Whether you’re a confirmed chocoholic or someone who picks up a bar every now and then, World Chocolate Day, which falls on July 7, is an invite to indulge your sweet tooth and tuck into one of the planet’s most popular treats.
Chocolate is thought to be more than 5,000 years old. The cacao bean was first consumed by the ancient Mayans in beverage form, as a fermented drink. These days it flavours an array of foods, from classic cakes, mousses and brownies, to the somewhat outlandish crisps, seaweed, chickpeas and even edamame.
From emulating healing cacao ceremonies, to serving cocoa-infused treats on festive occasions, as tokens of love or simply buying a bar as a gift to ourselves, chocolate is all-pervasive in modern society.
Having recently thrown open the doors to his flagship shop in The Dubai Mall, Carpo founder Konstantinos Kontopoulos is continuing in his quest to serve up a range of bespoke chocolates, alongside nuts and coffee.
Handmade chocolate Florentines are a favourite (and go perfectly with a hot drink), while the thickly dusted cocoa truffles make the ideal gift.
There are also simple pleasures, such as Nuts Rocks — chocolate-covered hazelnuts, pistachios and almonds for Dh390 per kilogram — and then there are the milk and dark chocolate waters for Dh340 per kilogram (about 70 pieces). The store is also rightly famous for its beautifully artistic boxes and hampers.
Made By Two
A “chocolate boutique” is how Made By Two describes itself, and the phrase fits perfectly for an outlet situated in The Dubai Mall’s Fashion Avenue.
Handcrafted sweets are displayed in glass cabinets, with seasonal and special occasion collections presented in cases.
The marriage of nuts and chocolate is perfected in classics such as Pistachio Crunch, Peanut Gaze and Gold Hazel, which has caramelised hazelnuts and milk chocolate ganache. The “soft chocolate” range is another favourite.
Collections are available with anywhere from 12 to 96 pieces, and come in luxurious gift boxes that can be personalised — for graduations, birthdays, weddings and more. Choose from ready-prepared themed boxes, or curate your own. Prices start at Dh175.
The Kakao Guy
With a variety of goodies on offer, including cheesecakes, cookies, cakes and brownies, not to mention its celebrated barks, The Kakao Guy has all your chocolate needs covered.
The delivery-only service is billed as “the first local Nama chocolate shop in Dubai”, as it specialises in the ganache made from melted cacao and fresh cream. Prices range from Dh25 for Nama and barks, to Dh85 for cakes.
From classics, such as the All-in-one Smores Cookies to seasonal, trending and even dietary offerings, including the Keto Nama Chocolate, anything ordered will be as much a feast for your Instagram page, as for your taste buds.
Lakrids by Bulow
“This is the story of the world’s smallest liquorice factory …” reads the introduction on the company's website, and so begins the tale of the entrepreneurial Dane Johan Bulow and his mission to bring the Scandinavian treat to the UAE.
Lakrids are small balls of pure liquorice, which has a natural sweetness that comes from the plant’s root. Bulow’s idea to coat these in chocolate make the northern European staple a UAE favourite.
The brand sells its small and regular-sized glass jars of deliciousness from standalone shops in The Dubai Mall and Dubai Marina Mall and they're also available in coffee and artisanal food shops.
The Sweet, Salty, Red and Habanero jars contain a natural liquorice, one that is salted, liquorice flavoured with blackcurrant, cranberry, lemon and strawberry, and one flavoured with chilli, respectively, from Dh40. The most popular regular jars include the original, the passion fruit, and the salt and caramel, from Dh75.
Maison Pierre Marcolini
Luxury is less a buzzword and more a chocolate-covered lifestyle for the Belgian patisserie chef and chocolatier.
Using cacao sourced from Mexico, Venezuela, Cuba, Cameroon, Peru and Vietnam, the range of goods on offer includes chocolate, truffles, macarons, cakes, pastries, jams and home-made ice creams.
For the purist, there's the tablets, with the Amoureux Five O’Clock Treat, containing almond praline and traditional nougatine, being a favourite.
Go small and chic if you're given these as a gift, with the eight-chocolate Mini Malline Decouverte, which offers a selection of the shop's finest for Dh65. If you want to splash out there's the Dh930 Collection four-drawer gift box.
The Victoria Beckham Hearts Collection, a collaboration between the chocolatier and the designer, is also poshness personified.
With locations across the globe, the renowned Japanese chocolatier has stores in Galaries Lafayette, The Dubai Mall and Nakheel Mall in Dubai, and at World Trade Centre Mall and Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi.
The individually wrapped, button-shaped Pure Chocolate is a perennial favourite with in-the-know customers, who enjoy varieties including Venezuela Bitter and Ghana Sweet for Dh109 per box.
The generously covered salty air-popped popcorn, caramelised and coated with chocolate (Dh58 per bag) will ruin you for cinema popcorn forever, while the brand's niche offerings, such as the Potatochip Chocolate in celebration of National Potato Chip Day, are ones to look out for throughout the year.
Celebrating its centenary this year, the French company remains a leading producer of gastronomic chocolate in the world.
Fans of the brand enjoy the array of bars as much as they love to pore over a curated box of cacao treats.
For a quick choc fix, the Caramelia 36 per cent cocoa Milk Chocolate & Crunchy Pearls Bar with salted caramel and crispy cereal is pure indulgence, while the combination of white chocolate and raspberries in the Ivoire 35% cocoa White Chocolate & Crispy Raspberry Bar makes it a modern classic.
There are gift boxes to suit all, from the box of six Pure Dark & Milk Chocolate Bars for Dh125, up to the Collection gift box of Chocolate-coated Almonds, Hazelnuts & Candied Orange Peel for Dh234.
Forrey and Galland
Having come a long way from the standalone Parisian store established in 1912, Forrey and Galland may have gone global, but it retains an artisanal approach to its craft.
Specialising in chocolates, macarons and dates, the boxes range from 16 to 98-piece offerings featuring an array of its greatest chocolate hits.
Elsewhere, velvet, wooden, embroidery silk and lacquered boxes add a chic touch to the traditional gift, each filled with handmade chocolates and costing from Dh368 up to Dh1,470.
The Carbon Wooden Lacquered Dates Box contains 27 pieces of assorted Khidri dates for Dh504, while the hampers come filled with an array of cookies and bestsellers.