Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: Hotel Chocolat "Your Eggselency" Easter egg

Full disclosure: I was sent an egg by Hotel Chocolat via Beth from Jam & Cream PR, in exchange for a review. One thing I learned during writing this review is that if you type the word "egg" often enough it ceases to look like a real word. "Chocolate", however, always remains real.

When I was a kid the most important thing about Easter was the chocolate. Quantity was far more important than quality, and with care I could get it to last until Whitsun, although this was entirely down to getting a mountain of cheap eggs from many different relatives. But, as a kid the only eggs that were generally available were ones that these days are two for a fiver in the cheap supermarket of your choice. Thornton's might have done eggs, but they were far too expensive for the likes of us.

As an adult I don't have hordes of family members giving me Easter eggs any more. Thank goodness; the chocolate on your average egg is often only distinguishable from grouting by the colour, is as thin as cardboard and contains the tiniest of sample packs of chocolate bars you could get every day in the newsagent. But these days there is an alternative; boutique chocolatiers have been springing up and the one that seems to have become most widespread is Hotel Chocolat.

Now, I like Hotel Choc stuff, as a rule. The chocolate is great quality and the fillings are fun and flavoursome. I've been getting TCTC boxes for about five years now, but not really thought about getting an egg; these days I don't go through chocolate as much as when I was a lad and keeping chocolate through to Whit is less of a priority. But! An egg! Can I feel like that kid again?

So, a sucker for a bad pun, I opened up "Your Eggselency"; first impressions were

  • this feels heavy
  • ooh! silver paper
  • where's the stuff?

Because eggs contain stuff, don't they? These days the stuff is rarely inside the egg, it's in vacformed plastic holders hidden beneath the egg. Not in this egg, though. Inside each silver foil-wrapped half were tissue-wrapped five miniature eggs, each with a different filling. I shall come to them in a second.

No, the first thing is the chocolate. This is thick chocolate, and it's so thick that it is quite hard to break through; no bad thing, in my opinion. Each half-egg is a different chocolate, one milk, the other dark and so in Chez Nous this saves arguments; the Lady of the House prefers milk, and I'm fine with either but like the complexity of dark. And so to the taste; this is quality chocolate, the milk rich and sweet and with perfect melt-in-the-mouth consistency, the dark slightly bitter and complex with a faint lemony tone to it. They both taste of chocolate (unlike cheap eggs which tastes of slightly rancid sweetened fat). It smells right, it sounds and feels right when you do manage to snap it, but above all it tastes like chocolate ought to taste.

If I have one complaint it is of the texture of the dark chocolate; it is ever so slightly gritty at the start of the taste, like there is too much cocoa in it (if you can have such a thing). I've been making chocolates with some 80% Callebaut recently and it feels a bit like that in the mouth; don't get be wrong, this is exceptional chocolate, but sometimes the higher percentage ones can do that.

No complaints about the milk, though; I barely got a look-in. I like Hotel Choc's lower sugar, higher percentage milk chocolate bars and would love to see an egg made from that, but in the meantime this is some tasty chocolate to be getting on with.

As to the miniature filled eggs; these are truffles in a crisp shell, and enormous compared to normal truffles! Five flavours with varying degrees of success; some of them tasted just like alcohol with little to make it stand out from the rest (still tasty, mind you). But the orange and vanilla was sublime and could stand on its own merits. A box of them would certainly keep me going 'til Whit. Well, maybe.

But, this egg is not cheap; you get what you pay for, of course, but this is not an egg aimed at children. There is an interesting nostalgia thing here, where the target audience are people like me who enjoyed easter eggs as a kid and then grew up into an adult with a little disposable income and a hankering for the joy of being a child again. I'm a big fan of this sort of thing and it is with no small measure of enjoyment that for a moment, I felt like that kid again.


  1. I've had a couple of those Hotel Chocolat eggs in my time, and have to agree that they're generally gorge, though there is always a sense that they are ludicrously posh for an easter egg...

    Ever since I was a kid I have been deeply disappointed by eggs that don't have anything in the centre. WHY do this? Where's the fun in the filing being filed separately in a mundane plastic wrapper?