These days London
is spoiled with the range of great chocolate available. Specialist chocolate shops have popped up around the city and there’s an extensive ‘chocolate library’ in Selfridges. It’s not just about rich chocolate truffles or sea salt caramels, as some chocolatiers push the boundaries of chocolate flavour combinations. There are now flavours available that will tantalise your taste buds in a whole new way.
Paul A Young
Paul A Young is a flavour alchemist who has been experimenting with outrageous and interesting combinations ever since opening his first store. This is one of the places in London to go if you’re looking for something a little unusual. The marmite truffle is one for the adventurous; it definitely gets a love or hate reaction. There is an ever-changing selection of truffles, including a decadent scone, clotted cream and jam truffle coated in crunchy scone crumbs created for Afternoon Tea Week, potent bison grass vodka truffles and an intriguing goat’s cheese, lemon and thyme chocolate.
Various locations around London
Artisan du Chocolat
Artisan du Chocolat make some of the best chocolates incorporating the exotic tonka bean. Tonka bean has overtones of vanilla, with a hint of cinnamon and cloves. It works beautifully in Artisan du Chocolat’s white chocolate O disk, with its apricot and tonka bean liquid filling. The unusual flavours don’t stop there; Artisan du Chocolat has created a tobacco chocolate with a ganache based on an infusion of Black Cavendish tobacco, as well as an unusual pinenuts and black truffle praline. There’s also a liberal use of herbs and spices, from black cardamom to basil and thyme chocolates.
Various locations around London
Cafe, British, $$$
Though you wouldn’t know it from the Willy Wonka pink and gold colouring of the store, Prestat is one of London’s oldest chocolate shops. This doesn’t stop Prestat from producing some cutting edge chocolates alongside more traditional violet crèmes and rich Napoleon truffles. The fudgy saffron and ginger chocolate is a soothing combination. Prestat also makes a tonka bean chocolate. However, the flavour highlight is one of Prestat’s best sellers, the yuzu sake truffle. Its ganache filling has a finely balanced hit of yuzu backed up with a gentle kick of sake, all contained in a dark chocolate shell.
Prestat, 14 Princes Arcade, Piccadilly, London, UK/ Prestat, 186 Pavilion Road, London, UK
Bar, Patisserie, Dessert
William Curley has an incredible patisserie, but it’s the single chocolates that best reveal the combined flavour expertise of husband and wife team, William and Suzue. The rosemary and olive oil chocolate is rich and warming, while other chocolates incorporate unusual ingredients such as Japanese black vinegar and toasted sesame. There’s also a fantastic nostalgia range, which recreates some English chocolate favourites with higher quality ingredients. The Nostalgia Coconut Bar is William Curley’s version of a Bounty. There’s even a ‘jaffa cake’, which is a genoise sponge topped with homemade Seville orange marmalade and chocolate ganache, all coated in dark chocolate.
William Curley, 10 Paved Court, Richmond, Surrey, UK/ 198 Ebury Street, London, UK
Caitlin Paxton set up Paxton Chocolate after graduating as a pastry chef from Le Cordon Bleu. Her chocolates show the influence of a background in fashion design and architecture. Not only are Paxton Chocolate thins incredibly pretty, they blend an amazing array of flavours. There’s a refreshing clementine, lemongrass and lime in white chocolate, while on the darker side you’ll find dark chocolate combined with strawberry and black pepper. Look out for the upcoming Christmas thins, with suitably seasonal spice flavourings, such as white chocolate with apple, fig, nutmeg and clove.
Paxton Chocolate, 38 Cheshire Street, Shoreditch, London, UK