Chocolate Temptations in London

It has been two weeks since I was in London for Food Blogger Connect, and it’s been such fun reading the various posts by fellow speakers and participants… and tasting all the goodies I brought back with me, of course.  Off I went with my lists of addresses in the capital, categorized by chocolate, ice cream, cupcakes and artisanal British products. (Yes, literally.)  With only a couple of free days, friends to catch up with, fbc preparations, the Tube to master, and realizing London is, simply put, enormous, I didn’t quite get to check off as many spots as usual.  Nary a fairy cake tasted, nor spoonful of ice cream savored.  Not even a meringue from Ottolenghi. But worry not, there were plenty of chocolate stained fingers, and bars added to my chocolate drawer back home in Zürich.

London chocolateLondon chocolate

Some of you may have recognized the signature blue and white packaging from Rococo when I reported on my foodie weekend in England.  I love their boxes, but have to admit I have never tasted their chocolate.  (Anyone, opinions ?) I also loved the packaging at Artisan du Chocolat. “Out of this world gingers” (below, top right) come in a rocket ship, as a nod to their flight to space in July 2009.  It’s fun to picture astronauts floating about, snacking on candied ginger dipped in dark chocolate.  But back here on Earth, what lifted me off my feet were the liquid salted caramels, originally created for Gordon Ramsay’s Claridges in 2003.  Sweet liquid caramel made with gray salt from Noirmoutier fills small, round chocolate shells, dusted with cocoa powder. You need to pop them in your mouth whole, or get ready to grab a napkin.  They now come in different flavors, like banana, which was delicious. Or forgo the chocolate and just get a bottle of the caramel sauce (below, bottom left).

London chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolate

I resisted the tempation for a box of s’mores. And for the sweet and salty chocolate covered popcorn. But I had no chance leaving without a bag of chocolate dipped honeycomb.  I absolutely love honeycomb – which you may know by the name hokey pokey, sponge toffee or sea foam, depending on where you live.  I first discovered Cadbury’s Crunchie bar when in the UK in 1995.  I have been making my own honeycomb ever since, partly because it’s not as widespread outside of the UK or Australia, but especially because I love to make irregular shapes, dip them in all sorts of different chocolate and then… freeze them !   [Note to self: share recipe on blog one day]  Artisan’s honeycomb is exceptional, irresistibly light and crisp, and made with salt too.  I always prefer it coated in dark chocolate, and again it worked best to contrast with the super sweet sponge toffee.  The milk version was quite good too, even if the hit of the salt comes later and is more subtle.

London chocolateLondon chocolate

I also tried an espresso dark chocolate bar, a classic combination and personal favorite, which turned out to be even too strong for my espresso-drinking husband. I liked the bar as it was very light and thin, and had a good snap. But too strong for me. Quick Kerrin solution: I stuffed Medjool dates with the squares and sprinkled with a few flakes of Maldon salt – divine ! [You like dates ? Get ready for the next post…]

London chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolate

The name that was highlighted, underlined and in bold on my list was William Curley (thanks to the sweet tip from Hilda, talented photographer and fellow chocolate lover).  We walked in to his bright, spacious shop and I went straight for his Snack Bars: sea salt caramel (small squares, liquid caramel), sea salt caramel mou (two larger pieces with a soft, chewy caramel center) and praline feuillantine (crispy praline wafer) in dark chocolate. I was unpleasantly surprised to see bloomed chocolate from such a high quality chocolate maker (as you can see below, top right).  And I was further disappointed when tasting the praline feuillantine bar (unfortunately I bought two); crunchy yes, but it didn’t wow me, and it tasted overall quite heavy, too dense and not as delicate as I had hoped. A few other discerning palates have shared similarly disappointing feedback recently from Curley’s chocolates and ice cream. Nevertheless, I hear his pastries are quite nice and I bet his Dessert Bar is a popular spot in Belgravia. Oh, and if offered a seat in his sea salt caramel course, I wouldn’t turn it down.

London chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolate

To finish off this London chocolate roundup, let’s have another look at salted caramel, a trend still going strong (thank goodness !).  This time by Melt, a high-end chocolate boutique in Notting Hill, with a stand at Selfridge’s too.  I thought their popcorn slab was such a fun idea, but at 15 pounds for just a few pieces, I said no thank you.  I was offered a taste of the milk chocolate bar with popcorn, but unlike the dark, the popcorn was too finely crushed that it lost that attractive textural component.  I tried a small selection of individual fresh chocolates (peanut butter and raspberry jam, tonka feuillantine, raspberry caramel, salty praline…), but they didn’t make it home to be photographed, as they were my consolation for a 2-hour flight delay at Gatwick.  All fun to try, but not worth their hefty price. Melt has lots of original combinations and interesting products that still caught my eye, including one in particular…

London chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolateLondon chocolate

Ignore the price on this one (4 pounds). 45 grams of divine sea salt caramel in thick 66% dark chocolate (they use Maldon salt). Simply look at these images below to understand the temptation. And when you taste it, you’ll also understand why it continues to reap in the awards.  My only complaints: despite misleading appearances here, it’s a very small bar (disappears fast).  And I would have liked there to be more caramel filling.  In fact, I’d like a whole bowl of it.

London chocolateLondon chocolate

Have you ever tried the above brands ? If so, what do you like and/or dislike ?  Here are the chocolate shops on my list whose boxes remain unchecked: Paul A Young, Rabot Estate, Cocomaya, Melange, Montezuma’s and Prestat.  Also, when I mentioned to my friend Chloé Doutre-Roussel, who used to be Fortnum & Mason’s chocolate buyer, that I was heading to London, she let me know about a new chocolate brand by Duffy Sheardown, Red Star Chocolate. All that for next time !  (Cupcakes too !)

So what else should be on my radar for the next trip across the Channel ?  Share your sweet scoop here !

My London Chocolate Roundup:

William Curley
198 Ebury Street, Belgravia

http://williamcurley.co.uk/

Melt
59 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill
Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street
Whole Foods, Kensington High Street

http://www.meltchocolates.com/

Artisan du Chocolat
89 Lower Sloane Street, Chelsea
81 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill
Selfridges, 400 Oxford Street

http://www.artisanduchocolat.com

Rococo
5 Motcomb St, Belgravia
321 Kings Road, Chelsea
45 Marylebone High Street

http://rococochocolates.com

40 Responses to “Chocolate Temptations in London”

  1. Dominique (De vous à moi...) says:

    Merci pour toutes ces bonnes adresses… je programme un petit week-end à Londres avec mon chéri à la rentrée… cela me sera bien utile!

  2. Zita says:

    Yummie summary about the a small piece of the chocolate world!!! :)

  3. Edd says:

    I was really underwhelmed with the caramel bar from William Curley wasn’t a fan of the caramel, I much prefer Paul A Young’s who does my all time favourite salted caramel. I actually really like Melt I love their inventive flavours.

  4. Kerrin says:

    Dominique, avec grand plaisir ! ;) Un petit weekend à Londres, c’est une superbe idée. Il va falloir me dire ce que tu trouves de bon !!

    Zita, indeed a very small piece, but nothing short of delicious !

    Edd, gosh, another person of similar tastes underwhelmed by Curley. That’s too bad. I was really hoping to taste Paul A Young’s stuff too, especially his Maldon Sea Salt Bar and the Sea Salted Caramel Bar. Oh, and his Dark Sea Salted Rocher too. Wait, and his Fruit and Nut Cobbles… :) Melt definitely has inventive flavors, do you know the caramel bar here ? Worth trying for sure. Thanks for sharing Edd.

