Notes on chocolate: get ready to fill those stockings

<span>Photograph: Tamsan Barratt</span>
Photograph: Tamsan Barratt

First: Bare Bones Christmas Special 70%, £6.50/70g, came top in a recent Christmas Club tasting. It’s hard to believe there are just two ingredients: cocoa and sugar. (I wrote this before I saw this is almost exactly what’s written on the wrapper, but it’s so true one can’t argue with it.) The flavours just concertina on your tongue, a right proper lingual trip. There’s vine fruits in there, berries, spices, it’s all going on. Bare Bones is up there in chocolate making and if you know someone who loves dark chocolate it would be really remiss not to get them some. (Once you’re there do try the 68% Dominican Salt, £6.50/70g, which is one of my favourite ever bars of chocolate.)

Something very different is Venchi’s Choconougatine, £3/35g, which is a small bar of caramelised Piedmont hazelnut covered in dark chocolate. Think nut brittle. Fun and delicious.

You know how much I love modern takes on ‘newsagent bars’ and Hotel Chocolat has done one which I really enjoyed: the Better Way bar, £2.95/45g. There are milk or dark versions, but both contain praline with bits of biscuit and cherry. I really loved them and proceeds go towards supporting cacao farming.

For something mad and brilliant try Solkiki’s Chuncho Cusco White Sparkling Ginger Beer, £9/56g, which is a white chocolate bar with hints of ginger and popping candy. It’s magical and wonderful.

If you like pralines, Pierre Marcolini does some of the best. His Plumier box of Christmas Elves, £23/16 pieces, comprises pralines, caramels and truffles, and each is delicious.

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