Local Scottish artisan chocolatiers
Cocoa Black, The Chocolate Tree, Oban Chocolate Co and more
Cocoa beans may not grow in Scotland, but the last decade has seen small, artisan chocolate makers spring up across the country. In this survey we take a particular look at examples of local inﬂuences in the ranges on offer.
Culinary Olympic winning pastry chef Ruth Hinks set up Cocoa Black in Peebles in 2008, and has subsequently opened a chocolate and patisserie school. She was chosen to compete in the UK Chocolate Masters in 2010: the ﬁrst female ever selected, and the only Scottish chocolatier. Their accomplished range of bars and individual chocolates includes variousdelicately judged combinations including a whisky with fresh orange notes and locally inspired pineapple with Jacobite ale from nearby Traquair House Brewery.
This Edinburgh-based chocolate maker has a great recipe for hot chocolate using plain dark chocolate drops, but they major in handmade individual chocolates. Their base chocolate is Belgian, and Scottish ingredients make an appearance in a couple of examples from their range: Lia Fail, a dark-chocolate encased trufﬂe with a dose of dark Scottish beer, and milk-chocolate Sonsie Face, featuring oats soaked in Drambuie and honey.
The Chocolate Tree
This East Lothian based producer (with a café in Bruntsﬁeld in Edinburgh) puts a strong emphasis on ethical, environmentally sensitive production values and respect to the roots and heritage of chocolate. They use simple packaging, including origami boxes, and as many organic ingredients as possible, including their base chocolate. Their chocolate bars speckled with different ingredients include Strawberry & Pepper and Bramble & Cardamom – a punchy combination. Look out for their chocolate tent at local music festivals.
Charlotte Flower Chocolates
Based on the shores of Loch Tay, Charlotte Flower’s ﬂavours change through the year as she uses local ingredients such as larch, juniper, sea buckthorn and blaeberry, mostly picked in the wild or from her garden. Elegant, bitter, brittle dark chocolate thins are ﬂavoured with Scots pine shoots, giving a hint of the forest, while boxed chocolates with their fresh double cream ganache ﬁllings and arranged in neat rectangular patterns, look spectacular and enticing.
Oban Chocolate Company
Set up in 2003, Helen MacKechnie’s operation on Oban esplanade includes her brother Kenneth, a former chef, as Head Chocolatier. Running children’s chocolate workshops as well as a café and shop, their range of unusual ﬂavours includes Marmite, Walnut Cappuccino, Gin & Lemon and Christmas Pud. There’s a Scottish ﬂavour in cranachan trufﬂe (with plain chocolate, whisky, raspberries, and honey, rolled in toasted oatmeal) and rich cocoa dusted whisky trufﬂes.
Based in Edinburgh and exuding a continental elegance, Coco are one of the country’s most sophisticated chocolatiers. Local links include a trio of deftly packaged chocolates named ‘Aroma’, ‘Taste’ and ‘Finish’ specially designed to complement Dalmore whiskies. Recently they’ve also created an unusually textured bar of organic milk chocolate mixed with Scottish honey and ﬂavoured with lavender. Discover them at their Bruntsﬁeld shop, chocolate school or on one of their monthly tasting evenings.
Nadia Ellingham’s young company has recently opened a chocolate studio in East Lothian. Intriguingly and often artistically designed, her chocolate range includes honey caramel and raspberry, but on the local theme it’s probably most notable for a haggis trufﬂe designed for Burns Night – it’s ﬂavoured with the spices, not the meat, but achieves a savoury sweet sensation. All the hand-rolled trufﬂes are made with fresh cream and 100% cocoa butter, then ﬁnished with extra brut cocoa.
At his workshop in Grandtully near Aberfeldy, Continental-trained Iain Burnett uses a premium-grade cacao from South Atlantic island Sao Tomé to produce his elegant, intensely ﬂavoured chocolates. He also acknowledges the value of having great dairy, honey and berries on his doorstep: ﬂavours include garden mint or strawberry and black pepper. His signature a precisely crafted rectangular velvet trufﬂe, recently picked up a three gold star Good Taste Award and they appear as petit fours in various Michelin-starred restaurants, with Albert Roux the latest to seek them out.
Islay Chocolate Co
Among the chocolates made by hand by Susan Eastwood at Bridgend in the centre of Islay are boldly ﬂavoured sea salted caramels and dark chocolate trufﬂes infused with a blend of Islay malt whiskies – nicely named ‘The Angel’s Share’. The company also works with individual distilleries on the island to create bespoke ranges. Now with a shop in Glasgow at Kelvinbridge, Eastwood emphasises the local ethos in a fragile island economy by using local produce and shops for ingredients.