Valentine’s Day: The Best Chocolate Shops in London
Looking for the best chocolate shops in London for Valentine’s Day? Here’s our pick of the capital’s finest, from the eccentric to the traditional, offering melt-in-the-mouth treats to satisfy sweet-toothed city dwellers.
Michelin-starred quality chocolate with a conscience? We’re in. Cartografie is a brand-new chocolate company created by ex-pastry chef at The Ritz Kae Shibata alongside Sven-Hanson Britt, winner of Masterchef The Professionals – The Rematch 2019, who joined forces after both finding themselves without jobs during lockdown. Aware of the potentially disastrous effects the chocolate industry can have on both the environment and the people of the cocoa origin countries, the pair made it their mission to only source from ethically-minded suppliers. Cocoa beans are sourced from the 2020 degrees either side of the equator where they ripen, before being turned into products by Kae and her team at their chocolate studio in London’s City Island. Their portfolio includes the Purity range: a selection of wafer-thin discs with a touch of sea salt, as well as the Cartografie range, which includes filled handmade chocolates flavoured with unique water-based ganaches and caramels. London City Island, 39 Lyell Street, London, E14 0SZ. cartografiechocolate.com
Back in 1983, Chantal Coady OBE launched Rococo on the Kings Road, with the aim of changing the way fine chocolate was perceived. And we’re very glad she did, because the chocolate is to die for. Truffles, nougat, pralines, bars, you name it – Rococo has it all. While the shop’s brand ethos is classic and traditional, its creations come in all sorts of unusual flavours, from Persian lime to orange and geranium. Locations in Covent Garden, Chelsea, Notting Hill, Marylebone and Belgravia. rococochocolates.com
Take a trip down Brick Lane and you’ll struggle to walk past Dark Sugars without popping inside. The luscious cocoa scent lures you in, as do the tantalising rows of pearl chocolates and truffles which line the shelves. Rest assured they taste as good as they look, thanks to founder and chocolate genius Fatou Mendy, who spent three years researching cocoa on her family’s farm in Ghana before launching her Shoreditch shop. Dark Sugars’ signature chocolate pearls come in a wide range of flavours, from sea salt caramel to passion fruit, while truffles range from stem & ginger honey to chilli to vodka & orange. 141 Brick Lane, London, E1 6SB. darksugars.co.uk
A casual visitor to Marylebone chocolatier Pierre Marcolini will most likely have been drawn in by the enticing rows of pastel-topped eclairs and picture-perfect macarons in the window. But the real treasures here are the chocolates: delightfully creamy, melt-in-the-mouth Belgian beauties, packaged in stylish boxes and ready to be devoured. After opening his first London shop back in 2015, self-proclaimed ‘haute chocolatier’ Pierre Marcolini has established his brand as the fashion set’s go-to chocolatier, attracting collaborations from the likes of Victoria Beckham – partly due to its low sugar rate, which, magically, doesn’t compromise the taste. Their twist on the classic chocolate bar (the Barre² range) is inspired, with flavours such as pistachio and caramelised hazelnut. 37 Marylebone High St, Marylebone, London W1U 4QE. eu.marcolini.com
Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse
These days you don’t have to go all the way to Paris to sample Alain Ducasse’s chocolat, thanks to the opening of a boutique store in Coal Drops Yard, King’s Cross. The chocolate here is seriously upmarket, crafted in Paris with the finest ingredients and available in three ‘families’: single-origin ganaches, truffles and pralines – all of which come in a whole host of different flavours and variations. Unit 15 Bagley Walk, Kings Cross, London N1C 4DH. coaldropsyard.com
You might know Choccywoccydoodah for their eccentric and whimsical cakes – but their chocolate is equally impressive. Tongue-in-cheek, fun and playful, their creations range from delicious rocky road slabs to chunky bars to chocolate popcorn lollies. 27 Short’s Gardens, London WC2H 9AP. choccywoccydoodah.com
Watching chocolate being created is pretty mesmerising, as demonstrated by boutique chocolate shop Melt, where friendly chocolatiers roll truffles in front of your eyes. Founded by Londoner Louise Nason in 2006, the shop is named after the experience of eating chocolate, the only food that melts at body temperature. There’s everything from bonbons to chunky slabs to caramels, with flavours like pistachio marzipan milk, salted praline, and ruby & rose, all as fresh as can be. If you fancy getting in the kitchen yourself, Melt also offers chocolate making courses and truffle workshops. 59 Ledbury Road W11 2AA and 6 Clarendon Road W11 3AA. meltchocolates.com
Paul A Young
Named as Britain’s best chocolatier, Paul A Young is best known for his innovative and powerful flavour combinations, from dark chocolate with Marmite to white chocolate and masala spices. But his more traditional creations shouldn’t be missed, particularly the award-winning sea salted caramel. Unusually for London, Paul and his team make their chocolate daily by hand in the shop’s kitchen, with fresh ingredients and no preservatives, so you can be sure you’re getting the real deal. Locations in Soho, Islington and Bank. paulayoung.co.uk
If wacky flavours are your thing, head to South London’s Melange, a friendly, rustic spot with more of a down-to-earth vibe than some of its posher counterparts. From coriander and grapefruit to cumin and mint, flavour combinations are unusual and innovative…and, crucially, very tasty. Feeling inspired? They also run chocolate making classes from The Chocolate Museum in Brixton. 2 Maxted Road, SE15 4LL. themelange.com
As a young man, Silviano Venchi would wander through the streets of his Italian hometown Turin, stopping to breathe in the chocolate aromas as he drifted in and out of pastry-makers’ workshops. Whenever he could, he would sneak into the kitchens of local chocolate-makers and watch them work, which eventually landed him a job as a confectioner’s assistant – and in 1878, he went on to open his own chocolate shop. Over a hundred years later, us Londoners can reap the benefits of his labour by making a trip to one of the Venchi shops, which are dotted around the city, showcasing artisan Italian chocolate at its very best. Locations in Covent Garden, Hampstead, Kensington and Covent Garden. venchi.com
A trip to the London branch of long-established Rome chocolate shop Said is an experience itself. Vintage chocolate moulds line the walls, while hot chocolate bubbles from little cauldrons behind the glass counter – and not just any hot chocolate: thick, molten, nutty hot chocolate, made with melted chocolate bars rather than cocoa powder. Although this takes centre stage, the other goods on offer should by no means be ignored. Said sell everything from heaped mounds of chocolate slabs to their own version of Nutella to chocolate pizza (yes, it’s a thing). Buy a selection, just don’t eat it all at once… 29 Rathbone Place, W1T, 1JG. said.it
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