Trading Up – Gourmet takes on classic chocolate bars

I’d bet my last Rolo on the fact that even the connoisseurs who peer down the extended noses they hold so high in the air at cheap commercial confectionary harbour a well-closeted craving for the chocolate-y treats of childhood.

As a kid, it was perfectly acceptable to get all in the mix with a Twix; take a break and have a Kit Kat; have your work, rest and play made possible by a Mars; or understand that only Smarties indeed were in possession of the answers. But adult adulation of the same sweet treats is considered callow.

Face it: it’s time to trade up. There are plenty more pleasures in the Milky Way; a whole Galaxy of them, in fact. Clever chocolatiers are recreating the same cracking combinations that provided pure pleasure in the playground, and what’s more, (Wispa it) they’re delicious.

So there’s simply no need to endure the Snickers of your foodie friends the next time you bring home your Bounty of bars that you could have plucked from any tuckshop. This superior selection lets you savour the same flavours in an altogether finer forms ‘Up your Street, but of rather better Quality than their traditional counterparts’, you might say…

If you mainline Maltesers…

Artisan du Chocolat cannon_malts

…try Artisan du Chocolat’s Cannon Malts

The name alone suggests these are heavyweight contenders compares to the similarly-spherical chocolate-coated confections that claim to be ‘the lighter way to enjoy chocolate’. Take aim and fire a few of these malt balls mouth-wards.

If you crave Caramac… 

Valrhona Dulcey chocolate

…try Valrhona’s Dulcey

The first commercial example of caramelised white chocolate, Dulcey is sweet, creamy and boasts beautifully biscuity notes. It’s warm, rich, with a far more rounded flavour than that flat bar it’s colour calls to mind.

If you crunch on Crunchie…

chococo honeycombe chocolate clusters

.. try Chococo’s Heavenly Honeycombe Clusters

I’d take a few of these over that Friday Feeling any damn day of the week. These rocking rocks feature honeycomb hewn from Fairtade sugar and local Dorset honey, amply enrobed in Venezuelan milk chocolate.

If you relish Rolos… 

Paul A Young Sea-Salted-Caramels

…try Paul A Young’s Sea Salted Caramels (and make your own at a masterclass)

Time was, sprinkling salt into a bubbling vat of sugar would have earned you some strange looks. But these chocolates have earned Paul a justified rep as the man who can work wonders with Billington’s sugar and  a few flakes of Maldon’s minerals.

If you’d run a Marathon for a Snickers…

William Curley Snickers

…try William Curley’s Peanut Nougat Bar

If you’re ‘Not You When You’re Hungry’, then ‘Get Some Nuts’ in the form of this chunky monkey from William Curley’s Nostalgia range; dressed in a glossy cloak of 70% Toscano chocolate, featuring a sprinkle of salt in the peanut caramel.

If you nosh on Nutella…

Domori Gianduja Cream

…try Domori’s Gianduja Cream

Nutella may proudly claim to afford you a full ‘two whole hazelnuts per portion’, but the nuts in Domori’s silken spread are Piedmonteses of true pedigree – specifically, they’re a PGI product. The perfect paste is milk-free and cocoa-rich.

If you’d pack a Picnic…

munchy-dory-bar-shot

…try The Grown Up Chocolate Company’s Lovely Fruity Nutty Crunchy

 Whose perfect picnic DOESN’T consist of rich milk chocolate, crisp cereal pieces, raisins,  rivulets of toffee, and bits of biscuit? This mixed-up marvel is practically a balanced meal in a bar.

If you’d eat After Eights any time of day… 

Summerdown Peppermint chocolate thins

…try Summerdown’s Chocolate Mint Thins

After Eight eaters were traditionally considered sophisticated sorts. So these suave dark chocolate discs whose pleasant peppermint punch comes from Black Mitcham Mint grown on a Hampshire farm should go down a storm.

If you  binge on Bounty bars… 

Melt cococnut chocolate square praline

…try Melt’s Coconut Squares

Fancy a true ‘Taste of Paradise’ that you’re not still picking out of your teeth a few days later? Melt’s tropical treat layers organic coconut with gooey ganache; all wrapped in a dark and handsome shell.

If you get a buzz from Coffee Creams…

Marc Demarquette tea-coffee-chocolate-caramel-cups

…try Demarquette’s Tea & Coffee caramels

This collection will suit anyone for whom a cup of coffee is very much their cup of tea. A spiced Bedouin brew and a Viennese-inspired coffee-fig caramel offer a fine way to get one”s fix – and there are four tea treats, too.

If you jump for joy at a Jaffa Cake…

William Curley Jaffa Cake

…try William Curley’s Jaffa Cake

Ah, the age-old Jaffa Cake conundrum. Is it a cake or is it a biscuit?* Who cares when William’s version consists of Genoise sponge, Seville orange marmalade,  chocolate ganache and 70% Toscano chocolate.

(*FYI – In 1991, the Jaffa Cake was officially declared as a CAKE. So now you know.)

