With St. Valentine’s Day approaching, it’s time to step up your gifting game and treat that someone special to some unique edible gifts from the Irish Chocolatiers that are giving the Swiss a run for their money, while setting new standards in the world of Irish chocolate production. (Please note, this gifts are also suitable to be enjoyed solo while binging on your latest Netflix addiction).
Bean and Goose
Karen and Natalie Keane are the talented duo behind Bean and Goose, and their passion for their products is undeniable. To celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, Bean and Goose have two seasonal specials for St. Valentine’s Day, a 500g Sharing Slab (€34.90) made with single origin dark chocolate from Ecuador from their exclusive new couverture partner, Original Beans. This immense chocolate slab is paired with Rose infused Hazelnuts, Pistachio Praline, Toasted Coconut & Rose petals, and if that doesn’t scream romance, I’m not sure what does. Their second offering is a selection of handmade fresh Truffles in boxes of 8 (€19.90) with choices to include Raspberry & Thyme, Lavender & Lemon, Rose & Saffron or Oak Smoked Rosemary Sea Salt. The Truffles are made with fresh Irish cream, Irish butter and single origin dark chocolate and have a rather short shelf life, so you had better be quick. Both of these stunning offerings will be available through their partners, The Garden, online or in their store at The Powerscourt Centre, Dublin 2.
Áine Handmade Chocolate for Dunne’s Stores, ‘Simply Better’
Multi award winners, Áine Handmade Chocolate has been at the forefront of Irish Chocolate making since 1999, with master chocolatier Ann Rudden at the helm since day one. For St. Valentine’s Day this year, they have collaborated with Dunne’s Stores ‘Simply Better’ range to bring you some Valentine’s Day treats.
Choose from the Handmade Belgian Chocolate Truffles or the Handmade Belgian Chocolate & Hazelnut Truffles (€4.99 each, or two for €7). These luxurious truffles are coated in Belgian chocolate before being rolled by hand in cocoa powder or hazelnuts. Sharing is optional.
In operation since 1932, Butler’s Chocolate has become something of a household name, with their instantly recognisable Café’s springing up all over Ireland and beyond. This year, pick up a Powder Puff Box of their Marc de Champagne Truffles (€10) for that special someone and you are assured to be in their good graces for quite some time. For those who prefer some variety, the Indulgent Heart Box (€16) is a good choice, with Pink Himalayan Salt Caramels or Passionata and White Chocolate Flakes among others.
The Proper Chocolate Company
This is another one for the chocolate connoisseur in your life. Founded by Patrick and Kelli Marjolet in May 2016, The Proper Chocolate Company produce small batch bean to bar chocolate in their production facility in Dublin. To celebrate the romance of the season, Patrick and Kelli have created three limited edition chocolate offerings to suit every palate and every pocket. The Black Forest Gâteau Bar consists of 75% Dark Chocolate with Irish Whiskey Marinated Sour Morello Cherries, on a Bed of Coconut White (€7) or perhaps the vegan, plant based Winter Warmer Duo (€14) might tick the box? It contains one each of Soupe Au Chocolat and one Mexican Hot Chocolate. Kelli describes the Soupe as being somewhere in between a hot chocolate and a chocolate pudding.
Its unique consistency comes from blending their own bean-to-bar 85% dark chocolate with their homemade coconut cream. For the true cacao lover though, it has to be the Maker’s Selection: Experience the Flavours of Cacao 2020 edition (€30), specifically designed for dark chocolate lovers and all flavour enthusiasts. The limited edition 2020 selection contains six chocolate bars, all made with just two ingredients and includes information on different origins, harvest years, and even fermentation levels, along with tasting notes for those who really want to know their stuff.
A French native, qualified pastry Chef, Benoit Lorge has been producing quality chocolate in Kenmare, Co. Kerry for many years and such is his passion and talent, he also runs chocolate courses for those whose love runs deeper still. There are a multitude of options available on his website, but it is the Adam and Eve Handmade Chocolates for Men & Women (€8.50 each) that most intrigues me.
As Benoit says, “there is nothing random about the selection of flavours and after much research into chocolate tastes, these seven classic centres were chosen for their popularity and enduring appeal amongst men and women”. Bravo, now that is some research I thoroughly approve of.
Wilde Irish Chocolate
Wilde Irish Chocolate have been producing handmade chocolate and goodies in their Co. Clare factory since 1997, so it’s safe to say they know a thing or two about the subject. Based in Co. Clare, they do a tempting range of handmade fudge too with the Peanut Butter Fudge being the one to catch my eye.
This Valentine Day, treat your sweetheart to their Little Box of Love (€7.99) filled with an assortment of Chocolate Hot Lips and Chocolate Hearts that are sure to bring a smile to the lucky recipient.
