Of all the collections I look forward to seeing each Christmas, the pieces by Pierre Marcolini stand out for their elegance and beauty. It's a love affair that began during my first visit to Brussels many years ago, with his eye-catching Christmas window displays capturing my heart. Despite the fact that 2020 is a write-off, it hasn't stopped Pierre Marcolini from producing plenty of stand-out festive pieces as you can see here.
The chocolatier kindly sent over his advent calender for 2020 so I could see first-hand what you can expect if you decide to indulge in luxury Belgian chocolate this winter. So, come with me as I peek inside.
The beautiful advent calendar is as grand and elegant as you'd expect from Pierre Marcolini. It's an imposing, sturdy box, spanning 40cm by 33cm with a depth of 5cm.
The box is decorated with a cartoon illustration of a Christmas tree shape formed by children's toys in hues of muted blues, reds and pinks. There's a rocking horse and teddy bear, a toy train and a drum. At the top, a stocking hangs from a wreath with a candy cane in the middle, A golden star glistens at the top.
Rose gold-foiled detailing adds sparkle to the face and all four sides of the box, where glistening stripes interweave with soft pink stripes. The Pierre Marcolini logo is also worked into the illustration discreetly in several places.
On the rear of the box, a large white circle details all the chocolates hidden inside. Again, the stars that decorate this shimmer in foiled-print.
At the base sits the list of ingredients in French, Dutch, and English.
Pierre Marcolini Advent Calender 2020 ingredients:
Sugar, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, cream milk powder, hazelnuts, almonds, feuilletine (contains: gluten, soy, milk), pistachios, marzipan (contains: almonds), cream, glucose, lactose, passion fruit pulp, raspberry pulp, cashew nuts, pine nuts, nougat (contains: almonds and eggs), water, non-GMO soy lecithin, caramel (contains: milk), dextrose, lemon juice, walnuts, sorbitol, butter, honey, grapeseed oil, salt, Madagascan vanilla, raspberry vinegar, glycerine, passion fruit vinegar, lime zest, colouring agents (E129, E102 and E162).
There's also a notice that advises that "E129 and E102 may have an adverse effect on the activity and attention in children".
The website reckons that, on average, the sugar levels in this advent calendar sit at around a very respectable 38%.
Pierre Marcolini Advent Calender 2020 Review
The advent calendar is sealed with a bright pink ribbon. Gently tug at this and the doors open at either side, allowing the calendar to be stood upright. Do this and it'll have a footprint of up to 80cm in width and up to 25cm in depth, so this begs to be displayed somewhere special. It certainly is a luxurious statement piece.
Inside, the illustration continues. It draws on the cover image but now introduces four squirrels emptying a mailbox, up a ladder decorating the tree, and hauling a sledge of gift wrapped presents. Like the cover image, this too uses the colour palette of muted blues, reds and pinks and again features the rose gold-foiled print.
No doubt about it, this advent calendar is captivating. It's very tactile too. I can't resist gazing at it and caressing the smooth finish of the sturdy board. This is luxury packaging done right.
Now, it feels very wrong taking a look inside before December. It's like peeking into your Christmas presents before 25th December, and very much frowned upon. But if you won't tell, neither will I!
Tucked behind 24 circular doors (or windows) sits an assortment of luxurious chocolate treats. On average, they weigh 7 grams a piece. They're smaller than your typical Belgian chocolate bonbon, but then these aren't average by any means.
Try to resist drooling over this chocolate menu. I've popped these in alphabetical order in case you've got the same calendar and want each day to be a surprise.
- Almond & Hazelnut Praline - Sicilian almond praline with Piedmont hazelnut pieces inside dark chocolate.
- Almond Marzipan - Marzipan and salted caramelised Iranian pistachio praline inside dark chocolate.
- Câlin Fondant - Almond and hazelnut praline with feuilletine and vanilla caramel inside dark chocolate.
- Cashew Nut Praline - Salted soft Vietnamese cashew nut praline inside milk chocolate.
- Duck - Salted caramel dark chocolate
- Gianduja & Praline Caramel - Gianduja with caramel and praline inside dark chocolate.
- Golf Ball - Hazelnut praline, caramelised nuts and caramel inside white chocolate.
- Hazelnut Praline - Soft Piedmont hazelnut praline inside dark chocolate.
- Milk Chocolate Câlin - Almond and hazelnut praline, feuilletine, and vanilla caramel inside milk chocolate.
- Milk Chocolate Pavé de Tours - Almond and hazelnut praline with feuilletine inside milk chocolate.
- Nougat Praline - Crispy praline with Nougat de Montélimar inside dark chocolate.
- Passion Heart - Passion fruit milk chocolate ganache inside white chocolate.
- Pavé de Tours & Pine Nut Caramel - Crunchy hazelnut and lemon pine nut caramel inside white chocolate.
- Pistachio & Praline Caramel - Caramelised praline with pistachio and caramel inside white chocolate.
- Pistachio Praline - Crispy salted Iranian pistachio praline inside dark chocolate.
- Pleasure Heart - Salted crunchy Iranian pistachio praline inside dark chocolate.
- Praline & Caramel - Hazelnut praline and caramel inside milk chocolate.
- Seduction Heart - Raspberry dark chocolate ganache inside white chocolate.
A further six chocolates are duplicates from those above to make 24 pieces in total.
My only gripe so far is that each of the chocolates is capped with a plastic cover that keeps the chocolates safe inside their plastic tray. After opening the door, you then need to remove the plastic cap to get to the chocolate. I understand why the additional plastic packaging is used but it feels excessive. The plastic tray and caps can be recycled in many kerbside schemes as can the board box - although it'll be heartbreaking to dispose of this at the end of December. I intend to see if I can repurpose the outer box as an extravagant paper storage file, or perhaps, a chocolate bar storage box.
I cannot confirm nor deny I may have accidentally eaten some of my chocolates (for the purposes of research you understand). Of those that I sampled, these hold up to Marcolini's reputation for full-bodied chocolate flavours with clear flavours that sit on top.
My favourites include the orange-toned Passion Heart, the red-speckled Pistachio & Praline Caramel white chocolate, and the divine Milk Chocolate Câlin. The Golf Ball and Duck look adorable too.
I shall work through the remainder as Pierre Marcolini intended through December, and shall report back in due course. We're off to a cracking start though.
Pierre Marcolini Advent Calender 2020 Review
RRP: £49.00 | Pierre Marcolini | Shop now
An imposing but beautifully designed advent calendar that really is a statement piece this Christmas season. Inside, small yet perfectly formed luxurious Belgian chocolates excite throughout the first 24 days of December. While kids will undoubtedly enjoy it, this one's perfect for the grown-ups instead.
Where to Buy Online
The Pierre Marcolini Advent Calender 2020 is available to purchase online directly on their website here (£49; 175g). It may also be available in the London boutique, although local restrictions govern its operational hours at the moment.
Belgian Chocolate:: Bean-to-Bar Generation by Pierre Marcolini (English) Hardcov
These enthusiasts (plus Pierre Marcolini himself) explore their calling, describe how they work, and share three favourite recipes. Technically advanced instructions for professionals are included. He travels the world to select the best cocoa beans and has written extensively about chocolate.
Belgian Chocolate: Bean-to-Bar Generation by Pierre Marcolini 9782390250722
Belgian Chocolate: Bean-to-Bar Generation by Pierre Marcolini 9782390250722 (Hardback, 2019) Delivery UK delivery is usually within 13 to 15 working days. International delivery varies by country, please see the Wordery store help page for details.
Are you buying yourself a Pierre Marcolini advent calender to brighten up 2020? Let me know what you think of it in the comments below.