Alison Nelson’s Chocolate Bar: For those not in the know, Alison Nelson is one of New York’s It chocolate shops. Housed in the super suave Souk Al Bahar, the NYC-based brand specialises in artsy bars with flavours that are both retro and funky. Its graffiti bars, with wrappers designed by the Big Apple’s most esteemed graffiti artists, are ever-popular. We personally love the pieces in the atomic collection: homemade digestive biscuits topped with homemade marshmallow and dark chocolate? We’re so there.
Souk Al Bahar (04 438 0297). Other location: The Dubai Mall. Grafitti bars Dhs20 each, Dhs200 for a set of 10. A set of four clusters is Dhs45.
Chocolat: The UAE isn’t known for its chocolates, but may soon change, thanks to two Swiss chocolatiers who have set up shop in Ras Al Khaimah. Their chocolates are arguably among the country’s best. Chocolat uses the freshest ingredients, many of which are produced in the UAE. It also doesn’t use any chemicals or preservatives, and it’s a difference that’s easy to taste. The simple raspberry truffle is a revelation, as is the Earl Grey truffle. But, then again, we’re pretty much in love with everything Chocolat produces.
Available at the Gourmet Station, Oasis Centre (04 515 4050). Dhs375 per kilogram.
Forrey & Galland: The brainchild of two French chocolatiers, all the products at Forrey & Galland (a revival of a renowned, but defunct Parisian label) are handmade, hand-picked and custom packaged in the UAE. The chocolates marry French and Middle Eastern flavours and, though the practice sounds dubious the results are to die for. The rose-petal chocolates – a mix of white chocolate and rose water – make for a luxurious and elegant edible. In keeping with the Arabic theme, Forrey & Galland also produce amazing chocolates with halwa and saffron.
The Dubai Mall (04 339 8850). Dhs515 per kilogram.
Cacao Sampaka: The Barcelona-based chocolate company is one of the few that is involved in every part of the chocolate-making process, from selecting the cocoa bean through to manufacturing the product. As a result, Cocoa Sampaka understands the nuances of the different beans, and brings its understanding to the consumer in the form of the Major Cacao Origins collection, which assembles chocolates from the main chocolate-producing countries in the world, including Venezuela, Grenada and the Ivory Coast. For something truly unusual, diners can sit in the shops café while sipping on cup full of the city’s richest hot chocolate. For true decadence, pair it off with a chocolate sandwich (Spain’s breakfast of champions).
The Dubai Mall (04 434 1427). One box of 16 pieces, Dhs50.
Ghraoui: Ghraoui, Syria’s leading chocolate company, has been a household name in Damascus since 1805. The brand has only recently opened up in Dubai however, taken over a space in The Dubai Mall. The company has more than 100varieties of chocolate in its repertoire, from dark chocolate with Turkish delight and pistachios, to its Mediterranean shells of white chocolate and praline. The Dubai Mall, Lower Ground Level, 04 339 8264. Other location: Dubai Festival City (04 232 6133). Dhs275 per kilo.
Al Nassma: Al Nassma is without a doubt the UAE’s most original chocolate concept. Basically, it is the only company in the world to specialise in camel milk chocolate. Though some may find the idea off-putting, camel milk is as a whole lot healthier than cow’s milk: it has five times more vitamin C and contains less fat, less lactose and more insulin, making it a good option for diabetics and the lactose intolerant. But Al Nassma’s no one trick pony – there is a large range of products, from Arabia chocolate bars flavoured with cardamom and cumin, to caramel-filled, camel-shaped truffles. If nothing else, Al Nassma makes a unique gift to friends and family abroad.
Near the Dubai Outlet Mall (04 223 9289), near the Dubai Outlet Mall. Set of 18 chocolate pralines Dhs135.