When it comes to shopping on the high street we feel we are limited in our choices for great chocolate, leaving us to make most of our cacao purchases online. Buying from trusted chocolatiers and chocolate makers who we have met via our work, or by a recommendation is a good way for us to ensure the traceability and quality of the chocolate we eat. Mind you, there are still occasions where mainstream candy chocolate fits the brief on a quiet night when no one is watching! But on the high street, we have a few go-to places when we are in need and feel the postman would take longer than we might like to arrive with our orders.

One stop for us is Hotel Chocolat, simply because we are addicted to their Fruit & Nut 80%. As gluten-dairy-free diets restrict what we can pick up and eat, we have to be a bit more selective in our choices. The vegan movement has added a wider range of choices for our needs, but sadly the gluten-free era took a bit of a back seat, so trying to combine the two options becomes more difficult when buying. Hotel Chocolat has a small vegan selection so it then makes the choice a little easier and we simply have to filter gluten from these. Dark chocolate is an easier choice too as the chance of added dairy is greatly reduced. With the Fruit & Nut 80% we are home-free with the dark chocolate being fully loaded with almonds, hazelnuts, and cherries. This dark chocolate slab gives us the depth of bite we are looking for and a nice mouthfeel once we have crunched through the nuts and enjoyed the acidic sweetness of the cherries. As with all allergies, we run the risk of cross-contamination but have learned to live with how we can best reduce and manage this potential hazard whilst still enjoying eating out.

Another instant pop-in for us is Be Chocolat by Michel Clement. Set in the heart of Brighton, it is a short hop down the A23 for us and we are rewarded with a shop full of fresh chocolate products. Many of their chocolates are suitable for our diets and we indulge mostly in the covered peels they have to offer. Lemon or orange and a dark chocolate combination really works for us. On our last visit, we selected the Sao Tome Dark Chocolate Slab on the advice of the helpful assistant, who was guiding us through our ‘safe’ choices. At 70% it is surprisingly smooth and creamy and easy on the senses, plus we can now get it delivered straight to the door. But again, a swift drive to the Sussex coast versus waiting for the postman? Hmmm, difficult choices made easier with great cacao.

There are a few other places we can physically go to buy chocolate but many of our most-loved chocolate makers do not have a shop and work via delivery or events. One sure way to avoid disappointment is to make sure we stock up at any chocolate event we visit. For the next Denbies chocolate fair we will be back in Dorking on Sunday 13th October 2024.

See you there!