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10 Wonderful Chocolate Moulds

Here are 10 of our favourite chocolate moulds, showing how our makers are attentive to every step of the chocolate crafting process. This list is only showing a fraction of the beautiful moulds that our makers use.

CELEBRATING THE MAKERS’ ORIGIN

Using moulds to showcase a makers’ origin story and their inspirations.

Hogarth: CLICK TO SHOP

CELEBRATING THE MAKERS’ NAME

Using moulds to proudly engrave a makers’ name of their bars.

Akesson’s: CLICK TO SHOP
Casa Cacao: CLICK TO SHOP

CELEBRATING CHOCOLATE AS A WORK OF ART

Using moulds to show that a bar’s exquisite flavour profile can be reflected by it’s exterior.

Dick Taylor: CLICK TO SHOP
Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé: SHOP NOW

CELEBRATING THE COCOA BEAN

Paying homage to where it all began: the cocoa bean.

Chocolarder: CLICK TO SHOP

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Staff Picks

The flavour possibilities of craft chocolate are vast, so much so that we can whole-heartedly guarantee that there is something for everyone, and for every occasion! To demonstrate this, members of our team have kindly shared their favourite bars, which fall everywhere on the spectrum from white chocolate to 100% cacao.

Hannah – Duffy’s: Taino, Dominican Republic 65% Dark

This is a really fruity bar with hints of pineapple, strawberry, and an after-taste of green tea. Since pineapples are my favourite fruit, this is the perfect bar for me!

Hannah’s background before coming to Cocoa Runners was in the world of fine wine. If you are looking to wow some dinner party guests, she recommends pairing it with a sweet Sauternes wine to complement the Taino’s fruitiness.

Nick – Original Beans: Cru Virunga 70%

Nick has chosen a bar which appeals to both his palette and his interest in craft chocolate more broadly:

When I eat it, I can feel a tangible connection to the origin. Original Beans are pretty good at communicating their origins and their stories. The environmental and social justice issues that this bar touches on, for people, wildlife and habitats in Eastern Congo, really resonate with me“.

Nick also points out that this is a great “entry point” for someone wishing to explore the world of dark craft chocolate, because of the bar’s broad ‘chocolately’ flavour.

Aisha

Very understandably, Aisha has a few favourites!

1) Pump Street: Sourdough & Sea Salt

This was the first craft chocolate bar I tried, and it was an amazing introduction to craft chocolate“.

Before trying this classic from Pump Street, Aisha wasn’t into dark chocolate bars but found this to be a game changer. “The dark chocolate, not even fully dark, with the sea salt that pops through gives such a great flavour and texture to the bar“.

2) Omnom: Coffee and Milk

Omnom is a favourite maker of Aisha’s: “They are always so smooth and have a great snap. the geometrical design of their bars is also a great addition“.

Iceland’s only bean-to-bar maker never disappoint when it comes to flavour combinations. “The coffee and milk is a great blend. The coffee is not overpowering and combines so well with the white bar, which isn’t too sweet either“.

When to enjoy? “This bar I feel is definitely an after-dinner bar. You get your coffee and dessert all in one“.

Alice – Rózsavölgyi: White Chocolate with Matcha Tea

Given that matcha tea can be something of an acquired taste, Alice speculates that this may be a controversial pick. However…

I love it because it’s so ridiculously pretty and tastes way better than a matcha latte, plus it’s kind of quirky and I’m a fan of chocolate which challenges our expectations of taste and flavour!

As if the packaging wasn’t gorgeous enough, the ornate moulding and cool green hue of this bar make it look (almost) too good to eat!

Ricky – Grenada Chocolate Company: Grenada 100%

Our tech expert Ricky has gone for a bar which packs a punch.

I prefer the 100% bars, and this one had an intense flavour, with notes of tobacco. I also like the ethics and values of the Grenada Chocolate Company“.

Indeed, the Grenada Chocolate Company work tirelessly from their solar-powered factory to create chocolate which doesn’t harm the planet.

Robyn – Original Beans: Femmes de Virunga 55% Milk

I always love dark milk bars. They give you the richness and depth of flavour which a milk bar can sometimes lack, combined with the perfect amount of sweetness“.

Not only is this bar perfectly nutty and smooth, but I really like the story behind it. Femmes de Virunga was the first all-female cacao co-operative, started in 2016, and they work to protect the Virunga National Park (DRC)“.

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The World’s Best Chocolate Bars: Milk Edition

Milk chocolate is a crowd pleaser; people generally love its silky mouthfeel and sweet, creamy aftertaste. It’s an easy kind of bar to nibble on whilst you enjoy your mid-morning cup of tea or coffee, but it can be just as complex and flavourful as your average dark chocolate bar.

Here are some of the highest rated, award-winning milk chocolate bars from around the world for when you want to treat yourself to something lighter.

1. Castronovo- Sierra Nevada, Colombia 63% Dark Milk (ACA Milk Category Winner 2021)

The Bar: As a dark milk, the flavour notes of the Colombian beans are very much on display.

