Hotel Chocolat Chili and Orange/Hazelnut and Ginger Yule Logs

Will the litany of classy international holiday offerings never end? Hell no! You can take your holiday-colored Oreos an’ shove ’em- I have connections in foreign places. Today’s selection comes from the wonderful Cinabar of Foodstuff Finds once more, my official hookup for the tantalizing UK artisanal brand Hotel Chocolat and more. This is a pair of treats from their holiday selection- adorable Yule logs in chili and orange and ginger and hazelnut.
If you haven’t heard of a Yule log, it’s a hard, dense log to burn during Christmas time. The desserts, if you’ve ever had a Buche de Noel, are fashioned after the logs themselves and eaten. These Yule logs look fairly branchy and tree-like, which the chocolate helps with, but more in a minimalist, Charles Eames-inspired kindling for a couture fireplace fashion. The edges are smooth and domed and studded with chunks of each key ingredient according to the bar. Both bars are made out of gianduja praline and have very short, concise ingredient lists- no more than seven or eight components make up the bars.
The gianduja base is fantastic. The bars are protected in their own molds, and you can clearly see where the chocolate was poured in, sometimes to the point of nearly overflowing! While it was difficult to get the bars out of their molds without marring the delicate surface, the end result was beautiful. As you can see, the chocolate is very smooth and soft. Mine didn’t escape without a few fingerprints! The toppings were set like jewels on top of the bars rather than being mixed into the chocolate.
On its own, the gianduja is cool and subtle, with a slow melt and pliable, fudgey chew and a bittersweet woodiness that was amplified in the ginger and hazelnut bar with the inclusion of lightly toasted, crispy hazelnuts. The crystallized pieces of ginger, which had a wonderful crunchy, jelly-like texture unto their own, added a spicy element to the bar. My only complaint was that the beautiful visual presentation, which alternated the ingredients to create a striped pattern down the length of the bar, allowed few bites to include both hazelnuts and ginger. With the complexity of the two toppings, it was quite a shame to not have that option when eating a bite.
The chili and orange bar was no less phenomenal. This bar also had nuts, sugared whole almonds. While there were no candied chili pieces with the candied orange peel on top, there was a persistent spiciness to the bar along with the pomander flavors in the candied peel– cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg that made for a delicious eating experience. This bar didn’t quite suffer from the same inconsistency in between bites as the other, but was a little messier to cut as the almonds were placed horizontally and cut somewhat irregularly. The spices in this were perfect, though. An easy and indulgent holiday treat.

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