Is there anything more glorious on this earth than good quality, rich, smooth, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate? We’re almost 100% sure there isn’t – and Europe is home to some of the very best quality, richest, smoothest, meltiest-in-the-mouthiest chocolate you’ve ever tasted. For all the chocoholics, here’s a seriously sweet bucket list of some of the very best chocolate you can get around the continent, just a flight away… Strap yourselves in, this is going to cause some hardcore cravings….
Fassbender & Rauch. These are the only two words chocaholics need to remember in Berlin. The world’s biggest chocolate emporium – open since 1863 – has a chocolate shop, a chocolate café, and a chocolate restaurant. Choose one of their 10 hot chocolates and one of their painfully beautiful cakes. So pretty you won’t want to eat them… nahht! You will totally want to eat them, they’re sublime. We’d recommend getting a box of some of their perfect pralines and truffles too. And don’t miss the chocolate sculptures (you can’t eat those).
A chocoholic in Brussels is pretty much the definition of ‘kid in a candy shop’. It’s the kind of city where you can have your cake and eat it too, then order more cake, eat that washed down with a hot chocolate, and get a giant box of the best chocolates you’ve ever eaten while you’re at it. It’s really hard to pick just one chocolate experience in Brussels, but if we absolutely had to choose one – and we do – it’s got to be Pierre Marcolini. These chocolates will set you back a fair bit more than a Dairy Milk, but once you’ve taken one look at Marcolini’s chocolates and pastries, never mind one taste, you’ll be flinging every last cent you have at them. Try not to remortgage the house.
Bernachon make some of the very best chocolate in France, not just Lyon. And they do actually make the chocolate, rather than making sweets from already-made chocolate. They even roast the beans to their taste. Go there, and when you’re there, try two things; Le President and Les Palets D’or. The first is Bernachon’s signature cake – a spongy chocolate genoise cake with hazelnut praline and cherry confit, all wrapped up in the most delicate chocolate leaves imaginable – they dissolve on your tongue. The Palets D’or are ganache chocolates decorated with golf leaf. Both glorious. Both worth every penny.
Mondieu café in Bratislava has molten chocolate on tap. ON TAP, y’all. White, milk and dark all ready to be poured into the nearest cup and straight down your throat. As well as serving dangerously good hot chocolate, you can get a trio of croissants drizzled in each of the chocolates, along with with pots for dipping, and a selection of cake that are so good they’d make the gods weep. The place is always full of happy people too (probably because chocolate. On tap.). You can even get healthy stuff at Mondieu… if you really want to…
On the main street of Vilnius Old Town, you’ll find AJ Šokoladinės (AJ Chocolates). From the outside it doesn’t look too big – you might easily walk by it. But don’t walk by. Walk inside, and prepare to stuff yourself to the gills with a massive selection of unbelievable truffles, pralines, and other chocolate delights. The hot chocolate is something special (particularly if you’re visiting Vilnius in the colder months), and there’s even an entire parlour room built out of chocolate. You should definitely try the blue cheese and walnut praline, it’s a lot better than it sounds.
San Gines in Madrid has been around since 1894, so it’s no wonder they have their chocolat con churros down to a fine art. It doesn’t even have a menu because frankly, if you come here, that’s what you’re ordering. For €3.90 you get six light, crisp, fresh churros with a cup of molten chocolate for dipping. Or drinking. If you run out of churros, just use your fingers or pour it straight into your face. They are open almost 24 hours a day (don’t go between 7 and 9am), so you have plenty of opportunity to feed your addiction, even at 4 in the morning with a bunch of other reprobates.
It’s really not easy to decide on one particular chocolatier that stands out in Paris. There are so, so many and they are so, so good. You could spend days on end touring its chocolate shops. You SHOULD spend days on end touring its chocolate shops. But a trip to Angelina, for its famous African hot chocolate and a ‘Mont Blanc’ (Angelina’s signature pastry), is a Paris chocolate experience that everyone should have at least once in their lives. At least once a day, if possible. Make it your business to go there. It’s decadent and very fancy and expensive, and totally worth it. These people deserve medals.
