I love chocolate. I love puddings. In fact, I have a soft spot for much of the work that comes out of the Hotel Chocolat factory. So, by definition, the Patisserie H-Box ought to be right up my street.
That's what my friend thought when he bought me this chocolate box for Christmas. He was right. It's one of my favourites and I've had the pleasure of sampling these before when I was invited to try out Hotel Chocolat's birthday-themed lock-in.
Each time I've received a box of these, I've gobbled them down faster than I could whip out my camera. This time, I decided this box was the one I would finally get around to reviewing.
In this article:
The H-Box series is one of Hotel Chocolat's most popular product ranges. It features a cut-down selection from the flagship Sleekster range.
The key feature of the H box is the 'H' shaped window on the front of the box. This cut-out in the white board box gives a glimpse into the treats sealed inside.
A grey-green box sits at the top along with the Hotel Chocolat logo and product name.
To contrast with the white lid, the base box is black with white printed text. It contains the ingredients list and nutritional information in English and Danish. Brace yourself as the list of ingredients to create 14 chocolates is particularly lengthy.
Hotel Chocolat Patisserie H-Box ingredients:
Cocoa solids (cocoa butter, cocoa mass), sugar, full cream milk powder, sweetened hazelnut paste (hazelnuts, sugar, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)), hazelnut paste, stabilisers (sorbitol, glycerol), glucose syrup, butter oil, vegetable oils (palm, rapeseed), whipping cream (cream, stabiliser (carrageenan)), caramel half-salted butter (glucose fructose syrup, sweetened condensed milk, half salted butter, sugar, water, salt), skimmed milk powder, pecan nut paste, walnut paste (walnuts, sunflower oil, citrus fibre, emulsifier (soya lecithin)), sticky toffee sauce (sugar, cream, butter, flavouring), feuilletine (sugar, wheat flour, butter oil, milk protein, milk sugar, barley malt extract, raising agent (sodium bicarbonate), salt), whole milk powder, shortcake biscuits (wheat flour (wheat flour, calcium, iron, niacin, thiamin), non-hydrogenated vegetable fat (palm, shea, rapeseed), sugar, invert sugar syrup, tapioca starch, salt, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate), emulsifier (sunflower lecithin)), whole milk, candied orange peel (orange peel, dextrose, glucose syrup, sugar), fruit juice concentrates (strawberry, apple, carrot, rhubarb, raspberry), nibbed pecan nuts, sunflower oil, milk fat, emulsifiers (soya lecithin, sunflower lecithin), caramelised sugar, yoghurt powder, cocoa biscuits (wheat flour (wheat flour, calcium, iron, niacin, thiamin), sugar, vegetable oils (palm, rapeseed), cocoa powder, malt blend (glucose syrup, barley syrup, barley malt extract), skimmed milk powder, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, tartaric acid), salt, flavouring), lemon concentrate (lemon, acidity regulator (citric acid), lemon essential oil), dextrose, organic cocoa powder, Arabian coffee paste (coffee paste, refined sunflower oil, flavouring, fruit extract, glycerin), cinnamon paste (glucose syrup, cinnamon, water, plain caramel, essential oil (cinnamon)), amaretti biscuits (sugar, wheat flour, apricot, egg white, raising agents (sodium bicarbonate, ammonium bicarbonate)), flavourings, freeze dried strawberry powder, ground cinnamon, freeze dried raspberry powder, crisped rice (rice flour, sugar, salt, cocoa butter), acidity regulators (citric acid, malic acid), freeze dried raspberry pieces, natural colours (carotene, beetroot, paprika, annatto), essential oils (orange, lemon), vanilla seeds, ground nutmeg, whey powder, glazing agents (glucose syrup, sugar, gum arabic, vegetable fat, modified starch (potato, maize)), spices. Cocoa solids: 40% minimum (milk chocolate); 36% minimum (white chocolate). Milk solids: 20% minimum (milk chocolate); 27% minimum (white chocolate).
The chocolates are produced in a factory that also handles tree nut, peanut, and sesame-containing ingredients. There's also a warning that some nut shells may remain inside the chocolates.
On average, the chocolates contain around 36% sugars. Hotel Chocolat reckons two chocolates makes a sensible potion size, making seven servings in this particular box. Each chocolate typically weighs just under 13g, so each one contains just over 73 calories on average.
The 14 chocolates sit inside a clear plastic tray and are sealed inside a plastic film wrapper. The box and menu card is recyclable but the company admits the tray and film aren't easily recyclable. It pledges to make all its packaging recyclable, reusable or biodegradable by the end of 2021.
Hotel Chocolat Patisserie H-Box Review
Inside the box are 14 interesting-looking chocolates in a variety of shapes, colours, and finishes.
A menu card isn't included inside the box but if you look on the base of the box, there's a menu card tucked into a slot in the board box. It's perhaps not the most obvious place to find it, but if you look at the back of the box, you'll spot it.
I chose to work through this box as per the order on the website.
