So when I was offered the opportunity to put a new chocolate company through its paces, how could I possibly turn it down??!!
The company in question is called Cocoa Boutique and it prides itself on the quality (and pedigree) of its chocolates. Their website names Barry Colenso as their British Master Chocolatier (he was part of the team who made the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding cake) as well as other Artisan and Master Chocolatiers (including from Belgium) and the tag-line on their home-page reads, "Forget Willy Wonka...This is your golden ticket to chocolate heaven." A bold claim indeed.
My tasting box arrived very quickly and fitted perfectly through my letterbox. This was a good start - as a full-time working parent, I'm simply not able to sit in all day, waiting for a package to arrive. Even if I wasn't a working parent, I wouldn't want to sit around all day waiting for a package, there'd be too many other things to be getting on with. The fact that the box slides easily through your letterbox makes the service convenient.
Once I'd opened the packaging, I was excited to see that it was a good sized box of chocolates too - no scrimping here! The box felt well made and sturdy; not at all flimsy. I eagerly lifted the lid...and was greeted by a sealed letter and a leaflet. The leaflet outlined the different chocolates contained within the box (my eye was instantly drawn to the rather bizarrely named but very colourful 'Pamela') while the letter was a personal welcome to the Cocoa Boutique tasting club.
With my son's christening fast approaching, I wanted to invite my guests to be my chocolate-tasting guinea pigs, which meant putting the box to one side for a few days. Of course, I couldn't resist a quick peek at the cocoa-based goodies first. There were around 15 different types of chocolate, all ranging in size and quantity. I was intrigued by all the different colours and textures but, in a display of almost superhuman strength, I resisted the urge to scoff them all then and there. Instead, I waited
impatiently for the weekend to arrive.
The weekend came and the Cocoa Boutique chocolates could finally come out. I chose a small group of people to try them out on the day before the christening went ahead (I reasoned that passing them around a large crowd would have made it impossible to gather everyone's opinions). My friend hunted out a coffee creme and bit into it, while others chose theirs more randomly. My ears were greeted to the sounds of "Oooh!", "Ahhhh!" and "Mmmm!" so I figured it was safe for me to try one. Picking up a dusty pink white chocolate, I bit down into it. I was greeted by a smooth, creamy, fluffy mousse with a hint of strawberry. Very nice.
My finger meandered through the menu as I tried to choose which one I would try next. There were so many choices and all sounded delicious (apart from the coffee ones. They sounded very nice but I really don't do coffee!)
The chocolate buttons were a big hit; they vanished swiftly and without trace, courtesy of Sophia and Dexter, and it wasn't long before the box was looking decidedly empty.
The goodNone of the other chocolates came close to the pink champagne truffle with real raspberry pieces. This tasted fabulous; a really smooth white chocolate with a touch of pink champagne for flavour topped with little raspberry pieces that give it a little 'zing', complementing the champagne perfectly.
The badI didn't like the chocolates (of which there were two types) that were rolled in cocoa powder. To me, this made the outside of the chocolate too dusty and dry. This is due to my personal taste though and once you got past that outer layer, the middle part was scrumptious.
The surpriseI never expected this to happen but it got me eating coffee chocolate. And not just any sort of coffee-flavoured chocolate - coffee beans encased in chocolate! Normally, I hate coffee. I absolutely detest the stuff. It's far too strong and bitter, even lattes. So when I saw that the Cocoa Boutique tasting box included a handful of coffee beans covered in dark chocolate, I grimaced slightly; I knew I'd have to try them for the purposes of this review but I really didn't want to.
But, surprise surprise, they were actually rather nice. Yes, you can taste the coffee, but it's a small 'hit', not too overpowering. Plus, because real coffee beans are used, it has a better taste to it than the synthetic coffee flavour poured into other brands of chocolate.
VerdictCocoa Boutique has done its homework with what makes good chocolate. They're working with some quality chocolatiers and it shows.
At the time of writing this review, Cocoa Boutique is a chocolate tasting club - you order an introductory selection for £34.95 (free delivery) and can then choose to take delivery of a new box of chocolates every one, two or three months. Each box after the introductory selection costs £19.95. We thought the cost of the introductory box was a little pricey - my husband reasoned that he'd want to pay no more than £20. However, this is what all the subsequent boxes cost.
In a way, it's a shame that Cocoa Boutique only offers this tasting club experience. It's a great idea for chocolate lovers, although I'm not sure it would be good for my waistline for sign up for a regular delivery of chocolate! I would, however, love to purchase one-off boxes for friends and family at special times of the year.
Despite this, will I be recommending them and their chocolates? Absolutely yes!
Please note: I was given the Cocoa Boutique tasting box for free in return for this review. As always, all opinions are 100% honest.