Kevin Pilley keeps it local today, providing us with the ultimate British chocolate guide to celebrate National Chocolate Week!
The Swiss and Belgians aren’t the only ones making luxury hand-made chocolate! Britain now boasts some of the world’s best chocolatiers. Well-known and should be better known, I'm sharing my guide of the UK's best, high-quality confectionary in celebration of National Chocolate Week!
Running from 17th - 21st October, Chocolate Week aims to promote fine flavour chocolate, the independent artisan chocolatiers and the chocolate companies who work in direct partnership with cocoa farmers, encouraging consumers to pay a fairer price for their chocolate.
BENDICKS OF MAYFAIR, London
We are starting off strong with the popular, and quintessentially British (although now German-owned) Bendicks of Mayfair. Founded in 1930, Mr Oscar Benton and Colonel 'Bertie' Dickson acquired a small confectionary shop in Kensington. In 1962, the chocolates were awarded the coveted Royal Warrant, by appointment of Her Majesty The Queen.
Charbonnel & Walker is Britain's first luxury chocolatier, holding the Royal Warrant as chocolate manufacturers to Her Majesty the Queen (who must have had a very sweet tooth!). Founded in 1875 with encouragement from Edward VII, (then the Prince of Wales), the original shop opened at 173 New Bond Street in Mayfair, London and has remained in Bond Street ever since. Available through US retailers like Saks, Neiman Marcus and Sur La Table. Mme Charbonnat worked for Maison Boissier in Paris.
Andy and Claire Burnet’s festive favourites include: Gingerbread Caramel, Nutmeg, Tawny Port & Fig, Marzipan & Fizzy Pudding, as well as their popular Tangerine Dream and Molasses Caramel, with new Black Forest Gateau & Port Barrel Gin & Juniper and Oat Milk Hazelnut Latte Cluster. All handcrafted with sustainable, ethical fine chocolate
“Like all good things, making chocolate shouldn’t be rushed. First, the bags of beans are sorted by hand – sticks and flat fruitless beans discarded, misshapen and clumped beans put to one side (they go into the baker’s chocolate). The chosen ones are slowly roasted, a process which ensures even roasting, moisture retention and a finer control over the ‘sweet spot’, ie. the point at which the flavour profile of the cocoa is at its peak." Kyle Wooton, Chocolatier.
Chocolarder was formed in 2012 and is one of a handful of bean-to-bar chocolate makers in the country. Producing fine quality, stone ground chocolate using organically grown beans sourced from single estate, family run plantations across the world; from Peru and Dominican Republic to Sierra Leone, Madagascar, and Colombia, the select beans used at Chocolarder are roasted, winnowed, stone ground, roll refined to produce the perfect texture and conched to develop the chocolates individual flavour before being left to mature for at least 28 days. The chocolate is then tempered and crafted into bars before being lovingly wrapped in plastic free packaging. This obsessive attention to detail yields some of the finest chocolate in production today.
Single origin artisan chocolate bars made from cacao sourced from different regions all over the world -Honduras Indio Rojo, Venezuela Ocumare 72%, Corazon del Ecuador 72% dark chocolate, liquorice and cherry Panama Tierra Oscura. Single origin artisan chocolate bars made from cacao sourced from different regions all over the world.
They have total control of the roasting and processing of the cocoa beans, as it's all done in Lincolnshire. Sensitive and delicate control can deliver the complex currant and tangy orange notes of the Honduras Indio Rojo (Academy of Chocolate "Golden Bean" award, 2011) or the nut and raspberry notes of the Venezuela Ocumare 72%. All of their luxury chocolate is made by hand, and made carefully.
With over a century of experience in the business of producing luxury handmade delights, Guilbert’s Chocolates are sure to catch your eye in your quest for original and exquisite flavours. Whether you are a chocolate connoisseur or just fancy something sweet, they offer the optimum selection of luxury handmade chocolates available today. Founded by a Swiss exile in 1910, Guilbert’s is still making assorted chocolates in Bristol. Its centenary tins depict parts of the city. Classic selection include chocolate stem ginger, floral creams, peppermint creams, raspberry and strawberry creams and crystallized fondants.
Land was born with the aim of producing quality bean-to-bar chocolate that champions the world’s finest cacao and the people that grow it. From humble beginnings, Land has won numerous awards. Still made in London’s East End, it is enjoyed across the globe - from Paris to Tokyo, and of course, down the road in Bethnal Green where it all began. Try the single-origin 60g bean-to bars like Tanzanian Dark Chocolate (85% cocoa) - apricot, dried fruit, hazelnut, nicaliso dark (73% cocoa) - citrus, black olive, tannin or guatemalan milk (54% cocoa) - caramel, honey and raisin.
A basket of chocolates was allegedly given by an Aztec chief to Christopher Columbus on one of his early voyages to Mesoamerica and the Aztec civilisation.Early conquistadors like Hernán Cortés observed chocolate, or xocóatl being enjoyed in the court of Montezuma. Ex-lawyers Helen and Simon Pattinson make their luxury range in Sussex; their “Happy Hour” includes cocktail truffles - Strawberry Champagne. Prosecco, Margarita and Brandy Alexander as well as chocolate buttons, truffles, giftboxes for all occasions and vegan chocolates.
Monty Bojangles is a London based UK confectionery brand famous for its curiously moreish award winning cocoa dusted truffles. They have created a range of uniquely delicious and exquisitely beautiful gift boxes, family sharing packs and snacking pouches for you, your friends and family to enjoy together (assuming you feel like sharing!). It's 2022 Advent Calendar includes Choccy Scoffy, Orange Angelical, Cookie Moon, Popcorn Carousel, Pistachio Marooned, Scrumple Nutty along with Chocolate & Sea Salt Scofflets.
Sur chocolate was founded by Argentinians Maria Romero and Emanuel Ferrandez. The daughter of a psychologist and an accountant, Maria was born in Argentina’s beer city, Quilmes; having worked at The Hilton Buenos Aires, she moved to London in 1998, getting jobs at The Savoy Hotel, Rococo Chocolates and L’Artisan Du Chocolate, whilst also working as pastry chef at Les Ambassadeurs Club, Hyde Park Corner.
Continues Maria : “I met Emanuel in a bar in 2006. We have a special connection regarding art and creativity. SUR is the crystallization of those many years of conversations about expressing ourselves, who we are and where. About communicating in a different way with others and creating from our past something new.”
The specialist south American chocolaterie is now based in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire. Alfajores, from the Arabic “al-fakhar” (meaning luxurious), are made all year round in South America with glazed sugar or grated coconut & chocolate. Sur makes fourteen flavours including menta negra, lavender and malbec. The Patagonian alfajores is a chocolate biscuit with Cassis pate fruit and red berries and chocolate granache coated with raspberry milk chocolate.
“Each alfajore represents an icon of Argentinian identity,” says Emanuel, “we share our love through our alfajores".
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