Advent adventures: The best chocolate calendars

riddsteve  Foter  CC BY-NC Advent candle riddsteve  Foter  CC BY-NC

If ever there was a reason to drag your sorry soul from the depths of the bed that feels more like a cosy cocoon and step, shivering, into the still-dark morning, it’s the prospect of pre-brek chocolate. And after the advent of Advent, one doesn’t even have to make flimsy excuses for early cocoa consumption. You’re just honouring the traditional countdown to Christmas, after all.

But don’t settle for a chunk of cheap confectionary with the gall to call itself chocolate. Christmas consumption doesn’t have to be the conspicuous kind; it can be conscientious instead. Choose your calendar as wisely as those three fabled men in the Nativity. Not sure where to start your search? Never fear: like a kindly shepherd from the same story, I’ll happily be your guide…

Paul A Young Advent village

Paul A Young chocolate truffles Advent calendar village

It’s likely it’s too late to get your sticky mitts on one on Paul’s creations, but I couldn’t leave it off the list. Ever-innovative, this year Paul has presented his Advent offering in the form of a whimsical wooden Christmas village, with each cottage containing a hand-hewn truffle of your choice. Group ’em all together or dot decoratively around the home – just look after the whole lot. This has heirloom potential.

Chococo

Chococo Advent calendar chocolate selection

Minimal in terms of packaging; massive in terms of taste. Chococo‘s nifty square box consists of five rows; each featuring five of the quirky seasonal truffles that fans of the Dorset brand have come to expect. That’s right – there’s even one to welcome Christmas Day, in the form of the ‘Fizzy Pudding’ truffle. But before that, there are 24 more to enjoy, with flavours ranging from the tame to the almost-insane.

Hotel Chocolat

Hotel Chocolat chocolate truffles Advent Calendar to share

If you can’t bear to share but know you really should, Hotel Chocolat‘s couples’ calendar is for you. With a separate window for you each to open and a complete chocolate apiece for each and every day, there’s no need to hatefully go halves. The green eyed monster can slink away, too – the two truffles are the same, so there shouldn’t be any arguments over who got the top choc on a particular date.

Valrhona

Valrhona Advent calendar 2014 chocolate single-origin

Offering a simple square of complex chocolate to help you start your day the right way, Valrhona’s Advent calendar showcases the French chocolate maker’s single-origin specimens. The racy red calendar conceals a marvellous mixture; Tanariva and Jivara milk, and Tainori, Guanaja, Caraibe, Alpaco, Manjari and Abinao on the dark side. And, on the 25th, a bonus bar of Dulcey guarantees a White Christmas whatever the weather.

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason chocolate wooden advent calendarInstalling Fortnum’s tall wooden mansion house of an Advent calendar in ones living room would make even the most humble of hovels seems palatial. The building depicted is the iconic department store itself; complete with festive window displays and the musical animated clock that always makes you hope you’re passing through Piccadilly on the hour. It comes pre-filled with assorted chocolates and retro sweets. Should you tuck in before time, refill packs are available; so no-one need know you have no willpower.

Zotter

Zotter chocolate Advent calendar Biofekt Christmas

Surely you didn’t imagine in your wildest dreams that Zotter’s Advent calendar would be ordinary? As expected, it’s anything but. Andreas H. Gratze is the artist behind the design decorating Zotter’s 3D Christmas Tree, which requires home assembly and rewards the builder with a small sweet treat. Each day, you’ll pluck a parcel from your creation and discover a different chocolate from Zotter’s ‘Biofekt’ range – as voted number one in a world-wide taste test by Georg Bernardini.

Artisan du Chocolat

Artisan du Chocolat calendar Advent chocolate truffles

If you relish ‘rustic’ decor but are unnerved by a stuffed stag’s head giving you the eyeball from its position on the wall, this jolly chocolate-y moose will fill you with good cheer. The wooden character calendar can be wall-mounted or propped up; its majestic antlers each accommodating 12 hooks on which hang numbered gift bags, hand-filled with a mixture of Artisan du Chocolat edibles; ‘precious pearls’, nougat, chocolate fruits and nuts, pralines, and the legendary liquid salted caramels.

Alexeeva & Jones

Alexeeva & Jones chocolate Advent calendar tree

The West London chocolate shop knows that chocolate-lovers can be a fussy lot; so this year,what you’ll opt for in each box that makes up the stackable red-and-white Advent tree is entirely up to you – as, indeed, is the sequencing of your dates (the contrary will surely build it backwards). Top choc suggestions for your bespoke beauty include Centho’s spiced caramel, Paul Wayne Gregory’s Christmas puds, Beschle’s walnut and marzipan, and Alexeeva’s own whisky-laced truffle.

  • In the mood for more festive chocolate?
    • To read about Christmas chocolate from La Maison du Chocolat, Lidl, Montezuma’s, & more, click here
    • To read about Christmas chocolate from Lakeland, Hotel Chocolat, Bord Bia & more, click here
    • To read about Christmas chocolate from Valrhona, Sous Chef and Carluccio’s & more, click here
    • To read about Christmas chocolate from Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Marc Demarquette, click here

Main image riddsteve  Foter  CC BY-NC 

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