How Charbonnel et Walker make chocolate fit for the queen

When it comes to pure luxury and indulgence, nobody does it better than Charbonnel et Walker. 

We caught up with the brand's Head Chocolatier, Adam Lee, to hear about its history of making treats for the Royal Family, the best temperature for melting chocolate and the story behind its new history-inspired Valentine's Day collection. With Champagne truffles this good, sharing might not be caring after all...

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The brand has quite a history. How did it all start?

Charbonnel et Walker was Britain’s first luxury chocolatier, founded in 1875. Encouraged by Edward VII (then the Prince of Wales), Charbonnel et Walker formed as a partnership between Mrs Walker and Mme Charbonnel, the latter from the esteemed Maison Boissier chocolate house in Paris. The original shop opened at 173 New Bond Street in Mayfair and has remained in Bond Street ever since. 

What makes Charbonnel unique?

Charbonnel et Walker is one of the few chocolatiers to hold a Royal Warrant as chocolate manufacturers to Her Majesty The Queen, with chocolates that are hand-made to the traditional recipes of Madame Charbonnel. We are particularly renowned for our dark chocolate, made from the finest dark couverture. The result is a decadently rich taste and an unforgettable experience.

A Royal favourite, our Charbonnel et Walker Rose and Violet Creams are quintessentially English. Our unique fondant recipe is infused with attar of Roses and Violets (the essential oil extracted from the petals), enrobed in our finest dark chocolate and entirely hand finished with crystallised Rose and Violet petals. These chocolates are just as popular today and still made to Madame Charbonnel's original and esteemed recipe.

Charbonnel et Walker truffles have also become as iconic as our chocolates. Our Pink Marc de Champagne Truffles are synonymous with a rich, decadent taste - perfect for a special occasion or indulgent treat and much loved from one generation to the next. The brand also continues to reflect the modern tastes of today’s society - alongside our classic flavours, Sea Salt Caramel truffles have proved one of our most popular.

And you've attracted some very famous clientèle...

The rich heritage of Charbonnel et Walker weaves together a magnificent patronage of colourful characters from royalty and aristocracy to socialites and screen legends.

Our iconic customers have included Princess Diana, Princess Margaret, Wallis Simpson, Oscar Wilde, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Alec Guinness, Lauren Bacall, Noel Coward (who requested a box of our finest selections to be delivered to his home every fortnight) and Prince Francis of Teck (who once bequeathed the Teck Emeralds to his mistress after courting her with Charbonnel et Walker chocolates).

What is the secret to making good chocolate?

To produce the best tasting chocolate, as well as the couverture used, it is all in the tempering of the chocolate. The chocolate needs to be melted at an even temperature which must be maintained - this is the process that also helps to create the beautiful shine you see on Charbonnel et Walker chocolates.

AC80389eWhat's the inspiration behind the new Valentine’s Peacock collection?

The Charbonnel et Walker collection for 2016 has been designed in collaboration with accomplished illustrator and artist, Kerry Lemon.

The Valentine’s collection is a nod to our heritage and depicts an exquisite peacock with a plume of feathers and a crown on each of our classic fine chocolate selections, our iconic Pink Marc de Champagne truffles and decadent sea salt caramel heart chocolates.

The peacock, whilst known to display its beautiful feathers to attract a partner, also became a prominent symbol in Victorian Britain. Ladies and gentleman would always be sure to wear their finest clothes whilst walking like ‘a peacock’ as they perused the grand stores on Bond Street.

The delightful crown the peacock is wearing is a subtle reference to our Royal Warrant.

Charbonnel et Walker is available at Fenwick Bond StreetColchesterKingston, NewcastleLeicester and Tunbridge Wells

By Alison Millington