The finest gourmet handcrafted chocolate varieties to enjoy in

The finest gourmet handcrafted chocolate varieties to enjoy in

Chocolate has become something of a panacea for each eventuality in life since it was brought to Britain in the 17th century, whether it’s a break-up or a terrible day. However, the origins of the sweet treat that we know and enjoy today may be traced back hundreds of years. Indeed, it has been revealed that people living in what is now Mexico fermented, roasted, and ground the cacao plant to make a paste, which was then mixed with water and flavourings and drunk as early as 1900BC.

The finest gourmet handcrafted chocolate varieties to enjoy in

After that, Europeans modified the formula for the original cacao drink by adding enormous amounts of sugar to suit the Western palate, and it wasn’t until 1847 that Joseph Fry found how to turn chocolate back into a solid, resulting in something that resembled what we think of as chocolate today. So, how about the chocolate of today? Don’t get me wrong: we all appreciate a good old galaxy bar now and then, but there’s something special about higher-end chocolate brands that makes the whole experience that much more appealing. Perhaps it’s the packaging – the immaculately wrapped box tied with ribbon and promising the secrets to all kinds of unimaginable joy. Perhaps it’s the act of gifting itself — we frequently give chocolate to friends and loved ones as a token of our gratitude, ensuring that any future package will be chock-full with treats. However, I believe it comes down to personal preference. Chocolate of superior quality simply adds to the overall experience. So, here’s a list of our favourite high-end chocolate manufacturers, many of which provide good vegan options for our vegan friends.

Chococo may not have as lengthy of a history as some of the other high-end chocolate brands, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know what they’re doing. Indeed, many in the industry would argue that, with so many brands out there, Chococo’s ability to create a dent in the high-walled chocolate market and thus rightly claim their position among many of the great names is even more amazing. Andy and Claire Burnet, a husband and wife duo that struck gold with their decision to focus on manufacturing fresh chocolates in the best meaning of the word, formed this independent artisan organisation. They’ve painstakingly established a brand that knows what they’re doing and does it exceptionally well by employing locally sourced and seasonal ingredients. The attention to detail that goes into the chocolates is evident, with each one almost appearing to be a little work of art due to the way they are assembled – and the flavour is nothing short of wonderful.

If putting a name to a face when choosing brands is important to you, Paul A Young is the place to go. Paul has spent decades honing his art, working hand-in-hand with his team at their two London shops, and it shows in the high-quality chocolates he creates. Everything is produced by hand in the shop using fresh ingredients that are devoid of additives and preservatives, and his mastery of the chocolate domain is evident from the numerous prizes that his products have received. His chocolates come in a variety of flavours, ranging from elderflower and gin to peach, pineapple, and pia colada, as well as the polarising love-hate Marmite truffle. If you’re tired of traditional chocolates and want to try something new, visit Paul A Young today (either in person or on his new online webshop). If there’s one thing Paul knows, it’s that wherever flavour goes, he follows.

I first encountered Coco at their tiny boutique in Edinburgh, and I’ve continued to look to them as a model for good chocolate – not just in terms of flavour, but also in terms of sourcing. Chocolate sourcing has been criticised in the past due to various unethical practises that pay cocoa farmers peanuts while the wealthy executives sit on their fortunes. Coco, on the other hand, employs Columbians to assist in the sourcing and farming of cocoa beans, guaranteeing that more money stays in the country and thereby supports emerging economies. All of their chocolate is packaged elegantly, with vibrant colours and designs that reflect the attention and effort that goes into each bar. The strange but pleasantly exquisite haggis, as well as Isle of Skye sea salt and Earl Grey tea and gin and tonic, clearly reference their Scottish ancestry, and Earl Grey tea and gin and tonic provide novel variations on the classics. Coco is the perfect example of how a brand can do good while also tasting delicious, thanks to its wide range of flavours.

Friars has more chocolate choices than you can think, with no added sugar, gluten-free, and palm oil-free options. They’ve made it their aim to ensure that no one goes without. The emphasis is on quality, with any new product being put through a rigors tasting process before being included to the range if it receives a score of 9/10 or higher. This ensures that the founder’s original message is maintained as a primary focus. Friars’ novelty range is just the (golden) ticket if you’re looking for a little of fun, since chocolate is transformed into a variety of unusual shapes (game controllers, breasts, tool kits, makeup, cigars, golf balls, and pizza, to mention a few). However, it’s in their free-from area where they really shine, and it’s clear to see why after looking over their huge selection. Rather than the relatively restricted, if not non-existent, offerings of the past, the company has guaranteed that they are keeping up with current trends by creating a range of free-from options that match the beautifully made exterior in flavour. What an upheaval!

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