Searching for Scotland's Chocolate Nirvana
Holidays should be about spoiling yourself, relaxing in comfort and indulging in the finest temptations available. They are not a time for diets or eating sensibly but should be about giving in to temptation, so here are our top suggestions for Scottish chocolate nirvana.
If staying at Culkein Lodge then a day trip to Durness is a must, after exploring the caves and beaches then the perfect way to unwind is a trip to Cocoa Mountain. The emphasis here is on the finest cocoa and fresh Scottish ingredients with recipes inspired by the wild Highland landscape. Sit outside at the café and chocolaterie and sample their signature truffles and enrobed fruits while taking in the sensational views over to Arkle and Fionaven.
The Sugar Croft Faerie lives on a croft by Loch Ewe and has been hand crafting sweets and chocolate for your enjoyment since 2012. The sherbet lemon marshmallows won a gold star in the Great Taste awards last year and can be bought online along with other specialties such as caramels and toasted almond dragees. Although the Faerie does not receive visitors at her croft these delicacies and many more are also available at shops throughout Gairloch and Shieldaig, just a short trip from Big Sand.
The Isle of Mull has many attractions but none as sweet as Tobermory Chocolate. The shop has a huge selection of truffles and gift boxes (including a stuffed chocolate lobster) and the café serves freshly made pastry and the best hot chocolate in town. One of the main reasons to stay at Kellan Mill is the magnificent walking just out the back door. If a day outside leaves you feeling you have earned a treat then swing by for your reward.
Kids love chocolate and the promise of a day in a chocolate factory is surely enough to make even the most unruly behave. Knockbrex Castle is a superb family friendly place to stay and is situated just 3 miles away from the Cocoa Bean Company. Here you can drop the kids off for a chocolate making workshop while you sample the wares in the café, there is even a soft play area where kids can burn off that sugar rush afterwards. If you are in any way jealous that the children are having all the fun then don’t despair, special adult truffle workshops are available on dates throughout the year.
Balfour House is traditionally booked by people coming to St Andrews because of the lure of golf, however since the opening of the new Iain Burnett shop there golfers may find themselves losing out to chocolate fiends. One of the most famous and award winning gourmet chocolatiers in the country has created the Hot Velvet Shot, unique to St Andrews. This is a decadently rich hot chocolate shot to drink at the Chocolate Espresso Bar or to take away. You simply have to try one. Beats golf. Any day.
If you have arrived from the Pier Master’s House to Oban by sea kayak then you really have earned a reward. The Oban Chocolate Co is on the esplanade, next to the north pier so you could step out of your boat and directly into this haven of all things sweet. From the fiery Chilli Chuffle to the sublime Pear William, whisky golf balls to the unusual Marmite chocolates, everything is handmade on the premises. Enjoy a specialty tea and fresh pastry, watch the world go by and contemplate your paddle home.
Photo credit Iain Burnett