The Cocoa Boutique – or how NOT to diet!
I do love chocolate. In particular I love quality Belgian chocolate – the sort some people find a bit too bitter. I’ve been getting some real cravings recently after watching the Two Hairy Bikers in the Low Country visiting a Shockaletier (what a great name) who has made some truly decadent chocolates that involve alcoholic shots enrobed in chocolate – which you half eat and half drink. I spent quite a lot of time working in Brussels and developed a real taste for that rather fine, dark chocolate you seldom get in the UK. I also used to hang out at some of the chocolatiers shops and boutiques – at a time when the UK was limited to a few major brands and ‘hand-made’ chocolates that often seemed a bit musty and unpleasant. But, things have changed and artisan chocolate, chocolatiers and specialist chocolate shops have become really popular. So I was intrigued when I was asked to sample and review a new Chocolate Tasting Club called Cocoa Boutique to see what was on offer.
My chocolates arrived, hassle free. In fact I was in on the day of delivery, but we checked the box and it really DOES fit through a normal letter box, and is robust enough to withstand that kind of treatment. My only issue would be that the rather cute packaging makes it very ‘borrowable’ if you live somewhere with a communal entrance, as is quite common in London.
Once you open the outer packaging you get a pristine, classy, black and white box. The sort of thing that would make a very good gift, if you were strong enough to give it away!
And inside, a really luscious selection of chocolate. The tasting guide explains a bit about each chocolate and has profiles of the chocolatiers. You can also see which have alcohol (some of them are definitely adult only chocolates!). And, there’s a scoring section to send back. I like the guide to the chocolatiers. I’m a little less keen on the ‘cut out and put into an envelope’ scoring section, which I think will get limited feedback. But maybe there are plans for an online feedback option? After all this is the age of the internet.
Now, I haven’t finished trying the chocolates yet. I’m attempting to eat one or two a day – and none on my 5:2 fasting days. So, it’s going to take me quite a long time to get through them. So far my personal favourite has been the milk chocolate almond praline. Although it’s a milk chocolate it’s one of those slightly richer mixes with what tastes to me like a higher percentage of cocoa than some milk chocolates. And I really like the salty almond centre. Obviously the Dark Chocolate Brandy Truffle worked…but then it’s almost like having an after dinner drink – so full of brandy! My least favourite of the cocoa boutique selectionso far are the white chocolate offerings, which look incredibly pretty but just taste a little waxy and sweet for my liking.
If you like the concept, once you’ve had one box you can chose to have a regular delivery of a new selection every month, every two months or every three months. It’s a lovely idea for a gift – I had a similar package from Hotel Chocolat some years ago, bought for me by my brothers as a birthday present.
Would I buy them? well probably not. But, if I wanted to buy a present for someone who loved chocolate and who needed the occasional treat it would be pretty high up my list of options. The nice thing about it is that if you pay for a subscription, you get something over the course of a year, so for me it’s a much better choice than a massive box of chocolates all at once!
You can find out more from The Cocoa Boutique website