Five of the best: European chocolate makers
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Chocolate Makers, Amsterdam
This green-friendly maker considers the environment at all stages: the cocoa beans arrive in Amsterdam from the Congo, the Dominican Republic and Peru via the sailing ship Tres Hombres and are made into delicious bars using second-hand machinery. The packaging is fully recyclable and the cocoa shells are used as compost.
Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé, Hungary
Rózsavölgyi Csokoládé is run by a husband-and-wife team who use their restaurant and design backgrounds to create chocolate that looks as stunning as it tastes, with bars wrapped in beautifully patterned papers. The beans are sourced from estates in Venezuela and Madagascar to produce single-origin bars; the company also sells truffles, chocolate-dipped Sicilian fruits shaped as moustaches, cocoa butter bars and children’s tablets.
The Zotter factory is such a tourist attraction – with wacky features including an “edible zoo” – that it would be easy to dismiss it as frivolous. While Zotter does produce inexpensive sweet offerings and crazy combinations – cheese, walnut and grape, for example – its Labooko selection has fantastic products such as the flavoured white chocolate: instead of mixing the cocoa butter with milk powder, Zotter conches it with freeze-dried fruit powders. Not quite chocolate as we know it but ridiculously moreish.
It’s hard to write a list of top chocolate makers in Europe without including Mikkel Friis-Holm, winner of multiple awards. His level of dedication has extended to producing two varieties of chocolate from exactly the same type of beans from the same location – one batch stirred three times a day during fermentation and the other just once. Taste the difference for yourself.
This multi-award-winning matriarch of the bean-to-bar movement launched in 1998. Brother and sister Alessio and Cecilia Tessieri, originally makers of filled chocolates, couldn’t find a chocolate they were happy with, so decided to make their own. Alessio began searching for the perfect beans while Cecilia designed and ran their factory in Tuscany – the only commercial chocolate factory in the world run and co-owned by a woman.
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