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Beech's Fine Chocolates can trace its history back to 1920, where the factory in Preston, Lancashire, first opened its doors. Specialising in traditional British chocolate favourites, the company has continued at the same site to this day.
In recent years, its product range has expanded and so has its reach, with its products found in shops far and wide across the UK.
Hankering for a dose of British confectionery nostalgia, I signed up to their Chocolate Club monthly subscription service to road test their 'chocolate on tap' delivery offering. Read on as I unbox my first monthly delivery.
What is the Chocolate Club?
Beech's Fine Chocolates' Chocolate Club is their monthly subscription service offering. Sign up via the website and you'll receive ongoing deliveries of chocolates each and every month you remain a member.
It costs £22.50 per month (including delivery), although at the time of writing, there was a discount code (CLUB50) that reduced this by 50% for the initial box (£11.25 including delivery). For just over a tenner, I felt the initial box was worth a punt.
The Chocolate Club promises "specially crafted monthly selections" "containing a varied selection of seasonal favourites and early new products."
Each month the selection will differ, drawing on products from the entire Beech's Fine Chocolates range. If you're not familiar with the brand, they are especially known for their fondant creams and filled truffles, although they also stock a variety of chocolate bars, fudge, macaroons, marzipan, chocolate-covered fruit and nuts, as well as after dinner mints. So, there's plenty of items that might work their way into your delivery box each month.
What's Inside the Box?
The delivery arrived in a nondescript brown cardboard box that was too large to fit through my letterbox. It's something to bear in mind, especially if you live a fair distance away from your local delivery sorting office.
While I'd have liked to see Beech's branded outer packaging, I like the no-nonsense approach and suppose it helps keep costs down, making the subscription price as low as possible. The box is recyclable, which is a plus.
My cardboard box contained six full-size products:
- Beech's Anglesey Sea Salted Caramel Truffles (140g)
- Beech's Ginger Dark chocolate bar (60g)
- Beech's Lime Fondants (90g)
- Beech's Belgian Almond and Pistachio Nougat (100g)
- Beech's Mint Dark chocolate bar (60g)
- Beech's Orange Fondants (90g)
This equates to 540g of confectionery. It's weighted towards dark chocolate, with the fondant creams and bars making use of the dark stuff. The truffles are milk chocolate based, while the nougat (made in Belgium, not Lancashire unlike the remainder of the items) features no chocolate at all.
Purchased individually, this collection of products totals £28.44 including delivery when ordering via their website. A normal monthly subscription is £22.50 including delivery, so that's good value for money. It's even better value for money when using the discount voucher code CLUB50 to get the first box for £11.25 delivered, as I did.
What Are The Chocolates Like?
If you hate dark chocolate, you might be tempted to look away now, but fear not. While the chocolate truffles are made using milk chocolate and there's a carton of nougat chunks, there's no denying the remaining four products focus on dark chocolate. However, the low cocoa solids means that the chocolate behaves more as a delivery vehicle than a core flavour. Read on to see what I mean.
RRP: £3.49 for 90g each
Beech's Fine Chocolates Lime Fondant Creams ingredients:
Sugar, cocoa mass, glucose syrup, water, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin), lime oil, natural vanilla flavouring, acidity regulator (citric acid), stabiliser (invertase), vegetable extract (spirulina), colour (turmeric) . Cocoa solids: 55% minimum.
Beech's Fine Chocolates Orange Fondant Creams ingredients:
Sugar, cocoa mass, glucose syrup, water, cocoa butter, orange oil, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla flavouring, acidity regulator (citric acid), colour (paprika), stabiliser (invertase). Cocoa solids: 55% minimum.
When I think of chocolate fondant cremes, I think of the classic mint flavour discs and then give up. It turns out that Beech's Fine Chocolates specialises in a number of different flavours, including coffee, pineapple, rose, lemon, violet, strawberry, raspberry, and ginger, as well as good ol' mint.
The two 90g boxes in my delivery are Lime Fondants and Orange Fondants, both of which I have never tried before. The vegan-certified chocolates share similar packaging and similar DNA. The cellophane-wrapped green and orange boxes feature a smattering of gold foil print to add a touch of wow factor to the thin board boxes. Inside sits a clear plastic tray housing ten fondant-filled discs.
Both share the same 55% Fairtrade-certified dark chocolate coating, and both sit at around 68% sugar levels. Lime oil and orange oil sets these two products apart.
Slight citrus notes come through in the aroma of the Orange Fondants, blended with sweet-but-vague cocoa notes. The Lime Fondants are far more fragrant, and remind me of chocolate lime sweets. The Orange Fondants have a gooey orange-hued centre while the Lime Fondants have a set white centre that snaps easily. The orange flavour comes through clearly in the dainty Orange Creams, with its sweet edge capped by a thin coating of dark chocolate. While this doesn't add much flavour, it helps add some richness to the mix. In contrast, the Lime Cremes taste just like I remember chocolate lime sweets to taste, with an addictive balance of cocoa notes and zesty flavour.
I preferred the Lime Fondants over the Orange Fondants, but both are a welcome change to the mint fondants I have consumed to date. I'll certainly be keeping an eye out for boxes of Coffee Fondants, Pineapple Fondants and Rose Fondants in the shops, amongst others.
RRP: £2.49 for 60g each
Beech's Fine Chocolates Ginger Dark Chocolate bar ingredients:
Dark chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla flavouring), natural ginger flavouring. Cocoa solids: 55% minimum.
