My chocolate tour of London included a visit to one of my favourite Belgian chocolatiers, Pierre Marcolini. Nestled amongst architecturally splendid buildings in London's Marylebone High Street sits this quaint slice of Belgium.
As I stepped inside the store, I found myself transported back to my time in Brussels, where I first discovered the fine chocolate range - and chocolate artistry - of this world famous chocolatier.
I had a chat with staff, and watched as a medley of clientele collected sizeable Christmas orders, from the corporate types collecting gifts for their customers, through to well-dressed individuals collecting their Christmas present purchases or luxury chocolate delicacies for their Christmas parties.
The store is also lined with tempting boxes from Marcolini's seasonal range, which at Christmas presented a stylish sea of peach, blue, white and rose gold boxes. I was fortunate enough to take home a key staple from the Christmas collection, a box of Gianduja Stars, courtesy of Pierre Marcolini.
If you've read my Pierre Marcolini reviews, you'll know that the Belgian chocolatier has an eye for detail, crafting beautiful chocolates and presenting them in befitting packaging.
These Christmas stars are presented in a classic white and gold gift box, sealed with a festive sleeve. Illustrations of two-tone stars in white, blue and rose gold foil print decorate the peach sleeve, teasing what is inside. This is the only clue, however, as the only information that appears on the sleeve is Marcolini's logo on the front and the Belgian Royal Warrant crest on the rear.
Slide off the sleeve and you reveal the box itself, with a white lid and shiny rose gold toned base. A sticker on the base reveals the product name ("Malline Gianduja Étoilés") and the ingredients, in French, Dutch and English.
Pierre Marcolini Box of 24 Gianduja Stars ingredients:
Hazelnuts, sugar, cocoa beans, cocoa butter, feuilletine, cream milk powder, caramel pieces, nougat pieces, lactose, Madagascan vanilla, water, sunflower lecithin, salt, concentrate (radish, blackcurrant, apple).
The website reveals the stars contain just 26% sugars on average, which is an impressive figure. The ingredients contains milk, gluten, soy, almonds and egg products. The chocolates are made in Belgium.
Pierre Marcolini Gianduja Stars Box Review
Lifting the lid and the square black cushion pad reveals a beautiful collection of 24 chocolate stars set in a plastic base - as well as a heady chocolate and hazelnut aroma. Close your eyes and it's almost like walking through the doors into a Belgian chocolate shop.
The chocolate stars each feature a different finish on the top surface. The shape draws inspiration from a superellipse, with gentle geometric curves on each side turning a simple cube into something much unique and special.
Sadly, there's no menu card in the box, but the website does at least list the six varieties in this box.
- Caramel Star - Dark chocolate gianduja with crunchy Quimper lace and caramel chips.
- Hazelnut Star - Madagascan dark chocolate gianduja with whole roasted hazelnuts.
- Cocoa Nibs Star - Old fashioned gianduja with caramelised cocoa nibs and Quimper lace.
- Old Fashioned Star - Old fashioned gianduja with milk chocolate.
- Hazelnut and Vanilla Star - Old fashioned gianduja with whole hazelnuts and Madagascan vanilla.
- Nougat Star - Dark chocolate gianduja with Montélimar nougat chips and Quimper lace
This star features a milk chocolate cap decorated with red dots. It has a slightly sticky base, which might have something to do with the caramel in the recipe. Visually, it has a largely smooth appearance, with a small quantity of inclusions visible on the carved outer edges.
A caramel aroma invites you to bite into this chocolate. Feuilletine wafer flakes add crunch to the star. The rich gianduja is otherwise texturally smooth, with chocolate and hazelnut notes coming through along with a touch of salt. The flavour of caramel is faint, sitting right at the back, dwarfed by the nutty and cocoa aspects.
Hazelnut and Vanilla Star
Both vanilla and hazelnut come through in the chocolate aroma of this pretty red topped bite. It's the hazelnuts that dominate the flavour profile, set against a creamy, smooth chocolate background. It's sweet, but balanced by the toasted notes from the crunchy whole roasted nuts. The vanilla doesn't really get a look in until the end, where its flavour develops and rounds, leading into the aftertaste.
This shares similarities with the Hazelnut and Vanilla Star, but is richer and has more density to it. Overall, I found this one more satisfying. It is definitely the best one in the collection, as it balances depth of flavour, smooth chocolate, and crunchy roasted hazelnut.
Cocoa Nibs Star
The aroma here is that of caramelised cocoa nibs, which is quite exciting. The taste of toasted hazelnuts dominate here, with the cocoa nibs ramping up the rich chocolate notes in the overall flavour, as well as subtle caramel notes beneath. There's a helping of salt to tame the sweetness, helping to further balance the taste of this cube. The cocoa nibs dominate the aftertaste too, helping to prolong the enjoyment factor further.
While the Hazelnut Star is my favourite application of gianduja in this collection, this quirky cocoa nib variation ranks as my second favourite.
Old Fashioned Star
The others may be twists on a classic favourite, but this one harks back to gianduja's roots. It's a smooth chocolate, and is rich and creamy too. There's a subtle hazelnut flavour that comes through during the tasting, that develops further into the aftertaste. I did miss the crunch of hazelnuts though, which is why the Hazelnut Star pips this one to pole position in my eyes.
Feuilletine makes a return here, alongside flecks of nougat, adding crunch and chew to the overall texture. It has a dark chocolate aroma, but the flavour incorporates the characteristics of a good milk chocolate, including creaminess and sweetness. There's no bitterness either. All in all, it's a smooth and light bite, with just the right amount of chew and crunch. You're also left with the unmistakable flavour of hazelnut that develops into the aftertaste.
Pierre Marcolini Box of 24 Gianduja Stars Review
RRP: £39.00 | Pierre Marcolini | Shop now
A delightful collection of chocolate gianduja nibbles, perfect for gifting or sharing at fancy dinner parties. The collection demonstrates a variety of gianduja applications, blending milk and dark chocolates with various hazelnut sizes and select ingredients, playing with flavours and textures. The stars are delicious, with my favourite being the dark chocolate gianduja with whole roasted hazelnuts, fusing rich chocolate with the crunch of toasted nuts.
Where to Buy Online
Many chocolate products can be purchased on the Pierre Marcolini website here. Some items, including patisserie products and short-life fresh chocolates, can only be purchased in-store.
In the UK, the flagship Marcolini store sits on Marylebone High Street, in London. Marcolini also has concessions in Harrods and Selfridges in the capital, too. If you are travelling abroad, you might find that you are close to a taste of Belgium. The chocolatier has 14 boutiques and concessions across Belgium, as well as five in China, eight in France, seven in Japan, two in the United Arab Emirates and one in Luxembourg.
Tell Pierre Marcolini You Saw It On Chocolatier.co.uk!
Please mention Chocolatier.co.uk in your order notes when you place an order with Pierre Marcolini online. It means the world to me, and lets Pierre Marcolini know Chocolatier.co.uk helped you decide to make a purchase today. Thank you for your support
Belgian Chocolate: Bean-to-Bar Generation by Marcolini, Verlinden, Bibaut New+-
Title: Belgian Chocolate: Bean-to-Bar Generation Item Condition: New. Used-like N : The book pretty much look like a new book. There will be no stains or markings on the book, the cover is clean and crisp, the book will look unread, the only marks there may be are slight bumping marks to the edges of the book where it may have been on a shelf previously.
Pierre Marcolini Alexandre Bibaut Michel Verlinden Belgian Chocolate: (Hardback)
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. Title: Belgian 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.
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.
What's the best example of chocolate gianduja you've tasted? Let me know in the comments below.