6 of the best handmade Yorkshire chocolates
PUBLISHED: 00:00 19 October 2015 | UPDATED: 18:11 12 January 2016
You'd expect the county that gave us Rowntree's, Terry's, Thorntons and Mackintosh's to be good at making chocolate, writes Tony Greenway. But there is a LOT of chocolate-making talent out there. Here are some of my favourites producing handmade chocolates although asking me to name the best chocolate-makers in Yorkshire is a bit like asking me to name my favourite Beatles song. Seriously, where do you start?
Poppy Pickering, Ilkley
This delicious wedding cake and handmade choc-making business, established in 2013, uses local ingredients where possible such as fresh cream from Grassington, honey from Ampleforth and jam and preserves from Masham. ‘Unfortunately there aren’t many places that grow cocoa in Yorkshire!’ says Geoff Marshall, who runs Poppy Pickering with his daughter, Dominique Pickering (Geoff makes the chocolates, Dominique makes the cakes). Their biggest selling chocolate is the champagne truffle but yummy salted caramel (which Geoff makes using Yorkshire honey), isn’t lagging far behind in the popularity stakes. Poppy Pickering also has chocolate-making classes with just four students per session, so spaces fill up quickly. See the website for details.
This shop, run by husband and wife Dennis and Elizabeth Graves, produces the hottest (as in spiciest) chocolate in Yorkshire. Possibly. It’s called Fiery Fred and, having tasted it, I can report it has a kick and then some; so if you like chilli in your chocolate, you’ll love this. ‘We let people have a free taste of it when they come in, and it’s never disappointed yet,’ Elizabeth tells me. ‘It has one million Scovilles of heat.’ Wowzer. Dennis and Elizabeth find ingredients locally where possible and customers can build their own box of chocolates, too.
Toftly Treats, Sinnington near York
Brother and sister Anthony and Fiona Hobbs run Toftly Treats which produces handmade chocolate buttons and lollipops in strikingly beautiful designs that look almost too good to eat (it didn’t stop me, mind). This includes everything from hand-piped buttons decorated with bees and musical notes to stars and sheep designs. ‘As we go towards Christmas time, we’ll start producing buttons with Christmas designs — holly is always popular, on milk and white chocolate,’ says Anthony. Count me in.
The Chocolate Factory, Hutton-le-Hole and Thornton-le-Dale
The Chocolate Factory is lucky enough to have best-selling products in two different shops. In its Hutton-le-Hole outlet it sells chocolate sheep while in its Thornton-le-Dale shop, chocolate ducks fly off the shelves (although not literally). Customers can also see the chocolate making process for themselves in the Hutton-le-Hole location.
Amelia’s Chocolate, Scarborough
Amelia is an inspiration. She lost her brother to a hereditary heart condition and then discovered she needed a heart transplant herself. After recovering from the transplant, she went on a catering course and — having made chocolates as a little girl — started an apprenticeship as a chocolatier at The Chocolate Factory. Now a master chocolatier, she tells me that her best-selling products are chocolate letters. ‘These spell out words for whatever the occasion,’ she says. ‘“Happy birthday”, “best mum”, “best dad”... and they come in three different-sized boxes: a nine, a 13 and 18-letter box. We started doing them about a year ago and they have been really popular.’ And delicious, too. Also on the menu are chocolate bars, chocolate stirrers and hand-dipped chocs, including a chocolate lavender drop, using Wolds Way Lavender.
Kelsey Anderson runs her chocolate-making business (you pronounce it Ca-Cow) in gorgeous surroundings at The Stables at Sedbury Hall near Richmond, ‘surrounded by lavender and roses’. The picturesque setting is obviously doing wonders for Kelsey’s creative inspiration because her strawberry and elderflower chocolate made with strawberry puree and elderflower liqueur, recently won a gold star at the prestigious Great Taste Awards. Kelsey became fascinated by cacao bean plantations while travelling in Central and South America, and saw first hand that communities there rely on western trade. As such, she uses Fair Trade and sustainably-sourced chocolate in her recipes and also finds ingredients locally where possible.