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Pierre Marcolini, Marylebone
Photograph: Pierre Marcolini

London’s best chocolate shops

For a deliciously decadent treat, visit one of these superior chocolate shops in London

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Written by
Time Out London editors
&
Sarah Cohen
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If you’re looking for a special gift for a loved one or want to indulge yourself, you’ll find the perfect sweet treat in one of London’s highly seductive chocolate shops. Cadbury’s is great, obvs, but these places raise the bar for cacao, offering everything from purist-pleasing super-dark chocs to sugary white varieties, in the form of truffles, slabs, bars and all kinds of innovative, artful creations. If you’re cocoa nuts, these are your temples and London’s chocolatiers are your gods.

RECOMMENDED: London’s best hot chocolate.

London’s best chocolate shops

As you might guess from the name, the people behind this high-end mini chain take chocolate very seriously. Billed as ‘adventurers in fine cocoa’, they produce their own stuff from ground beans, rather than buying in couverture (high-quality processed chocolate) from elsewhere. The standard range is excellent (salted caramels, boozy truffles, honeycomb bites, cleverly filled ‘thins’ and pistachio pearls) and there are seasonal treats and designs for occasions such as Halloween. We also love the options for people on special diets – including sugar-free bars, chocolates made from buffalo milk, and veggie specialities such as strawberry-coated mallows. There’s a boutique in Chelsea plus an outlet in Selfridges and a pitch on Borough Market.

Charbonnel et Walker

We can thank Edward VII for bringing Madame Charbonnel and Mrs Walker together back in 1875, and there’s still a kind of magic about their vintage shop on Bond Street’s elegant Royal Arcade. Cue lashings of Victorian nostalgia in the shape of their drawing room and grand ballroom collections (inspired by noble houses of the period), as well as seasonal treats such as vanilla raspberries or ‘chorus line crackers’ filled with sea salt caramel and praline. Best of all are its speciality truffle boxes, with flavours ranging from Chase vodka and rhubarb, Sipsmith gin and afternoon tea to iconic Pink Marc de Champagne. Otherwise, Charbonnel is rightly known for its 70 percent dark hot chocolate. As well as the Bond Street flagship, there are outlets in Canary Wharf and Broadgate and you can also buy C&W chocolates in Selfridges and Harrods.

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Le Chocolat Alain Ducasse
  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • King’s Cross

Happily, you don’t need to jump on the Eurostar to Paris if you fancy sampling uber-chef Alain Ducasse’s exclusive chocolat. Simply stroll to Coal Drops Yard, where you’ll find this dinky boutique nestling under one of the arches. The chocolate is special stuff, crafted from a workshop in a cobbled Parisian courtyard and available in three large ‘families’ – single-origin ganaches, truffles and pralines à l’ancienne – all with a host of variations, flavours and textures. There are also loads of different bars, candied fruits, bite-sized dragées and fondants on show. If you crave caffeine rather than cocoa, head next door to Le Café Alain Ducasse – an upmarket store and coffee bar serving a unique range of quality blends and single-origin coffees from all over the world. Cafeliers take the place of chefs as the business of coffee-drinking becomes a dedicated haute-cuisine ceremony. Of course, chocolats are available to accompany your chosen brew.

You’ll smell Dark Sugars before you see it. The scent of Ghanaian cocoa beans wafts up Brick Lane, making it nigh on impossible not to pop your head round the door. Mounds of uncut truffle shards are heaped into mango leaf bowls or piled on cherry wood stands, ready to be bought as pick-and-mix boxes or individual items. Flavours are kaleidoscopic, from choc-overdose truffles to more leftfield tastes like cinnamon cider or Irish kiss pipette with a squirt of Baileys on top. As a spin-off, founder Fatou Mendy set up the Dark Sugars Cocoa House just down the road – a perfect spot if you want to groove to African beats, watch the bopping staff and sample some seriously good pitch black hot chocolate (don’t miss the winter-warming hazelnut praline riff).