  5. valentina says:

    Well Kerrin, you are one serious chocolate lover. I am just an occasional taster. ; o ) I am so amused by your post. Taking notes of some of the addresses which are new to me. Have forwarded post link to a good friend of mine who is a chocolate fanatic like you, lives in London. Torturiing her right at lunch time. I have tried roccoco ( wherever the double c goes) . I tasted their quail’s egg which was in my opinion really love, creamy. I think that it was an Easter release. Incidentally it was given to me by the chocolate lover friend I mentioned. Oh please, can i have your honeycomb recipe? I have never seen it in Brazil and the other day – well, last year, someone back home asked me to post about it. I have been postponing it forever. perhaps with your help…Well, I am going to grab a bar of white Green and Blacks with vanilla seeds. I will blame you for my lack of self control.; o )

  6. Jamie says:

    Okay, Noirmoutier sea salt caramel is my territory and who loves it better when it is wrapped in chocolate than I? You? Ha! Fabulous write up, my dear, and now I am tearing into the stack of chocolate I brought back with me from London. Oh, btw, any Debotté left? Hmmm? I think I now need to go and buy myself a box. Craving….

  7. Edd says:

    I havent tried the caramel at melt, the last bar i had was blackerry and cinnamon in milk chocolate, which was really good. I really should try more from Paul A Young but im always drawn in for another caramel. I really want to try his brownie too, ive heard its one of the best around but i wasnt a fan of the marmite truffle, not to my tastes.

  8. Kerrin says:

    valentina, I am so glad you enjoyed this post ! And that G&B bar of yours, mmm. You’ll have to send your chocolate loving friend over this way, there are a few other posts she might enjoy – like all of my chocolate roundups. And I’d love to hear where she goes in London for chocolate too. As for honeycomb, there are actually a few great recipes available online, here are two simple ones – and definitely let me know if you try to make it:

    http://www.nigella.com/recipe/recipe_detail.aspx?rid=107
    http://www.waitrose.com/recipe/Honeycomb_Toffee.aspx

    Jamie, you vs. me in the “who loves it better” category ! What a sweet battle that would be, haha ! As far as any Debotté left … oh gosh, not a chance. That box was gone like 2 days after I opened it. Guilty party: Olivier. ;) So what are you tasting over there ? Let’s hear it…

    Edd, wow you are very adventurous to have tasted the Marmite truffle. I have never even gotten past the smell to taste Marmite itself. Next trip to London, Young’s shop will be my first stop. The best brownie around… ooh, what’s holding you back ?! ;)

  9. DealHunter says:

    Looks so yummy…unfortunately there are no places like these near where I live :(

  10. iain says:

    Oops… just made a huge mistake by looking at your pictures while hungry!

  11. jkiel says:

    Thanks! I’ll have to check these out – salted caramel sounds pretty intriguing!

  12. Uncle Beefy says:

    Holy cow! All this before breakfast is almost too much for m’heart to handle, Kerrin! Frankly, I couldn’t have left without the s’mores because I’d have been suckered by the uber-cute packaging! Now… what were you saying about cupcakes??? :)

  13. Matcha Chocolat says:

    Wow…some really nice choices here. Next time round you should definitely check out Red Star Chocolate- they are amazing.

    Too bad that the William Curely experience did not meet your expectations. He is easily my favourite British Chocolatier, I really think his stuff is a cut above the rest. But that’s just me. The bloom on the chocolate is a bit dissappointing, but they do work with a type of chocolate (Amedei) that is particularly unruly when it comes to tempering (it’s the thickest, gloopiest chocolate I have ever worked with).

    Melt make some good ones too. I really like their Olive Caramel bon bon. And for Artisan du Chocolat- just love, love the single origin Bali Bar.

    Great round up of UK chocolate. Looking forward to hearing what you make of the rest of those on your list you are yet to try :)

  14. Kerrin says:

    DealHunter, I bet you have other sweet treats where you live that I can’t find here… How do you satisfy your sweet tooth ? :)

    iain, oh la la, dangerous idea ! ha ha !

    jkiel, enjoy – and report back, I’d love to hear what you find…

    Uncle Beefy, I don’t believe that… if anyone can handle all this before (or simply, for) breakfast, it’s *you* ! And ok, me too. But oh gosh, don’t make me kick myself for not getting the s’mores. Totally craving one right now. And yes, I do love that box. As for cupcakes, the ones I want to try aren’t in London… they’re in your kitchen ! :)

