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Alex's story begins long before the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally from Romania, Alex moved to London five years ago to train as a pastry chef, notching up countless exhausting hours absorbing a wealth of experience and knowledge in top professional kitchens.
Then, the pandemic hit. Alex suddenly became jobless as the government response was to shut down hospitality businesses. Sadly, it's a similar story to many pastry chefs who lost their jobs as a consequence of the global Coronavirus pandemic. However, when faced with adversity, many entrepreneurial chefs established micro businesses.
So, Humblebeez Chocolates became a reality. Using high quality fresh ingredients, Alex developed a range of a dozen filled bonbons to launch the Humblebeez Chocolates brand. Each bonbon is hand-crafted, hand-painted and hand-packed inside a box that's finished with a bow. Years of culinary experience have led to this moment.
Alex kindly sent me over a box to sample, so join with me as I walk you through what you can expect to find in your box of chocolate bonbons.
As a new business, Alex has opted for a simple plain white board box. In time, I'm sure the Humblebeez logo will find its way on there, perhaps in shiny foiled print. Right now, the burnt orange hand-tied bow jazzes up this box and makes it feel more special.
The reverse of the box is equally minimal, simply featuring a white sticker listing the ingredients.
Humblebeez Assorted Chocolate Bonbons ingredients:
Cream, dark chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soya lecithin)), milk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, cocoa mass, skimmed milk powder, emulsifier (soya lecithin)), white chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, skimmed milk powder, milk fat, emulsifier (soya lecithin)), butter, crème fraîche, orange, confit orange, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, mixed spices, wheat, Matcha tea, lemon, sea salt, tonka beans, raspberry, rum, cashew nuts, cashew butter, hazelnuts, hazelnut praline, invert sugar, pectin, glucose, coffee beans, vanilla beans, Earl Grey tea, eucalyptus honey, mini marshmallows (contains gelatine), orange liqueur, cocoa butter colours (<1%), natural colourants (matcha), E124, E171, E132, E102.
The bonbons are made in a kitchen that handles ingredients containing peanuts, tree nuts and wheat products. Due to the fresh ingredients, they've got a relatively short shelf life on them so you'll want to gobble them up within a couple of weeks of arrival (if you can resist temptation for that long).
Notice the handful of E numbers? Alex is working on replacing those with completely natural alternatives so expect these to disappear soon.
If you need a vegetarian, gluten-free or alcohol-free box, pop the details into the 'order notes' section when you place your order and Alex can adjust the selection to exclude the bonbons that don't suit.
Humblebeez Chocolate Bonbons Review
Lift the lid and cushion pad to reveal these beauties, nestled inside a gold-coloured plastic tray:
A dozen dazzling chocolate bonbons in a variety of colours tempt you in. There's a menu card to accompany the box that features pictures and names of the full dozen bonbons so you know exactly what you're eating.
They're all very pretty, and I love how each is decorated differently in a wide range of colours. I am particularly fond of the blue hues of Toasty Mallow and the veined pattern of Cashew & Rum.
So, they look great but what do they taste like?
1 Beurre Noisette
- What they say: A butter truffle filling made with beurre noisette.
- My thoughts: This has everything you want in a dark chocolate bonbon. It's rich, dense and intense. It has a nutty buttery flavour that develops right at the start and carries on into the aftertaste, that compliments the richness of the chocolate. It's an unusual flavour combination that surprisingly works well.
2 Orange Spice
- What they say: Layers of orange liqueur pate de fruit and orange confit pieces in a spiced peel-infused dark chocolate ganache.
- My thoughts: If you're expecting a typical chocolate orange flavour here then think again. This is next-level stuff, with candied orange pieces and a soft pate de fruit adding texture as well as flavour. It's full of fresh orange flavour with a subtle bitterness that plays against the characteristics of the dark chocolate. The spicing is very mild and adds depth, but I craved just a hint more. The spicing and dark chocolate are no match for the medley of orange flavours that linger long into the aftertaste.
