Looking for a chocolate tasting experience in London? Want to know where to make your own chocolate? Read our round-up for some of the best chocolate experiences across the UK, then check out our best chocolate recipes here…
Pump Street Chocolate, Suffolk
At last, you can tour the very place where one of our favourite chocolate bar flavours (sourdough crumbs and sea salt, blended with Ecuadorian dark chocolate) is made. Orford’s Pump Street Bakery, which also specialises in naturally-leavened bread, donuts and croissants, makes its chocolate bars in a nearby Woodbridge factory, now open to visitors once a month. Watch the bars being made from beginning to end, take part in an in-depth chocolate tasting, then head back to the Orford bakery for coffee and a chocolate bar of your choice – look out for the limited edition Eccles cake flavour, made with Vostizza currants, puff pastry and Armagnac.
Image by Angus D Birditt
Land Chocolate, London
In the backstreets of East London sits Land Chocolate, a small chocolate workshop run by Paul A Young protégée, Phil Landers. Every chocolate-making process – from roasting to winnowing, conching and wrapping – takes place in Phil’s old furniture maker’s workshop, and guests can witness it all as part of Land’s bean-to-bar experience. As well as tasting plenty of single-origin, single-bean chocolate (there are six bars to try, including a Honduran 65% Malt Dark made with malt barley grain and organic cane sugar), you’ll be let loose on the tempering machine to create your own slab of chocolate. Finish the day with a glass of fine wine, chosen to match the chocolate you’ve made, and a goody bag heavy with Land chocolate.
Charlotte Flower Chocolates, Perthshire
Fancy foraging for your own chocolate ingredients? Charlotte Flower, a trained forester and chocolatier, combines her two loves by flavouring single-origin chocolate with wild ingredients foraged from the land that surrounds her Loch Tay workshop. You can buy Charlotte’s chocolates online (don’t miss the elderflower white chocolate thins), or join her on a full-day course to make your own flavoured ganache. Weather dependent, you’ll head out into the fresh Perthshire air to gather the likes of springtime sloe blossom, Scots pine and wild mint, before putting it to good use at Charlotte’s workshop. The art of truffle-making, tempering and decorating are all covered, and you’ll take everything you make home. Plus there’s a beautiful walk around the Falls of Acharn nearby, if you want to make a weekend trip of it.
Rococo has been creating quality chocolates, wrapped in its distinctive blue and white packaging, for more than 30 years now. If you want to get a deeper insight into the brand’s high-end chocolate production, sign up to invent your own chocolate bar at one of its workshops (all held in the chocolate kitchen at Rococo’s Belgravia shop). These one- or two-hour experiences include everything from how to make your own salted caramel truffles to a chocolate bar-making course and parties for children. You’ll also cover the history of chocolate – and its provenance – before looking at different flavour combinations. Once you’ve piped your bar to perfection, you’ll probably get the chance to sample Rococo’s imaginative collection (which ranges from lemon and poppy seed white chocolate to violet dark chocolate).
Chocolate Ecstasy Tours, London
Back in 2005, Jennifer Earle combined her passion for chocolate, London, walking and talking into a savvy business idea: Chocolate Ecstasy Tours. Today, she and the other chocoholic guides run walking tours around the capital as well as chocolate workshops. Book the Chelsea Sweet Treats adventure for a three-hour tour of Chelsea and Belgravia’s most delicious offerings, including donuts, macarons, biscuits, gelato and, of course, plenty of chocolate.
The Highland Chocolatier, Perthshire
Iain Burnett (aka the Highland Chocolatier) sources his chocolate from São Tomé and Príncipe, in Africa, combining them with local Scottish ingredients, including cream from a single herd of Perthshire cattle and heather honey. You can buy the truffles online, but it’s much more fun to visit his store in Grandtully, Perthshire. It’s on the same site as the Scottish Chocolate Centre where there’s also a small museum and a café serving moreish mugs of Truffle Hot Chocolate Ganache. An audio-guided chocolate tasting tour is also available, as is the opportunity to watch the chocolatiers in action as they produce Iain’s creations.