1 Raspberry Pannacotta
- What they say: Pressed raspberries with white chocolate, whipping cream, vanilla, and dried raspberries.
- What I say: This one has a creamy raspberry and white chocolate aroma, but it doesn't prepare you for the tangy raspberry flavour tucked away inside. Flecks of raspberry enhance this aspect, while the white chocolate helps to add sweetness and creaminess. These two characteristics linger into the aftertaste.
- In a nutshell: Tangy raspberry meets sweet vanilla white chocolate.
2 Caramel Cheesecake
- What they say: Thick caramel, white chocolate, yoghurt, mascarpone, and cocoa biscuits inside a 40% milk chocolate shell.
- What I say: Notes of sweet caramel arise from this nibble, and its the runny buttery caramel in the centre that is the star of the show. There's a nice amount of crunch in here together with lactic and cocoa notes to ramp up the cheesecake vibes. Unsurprisingly, the flavour of sweet buttery caramel lingers in the aftertaste.
- In a nutshell: A sweet and creamy bite with a gooey buttery caramel centre.
3 Strawberry Cheesecake
- What they say: Cheesecake-tang layered with strawberry cream.
- What I say: The aroma of this one is creamy, although notes of strawberry aren't pronounced. It's the same in the taste too, where the strawberry flavour is very delicate and almost apologetic in nature. It's a dainty white chocolate bite, that is creamy and sweet, with just a gentle hint of strawberry in the mix that fades right before the aftertaste.
- In a nutshell: A sweet and creamy bite with a delicate strawberry flavour.
4 Orange Wafer Selector
- What they say: Dark hazelnut praline with Valencian orange oil, candied orange pieces and crushed feuilletine, presented inside a 40% milk chocolate shell.
- What I say: Mild surface blooming appears around the fringes of this bonbon, although it doesn't affect the taste. A mild orange aroma bears out in the flavour, that is equally subdued. There's crunch and chew, together with a citrus tang, but the flavour of orange is almost apologetic. In the aftertaste, notes of creamy milk chocolate linger more forcefully than the orange.
- In a nutshell: A dainty chocolate orange slab with a mild orange flavour.
5 Mousse au Chocolat
- What they say: An intense Ghanaian 85% dark chocolate truffle sealed inside a 50% milk chocolate shell and dusted with cocoa powder.
- What I say: Simple but well-executed, this bonbon pairs a thick milk chocolate shell with a creamy yet intense chocolate ganache inside. The shell provides a bit of crunch while the creaminess of the inside helps to balance the overall flavours. Surprisingly, there's not much in the way of bitterness here, just a rich flavour of chocolate.
- In a nutshell: A clean and simple chocolate ganache sphere.
- What they say: White chocolate with whipping cream, Arabica coffee, yoghurt, mascarpone, and dark chocolate microchips in a 40% milk chocolate cup.
- What I say: What's not to love about this classic Italian dessert? Cream? Good! Coffee? Good! Chocolate? Good! The Espresso flavour leads in this tasty treat, backed up by the creaminess of the yoghurt and mascarpone and the mild bitterness of the dark chocolate. There's a slight tang to the flavour mid way, and the aftertaste is navigated with coffee in the lead.
- In a nutshell: A lovely creamy coffee chocolate combination that any coffee chocolate lover will adore.
7 Rhubarb & Custard
- What they say: Pressed rhubarb, 36% white chocolate, whipping cream, vanilla seeds and custard in a 40% milk cup.
- What I say: Rhubarb is often underrated so it is great to see it featured here, with its popular partner in crime, vanilla custard. A creamy aroma doesn't really give much away, but the tangy fruity centre reveals a delicate rhubarb flavour. Notes of sweet vanilla custard enter towards the end as the rhubarb flavour slightly fades away. The two flavours, with custard most dominant, linger in the aftertaste.
- In a nutshell: A sweet and tangy bite with lots of character.
8 Lemon Cheesecake
- What they say: A white chocolate cup with a filling made from pressed lemons, white chocolate, whipping cream, yoghurt and mascarpone flavour, with shortbread biscuits on top.
- What I say: A creamy, zesty white chocolate aroma emanates from this pretty looking bonbon, and that perfectly describes the flavour too. The flavour is zingy, with vibrant, tart notes of lemon leading in the taste. A sherbet-like flavour sits at the top with the lemon sitting just beneath this. Lemon sits from and centre in the aftertaste of this creamy chocolate.
- In a nutshell: A sweet and tangy bite with an abundance of lemon flavour.
9 Billionaire’s Shortbread
- What they say: Hazelnut praline, white-caramel chocolate, toffee, and shortbread biscuits, surrounded by 40% milk chocolate.
- What I say: Hotel Chocolat sees your Millionaire's Shortbread and raises you a Billionaire’s Shortbread! It's caramel-biscuit aroma tells you this one is a goodie, and indeed it is. The sweet, smooth caramel flavour leads but is ably assisted by notes of vanilla. The biscuits add crunch and flavour that works well against the caramel and creamy milk chocolate vibes going on here. The hazelnut aspect is fairly muted compared to the forcefulness of the caramel, and it's the caramel notes that linger into the aftertaste.
