Easter means many things to different people. For some, it’s a time to celebrate the often-overlooked spiritual aspects of the holiday. For others, it heralds the start of spring with more opportunities to get outdoors and shake off the shackles of weary winter. But for most, it’s an opportunity to spend time with family and over-indulge in the mind-boggling array of chocolate treats that adorn supermarket shelves.
But, as the old saying goes, why choose cotton when you can have silk? It’s a little known fact that Scotland is home to a talented network of small-scale chocolatiers that would make Willy Wonka envious! So maybe it’s time to ditch the run-of-the-mill options and visit some of the artisans along Scotland’s Chocolate Trail for some real indulgence?
Here are just a few highlights to tantalise those taste buds:
Cocoa Mountain Café & Chocolaterie, Durness
Stunningly situated in Balnakeil Bay, not far off the NC500 in the heart of the North West Highlands Geopark, Cocoa Mountain has to take top prize for most scenic chocolaterie. They produce delicious truffles and chocolates and you can also enjoy an excellent hot chocolate or Mountain Mocha fair trade coffee. You’ll find them in Balnakiel Craft Village alongside a number of craftspeople and artists, making a visit here doubly worthwhile.
Chocolates of Glenshiel, Wester Ross
Finlay MacDonald is one of Scotland’s youngest chocolatiers and established Chocolates of Glenshiel in 2016. From his Highland kitchen on the stunning shores of Loch Duich, he produces a range of sumptuous chocolates available online, which are flavoured with Talisker whisky, Misty Isle gin and sea salt – all from the nearby Isle of Skye, heather honey and raspberries from Blairgowrie and marmalade from Dundee.
Cocoa Ooze, Aberdeen
Jamie Hutcheon was only 17 when he set up Cocoa Ooze in 2008 and in 2016 he successfully persuaded business magnate Touker Suleyman in BBC2s Dragon’s Den to support his business for a share in the company. Alongside an outstanding range of delectable chocolate delights, Cocoa Ooze also offer chocolate workshops, kid’s parties and corporate team building experiences.
Iain Burnett Highland Chocolatier, Grandtully
Multi award-winning artisan chocolatier Iain Burnett has been producing exquisite chocolates, pralines and his signature Velvet Truffles® from his Highland Perthshire base for many years. Using single-origin cocoa from the island of São Tomé, matched with the finest natural ingredients, his tantalising wares are available online and from his Scottish Chocolate Centre near Aberfeldy.
Charlotte Flower Chocolates, Acharn
Produced on the southern shore of stunning Loch Tay in Highland Perthshire, Charlotte Flower adds locally foraged seasonal flavours such as Scots pine, wild mint, wood sorrel and elderflower to flavour her captivating confectionery. If you’re in the area, ring ahead to check they’re at home and drop in to see them, before enjoying a walk around the lovely Acharn Falls nearby.
Oban Chocolate Company, Argyll
Step into the chocolatey world of Oban Chocolate Company and uncover a delightful range of innovative handmade chocolates – Marmite chocolate anyone? Their open plan café and chocolate factory let you see the chocolatiers at work through a viewing window and don’t miss their chocolate fondue. The view over Oban Bay from their café isn’t too shoddy either!
Coco Chocolatier, Edinburgh
For something really indulgent, look no further than Coco Chocolatier. Dark chocolate Golden Goose Eggs, Quail’s Praline Eggs and Hot Cross Bun Spice chocolate bars are just a few of the options on offer. Pop into the shops in Bruntsfield or Stockbridge to enjoy the chocolatey sights and scents. If you know a real chocolate enthusiast, why not sign them up to the Chocolate School to get expert tuition on tempering, moulding, infusing and filling delicious chocs?
Lime Tree Larder, Kilbirnie
Producing award-winning ice cream and handmade chocolates, Lime Tree Larder can be found only 20 minutes from Glasgow and they offer workshops and chocolatey birthday party experiences for ages 7 – 15. They also make awesome ice-cream cakes to order and you can hire their 1920’s style ice-cream tricycle for special occasions too.
The Arran Chocolate Factory, Brodick
Head over the water to the lovely Isle of Arran in the Firth of Clyde to visit The Arran Chocolate Factory. The team here has been producing mouth-watering confectionery since the turn of the century, using only the finest ingredients from around the world. If you’re on the island, then you must visit – you’ll find them just a short walk along from the Brodick Ferry Terminal.
Cocoa Black Chocolate Boutique & Café, Peebles
Ruth Hinks, founder and multi-award winning Head Chocolatier at Cocoa Black is the UK World Chocolate Master. She, along with husband David, founded the Cocoa Black Boutique in the pretty town of Peebles in the Scottish Borders in 2010. Here you can step into chocolate heaven for a real hot chocolate, incredible patisserie and cakes and of course an outstanding array of chocolate products. Cocoa Black also offers half day classes, Ruth Hinks masterclasses and corporate events.
The Cocoabean Company Chocolate Factory, Twynholm
Putting the fun back into chocolate, children’s chocolate workshops are at the heart of what the Cocoabean Company does. Founded in 2005, their purpose-built site in Twynholm, near Gatehouse of Fleet features a Cocoabean Café, indoor and outdoor play areas, and a chocolate factory shop. They offer a 45 minute chocolate workshop for ages 3 – 18 and can cater for birthday parties, weddings and other events. They also operate a Cocoabean Chocolate Factory at Soar intu Braehead near Glasgow.
You can find out more about Scotland’s chocolatiers at the Scottish Chocolatiers Network website.