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  • 12 best recipe boxes that deliver meal inspiration straight to your door
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    The Independent

    12 best recipe boxes that deliver meal inspiration straight to your door

    We’re all well versed on the benefits of a recipe box by now. Not only do they save you a trip to the shops, provide you with a dose of midweek inspiration and ensure you don’t waste any food, they’re also incredibly convenient, with everything shipped straight to your door (or even through your letterbox).And while on the face of it, they may seem similar, each brand has very different strengths. So whether you’re cooking for a family, have a specific dietary requirement such as gluten-free or perhaps you’re trying to only eat organic grub, there’s a box for that.

  • 14 best luxury chocolate boxes
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    The Independent

    14 best luxury chocolate boxes

    If you’ve been invited to spend time with friends or family over Christmas and new year, you’ll be the most welcome guest to the party if you turn up not just with chocolate but with the most indulgent, luxurious, festive chocolates on offer.Here’s our pick of the best luxury chocolate boxes for 2018.You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. Classic Chocolate Cabinet, 590g: £50, Hotel ChocolatFor quality, variety and flavours, eyecatching presentation and sheer indulgent joy, Hotel Chocolat is the pick of the bunch. A lavish array of delicious chocolates is presented in a luxurious two-tiered box with a sliding compartment – a definite reusable option once the sweet stuff is finished.Chocolates range from bite-sized nibbles to major mouthfuls, including a few mini chocolate slabs. The menu reads like a mini novel, and our tasters were in particular ecstasy throughout. Meltingly delicious goodness.Buy now Milk & Dark Chocolate Selection Box, 460g: £38.95, Fortnum & MasonThe elegant box with gold detailing will create a wow factor when you hand it over. And the wow factor continues when the box is opened to reveal a beautiful colour illustration inside the cover. The chocolates are encased in layers of luxury paper, presented in individual paper cases and tightly packed in.Twenty-five varieties are on offer, an excellent choice for a box of this size. These are simple and elegant chocolates that don’t mix overpowering flavours; a good choice for a refined palette.Buy now Rose & Violet Cremes, 245g: £19.50, PrestatLuscious layers of wrapping paper revealed one of the prettiest presentations we’ve seen – attractive large dark chocolate squares alternately topped with dried rose and violet pieces. Strong on visuals, strong on floral fragrance, this one is a bit of a feast for the senses.Dark chocolate casing gives way to an inner crispy shell, oozing rich cream filling, flavoured with violet and rose. There were groans of appreciation around the table. It’s a great chocolate hit and the floral notes bring something a little bit different.Buy now Dancing Ballerina Milk Sea Salt Caramel Truffles, 245g: £27, Charbonnel & WalkerThe ribbon untied to reveal the dancing fairies illustrated on the box, which is beautifully designed with gold detail on a deep green background – a keepsake for a little girl to keep her treasures in. The lid opened to an excited reception as the sugar-dusted truffle balls, nestled in paper cases, were revealed. The truffle featured a crisp thick chocolate shell, which encased a creamy soft salted caramel. Very sweet, very gooey, very rich and very, very tasty.Buy now Christmas Tree, 70g: €14 (£12.50), Le Chocolat Alain DucasseA present for a sophisticated chocolate lover, this is a grownup gift from the stable of triple Michelin-starred chef Alain Ducasse, renowned for his restaurant at The Dorchester in London. He has also recently opened his first Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse store in London’s King’s Cross.The hexagonal Christmas Tree comes in a choice of milk or rich dark chocolate for a true connoisseur – a sharp hit of chocolate satisfaction. Buy now Vegan Signature Chocolate Box, 400g: £24.99, FriarsThis vegan selection is presented in a simple, classic box, and there were sighs of approval all round when it was opened. These chocolates are beautifully crafted and promised fabulous flavours – like the prosecco truffle and deep red strawberry champagne – but unfortunately the flavours were not as strong as some of the others we tasted.It all looks really good and there is certainly a limited choice on the market when it comes to vegan-friendly chocolate, but this perhaps offers more style than substance.Buy now Christmas Chocolates Selection Box, 430g: £35, Rococo ChocolatesYou know you’re dealing with a classy chocolate brand when the box presents you with a delicately illustrated menu. Each chocolate rests in its own compartment, another luxury detail in an eyecatching presentation.These are chocolates of distinction, truffles and ganaches with punchy flavours and quality ingredients. Just as you’d expect from this multi award-winning luxury chocolatier, which handmakes its chocolates in small batches in its London kitchen.Buy now Chocolat des Mandarins Esprit de Noël, 120g: €17 (£15.30), Mariage FrèresAn elegant collection, designed to impress – you definitely haven’t picked these off in a shelf in the petrol station at the last minute. A chocolate with a history, first presented in 1860 and created by Henri Mariage, Chocolat des Mandarins is a ganache subtly flavoured with tea.There