The Beans: The beans in this bar grow upon the remote slopes of Colombia’s coastal Sierra Nevada mountains. With no roads at these high altitudes, the wild beans have to be harvested by the indigenous Arhuaco people and carried down the hillsides on the backs of mules.

The Maker: Denise Castronovo is the woman behind Florida-based Castronovo chocolate. Read more about Castronovo here.

2. Krak- Sierra Nevada, Colombia 55% Dark Milk (ACA Milk Winner 2021)

The Bar: Fudgy, rich and spiced. Krak has crafted an incredibly moreish dark milk chocolate bar. It’s not too sweet and you can taste the delicate nuances of the cacao, from the almonds to nutmeg and cinnamon to the tropical fruits.

The Beans: This bar uses Sierra Nevada cacao that grows off the Caribbean coast of Colombia. Mark, the maker behind Krak, has worked with Uncommon Cacao to build a fairer and more sustainable supply chain.

The Maker: Read more about Dutch pastry chef turned chocolate maker Mark Schimmel here.

3. Standout Chocolate- Haiti 60% Dark Milk (ACA Milk Winner 2021)

The Bar: It features a smooth melting texture and a toasty malted flavour. It’s an interesting milk chocolate bar, with little bitterness and lots of creaminess.

The Beans: The cocoa for this bar was sourced from Produits des Iles SA (PISA), a central fermentery established in northern Haiti in 2012. PISA works with 1,104 small-scale farmers – 492 of whom are women – to pay premium prices for the unprocessed cocoa harvest and then processing it centrally, allowing farmers to earn more money for their quality beans.

The Maker: Standout Chocolate launched onto the craft chocolate scene as a one-man-band in 2018. Read more here.

4. Standout Chocolate- Sambirano Valley, Madagascar 60% Dark Milk (ACA Milk Winner 2021)

The Bar: This 60% dark milk chocolate is thick in texture, with a fruity complex flavour. Fredrik (the maker) has coaxed out the citrus notes of the Madagascan cacao.

The Beans: The beans in this bar are sourced from Bertil Akesson’s estate in Madagascar. Bertil’s beans are famous throughout the craft chocolate world, having produced countless award-winning bars and winning many awards themselves.

The Maker: Once again, this bar is by Standout Chocolate. With two bars already in this list despite having only began making chocolate in 2018, Fredrik Martinsson is certainly living up to his brand’s name.

5. Cacaosuyo – Piura 50% Milk (ICA Plain/ Origin Milk winner 2020-21)

The Bar: The vibrant fruits of Cacaosuyo’s Piura dark bar take on a sweeter, almost caramelised flavour here. A little fermented tang from the milk, cuts through the bar and balances out the sweetness. The bar has a long and irresistible raisin finish with hints of butterscotch.

The beans: A rare criollo cacao is used. The beans are naturally very pale, with a fine delicate aroma.

The Maker: Cacaosuyo is a chocolate maker with a simple mission: to make the best chocolate in Peru. That’s a lofty ambition, but the Cacaosuyo team have devoted the last three years of their lives to it. 

6. Friis Holm- O’Payo, Nicaragua 50% Milk (ICA Milk Winner 2020-21)

The Bar: A creamy, fragrant and fruity milk chocolate.

The Beans: Friis Holm have used a blend of Nicaraguan beans from a co-operative in Waslala, in the nature reserve in the mountains of northeastern Nicaragua.

The Maker: Mikkel Friis Holm is a maker fascinated with genetics, and ensures he chooses the best varieties with the highest flavour potential. Read further about Friis Holm here.

7. Qantu- Oh La Vache! 60% Dark Milk (ICA Micro-Batch Winner 2020-21)

The Bar: An aroma of dates and plums is joined by caramel, raisins and honey on the tongue, with a finish that keeps going and going.

The Beans: The beans in this bar come from the Norandino Cooperative in the Piura Valley of northern Peru. This well-sized cooperative has managed to establish a market for its high-quality beans and dissociate from the market price.

The Maker: Qantu is a Quebecois chocolate maker making waves on both sides of the Atlantic. Read more about them here.

8. Tcho- 54% Dark Milk (ICA Micro-batch Winner 2019)

The Bar: This bar has a wonderfully smooth texture, a deep, fudgey chocolate flavour and a gentle fruity note. It is also certified kosher, organic and gluten free.

The Beans: The beans used in this bar come from Peru and Ecuador.

The Maker: Set up by the original founders of WIRED magazine, San Francisco-based TCHO take a scientific approach to everything they do. Probes within the fermenting beans in Peru upload detailed data back to TCHO HQ, which is analysed alongside local weather reports to help control the fermentation to bring out the best flavours of the beans.

9. Morin- Esmereldas, Ecuador 48% Milk Chocolate (ICA Micro-batch Winner 2019)

The Bar: Morin crafts a luscious milk chocolate, blending excellent flavourful cacao with creamy milk.

