Chocolate… Chocolat… Siocled…

Regardless of the language, except for you Americans who speak English but seem to insist on labelling all confectionery as “candy”, the word for chocolate is, phonetically speaking, almost universal. When it comes to the product itself, however, every chocolatier around the world is intent to put their own unique twist on their craft; none could be more true than for the chocolatiers of Wales.

Now, whilst Wales is proud of all the locally sourced produce we have to offer, a lot of which goes into the sweets these companies make, we don’t grow our own cocoa unfortunately. All the companies we contacted sourced Belgian-made chocolate which they then processed themselves to make their own products.

Hipo Hyfryd

Ginger Truffles from Hipo Hyfryd
Ginger Truffles from Hipo Hyfryd

Founded by a chap named Gareth 5 years ago, Hipo Hyfryd (or Happy Hippo if you’d prefer) have made a name for themselves making speciality chocolates that are both vegan and organic. Given those goals, it’s not surprising they’ve got pretty strict ethical and eco policies in place. This gives them a lot of cred for creating a high-end chocolate, not to mention they’re the only Welsh chocolatier to produce a single-origin chocolate.

Gareth admits he started the company out of a loss for what to do with his life. His homemade truffles had proved popular amongst his friends so he thought he’d try to make a business out of it… Which has proved pretty successful! Word of mouth has certainly helped his cause with some unconventionally flavoured truffles proving surprisingly popular! Amongst delicious sounding maple syrup, coffee and ginger, you’ll also find balsamic vinegar, salt n’ pepper and chilli pepper, harkening back to chocolates’ Central American origins. These weird and wonderful flavours have proved so successful that Gareth is busy experimenting with more unusual ingredients to add to the range.

What do they recommend? As the only Welsh maker of a single-origin chocolate, you have to try the Papua New Guinea variety. Maple syrup is undoubtedly the stand out amongst the truffles, too.

Pemberton’s Chocolate Farm

A selection of chocolates from Pemberton's Welsh Chocolate Farm
A selection of chocolates from Pemberton’s Welsh Chocolate Farm

A family run business established almost 20 years ago, Pemberton’s is Wales’ biggest and most established chocolatier. Founded by a husband and wife couple using confectionary recipes from a book handed down through the generations. The couples two daughters are now heavily involved in the business and thank their fathers uncanny ability to make even the wackiest ideas succeed for how well business is going.

With products sold in House Of Fraser as well as an international mail order business, The Chocolate Farm itself is also home to their own chocolate museum, a café and a small cinema, not to mention a shop filled with the chocolate produced on-site, as well as offering tours of the factory, complete with Willy Wonka style golden tickets.

Perhaps best known for their petit-four style selection boxes, they also offer a great range of sugar-free chocolate and, as per the time of year some wonderful looking handmade Easter eggs.

What do they recommend? Whilst it’s hard to pick just one of their selection, the zesty Welsh Limoncello Cream is the one to go for.

Chocolate House

Chocolate House's unique Cow-Spot Easter Egg
Chocolate House’s unique Cow-Spot Easter Egg

Founded by Karl (a dietician) and Bethan (whose parents own and run a coffeehouse), it’s fair to say they had a lot of experience with food before they started their own business. Choosing to set-up shop with Chocolate House in 2006 instead of going travelling, they still have plans to see the world have unsurprisingly added visiting a cocoa plantation to their travel itinerary.

They’re one of the few chocolatiers who still make their truffles and pralines with fresh butter and cream, shortening the shelf life but giving their product a much better taste. Whilst all of their products can be bought on their website, they also supply many hotels, including the Celtic Manor Resort, home of The 2010 Ryder Cup. Aiming to expand further into the services sector gives them the chance to continue to produce a luxury product that doesn’t compromise on quality ingredients.

What do they recommend? Try the Halen Mon Sea-Salted Caramel Balls or, for Easter, they produce a unique white and dark chocolate Cow egg, it looks great!

Really Nice Chocolate

Selection box from Really Nice Chocolate
Selection box from Really Nice Chocolate

Okay, so she won’t be winning any prizes for having an original name but given that Anna’s only been in business since the New Year and is already stocked in two shops, we won’t hold that against her!

She previously worked as a Belgian chocolate retailer but felt she could make a better product than she was selling at the time, eliminating all the artificial preservatives and only using what’s needed to taste great; Anna also offers dairy and gluten-free versions of many of her range.

What do they recommend? Her Dark Chocolate Orangettes, she says they’re so good she could live on them!

Aballu… Truffles

A small sample of what Aballu... Truffles have to offer
A small sample of what Aballu… Truffles have to offer

Much like Gareth from Hipo Hyfryd, Jo started making truffles for her friends in the late 90’s. Leaving behind a life of working in retail management in 2005 to start up Aballu… Truffles, she now offers over a hundred different flavoured truffles and is still developing more (although she looks to be leaving the more adventurous flavours to Hipo Hyfryd!).

Jo settled on the name Aballu (pronounced “ab-ak-lee”) when trying to find the Welsh translation for “Truffle”. Not a direct translation, it’s said to be a North Walian phrase meaning “Truffles… and such things” – hence the ellipsis in the company name!

What do they recommend? The most unique item they offer is a made to order chocolate pizza, definitely worth checking out.

This entry was originally posted to the Visit Wales blog on Wednesday, March 31st, 2010 at 12:45pm

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