3 Toasty Mallow
- What they say: Speculoos-spiced ganache with a mini marshmallow centre.
- My thoughts: This pretty bonbon combines the spicing of Speculoos with the soft texture of a pink mini marshmallow to create an interesting flavour and textural combo. Ginger and cinnamon steal the show here and set the basis for everything else that follows. The light marshmallow disappears without much effort while the soft chocolate adds creaminess and cocoa flavours to the show. The spices dominate the aftertaste too.
- What they say: A ganache made with a medium roasted blend from Rave Coffee.
- My thoughts: Coffee and chocolate is one of life's greatest combinations, and this is a very fine example of it in action. Here, the coffee flavour takes centre stage and evokes imagery in my head of a steaming cup of freshly brewed rich espresso. Pair that with the dark chocolate and it enhances the slight bitter quality at the base level. The delicious coffee flavour extends into the aftertaste along with just a hint of the bitterness for good measure.
5 Salted Caramel
- What they say: Smooth caramel spiked with a pinch of Cornish sea salt.
- My thoughts: This pretty bonbon hides a generous helping of salted caramel. It's a lot thicker than I expected, bordering on a jelly rather than an unwieldy primordial ooze. The sweet, dense caramel exhibits a rich, buttery flavour with notes of honeycomb. Paired with the chocolate shell, this one is very tasty indeed.
- What they say: White chocolate ganache with a colourful and crunchy surprise.
- My thoughts: What is 'funfetti'? The menu card doesn't give it away, and it's only when you bite through the sweet and creamy white chocolate shell that you discover its secret. Inside, it is possibly one of the most colourful and whimsical bonbons I've ever sampled. It's full of colour which look to be similar to 'hundreds and thousands' sugar strands, giving it the appearance similar to Tutti Frutti ice cream. In terms of flavour, plain vanilla dominates here.
- What they say: Dark chocolate ganache with crunchy raspberry pieces.
- My thoughts: This is a lively bonbon full of zip, with vibrant zingy flavours right from the start. The raspberry flavour comes through in abundance and sits front and centre. It plays nicely against the fruity dark chocolate to create a very balanced flavour. Raspberry lingers longest in the aftertaste.
8 Crunchy Praline
- What they say: Smooth hazelnut praline together with roasted hazelnut pieces inside a dark chocolate shell.
- My thoughts: This bonbon has a bit of everything going for it. It's crunchy, soft and nutty. The hazelnut flavour comes through but is quite subtle. The dark chocolate adds richness but easily dominates the hazelnut flavour towards the end of the tasting and into the aftertaste.
9 Earl Grey
- What they say: Dark and milk chocolate ganache infused with Earl Grey tea leaves.
- My thoughts: Earl grey and chocolate is a magical combination, and here the duo creates a fragrant bonbon with a full-on flavour. Notes of bergamot come through clearly, with a black tea flavour sitting close behind. This bonbon is creamy, rich and indulgent without the bitterness I expected from the dark chocolate. It's absolutely delicious.
- What they say: Dark chocolate ganache with organic tonka beans.
- My thoughts: I ate this one, then wondered what tonka bean tastes like on its own. In hindsight, I should have done my research first. Well, after a bit of frantic Googling, it appears the tonka bean bears a lot of similarities to vanilla, with a slightly nutty aroma and flavour and a hint of spice. How do my tasting notes on this bonbon compare? I noted that a forceful vanilla flavour sat front and centre. I detected an earthiness that sets the flavour apart from your classic vanilla flavour and it adds depth and character.
11 Cashew & Rum
- What they say: Crunchy cashew butter atop dark rum ganache.
