A dedicated follower of chocolate will always appreciate a gift of craft chocolate, but our devotion goes beyond our taste buds. Our fervour for flavour is matched only by our desire to understand and appreciate the world of fine chocolate. So, if you want to impress your chocolate loving friends and show that you really know what makes a craft chocolate lover tick, I have put together a list of ten gifts, all available from UK makers and retailers.
This is a list of my personal recommendations, things that I have found useful in my chocolate journey or would love to receive as a gift.
1. The perfect stocking filler
33 Bars of Chocolate Notebook £6.00
The perfect stocking filler. Always good to have a pocket notebook handy for impromptu tastings or tasting events to make a quick record of maker, origin, harvest and tasting notes.
2. A molinillo
Wooden Molinillo Whisk £8.45
The availability of fine flavour hot chocolate has exploded this year. With craft chocolate, using an electric hand whisk doesn’t quite do it the justice it deserves. That’s why one of my chosen stocking fillers would be a hand crafted molinillo.
Invented by the Spanish settlers in Mesoamerica, this wooden whisk will create that delicious froth for our favourite hot chocolate.
3. Food for the curious
Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love, Simram Sethi £9.99
This book is a must for anyone who cares about where our food comes from. Ninety-five percent of the world’s calories now come from only 30 species. As chocolate lovers, we are well aware of the dangers of the relentless pursuit of monoculture and standardisation. But is also an uplifting read. As you accompany Simran Sethi on her sensory journey of discovery, your optimism for our capacity to change will be salvaged.
BOOK: BREAD, WINE, CHOCOLATE | SIMRAN SETHI Available from all good book retailers
4. Sensory assistance
Taste with Colour Tasting Map £15.00
This is a super-useful tool for helping identify and articulate flavour experiences. We all struggle sometimes to find the words for the flavours we are experiencing. With the creation of the Taste with Colour map, Hazel Lee allows us to use our ability to see colour when we taste, to lead us to the specific flavours we are detecting.
5. Chocolate history, science & art
Theobroma Cacao Botanical Print £20.00
This botanical print from the team at Read Cacao is from the early 1700s, by Maria Sibylla Merian – a German-born Naturalist. It reminds us of where all those amazing flavours come from and the centuries-old fascination with this plant’s potential.
6. “The stories behind good chocolate”
Read Cacao Magazine 3 issues £36.00 (3 x £12)
Cacao is the first international print magazine entirely dedicated to the chocolate industry. Every edition is packed with facts, stories and inspiration, connecting you with the people at every step of the bean to bar process. It is also beautifully illustrated and a must for any chocolate enthusiast’s bookshelf or coffee table.
7. Serving suggestion
Craft Chocolate Sharing Board £34.95 for board (gift pack includes 2 bars)
One of the joys of craft chocolate is sharing the tasting experience with others. Cocoa Runners have designed this board with a brass rail to break your chocolate. The perfect way to serve, chocolate selection at the end of a meal, or just to share chocolate with friends over glass of wine.
8. The art of alchemy
Bean to Bar Masterclass (York Cocoa House) £55.00
What better way to learn how each step of the chocolate making process contributes to the final flavour profile and appreciate the skill and craftsmanship of the chocolate makers than to have a go yourself. And where better to do it than Britain’s home of chocolate: York.
9. For the chocolate philosopher
The Secret Life of Chocolate, Marcos Patchett £75.00
“A comprehensive exploration of cacao’s effect on mind and body” (Terese F Weiss)
As I don’t actually own this yet, this is one for my Christmas list. It comes highly recommended by both chocolate makers and educators. It has been described as several books in one, detailing the traditional uses of cacao as a ceremonial and medicinal drink. Taking our understanding of the appeal of chocolate that one step deeper.
Available from all good book shops
10. First step to becoming an international chocolate judge
Online Level 1 Certificate in Chocolate Tasting – International Institute of Chocolate and Cacao Tasters £195.00
Attendance on this structured course with a recognised certification could be your first step to becoming a judge at the International Chocolate Awards. The content alone is well worth the price, but the people you could meet as part of the experience will be priceless
Next online course runs from 12 January to 5 February – spaces are selling fast!
Level 1 Certificate in Chocolate Tasting – International Institute of Chocolate & Cacao Tasting (chocolatetastinginstitute.org)
And, if you want to buy craft chocolate too, my Where to Buy Craft Chocolate post will point you in the right direction.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!