It’s a tough life trawling the streets of Edinburgh for some of its most exciting chocolate connoisseurs, but someone had to do it. Anna Hamilton, food writer and operator of local supper club Alright Treacle, offers her selection box of the city’s best confectionery makers, just in time for Christmas.
19 London Road, Edinburgh EH7 5AT, thinkingchocolate.com, 07795 420 001. Open Weds-Sat 11am-5pm
For those of you with any preconceived ideas of chocolatiers being stuffy, hands-off establishments, then Thinking Chocolate will blow those out of the water. Founder Nadia Ellingham produces her chocolates in small batches (literally in front of you), from her snug shop-come-kitchen. If you fancy cosying up with pals over a batch of decadent truffles, or aim to demystify the art of chocolate making, then classes for small groups are also available.
71 Broughton Street, Edinburgh EH1 3RJ/174 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh EH10 4ER, cocochocolate.co.uk, 0131 558 2777. Open Mon-Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 12pm-5pm
If you’re a chocolate fan in the know, then it’s likely you would have frequented at least one of the two branches of Coco in Edinburgh (my favourite being their magical little shop on Broughton Street). If you’re really in the know then you’ll be aware that change is in the air, having been taken over last year by Calum Haggarty, who has his sights set on rejuvenating the brand, and giving the slightly austere Bruntsfield branch a much needed makeover. Having recently taken on two chocolatiers, and producing from new kitchens in Summerhall, I’m excited to see what this could mean for Coco, as they reach their tenth year anniversary.
The Chocolate Tree
123 Bruntsfield Place, EH10 4EQ, choctree.co.uk, 0131 228 3144. Open Mon-Sun 10am-7.30pm
Not often do you find reserved signs on the tables of chocolate shops, that is unless you want the window seat at The Chocolate Tree – somewhere that has successfully turned chocolate buying into a very leisurely affair. Founded by Alastair Gower and Friederike Matthis five years ago, the company in now focusing primarily on producing everything in the shop from bean to bar (in an ethical and environmentally friendly way), whilst actively trying to improve the cacao growing industry. Admittedly, walking away from The Chocolate Tree I felt virtually guilt free, having consumed a few pesky calories, but at no great cost to the environment.
Edward & Irwyn
21 Morningside Drive, EH10 5LZ, edwardandirwyn.co.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org. Open Sat 12pm-3pm
Small-scale suppliers Edward & Irwyn have been trading beautiful artisan chocolates from their wee kitchen in Morningside for over two years. Headed by Edda Holt and apprentice Kirsty Irvine, they work all their magic by hand, using a marble slab and one gas burner, mind-bogglingly managing to supply to 15 different cafes and shops across the city. Their delicious honeycomb is made using local honey from Scottish beekeepers, and they’re currently in the process of launching lots of experimental new infusions next year. For a behind the scenes look, their kitchen opens as a pop-up shop every Saturday afternoon, and an online shop is coming soon.
Mary’s Milk Bar
19 Grassmarket, EH1 2HS, marysmilkbar.com, 0131 629 6526. Open Mon-Sun 11am-7pm
If you haven’t been already, then Mary’s Milk Bar is a fantastic Edinburgh pit stop for a cold sweet treat. Mary Hillard and her team of pinnied lassies have successfully managed to combine the nostalgic milk bar of a bygone era, with experimental ice cream flavours that are bang up-to-date. After studying at Carpigiani Gelato University in Bologna (yes, that’s ice-cream college), Mary set up her shop last summer, turning sometimes insipid icy flavours like, well, chocolate, into taste bud walloping scoops.
Alright Treacle is a supper club that operates on Saturday nights from an Edinburgh city centre location. Their next event is a chocolate-themed affair on Sat Nov 29 - visit alright-treacle.com for more info and booking. In addition to Alright Treacle, Anna also blogs about food at itsrudetostare.com and tweets @alrighttreacles