The Beans: The cacao used is grown by the Salazar family in the cloud forests of Costa Esmereldas.

The Maker: The prestigious Morin family have been making chocolate in France since 1884 and the company is now run by Franck Morin. Read more about Morin here.

10. Castronovo, Tumaco Colombia Dark Milk (ICA 2019 Winner)

The Bar: You will be hit upfront with citrus and honey notes, followed by a complex floral aftertaste.

The Beans: This bar is made from beans grown in Tumaco, a south-western province on the border with Ecuador known for its hot and humid climate. Blessed with bountiful rivers and heavy rainfall, tropical jungles and mangrove forests flourish, bringing with them the extraordinary diversity of plants that helps to give cocoa beans such complexity of flavour.

The Maker: This is the second appearance on our list for Castronovo; read about Denise’s story here.

Taste a selection of the best

Now you’ve learned a little about the amazing award-winning chocolate in our top ten list, here’s your chance to try some yourself! We’ve put together a selection of the above bars, dive in and try some world class milk chocolates.

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The World’s Best White Chocolate Bars: Top Ten

White chocolate can be divisive. It does not contain cocoa solids, and instead is usually made simply from milk, sugar and cocoa butter. Many people go as far as to ask, does it really count as chocolate?

Considering the fact that a cocoa bean is 52-58% cocoa butter and 48-42% cocoa solids, and that a craft white chocolate bar is as satisfyingly rich as any dark, we think this question rather harsh.

Our makers have created a wondrous selection of bars which display the full potential of white chocolate. They have paired flavoursome cocoa butters with high-quality milks with harmonious results. Here are our top ten award-winners:

1. Castronovo: White Chocolate with Lemon Oil & Sea Salt (ICA Gold 2020-21)

The Bar: This is a pocket-sized piece of the Mediterranean. Denise, the mastermind behind Castronovo, talks about this bar by referring to the old Sicilian saying “a lemon is not a real lemon unless it is Sicilian”. Indeed she imbues this white chocolate with real lemon essential oil and lemon-infused sea salt.

The cocoa butter: Castronovo use cacao sustainably harvested and grown in Central and South America. They pay premium prices for cacao grown by indigenous people who live in and protect the world’s most remote and threatened environments.

The Maker: Denise Castronovo spent 15 years in Geospatial Technology before turning her hand to chocolate making. She is based in Stuart, Florida. Read more about Castronovo here.

2. Åkesson’s: Madagascar White 43% (AOC Silver 2020, Gold 2017)

The Bar: A white chocolate bar unlike any other- hints of smokiness and a deep chocolatey flavour lend a unique depth.

The Cocoa Butter: The Madagascan cocoa butter is undeodorized. This means it has not had steam injected through it to remove the volatile components which contribute to its natural odour.

The Maker: Bertil Åkesson has a bar featured in every single one of our top ten lists; read about him here.

3. Feitoria do Cacao- White Chocolate with Azores Milk (AOC 2021 Gold)

The Bar: Feitoria do Cacao has produced an original recipe of white chocolate to enhance the Azorean’s unique milk flavour by combining natural cocoa butter with a very low amount of sugar, without flavouring or emulsifiers.

The Cocoa Butter: The beans used come from Ecuador. The real star is the high-quality Azorean milk however, which has been produced by the cows which inhabit this volcanic land.

The Maker: Feitoria do cacao was launched after Tomoko and Sue took a trip to São Tomé and Principe. Click here for the full story.

4. Zotter Labooko- Fine White Chocolate (AOC White Flavoured Gold 2018)

The Bar: This bar is everything you expect from a good white chocolate; smooth, sweet and creamy with a burst of genuine Bourbon vanilla.

The Cocoa Butter: This bar contains 40% pure cocoa butter.

The Maker: Zotter is an Austrian bean to bar chocolate maker with a penchant for the wacky. But at the heart of everything Zotter do is a simple, ethical approach to chocolate making. Read about Zotter here.

5. Dormouse Chocolates- 38% Toasted White Chocolate (AOC White Bean to Bar Gold 2018)

The Bar: The dark blonde bar has a soft, fudgy texture. We noted plenty of sweet caramel, and touches of muscovado and malt. This bar is undoubtedly a sweet treat with a sophisticated caramac-like quality, thanks to the toasting of the milk powder.

The Cocoa Butter: The cocoa butter comes all the way to Manchester from Madagascar.

The Maker: Dormouse is based in Manchester and in 2015 became the city’s first craft chocolate maker, creating its delicious bars directly from the bean. More about Dormouse here.

6. Chocolat Madagascar- 45% White Chocolate (ICA White Plain Award Winner 2018)

The Bar: This rich, high cocoa white chocolate is buttery in texture and melt, and has a flavour that is explicitly pure and warming cocoa butter, but in the background lingers notes of toffee and banana.

