Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Going cocoa: Why we should be nuts about the beans that make chocolate

Post Thumbnail

Whether they come in the form of milk, white, dark or even a vegan variety, Easter wouldn’t be the same without chocolate eggs.

Here, Claire Burnet, a chocolatier and the co-owner of Chococo, tells Alice Hinds the Honest Truth about our favourite sweet treats.


What made you start making your own chocolate?

My parents lived on the Continent in the ’80s and when I used to visit them, we would go to the local chocolatier to buy fresh chocolates made with cream ganache fillings. They were handmade on site and designed to be eaten within days, not months as was the norm with boxed chocolates in the UK.

I had a dawning realisation that no one in the UK was making truly fresh chocolates using local ingredients and known provenance.

I think we had – and still have – a pretty poor relationship with chocolate. People still talk about chocolate in terms of brands rather than origins, and are happy to eat chocolate loaded with sugar and containing palm oil.

We often see “Belgian” as the pinnacle of fine chocolates rather having any appreciation for how the chocolates are made or where the cocoa beans come from – cocoa grown in different countries has very different flavour notes like wine and other fine foods.

Is Easter your busiest time?

It’s actually our second busiest time. Christmas is our busiest period as customers want to send boxes of fresh chocolates with festive flavours to friends and family.

Is there more than one type of cocoa bean? And, if so, do they have different flavours?

There are three main types. The fine flavour grades that we work with are criollo and trinitario. These will give various different flavour notes from citrus and red berry fruit to woody and earthy. Chocolate is very complex and most consumers just think of it as milk, white or dark – there is no such thing!

The last main type is called forester, and this is the bulk grade used for most industrial chocolate. It is a more robust variety but doesn’t have such fine flavours and is the most acidic.

© Guy Bell
Claire Burnet

Why does a lot of chocolate now have palm oil in it?

Many brands of industrial chocolate, while being much loved, have cut costs by taking out some of the more expensive cocoa butter and replacing it with palm oil. The damage being done by palm oil is now widely known, and there should be no place for it in chocolate.

Chocolate with palm oil will also be high in sugar, so read the packaging before buying and try to find an alternative product that doesn’t contain palm oil – it will be better for you and better for the planet.

Do you prefer dark milk or white chocolate?

Definitely dark and dark milk, which is milk chocolate with as much cocoa as dark bars but less sugar. Most milk chocolates are far too sweet for my palette (the more I work with fine chocolate, the less sweet my palate becomes), and white chocolate is only half chocolate as it is made with just cocoa butter, which has the melting property of chocolate but not very much flavour. You need both cocoa butter and cocoa powder for the full chocolate experience.

White chocolate is very sweet and I always advise parents and grandparents to avoid giving it to small children.

If you give them good quality milk chocolate with a minimum of 35% cocoa they will be happy to eat it. And, yes, it does come out in the wash.

What’s so special about dark chocolate?

Dark chocolates are wonderful as their flavours are all so varied – different cocoa beans, grown in different countries and with different processing methods will affect the final flavours.

Dark chocolate is also naturally dairy-free, so is suitable for vegans. Many people do not understand this and ask me what do we do to the chocolate to make it vegan. I just say, “nothing”.

We launched a vegan “milc” Easter egg this year made with chocolate produced in Madagascar, using locally grown cashews instead of milk.

It has a creamy taste but with a gentle hint of nut.