For National Chocolate Week (12-18 October) there's a whole host of independent chocolatiers you should be giving a go
If ever we needed an excuse to eat chocolate, National Chocolate Week (12-18 October) has to be it. And yes, we all love a bar of Dairy Milk, but if these artisan chocolatiers are anything to go by, it's time you tried something new …
Specialist in 'water ganache' (that's a ganache made with water instead of cream), Popat makes chocolates with 40-50% less calories than your standard truffle. That's not the reason to get excited about his stash, though. British-born with Indian roots, Popat uses plenty of spices, fruit purées and nuts in combinations you'll never have tried before.
Dive into the online shop and look out for the popping pretzelnut shards, Earl Grey orange and almond rocher, and dark chocolate with salted caramel water ganache spread. Yes please.
The master of seasonal chocolates, Paul A Young is the most fun and irreverent chocolatier out there; think of him as the Willy Wonka of the chocolate scene. Young and his team make all of their creations completely by hand in the kitchens at each shop and use fresh, natural ingredients at every stage.
As National Chocolate Week falls in October, expect themed offerings along the lines of toffee apple, Yorkshire parkin and perhaps even pumpkin … though no doubt Mr Young will think of something even more bizarre.
After reading The Chocolate Connoisseur: For Everyone With A Passion For Chocolate by Chloé Doutre-Roussel (Hardcover, RRP £9.99, Piatkus Books), Russell Pullan took to making premium chocolates as a hobby. Eventually, he gave up his 20-year career in the media industry to start Fifth Dimension Chocolates. Judging by the amount of awards he's received, this was not a bad idea.
Pullan uses premium fine-flavour, single-origin cocoa to create his luxury products and combines classic and unusual flavours inspired by his love of travel. Look out for the mini tablettes – those are flat rectangles of chocolate that come in their own oyster card-shaped holder – as well as chocwiches, which are discs of chocolate sandwiched around marshmallow or fruit pâté.
Based in Leeds, Sun and Stephen decided to set up Lauden chocolate out of pure frustration: they just couldn't find any decent chocolate where they lived. They make chocolates with character, depth and a lasting taste (a bit like a decent bottle of wine), which are also inspired by Sun's Singaporean roots.
The designs make them look absolutely gorge while the flavours speak for themselves; we're hankering for the lychee and rose truffles as well as the British Airways first class collection (available online if, like us, you're stuck in standard when you take to the sky).
Founders of Choctails, Simon's idea of creating luxury handmade truffles based on cocktail recipes took Hilary's chocolate making hobby to new heights. We're positively swooning over peach bellini and bandy Alexander truffles while their dark chocolate bar filled with dark chocolate, gin and lime cream is just the thing for when gin o'clock strikes.
AKA The Highland Chocolatier, Burnett is famous for his velvet truffle previously only available to Michelin-starred chefs. Trust us, if you give a box of these to someone, they'll love you forever.
Everything is made from single-origin cocoa from the volcanic island of São Tomé in the South Atlantic and cream from a specially selected herd of highland cows. You can even buy pure ganache chocolates without a shell at all. Ooh.
Motorsports-engineer-turned-chocolate-maker, Duffy is one of just a few 'bean to bar' chocolate-makers in the UK. He and his team buy unroasted beans and do the rest themselves: roasting, separating the nibs from the husks, stone grinding, tempering and moulding. They're a hard-working lot.
Each bar is then hand-wrapped in foil and a paper sleeve which takes ages. And if you want to see how long the whole thing takes from start to finish, just watch this video ... we'll stick to the eating, thanks.
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