The Cocoa Butter: Madagascan cocoa butter seems to be the running thread of this list! It is sourced by working closely with the farmers on the Island, and is fully traceable.

The Maker: Robert, the face behind Chocolat Madagascar, produced chocolate that is widely available locally but little known beyond the island. Chocolat Madagascar is truly a hidden gem, and worth learning more about.

7. Omnom- Coffee and Milk (ICA Flavoured White Gold Award 2018)

The Bar: If you’re a mochaccino lover, then this white chocolate from Omnom is the bar for you. The Nicaraguan coffee beans give the bar a clear but not overpowering coffee flavour reminiscent of coffee buttercream.

The Cocoa Butter: This is another high-percentage bar, with 38% organic cocoa butter.

The Maker: Iceland’s first small batch artisan chocolate maker, Omnom is one of the quirkier makers in our chocolate library. They make their chocolate in a converted petrol station; click here for more.

8. Georgia Ramon- Raspberry & Rose White Chocolate Bar- AOC gold winner 2017

The Bar: The vibrant fuschia colouring of this bar comes from the real pieces of raspberry which have been conched in for added zing. Infused into the bar is Bulgarian rose oil; with 1000kg of fresh rose petals being enough for only 300g of rose oil, this is an aromatic luxury. 

The Cocoa Butter: Georgia Ramon have used non-deodorised cocoa butter, giving the bar rich chocolateley flavour notes. The term ‘non-deodorised’ means that the cocoa butter’s natural aromas and volatiles (and antioxidant properties) have not been removed through steam injection. 

The Maker: Georgia Ramon was founded in 2015 by renowned pâtissier Georg Bernadini and his partner, Ramona Gustmann, to be a craft chocolate maker, shop, and café dedicated to producing the highest-quality handmade chocolate.

9. Karuna- White Chocolate with Raspberries (ICA 2021 Silver)

The Bar: Notes of almond within the white chocolate pair beautifully with the bright and tangy raspberries. The bar is made with almond “mylk” as opposed to dairy; a rare vegan white bar.

The Cocoa Butter: The beans are Ecuadorian, while the chocolate bar itself is made in Italy. Karuna, being committed to vegan chocolate crafting has used almond ‘mylk’ here.

The Maker: Karuna are a wife and husband team based in South Tyrol, Italy. Much of their craft is inspired by their shared time in India. Read more about them here.

10. Jordi’s- ‘POP’ 40% White Chocolate with Nibs (AoC Bronze 2020)

The Bar: It’s unusual to include cacao nibs in white chocolate, but the sweet white chocolate is the perfect counterpoint to the thick layer of crunchy, intense cocoa nibs that cover one side of the bar. Together, they add up to a crunchy, sweet, chocolatey and delicious experience!

The Cocoa Butter:

The Maker: Jordi’s is the Czech Republic’s first bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Based in Hradec Králové, 50 miles east of Prague, founders Jiří Stejskal and Lukáš Koudelka started making chocolate in 2012. Read more here.

Try our top white bars

If you liked the sound of our top ten white chocolate bars, here’s you chance sample them yourselves. This selection box of white chocolates has been plucked from the above list – so all the greatest white chocolates are all in one place!

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Our Top Ten Inclusion Bars

Want to tingle your taste buds? We have selected the world’s top ten flavoured chocolate bars using the trusted Academy of Chocolate Awards (AOC), International Chocolate Awards (ICA) and Great Taste Award winners from recent years.

We talk a lot at Cocoa Runners about how craft chocolate is all about using minimal ingredients, and creating bars that showcase the flavour of the cocoa beans themselves. However, these expert makers have discovered a whole host of intriguing additions to complement, rather than outshine their chosen cocoa varietal.

1. Fu Wan: 62% Taiwan Tie-Guen-Yin Chocolate – double ICA gold winner.

The Bar: The delicate oolong tea used in this bar adds a fruity fragrance to the the subtly spicy Taiwanese cacao.

The beans: As mentioned, this bar uses Taiwanese cacao. The Taiwanese cacao industry is a relatively youthful one, spurred by government encouragement to plant cacao crops in response to damage done to the land by the over farming of betel nuts.

The Maker: Fu Wan actually began as a resort in Taiwan. Warren Hsu was head chef, and through sourcing ingredients locally came into contact with a cacao farmer. He is now one of only a handful bean to bar chocolate makers in Taiwan, with an impressive repertoire of award-winning bars.

2. Fruition: Brown Butter Milk, 43%- AOC gold winner

The Bar: This creamy, milky and incredibly comforting bar is guaranteed to satisfy any sweet tooth. Fruition have used non-fat milk powder from California, and made up the fat content using brown butter from Ronnybrook farm, just across the Hudson River. The brown butter gives an intense caramel flavour to the point that it almost resembles fudge, but this is prevented by the hint of citrus that emerges.

The Beans: Fruition have used cacao grown by a cooperative called OKO Caribe, based in the Dominican Republic.

