Health and Fitness

Sweet festive treats from Ireland’s leading chocolatiers – The Irish Times

Hazel Mountain Chocolate

From its workshop in the heart of the Burren, Hazel Mountain Chocolate has been roast-fermenting its cacao beans since 2014. “Everything we create is inspired by this landscape and its forever-changing seasons,” says Kasha Connolly, co-founder of the bean-to-bar business.

While its hangover-free Pina Colada chocolate bar with pineapple and toasted coconut is a year-round bestseller, this Christmas, it’s all about its Coffee & Cardamom bar, a pairing that goes exceptionally well with a glass of red wine. As for gifting, the salted caramel hand-painted truffles make for the perfect festive offering – if you can bear to part with the goods. hazelmountainchocolate.com

Bean and Goose

Sisters Karen and Natalie Keane, inspired by happy memories of chocolate as children, founded Bean and Goose in 2016. Since then, they have become renowned for their creamy bars created with the time-honoured technique of hand-tempering chocolate on marble slabs. “We pair sustainable single-origin chocolate with Irish flavours and ingredients in the form of chocolate artwork that celebrates the illustrators of Ireland,” Natalie shares.

“Our most loved Christmas chocolate is our winter sharing slabs. Each bar takes four to five hours to make here in Wexford before the team inspects and wraps the piece with a booklet that tells the story of the Christmas illustrator we’ve collaborated with.” beanandgoose.ie

Koko

A stone’s throw from Kinsale harbour, artisan chocolate shop Koko has been satiating sweet-toothed Corkonians for 12 years. Run by father and daughter duo Frank and Emily Keane, each truffle is handmade by Frank, using the finest locally sourced ingredients, the quality of which means each chocolate has a shelf life of five to six weeks.

Their Vegan Grapefruit and Lime chocolates and Black Cherry Brandy truffles remain all-time favourites, while this Christmas sees the debut of a Koko Advent Calendar, inspired by the classic An Post post box. “For a special chocolate to serve after dinner, try our handmade Crystallised Ginger and Orange truffles,” Emily suggests, “they’re crowd-pleasing and delicious”. kokokinsale.com

Grá Chocolates

As the name suggests, Grá chocolates are made with love. Chocolatier Gráinne Mullins painstakingly hand paints each and every praline and truffle to create one-of-a-kind pieces of edible art. Made using ethically sourced raw ingredients, including Valrhona chocolate, CasaLuker cocoa butter and Irish cream, these speckled treats are (almost) too beautiful to eat.

For an exceptional occasion this festive season, Gráinne recommends her specially created collection. “My Christmas Chocolates are inspired by the flavours of an Irish Christmas, from mince pies and whiskey to orange and cranberry.” Festive fancies aside, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried Grá’s Lil’ Bit Salty truffles. “These chocolates balance the most amazing caramel textures with Achill Island sea salt.” grachocolates.com

Nobó

On a mission to reinvent the classic treat, Nobó’s plant-based chocolate creations deliver on sustainability and taste. From its compostable packaging to its dairy-free, gluten-free and refined sugar-free bars and buttons, each of these creamy single-origin chocolates is made with mother nature in mind.

“We love the idea of recreating childhood favourites and making them even better by using the finest single-origin plant-based ingredients and much less sugar,” says co-founder Rachel Nolan. “We recently launched our Nuffles (nut butter truffles), a combination of our creamy, single-origin chocolate and our indulgent 100 per cent nut butter. This Christmas, our handmade chai spice truffle and Nuffle Crackers are top of the wish list.” nobo.ie

Wilde Irish Chocolate

Tuamgraney, Co Clare, is an unexpected location for a chocolate factory, but that’s precisely where the Wilde Irish Chocolate team create more than 80 different types of chocolate bars, slices, spreads and hot chocolate swirl sticks. “We get so many suggestions from visitors to our factory,” co-founder Patricia Farrell says.

“Rocky Road used to be my all-time favourite when we started making chocolate 25 years ago, but today our Seaweed and Lime 70 per cent dark chocolate is beloved and anything salted caramel always goes down a treat. This Christmas, we’re creating a Salty Santa and Christmas Figures chocolate box filled with squidgy Irish sea salt caramel. It’s the perfect stocking filler.” wildeirishchocolates.com



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