There I was, placing an order for an innovative new Hot Chocolate Shaker when my finger "accidentally" clicked 'order' on a 65g bar of Gingerbread Blonde Chocolate and a 65g bar of Mince Pie Milk Chocolate.
What can I say? Compulsive chocolate ordering is a terrible condition, especially at Christmas! Symptoms include going weak at the knees at the mere sight of chocolate, and the unstoppable urge to tap in credit card details in exchange for a parcel of goodies several days later.
The two festively spiced chocolate bars were made by The Chocolate Society, and having recently enjoyed a selection of their handiwork, I suspected these Christmas flavours might be right up my street.
Gingerbread Blonde Chocolate Review
The packaging broadly resembled the Salted Caramel Blonde Chocolate box I reviewed last time, only this one benefited from gold foiling against a bright orange backdrop. A randomly dispersed selection of letters (I think spelling out 'Christmas' and 'chocolate') together with Christmas tree icons in gold-foiled print decorated the front of the box. I loved it. It was still as modern and elegant as the plainer boxes yet with a touch of festive flair.
The teaser for this bar on the reverse of the packaging was that it's a "ginger and cinnamon spiced buttery blonde chocolate, scattered with biscuit coated with dark chocolate." The ingredients list sat next to this teaser, with the allergen statement and nutritional information blocks beneath.
The Chocolate Society Gingerbread Blonde Chocolate ingredients:
White chocolate (85%) (cocoa butter, sugar, whole milk powder, skimmed milk powder, whey powder, caramelised sugar, emulsifier (soya lecithin), natural vanilla flavouring, salt), biscuit (9%) (dark chocolate coating (cocoa beans, biscuit cereals (wheat flour, sugar, wheat malt, wheat starch, raising agent (E500ii), salt), cocoa butter, natural vanilla extract), ginger (4%), cinnamon (2%). White chocolate: 35% cocoa minimum. Dark chocolate: 55% cocoa minimum.
At first glance, the ingredients list looked quite exhaustive, but in essence, I was staring at a white chocolate bar made with caramelised sugar, ginger, and cinnamon spices, topped with a sprinkling of dark chocolate coated biscuit balls. The overall sugar content sat at a smidgen under 45%.
My bar had become victim to heavy handedness in the postal system, so was broken into two right across the middle of the bar along one of the grooves forming the 10 segments.
Each segment featured a geometric design together with the Chocolate Society logo. The top of the bar was smooth with only very minor scuffs.
The initial aroma was rich and creamy, with comforting notes of butterscotch and caramel notes following through, plus the subtlest hint of ginger. A good, clean snap was music to my ears.
The butterscotch and caramel flavours led in the taste, with the ginger remaining on the sideline throughout. Its presence was felt, but it was used to gently augment the flavour rather than dominate it.
The bar featured white chocolate, caramelised sugar, and biscuits so made for a very sweet experience, perhaps overly sweet. The subtle hint of dark chocolate wasn't enough to curb the sweetness on its own.
For me, this bar didn't conjure up images of freshly baked gingerbread, but it did make me think of the festively-spiced speculaas Dutch biscuit (think Lotus biscuit in chocolate form). The biscuits - traditionally eaten during December in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, and Austria - are caramelised and made using a variety of spices including cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cardamom, white pepper, and cloves.
Overall, I liked the flavour (even though I felt it tasted more like speculaas than gingerbread) and liked the way the ginger was used delicately against the caramelised sugar and the white chocolate. But, it was a very sweet bar and a little went a long way.
Mince Pie Milk Chocolate Review
The packaging for the Mince Pie bar followed the same format as the Gingerbread Blonde Chocolate bar, only in a rich teal colour.
The reverse of the packaging revealed more on what I was tasting - "Columbian milk chocolate infused with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, orange, and lemon, marbled with raisins". The ingredients list, allergens statement, and nutritional information made up the remainder of the information.
The Chocolate Society Mince Pie Milk Chocolate ingredients:
Milk chocolate (86.4%) (Sugar, cocoa butter, milk powder, cocoa beans, emulsifier (soya lecithin), vanilla extract), raisins (9%), cinnamon (2.9%), ginger (1%), nutmeg (0.5%), organic orange essential oil (0.1%), organic lemon essential oil (0.1%). Milk chocolate: 41% cocoa minimum; 19% milk solids.
The sugar content of this bar sat at a fraction just under 49%, so I expected a rich, sweet flavour but not overly so.
My bar suffered the same damage as the Gingerbread Blonde Chocolate, with a clean break right across the width of the bar. The top of the bar was also scuffed, and the a number of raisins had poked their way through the chocolate in the mould, causing gaps in the design.
The initial aroma was a cacophony of warming festive spices, with the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg shining through clearly. The pugnant spices mask the fragrance of the chocolate although I detected a slight sweetness that crept through.
Despite the inclusion of fruit, it didn't get in the way of a good clean snap. The spices dominate in the taste, with the cinnamon on the verge of overpowering the other pair. I didn't pick up the citrus notes from the orange and lemon above the spices.
In complete contrast to the Gingerbread chocolate, the flavour of the chocolate was entirely masked by the punchy flavours. The plump raisins added a chewy texture, and the milk chocolate helped balance the sweetness at just the right level, but I would have liked to see the flavour of the cocoa comes through more.
This one didn't conjure up images of mince pie for me. Yes, it was festively spiced, and clearly so, but it was missing a rich, buttery edge that you get from the shortcrust pastry of a mince pie. The raisins added texture, but I wonder if a dash of mixed peel to replace the citrus oils, and perhaps a gentle drop of booze would better match the complex flavours of Christmas mincemeat?
Overall, it was an easily-devoured bar of festively flavoured milk chocolate, with strong winter spice flavours that dominate. It was unmistakably festive, but at the detriment to the flavour of the 41% Columbian milk chocolate. It was easier - and quicker - to polish off than the gingerbread bar, but I think I preferred the speculoos flavour of the gingerbread chocolate the most.
The Chocolate Society Christmas Bars Review
RRP: £4.95 | The Chocolate Society | Shop now
A duo of festively spiced chocolate bars with different approaches. The blonde chocolate was ultra sweet and tasted more speculoos than gingerbread. The flavour of the milk chocolate lost out in a battle against the festive spices in the Christmas Mince Pie bar.
Have you tried the festive chocolates by The Chocolate Society? Let me know what you thought of them in the comments below.