So the big question is: is Gourmet Chocolate really worth the money? Well that depends on the type of chocolate you’re buying. On the highstreet you’ll find many shops and supermarkets touting “gourmet”, “luxury” or “fine” chocolate, but more often than not it’s not. The best dark chocolate often can’t be found on the highstreet – unless you live in London or are able to find a boutique chocolate shop.
If you’re looking to buy gourmet chocolate online or instore, here’s a few brands to look out for:
- Michel Cluizel – This is a French Chocolatier that make some fantastic dark chocolate as well as milk chocolate and a range of ganaches and single estate chocolate bars – well worth looking out for.
- Valrhona – is another fantstic French chocolate maker that make a wide range of chocolate bars. Interestingly, many of the small, boutique chocolatiers in this country actually use Valrhona Couverture to make their chocolates – its that good.
- Amedei – have a huge selection of chocolates and are often very smooth, delicate affairs and should be tried at least once.
- Domori – are an Italian chocolatier who extend their range into roasted cocoa beans as wsell as boxes of Napolitiains, and of course chocolate bars.
- Beschle – so far I’ve only tried the one bar from Beschle and thought it was absolutely fantastic. I really advice people to try this if they like gourmet chocolate.
- Pralus – you’ll find some more acidic and strange edges to the Pralus chocolate bars. They certainly are different from the other luxury chocolate makers.
- Rococo Chocolates – even though Chantal Coady was the leading light of what I call the British chocolate renaissance, it seems that the company has made great strides forward recently. Not in terms of quality, as they’ve always been outstanding, but in terms of really nailing what customers want. If anyone ever asked for a beautiful chocolate gift, Rococo would be the first chocolatier to fall of my tongue.
- Demarquette – most people will be put off by the price and delivery charges. But if you live in Chelsea, they could be well worth visiting. Most of the chocolate seems to be around the low-dark chocolate cocoa levels. I’d like a lot more up at the 80% level.
- Paul A. Young – wondefully amazing chocolates which you can buy from his Islington shop and one just up from St. Pauls.
Is It Gourmet Chocolate?
Hotel Chocolat do a range of “Purist” chocolate bars and the perception of Hotel Chocolat for many be that they’re more of a chocolate gift seller than a serious choolatier and purveyor of fine or gourmet chocolate. In the main that might be fair. But unfair in the sense that they do actually make some very nice bars in this Purist range. I’ve tried their Chilli and Cocoa Nibs bar from this range and it was very good. They do offer some other versions of the Pursit bars with a 100% organic dark chocolate bar, one with milk and Himalayant salt with caramel, one with pink peppercorns, a dark wild cocoa bar and a couple of others. Hotel Chocolat are well worth checking out.
Thorntons sell a range of ‘blocks’ which are a welcomed depature from the usual selection boxes. They may not quite reach the gourmet level, but they do offer something different.