Ok, technically this is the Valrhona Ballotin Box 36 Bonbons Gift. It's an assorted box of chocolates from a French boutique chocolatier. As far as I can tell Valrhona specializes in ganache, which is a chocolate and cream mixture that you sometimes see as filling on these kind of bonbons and is, of course, absolutely delicious.
Let's have a look at these chocolates. The packaging is very nice, sheik, black and stylish on the outside. Looking inside we get bright and shiny gold. This gold wonderfully reflects the chocolates, and collects light giving a warmth and sense of size to the inside of the chocolate box. I really love how nice the packaging is here. Unfortunately there aren't any dividers for the chocolates themselves, Since the bunching up that you can see in the picture below takes a little away from the initial splendor, but that's a rather small trifle overall.
The box has 3 layers, with 36 chocolates total. According to the website, these chocolates are ganache-filled, they are also noted as different though, with a few specific flavors including jasmine, orange, praline,and almonds. Oddly the site only has 7 different chocolates listed on it and the box obviously has more than that in it.
Now's probably the time to explain how I'm intending to do this review. Of course I'm not planning on sampling every kind of chocolate in this box, so instead I think I'll just treat this as I would any regular box of chocolates. Especially since there's no guidemap to the various flavors here, my plan is to sample at random 3 different chocolates from the box. Maybe I won't pick the best 3 chocolates, but I probably wont pick the worst... and lets be sensible here, these chocolates are going to be pretty good overall.
the next chocolate is the nut one. I don't know what its called really but every chocolate box has at least one or two bonbons with the crumbled nut in chocolate deal going on. I believe in this case we're dealing with almond. biting into the chocolate again reveals the same ganache mixture, and confirms the almond. This one is about texture and so far these Valrhona's are firing on all cylinders. The nuts add a nice body to the experience.
Finally we get the stick looking chocolate. This ins;t one I usually go for in a box of chocolates. The stick shaped chocolates often hide hard toffee or general weirdness. Since my preferences usually lean towards cream fillings I aim for ovals, but I'd like to find something different if I can... and it looks like I've hit paydirt. The chocolate is filled with... well it tastes like marzipan, but I don't think that's actually it. I suspect this is an almond flavored ganache, that only resembles marzipan. If it actually is marzipan its got a bit more viscosity than I'm used to tasting. But in terms of flavor the almond is unmistakable. I am not a personal fan of marzipan. BUT I don't hate it, I just don't ever seek it out, and any more than a little does turn me off. This is only a little though, and it manages to mesh very well with the chocolate exterior of the bonbon. I also know of course how many people out there love that subdued almond paste flavor. So for me the fact that this isn't something I'd line up for is beside the point. The chocolate is wholly successful.
Overall these are some pretty fantastic chocolates. The quality is top notch and I can't remember the last time I has a chocolate ganache filling that was so smooth. You really can't go wrong with these. And while they are boutique French chocolates, thanks to the internets they seem to be available all over the world.
Walking the Candy Aisle rates this Valrhona gift box - 5 / 5
Special thanks go out to my friends Jan and Cecile for bringing these back from France for me as a gift. It was delicious. Valrhona isa privately held French chocolate company headquartered near the town of Lyon. You can find out more about them on their website http://www.valrhona.com/