They say greatness takes time and, at Charbonnel et Walker , the creation of a chocolate can take upwards of 18 months.
Every treat at the Canary Wharf store is carefully crafted by a team of 30 people in a small factory in Tunbridge Wells.
But the story of the various varieties actually starts back in Bond Street in London, where the first shop was opened in 1875, with chocolatier and brand ambassador Adam Lee having the task of capturing the latest trends in silky chocolate form.
We tasked him with coming up with a chocolate to suit this tricky social occasions.
1. To impress your boss
Fine chocolate selection (£95). “It has something for whatever mood they are in.”
2. When you’re in the doghouse with your other half
Luxury Champagne Gift Set (£90). “This has a bottle of bubbly in it which looks impressive and will help them forget why they were cross.”
3. For the colleague going on maternity leave
Sea Salt Caramel Truffle Assortment (£48) “Perfect as they come in a lovely box, are delicious and there is no alcohol in them.”
4. Best for wooing
English Rose And Violet Truffles (£13.95). “The fondant is double enrobed in chocolate with very pretty crystallised flowers on top. And they take a week to make, which symbolises commitment.”
5. Best for summer picnics
Strawberry Truffles (£13.95). “The natural choice.”
6. Best to keep your colleagues quiet
Vanilla Caramel (available individually or in the Alice Through The Looking Glass chocolate selection box £24) “They are really chewy and long lasting.”
7. What to eat while watching the Olympics
Union Flag Fine Chocolate Selection (£23). “Eat the chocolate then wave the box around.”
8. What to impress your client with
Milk Sea Salt Billionaire’s Shortbread Truffles (£13.95). “They are new and very decadent.”
9. For the ultimate chocoholic
Dark Chocolate Truffles (£13.95). “They are chocolate in its purest form and finished with edible gold leaf so will impress anyone.”
10. Adam’s favourite
Dark Butter Fourré (available individually or in the Alice Through The Looking Glass chocolate selection box £24) “It is dark chocolate with a ganache centre. It was the first chocolate I tried when I started here and it one I go back to again and again.”
So how do they dream up all these concoctions?
“We look at what the customers are asking for, then food trends, what’s happening in the world of fashion and on the catwalks, celebrity,” said Adam. “It’s not just taking into account the food aspect.
“Then they are made in our tiny factory, which runs 24 hours most days of the year, where most staff have been working for ages.
“It’s not quite Willy Wonka – it’s a bit more high tech – but we are a very small company and everybody has an input into what is being made.”
Famous fans of the brand have included Princess Diana, Noel Coward and Lauren Bacall. Recently the company has been kept busy due to an unprecedented demand from the Middle East for its sea salt caramel truffles.
“Summer always used to be our quiet spell when we prepped for Christmas,” said Adam. “But we can’t do that this year as this sea salt phenomenon is so big because they are non alcoholic.”
No need to panic though as they have still found the time to create a gin and tonic chocolate, created in collaboration with Hammersmith distillery Sipsmith, and due to launch in September.
Only time will tell if it will overtake the Canary Wharf branch’s most popular box – the pink Marc de Champagne truffles – which accounts for a third of sales.
The Canary Wharf store will be shut for a refurbishment from August 22 and is due to re-open on September 9. It will be offering customers 10% off on all purchases for the last two weeks of September to celebrate the re-opening along with other offers and events.
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