Hotel Chocolat have sprung from nowhere in the last few years. The high street chocolate market had always been dominated by Thorntons, but Hotel Chocolat (at a slightly different price range) has taken Thorntons to pieces. The reason for that is the mixture of good quality products, but also fresh ideas. Hotel Chocolat manages to create new and exciting food every year, and these Raspberry Jam Truffles followed that trend.
I still like to support Thorntons when I can (the high street will be a lesser place if the company has to resort to mostly internet sales as might be the case) but they haven’t been able to match Hotel Chocolat for years now, and that’s because they haven’t been able to create and deliver interesting chocolate.
Described as ‘tangy raspberry and creamy white chocolate truffles encased in a milk chocolate shell’ the chocolates came in a really unique style of packaging as you’ll see above. Not many companies use glass- it’s expensive and fragile. However there is little doubt that it looks interesting and ‘different’ (in a good way!) when it is used. In this instance, it was especially effective as the chocolates were ‘jam truffles’ and serving them in a jam jar was a nice thought.
Hotel Chocolat have two identical style products with different flavours in this summer range as well; Orange Marmalade and Lemon Curd. I plumped for the Raspberry Jam option whilst in their store because I thought Raspberry was the most seasonally fitting option (it is June after all.) Sadly my vision of tucking into these whilst sunbathing never came to pass- the good old British weather saw to that with some traditional plummeting temperatures and rain!
The chocolates are called Raspberry Jam Truffles are my God did they smell like it. After removing the Hotel Chocolat embossed ribbon and loosening the jar lid, there was a very strong fruity aroma immediately; and it was spookily similar to raspberry jam itself! It was uncanny, with the chocolates delivering the same sharp and faintly acidic scents that you could expect from real raspberries.
You could also pick up on a slight hint of milk chocolate, but essentially opening these chocolates was like opening a real jam jar.
The truffles themselves are quite small (roughly the diameter of a one penny piece) but as there were 22 of them in the jar, that was not really a problem. And as these are more of a ‘pop them in’ kind of chocolate product, the truffle size was actually about right I thought.
The initial flavour burst after biting into one of these truffles is of gloriously fresh raspberries. The taste is extremely tart but stopped short of being out and out bitter. That was just perfect for me- raspberries are supposed to be a little less sweet than other summer fruits (like Strawberries).
After that strong fruity flavour, came a satisfying chocolate hit, which came from the outer casing of milk chocolate around the ganache centre. For anybody who hasn’t tried it, the 40% Hotel Chocolat chocolate that the casing was made from is fantastic in my opinion- offering more ‘chocolatey’ flavour than most other milk chocolates do.
Had the flavour stopped as that point, I would have been delighted. The sharpness from the early raspberry middle against the smooth and sweet milk chocolate was nice.
However the aftertaste wasn’t quite right- it was overly sweet, and rather than coming from the natural semi-sweet, semi-sour raspberries, that sweetness was very sugary and a little unpleasant. After breaking a truffle in half and trying the component parts, I think that’s because of the white chocolate with which the ganache is made.
A ganache is composed of chocolate and cream, and most regularly made with dark chocolate in my experience. The white chocolate ganache in this instance just didn’t quite come off for me- the truffle was delicious at first but, as mentioned, the rather harsh sugary aftertaste wasn’t as enjoyable.
I have to be careful not to go too overboard on the criticism. These are still fairly nice- as described earlier, the combination of the sharp raspberries and 40% milk chocolate is great. In fact I’d love to try the same truffle but with a dark chocolate ganache blended with the raspberry element. It might not deliver the same look (rather than the pink colour seen above, it would probably be chocolate coloured) but it would remove the overly sweet aftertaste, which would move this chocolate out of the ‘meh, not bad’ and into the ‘woah, this is damn good’ category for me.
At £9 for 22 truffles, the pricing point was pricey but reasonable I thought. Granted, 40p a truffle seems a lot, but the ingredients are of a good quality and the presentation is super- the Hotel Chocolat Raspberry Jam Truffles would make an excellent gift should you be attending a summer dinner party or something similar.
Would I buy them again? Well, I wouldn’t buy this flavour again. However, as you might remember me saying, these truffles are from summer range which also comprises Lemon Curd and Orange Marmalade, and I will certainly be trying those other products this summer.