The story of our Christmas showpiece – from small beginnings to towering success.
How would you make a Christmas tree out of chocolate? Not just a bite-sized Christmas tree, small enough to slip into stocking for little fingers to grab, but a big one, over half a kilo in weight, heavier even than one of our Giant Slabs? This was the entertainingly tricky question facing Hotel Chocolat’s chocolatiers early this year. It was one they had grappled with before, and answering it wasn’t as simple as you might think.
The First Try
You might already know our famous Christmas tree mould used to make chocolates in different grades, shown off in boxes like The Enchanted Forest, a collection of 10 trees in caramel and milk chocolate. Back in 2010, our chocolatiers scaled this 12g tree up to a much larger version, 36cm tall and studded with chocolate truffles and inclusions. But there was a problem. The increase in size had made it thick at the bottom and thin at the top, and with so many grooves running through each layer that adding truffles on top made the chocolate prone to cracking and falling apart.
Taking Another Angle
Two Christmases later we returned to the chocolate Christmas tree concept again with a completely new design. The idea was a three dimensional Christmas tree that could stand upright, made from two decorated chocolate slabs that were slotted together and topped with a chocolate star. But as we tested it we quickly realised it would be tricky to build and transport without the risk of damage, the only solution being to ask customers to assemble it themselves. We were sure we could do better than that and shelved the idea.
The Truffle Tree
This year, we’ve began with a completely new approach. Starting with hand-drawn sketches and design drawings, we used design software to make an interactive digital 3D model of a 540g Christmas tree more ambitious than ever before, with a softer, fluid style. The new has none of the sharp angles that can put a large chocolate shape at risk of snapping.
Once we were happy with it, we machine-carved a physical model in resin, which we polished and refined by hand. The result was 3D-scanned by laser to make a digital model used to make a final metal chocolate mould for the tree. It has not just three but five alternating layers of different chocolate – three made from 50% milk praline chocolate with crispy feuilletine, and two from caramel chocolate with a dash of sea salt. And the design is strong enough to hold together even when studded with 9 milk, vanilla white and dark chocolate simple truffle baubles.
The result is one of our most spectacular and charming Christmas chocolate showpieces ever, an unforgettable festive experience that’s perfect for breaking up and sharing at the Christmas dinner table.