It wouldn't be Christmas without an enormous box of chocolates. To help you choose yours, the team at Country Life puts the best ones to the test.
Christmas Truffle Collection (£11.99 for 210g)
Outside Smiling snowmen and candy canes. Little hands will be reaching for this one before you can say Peppa Pig.
Inside Stollen truffles and pistachio-and-raspberry ones that look like Christmas tree baubles. Everything is delicious, but the box wouldn’t last long.
(0845 450 6306; www.montezumas.co.uk)
Fortnum & Mason
Fortnum’s Favourites (£65 for 875g)
Outside A note on the box announces that this is an ‘alcohol-free selection’. ‘They must be joking,’ growled one of our number, who has been known to siphon off the contents of liqueur chocolates. Not an auspicious start.
Inside The fudges, nut clusters and pralines are well-executed, but, without booze, the truffles are a bit of a letdown.
(0845 300 1707; www.fortnumandmason.com)
Festive Selection Box (£17.95 for 25 chocolates)
Outside The same multi-coloured chequerboard design Chococo uses across its entire range.
Inside Love at first bite. A symphony of subtle flavours and every chocolate is a work of art. The dinky Christmas pudding one, in particular, drew gasps of admiration. ‘But where’s the second layer?’ wailed one of the testers, upending the box in desperation.
(01929 421777; www.chococo.co.uk)
Luxury Christmas Chocolate Selection (£55 for 600g)
Outside This is what Christmas should look like: a sweet vintage illustration, topped off with a giant gold bow.
Inside The company’s Swiss heritage really shows—the rose creams and fruity ganaches don’t clobber you over the head, allowing the Continental creaminess of the chocolate to shine through. And the truffles are the sort of thing you can imagine Marie Antoinette popping into her mouth.
(0800 456 1919; www.bettys.co.uk)
The Jewel Box (£25 for 325g)
Outside Postmodern Milk Tray. But will the ladies of Country Life love the contents?
Inside A wide-ranging selection that veers from the sublime (a fight nearly broke out over the coffee fudge) to the ridiculous (the banoffee truffles made one taster’s fillings twang). We had such high hopes, but, alas, they weren’t entirely met.
(020–8961 8555; www.prestat.co.uk)
Charbonnel et Walker
Boite Rouge (£55 for 500g)
Outside A red-velvet tun with ritzy gold trim. Pure Little Drummer Boy. Or, as one of the panel discovered when she put it on her head, hotel bellhop.
Inside Classic truffles, fondants, creams and caramels. Heavily curlicued: we felt as if we were chomping our way through the Burlington Arcade.
(020–7318 2075; www.charbonnel.co.uk)
Caspar Hamper No. 1 (£37 for 735g)
Outside Something a little different. Opening this Rococo-print box feels like an occasion in itself.
Inside Chocolate-coated nuts, white-chocolate slabs studded with strawberry, a wodge of soft Italian nougat and miniature bars. Ideal for virtuous souls who normally wave the family-sized box away.
(020–3691 5719; www.rococochocolates.com)
Artisan du Chocolat
The Perfect Delivery (£32.99 for 450g–500g)
Outside It’s a sleigh. Packed to the gunwales with chocolate. If Father Christmas had driven one of these, he’d never have made it out of Lapland.
Inside Tried-and-tested crowd-pleasers: coins, bars and assorted bags of pearls, caramels, fruits and nuts.
(0845 270 6996; http://artisanduchocolat.com)
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