Perhaps the artistry of the chocolatier should be judged primarily on ability to deliver pieces whose execution is exemplary in taste terms; making the eater’s eyes widen, stimulating every sense, and raising the hair on the back of the neck, but let’s face it – the aesthetically-inclined – i.e. most of us – eat with our eyes.
Whether it’s a natty sculptural mould, a brush of lustre dust, clever use of colour, or a Pollock-esque ‘paint’ spatter, looks matter. Even those who pride themselves on never judging a book by its cover will be a lover of one of these treats; all of which look (almost) too good to eat…
It leaves one’s heart heavy to break these beautiful bars, whose moulding makes them resemble traditional Hungarian fireplace tiles. The feeling is fleeting, though – Rózsavölgyi‘s range includes fine flavours like olives and bread, black sesame and matcha – and some superb single-origin offerings.
Celebrate a healthy nostalgia for Damien Hirst’s ill-fated Pharmacy restaurant and deli in Notting Hill, where edibles were dispensed in prescription-style pill bottles, with Zotter‘s flavoured choc-filled syringes. Amongst the orally-administered shots, blood-red raspberry-thyme ‘Vampirikum’ makes the most shocking statement.
The rather unexotic locale of Brockley in Southeast London is where team Troffle vends its altogether exotically-flavoured, prettily-patterned truffles, ganaches, and fondants. Each piece resembles a beautiful brooch, but all will sit far prettier in tummy than on chest.
ChocoPassion’s superbly-sculpted pieces are shockingly realistic; from well-rusted tools with moving components to musical instruments, via lightbulbs, bath taps, and even sets of teeth – though best not attempt to press any of the objects into service to perform the roles of what they resemble. This paint tube is surely most apt for the artist.
Bars and buttons are sold separately, but as evidenced in the above image, best buy both for maximum aesthetic appeal. Creative colour contrasts, top use of transfers, and extra accoutrements like the bright piping on this Sorrento Orange example earn these chocs their stripes (or spots, or stars…)
A line-up of Aneesh Popat‘s fine chocolates looks a little like the water ganache truffles are portraying same-sized planets in a solar system. Inspired, exotic fillings are as alien; and ‘out of this world’ will be no doubt be a common utterance of approval amongst their eaters.
You’d have to be barking mad not to want to woof down one of these diminutive dogs in a single sitting. But the puppy dog eyes on each of Choccywoccydoodah’s ultra-realistic, unique statues might stop you doing so – as might the fact that the tasty-yet-tiny terriers weigh in at a hefty 2.5kg apiece.
Think of these circular canvases as After Eights for discerning, curve-loving, art-appreciative gourmets. Thin, crisp shells enclose delicate fillings whose flavours are hinted at by their exterior artwork. Along with a marvellous mint, you’ll find ganaches, pralines, fruit coulis, and a be-bee’d ‘O’ filled with – what else? – honey.
‘Croco Leaky’s’ pun-tastic name might be humorous, but serious skill has gone into the precise painting of his skin. Choco-snobs take note: Rococo‘s extensive range of hand-painted products is conclusive proof that fine chocolate can make a fine fist of ‘novelty’ and needn’t take itself too seriously.
Marc’s Chelsea Flower Show-commemorative caramels might call to mind a box of brightly-coloured, highly-polished gemstones, but the artistry doesn’t stop with the shells. It might seem a shame to spoil their flawless beauty, but your first taste of fruited filling will have you be rushing to vandalise the rest.
Josef Zotter is undeniably one of the chocolate world’s most avant garde artists. Zotter’s ‘Mitzi Blue’ bars resemble old-skool compact discs, each bearing a geometric pattern on one side and an abstract agglomeration of applied ingredients on the other – here, strawberry and raspberry chocolate and dried cornflower petals.
Not as extreme as a halved cow or a pickled shark, perhaps, but the Conjurer’s Kitchen can get mighty macabre – think conjoined cat skulls or doll’s head lollipops. This ‘Morrigan’ crow skull is a replica of a sculpture by American artist Jessica Joslin – who created the non-edible original as a template for the chocolate version.
- To read about superbly-spiced chocolate, click here
- To read about more bars from Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé, click here
- To read about The Chocolatier, click here
- To read a review of ‘Rococo: Mastering the Art of Chocolate’, click here