    Matcha Chocolat, thank you so much for the great feedback. I have read many blogs lately featuring your chocolates and they look and sound fabulous. I knew Red Star would be excellent, coming from Chloé. I just didn’t have time to go to all the places I wanted to. And yes, quite disappointing about William Curley. I do remember Trish Deseine tweeting about a chocolate class she took there, remarking about the difficulties of working with Amedei too. I know Amedei’s bars, but have never worked with the chocolate. Interesting choice of Curley’s then. Moving to Melt… I was at the stand in Selfridge’s, so there wasn’t quite the selection as in their boutique. The olive caramel bonbon sounds fantastic. You have me ready to head back to London to try more ! :)

  15. BoB(alias) says:

    Went to london to get some flavours and ideas from WCurley.. Very un-impressed , way too much butter in the ganache with no real lasting chocolate flavour..real shame

  16. Lani says:

    First off…I must say that your photography of the caramel ozzing out of the chocolate is mouth watering! How quickly did you eat the chocolate after you shot the photograph. It would have been most difficult for me to shoot a piece of all this exquisite chocolate because I would just want to let it melt in my mouth! What a trip to London! I do remember having the most wonderful “high” tea but never even knew about how good their chocolates were! The London roundup is just fabulous!! Thank you for giving me my chocolate fix….the caramel is dripping from my lips…..oh those calories…how wonderful!!!!!

  17. Nomadic Chick says:

    A seriously, comprehensive and delectable list of chocolates. I’m suddenly hungry!

  18. anushruti says:

    Give me any flavour of Sprungli without Eier! The best ever!

  19. Kerrin says:

    BoB, sorry you were disappointed as well. Guess we are not alone in our reactions to Curley’s stuff lately. Seems a few other readers agree.

    Lani, thank you so much ! Let’s just say, after I took those above photos, the chocolates didn’t stick around too much longer ! ;) That caramel, I had to “clean” it all up of course ! So glad you enjoyed your chocolate fix here.

    Nomadic Chick, oooh love making my readers hungry ! So what did you have to satisfy that hunger ?! Something sweet… ?? :)

    anushruti, ok I will keep my word (on twitter) and have a chocolate (or a few) for you at Sprungli. And no Eier ! ;)

  20. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    Have I just had a shot of sugar or what?

    Now, very sorry to hear you didn’t make your entire list, but fortunately you are not far away and can return to complete that another time, I’m sure.

    Those little salted caramel balls are like those once I mentioned were available across the road from my work in Brisbane. But I don’t recognise them as being from artisan du chocolat London. For some reason I thought they were German. I will have to go in today and check and report back. But in the meantime, have you heard of other places making similar ones?

    Still on the subject of salted caramel, I fear that in my journey through Sydney – and in quizzing Y & Lorraine while there – that there is not much salted caramel around here now. Come and gone. Seems we’re now looking for the next big thing to adopt. My friend from Melbourne who was with me has just stumbled across salted caramel in Melbourne and was bitterly disappointed we couldn’t fuel her new found love while trekking around Sydney.

    All very upsetting!

    Yes, please share your honeycomb recipe. Love it. There’s quite a divide between Crunchie and Violet Crumble fans, too. Have you tried the Violet Crumble?

    Speaking of chocolate 1 x sea salt chocolate Lindt bar already devoured. How good is that stuff?

    Kerrin, thank you for this round up. If there’s one thing that can work magic for me, it’s chocolate. If you know what I mean! ;)

  21. Meeta says:

    So I know I will come here again and again – an awesome and very sweet roundup. However my question to you sporty is when the hec did you do this and more importantly where was I? I mean we were together for most of the trip. It seems you were sneaky and gathered your loot without me!! Love you and think of you everyday as I take a bite from the chocs you brought in London!

