Salted honey caramels, rye crumb bars and giant buttons - we try the best chocolate made in East Anglia
- Credit: Archant
The best East Anglian chocolate to try on World Chocolate Day 2017.
Do we really need an excuse to eat chocolate? If reports from the last four years are to be believed then yes – we should be stashing it away with the frantic urgency of 'that' Ice Age squirrel. According to experts, the world could face a cocoa shortage as soon as 2020 which, let's face it, isn't that far away.
It's fair to say chocolate has never been more precious, and we need to savour and appreciate every single wonderful bite of it.
But don't waste your choccie rations on bars of rubbish. Not when there are such incredible producers right here in East Anglia who can indulge all of your cocoa fantasies. Order your favourite today and treat yourself on Friday - it's the weekend after all!
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Honey and Sea Salt Caramels, B Chocolates
These are a little bit special. From the simple parcel paper box adorned with a single bee print, to the glistening appeal of the shiny tempered chocolate coating of the caramels with their crystalline topping of salt inside. The caramels are made in small batches by chocolatier Anna, using local honey, Marybelle cream and Suffolk sea salt. Once set to chewy perfection they're coated in dark chocolate and finished with a flourish of salt.
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On taste: Smooth caramel (that perhaps just needed a touch more honey for this taster) was so well balanced with the perfect amount of salt, mellowed by the chocolate enrobing. Very rounded in flavour and they'd make a sophisticated ending to any dinner party.
Artisan made in Norfolk by Angela and son Gary (in fact three generations of the family are involved). As well as making bespoke chocolates including personalised wedding favours and detailed novelties, they make luxurious hand-filled chocolates using Belgian chocolate and all-natural ingredients.
On taste: Flavours are unique, ranging from rum and banana to afternoon tea, and the confections had a great shine and finish, with thinly moulded shells.
A salted caramel chocolate was oozing and buttery with a puckeringly salty hit and lovely rich finish. And we enjoyed the lemon meringue flavour too – a whack of lemon, with a crunch of meringue and smooth end from the creamy white chocolate.
These guys don't do anything by halves. Having conquered the world of sourdough bread, they turned their hands to bean to bar chocolate, and remain one of the only chocolatiers in the UK to produce chocolate in this way, sourcing the very best single origin beans from reputable estates around the world.
On taste: The 60% Ecuador, Hacienda Limon, 2015 Crop with rye crumb, milk and sea salt, was a runaway hit, revealing malty biscuit notes and a pleasant savouriness with a clean finish of cocoa. It was almost like a grown-up Malteser.
Even better was the bar of 75% Bachelor's Hall Estate, Saint Thomas, 2015 Crop, Jamaica. This smacks of raisin on the nose, and has a complexity that belies its simple three ingredients suggest. We could taste malt, caramel and even Guinness in this bar, which was drenched in cocoa flavour without ever being bitter.
Chappel Chocolate House
Made by Chocolatier Sarah Knights who offers workshops and bespoke chocolate making from her base in Chappel. Sarah makes some of the most beautiful-looking treats around, using fine Belgian chocolate.
On taste: These looked absolutely stunning with their galaxy/constellation effect coloured cocoa butter sprays. In fact, they looked too good to eat!
We didn't have a tasting sheet with them, but they had super thin shells and creamy, melting fillings and we were able to discern tastes such as lime and ginger. These would make a gorgeous gift.
Made in small batches at The Pod in Harleston all chocolates are made to Just Truffles' own recipes with natural ingredients, and fresh cream in the truffle centres.
On taste: Fillings had a fabulous mouth-feel, gliding like silk over the tongue. Norfolk lavender was judged just-right and subtle enough to be perfumed without overpowering. We adored the peanut butter truffle, which was sweet, salty, nutty, savoury and comforting.
Hilary Delamare combined her passion for cocktails and chocolate, making a successful business. Each chocolate is based on a popular cocktail, and crafted with the best chocolate and all-natural ingredients.
On taste: Wow, these were almost too good-looking to eat. The palette of chocolates is like edible art – each one with an interesting shape and slick finish.
Our favourites were the Irish cream (which totally tasted of Baileys), the zesty mojito truffle, which burst with lime and finish with a mild touch of mint. Hurricane, with passion fruit syrup and rum was lovely as well!
Petite and Sweet
Colourful adorned bars and novelties, as well as workshops and parties are at the heart of this mother and daughter run chocolate business.
On taste: The 53.8% dark chocolate bar with orange was very attractive and, again, would make a fantastic gift. It was neither too dark nor too sweet, so a good option for those who want to eat dark chocolate but usually steer towards milk. There was a pleasant hum of orange, but the orange pieces could have had more welly.
Fun packaging and funky flavours are the signature of this Norfolk brand, which sources the chocolate for its buttons and bars from West Africa and Brazil.
On taste: The Caramel Chocolate Buttons were a big hit all round with both adults and kids. Really creamy and milky with a cocoa bite, they weren't cloying or oily as some milk chocolate can be, and didn't leave an unpleasant film in the mouth. I found them a touch too sweet but I was alone in this and the whole bag was gone in a flash!