Love chocolate? Or know someone that does? This is the most perfect experience.
I was browsing the Hotel Chocolat website the other month for birthday presents for Ian, and I randomly came across the fantastic Chocolate Lock-In experiences. For just £10 each (yes £10!) you get a lovely glass of Prosecco (or an alternative soft drink), 6 delicious chocolates to try, a really informative session…but not only that, you’re then handed a voucher for £10 to spend in the store in a twilight shopping session straight after the tasting. So you basically get your money back to spend in the store with no minimum spend limit. Amazing right?
Let me tell you more…
The sessions are held in Hotel Chocolat stores across the country, so hopefully you can find one near you. I think the sessions are relatively new to Hotel Chocolat – I know the one we attended in Milton Keynes was just their second session, so hopefully more and more sessions will spring up across the year and at different venues.
Our Chocolate-Lock in was held on an evening once the store had closed. The shutters came down and we were VIPs for an evening of indulgence. In Milton Keynes the Hotel Chocolat store has a café, if you’ve never been, I’d highly recommend a Mint Chilled Chocolat (basically like a mint chocolate milkshake, but 10 times better) ..it’s sooo good! They also do hot drinks such as teaolat tea (infused with cocoa nibs) and even ice cream. The café area is where we sat and enjoyed our tasting for the evening.
We each sat by a table, which was laid out with everything we needed for the session. The chocolate was kept hidden until the session began and was presented on the table along with a booklet filled with tasting notes, a page where we can note down the tasting notes of the chocolates we tried, as well as some other interesting information about how chocolate is produced.
Ian and Russ (the store manager) were running our session on the evening, and what lovely guys they are! I have to give a shout out to Charlotte who was also helping them on the evening too, thank you for all your help.
The guys were brilliant at running a fun, lighthearted and interactive session, filled with really interesting information about Hotel Chocolat, their ethics and just how amazing their chocolate really is.
This is chocolate, properly done.
Ian and Russ explained how the cocoa content is higher than the sugar content in all the chocolate at Hotel Chocolat…even the white chocolate has cocoa butter as the top ingredient, not sugar! When this is the case, you know that Hotel Chocolat truly cares about providing you with top notch chocolate.
One thing I loved to hear about Hotel Chocolat was their ethics. Ian told us that many companies pay the farmers for the cocoa beans when they are dry, however, Hotel Chocolat work differently in that they pay the farmers for the cocoa beans in their wet state – and when they’re wet, they’re heavier, so the farmers get a better deal. I like that. I like that a lot. True fair trade should be the norm everywhere.
What we tasted…
We were walked through the smells, the snap (sign of good chocolate) and of course the tasting adventure of each gorgeous piece of chocolate.
Before the proper tasting session, we also got to try out one of their batons. A great way to really take note of that good chocolate snap! ..and a great way to start the munching of the delicious chocolate.
Then the true chocolate tasting began…
The first chocolate we tried was a little bit of their Caramel Chocolate Bar. This was truly yummy and one lady at the session said this was her ultimate favourite bar, even the tasting session couldn’t sway her away from her fave. This bar features flavours of malted biscuit, dolce de leche and burned cream.
We then tried a 40% Milk Chocolate bar – other premium brands of chocolate will go down to 30% cocoa content, but Hotel Chocolat won’t go below 40%. This was a yummy silky bar! I’d totally have this one again.
Next we stepped things up just a tad and tried the 50% bar. This bar is a little deeper on the cocoa content, but still nice and creamy. It’s actually made with less sugar too, which is great considering how wonderful it tasted. The 50% chocolate bar was my favourite of the evening…although I did love every piece we tried. I’m so pleased that I’ve been able to discover one of my favourite bars from Hotel Chocolat, as I now know exactly what to put on my Christmas list later this year…
We then tried a piece of their Ecuador chocolate. There’s a few different cocoa levels in their Ecuador collection, but we *think* the one we tried was the 65% Supermilk Vegan Ecuador. Whatever it was, it was as delicious as ever, haha! So if you or anyone you love is vegan or avoids dairy, do take a peek at the options available at Hotel Chocolat.
It was time for a little bit of indulgence next, as we tried the Milk Truffle (which was the round chocolate as pictured above). This was sooo yummy. Something to really take a moment out of life to enjoy. The outer shell is crafted with a blend of the 50% Milk Chocolate (my fave) and the Caramel Milk Chocolate Bar, which was one of the first pieces of chocolate we tried on the evening. Inside is a whole load of whipped cream truffle goodness.
The last piece we tried was the Supermilk Chocolate Bar. A 65% cocoa bar, with less sugar than a dark chocolate bar but a little creamy still too. Very lovely if you want that little bit more cocoa, but you’re not a dark chocolate fan.
Between tasting each piece, we also had a glass of water to help cleanse our palate…and a glass of Prosecco to sip whilst tasting. That’s the life!
Once the tasting session came to a close, it was time for our twilight shopping session. As mentioned earlier, you get your ticket price back in the form of a voucher on the evening to then spend in store on anything you wish (no minimum spend) that evening. How brilliant!
I picked up a milk chocolate Tiddly Pot and some Chocolate Foiled Hearts to add to a friend’s present for her birthday. I also treated myself to a slab of my newly found favourite 50% chocolate that I had tried on the evening, a pot of chocolate orange flavoured buttons and also some cocoa and peppermint Teolat teabags. I can’t wait to try this tea. At Christmas time I love hot chocolate and peppermint, so I’m hoping I’ll love this too.
Ian picked up a whole load of different selectors, which we’ve been enjoying over the past week or so. Tonight we tried the Caramel Pecan Chocolate Selector, and oh my, so gorgeous.
If you’re new to Hotel Chocolat, definitely head over to their “Selectors” area in store. This is where you can pick up 3 packs for £10 and try pretty much every chocolate under the sun. You’ll be sure to discover your favourite there! They also do a vast collection of other products too, from beer, to chocolate spreads and even beauty products – Ian from the Milton Keynes store said the ketchup is really worth a try too.
Thank you ever so much for the truly lovely team at Hotel Chocolat Milton Keynes for a fantastic, tasty and informative session. We will most certainly be back…because we’ve already booked our next session!
If you fancy booking a session at Hotel Chocolat yourself, head on over to their website by *clicking here*. Enjoy!