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • Southfields

Residential Southfields is lucky to have this smart but friendly chocolate shop and café selling elegant handmade treats as well as tennis-themed morsels for the Wimbledon crowd. DeRosier’s fresh chocs are currently produced using single-origin couvertures from Venezuela and Peru, with a choice of approachable flavours such as passion fruit, hazelnut praline or sea-salted caramel. We also love the bars wrapped up in colourful prints and novelties such as chocolate phones. If you want to linger, sit down with a cup of Climpson coffee or one of its hot chocolate beverages, made with pieces of single-origin chocolate scooped straight from the tub and steamed with plenty of milk. It also serves a limited selection of cakes, brownies and sandwiches. Also in Earlsfield.

Le Jeune Chocolatiers

The chocolatiers of the title are Ivan and Harika Le Jeune, who spent 14 years learning their trade in Geneva before opening this little shop, café and workshop in Covent Garden back in 2013. They produce everything in a bespoke basement below the store, and their handcrafted chocs are all about quality, innovation and attention to detail (inherited from their Swiss mentors). We adore their artisan bars (especially the blackberry and strawberry version), as well as their pralines, truffles, slabs and novelties ranging from hand-painted ‘goose eggs’ filled with sweet goodies to festive chocolate log cabins and even a choc-filled mini pool table complete with a wooden hammer for smashing. You can quiz the chefs about recipes or just sit down with one of their legendary hot chocolates – made fresh with milk, pure chocolate and nothing more.

 

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Isabelle Alaya’s Chocolate Boutique & Café has a casual community vibe, not only supplying Peckham residents with their regular fix of croissants, brownies and truffles, but also offering up chocolate-making sessions (at the owner’s Chocolate Museum in Brixton), various chocolate and wine-tasting workshops, and even classes in painting with chocolate. Melange’s hand-layered Belgian chocolate slabs (milk, dark and white) have some inspired herbal and spicy flavour combinations: coffee and aniseed, coriander and grapefruit, lavender and lemon, cumin and mint, white pepper and vanilla, plus new hits such as rose and thyme or turmeric and truffle oil. There’s an impressive range of veggie and vegan options too, as well as a line-up of sugar-free, dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate drinks, smoothies, frappés and French grocery items. 

Melt

Chocolate is the only food that melts at body temperature – hence the name of this trendy outfit founded by Louise Nason in 2006. Colourfully glam packaging is bang on for the corner of Notting Hill where its boutique sits, but there’s real substance too. What’s more, Melt’s kitchen is in the shop itself, so you can watch your treats being made, or chat about flavour combos with the team of chefs and chocolatiers. We like zany flavours such as toast and marmalade, caramelised popcorn and pistachio blonde – and who can resist the Van Gogh blossom wrapping around their vegan Easter eggs? It also sells brownies, mud pies and various prettily presented chocolate blocks for dissolving into cups of hot milk. There’s an offshoot in Holland Park and the owners also have a concession at Selfridges.

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Montezuma’s

Montezuma’s is to chocolate-making what Lush Cosmetics is to skincare: fun, quirky, and ethically minded. The shop specialises in delectable chocolate bars of every description, from Absolute Black with hemp and sea salt, orange and geranium or peanut butter and truffle to white chocolate with raspberry and biscuit or black forest gateau (part of the Great British Puddings range). Also, look out for the London Transport Museum collection: bars inspired by the various tube lines (green peppermint for the District line, hot red chilli for the Central line etc). There are bags of chocolate turtles for the kids, plus festive caramels, truffles, buttons and even bottles of chocolate lager. Montezuma’s five-shop mini empire has two London stores, in Spitalfields and Kingston upon Thames.

A class act with an exquisite sense of taste, invention and discernment, Paul A Young is a former head pastry chef who shuffles ingredients like a croupier with a deck of cards. Black pudding truffle with ginger biscuit and beer? No problem. Marmite-flavoured Madagascan chocolate? He’s done it. Sea-salt caramel? Of course, a gold medal winner at the International Chocolate Awards. As a sideline in his Camden Passage boutique in Islington, Paul also sells a range of luscious ice creams courtesy of Hackney Gelato, which produces three flavours using the same top-notch ingredients that go into his famous truffles. Other highlights include regular brownie-making masterclasses and tasting workshops.

Still craving something sweet? Find London’s best ice cream

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