Easter egg

Hotel Chocolat sent me one of their thick-shelled eggs to sample – you can win one in the GD/Hotel Chocolat Easter competition. This year’s egg was called You crack me up, and the Hotel Chocolat people appear to have realised since last year that I am, under the wrinkled surface, about twelve, and so respond much better to their slightly less adult offerings. This egg was brilliant – rather than trying for grown-up flavours like last year’s liqueur chocolates, it was filled with smiley-faced pralines and solid chocolate chicks and bunnies. Enough to bring a smile to even the most leathery food-blogger’s face.

Once again, the shell is almost comically thick. (This is great – it’s my favourite bit.) Half is made from Hotel Chocolat’s 40% cocoa solid milk chocolate, which is creamy, malty and not too sweet. The other is milk chocolate with a swirl of white, and both are so thick and chunky that you’ll need a good bit of molar action to deal with them.

Two bags full of bunnies and chicks for the slaughter (I can’t be the only person who eats things like this head first – and I found myself picking the eyes off the little Humpty guys and eating those before going for the praline inside) are also inside the packaging. Hotel Chocolat’s packaging is always really good fun, and strangely classy – I was given a box of their bits and bobs by some friends at Christmas with a lovely magnetised lid which I found myself keeping to put things in when I’d polished off the chocolates. The origami-complicated box with this egg was beautiful, and did a great job of protecting the chocolate shell inside. Hotel Chocolat have a great range on offer this year – enter the competition, and have a look at their eggly offerings for 2008 online.

Easter chocolate competition

Easter is coming around the corner very quickly and everyone wants that extra special Easter Egg! Gastronomy Domine has teamed up with Hotel Chocolat to offer you a chance to win some of Hotel Chocolat’s extra special, Extra-Thick Easter Eggs. To enter, click here and simply answer six questions which will take you on an Easter egg hunt to find the secret code. Once you have answered each question, use the first letter of each answer to reveal the secret code. If you have found the right answer you stand a chance to win one of Hotel Chocolat’s stunning Extra Thick Easter Eggs!

Christmas chocolate competition!

Hotel Chocolat have come up trumps again and are offering one lucky Gastronomy Domine reader a Christmas chocolate selection box and a copy of the Hotel Chocolat 101 Best Loved Chocolate Recipes book. I get to sit back for this one – it’s your turn to do the cooking.

Hotel Chocolat is looking for your very best Christmas-themed chocolate recipes. Think Christmas choc-chip cookies, chocolate yule log, or chocolate Christmas puddings. All you have to do is to submit your recipe (the more original the better), and you could win lots of lovely chocolate. The winner of the Gastronomy Domine competition will also be automatically entered into the Hotel Chocolat Grand Prize recipe competition, and could win even more seasonal chocolate goodies! And believe me, they are good – I’ve just been to a chocolate tasting with them and was blown away by some of the Christmas selections.

So, are you the best chocolate cook in the country? Only one way to find out – click here to submit your entry. The competition page will recognise that you’ve come from Gastronomy Domine, so get your weighing scales out and start cooking! The competition closes at 11.59pm on December 10 2007.

Hotel Chocolat Easter Egg

Hotel Chocolat sent me their Signature Egg to review a couple of weeks ago. This was excellent news – I am a big fan of Hotel Chocolat, who are my favourite high-street chocolatiers. They currently have 21 shops in the UK, a mail-order chocolate tasting service and some really interesting products – my very favourite thing in the whole shop is the cocoa nibs, which are simply little shards of cocoa bean with no sugar.

The Signature Egg, cleverly, uses milk chocolate for one half of the shell and dark for the other. This was one of the best chocolate shells I’ve tasted – it’s extra-thick, and the dark chocolate in particular is very good; not too sweet, and extremely smooth with a lovely creamy texture. Hotel Chocolat have their own cocoa plantation in the West Indies, which guarantees the quality of the chocolate. I had some Cadbury’s chocolate in the kitchen to taste as a sort of control chocolate,which was granular and tooth-hurtingly sweet by comparison.

You can see the very pretty mini-eggs that fill the shell in the photograph. They are all liqueur creams…and this is where the Signature Egg, with its gorgeous, thick shell, falls down. On paper, the flavours looked great; pink Marc de Champagne, Tiramisu, Kirsch, Amaretto and so on. Unfortunately, the lecithin-slippery centres all tasted rather synthetic (the pink Marc being a dead ringer for Angel Delight). Advocaat, a flavour I usually dislike, was by far the best (and appropriately Easterish, being made from egg yolks), but the Kir cream managed to mimic cough mixture. Still – these were sweet, and sufficiently grown-up tasting that you won’t find them being stolen by the kids. Unless the kids happen to like Kirsch.

Hotel Chocolat is currently running an Easter-Egg Hunt competition to win a rather lovely-looking Easter Hamper full of chocolatey goodness. You can enter until April 2. Happy hunting!