If you fancy Ferrero Rocher… 

Ferrero Rocher chocolate hazelnut truffles Artisan du Chocolat

...try Artisan Du Chocolat’s Rochers

Forget the Ambassador, really spoil yourself with Artisan du Chocolat’s own Rochers. The thick, nut-nibbed shell gives way to a top-notch praline centre, with – huzzah! – no nasty cardboardy intermediary layer to detract from the deliciousness.

If you’d prefer to be paid in chocolate coins…

Rococo chocolate coin

…try Rococo’s Large Chocolate Coin

Go for gold and make yourself feel ‘so money’ with an oversized piece of British currency cast from chocolate whose taste you will value rather more highly than that of most chocolate coins currently on the market.

If you’re tempted by Toffee Crisp… 

Grown Up Chocolate Co Crunchy Toffee Trilogy

…try Grown Up Chocolate Co.’s Crunchy Crispy Toffee Trilogy

It might have ‘Grown Up’, but this bar contains toffee and crisp pieces… need I say more? Okay then… it also includes white choc biscuit balls, caramel and puffed rice, nicely wrapped up in luxury milk chocolate.

If you go gaga for Green Triangles…

Hotel Chocolate Dizzy Milk Pralines

…, try Hotel Chocolat’s Dizzy Pralines

They’re not the same shape, granted – but the next time a triangle-shaped craving hits, scoff one of these circular chocolates instead and understand that shape isn’t everything. This is praline as it oughta be – roasty, toasty, plush and luscious.

If you’d fatten up on Fry’s Turkish Delight… 

chococo Turkish delight rose chocolate clusters

..try Chococo’s Chocolate Turkish Delight

A thin coating of mild milk chocolate over an artificially-flavoured, luridly-hued, gooey-chewy sugary slab; or Grenadan 70% chocolate coating the finest rose’n’lemon Turkish delight one can find? I think you’ll find the latter finer dining.

If you savour sweet strawberry creams… 

Lauden Chocolates Strawberry and cream truffles

…try Lauden’s Strawberries & Cream chocolates

Strawberry creams are often sickly, but that’s not the case with Lauden’s fruity beauties. Indeed, Dom from Chocablog says that they offer the ‘zingiest, tangiest, loudest natural strawberry flavour’  he’s ever encountered.

If you ‘goo’ crazy for Creme Eggs…

humpty-dumpty-dr-booz-of-ireland

…try Fairy Tale Gourmet’s Humpty Dumpty chocolate eggs

Far better than fondant filling, these awesome ovoids hatch to reveal creamy centres in fine flavours like raspberry pudding, peanut butter and Bailey’s ganache. For goodness sake don’t share them with all the King’s horses, or the King’s men.

If you relish Reece’s Peanut Butter Cups… 

Montezumas peanut butter truffle

…try Montezuma’s Peanut Butter truffles

Montezuma’s has managed to retain that splendid salty-savoury centre of America’s most famous PB cups. You’ll feel your cup has runneth over – as an added bonus, the ‘orrible Hersheys coating has been replaced with cracking chocolate.

If you’d spend pounds on Toffee Pennies….

Melt vanilla caramels

…try Melt’s Vanilla Caramels

The brown paper indicates a plainer Jane than the chew you find wrapped in garish gold, but Melt’s melt-in-the-mouth caramels’ quality is streets ahead. Honey + fresh cream + vanilla = a chew you can’t refuse.

If you fancy Fruit’n’Nut…

William Curley Topic

…try William Curley’s Hazelnut Raisin Bar

For fruit and nut cases, this is a case of all your Christmases coming at once. The 70% Toscano chocolate bar hides a hazelnut feuilletine bottom spread with sea salted caramel and studded with raisins.

If you pop Poppets chocolate raisins…

Hotel Chocolat rum chocolate-sultanas

…try Hotel Chocolat’s Rum Sultanas

These supersized sultanas have reached such proportions because they’re completely and utterly inebriated – soaked in rum until swollen and soft. A thick milk chocolate shell locks in all the goodness. *Hic*

If you wax lyrical on the Topic of that choc bar…

Grown Up Chocolate Co Very Naughty Nutty Nougat

…try The Grown Up Chocolate Co.’s Very Naughty Nutty Nougat

If you can talk of Topics for hours without hesitation, repetition or deviation from said subject, clam up and subject yourself to this white choc nougat-bottomed, hazelnut-packed, caramel-crammed, chocolate-covered confection instead.

If you think Tunnocks Teacakes taste top… 

Artisan du Chocolat smores

…try Artisan du Chocolat’s Moreish Smores

The Americans might call the combo of Digestive biscuit, marshmallow and chocolate ‘smores’, but for us Brits that  list is more likely to call to mind those Scottish foil-wrapped fancies. Etymology aside, these devilish delights are decently indecent.

 So trade up your high street treat – after all; as one popular confectionary commercial reminds us; when it comes to chocolate, ‘why have cotton, when you could have silk’?

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