  22. Kerrin says:

    Julia, lots of delicious stuff in your comment here ! As for the liquid sea salt chocolates, I am so curious to hear what you found at the shop by your office. You must report back soon ! I did see them around town in fact when in London – so I imagine chocolate makers were all giving a go at it. And why not ?! But the trend is over in Sydney ? Gosh, that didn’t last long. I wonder what creations they will come up with next. You’ll have to keep us posted on the sweet scene Down Under ! ;)

    Oh, I had never heard of Violet Crumble until you mentioned it. But of course I am curious now… ! And the Lindt dark fleur de sel bar – YES, it is that good. 1 for 3… I’d hide the other 2 if you want them to last through the weekend !

    Meeta, ha ha ! This was my sweet distraction while waiting for you to arrive in London. I still have lists of places to visit (and many things to taste), so next time we’ll do it together. How’s that ?! :) Love thinking of you in Weimar savoring your Swiss chocolates, miss you !

  23. ZoeH says:

    Kerrin, wow, I swear this post just added a few more unwanted grams to my derriere! That’s some serious chocolate to check out, how about I go to London for you?!
    I missed Ottolenghi too during the weekend… Great to meet you there.

    And the tube in London? Oh how I had forgotton how long it takes to get anywhere. I figured on leaving 1 hour before check-in to get to St Pancras from Gloucester Road and still nearly missed the train! But then thanks to my other half I was dragging (and cursing) a folding bike, in a bag with tiny wheels. “What do you want from London chèri, some more Shredded Wheat…?” No, it was, “Can you bring me back a bike?”. Er, hmm.

    Can’t wait to read the next one, I vote honeycomb recipe…

  24. Sunita says:

    Kerrin, this is so not fair; I am seriously craving some chocolate and your post is definitely not helping ;-)

  25. Jeanne @ CookSister! says:

    You are one baddass chocolate addict, Sporty ;-) What a fab roundup of Chocolate London, even if I am more of a savoury girl! Those liquid salted caramel chocs at Gordon Ramsays were always the best thing about a meal there – I would polish off the entire plate! And William Curley is spectacular – I went to a dessert class there where we made one of his creations from scratch which was faulous. Only me and Johanna in the class, so really hands-on. If you are desperate for a fix of anything, send me a shopping list!

  26. Kerrin says:

    ZoeH, oh too funny, you had me giggling out loud about the shredded wheat — that became a bicycle. Wow you are good, I hope your chéri appreciated all that. Especially, ugh, in the Tube. Yes it seriously does take forever, and at least 2 or 3 changes, to get anywhere. Hold on for the honeycomb, next up are… dates !! :)

    Sunita, the post IS helping – it’s telling you that you are right to be craving chocolate – so go get some !! ha ha !

    Jeanne, LOL ! I’ve never been called “one badass chocolate addict” before ! I love it, coming from you of course. And I’ll disregard your comment about being more savory, I still don’t quite get that. Love that you took a class with William Curley though, sounds fantastic. Meanwhile, I see where your sweariness comes from, hanging out with Gordon Ramsay are you ?! ;) Ok, last but by all means not least, you made a very dangerous move there… suggesting I send you a shopping list ! Now that I think about it…… !!! ha ha ! ;)

  27. bethany says:

    Great round-up Kerrin! I’ll have to follow in your footsteps and check out some of these places. And of course, you know what other stop to add to that list next your across the channel… right?!

  28. jen laceda says:

    I knew you were going to do a chocolate round up!! I need a chocolate bar pick-me-upper right now. We just spent a solid 7 hours (10 pm-5 am) in the hospital ER with our newborn baby :( She has impetigo :( Need. Chocolate. Now.

  29. valentina says:

    Have you heard of Daniel Allsop? http://foodado.com/damianallsop

  30. Kerrin says:

    bethany, thanks ! And yes, you totally have to check out these sweet spots. Meanwhile, I noticed tons of chocolate shops on our stroll around Brighton (Hotel Chocolat, Choccywoccydoodha [what a name], Montezuma’s, Audrey’s) – which might, just might, be that “other stop” !?! :) But of course !!

    jen, I really hope by now you have gotten that much needed chocolate boost – and a good night’s sleep. Sent you an email, and sure hope your daughter is doing better now. Sweet thoughts coming to you all from here.

    valentina, oooh how interesting ! Nope, never heard of him, but I am certainly intrigued now. Thanks so much for sharing. Have you ever tried his chocolates ??