were gasps of delight when the small but perfectly formed box was opened to reveal 16 perfect squares of smooth dark chocolate ganache, covered with a crisp layer of fine white chocolate and topped with delicate strands of black tea.These chocolates have a wonderful scent and a seasonal twist, flavoured with festive spices, orange zest and vanilla. This is Christmas in an extremely elegant package and will win you lots of kudos.Buy now Delicious Art, Dusted Praline Truffles, 175g: £10, National GalleryWe love the presentation on this one, a range of neatly sized boxes showcasing art treasures from The National Gallery’s collection, and the top slides off to reveal a gold box of truffles underneath.Created by chocolatier Prestat for the gallery, these truffles are based on a 100-year-old recipe and crafted from a mixture of crushed roasted hazelnuts and sugar piped into a velvety milk chocolate shell and dusted in cocoa. They are creamy but not too sweet, with a very pleasant light crunch.Quite frankly, they are exceptionally tasty and very moreish.Buy now Artist’s Collection, 272g: £15, Marks & SpencerM&S always deliver the goods at Christmas, and while this limited edition Artist’s Collection box isn’t overflowing with chocolates, the colourful finish is certainly eyecatching. “A selection of hand-finished chocolates with gourmet flavours,” says the brand – these include morello cherry, piedmont hazelnut, and mango, lime and chilli.They’re quite hard to extract from the box, however – a bit of subtle finger work was called for to detach them from their casing – but the flavours are nicely layered for a tasty mouthful, and the quality, as you would expect from M&S, is very good.Buy now Booja Booja, The Wonderbox, 230g: £17.49, OcadoOrganic, dairy free, soya free and gluten free, the Booja Booja is certainly a bit of a wonderbox when it comes to “free from” requirements. And while the initial presentation won’t blow you away – all chocolates are uniformly square and identical – it turns out that there are several flavour varieties to sample, just follow the colour-coded menu card inside.These were a complete revelation and one of the best chocolate boxes we tried. Each flavour packed a hearty punch, with a creamy chocolate texture that isn’t too sweet.The overall taste is very impressive, and given the lack of traditional ingredients nobody will feel like they are stinting with this offering – in fact, it swayed the traditionalists in the review group.Buy now Cru Sauvage Truffles, 130g: £19.95, BettysThis is one for the chocolate connoisseurs, bringing together rich grand cru chocolate from the Amazon with fine Swiss roasting techniques, all assembled at Bettys’ craft bakery in Harrogate. Dusted in faintly bitter, rare wild cocoa from the Bolivian Amazon, it’s the perfect counterpoint to the richly luxurious smooth ganache centre inside.The truffles have been shaped to resemble Mont Blanc, a fact the hosts can use to impress their guests. That and also because the Cambas – as locals from this Amazon region of Bolivia are known – travel on foot, horseback and dugout canoes to track down these precious rare beans, known for their intense and unique flavour.Buy now Christmas Gift Box, 230g: £28, GodivaThis very festive box certainly looks the part, in deep red with a gorgeous wreath design on the cover. Instead, the Christmas theme continues in the chocolate selection. There are fir tree-shaped chocolates decorated with “lights and baubles”, some sporting the word Noel, and a chic gold-wrapped noisette ingot.The chocolate is rich and luscious, and flavours include the very sophisticated tarte pecan chocolat and the brand’s signature lait cafe, created in the 1940s for the film premiere of Gone with the Wind and hand decorated with a feature motif to resemble the feature in Scarlett O’Hara’s hat.Buy now Personalised Ferrero Rocher Sweet Tree, 25cm x 10cm x 15cm: £29.99, Prezzy BoxOne to take with you to the ambassador’s residence perhaps – or just to the home of a Ferrero Rocher lover. Another gift with a wow factor, the “tree top” is entirely edible, and constructed from a chocolate ball and a selection of Ferrero Rochers. The glass pot it stands in can be personalised with the recipient’s name or a Happy Christmas message.A wonderfully inventive gift that will create a fun centrepiece, and you’ll be the guest with the most brownie points for the evening.Buy now The Verdict: Best luxury chocolate boxesFor wow factor, presentation and taste, it has to be Hotel Chocolat’s Classic Chocolate Cabinet, it really doesn’t get any better than this for Christmas chocolate treats. A very special mention goes to one of the non-chocolate boxes on the chocolate list – which outperformed many of the more traditional offerings – the Booja Booja Wonderbox, for sheer mouth-melting wonderfulness. And finally, for an elegant choice that offers something very different from the ordinary, we have to call attention to the rather wonderful Mariage Frères Chocolat des Mandarins Esprit de Noël.

  • Are you drinking your first coffee too early for the caffeine to take effect?
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    Cosmo

    Are you drinking your first coffee too early for the caffeine to take effect?

    Here's why a doctor advises drinking coffee for alertness is more effective later on.

  • The contents of this Pimp Your Prosecco advent calendar is incredible
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    Cosmo

    The contents of this Pimp Your Prosecco advent calendar is incredible

    This is what you actually get behind the 12 doors