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15 best luxury chocolate boxes you’ll want to keep all to yourself

From truffles to vegan-friendly assortments, we’ve been busy tasting a variety of treats

Bess Browning
Tuesday 21 December 2021 12:01
<p>We’re celebrating independent brands in our round-up </p>

We’re celebrating independent brands in our round-up

Christmas is the greatest time for indulgence and there’s nothing quite so decadent as a luxurious box of chocolates. Whether you are gifting to a chocoholic or you are looking for something for yourself, to devour the entire box while wrapped up in a blanket on a cold winter’s night or to enjoy throughout the festive period, you want to ensure you’ve chosen the very best chocolates.

And that means something different to every individual – some of us want rich, dark flavours, others prefer a milkier choice, or perhaps a fruity, nutty or boozy alternative. There’s truffles, pralines, bon-bons, caramels and ganaches, a sumptuous option for every palate.

When it comes to choosing the ultimate chocolate box, we think the search should be much wider than the supermarket and it’s the independent brands which make up the majority of our round-up. Their boxes are a celebration of the finest ingredients, the most intricate crafting and detailing, and many have a keen stance on sustainability, with some fighting against unethical cocoa farming and others against the use of plastics.

We were looking for style and elegance before we had even unwrapped the chocolates inside and as soon as we’d made that all-important reveal, we were hoping for a sweet aroma that hit our senses straight away. We wanted a box with an eclectic and carefully considered selection of chocolates, pummelling our different taste buds with every piece. There were some boxes we tried which had a niche that set it apart – some arrived with a bottle of booze which the creators said was a perfect pairing for the chocs, while others were vegan or sugar free. One even had a guide on which wine to drink when eating their chocolates.

How we tested

Over a period of two months, we tried at least two chocolates from each box, with a few minutes and a drink in between each to ensure we grasped the full flavours. We were looking for a stylish box, detailed designs and above all, a burst of flavour which made for memorable tasting.

The best luxury chocolate boxes for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Willie’s cacao Christmas box: £24,
  • Best gift set –Highland chocolatier velvet truffles with wine gift set: £53.85,
  • Best for Christmas –Chococo festive collection box: £24,
  • Best for splashing out –Hotel Chocolat’s the chocolatier’s table: £75,
  • Best dark chocolate – Cartwright and Butler’s dark chocolate truffle assortment: £12.50,
  • Best eco-friendly box – Love Cocoa signature chocolate selection box: £22.50,
  • Best for luxury – Cartografie Christmas collection: £26,
  • Best for pairing with a glass of fizz –William Curley the emissary festive chocolates: £45,
  • Best for vegans and gluten-free recipients – Pure Heavenly gift box: £24.50,
  • Best for pairing with wine – Neuhaus wine pairing selection: £29.99,
  • Best dessert flavours – Lily O’Brien’s desserts collection hat box: £30,
  • Best pralines – Laderach assorted pralines: £36.90
  • Best for rum pairing – Charbonnel & Walker rum truffles: £16,
  • Best for a personal experience – Melt London chocolatier gift box: £32,
  • Best classic choice Quality Street personalised tin: £15.99,

Willie’s Cacao Christmas box

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

These boxes are the freshest truffles you can acquire this Christmas as they launched just this month. Every truffle is made with 100 per cent natural ingredients and are handcrafted in Willie’s “bean to bar” factory in Devon. When choosing your truffles, and you can do so right up until midnight on December 21 for delivery for Christmas, you get to pick from 18 different flavours and when you have worked out which ones take your fancy, you can have them wrapped in a gift sleeve with your very own message.

We were lucky enough to try a few different selections from the brand and its sea salt caramel was heavenly – we’d even go as far to say it’s one of the best sea salt chocolates we tried throughout our tasting. For Christmas Day though, we’ll be enjoying the pink champagne truffle, which was another absolute delight. The stylish personalised box paired with decadent chocolates and reasonable price tag makes this our winning box.

