cocoa bijoux

A chocolate shop called Cocoa Bijoux has recently opened in dangerous proximity to our house. The shop is owned by Stuart Daniel and is an absolute joy to visit. It's a cosy, colourful space and everything is displayed in a very appealing way. The counter is lined with beautiful handcrafted chocolates and the glass bon bon jars are overflowing with truffles. It's my idea of heaven.

The real joy though is the chance to talk to Stuart about his love affair with chocolate. He's always more than happy to chat about his chocolate, about the kind he uses and what makes it taste so good. His enthusiasm is catching and it's hard to resist when he offers you chocolate after chocolate to sample. On one of our visits we asked him about his chili chocolates and told him that we preferred our chocolate dark. He called us "chocolate connoisseurs". I was so flattered, because if there's anything worth knowing about, it's clearly chocolate.

Stuart is seriously passionate about his craft and it shows in the decadent works of art he creates. The salt caramel truffles and pieces of pineapple covered in dark chili chocolate are pretty amazing, but my favourite has to be the kir royale truffle. Milk chocolate filled with kir royale and coated in a tangy cassis powder; it's to die for. S loves the grand marnier truffles and the orange rinds coated in dark chocolate. There are so many to choose from. Next time I'll be trying the Christmassy chocolates made with mulled wine.

On our last visit we tried Cocoa Bijoux's famous hot chocolate, which is made by melting the finest dark and milk chocolate flakes into a hot, rich, thick and creamy drink. It's a very indulgent treat that is just perfect for these winter days.

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