Never mind gifts for loved ones on Valentine’s Day—you’ll want to buy these edible delights for yourself… all year round. These are the best chocolatiers Britain has to offer.
A cornucopia of curiously gothic shapes, bold colours and fantastical arrangements—if Alice in Wonderland had a chocolatier, this would be it.
“Choccywoccydoodah are a team of eccentrics, from the artists that design the cakes and chocolate, to the people that sell them,” says creative director Christine Taylor. “Everything is made by hand by Doodahs, not machines. Choccywoccydoodah is a cult crossed with an asylum, dipped in chocolate.”
After perusing the wide variety of delectable wares, we suggest you take yourself upstairs to the Bar Du Chocolat. This is a decadent cafe space where you can indulge in a two-hour extravaganza of chocolate dipping pots, chocolate cakes and Belgian hot chocolate. Needless to say, it’s a popular joint.
Make sure you try… “Banoffee Bar”
Belgian couverture chocolate… even the words sound delicious. This is a type of chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter, resulting in a beautiful sheen, a firm snap when breaking and—most important—a wonderful creaminess on the palate.
Outside of Belgium, a top spot for tracking down this special treat is The Chocolate Rooms in the village of Tarleton, Lancashire. Owned by Paul Williams, the man behind local brand Choc Amor, this offers not only chocolates, but also cakes and lunches.
“Choc Amor specialises in amazing flavour combinations,” claims chocolatier Paul. “The chocolate is made in small batches on site at The Chocolate Rooms. You not only get to taste and find out which is your personal favourite, but also enjoy food prepared by our chef using locally sourced ingredients, followed by one of our homemade cakes, then our luxury hot chocolate…”
In other words, you should prepare for a long lunch.
Make sure you try… “Salted Liquorice Slabs”
Pump Street Bakery
This may be a bakery by name, but don’t let that fool you: the selection of chocolate you’ll find here is superlative. “We believe that using only the best-quality ingredients, along with obsessive attention to detail in production, yields the best bread and pastries, and the same applies for chocolate,” say the owners.
They’re on to something there, as their chocolate is exquisite. All the beans are sourced from family firms and co-operatives and are roasted, winnowed, ground and conched on site. After maturing, they’re ready to temper into bars.
It’s not a quick process, but that’s what really makes the flavours sing in this Suffolk-born delicacy. If you’re unable to get to the cosy cafe-cum-bakery in Orford, fear not—you can also find their creations at a number of stockists across the county and beyond.
Make sure you try… “Rye Crumb, Milk & Sea Salt 60%” chocolate bar
Paul A Young
There are three Paul A Young shops in the nation’s fine capital, but our favourite is the flagship (and coolest one) found in Soho. Step through the iconic purple door and you’re presented with a sea of cocoa confectionery, all arranged artfully on wooden furnishings.
Starting as a pastry chef in one of Marco Pierre White’s restaurants, the eponymous Paul quickly developed a love for the hard, brown stuff and set up on his own in 2006. He’s since been named “Outstanding British Chocolatier” by the International Chocolate Awards and, even more impressively, a “chocolate giant” by The New York Times.
Says Paul, “I’m passionate about seasonal ingredients and work in a truly artisanal way. At every stage we use fresh ingredients—no compounds, concentrates, essences, preservatives or additives.”
Dedicated to his craft, Paul can still be found in the kitchen on occasion and—such is his reputation—spotting him is akin to seeing a real-life Willy Wonka.
Make sure you try… “Passionfruit Curd Filled Chocolate”
Discover even more British chocolatiers in the February edition of Reader's Digest