Independent Wines Highland chocolatier velvet truffles with wine gift set

Best: Gift set

Rating: 9/10

Is there any better combination than a glass of red wine and a rich chocolate? We are not sure you can beat it. These artisan truffles are crafted by award-winning chocolatier Iain Burnett and have been intricately mastered to produce flavours that emphasise and complement the flavours in the Rosso di Montalcino wine, which comes alongside this box of truffles. These efforts have been recognised with over 40 prestigious awards. Inside the box we found flavours including raspberry and black pepper, and we adored the dark velvet truffle – the rich cherry notes made for an unbeatable pairing with the wine.

Chococo festive collection box

Best: For Christmas

Rating: 8/10

A real treat to unwrap, there’s 25 decadent chocolates to enjoy in this box of treats from Chococo – and every single one is different. There was a fantastic variety including a number of boozy bites – the spice rum gem comprises raisins that are marinated in Exeter’s Two Drifters dark rum, blended with nutmeg, cinnamon and clove – like Christmas in a cup! We also loved the Great Taste Award 2018 winner, the Salcombe sundowner – a gin and pink grapefruit-infused chocolate. You’ll every flavour you can imagine in this eclectic selection, from fruity to caramel. The box is a beauty too – a perfect gift for your loved ones this Christmas.

Hotel Chocolat’s the chocolatier’s table

Best: For splashing out

Rating: 9/10

This was the most opulent and impressive box of chocolates we tested. Served in a show-stopping glittery box, every part of “the chocolatier’s table” is a spectacle. If you want to impress your dinner party guests this winter, pop this on the table as a centrepiece. The selection is seriously special, with 41 different creations, showcasing the very best of Hotel Chocolat’s work. Spoilt for choice, we went straight in for mousse au chocolat, followed up nicely by a billionaire’s shortbread – both outstanding. There’s truffles, pralines, batons, macarons, biscuits and more, meaning there’s something for every chocoholic inside. It’s currently out of stock online but you can check in-store availability on the brand’s website.

Cartwright and Butler’s dark chocolate truffle assortment

Best: Dark chocolate

Rating: 7/10

Best known for its luxurious hampers and biscuits, Cartwright and Butler has a wide selection of specialty chocolates too. From hazelnuts to sea salt to ginger, there’s something for every palate. We tried the dark chocolate truffle assortment, which has six different chocolates in either dark chocolate, Irish coffee or strawberry champagne. We loved the reusable tin, which you could fill with other treats after you’d enjoyed all of the truffles. Each of these chocolates were incredibly rich and ideal for someone with a penchant for darker varieties.

Love Cocoa signature chocolate selection box

Best: Eco-friendly box

Rating: 9/10

Love Cocoa is the brainchild of James Cadbury, Mr Cadbury’s great-great-great grandson, so it is no surprise that its signature chocolate selection box is something to behold. Twenty one delicious truffles, bursting with sumptuous ganache, are waiting to be opened. There were two of each recipe – our favourites included the Venezuelan dark ganache and the white chocolate rocher. Love Cocoa has a fantastic sustainability project too – with every box sold, the brand plants a tree in east Kenya and all of its products are handmade in Great Britain using 100 per cent recyclable packaging. It uses palm oil free, slave free, sustainably-sourced cocoa too.

William Curley the emissary festive chocolates

Best: For pairing with a glass of fizz

Rating: 8/10

After being awarded the title of Britain’s best chocolatier by the Academy of Chocolate four times, it’s safe to say that William Curley is the king of choc, and he has revealed something quite spectacular this Christmas. His festive gift set includes prosecco-infused chocolates alongside a bottle of asolo prosecco superior from The Emissary. We knew that the chocolate and prosecco combo was a winner but introducing these prosecco-infused chocolates made for an entirely new and magical experience.

Wickedly Welsh Christmas collection

Best: For rich flavours

Rating: 8/10

An artisan chocolate company based in Pembrokeshire, Wales, Wickedly Welsh is often described as the Willy Wonka of Wales. We tried out its Christmas collection, a beautifully crafted mixture of chocolates with some classic festive flavours such as dark Christmas pudding and hazlenut praline, as well as some more fruity and boozy options, strawberry and an absolute dazzler, the raspberry and vodka. We’re sold.

