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 (Dhs20) 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 marshmallow and dark chocolate – or the moreish clusters (giant balls of chocolate wrapped in your favourite classics – pretzels, peanut butter, etc).
Souk Al Bahar (04 438 0297). Open daily 10am-11.30pm. All major credit cards. Other location: The Dubai Mall (055 393 2638).
Cacao Sampaka: This avant-garde, 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. For something truly unusual, try the curry chocolate truffles, or indulge by sitting in the café while sipping on a 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; www.cacaosampaka.com). Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. All major credit cards.
Candylicious: Candylicious – the world’s biggest candy store – has everything a sweet-tooth could possibly desire, and is well worth a look. Highlights include the world’s biggest Hershey’s chocolate bar, a large section dedicated to gourmet chocolate and the full range of Jelly Belly goodies.
The Dubai Mall (04 330 8700). Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. All major credit cards.
Chocoa: Combining the best of Western and Eastern sweets, Chocoa’s Belgian chocolate-covered dates and dried apricots are heaped in toothsome piles in the showroom near the Mall of the Emirates. Baskets, boxes, platters and trays are all crammed with delicious treats, which make for excellent, if elaborate, gifts. The milk and dark chocolates are also tasty and come in either solid blocks or with a wide variety of fillings. We particularly like the hazelnut chocolates and the pralines, which are smooth and delicious.
Al Barsha, behind Mall of the Emirates (04 340 9092). Open Sat-Wed 9am-10pm; Thu-Fri 9am-midnight. All major credit cards.
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, along with airy macaroons and rich truffles every bit as good as what you’d find in France.
The Dubai Mall (04 339 8850). Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. All major credit cards.
Galler Chocolatiers: Along with their divine white, dark and milk chocolates, these Belgian chocolatiers also offer creamy, smooth pastes, chocolate bars, cocoa powder, butter biscuits and ice cream. For a more personal touch, they can brand each chocolate individually – perfect for parties or gifts.
Marina Mall (04 399 7816; www.galler.com). Open Sun-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Sat 10am-midnight. All major credit cards.
Jeff de Bruges: Dubai’s chocolate-loving residents openly worship Jeff de Bruges’ scrumptious offerings. With the finest Belgian chocolates on sale this side of Wallonia, the shop is chock-full of truffles, marzipan, fruit jellies, ganaches and pralines. It’s a great place for buying gifts for special occasions: their tailor-made wedding gifts are particularly impressive.
Al Wasl Road (04 345 3365). Open Sat-Thu 12.30pm-midnight; Fri 1pm-12.30am. All major credit cards.
Moka: Moka is heaven for chocolate lovers, stocking mountains of luxury brand Godiva. From gift baskets to golf ball-shaped treats, sweet teeth are spoilt for choice. The glass cabinet houses over 100 variations, from coffee creams to caramels, which can be bought by the bucket load or in a Dhs135 box.
Ground floor, Wafi (04 324 1755; www.mokatrade.com). Open Sat-Wed 10am-10pm; Thu-Fri 10am-midnight. All major credit cards. Other locations: Moka Jumeirah Centre (04 349 3800); Souk Al Bahar (04 368 9313).
Patchi: Favoured by UAE nationals for its selection of high-quality products, Patchi, a Lebanese brand, is undoubtedly the Elie Saab of chocolates. The wondrous chocs are grouped into ‘classic’ and ‘deluxe’ ranges; both of which are splendidly appetising. In the former category try the perfetto with raisins, orange and hazelnuts. Chocoholics of a more adventurous bent will also appreciate the cocoa-dusted chocolate espresso beans, pistachios and raisins. Patchi also sells a huge quantity of vases, dolls, cutlery, and gaudy gift sets replete with teddy bears. For a chocolate quick fix, they’ll also let you pick ‘n’ mix from the counter.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 368 6101; www.patchi.com). Open daily 9.30am-11pm. All major credit cards. Other locations: Mercato (04 349 1188); Wafi (04 324 4030).
Vivel Patisserie: This international patisserie stocks rich French truffles, imported strawberry macaroons, Arabian, Persian and European sweets, and some top-notch coffee. But when it comes to tasting Scandinavian candy, it’s truly in a league of its own. Those with an adventurous palate might be tempted to try djungelvral from Sweden (salt liquorice) or the fiery tyrkisk peber (extra hot liquorice) from Finland. You can also buy tiny, perfectly sculpted cookies by the kilo – absolutely delicious.
Souk Madinat Jumeirah (04 368 6006; www.vivel.com). Open Sat-Thu 10am-11pm; Fri 10am-11pm. Accepts Visa and Mastercard only. Other location: Deira (04 295 7005); Jumeirah (04 344 3232).