Chocolate lovers! Delve into these delightfully amazing chocolate creations which will leave you wanting more
While chocolate brings to mind the images of either a bar, a box of bonbons or truffles, or even the seasonal egg and bunny — it was strictly a beverage for most of its long history. The modern-day word “chocolate” was thought to have its etymological origins from the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which had then referred to a drink brewed from cacao beans. However, another Aztec word, “choqui” meaning warmth is also posited as chocolate’s etymological origin. The Aztecs considered chocolate to be a gift from the gods, and had revered the xocoatl drink in particular: it was given to victorious warriors after battle, used in their religious rituals, and the cacao beans they originated from were used as currency. The scientific name for the cacao tree is perhaps an homage to this — Theobroma cacao literally means “cacao, food of the gods.”
Nowadays, the term “cacao" refers to the plant or its beans before processing, whereas the term "chocolate" refers to anything made from the beans. "Cocoa" generally refers to chocolate in a powdered form. The word "chocolate" itself has recently widened to include a range of affordable treats with higher sugar and additive content rather than actual cacao in them, often made from the hardiest but least flavorful of the bean varieties (forastero). Sweetened chocolate is a fairly modern invention, and their readily available nature may partly be due to the creation of the first modern chocolate bar by Joseph Fry in 1847. Fry’s company was also responsible for inventing the first chocolate Easter egg two years later, and his company later merged with Cadbury (now one of the world’s biggest confectionery companies!) which then started mass-producing these in England.
In recent years, chocolatiers have seen increased interest in handmade chocolates of higher quality and more sustainably effective farming and harvesting methods. Major corporations like Hershey’s have expanded their artisanal chocolate lines by purchasing smaller producers known for premium chocolates, such as Scharffen Berger and Dagoba — alongside maintaining their mass-market products they are well-known for in the first place — while independent chocolatiers making craft chocolate in much limited quantities have continued flourishing just as well.
Here are some of our picks of amazing chocolate creations that you can actually buy worldwide:
Chocolate Concierge’s Malaysian-inspired Bonbons, Malaysia
Considered to be one of the best chocolates in Malaysia by many chocolate bloggers, Chocolate Concierge is a creative chocolate endeavour by cocoa farmer and fermenter Ning-Geng Ong. Chocolate Concierge sells a range of handcrafted chocolate bars, barks and flavoured bonbons at its Bangsar outlet (located within the Bangsar Shopping Centre premises) and online. A recent news- worthy creation of theirs is a set of 5 Malaysian-inspired bonbons, that includes flavours like Onde Onde, Cendol and even Sweet Laksa. The best part: their chocolates are also ethically sourced and harvested from Malaysia’s indigenous communities. Chocolate Concierge co-owns 16 farms tended by the Semai and Temuan communities, and Ning personally collects fresh beans from farmers before processing them back at his Kepong facility. Their chocolate bars are named after each tribe that foraged their cacao and are indicative of the distinct terroir of these respective villages.
Artisan du Chocolat’s Pyramide de Chocolats, United Kingdom
A relatively well-known luxury chocolate brand in the UK due to their presence in the high-end department chains of Selfridges and Harvey Nichols, Artisan du Chocolat was founded in 2000 by Gerard Coleman. A six-tier pyramid of chocolates (aptly named Pyramide de Chocolats) is perhaps the London-based chocolatier’s most notable creation. Found within the beautifully designed pyramid structure are some of a chocolatier’s best flavours such as couture ganaches, classical truffles, liquid salted caramels, shimmering pearls and moreish chocolate-coated fruits and nuts. This structure can also be inverted to create a centrepiece which holds its own, even without the chocolates.
Tales Chocolate chocolate bars, Sweden
Handcrafted in Malmö, Tales Chocolate had set about designing a tasting experience that defined the core character of Stockholm’s Old Town (Gamla Stan) via a series of workshops with various individuals concerning their respective definitions and memories of said city district. This melding of passions — of both chocolate and Stockholm city — then resulted in an ‘experiential’ bar thought to reflect the city’s old heritage and new energy: the Gamla Stan bar is 85% dark chocolate with a dark roasted start and fruity, mischievous finish. Tales Chocolate have recently expanded to two more Stockholm flavours of Södermalm and Djurgården, reflecting the essence of the respective Stockholm districts these chocolate bars were inspired by.
Stick With Me Sweets’s bonbons, New York
Stick With Me Sweets’ visually captivating bonbons resemble jewels in the store’s gleaming case at a distance and come in an equally beautiful hollowed-out book. With a range of unexpected flavour combinations such as black sesame and passion mango as well as the usual ones like sea salt caramel beneath each beautifully vivid (and hand painted)shell — these bourbons taste as good as they look. The brainchild of Susanna Yoon, these gorgeous creations have earned the chocolatier glowing mentions in various magazines including by Oprah Winfrey herself; who included these bonbons in her annual list of Favourite Things in 2016.
Beau Cacao chocolate bars, United Kingdom
While Beau Cacao is a London-based chocolatier, the Bo San Cheung and Thomas Delcour-founded chocolate company actually uses cacao beans sourced directly from Malaysian Borneo growers. With two dark chocolate bars under their belt — named Asajaya and Serian respectively, after their terroir of origin — Beau Cacao’s attention to details does not stop at the composition of their chocolate: their meticulously designed chocolate bars and packaging have also drawn much attention. Designer Adam Gill drew inspiration from traditional Malaysian patterns, geometric architectural features, organic layering, and tessellation in creating Beau Cacao’s chocolate mold. The packaging for both their Asajaya and Serian chocolate bars were the work of London’s SocioDesign, which will then form the basis of future Beau Cacao packaging iterations. The geometric gold foiled pattern was influenced by traditional Malaysian fabric designs and is intended to reflect distinctive molded shape of the chocolate within.
ROZILLA chocolates of Es Koyama Patisserie, Japan
Founded by the world-renowned pastry chef Susumu Koyama in Sanda City, Japan —Rozilla is the chocolatier arm of the Es Koyama Patisserie chain of businesses. A regular of Paris’s Salon du Chocolate event, Koyama is particularly notable for the whimsical nature of his creations. He is often likened to a Japanese ‘Willy Wonka. Some of Koyama’s chocolate creations include uniquely flavoured bonbons such as the Shoyu Soy Sauce Nouveau (a combination of “nikiri soy sauce and Pedro Ximénez wine flavours), Japanese Pickled Radish Praline and the Aroma of Wild Chrysanthemum (which is a combination of the chrysanthemum flower and leaf flavours).
COCO Chocolatiers, Scotland
One of Edinburgh’s earliest premium chocolatiers, COCO Chocolatiers are well-renowned for their playful packaging and equally fun selection of flavour combinations — handcrafted with locally sourced ingredients — and the infusion of essential oils into the final product. Made fresh by skilled chocolatiers in a chocolate kitchen within Edinburgh, their chocolates are then delivered to their multiple Edinburgh outlets and are also made available online for overseas customers. Some of their more intriguing flavour choices include gin-and-tonic, haggis spice, rhubarb-and-ginger and Isle of Skye sea salt. COCO Chocolatiers have also integrated local artists into their business by commissioning them to do their packaging and acting as an alternate platform for these artists’ works. COCO Chocolatiers are also famous for their hot chocolates (or drinking chocolates) that are 70% dark or organic white, which can be made bespoke in-store.