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By now, you may have gathered that I particularly enjoy browsing my local Hotel Chocolat Outlet store, ticking off items from my 'to try' list before they are discontinued.
Against the wall of Selectors stood this tall, sleek black chocolate box. White and silver-foiled print drew my eye. This 50% super milk chocolate bar was crafted from Saint Lucian cocoa, a milk chocolate version of the dark chocolate Rare & Vintage bars I tried a few year's previously.
Its fate was sealed, and I purchased a bar alongside some indestructible biscuits designed for dunking into hot chocolate.
I'm a huge fan of the Rabot Estate packaging. I always felt the previous Rare & Vintage packaging blended too much into the Selector range packaging, making it difficult to distinguish between Hotel Chocolat's core range and their smaller-batch, single-origin product lines.
The Rabot Estate branding sits at the top of the box, along with a strapline on sustainable cocoa farming. Nicknamed the 'Saint Lucia Island Growers' bar, there's then a block of text that explains the reasoning behind why this bar exists.
An illustration of Saint Lucia's Pitons in silver-foil print sits above the crisp white Hotel Chocolat logo, adding a lovely touch of elegance to the matt black carton.
On the reverse is the ingredients list and nutritional information.
Hotel Chocolat Rabot Estate 50% Supermilk Chocolate Bar ingredients:
Cocoa solids (cocoa mass, cocoa butter), sugar, whole milk powder, emulsifier (sunflower lecithin). Cocoa solids: 50% minimum. Milk solids: 19% minimum.
Hotel Chocolat's 'more cocoa, less sugar' philosophy is demonstrated in this supermilk chocolate, which contains just under 34% sugars.
The packaging warns of traces of tree nuts, peanuts, soya, gluten, wheat, egg and sesame. This bar is made in the UK using Saint Lucian cocoa. It is suitable for vegetarians and is alcohol-free.
Hotel Chocolat Rabot Estate 50% Supermilk Chocolate Bar Review
The book-like packaging opens up to reveal information about the 140-acre Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia, and about its Engaged Ethics programme that sees it guarantee to buy the entire crop from farmers across the island. The result is, in part, this Rabot Coterie Special Cuvée chocolate.
The chocolate bar itself is sealed in plastic film, with the message "Chocolate is powerful. Choose Well." imprinted on it. It's a nod to the ethical, sustainable and political issues that continue to plague the cocoa industry, even in 2023.
The plastic film wrapper is the only thing that lets this box down, although Hotel Chocolat has committed to 100% recyclable packaging by 2030.
The 70g slab is cast in an irregular mould designed to look like tree bark, with the circular Rabot logo imprinted on it. The packaging reckons there's three servings in this rustic and organic looking slab, which feels about right.
The tasting notes tease notes of clotted cream, but that's it. It leaves the rest to your senses, and boy, are they in for a treat.
The aroma of this bar took me straight back to this 100% alternative. There's tonnes of smokey and leathery notes, with a gentle red fruit vibe and a hint of nuttiness in the mix too. The milk content adds a sweet and creamy aspect together with richness. It's full-bodied and certainly distinctive.
The smokey quality comes through first, wrapped in a sweet and creamy blanket. The leathery notes develop on top of this, together with a hint of red berries, morphing into a touch of yellow fruit with a nutty undertone.
It fades out discretely into a light and creamy aftertaste, with a subtle hint of caramel at the baseline.
This is a fun and characterful bar that is full of sunshine. Close your eyes and you can imagine the Caribbean Sea lapping away at the shore, with the sun beaming down and a smile on your face. The only thing better would be opening your eyes and seeing the Pitons right there in front of you.
Hotel Chocolat Rabot Estate 50% Supermilk Chocolate Bar Review
RRP: £4.50 | Hotel Chocolat | Shop now°
This bar, together with its packaging, offers a sleek and sophisticated experience, with character and charm to boot. This bar is my taste of St Lucia while I save up to jet off to visit the actual Hotel Chocolat on the Rabot Estate on the island. It's a good introduction to single-origin chocolate and is good to compare against hotel Chocolat's other supermilk products to get a better understanding of the nuances of flavourful cocoa from different regions of the world.
Where to Buy Online
This bar, and indeed the Rabot Estate range and the Rare & Vintage ranges, are difficult to come across. You may need to head to an Outlet store, and you may find limited supplies in regular Hotel Chocolat stores. Keep your eyes peeled as they're difficult to spot.
Online, search for Rabot here° and Rare & vintage here°. At the time of writing, these 100% Dark Ecuador Chocolate batons° were the only product showing up, but this will change over time. Due to the very nature of the Rabot/Rare & Vintage ranges, they are comparatively small batch runs for the company, so stocks will be considerably more limited.
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Do you think Hotel Chocolat should expand its Rabot Estate range? Let me know in a comment below.