Beech's Fine Chocolates Mint Dark Chocolate bar ingredients:
Dark chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla flavouring), natural mint oil. Cocoa solids: 55% minimum.
Two dark chocolate bars appear in this box, both with similar gold foil-enhanced packaging. The Ginger Dark Chocolate bar is clad in an orange and purple motif while the Mint Dark Chocolate Bar features a pattern of cream circles on a navy blue background.
Both bars are vegan-friendly, weigh 60g, and are cast using the same 12-segment mould design. In fact, they both share the same 55% dark chocolate base. The only noticeable difference is that natural ginger flavouring and natural British peppermint oil is added to the bars to give them their flavour. Sugar content sits at around 38.5% in the ginger bar and just under 44% in the mint bar.
Notes of crystallised ginger swirl against a sweet, dark chocolate backdrop in the Ginger bar. Meanwhile, the Mint bar reminds me of the aroma of Polo mints. Both bars exhibit clean and crisp snaps.
The Ginger and Peppermint flavours dominates in both bars respectively. The dark chocolate is very sweet, but its flavour can't hold up against the stronger flavourings. I prefer the ginger bar over the mint one, as the latter exhibits slight toothpaste vibes.
While dark chocolate purists might crave a richer, livelier cocoa, ginger- or mint-loving consumers who typically avoid dark chocolate might actually enjoy these bars. Vague cocoa notes come through towards the very end, but it's the flavourings that linger longest in the aftertastes.
RRP: £11.99 for 140g
Beech's Fine Chocolates Anglesey Sea Salted Caramel Truffles ingredients:
Milk chocolate (sugar, whole milk powder, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla flavouring), caramel (32%) (sweetened condensed milk, glucose-fructose syrup, sugar), fat-reduced cocoa powder, Anglesey sea salt. Cocoa solids: 40% minimum; milk solids: 14% minimum.
The drum of Anglesey Sea Salted Caramel Truffles is certainly the best presented product of the lot, with a dash of silver and gold foil print adding a little extra sparkle. This box looks right at home as a gifting item, ideal as a small token of appreciate to a friend or family member.
It's also the only milk chocolate product in this delivery. The thick truffle shells are cast in a 40% Fairtrade-certified milk chocolate. The gooey caramel centre makes up 32% of the truffle on average, and a dash of sea salt from Anglesey in North Wales helps draw out its flavour. There's around a dozen of them tucked inside a clear plastic bag inside this drum.
The cocoa-dusted truffles have a sweet and creamy aroma with subtle chocolate notes sitting behind. Thick milk chocolate shells hide a dollop of gooey golden caramel. The creamy-tasting caramel has a slightly gritty texture to it from the addition of Anglesey sea salt into the recipe, which I'm not overly keen on, but - as someone who is very fussy about his salted caramels - at least the balance of salt levels sit about right for me.
It's a sweet treat, but at just over 54% sugars, that was expected. The caramel pairs well against the sweet and creamy chocolate, but doesn't have a great deal of depth of flavour. I craved a darker, buttery caramel here, or at least more caramel, as its flavour is masked by the shell.
RRP: £4.49 for 100g | Made in Belgium
Beech's Fine Chocolates Belgian Almond and Pistachio Nougat ingredients:
Sugar, almonds (28%), glucose syrup, honey, pistachios (2%), egg albumin, wafer paper (potato starch, olive oil), natural vanilla flavouring.
The 'odd one out' in this box is the carton of Almond & Pistachio Nougat. Made for Beech's Fine Chocolates in Belgium rather than Lancashire, it doesn't feature chocolate in any way, shape or form. Chocolate-covered nougat sounds like a winner to me, so perhaps they missed a trick here?
Beech's Fine Chocolates describes this product as "soft and chewy nougat pieces," and I'd have to agree with them on that. The small, white, pillowy cuboids of nougat are studded with pistachios (2%) and almond pieces (28%), and exude a sweet, woody almond aroma.
Most of the pieces in my carton had stuck together in one large clump. They're enjoyable enough, pliable, and very sweet (with 62% sugars no less) with a delicate honey flavour and a gentle almond crunch. They pair well with a cup of coffee, but the flavour isn't that exciting.
Perhaps the addition of toasted hazelnuts, like Walnut Tree's nougat, would help add more in the way of impact over the almonds? Or perhaps upping the pistachio count in the pieces would do it? Or perhaps just dunking each piece into milk and/or dark chocolate would be the cherry on the cake?
Overall, this was my least favourite item in the box. They were fine, but I would have preferred to find chocolate-covered Brazil nuts or chocolate-covered stem ginger (both have the same RRP as the nougat). Perhaps they'll make an appearance in a future monthly box.
Beech's Fine Chocolates Chocolate Club Review
RRP: £22.50 | Beech's Fine Chocolates | Shop now°
A no-nonsense delivery of six items that have an RRP that exceeds the monthly cost of membership to the Chocolate Club. The contents of this particular box were skewed more towards dark chocolate lovers, although the universally sweet recipes and mid-range cocoa content means these products should appeal to most chocolate lovers regardless of preference. The flavourful fondants were my favourite while the nougat ranked in last place for me. If you like traditional, classic chocolate confectionery, sign up for a month and see what you get in your delivery.
Join The Chocolate Club
You can subscribe to the Beech's Fine Chocolates Chocolate Club on its website here°. At the time of writing, code CLUB50 secured you a 50% saving on the first box.
It's a doddle to manage your subscription online, where you can change the delivery date and suspend or terminate your membership should you need to hit the brakes on your chocolate deliveries.
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Which chocolate clubs have you tried? Let me know in the comment section below.