- In a nutshell: Smooth caramel notes with creamy milk chocolate and crunchy biscuits.
10 Carrot Cake
- What they say: A 40% milk chocolate cup filled with pressed carrot, walnut praline, cinnamon, nutmeg, white chocolate and vanilla seeds.
- What I say: This one is a long-standing favourite for me, and it gets better each time I have the pleasure of tasting it. Take the best slice of carrot cake you've eaten and smush it into chocolate and you get this. While that might not be how they actually make it, this bonbon taste like the real deal (with the added benefit of chocolate flavours and textures to boot). Comforting nutmeg dominates the aroma and the flavour throughout, while the carrot ganache and walnut praline add the signature characteristics of a traditional baked carrot cake. The result is phenomenally good.
- In a nutshell: The best carrot cake presented in the medium of chocolate.
11 Apple Strudel
- What they say: Pressed apple ganache meets walnut and cinnamon praline, topped with crushed amaretti.
- What I say: The crunchy amaretti top adds a textural difference to the subtle apple flavour in the ganache. However, it's cinnamon that sits at the front of the flavour profile, and the spice continues to sing and dance into the aftertaste.
- In a nutshell: A cinnamon-spiced chocolate with a subtle apple flavour.
12 The Blondie
- What they say: A 50% milk chocolate-caramel pecan praline, with crushed feuilletine, caramel éclat, and custard-white chocolate, smothered in white chocolate.
- What I say: It was almost by accident that I spotted the Union Flag on the base of this chocolate, and it's a nice touch, especially for the export market. A creamy caramel aroma tempts you in. A crispy texture adds crunch, which works well alongside the rush of vanilla that floods in. The milk chocolate adds a hint of cocoa depth to balance the creaminess of the white chocolate, while the pecans add a trace of additional flavour. Vanilla notes lead the aftertaste.
- In a nutshell: A crunchy vanilla chocolate with creaminess and hints of nuts and cocoa.
13 The Brownie
- What they say: Pecan praline with nibbed pecans, sealed inside a 50% milk chocolate shell.
- What I say: A dark and rich aroma draws you into this one along with the promise of one of the "the best brownies" you've ever tasted. That's a bold claim as I've yet to find a better tasting chocolate brownie that this one. Still, this one puts up a good fight. The small mouthful is dense and rich, with a nice amount of pecan crunch for texture and flavour. It's not especially chewy but very enjoyable nevertheless. The rich dark chocolate notes dominate the aftertaste.
- In a nutshell: A satisfyingly rich and dense chocolate cube that's full of flavour.
14 Fudge Sundae
- What they say: Thick caramel paired with smooth hazelnut and a mellow milk chocolate.
- What I say: This draws on characteristics from the Brownie bite above, in that it is equally rich and dense. The difference here is that the pecans are swapped for sweet caramel flavours that add fudge-like flavours to the milk chocolate base. The caramel centre tastes buttery, which compliments the sweet, creamy milk chocolate. The hazelnut seems a little lost against the clear caramel notes. The caramel fudge flavours stick around and lead into the aftertaste.
- In a nutshell: A dense and rich buttery caramel flavour milk chocolate cup.
There's a reason why this is one of Hotel Chocolat's most popular time-tested selections. It's got a little bit of something for everyone, from the safe and traditional flavours through to some of the more unusual and inspired combinations, such as Carrot Cake, Tiramisu, or Rhubarb & Custard.
While I happily wolfed down the entire box (as I have done on several occasions prior), it's the Carrot Cake bonbon that stands out most for me. It's a superb example of Hotel Chocolat's creativity and tastes just like the real deal, only in chocolate form.
Hotel Chocolat Patisserie H-Box Review
RRP: £12.95 | Hotel Chocolat | Shop now°
A lovely collection of dessert-inspired chocolate bonbons, combining Hotel Chocoalt's mantra of "more cocoa and less sugar" with bold flavour choices. This box contains something for everyone and is a great place to start if you've not yet experienced the Hotel Chocolat brand
Where to Buy Online
The Patisserie H-Box is available on the Hotel Chocolat website and in store (£12.95°). It's also available on Amazon here°, at John Lewis & Partners (£12.95), at Next (£13), on Ocado (£12.95) and at Very.co.uk (£13.99).
Like the look of these but want more? Hotel Chocolat also sells the Patisserie Sleekster Luxe (£35.95°; 535g) with a wider selection of dessert-inspired chocolates. Mid-way sits the Patisserie Sleekster box (£22.95°; 335g) which is also available on Amazon (£22.95°).
Which flavour whets your appetite? Has Hotel Chocolat missed an opportunity to immortalise another great dessert in chocolate form? Let me know your thoughts in a comment below.