of the more gentle and mellow chocolates.

Vanilla Dream

Wonderfully creamy liqueur with a chocolatey smooth centre and a wide note of vanilla to soften it further. In a milk and white chocolate shell.

Snowball

Within a white and dark chocolate shell lies the opposite; a caramel and advocate truffle! Quite a contrast that is easy on the senses.

Whiskey Toddy

If you eat enough of these then they’ll probably cure your hangover from the other chocolates. Whiskey, honey and lemon in a shell of delicious dark chocolate.

White Russian

Oh, Russia. Contained within its white chocolate walls is a blend of creamy white chocolate blended with vodka and coffee liqueur. Another white chocolate shocker.

Rum Soother

A well rounded truffle with a large dose of dark Jamaican rum and creamy caramel flavours.

Serious Dark Fix H-Box

Packaged in a luxurious dark purple H-Shaped box, these chocolates look almost as delicious as they taste.

Rum Truffle

A lovely dark chocolate shell containing a truffle enlaced with premium golden rum from Saint Lucia- the same island as Hotel Chocolat have their hotel The Hotel Chocolat on and that they grow their Cocoa on.

Whiskey Truffle

With a slightly bitter first impression, the deep dark chocolate and strong single malt Speyside whiskey is one that you’ll remember.

Soft Caramel – Dark

Inside a shell of 70% dark chocolate awaits soft runny caramel with a very slight grainy texture. The sweet- but not overpoweringly sweet- nature of the caramel contrasts perfectly with the dark chocolate.

Chilli Praline

Surprisingly, the chilli sprinkled on top of this dark chocolate is not as overpoweringly hot as I had expected. Instead it has a soft warmth, and combined with the praline within it is a beautifully balanced chocolate.

Hazelnut and Ginger Crunches

A deep dark chocolate shell with chewy ginger and crunchy hazelnuts provides a range of weird and wonderful textures and flavours.

Pistachio Crunches

I hope you like nuts! This 70% chocolate is full of pistachios giving it a chewy crunchy and nutty flavour.

Gianduja Bombe

A dark, sugar-coated chocolate containing luxuriously dark and silky hazelnut praline. The initially sweet sugar on your tongue is then further complimented by the crunch of the chocolate and smoothness of the praline.

Raspberry Liqueur Truffle

The initial crunch of the dark chocolate is contrasted by the sweetness and silkiness of the white crème internals which contain a shot of raspberry liqueur.

Dizzy Praline

Contrary to what the name would lead you to believe, this isn’t an alcoholic truffle. Instead, this is a hazelnut praline chocolate with a dark shell.

Chocolate Brownie

Such a good looking chocolate! It has a iccle cube of milk chocolate on top of a dark shell. Within the dark shell is a smooth praline; creating the experience of a gooey, chocolatey brownie.

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The Yule Bulche Collection

These four logs are packaged in a thick black card tray with a clear lid. They are found sitting on a branded slate cutting board being held in in place by a piece of golden card with cutouts.

The cutting slate that they are supplied with is a really nice touch, and is a talking point while sipping port and tasting chocolate with your friends.

The logs themselves come in four varieties; Ginger & Hazelnut, Pecan & Almond, Hazelnut, and Coffee & Amaretti. Each is luxuriously soft and velvety allowing for easy cutting and making them lovely to melt on the tongue when pairing with the relevant port.

Ginger & Hazelnut

Nibbly ginger pieces and crunchy hazelnut spread across the top of the dark chocolate log not only makes it look pretty, but also makes it taste sublime.

Pecan & Almond

The crunchiness of the nuts combined with the chocolate makes for a well rounded and textured log.

Hazelnut

This one has a hint of a nutty undertone with a rich and full flavour. Combined with its soft, velvety texture, it smothers the taste buds with chocolatey deliciousness.

Coffee & Amaretti

A strong taste and crunchy texture of the coffee beans goes well with the crunchy amaretti.

Decorations:

10 Mini Crackers

These cute little crackers continue the rest of Hotel Chocolat’s christmas colour scheme; sky blue, crisp white and silver. Each cracker is printed intricately with a Christmas scene featuring detailed trees and reindeer.

Inside each cracker is a single wrapped chocolate, weighing 13g on average each. The chocolates are wrapped to be airtight to keep them fresh until the big day. All of the chocolates are relatively child friendly, too, meaning that you don’t need to worry about who gets what cracker!

