Heston Blumenthal’s most Willy-Wonka moment yet is this chocolate selection box from Waitrose.
We’ve had a lot of time and respect for the Heston from Waitrose range lately. Granted, there’s still a few humiliating misfires (like those shortcrust mince pies with their thin smear of fillings) but overall they’re getting things right more often than wrong.
There’s been plenty chances, too, seeing as Heston is currently on a mission to infest every aisle at Waitrose with his distinctive packaging. Heston from Waitrose range has popped up in places as unlikely as the crisp aisle, wines & spirits aisle and even the pre-packaged sandwich cabinet. And, now, we’ve got this chocolate selection box to enjoy. Here’s our Heston from Waitrose Chocolate Selection Box review.
The thick, rigid card of the glossy box makes just picking it up feel special and prestigious. The box itself does feel kinda small, but it is absolutely perfect to hold. If you’re giving this as a gift then whoever gets it will be impressed.
Open it up and the chocolates are tightly and neatly packaged. We think this is quite essential as it means they won’t get damaged or dislodged during transit. We’ve been given quite a few Thornton’s selection boxes where the loosely packed chocolates had fallen all over the place by the time we opened them. You won’t get that kind of fiasco with the Heston from Waitrose Chocolate Box.
The seven different flavours in the Heston from Waitrose Chocolate Selection Box are all quite distinct from each other. So let’s look at each of them in turn, and work out how they’d fit together as members of an ensemble cast (from, say, a popular but derided series of 80s comedy films, or perhaps a commercially unpopular but hugely acclaimed early-noughties TV series).
Note: As a bonus, you can all see what a shocking lack of competence we have with our camera’s macro function.
A crisp shell of dark chocolate and a warming citrus kick to the gooey, oozing caramel. Like a cross between a very grown up Rolo and a very grown up Terry’s Chocolate Orange.
This is the Heston from Waitrose Chocolate Box’s central protagonist. It’s one that might be a little bit naughty and immoral, but a flavour you can depend on. This is the chocolate that would be Captain Mal Reynolds from the TV series Firefly, or Mahoney from the Police Academy films.
Earl Grey & Lemon
Heston and his Earl Grey! Just like his hot cross buns and Christmas Stollen this also barely tastes like Earl Grey. We understand the idea, that subtle bergamot flavour from the tea, but here that flavour is buried under too much rich dark chocolate. A sweeter milk would’ve been more appropriate
This flavour is mature and well-intentioned, but ultimately can’t deliver when the action starts. Were it a character in a film it’d be Firefly’s Shepherd Book, or Police Academy’s Commandant Lassard.
We love using Muscovado sugar. That dark, intense richness is perfect for deeply flavoured desserts like the Hawksmoor Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe.
Here it gives a powerful flavour to the standard gooey caramel, making this a really powerful bruiser of a chocolate. If it were a part of an ensemble cast it might be Firefly’s Jayne Cobb or Police Academy’s Officer Eugene Tackleberry.
Black Forest Gateau
This is the chocolate that all true Hestonthusiasts would be most excited by. A classic combination of flavours and one that harks back not only to the nostalgia of the famous 70’s dessert, but to the In search of Perfection recipe and the dish served at the Fat Duck.
There’s smooth dark chocolate, there’s a snappy contrasting texture and the sensual warmth of the cherry liqueur. We really loved this one, simultaneously very sexy and very deadly, like Firefly’s Zoe Washburne or Police Academy’s Officer Debbie Callahan.
Thyme and Rosemary
In the recipe book Heston at Home both Rosemary and Thyme are suggested as separate flavourings for truffles. Here they’re combined together to show how their respective -and traditionally savoury- flavour combinations work in combination with chocolate.
Together they give you a flavour that’s at once whimsically amusing and yet also quite skillful. It’s a chocolate that has two impressive talents, much like Firefly’s Wash or Police Academy’s Officer Larvell Jones.
Pralines are lovely. Macadamias are lovely. Unfortunately the over-sweet white chocolate stops those flavours coming through.
This is a nice and well-intentioned chocolate, but one that sadly doesn’t have the impact it wants to. A bit like Firefly’s Simon Tam or Police Academy’s Officer Carl Sweetchuck.
A divisive one, this. You bite into that crisp, chocolate shell and expect a very standard gooey caramel, like the Muscovado and Mandarin flavours. But that innocent, unassuming first impression gives way to a fierce blast of warming Christmas spice.
It’s a chocolate with a hidden strength, and one that you underestimate at your peril. Like Firefly’s River Tam or Police Academy’s Officer Hooks.
The Heston from Waitrose Chocolate Selection Box was enormous fun to review and to eat our way through. They’d certainly make an excellent present, if you can ignore the slight cheesiness of the celebrity-branding (no offence intended there, Mark). They’re not Fat Duck-quality, but they’re excellent as far as mass-produced chocolates go.
Like most of the Heston from Waitrose stuff they’re a bit too wacky to be your only choice, but if you’re tired of every other dreary chocolate box on the market then they’re an excellent and refreshing alternative. We think the most fun way to eat these is for two people to munch their way through, comparing each one in turn. Just don’t blame us if you feel queasy afterwards.