Wednesday 13 December 2017

Event: Hotel Chocolat Birmingham Launch featuring real Hot Chocolat

For a long time, I've been jealous of the city of Worcester for being the nearest Midlands city to be graced with the presence of a Hotel Chocolat cafe.

How things have changed! Now, our very own second city has a Hotel Chocolat Cafe of it's own, and I was invited along to indulge and experience this chocolate temple for myself.

You'll all be familiar with Hotel Chocolat, purveyors of fine chocolate and cocoa inspired gifts and treats since 1993, with the doors of the first high street store opening back in 2004.

Since then, they've gone on to become famous for everything from huge, thick-shelled Easter Eggs to Cocoa Gin, and have even opened a hotel in Saint Lucia. In line with that very same spirit of originality, they've also been opening up cafe's since 2015.

This is where Birmingham comes into play, and just in time for Christmas, we've been lucky enough to get our very own Hotel Chocolat cafe at the newly opened New Street store.

Fighting my way through the German Market crowds, I stepped into the store and away from the madness. Inside, I found an oasis of chocolate and a warm welcome as the team were ready for my arrival.

The store manager came to greet me and and I was presented with three, yes three, slate trays full of chocolate samples all to myself! Fighting the urge to devour the lot, I did manage to make quite a dent on the three samples; Illegal Gianduja, Mulled Wine and Salted Espresso Martini.

All three were delicious, and I definitely tried more than one of each (oops!) but my favourite was definitely the Salted Espresso Martini. These were moreish bites of smooth melting chocolate infused with Turkish coffee, cocoa vodka and sea salt sealed in caramel chocolate.

Next up, the hot chocolate itself. At the back of the store, there is a seating area where I settled in and made some big decisions! As well as offering a number of different flavours including White Chocolate, Chilli and White Vanilla, I was also able to choose from three different types of milk, skimmed milk, whole milk or coconut milk and have it served with or without chocolate whipped cream.

It's worth noting that there is also Iced Frappes, Coffee, Tea, Tealot and Coffee Chocolate Lattes on offer, as well as Ice Cream of the Gods and two Christmas Specials; Salted Caramel and Clementine and Winter Spiced.

First of all, I picked a flavour, which was the Hazelnut Hot Chocolate and then opted for coconut milk topped off with chocolate whipped cream. I picked the small size and I'm glad of it!

Served on a wooden tray, my hot chocolate was every chocoholics dream! Piled high with whipped cream and oozing down the side, this was quite clearly a decadent treat. I really enjoyed the taste of the coconut milk and the hazelnut flavour was subtle.

I then managed to made room for just one more small Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate which was also delicious. Both were chocolatey and subtly flavoured.

Made with real chocolate and milk, Hotel Chocolat don't use powder and it's clear when you try them that this is the case as the flavour is so much more chocolately than anything from a packet. Topped off with whipped cream and depending on the flavour, more chocolate flakes or a biscuit decoration, these are hot chocolates on a whole other level!

You can also buy the ingredients yourself to make hot chocolate at home, which would make a great gift!

Regardless of whether you're feeling virtuous or not, it's easy to adapt your drink by changing the milk, asking for toppings or none, or even forgoing the chocolate whipped cream entirely.

A naughty treat, but a nice one, Hotel Chocolat Cafe is a welcome addition to the city. Handily located close to New Street train station, there's no better way to warm up than with a real Hot Chocolat from Hotel Chocolat.

* I was invited to sample the Hotel Chocolat cafe as a guest of the store