Chocolate brands

The best artisan chocolate brands in the UK, delicious and unique

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Artisanal chocolates are small producers who make chocolate that is generally more interesting than the large manufacturers. Purists see through their product from bean to bar and are obsessed with the origin and quality of their cocoa beans; others use chocolate from the best suppliers as the basis for their creations. Either way, they make some of the best chocolates you’ll ever eat. They also pay producers properly.

Some make batches of simple but delicious chocolate bars, others, like the well-known Paul A Young and William Curley, are fabulously inventive chocolatiers. Because they’re small manufacturers and use premium ingredients, they tend to be more expensive than mass-market brands, but it’s a completely different chocolate experience.

Most use less sugar than large commercial producers, often less than 30%, which is significantly better than the 50% or so that can characterize major brands; the result is that theirs is less sickly and more appetizing. Come to think of it, chocolate is a healthy food. The good stuff, I mean.

Shop the best below.

Paul A Young Selection of fresh artisanal truffles (9 chocolates)

Paul A Young is one of Britain’s finest chocolatiers and the Soho branch of his shop exerts a sort of gravitational pull on me – alas, only the one in Islington is open at the moment. But luckily, its online store is ready for you to browse. He’s friendly and unassuming and author of one of the best chocolate cookbooks (Adventures with Chocolate). He makes a very good 40% chocolate Colombian bar with Cornish sea salt or for full hogs (no judgments here!), a one pound (450g) bar of the same, minus the salt , for £24.50. Or, for the crazy, a Marmite truffle bar. Its line of brownies is dangerously good. I offer you his fresh truffles, which vary according to the seasons, because I find it hard to understand that we don’t like them. His box of salted butter caramel would also make me very happy. You can’t go wrong with anything, really.

Paul A Young

£15.50 | Paul A Young

Pump Street chocolate, 60%, rye crumbs, milk and sea salt

It’s a wonderful chocolate bar, and Pump Street makes two of its kind – the other being a darker 66% cocoa with sourdough and sea salt. The crucial thing about them is that they are crunchy, like my childhood favorite Cadbury Caramel Crunch, but much classier. The crunch comes from the fine toasted breadcrumbs and the flavor comes from the sea salt – that ubiquitous contemporary ingredient (which is fine with me, because I really love it). And the sugar content is low – 24.3% in the case of Rye Crumb and 27.5% in the case of Sourdough. Both are intensely moreish.

Pump Street Chocolate

£7.95 for 70g | Harvey Nichols

William Curley Sea Salt Caramel Bar

William Curley is one of London’s top two chocolatiers (the other being Paul A Young). He is endlessly inventive and playful where many of his designs are a clever twist on popular favorites. So, his chewy and delicious coconut bar is a very elegant version of a Bounty bar; his Peanut Nougat is a sublime take on a Snickers Bar and his Chocolate Jaffa Cake is, well, just that, much better. I’m plump for his sea salt caramel bar just because I’m a sucker for salted caramel and it’s delicious, but you know, I’d be happy with anything he does. He makes a very fancy box of mixed chocolates. If you’re in Soho, her shop at Smith’s Court is heaven.

Guillaume Curly

£5 for 50g | Guillaume Curly

Duffy’s Milk 55% Venezuela Ocumare

Sometimes what you need is a simple bar of milk chocolate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get something quite special. And it is what it is: a higher than normal cocoa content milk chocolate bar that has all the smoothness and flavor you expect from milk chocolate – while also being complex and interesting. . The tasting notes say “A velvety blend of almonds, bananas and raspberry jam”; I say: Very Good Milk Chocolate. If you prefer dark chocolate, his Honduras Indio Rojo is excellent, and the producer of the beans is paid well above the fair trade premium. This small, uncompromising producer roasts, grinds and crafts its chocolate from bean to bar in Lincolnshire.

Duffy

£6.95 | Real Food Center

Chocolates Dormouse Grilled White Chocolate, Madagascar

This comes from a small and interesting chocolatier based in Manchester, and I mention the Toasted White simply because it’s such an intriguing flavor – not white flavor at all, or even color – more of a light caramel, made with roasted milk powder for an almost caramel taste. But he may not find favor with everyone. It was a toss up to choose only one between this or the 51.5% bread and butter milk. This bar, like the Pump Street genre, is deliciously crunchy, where the latter comes from the browned butter and toasted sourdough crumbs and the chocolate really…crisp. The plain milk chocolate, 52%, is very good too.

Dormouse Chocolates

£6 for 70g | Dormouse Chocolates

BareBones, 70 percent single origin Madagascar

This chocolate jumped out at me when I tasted it in a Paxton & Whitfield basket. It’s bright and fruity, without the bitterness you can get with dark chocolate. I don’t normally say that stuff, but I have a hint of raspberry, and the tasting notes tell me there’s also vanilla and maple syrup. It’s a small Glasgow producer with a limited range, but everything is excellent and beautifully and simply presented. Suitable for vegans.

BareBones

£8.50 for 70g | Selfridges

Chococo, Medium Selection Box

Chococo has a very nice selection, with a selection of interesting flavors. The range includes Passionfruit, Rhubarb and Vanilla, Cream Tea and Cherry Bakewell. This is a small business in Dorset, run by a husband and wife team. The box is fun and striking. They also make an elegant version of a Crunchie…a Honeycomb Cluster. *chef’s kiss*

chocolate

£18 for 16 chocolates | chocolate

Chocolate Fleur d’Ajonc Sauvage Chocolarder (50 percent)

It’s the most unusual flavor in the Chocolarder range – subtle, yet chewy and coconut-like. I bet if you serve it after dinner, no one will be able to say “ah, gorse!”. It comes from a single Cornish producer who creates ethical chocolate from bean to bar.

Chocolatier

£5.99 for 70g | Selfridges

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