International Chocolate Day, the latest day established to celebrate this sweet treat, lands this week on 13 September. In joins other days throughout the year designated to chocolate, including World Chocolate Day on 7 July and two US National Chocolate Days on 28 October and 28 December.
Not just an excuse to indulge in a huge amount of chocolate, it is also marked by chocolate producers like Hershey, Nestle and Cadbury. This year we take a particular look at what interesting treats UK companies have on offer.
Founded in 2000, British chocolate maker Montezuma’s is not a novice when it comes to formulating original chocolate creations. The company states that 90% of its sales now come from its dark chocolate, which features quirky offerings like dark chocolate with rose and vanilla, dark chocolate chilli, sea salt and lime dark chocolate, and dark chocolate with dragon ginger.
Founders Helen and Simon Pattinson started the company with “a broad ideal to bring chocolate innovation to a boring and staid British chocolate market.”
After noticing a gap in the market and being let down by their supplier, the Pattinsons decided to hand-make their own line of products. Their team constantly attempts to create unique items, like its milk chocolate with caramelised sesame and sunflower seeds bar. Montezuma’s has even added to the growing fancy tea trend with the introduction of a milk chocolate with chai latte bar.
Montezuma’s also recently launched dairy-free milk chocolate alternatives, using rice powder, which will be available from October.
Choc on Choc
Self-taught father-daughter chocolatiers Kerr Dunlop and Flo Broughton offer unique creations, from chocolate vegetables and chocolate cheese to chocolate lollipops. The brand’s most popular chocolate designs are shoes and handbags. The name Choc on Choc is literal in its meaning as the company layers chocolate to create its quirky designs, which are stocked in over 200 retailers in the UK, as well as in Japan, the USA, Australia and Europe.
Broughton says: “Constant innovation is important for us, we still have some of our very first designs on offer but we recognise that people want to give gifts that are a little bit different.”
Credit: Choc on Choc.
Founder Willie Harcourt-Cooze sources his cacao beans directly from Central and South America, Africa and Asia to create a unique bean-to-bar chocolate. He emphasises the importance of the beans’ natural taste.
He says: “I buy single-estate cacaos direct from the farmers, roast them in antique ball roasters and make them into chocolate using just raw cane sugar and natural cocoa butter – no soya lecithin, no vanilla, nothing that gets in the way of the flavour of the bean.”
His Criollo and Trinitario beans are less productive but allegedly produce a more interesting range of flavours compared to the more commonly-used Foreastero bean.
Credit: Willie’s Cacao.
As one of the best-known UK chocolate companies, Hotel Chocolat opened its doors in 2004. The cocoa grower offers a large variety of luxurious selections in boozy chocolate, cherry, chilli and cookie chocolate, cocoa gin, strawberry chocolate and much more.
A Hotel Chocolat spokesperson explains what makes its chocolate special, saying: “Everybody said a bar of chocolate should be regularly divided into bite-sized pieces – but squares are boring, so we broke the mould and made our now iconic Giant Slabs, inspired by the shape of molten chocolate when you pour it onto the cool marble of a chocolatier’s table.
“But all this only scratches the surface. We’ve also created the world’s first single-côte chocolate, developed by our own chocolate genre, Supermilk, innovated with cocoa cuisine from spiced cocoa nib ketchup to white chocolate horseradish and even cocoa gin. And the invention goes on – we’re constantly embracing new technologies and ideas.”
Credit: Hotel Chocolat.
Ombar differs in more than just chocolate bar flavours; it also uses innovative production methods. The majority of chocolate is made by roasting cacao at a high temperature, which is said to reduce its natural qualities, but Ombar roasts its cacao at a low heat to preserve its nutrients, creating raw chocolate.
Ombar’s ‘raw chocolate is good for you’ mantra is ideal for the chocolate lovers who feel guilty about indulging this International Chocolate Day. The company also uses coconut sugar, rather than refined sugar and whole fruits in its products.
A spokesperson said: “Cacao contains flavonoids, antioxidant compounds which are said to protect against cell damage caused by free-radicals. The flavonoids found in cacao are called flavonols and research has found that they are especially beneficial with regard to blood flow.”
Ombar’s nutritious bar varieties include blueberry and acai, lemon and green tea, and raspberry and coconut.
Beki’s ‘gloriously indulgent’ brownies are loaded with multiple toppings and ingredients. Combining chocolate with even more chocolate, Beki’s products include brownie trays stuffed with Digestives, Oreos, Rolos, Reese’s and mini marshmallows. Kinder Bueno brownies, Nutella brownies and S’mores brownies are all hugely popular brand offerings.
The company frequently exhibits its products at markets and festivals, having just sold out at the Leamington Food Festival on 9 September. Beki’s Brownies will also feature at Warwick Market on 22 September and the Warwick Chocolate Festival in October.
Credit: Beki’s Brownies.