The Maker: Fruition is a small batch maker based in the Catskill Mountains of New York. Read more about Fruition here.

3. Castronovo Chocolate: White Chocolate With Lemon and Sea Salt- ICA gold award winner

The Bar: This is a pocket-sized piece of the Mediterranean. Denise, the mastermind behind Castronovo, talks about this bar by referring to the old Sicilian saying “a lemon is not a real lemon unless it is Sicilian”. Indeed she imbues this white chocolate with real lemon essential oil and lemon-infused sea salt.

The cocoa butter: Castronovo use cacao sustainably harvested and grown in Central and South America. They pay premium prices for cacao grown by indigenous people who live in and protect the world’s most remote and threatened environments.

The Maker: Denise Castronovo spent 15 years in Geospatial Technology before turning her hand to chocolate making. She is based in Stuart, Florida. Read more about Castronovo here.

4. Åkesson’s: Madagascar 75% with Pink Pepper- AOC and ICA gold winner

The Bar: This bar is full of the fruity-sweet tartness and red berry tones typical of Åkesson’s Madagascan cocoa. Pink peppercorns add a touch of heat and some unexpected floral notes which emerge as the chocolate melts. Exotic, warming and distinctive.

The Beans: Madagascan cacao is grown beneath the shelter of taller crops such as pepper to protect it from the intense sunlight. This lends the beans a natural spiciness, complemented by the addition of peppercorn in this bar.

The Maker: Renowned in the bean-to-bar market, Åkesson’s sells his single-estate beans to over 300 makers worldwide. Read more about Åkesson’s here.

5. Chapon: Tonka White 45%- AOC winner

The Bar: Tonka liquorice adds a delicate complexity to the vanilla, cinnamon and spice which peppers this white chocolate bar. Rich, but not too sweet.

The Cocoa Butter: The cocoa butter used comes from the Dominican Republic.

The Maker: French maker Patrice Chapon is not new to the world of fine foods- in fact, before entering the realm of craft chocolate he was ice-cream and sorbet maker for the Queen!

6. Georgia Ramon- Raspberry & Rose White Chocolate Bar- AOC gold winner 2017

The Bar: The vibrant fuschia colouring of this bar comes from the real pieces of raspberry which have been conched in for added zing. Infused into the bar is Bulgarian rose oil; with 1000kg of fresh rose petals being enough for only 300g of rose oil, this is an aromatic luxury.

The Cocoa Butter: Georiga Ramon have used non-deodorised cocoa butter, giving the bar rich chocolateley flavour notes. The term ‘non-deodorised’ means that the cocoa butter’s natural aromas and volatiles (and antioxidant properties) have not been removed through steam injection.

The Maker: Georgia Ramon was founded in 2015 by renowned pâtissier Georg Bernadini and his partner, Ramona Gustmann, to be a craft chocolate maker, shop, and café dedicated to producing the highest-quality handmade chocolate.

7. Tosier: Tumaco, Colombia 70% Dark with Coffee- 3 Stars at the 2020 Great Taste Awards

The Bar: Ideal for coffee and chocolate lovers. The rich, nutty single-origin Colombian cocoa enjoys floral notes and a hint of caramel. The single-origin Colombian coffee is a perfect match, introducing notes of banana and subtle spice.

The beans: The cocoa beans in this bar are sourced from Cacao de Colombia, an organisation that has worked with three community cooperatives in the coastal Tumaco region to educate farmers and introduce centralised fermenting and drying of their beans. Because of their intervention, farmers in the region today earn 70% more from their cacao than they did selling to the mass commodity market.

The Maker: Started in Suffolk in 2017 by Deanna Tilston, Tosier is dedicated to giving farmers a fair price as part of a transparent and traceable supply chain.

8. Friis-Holm: O’Payo, Nicaragua 50% Milk with Hazelnut- ICA 2019 Finals

The Bar: The hazelnuts contrast the light acidity of Nicaraguan cocoa and complement the butteriness of Fries Holm chocolate.

The Beans: This bar uses a blend of Nicaraguan beans from a co-operative in Waslala, in the nature reserve in the mountains of northeastern Nicaragua.

The Maker: Mikkel Friis-Holm is a Danish maker fascinated with genetics. He ensures he chooses the best varieties with the highest flavour potential.

9. Palette de Bine: Wild Bolivia Maple 70% – Academy of Chocolate Gold Awards 2016

The Bar: The smooth melt and creamy mouthfeel help to unleash the indulgent flavours of currants, raisins and brown sugar. A delicate touch of vanilla caramel leads to a sweet finish that unveils maple notes. Incredibly mild for a dark bar, the bar reminded us of rich fruit cake.

The Beans: the cocoa beans in this bar come from the Alto Beni region in Bolivia.

The Maker: Palette de Bine is a one woman bean-to-bar chocolate maker founded and run by Québecoise Christine Blaise. Christine does everything herself, and by that we mean she literally sorts, roasts, winnows, refines, conches, tempers, moulds and wraps her own chocolate.

