Don't settle for anything less than the poshest chocs this year

And all because the lady doesn’t love Milk Tray: Don’t settle for anything less than the poshest chocs this year. SUDI PIGOTT picks the best…

  • Valentine’s Day is the ideal excuse to buy a box of chocs for you or a partner
  • There are now an increasing number of artisan chocolatiers to purchase from 
  • Their recipes use well-sourced chocolate with subtle nuances of flavour  

Whether you’re spending Valentine’s Day alone or coupled-up, it’s the ideal excuse to buy a box of chocs — for your partner or for yourself.

But while you might have previously plumped for an off-the-shelf box of Milk Tray, there are now an increasing number of artisan chocolatiers producing exquisite hand-made, meticulously crafted chocolates with unique flavours and textures.

Like a fancy bottle of wine, today’s posh chocs are all about provenance and terroir, with top-flight chocolatiers travelling the world, hunting down the finest cocoa beans. Their recipes use well-sourced chocolate with subtle nuances of flavour from different regions.

Here, we taste test these new, classier chocolates that will wow your Valentine and your palate. Pass the box . . .

WEST COUNTRY WONDER

Valentine Chocolate Heart Box, £16, chococo.co.uk (main picture)

Chococo’s chocolates are all handcrafted in Dorset and its Valentine’s gift is a stunning, chunky-chocolate, heart-shaped box made from its 45 per cent Venezuelan-origin milk chocolate. Inside, there are truffles including Mure Royale, caramelised white chocolate and cocoa nibs, and sea salt caramel.

Verdict: The chocolate shell has an excellent fruity, yet mellow, flavour. The chocolates within are carefully made with a good bite and an abundant, well-judged ratio of filling to shell. 

Valentine Chocolate Heart Box, £16, chococo.co.uk  

4/5

CONFECTION CRAFT

Valentine’s Day Cartografie Collection, £39.50, cartografie chocolate.com

Such is the artistry behind this box of 12 hand-crafted chocolates from top chefs Sven-Hanson Britt and wife Kae, there are just 300 boxes available.

They are made with dark milk Femmes de Virunga chocolate (from a women’s cocoa co-operative in the Democratic Republic of Congo) and filled with liquid caramel and salted, caramelised hazelnuts.

Verdict: The chocolates are sublime, with a salty-sweet crunch and silky sensuality to the filling. The Original Beans chocolate has notes of cappuccino and roasted hazelnuts and a glorious, lingering finish. 

5/5

Valentine’s Day Cartografie Collection, £39.50, cartografie chocolate.com

MICHELIN-STAR SKILL

Valentine’s Chocolate Truffles, £15, kinipatisserie.co.uk

Jisun Shin and Eu Jing Hooi spent 15 years working at Michelin-starred hotels and famous chocolate houses before starting Kini, and were semi-finalists in Bake Off: The Professionals.

Their box of 12 truffles is a mix of salted caramel, hazelnut praline, matcha and raspberry rose.

Verdict: The lush, generous fillings are a tad on the sweet side for my palate, though carefully made with a pleasing creamy texture. My favourite is the delicate raspberry and rose that hints at summer. 

3/5

Valentine’s Chocolate Truffles, £15, kinipatisserie.co.uk

AWARD-WINNERS

Valentine’s Day Box, £31.50, 5dchocolates.com

Russell Pullan and Albert Chau are award-winning chocolatiers specialising in creating hand-made caramel sauces. Their striking Valentine’s collection includes a mango and passion fruit caramel for a flavour of Bangkok, apple and calvados for New York, and salt and malt caramel pink hearts for Stockholm.

Verdict: These tantalisingly glossy, generously sized chocolates have a good, thick shell and alluring, clean-tasting and intriguing centres.

I especially like the luscious juiciness of the Bangkok caramel made with Bolivian single-origin cacao.

5/5

Love Potions For Your Valentine, £30, sciolti chocolates.com

HAND-PAINTED ART

Love Potions For Your Valentine, £30, sciolti chocolates.com

Fiona Sciolti has been making and hand-painting chocolates for 16 years and uses natural, locally sourced ingredients, sometimes even from foraging. Her ‘love potions’ chocolates contain liqueur fondants.

There’s Beguile, decorated with edible blue shimmer and filled with cherry and kirsch, Enchant with red shimmer spiral and Kir Royale, and — the wild card — Amore, with Italian herbal liqueur Strega.

Verdict: Outstanding. These finely crafted chocolates have decadent, generous fillings that are addictive. 4.

5/5

Love Potions For Your Valentine, £30, sciolti chocolates.com

Paul Young is known for his award-winning creations. This selection is inspired by his culinary memories of romantic cities including Seville, New York, Lisbon and Sydney.

Verdict: These are decadently delicious, fun chocolates. I adore Paul’s take on Lisbon’s world-famous custard tart, reimagined as a silky vanilla custard truffle with caramelised milk and crunchy pastry pieces. 

5/5

Fresh hand-made truffle selection, £26, paulayoung.co.uk

CELEB CHEF FAVE

Made With Love, £40, artisandu chocolat.com

From its production atelier in Kent, L’Artisan du Chocolat offers innovative creations that have won the approval of Gordon Ramsay and Michel Roux Jr. The Made With Love heart-shaped box is packed with elegant ganache and praline-filled pearls including its fabled sea salt caramels.

Verdict: The liquid salted caramels with a crisp, fine, dark shell are outstanding, with superb rich centres. But some of the collection has a rather muted, lacklustre taste.

 3/5

Made With Love, £40, artisandu chocolat.com

BOLD FLAVOURS

Limited Edition Valentine’s Chocolates, £14.50, derosier chocolates.com

An adventurous collection from award-winning London chocolatiers, these 12 chocolate hearts filled with hand-made ganache mix classics (caramel and praline) with exciting new flavours.

Verdict: Balancing citrus and chocolate can be tricky but DeRosier pulls this off. I especially like its caramel pecan and pistachio chocolates. 

4/5

Limited Edition Valentine’s Chocolates, £14.50, derosier chocolates.com

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