Contents:
Christmas Mess
As above

Billionaire’s Shortbread

One of the more sickly chocolates, this one has a milk chocolate shell. On top is crunchy cookie which adds texture and in the centre is a smooth caramel flavoured praline.

Rhubarb Crumble

On the inside of the white chocolate shell is a very tangy and taste bud exciting cream. Throughout this truffle shortbread pieces are sprinkled to add a nice bit of texture and crunchiness.

Berry Mousse

A zingy sour mousse inside a crunchy chocolate shell. An adventure inside your mouth.

Clementine Truffle

As above

4 Icicle Christmas Tree Decorations

These are great for hanging on your tree, and because they are in four different fairly neutral colour schemes – blue and white, silver and white, gold and white and – they go with any tree decorations. Beside the mini christmas crackers, your tree will be looking fly! Inside each box is a couple of little tasty chocolates.

Stocking Fillers:

8 White Chocolate Penguins

The chocolate in the white chocolate penguins is lovely and creamy, plus indulgently sweet with a hint of vanilla. Each chocolate is cast into a detailed penguin wearing a characteristic scarf, with the Hotel Chocolat logo placed on the far side of it. All eight of them are packed in one dainty box on two levels.

Tiddly Pengins by Hotel Chocolat
These are a great stocking filler for kids and adults alike… If they last that long!

Twelve Gingerbread Men

The chocolate gingerbread men are packaged with a clear lid in layers of two in two rows; one row with red coloured white chocolate buttons and one with green.

Each gingerbread man looks like just that. With five blobs of chocolate composing its body, two for their buttons and three for their face, they are not only delicious, they’re pretty too.

The sensation of eating the ginger flavoured chocolate is very unusual. Comparable to chill chocolate. But, sure enough, they taste just like one would expect, and want, chocolate gingerbread men to taste.

Pocket Penguins

Each hamper contains two of these, both a milk chocolate one and a dark chocolate one. They are packaged in blue, silver and white packages with a bulge. The top opens to reveal a cute little air-sealed slab with a penguin on it.

Milk Chocolate with Caramel & Sea Salt Canapés

These are wonderfully packaged in a dark and light brown package with a couple of windows. Inside, they are presented in stacks of two.

Sea Salt Chocolate
Their taste is peculiar, but wonderful. The milk chocolate melts and chews away to reveal pockets of crunchy salt that intensify the sweet and chocolatey nature of the milk and caramel chocolate. They are divine, I highly recommend these.

The Festive Wreath

Shaped like a wreath, this is a quintessentially Christmassy chocolate. Spread though the milk chocolate are cute crunchy cookie balls. The shape itself is nice and detailed, but I don’t recommend that you hang it on your front door.

Christmas Caper Milk Chocolate Slab

A very pretty milk chocolate slab that’s about 1cm thick. It has a cute caramel chocolate penguin wearing scarf in the middle and red chocolate poured artistically around the slab. Cookie balls are also sprinkled over the top, adding texture and helping create an Antarctic-like appearance.

Conclusion

That was almost 4000 words about chocolate and booze. Take a breath, relax and blink. Hotel Chocolat remains one of the finest chocolatiers and just like a fine wine and me, they’re only getting better with age.

The cost for The Ultimate Christmas Hamper? 300 chunks of cheddar (£300 in Craig slang). For all 20 items, I don’t think that it’s a bad price when you take into consideration just how many different items you get in this hamper, and that (if you don’t eat it all), it makes all your presents very easy to buy; even stocking fillers!

Each item found in the hamper is available separately at their stores and online. Here is the entire range of Hotel Chocolat’s hampers, and here is this particular hamper; The Ultimate Christmas Hamper.

Craig Lackie

Craig Lackie ()

Former Vice President of Previous Magazine, Clikyz and Split An Atom. Avid photographer and keen to adopt the latest technologies. Circle me on Google+.

  • Mary Jones

    mine just arrived this friday. Beautiful presnetation and my cat enjoys sleeping in the box! Have a merry christmas 🙂

  • Jonathan Carter

    Managed to pop into the local store and pick up a few goodies here, wife will be pleased aha

  • Soph

    Getting one of these to enjoy on Christmas day was a real joy.