10. Solkiki- Costa Esmereldas, Ecuador 64% Coconut Milk- 2 Stars at the Great Taste Awards 2020

The Bar: It has a sweet, biscuity profile with distinctive notes of floral coconut and tropical fruit.

The Beans: The beans in this bar are sourced from the Esmeraldas province in the north of Ecuador. Solkiki works with the Salazars, whose 100-acre family farm is equipped with a high-tech facility for fermenting and drying their beans.

The Maker: Iris and Bob began experimenting with chocolate in 2008, after feeling distinctly underwhelmed by their search for vegan white chocolate. All of their bars are created out of their beautiful off-the-grid 1650s cottage in Dorset, UK.

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Bridge Bars

Craft chocolate can sometimes be a little daunting and overwhelming. Some consumers are reluctant to brave the unknown and try a bar made with beans from a place they’ve barely heard of and with a percentage that seems far higher than they are used to.

To “bridge” this challenge, craft chocolate makers are crafting bars that appeal to the familiar. They make use of local ingredients and flavours that customers recognise, and tourists are tempted to try. These bars act as bridges between the familiar and the new, and are a great way to dip your toes into the wonders of craft chocolate.

Here’s our selection of some of these bridge-bars. Experiment, and let us know what you think!


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The World’s Best Chocolate Bars: Dark Chocolate Edition

Dark Chocolate pieces

To give you a taste of some of the world’s most critically-acclaimed dark chocolate, we have scoured the lists of winners from the most recent global competitions: the Academy of Chocolate Awards (AOC), the International Chocolate Awards (ICA), and the Speciality Food Association Awards (Sofi). With great difficulty, we have managed to whittle the selection down to a top ten!

1. Qantu- Gran Blanco, Peru, 70% Dark (AOC gold winner)

The Bar: As the name suggests, this bar has a remarkably pale, amber colouring. When eaten, layer upon layer of delicate flavour unfolds. Sharp currants along with softer berries come through, rounded off by a beautiful acidity. Finally, we noted a touch of treacle on the finish.

The Beans: The beans in this bar come from the well-sized Norandino cooperative, Peru. The cooperative has managed to create a market for its high-quality beans and dissociate from the market price.

The Maker: Qantu is a Quebecois chocolate maker creating waves both sides of the Atlantic. Read more about Quantu here.

2. Taucherli- Betulia B9, Colombia 80% Dark (AOC gold winner)

The Bar: Taucherli‘s B9 bar has a powerful flavour profile: spicy, milky, red grapes and pineapple. Intriguingly, the colour resembles that of a milk bar despite being a high percentage dark chocolate.

The Beans: The beans are sourced from the Hacienda Betulia family plantation located in North-West Colombia. The cacao grows under an agroforestry scheme on 15 hectares alongside 30 hectares of protected native forest.

The maker: Kay Keusen, the maker behind Taucherlu, is redefining what it means to be a Swiss chocolate-maker. Read more about Taucherli here.

3. DesBarres- Ambanja, Madagascar 72% Dark Bar (AOC gold winner)

The bar: Fudgy in texture, this bar merges notes of stoned fruit, liquorice and aromatic spices. Such flavour complexity is testament to the quality of these Madagascan beans, as the only ingredients are cacao and organic cane sugar. Despite there being no added cocoa butter the melt is strikingly elegant, surprisingly smooth. 

The Beans: The cacao used hails from Bertil Åkesson’s Bejofo Estate. Bertil’s Madagascan terroir is highly regarded for the cacao it grows, which is characterised by heady fruit notes and dynamic complexity.

The Maker:  Desbarres is a micro-batch manufacturer or single origin, bean to bar chocolate, sourcing direct trade cacao from around the world. Read more about Desbarres here.

4. Castronovo- Maya Mountain, Belize 70% Dark Chocolate (AOC gold winner)

The Bar: An initial wave of tropical fruits sets the tone for this bar. However, as the bar melts and more aromas are released, some nuttiness emerges.

The Beans: Along the foothills of the Maya Mountains in southern Belize, indigenous Mayans were one of the first to commercialize cacao and the tradition continues today thanks to Uncommon Cacao. Uncommon founded Maya Mountain Cacao (MMC) in 2010 as their first origin project, and this is the first specialty grade, high quality, fine flavour cacao to come out of Belize.

The Maker: Castronovo crafts its chocolate in Florida, from fine flavour cacao that is sustainably harvested. Read more about Castronovo here.

5. Åkesson’s- Madagascar 75% Criollo (AOC gold winner)

The Bar: Bar’s made with Åkesson’s beans win awards all over the world, so it’s not a shock that his 75% Criollo bar has made our top ten. This has the typical rich and fruity taste of a great Madagascan bar, with berry notes followed by a lemony aftertaste and a subtle tartness. This is a satisfying, strong roasted cocoa with just the right amount of sweetness.