Turin is a mecca for foodies, and for foodies of the chocaholic variety in particular. Turin is where gianduiotti were invented – those long triangular nuggets of soft, smooth chocolate and roasted hazelnut heaven (it’s basically the stuff that inspired both Nutella and Ferrero Rocher). The city has loads of incredible chocolatiers, but if you only taste one kind of chocolate in Turin, make it the incredible award-winning stuff that’s made by Guido Castagna. The chocolate, the truffles, the hazelnut spread… it’s all just genuinely magnificent.
The sweet smell of chocolate hits you the moment you walk through the doors of the Skelligs chocolate factory in Ballinskelligs, one of the most beautiful little corners of Ireland. You can visit the factory for free, and there’s a café that opens from Easter until September. Here you will get one of the most gorgeous, creamy hot chocolates you’ve ever tasted that you can enjoy as you look out over Ireland’s southern coast with the wild Skellig islands in the distance. Particularly perfect to drink on one of Ireland’s wilder days, as you look at the islands and wonder whose big idea it was to build a monastery there.
Choccywoccydoodah do magical things with chocolate. Their cakes are legit works of art, but if you don’t have a wedding or big event that justifies ordering one of those bad bays, you can still get a taste of the action in their chocolate café in Carnaby (there’s one in Brighton too). Their hot chocolate is to die for, their cakes are perfect, and the dipping platter is molten chocolate nirvana. Skip dinner, and have chocolate instead. Then buy a few bars of chocolate to take home and have for supper, breakfast and brunch too. And then go back again for dinner the next day.
Just under an hour by train from Basel, Zurich is home to some serious chocolate choice. And while we fully encourage you to go bananas and find as many chocolate shops as you possibly can, and eat as much of their produce as your stomach allows, it would be frankly insane not to put Confiserie Sprüngli on the top of your list. You might have heard of their chocolates under another name… Lindt. You know how good those Lindor truffles are? Smooth as silk on the outside and soft as butter on the inside? Well imagine a whole cafe full of fresh chocolates, cakes and pastries made by the same guys. You’re welcome.
Go to Cacao Sampaka, which is just a ten minute walk away from Placa de Catalunya and Las Ramblas. It’s a high-end chocolatier that serves all kinds of chocolate deliciousness including churros, but if we had to choose one thing for you to try, we’d tell you to order the ‘Azteca’ hot chocolate. It’s as thick as syrup, 80% spiced cocoa that will take you to places you never thought you could go. If you’re feeling gluttonous peckish, pair it with a chocolate fondue – molten chocolate with a selection of gorgeous fruit and/or pastries to dip into it.
Tuscan cuisine is revered among foodies everywhere, so its no surprise that there’s some incredible chocolate to be found in this gorgeous part if Italy. Amedei chocolate is made, bean-to-bar, in Pontedera, just a short drive from Pisa. It’s a family operation; Alessio Tessieri scours the cacao producing world for the finest cocoa beans, and his sister Cecilia transforms it into smooth, rich, elegant bars of pure unadulterated pleasure. Everything is organic, and each stage of the process is carefully monitored by the Tessieris. This is chocolate made by chocolate lovers for chocolate lovers. You’ll love it.
And Krakow, and Gdańsk, and… well all over Poland really. The name Wedel means only one thing. Unfettered indulgence. The chocolate lounges are like little oases where you can go and pig out on some of the best chocolate Poland has to offer. These lads know their way around a cocoa bean, and they make some seriously awesome chocolates and desserts that won’t totally bankrupt you. The chocolate waffles are superb, but those three little pots of molten chocolate shouldn’t be missed either. The white hot chocolate with berries is… transcendent. It’s transcendent. Get it.
- Dee Murray