Cocoa Boutique is a new online chocolate club (from Delicious Marketing Group who are behind Westin Gourmet & Bakers Pantry); like other chocolate clubs, the idea is that for a fee you receive a regular box of assorted chocolates through the post. I do like the fact that the box itself is designed so that it fits through normal letterboxes so you don’t have to be at home to receive them. It’s also very substantial, being of very strong card, adding to the high quality feel of the Cocoa Boutique experience. The introductory box of 31 chocolates and 3 tasting trays costs £34.95, with subsequent boxes costing £19.95, and there is a full refund guarantee on the introductory box – if you don’t like it, you get all your money back.
A major difference from other chocolate clubs is that Cocoa Boutique are not making their chocolates in-house; rather, they are sourcing from a number of independent chocolatiers, which does mean that you get a range of styles within each box. Their initial selection includes chocolates from Barry Colenso, Pierre Ledent and Claire Hicklin. This does mean that range of chocolates is a little more interesting than most.
Most of the selection box we received was of milk chocolates (we generally prefer dark), but we did particularly like the tasting trays of 70% Ecuador dark buttons (with clear notes of banana and liquorice) and the dark chocolate covered coffee beans. Of note in the chocolates was the raspberry with a hint of orange; an unusual and successful combination,and the pink champagne truffle sprinkled with dehydrated raspberry pieces. Also present were good salt caramels, truffles and an unusual cassis pear ganache. (We received these during the hottest week of the year – which I suspect accounts for the slight bloom on the photo above)
The leaflet in the box contained a proper description of each chocolate, with notes and brief bios of the chocolatiers, and a score card to rate each chocolate and to nominate you favourite, hopefully this will allow the selections to evolve and improve.
Whilst we’re unlikely to take up a subscription due to the milk-chocolate emphasis on the selection, and we feel that £34.95 for the initial box is expensive, with £19.95 for subsequent boxes being more reasonable. I think that a box as a gift would be welcomed by most.