Are you struggling to find a gift for your loved one for Valentine’s Day? On this holiday, it is hard to be original, creative or inspired. So what do you do? Maybe you resort to not buying anything and spending the evening at home, or going for a pre-set dinner at a restaurant, pink bubbles included?

Here we have been thinking outside the box of chocolates, past the bouquets of flowers and candy and have instead focused on bars. But not just any bars, these are some of the best chocolate bars you will find anywhere in the world. There is no gimmicks, no pink and red ribbons, no heart shaped boxes or cellophane to unwrap. These are pure unadulterated chocolate bars (with one great exception).

What we have here are truly luxurious examples of gastronomic sensuality. What could be better than one of the few foods that melts with your body heat? These bars are mostly“bean to bar” which means that the chocolate maker is actually grinding their own beans to the moulding of the bar are all from the producer; no bought in bulk chocolate. These are some passionate chocolate makers, who have all worked tirelessly to create chocolats that represent a place and a terroir. They are passionate beyond compare, and that passion and care comes thorough in the outstanding quality and taste of their chocolates.

Instead of just choosing at random, we took the advice of chocolate tasting expert and judge, Cat Black who joined us in tasting through the chocolate and guided us through the tasting notes for each one. This considered tasting with some expert advice really educated us on the finer points of tasting and experiencing chocolate.


Pump Street Bakery

Pump Street Bakery is a small family-owned bakery & cafe in the village of Orford on Suffolk’s heritage coast.Having mastered the art of bread and pastries, they have turned theirall-consuming focus on quality to chocolate. Along with only a few other UK producers, they make small batch, handmade chocolate from beans imported directlyfrom family farms and cooperatives around the world. Buy online at Pump Street Bakery.Suggestions:
Grenada 70% – classy, fruit focused, good chocolate flavour.
Sourdough and Seasalt 66% -combines the tang and malt notes of both chocolate and sourdough in perfect harmony with l
ovelylight crunch from the crumbs.

Choctree

Choctree is based in Edinburgh, Scotland and have been creating great hand-made chocolate since 2009. As they say, “We work in genuine small batches using superior natural ingredients, ethically sourced and organic. We exist to bring you fine flavour chocolate whilst at the same time offering impoverished farmers better profits and preserving biodiversity.” Buy online at Choctree.

Suggestions:
Sambirano Madagascar Trinitario 72% – Zingy with strong red fruit and raspberry notes.
Maranon Peru 48% milk chocolate -Strong mid notes of caramel with a coffee ending.
Superior Venezuela extra bitter 80% – Spicy with nutmeg, cinnamon and smoky notes.

Original Beans

Original Beans is not just a chocolate company, but an entire philosophy. Have a look at their website for a lot of great information about their mission and organization. Original Beans chocolates have repeatedly won the most prestigious chocolate awards and are served in the world’s best restaurants. “We are delighted that many chocolate lovers around the world share our passion for luxurious chocolate and rigorous sustainability. Together, we change the world through chocolate.” Buy online from Natoora.

Suggestions:
Piura Porcelana 75% – From the Andes in Peru, apricots and honey stand out.
Cru Virunga 70% – Dried fruits, cherries and black tea.
Esmeraldas Milk with Salt 42% – Perfect example of an old school mil chocolate with light saltyness at the end.
Edelweiss White Chocolate – Delicate and not overly sugary. Perfect if you want the best white chocolate you can find.

Duffy’s Chocolate

Single origin artisan chocolate bars made from cacao sourced from different regions all over the world. They have total control of the roasting and processing of the cocoa beans and they do it all themselves in Lincolnshire. All of their luxury chocolate is made by hand, and made carefully. A passionate and talented chocolate maker. Buy online from Duffy’s.

Suggestions:
Venezuela Ocumare 55% – The highest amount of cocoa in the milk chocolates we tried, great crunch, banana notes.
Nicaragua Chuno 70% – Savoury nose with strong black olive notes.
Honduras Indio Rojo 72% – Floral, currant jam and raisins.

Paul A. Young/Glen Moray Port Cask Whiskey Truffles

Paul A. Young is a chocolatier instead of a chocolate maker, but he works with the raw materials from many of those chocolate makers we listed (including Duffy’s) as his base chocolate for his creations. These are not exactly chocolate bars, but they represent a great combination of flavours and a real artistry in chocolate making. The combination of chocolate and Glen Moray Port Cask Whiskey is perfect, with the true flavor of the whiskey and the chocolate combining perfectly. Paul not only sells some great bars in his shops, but has a great range of filled chocolates for Valentines. The Glen Moray Port Cask is the one that we happened to have tried, and loved.Buy online from Paul A. Young.