Firstly, as I don't buy chocolate very often I was a bit shocked by the price. 12 truffles, a 100g slab of chocolate and 80g of chocolate buttons for £17? Is that the going rate? I know Hotel Chocolat have high ethical standards and tick all those important boxes but really? I could buy a lot of nice cheese and a packet of crackers for £17 so I do struggle a bit to see that as good value, regardless of how prettily the chocolates were presented.
And they are presented prettily. The gift bag and ribbon are high-quality and feel luxurious, unfortunately the gift tag/label looks terribly tacky, and if I were giving this to someone I would definitely remove it and attach my own gift card.
Obviously though, the important thing is how they taste.
Soft chilli caramels - I was expecting these to be my favourites. Dark chocolate with a chilli-spiked liquid caramel centre certainly sounded like my cup of tea. And yet, they somehow missed the mark. The filling was divine: a nicely flowing caramel with a gentle, building warmth of chilli. If that was bottled by itself I would pour it over ice cream at every opportunity. It was the dark chocolate that let them down, I think partly because I prefer enrobed chocolates to moulded ones. The chocolate was slightly waxy and had a faint after-taste that didn't work harmoniously with the chilli.
Raspberry Riot - This, on the other hand, was SO much nicer than I expected! A slab of raspberry and milk chocolate studded with freeze-dried raspberry pieces and chunks of biscuit, as someone who really doesn't like fruit and chocolate together this didn't float my boat at all. But somehow, the tart tang of the raspberries and the malty crunch of the biscuit cut through the sweetness of the chocolate to make something really delicious. This slab disappeared very, very quickly - and Paul ate at least half of it, which is unusual.
Vanilla Truffles - Given the black-speckled filling of these truffles, I was expecting a really pronounced vanilla flavour. They didn't deliver a strong flavour, but they did offer a very pleasant, gentle vanilla filling, inside a not-too-sweet milk chocolate mould. Very nice.
Caramel Buttons - These were absolutely lovely. Milk chocolate but with a strong, clear flavour of caramel. Fortunately Paul wasn't too interested in them, so after a token offer I didn't have to share.
Overall - Would I buy these? Probably not. I don't have anyone that I buy Valentine's chocolate for, and with all the pink and the heart shapes it's not like I could give them for a February birthday or anything. But would I be utterly delighted if someone gave me this goody bag? Why yes, yes I would.