The Beans: Bar’s made with Åkesson’s beans win awards all over the world, so it’s not a shock that his 75% Criollo bar has made our top ten. This has the typical rich and fruity taste of a great Madagascan bar. We detect berry notes and a lemony aftertaste with a subtle tartness. This is a satisfying, strong roasted cocoa with just the right amount of sweetness.

The maker: Bertil Åkesson is one of the heroes of the bean to bar market, a true pioneer of the chocolate revolution. Read more about Åkesson’s here.

6. Cacaosuyo- Piura 70% (ICA gold winner)

The Bar: Once again, this bar contains nothing but cocoa beans and sugar, but manages to give us a complex whirlpool of flavour with every bite. Zesty citrus notes are complemented by elegant florals, a combination which lightens this intense, coarse-textured chocolate.

The Beans: The cacao used in this bar comes from the area around the Andean city of Cusco. The beans from this region are regarded as the finest from Peru, with a fine aroma that is greatly superior to the hybrid varietals from the country.

The Maker: Cacaosuyo‘s mission is simple: To produce the best chocolate in Peru by seeking out rare and undiscovered cacao varieties from across the country. Read more about Cacaosuyo here.

7. Åkesson’s- Brazil 75% (AOC silver winner)

The Bar: Taking silver at the Academy of Chocolate’s 2020 awards, this smooth and fruity 75% dark chocolate has a roasted finish and is full of flavours reminiscent of the lush Brazilian rainforest. As it melts in your mouth, deep woody notes anticipate a bright fruity kick, thanks to the local Brazilian pitanga fruit. A subtle hint of tobacco comes through on the finish.

The Beans:  In April 2009, Bertil Åkesson and his Brazilian partner, Dr. Angelo Calmon de Sa, purchased the Fazenda Sempre Firme estate in Bahia, Brazil. Known as “paraíso”, or “paradise”, to the locals, this 120-hectare cocoa plantation lies in the middle of the Mata Atlantica, the wild forest in southern Brazil famed for its extraordinary biodiversity. Parasinho, the traditional variety of cocoa grown there, gives all of Åkesson’s Brazilian chocolate a deep earthy quality enriched with fruity and woody notes.

8. Friis Holm- Chuno, Nicaragua 70% Double Turned Dark (ICA silver award)

The Bar: Another silver-awarded bar, this time from the International Chocolate Awards. It has a subtle profile, which is initially dominated by the bar’s creamy quality. It is incredibly smooth, with light spicy notes and just a hint of peach. The dark chocolate is finished off with a touch of sherbet and a slight astringency, giving it a really balanced flavour.

The Beans: The unique profile of this bar is owed in part to that fact that Friis Holm specified that the Nicaraguan beans used in this bar be turned twice during fermentation (hence the name).

The Maker: The precision with which Mikkel Friis-Holm’s bars are made comes as no surprise when we consider that this is a maker fascinated by the genetics of cocoa. Read more about Friis Holm here.

9. Goodnow Farms- El Carmen Nicaragua 77% Dark (AOC silver award, Sofi silver award)

The Bar: Goodnow’s Nicaraguan bar has a wonderful melt, and distinctive flavour notes of dried raisins, burnt caramel and well-roasted black treacle. Containing just cocoa butter and cacao, this is a “two ingredients only” bar.

The Beans: These beans are grown in Nicaragua’s central highlands. Most cacao farms in Nicaragua are too small to generate enough volume to properly ferment the wet cacao (known as “baba”). As a result, many farmers simply dry their baba and sell it at local markets at a very low price, since unfermented beans don’t develop the flavor characteristics that we recognize as quality chocolate. Farm owners Giff Laube and Jose Enrique Herrera saw the potential in Nicaraguan beans and built a fermentation and drying facility on their farm, and began reaching out to local farmers, convincing them to sell their baba to Cacao Bisiesto for a higher price than they’d get at local markets.

The Maker: Read the story of how a Los Angeles real-estate agent and TV producer became single-origin chocolate makers Goodnow here.

10. Standout- Iduuki India 70% (AOC bronze award)

The Bar: On taste, this dark chocolate bursts with rich sultana and dried fruit notes, with quite the “Madagascar” quality within the bar. The melt and texture is smooth, with a nutty finish.

The Beans: Known as the spice garden of Kerala, the Idukki region of southern India has long had the climate and ecology to grow cocoa. But it wasn’t until 2016, when GoGround started investing in post-harvest processing facilities and farmer education, that fine-flavour cocoa farming really took off. Now husband-and-wife Luca and Ellen, with the support of the Italian RIVA foundation, have built relationships with the smallholder farmers of Udumbannoor, paying them guaranteed weekly payments in exchange for freshly harvested cocoa beans.

The Maker: Swedish maker Fredrik Martinsson sources his beans directly from co-operatives and farmers all over the world, and aims to create “a better world through social, environmental and economic sustainability for the farmers”. Read more about Standout Chocolate here.