- My thoughts: Booze-filled chocolate bonbons typically fall into two camps - ones that exhibit an intense alcoholic burn, and ones like these, that use alcohol for flavour rather than effect. Here the rum adds plenty of flavour without the notorious burn at the the back of the throat. The rum kicks off the flavour and briefly steps back mid-way to allow the flavour of the cashews to come through. The nutty flavour lingers into the aftertaste, with a satisfying undertone of rum. It's an interesting combination of two distinct flavours but it works a treat.
12 Lemon Matcha
- What they say: Ceremonial grade organic matcha from Lalani & Co. paired with fresh lemon and white chocolate.
- My thoughts: I adore the vivid green colours of this bonbon inside and out. The centre has a mild fresh lemon flavour while the white chocolate adds creaminess and sweetness to the profile. I'm not a big lemon and chocolate or matcha and chocolate lover and so I wasn't sure I'd like this one. However, the gentle lemon notes work really well against the white chocolate. The matcha flavour will be a little weak for some but I think it's perfect, adding just a subtle hint right and the end of the tasting, which continues into the aftertaste alongside the sweet and fragrant lemon.
Overall, this is a lovely box of chocolate bonbons that hits all the right spots. These bonbons are undeniably pretty and the flavour assortment is just how I like it. There's a keen focus on variety and bold flavours, with a touch of playfulness thrown into the mix. My favourites in here are Coffee and Earl Grey for full-on flavours, Beurre Noisette for its uniqueness, and Funfetti simply for putting a smile on my face.
Humblebeez 12 Chocolate Bonbons Review
RRP: £21.95 | Humblebeez | Shop now
A varied collection of handmade filled chocolate bonbons that span a wide range of flavours. Each filling is paired with a thin shell of chocolate and given a beautiful artistic finish. These are perfect as an indulgent treat for you or as a thoughtful gift for a friend or loved one.
Where to Buy Online
You can but the box of a dozen filled chocolates on the Humblebeez website here (£21.95). Other box sizes (9 , 18, and 24 pieces) are also available.
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Humblebeez also stocks a box of vegan chocolates (with a trio of flavours available: Nutmeg & Honeycomb, Salted Vanilla, and Raspberry). Boxes of 6, 9, 12, 18 and 24 are available with prices starting from £11.95 here.
Bonus: Hot Chocolate Stirrers
Alex also kindly sent me a couple of Hot Chocolate Stirring Sticks which my seven-year-old was all over. I'm not surprised though as the plentiful supply of pink and white mini marshmallows hides a massive block of dark chocolate. A wooden spoon sticks out of the cube and the whole lot is sealed inside a clear plastic bag tied with a peach ribbon.
Now, when it comes to hot chocolate, I prefer mine shaken not stirred to get a creamier, velvety texture. But hot chocolate stirrers offer a convenient alternative and make excellent gifts for friends and family, so have their place in society, along with hot chocolate bombs (chocolate spheres filled with marshmallows).
This Stirrer is a doddle to use. Get yourself a mug of hot milk and pop it in. Stir and over time, the chocolate melts as a result of contact with the hot liquid. Top with the included marshmallows and voila!
The 65% Belgian dark chocolate block weighs in at around 40g, and exhibits a fruity and almost-spicy aroma. It melts to create a rich dark hot chocolate full of cocoa and brownie flavours. There's a mild bitterness to the hot chocolate although the sweetness of the mini marshmallows helps to counter this.
Kids will love it, and so too will many adults, which is why I reckon it's a great choice as a birthday gift or a Christmas present, or a just-because gift. But I'm not a fan of hot chocolate made this way as it creates a slightly gritty texture as the chocolate doesn't emulsify with the milk. But science hasn't created us a solution for making the perfect hot chocolate emulsion using a stirrer or bomb yet, and until that point, I'll never be satisfied!
That's a bugbear I have with all hot chocolate spoons/bombs and is not a reflection on this one. In fact, Humblebeez's version uses chocolate that has more life and character than most, which is what really matters.
Which bonbon flavour would you choose first? Let me know in a comment below.