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I received these chocolates for my birthday, but the pink version! I hadn't really heard of the makers before, but guessed from the packaging that I was in for a treat. Packaging; A wonderful thick cardboard circular box that was coloured a dreamy pearlescent pink.The box Is suitable to keep for afterwards to store things in, I currently have mine as a sort of ornament - but I have a bit of a think for packaging. Inside you are greated with seven luxury chocolates all sat in their own little crimped casing - all look good enough to eat, and perfectly spherical. The chocs in this case were dusted in a beautiful pink powder - giving them a really girly look (can you see a theme running through my reviews?). Taste; Having had other champagne truffles from well known chocolatiers, these took my breath away a little - tasting rather strong (not suitable for little people I would say). The chocolate was delicious however, and the 'Marc de Champagne' truffle centre.. although strong... tasted so silky. As the chocolates were quickly snaffled up by members of family, the box became a nice little keepsake from the present and feels such good quality. The present was well appreciated and I'm sure another candy lover with a taste for the finer things would equally agree. I am not sure on price as I received it as a gift but I am sure it is reasonable for what you are receiving - Would definitely eat these again, but most certainly a luxury as even eating one feels naughty. Best to save for a rainy day when you need a lift - and a little kick of champagne. Or would be fab at dinner parties as something to hand around with the drinks!
Charbonnel et Walker are a Bond Street chocolatiers (they're in the Royal Arcade if you're in the vicinity), but you can buy their products in virtually any quality food shop in the UK or online at their website. Their range extends from classic chocolate selections and after dinner thins to truffles (try the glorious pink champagne truffles as a Valentine's gift, guys!) to wonderfully old-fashioned Rose and Violet creams. They also sell creamy, flaky hot chocolate and delicious truffle sauce, which can transform chocolate pudding into something pretty special. All of the chocolates are handmade, using top quality ingredients - their dark chocolate, for instance, is packed with cocoa, and will give you a massive chocolate hit. Their truffles are smothered in crisp shells, containing the richest cream you can imagine, without a trace of that cheap, cocoa buttery taste that wrecks brands like Lindor. One of the great strengths of Charbonnel et Walker is their packaging, which is at once opulent and old-fashioned, making these ideal gift items. As you might expect, they're quite expensive - a 100g box of chocs will set you back £10, 13g of truffles are about the same amount and 1 kilo of their finest costs a whopping £85. But these aren't really the kind of products you stuff you face with in huge quantities - they're exquisite treats to be enjoyed one at a time! My only real beef is that they don't operate any kind of fair trade scheme on their chocolate - hence the four star rating. Otherwise, they'd be a five star certainty!
I'm reviewing Charbonnel et Walker's drinking chocolate specifically here. You can get C&W drinking chocolate and supermarkets including Tesco, where I bought some as it was half it's normal and quite substantial price. You get an attractive white and blue tin containing a bag of fine chocolate flakes. According to the instructions, to make up the hot drink you add 4 teaspoons to a little boiling water and top up with hot milk. I found it easier and tastier to add the flakes to a spoon of cold milk, microwave for 20 seconds until melted, add cold milk and remicrovave for 1 minute. Same result just easier. So how does it taste? Well it's really nice but disappointing. It's smoother and creamier than your average cocoa-and-sugar hot choc drink but not chocolately enough. You are buying a tin of pure chocolate of c.50% cocoa solids so I expected it to be really gorgeous but having tried other "posh" choc drinks I've tasted better. In fact eating a spoon of the raw flakes tells you why - it tastes like cheap, oversweetened, over-milked milk chocolate (like Cadbuty Dairy Milk or similar). My wife thought it tasted more like old fashioned "cooking chocolate". Since it's aimed at the chocolate connoisseur I expected it to be much stronger and richer. Far better in taste, in my opinion, is Twinings "Indulgence" luxury hot choc drink which is 65% pure chocolate. For the more budget conscious I'd also recommend Green & Blacks which, although has a lot less pure choc in it, still tastes rich and smooth as well as strong.
Charbonnel Et Walker make so many different types of chocolate that I haven't had a chance to try them all ... however, the rate I go through them, it shouldn't be long.... The chocolates are beautifully packages in sturdy little cardboard boxes, usually in quite feminine colours such a tea rose pink or cream. They're decorated with gold or silver writing in a french style script, and inside, the chocolates are in the usual plastic chocolate tray, surrounded by tissue paper. They look like the luxury product they are and are impressive as a gift. So far I've tried the assortment box, the champage truffles (pink and vintage) and the rose and violet cremes. The chocolate is delicious - it melts the moment it is in your mouth (even the dark choclate). It is smooth, without any gritty texture (like yorkies) but without being greasy (like galaxy). It seems to fill your mouth with the whole flavour, which reallly lingers. The rose and violet creams have a very firm centre - they're technically creams, but they have a thicker consitency than any other cream I've tried. They have an extremely strong taste and perfume - some people I know who like rose and violet creams find them too strong. I couldn't eat more than 2 or 3 in a go, but I think that's a good thing. The flavours are powerful without having a hint of artificiality. The champage truffles - both types - are probably my favourite. They have the flavour of champage without any gloopy, liqeur chocolate stuff being inside - they have a texture somewhere between a mousse and a truffle. The taste isn't overwhelming and lingers. They're one of the few choclates I can have one of and not eat the whole box - I really savour them. For each of the boxes I've described, I'd expect to pay about £10 and for that you get about 12 champagne truffles or 18 rose and violet cremes. They're not cheap, but for birthdays/christmas/valentines, I guarantee the recipient would be very impressed. I think they're worth the money. I buy them from Selfridges, however, they sometimes have a small range in boots at Christmas.
Fine English chocolates. Old Bond Street, Mayfair, (since 1875).