Chocolate Utopia, Nottingham
Since 2004, Helen and Chris Forster have been hand-making chocolates to sell in their cosy Nottingham shop. Pop in for a box of amaretto truffles and you won’t be disappointed. For a more leisurely approach, take a seat in the shop’s chocolate lounge and relax over one of their three hot chocolates. The house hot chocolate is a must, made with 60% dark melted chocolate and blended with steamed milk before being topped with cream, but the white version is popular among those with a sweeter tooth. What’s more, each drink order comes with a chocolate on the side, so browse the impressive selection at the counter before you sit down.
Craft House Chocolate, Somerton
Few towns are as deserving of the description ‘chocolate box’ than Somerton, in the southwest of Somerset. The picturesque market town features such a dizzying selection of architectural jewels (from its octagonal market cross to grand Georgian townhouses, pretty Victorian shop-fronts and immaculate period terraces) that it’s a wonder it’s been so overlooked as a period drama filming location. One area it hasn’t remained under the radar in, however, is food. As well as a well-loved pub and a hip restaurant, bakery and wine shop, 28 Market Place, it is also home to the aptly situated Craft House Chocolate company.
Somerset’s answer to Chocolat, this tiny bean-to-bar shop opens out at the back into a workshop. Here, as well as watching owner (and ex-pastry chef) Nettie making a range of chocolates, you can sign up to join a series of classes, from truffle-making to tempering masterclasses to more specialist skills such as chocolate flower-making. There are also classes for children.
If you just want to buy, we recommend the single origin bars, which are made to allow the intrinsic, raisiny flavours of each type of bean shine, rather than overwhelming them with sugar and flavourings. Having said that, we were also impressed by the Flavours of Christmas bar, gently spiced with cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves and caraway. And by the passionfruit caramel truffles (the company’s top seller). Nettie’s silky hot chocolate, made to order with real chocolate, either to sit in or take-away, is another must-try.
Artisan chocolatier Nigel Rumsey’s inspiration was the film Chocolat. Two cafés later, Nigel’s shop is on the itinerary of The Carter Company’s cycling and chocolate-making weekend break in Oxfordshire. The first day and a half are spent peddling through the softly rolling Chilterns, along disused railway tracks and around the historic town of Thame (guests stay overnight here in the Spread Eagle, a Grade I-listed hotel). On the final afternoon you don a pinny, watch the master chocolatier at work, and then have a go at making your own chocolate figurines. Sip a Rumsey’s hot chocolate while you wait for them to set.
Copperhouse Chocolate, London
If you’re looking for vegan chocolate, head to Copperhouse Chocolate near Angel, London. It’s London’s first fully-vegan chocolate shop, having made the change back in April 2019 (it was formerly known as Jaz & Jul’s Chocolate House). Try the vegan chocolate brunch for a plate piled high with Jaffa pancakes, drizzled with marmalade-maple syrup and chocolate sauce. Or warm-up with one of many vegan hot chocolates, including chilli con choccy, mintchievous, and cinnamon rose. All the drinks are made with single-origin chocolates from Colombia, Madagascar, and Ecuador.
Co Couture, Belfast
Since it was opened in 2008, this stylish basement shop has become famous for its handmade truffles and luxurious hot chocolates, making it a popular spot for cocoa lovers. Its award-winning creations include an Irish Whisky truffle, which received the coveted 3 Gold stars in the Great Taste Awards. Co Couture also run chocolate-making masterclasses, where you can learn the secrets of fine chocolate making and make your very own truffles to package up and take home. Classes take place in their Belfast shop.
Words by Charlotte Morgan, Rhiannon Batten, Eileen Malone, Lucy Gillmore and Ellie Edwards. Updated January 2020
Image credits: Angus D Birditt, Rococo chocolates