  31. Ken says:

    I read about your love for chocolate via Twitter, but this proves that you are a pro at searching out the most delicious chocolates wherever you go. The photos are fantastic and oh so seductive (to me anyway). It’s a bad idea to look at this first thing in the morning. Now I want to skip breakfast. Great post.

  32. World Travel Tours » Chocolate maker now goes from beans to truffles says:

    […] Chocolate Temptations in London | MyKugelhopf […]

  33. valentina says:

    Kerrin, not yet but a friend of mine has been telling me about him for a while. Apparently he does not yet have a shop and still works as a patisserie chef I believe. I am looking forward to trying it.There is a lot of controversy around his technique an finished product.

  34. @Duncalator says:

    Ken (june 19) is right: you are a pro at searching out the goods, at the the lay out and photography; seductive indeed. When I am next in London I will certainly visit every chocolate shop on your list.

  35. Ksenia says:

    I have visited London only once, many years ago in a student’s exchange, but I’d like to visit it again someday, so I wrote down all the great adresses for the future ;)

    I’ve already had breakfast, but after reading about and seeing all this chocolate I’m hungry again :P I’d like to try the espresso chocolate bar: chocolate and coffee, my two addictions, together :D

  36. Emma says:

    Wooohoo! Coming off a week of vacation, this is the perfect pick-me-up needed to get myself together and go do some field work today! I knew I’d have a sweet post to look forward to. Like the rocket ship and especially all the oozing caramel. Great photos.

    My vacation was mostly chocolate-free (sad), but I do get to look forward to the chocogoodies I’ll receive in a few weeks after some friends make a trip to Montréal (glad). I have a route all planned out for them…. yum!

    Looking forward to a date with dates.

  37. Kerrin says:

    Ken, it’s fun going back and forth with you on Twitter – and I guess my tweets do tend towards a certain theme ! Glad you stopped by here too, thanks. And yes, I can’t seem to go anywhere without that sweet radar on ;) But oops, I didn’t mean to ruin your breakfast, ha ha !

    valentina, hmmm, I am even more intrigued now ! Controversial techniques… will have to read up more. Let me know if you get the chance to try his stuff for sure. And again, thanks for sharing.

    Duncalator, so when is the next trip to London ? I would say these places here are worth the trip themselves !

    Ksenia, ooh another breakfast reader ! Chocolate and coffee together sounds like the perfect breakfast to me ! Actually it’s quite common in France – they dip their pain au chocolat into bowls of café au lait ! Try it… or just try that bar above. You’ll be buzzzzing all day long ;)

    Emma, thanks and welcome back. But there is a definite contradiction above: “chocolate-free vacation.” What kind of a vacation is that ?! :( Sad indeed. But ooh, I wonder what kinds of goodies you requested from Montréal… aside from maple syrup (yum) and poutine (yuck)… there’s bagels and guess what – tons of excellent chocolate shops. I remember years ago (when we lived in Boston) bringing back dark chocolate made with maple syrup and local ingredients like that. Oooooh, wish I had some friends heading that way too !

    Oh, Emma, glad to hear you’re looking forward to the dates. Lately I’ve had a date with deadlines, but coming up soon…. dates ! :)

  38. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella says:

    What a fabulous post Kerrin! What a smorgasbord of the delicious dark stuff. Yes we seem to have moved on from salted caramel here. I don’t know what it has been replaced with here. If anything perhaps savoury items with sweets (which is kind of similar to salted).

  39. Mowie @ Mowielicious says:

    I knew you were crazy about chocolate honey, but this is insane! It all looks so good, and I was smiling going through each one, ticking off in my mind whether I’d been there or not =) Hope you have a great time in NY – so jealous xxx

  40. johanna says:

    william curley’s base in richmond was around the corner from me ever since it opened – i absolutely adore his creations and made use i pack no less than 10 sea salt caramel (mou) bars when i left for singapore… will have to rely on friends to fill up my stock as I have but one left, am handcuffed and away from the suitcase as I type this ;-)

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