Not many chocolatiers can count encouragement from a king as their reason for existing, but that is exactly how Charbonnel et Walker was established in 1875.
Edward VII (then the Prince of Wales) coaxed Mrs Walker and Mme Charbonnel – the latter from the esteemed Maison Boissier chocolate house in Paris – to form a partnership, thus setting up Britain’s first luxury chocolatier.
Charbonnel et Walker quickly became innovators in the world of chocolate, renowned for the exquisite packaging in which the chocolates were presented. In the 1890s, a correspondent commented:
Their sweet boxes are real bijoux, and when the bonbonniere is empty of its sweet contents, the box will form either a jewel casket, or a handkerchief box… and is always a little gem of artistic work.
The rich heritage of Charbonnel et Walker weaves together a magnificent patronage of colourful characters, from royalty and the aristocracy to socialites and screen legends. The great actress Ellen Terry was passionate about Charbonnel et Walker chocolates, as were 20th-century luminaries including Virginia Woolf, Noël Coward, Wallis Simpson, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Alec Guinness, Lauren Bacall and Cary Grant.
Journalists too have long been fans of Charbonnel et Walker, one of the earliest being playwright and writer Oscar Wilde, who, in 1890, as the short-lived editor of The Woman’s World, wrote:
The Maison Charbonnel is one of the oldest ministrants to the taste for sweets, and upon their counters will be found the latest dainties from Paris…
Over 140 years later, the company’s reputation as makers of the most exquisite collections of handmade signature chocolate assortments and decadent truffles remains paramount today. It proudly holds the royal warrant as chocolate manufacturer to Her Majesty The Queen, a highly regarded mark of honour bestowed only on companies who have supplied goods or services to the British royal family for at least five years.
Signature collections include the historic Boite Blanche, first introduced in 1909, a beautiful white box with satin ribbon which can be filled with a bespoke choice of chocolates and truffles.
The quintessentially English Rose and Violet Creams are a royal favourite. The unique fondant recipe is infused with attar of roses and violets (the essential oil extracted from the petals), enrobed in the finest dark chocolate and entirely hand-finished with crystallised rose and violet petals.
Charbonnel et Walker’s truffle collections are just as renowned. The iconic pink Marc de Champagne truffle comes in an exquisite keepsake box filled with luxurious milk chocolate truffles with a Marc de Champagne centre, encased in a chocolate and strawberry shell and all rolled in a little powdered sugar for that extra touch of elegance. The sea salt caramel truffles are available in milk or dark chocolate with a decadent salted caramel centre.
Much loved classics include the bittermints, a delicious recipe of peppermint cream coated in the very finest dark chocolate, traditionally served after dinner.
The Thins collection includes wafer-thin discs of rich dark chocolate infused with the delicate taste of English mint, ginger, strawberry or sea salt.
Not one to rest on its laurels, new for Charbonnel et Walker is the gorgeously illustrated carousel and funfair collection. A nod to the brand’s Victorian heritage, the chocolate boxes are decorated with carousel horses, harlequin prints and twinkling helter skelters and are sheer joy to behold.
Charbonnel et Walker chocolates and truffles are still handmade to traditional recipes, using only the finest ingredients. Presentation remains of utmost importance, the luxurious handmade boxes and satin ribbons make the perfect gift, an unrivalled expression of care and respect.
CHARBONNEL ET WALKER ONE THE ROYAL ARCADE, 28 OLD BOND STREET, LONDON W1S 4BT +44 (0)20 7318 2075