Try a selection of our top bars

We’ve put together a selection of the bars featured in our top ten list for you to try! Take a look below to get hold of some incredible award-winning bars.

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5 Ways To Enjoy Chocolate And Cut Down On Sugar

Chocolate and low sugar

From elevating your mood, to reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and pancreatic cancer, it seems like there are more and more benefits to eating chocolate. It’s no secret however that plenty of chocolate (mainstream milk chocolate in particular) contains huge amounts of processed sugar. Although sugar has never been in the running for health food of the year, thanks to huge media attention and a number of high profile campaigns such as Jamie Oliver’s ‘war on sugar’ the sweet stuff seems to have become food enemy number one.

Less sugar doesn’t have to mean less chocolate. The list of chocolate’s health benefits keeps on growing and there are plenty of ways to get your chocolate fix and cut down on sugar.

Whether you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake this New Year or just looking for some healthier options we’ve put together our recommendation of chocolate that is full of flavour and goodness but low on sugar.

1 Go Dark

As a general rule, the higher the cocoa percentage the less sugar a chocolate bar contains. Not only do you get less sugar, the higher cocoa percentage also means more of the good stuff. Try to choose bars with at least 85% cocoa mass, we recommend:

Taza Wicked Dark 95Taza Wicked Dark 95% – the large sugar crystals in this stone ground chocolate make it taste deceptively sweet. The biscuity texture is full of ground cacao beans.

Pacari Raw 85% – Pacari use unroasted cacao, which they say makes the bar much higher in antioxidants.

Original Beans – Mexico Zoque 88% – The Mexican beans give the bar a delicate coconut base and expressive hints of tropical lychee.

2 Go Alternative

If you prefer your chocolate a little sweeter try bars made with alternatives to cane sugar. Coconut blossom sugar has a lower glycaemic index, meaning you’ll get less of a sugar rush (and then crash) after eating. Made from the sap of coconut flower buds, it has wonderful caramel taste similar to brown sugar. Lucuma is a subtropical fruit, native so South America, which not only has a low GI but is naturally high vitamins and nutrients. When dried this ‘superfood’ can be used as a natural sweetener and has a unique sweet taste that is often compared to sweet potato or maple.

Lucocoa Dominican Republic Dark 70 Lucocoa Domnican Republic 70% – sweetened with a combination of lucuma and coconut blossom sugar, the bar has a rich flavour with hints of banana.

Lyra Peru Dark 78% – this organic dark chocolate is made using coconut blossom sugar.

Reine Astrid – Sugar-Free Cameroon 44% Milk – Opposed to cane sugar, this bar is sweetened using the starch-derived sugar substitute, Maltitol.

Zotter – Pangoa, Peru 50% Milk with Date Sugar – It’s been sweetened with date sugar, a natural sugar alternative which adds strong notes of caramel to the overall profile.

3 Try Dark Milk

A few months ago our co-founder Spencer went on Channel 4’s Sunday Brunch to talk about one of the biggest trends in craft chocolate – dark milk bars. The high cocoa content and plus the milk means that these bars are surprisingly low sugar and often contain less of the sweet stuff than many dark chocolates. Perfect for the milk chocolate addict.

Zotter Dark Style Milk 70%Zotter Milk ‘Dark Style’ 70% – this sugar free bar from Zotter uses the natural sweetness of the milk to create an intense yet creamy bar

Jordi’s Dark Milk 74% – one of the highest percentage milk chocolates we’ve ever come across.

4 Go Sugar Free With 100%

100% cocoa chocolate is made from a single ingredient, cocoa beans and has no added sugar whatsoever. Don’t be afraid, when made well by artisan makers, 100% chocolate has no unpleasant bitterness and is full of flavour. Cacao is a fruit just like an apple and an orange, so it also contains some natural sugar.

Fruition 100Fruition 100%– for the true enthusiasts a spectacular bar that shows just how delicious chocolate can be without sugar.

Akesson’s Madagascar 100%  – an multiple award winner, this is a very approachable 100% perfect if you’re trying it for the first time.

Original Beans – Cusco Chuncho 100% – this intense dark Swiss chocolate has a perfectly smooth melt and a delicate floral sweetness, revealing a lightly perfumed profile of rose petals with a cut-grass sweetness.

5 Savour Don’t Scoff

If you ever try to eat a whole one of our chocolate bars in one sitting, thanks to the high level of flavanols you might find yourself struggling to get even half way through. We think, therefore the best way to cut down on sugar is to break off a little piece of your favourite bar and as it melts to savour the gorgeous flavours that are released…..

All the bars in our Chocolate Library are what we call ‘bean-to-bar’ or ‘craft’ chocolate. What this actually means is that the chocolate was made directly from the cocoa bean by the maker. Making them by hand in small batches, without using any industrial processes or adding any artificial ingredients, creates chocolate that not only tastes amazing but is also naturally high in flavanols. Some studies have suggested these flavanol compounds may actually help suppress appetite (along with whole lot of other benefits).

Enjoy!

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