In the mood for chocolate? Follow our ten steps to cocoa heaven

Flavoured and plain chocolate bars by Amelia Rope at Fenwick

There is no better excuse than Christmas for a little self-indulgence so why not melt away with this mouth-watering guide by self-confessed chocaholic, Alice Watt.

1. Taste a real Christmas hamper

Just the thing for festive sweet tooths, indulge in a truly decadent chocolate gift from the award-winning chocolatier, La Maison du Chocolat.

This year, customers can indulge in the rare opportunity to create bespoke hampers from their wide range of exquisite boxed treats - from truffles to pralines, coated fruits to Gourmandises - all compiled in the luxury brand’s signature hat boxes.

Hampers from £200.

www.lamaisondechocolat.co.uk

2. Learn from a master

Indulge in the joy of chocolate making with acclaimed chef, Alain Ducasse. The chocolate master will be tempting guests with an exclusive lesson in the French artisanal craft at his restaurant at The Dorchester in London.

Using the finest chocolate from his factory in Paris, La Manufacture de Chocolat, guests will gain hands-on experience in melting, moulding and working chocolate like a true professional, as well as learning how to finesse the restaurant’s signature soufflé.

£150, for a two-hour masterclass, reserved in advance, on the 7th February and the 7th March at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.

www.alainducasse-dorchester.com

3. Give your tree a chocolate twist

As a delicious sweet treat for loved ones – that is, if you can bear to part with them – it's hard to beat Prestat’s Christmas chocolates.

From baubles filled with London Gin and Tonic truffles to stocking-shaped boxes bursting with taste combinations that could have been conjured by Willy Wonka himself, Prestat is great for those tricky-to-gift recipients. You can also find delicious hampers brimming with treats if you really want to spoil a special someone.

From £6.95, (available in Fenwick stores)

4. Try some quirky confections

This year Rococo Chocolates have created delightful new figurines depicting Father Christmas in all his splendour. Each character is made with the bespoke chocolatier’s house blend of milk chocolate, which contains cocoa beans from their own farm in Grenada, and hand-painted to finish. Simply divine.

Father Christmas figure, £29.95 for 250g figure.

www.rococochocolates.com

5. Experience a tour in ecstasy

Explore London’s hidden chocolate gems on the not-to-be-missed Chocolate Ecstasy Tour. Learn about the perfect cocoa proportions, pick up a little local history and most of all taste the creations from the capital’s finest chocolateries.

The luxury outings are available weekly, but spaces are restricted so that the tour guide's encyclopaedic knowledge and, most importantly, the delicious cocoa treats, can be enjoyed to maximum effect.

Chocolate Ecstasy Tours From £40pp and full day tours are £165

www.chocolateecstasytours.com

6. Succumb to sophisticated stocking fillers

Christmas stockings may be lacking somewhat this year following the news that Cadbury has discontinued its iconic Christmas coins, but fear not, as Charbonnel et Walker have recently launched some scrumptious new treats.

Endorsed by the Royal Warrant, as chocolate manufacturers to Her Majesty The Queen, they have been creating chocolates in the UK for 140 years and their new handmade delights – including Dark Sea Salt Caramel Truffles - will mean your stocking is far from lacking.

Truffles, £12.95 for 120g, (available in Fenwick Bond Street)

7. Go back to school

Enrol at the school of chocolate in Hotel Chocolat’s Cooca Vaults in the heart of London’s Covent Garden. At the intimate underground venue, students can learn the delicate art of chocolate-making under the watchful eye of one of their talented chocolatiers.

Get to grips with making chocolate entirely from scratch using freshly roasted cocoa beans grown on Hotel Chocolat’s very own Rabot Estate in Saint Lucia, before piping a bespoke bar of chocolate to take home. Learning just got infinitely more fun.

Cocoa Vaults - School of Chocolate 4 Monmouth Street Covent Garden, WC2H 9HB. From £50pp

www.hotelchocolat.com/cocoavaults

8. Then try hunting for truffles

Crafting couture chocolates might be a bit of a fine art but truffles are another matter. So, if you’re going to do it, you need to learn from the best. This fantastic hands-on tutorial in the art of creating the acclaimed William Curley truffles is in high demand.

The two-and-a-half-hour class reveals the secrets behind the perfect truffle, combining skills in infusing, blending and preparing the Grenache for two of the award-winning decadent truffles. All of the chocolate delights made on the day are then beautifully boxed and wrapped, ready to be given as a present, or devoured at home.

£85 for two-and-a-half hours.

www.williamcurley.com

9. Taste the work of a true artisan

It is impossible to exercise any restraint when it comes to the unique blends of chocolate craftsman Amelia Rope. Famed for surprising flavour combinations, her dark collection 24 cube box is exclusive to Fenwick. We have also been trying to resist the British chocolatier's delicious new bundles, including dark honeycomb and sea salt (Malden no less) combined with hazelnut and sea salt as well as dark and pale coffee bean and dark lemon and raspberry, all tied with a VV Rouleaux Fenwick green ribbon.

Dark collection 24 cube box, £29, Amelia Rope (available at Fenwick Bond Street)

10. And enjoy drinking chocolate with a kick

Occupying a corner of the historical Langham Hotel on Portland Place in London, the Artesian bar, steeped in history and boasting an ever-changing world-class cocktail menu, is a perfect drinking spot this Christmas.

And for the next six months, the bar will be serving up an exotic sounding What Is Agugu? But don’t let the name put you off. The ultimate dessert in a cocktail, otherwise known as every chocoholics dream drink includes Vermouth, golden nugget, and of course 200g of 70 per cent Ocoa Cacao Barry – aka the best.

The ‘What Is Agugu?’ cocktail at The Langham, in London.

 

By Alice Watt