Arcane Chocolate by Erik Van Der Veken
Since the tender age of 14, Chef and Chocolatier Erik Van Der Veken has been enthralled with chocolate. His most recent venture brings us a new collection of chocolates under the brand name Arcane Chocolates which is unlike anything we have seen before. For St. Valentine’s Day, the Forbidden Love Selection (€15) is a rare treat. As Erik explains, the collection is a tribute to the forbidden love that led him to Ireland, after falling in love with a Saudi Arabian girl whom he had met while working there, eventually following her to Ireland where she came to pursue her studies. Six years later and the lucky girl has a collection of exquisite chocolates released in her honour, how’s that for romance?
The selection includes 75% Tanzanian Ganache, Strawberry Caramel with Rose and Vanilla Ganache, Arabica Coffee with Cardamom and finally Ginger, Honey and Chili, all of which are considered to have aphrodisiac like properties. You have been warned. Available from The Butler’s Pantry.
What began for Connie Doody and Mary White as a labour of love at Connie’s kitchen table has long since morphed from a labour of love into a highly acclaimed business with a team of over 250. This year, together with the iconic brand Baileys, Lir Chocolates bring us their limited edition the Baileys Strawberries and Cream collection (€5). The perfect blend of fresh strawberries and vanilla blended with a hint of Baileys and draped in a milk-chocolate, heart-shaped shell. Should that be a little too sweet for your sweet, then consider the ‘Discovery’ collection (€13) which includes unique new flavours, such as Persian Lime Truffle, Raspberry and Pistachio Duo, Dark Chocolate Torte and Chewy Pecan Caramel, alongside classic, much-loved favourites like Praline, Salted Caramel and Coffee.
There is something for everybody with Lily O’Brien’s St. Valentine’s Day offerings this year, with an abundance of choices to suit all. Honeycomb Crispy Hearts (€5) contain 12 pieces of crunchy honeycomb smothered in milk chocolate while the Petit Dessert Collection (€10) offers an assortment of 24 chocolates with flavor combinations that include Crème Brulee, Raspberry Infusion and Passion Fruit Posset.
Last but not least is the indulgent chocolate Desserts Collection (€12.95), a larger box of dessert themed milk, dark and white chocolates inspired by the world’s most popular desserts including Hazelnut Torte, Passion Fruit Posset and Banoffee Pie.
L’Art du Chocolat
Located on the bustling Main Street of Maynooth in Co. Kildare, L’Art du Chocolat are the masters when it comes to all things chocolate related. This year the Valentine Chocolate Hearts (from €8) are sure to be a hit with the loved up folk in Kildare, and indeed Dublin. These dark chocolate hearts are presented in a limited edition cloche and filled with crunchy pearls and their house specialty chocolates called craic’inettes.
Should your sweet tooth desire something more dessert like, then these guys have you covered here too with both his and hers dessert specials on the counter during the season of romance. The Valentines dessert for him is a Chocolate Brownie base topped with Dark Chocolate Ganache and a Dulcey (blonde chocolate) and Caramel Cream. For the lady in your life, there is also a Raspberry Streusel Base with Blueberry Crémeux and White Chocolate Vanilla Chantilly Cream (€4.80 each).
Going strong since 1996, Chez Emily is the brainchild of Ferdinand Vandaele & Helena Hemeryck who named their fledgling business after their daughter, you guessed it, Emily. With everything from solid Chocolate Lollipops (€2) to Love Heart Bears (€5) and a variety of gift boxes (€6.50 – €16.25), Chez Emily has something for every budget this Valentine’s Day.
Using only the finest quality locally sourced ingredients, along with Callebaut couverture, all Chez Emily products are made according to family recipes handed down through the years. Available nationwide.
Lismore Food Company
Lismores’ Dark & Milk Chocolate Apple Thins in beautiful Blue, Red and Gold are the perfect gift for sharing this Valentines Day! These divine crisp apple thins, air-dried and wrapped in the finest dark & milk Belgian Chocolate are a true taste sensation. While best enjoyed alone – we suggest a box of each and the love can be shared! #lismore
Hazel Mountain Chocolate
At Hazel Mountain Chocolate, Coffee salted caramel filled hearts and limited edition truffles are available for Valentines Day. You can make your own box in the shop or take of one of the pre-made ones. Special chocolate tours are taking place every day of Valentine’s Day weekend 14, 15 and 16th February. Participants will meet our chocolate experts, who will show the wonders of bean to bar chocolate. Discover how a tropical fruit is being changed into one of Europe’s finest chocolates. This 45 minute tour will take you through all the stages of our chocolate making – roasting, cracking, winnowing, stone-grinding and tempering and it will include sampling of chocolate at it’s various stages & finishing with tasting of some of the best single origin chocolates. Our tour experience is much like touring a microbrewery/winery. Participants taste their way through chocolate from cacao bean to the finished product. The tours are bookable from 6th February on www.hazelmountainchocolate.com.