Stow-on-the-Wold is well known for its independent local boutiques, cafes and antique shops, so when I discovered the fantastic in one of the wonderful old Cotswold stone buildings on the main high street, understandably I was delighted. Upon arrival, I was greeted with a warm welcome and friendly smiles all round… and some devilish little chocolate drops on the counter with a tantalising “try me” sign…
The Cotswold Chocolate Company has two shops; the first in Stow and their second shop in the fantastic north Cotswold town of Broadway, but their chocolates are all made by hand in their Stow kitchen.
The owners, Heidi and Tony, started crafting their chocolate seven years ago from home and sold them at farmer’s markets and stalls, before taking the plunge and moving in to their charming premises in Stow-on-the-Wold. It’s the perfect space for a chocolatiers workshop, with a window at the back where you can stand and watch the masters at work, creating all kinds of chocolatey loveliness.
I had the pleasure of witnessing up close how the chocolates are made using their tempering machines, and watching the chocolates being poured in to the moulds – I will admit, it was hard being that close to so much liquid chocolate and knowing that I couldn’t just stick my hands/face in it and eat as much as I could. Fortunately, I was able to restrain myself.
Luckily, my cravings were soon satisfied when Heidi offered me the opportunity to sample some of their incredible handmade chocolates; from their humble but unbelievably moreish milk chocolate and cornflake, to some more interesting flavours like dark chocolate and lavender (using lavender from the fields at Broadway) and an incredible Jägermeister(!) surprise. There really was a chocolate in that kitchen to suit everybody’s tastes.
The shop truly is a chocoholics dream. All around you are shelves stacked to the brim with delicious flavoured individual chocolates and bars, wrapped in beautiful ribbon tied packaging. A table stands in the centre with their wonderful children’s confectionary, crafted from the same fantastic chocolate as their other products. The whole shop smells of rich velvety chocolate.
And of course, what would life be without a few mistakes? Thankfully, their wonderful little “Oops” box means nothing goes to waste, and any imperfectly perfect chocolates (slightly damaged but still delightfully delicious) still get to be sold to and enjoyed by the eager members of the public.
The shop is obviously extremely popular with the locals, as well as tour groups that end there and receive a complimentary crown shaped chocolate (a nice touch of British hospitality), and it’s easy to see why. Their ethically sourced chocolate, locally sourced ingredients and incredibly enthusiastic chocolatiers make for a wonderful experience.
It’s small local businesses like this that make the Cotswolds such a desirable part of the world to live in and visit, and The Cotswold Chocolate Company really is a star on Stow-on-the-Wold’s high street. With people from all walks of life flocking there every day (and understandably more so around Easter and Christmas); it’s so wonderful to know that as well as enjoying some wonderful hand-crafted chocolate or simply buying a gift for someone they love, they’re also supporting a fantastic small business.