Pure Heavenly ultimate mixed gift box

Best: For vegans and gluten-free recipients

Rating: 8/10

As we took a bite of the Pure Heavenly chocolate in dark orange flavour, we could’ve mistaken it for a Terry’s chocolate orange. But no, this brand is dairy, gluten, palm oil and soy free and uses just one per cent sugar. Unlike the other boxes in this round-up, this is a selection of bars that boasts a fun mix of flavours – from dark ginger to bananas, cherry and sea salt. If you’re looking for an alternative this year, this could be just for you. They come arranged in a beautiful box too.

Neuhaus pralines wine pairing selection

Best: For pairing with wine

Rating: 9/10

We all know that wine and chocolate go hand-in-hand but Neuhaus has taken this combination a little further. It has come up with a collection of pralines that are designed to pair wonderfully, with wine, which even includes a thorough sommelier’s guide to give us the lowdown on the chocolates that match with the reds, whites and roses.

Some of the ingredients of the chocolates were unusual – think cardamom and Italian olive oil – but it was clear they had been specially chosen to create a perfect pairing with the plonk. We really enjoyed this selection, especially the sommelier earl grey which was filled with earl grey tea, mango puree and acacia honey and went fantastically with a glass of pinot noir.

Lily O'Brien's desserts collection hat box

Best: Dessert flavours

Rating: 7/10

A stunning array of chocolates for every palate, all inspired by your favourite pud, this is a real treat for anyone who loves dessert. Lily O’Briens has a dazzling collection of chocolate boxes but we picked out this one as it was so different from any of the others we had tried during our tasting. From banoffee pie to creme brulee, the brand has have infused its milk, dark and white chocolates with the flavours of the very best desserts and created 48 dainty yet satisfying treats. The passion fruit posset was one of the very best.

Laderach assorted pralines

Best: Pralines

Rating: 9/10

The velvet coating and the soft inside makes pralines one of the most sumptuous chocolates in any box and Swiss chocolatiers, Laderach, has created a stunning recipe. This box of pralines ticks off every flavour of praline you can imagine, with a hazlenut heart, a walnut marzipan, caramel triangle and dulce de leche to name but a few. There are a number of classic truffles in there too. You can grab a box of eight or upsize to as much as 72 – Christmas is sorted.

Charbonnel & Walker Blackwell rum truffles

Best: For pairing with rum

Rating: 8/10

Brand new on the shelves of only the finest stores this December is Charbonnel & Walker’s breathtaking rum truffles. The chocolatier has teamed up with Blackwell Rum to fill its dark chocolate truffles with a piquant fine Jamaican rum centre, before coating with vermicelli chocolate. We loved the powerful flavours of rum and vanilla, finished up with a spicy aftertaste. These truffles have a secret surprise for you too – underneath the lid is a playlist curated by Chris Blackwell, the founder of Island Records. So, while you pop one of these truffles in your mouth, press play and enjoy the sounds of Jamaica with Bob Marley and Cat Stevens to name but a few.

Melt London chocolatier gift box

Best: For a personal experience

Rating: 8/10

Based in the heart of Notting Hill, Melt is a family-run business that allows shoppers to see their chocolatiers at work, as every piece is made in the kitchen in-store. This box, which is completely plastic-free, arrived with an intricate ribbon and houses a selection of bitesize praline cups, salted chocolate and milky truffles inside. Our favourites were the milk salted square, which had a sprinkling of gold glitter and delivered a succulent aftertaste, or the unique passion fruit and mango square. The brand also offers a subscription service for those who can’t get enough of these delicious treats.

Quality Street personalised tin

Best: Classic choice

Rating: 7/10

No Christmas is complete without a teeming box of Quality Street and now chocoholics have a chance to make their very own bespoke tin. You can either opt for the classic 11 sweet mix, including the purple one, the orange crunch and fudge, or you can pick out exactly which ones you want – and don’t want – and if that means an entire box of strawberry delights, so be it!

The verdict: Luxury chocolate boxes

There are a spectacular variety of chocolate boxes, to suit every palate and every purse this Christmas. We thought Willie’s Cacao boxes would make a special present for the chocolate lovers in your life because as well as having a mouth-watering selection of flavours, it was incredibly good value too. If you’re looking for something more opulent, we would opt for Hotel Chocolat or Laderach.

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