1. Hotel Chocolat was set up about decade ago and now have 24 shops throughout Britain. The shops are temples to chocolate and you can buy everything from particular bars such as high chocolate milk bars, to liquid drinking chocolates and serious truffles and ganache. One way to enjoy the breadth of the range is to opt for the "Chocolatiers table" a large box containing 1,500g which retails at 70. You can find your local branch of Hotel Chocolat on the web www.hotelchocolat.co.uk, buy online, or call 0844 493 1313.
2. Fortnum & Mason recently celebrated their 300th birthday by opening a completely re-furbished store that spreads over several floors. The new confectionery department includes enough chocolates to please the greediest chocoholic. If you find the choice between liqueurs, creams, ganache, pralines, truffles, milk and dark too daunting opt for the largest and most indulgent "Silk Chocolate Box". This contains 2 kilos of assorted chocolates and makes a great impression.
150. Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER (0845 300 1707) www.fortnumandmason.co.uk.
3. From a small company set up on London's Portobello Road, Green & Black has grown into a large organisation that is now part of Cadbury Schweppes. Thankfully it has hung on to its small company ethos and still produces organic chocolates with an emphasis on Fairtrade principles. "The Assortment" contains 20 fine chocolates including a tangy orange fudge and a fine sour cherry truffle.
As well as being distributed in supermarkets, Green & Black chocolates are available at www.greenandblacks.com, 7.99
4. Melt is a specialist chocolate shop in Notting Hill, London. Visitors will find an open kitchen where the whole process of tempering, dipping and making truffles is on show to the public. Melt have also invited top chefs to make their own dream chocolates our own Mark Hix invented a nifty little truffle flavoured with Somerset Cider Brandy. 40 hand picked chocolates you choose the size of box and it is filled with a selection of fresh chocolates from the kitchen.
40 chocolates 52 from Melt, 59 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AA (020 7727 5030) www.meltchocolates.com
5. Prestat is an old established chocolate company with a cut glass reputation their chocs used to be a favourite of both Roald Dahl who featured them in his novel "My Uncle Oswald", and Her Majesty the Queen Mother who was fond of the violet creams. The Christmas Box includes hazelnut clusters, rose and violet creams, and ginger fudge.
They are available from the Prestat shop 14 Princes Arcade, Piccadilly, London SW1 and via mail order 0800 0213 023 or the web www.prestat.co.uk. The Christmas box weighs 200g and costs 12.50
6. La Maison du Chocolat was set up in 1977 by chocolatier Robert Linxe on the Rue Faubourg St Honore in Paris and the last thirty years have seen steady growth with shops opening in New York, London and Tokyo. Linxe is known as the "master of ganache". See for yourself with a Habanera box you get 49 chocolates in the 360g box the dark chocolates are perfumed with vine peaches and the milk with mirabelle plums.
La Maison du Chocolat is at 45-46 Piccadilly, London SW1 0DS (020 7287 8500) Habanera 360g 36.80 and from the web www.lamaisonduchocolat.co.ukReuse content