Thorntons Continental Spectacular – Review

A couple of months ago, I was approached by Thorntons, the chocolate shop, to see if I would like to review any of the products from their luxury chocolates gift collection.

While I don’t often eat straight up chocolate bars, I am rather partial to boxed chocolates and truffles, so my answer was obviously yes – the only problem was that with a trip to Romania looming, I knew I wouldn’t have enough time to eat, review and blog before I went away.

Luckily the lovely team at Thorntons were happy to wait for me to come back, and after the come down of returning to England and returning to work, finding a giant box of chocolates waiting for me was exactly what I needed.

I requested something from the Continental collection, because I thought it would have a nice variety of flavours and no liqueurs – the one type of chocolate I really don’t like.

When I saw the size of the box I thought it would be lots of packaging with a couple boxes of chocolates buried at the bottom, but no – inside was a staggering 1,350g worth of chocolates! Enough to last several months, or to make me very fat in a week…

The Continental Spectacular Collection includes one huge 685g box of assorted chocolates, 3 smaller 150g boxes, four bags of chocolates and three truffle bars, all inspired by flavours from around Europe.

After a thorough sampling of the chocolates over the past two weeks, I would happily recommend it as a gift for any chocolate lover. There is enough variety that pretty much anyone would find something they like, but still keeping to fairly popular flavour combinations that are unlikely to offend.

My personal favourites are the Viennese Truffle (a light and fluffy mouse coated in creamy chocolate and dusted in sugar),the Cappuccino (a coffee mousse coated in white chocolate), and the Sicilian Lemon Mousse (as you’d expect a lemon mousse, coated in milk and white chocolate).

There weren’t really any I disliked, although I think the filling of the Apricot Delice is a tad too sweet, and as I prefer smooth truffle fillings I could have done with a few less of the nutty ones.

In the small boxes out of 13 chocolates there are 8 milk coated and only 2 dark and 3 white coated which is a bit of an imbalance, but with whole bags full of the dark Apricot Delice and Seville Orange and white Vanille Truffle it evens out overall.

At £22, I think this gift collection is excellent value – bought individually the contents would come to more than double that – and I think anyone who received it as a gift would be very impressive. With the amount of chocolate it’s definitely made for sharing and after two weeks I’ve still barely made a dent into it, but that’s certainly not a complaint!

Disclaimer – Thorntons did send me this for free, which was super lovely, but my opinions are 100% honest, as always!

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Gingerbread truffles

Gingerbread truffles

More truffles! I’m a big fan of making truffles to go in Christmas hampers as they’re quick, easy, keep well and look pretty packaged up in cellophane bags with festive ribbons.

My first attempt at making these wasn’t perfect – the original recipe from Love and Olive Oil calls for unsulphered molasses, which I swapped for dark treacle, and although I quite liked it I think it would have been too strong for most tastes.

For my second attempt I used just a teaspoon of treacle and swapped the rest for golden syrup, which made a much sweeter, milder dough. Coated in white chocolate, it’s the perfect balance of spicy and sweet, and it’s a good job I gave most of them away or I would have been eating them by the handful!

one ingredient ginger

I’m entering these for the December One Ingredient Challenge, hosted by Nazima at Franglais Kitchen and Laura at How to Cook Good Food. Nazima picked ginger as the festive ingredient, although I have to say it’s one of my favourite flavours and I like to enjoy it all year round!

Gingerbread Truffles (recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil)

  • 30g butter
  • 50g light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp dark treacle
  • 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp (20ml) golden syrup
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • pinch salt
  • 150g white chocolate

Beat together the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup until light and fluffy. Sift together all the dry ingredients, then fold into the dough until it comes together into a ball. Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes, before rolling into small balls (about 1.5cm diameter). Place spaced on on a piece of baking paper and transfer to the freezer for a further 30 minutes.

Melt the white chocolate in the microwave, stirring after 30 seconds and again at 10 second intervals after that, until completely melted but not hot. Remove the truffles from the freezer and use two forks to roll in the melted chocolate, then place on another baking sheet to set. Repeat until all the truffles have been coated. Because the truffle mix has been in the freezer, the chocolate will set quickly and they don’t need to go in the fridge, just leave them an hour or so before packaging/eating.