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Cooking with Couverture chocolate

We are immensely proud that so many professional chefs and bakers choose to use Willie’s Cacao couverture chocolates. Ottolenghi has been making his brownies from our Rio Caribe 72% dark chocolate for many years, while Marco Pierre White has made some of his most iconic desserts from our Chulucanas 70% dark chocolate with its beautiful raisin and plum notes.  

And what is the secret weapon in a Masterchef final? Yes, our chocolate  has twice been used to make the winning dessert.  Lisa Snowdon’s Chocolate Tart with crème fraiche and sour cherries was a show stopper in the Celebrity Masterchef 2022 final… another hit for our Rio Caribe!   

So why does Willie’s Cacao make some of the best couverture chocolate? 

Depth of flavour: Top chefs spend their lives striving for the finest flavours, which is why chocolate craft made from the finest beans hits the mark. Our chocolate is known for its incredible depth of flavour. We achieve this by controlling every step of the process, ‘bean to bar’. In particular we conche for up to 3 weeks to protect the precious flavour notes of our beans, compared to industrial chocolate that is made in a few hours at high temperatures.  

Nothing artificial: Our chocolates never contain vanilla or lecithin, so they are a completely clean palette for chefs to work on. We use completely natural ingredients – nothing muddies the pure flavours of our beans. If a chef wants vanilla in their recipe they can add it, but we don’t let it in through the back door with the chocolate.  

This is particularly noticeable in our Couverture White Chocolate, which is the perfect carrier of delicate flavours in desserts and chocolates. It is a remarkable chocolate, not too sweet, with soft cacao and caramelised notes coming from the natural (not de-odourised) cocoa butter and raw cane sugar.  

Single estate chocolates with distinct flavour profiles for different uses: Our couverture chocolates are all made with different single estate cacaos. This means they each have distinct charismatic flavours that perfectly pair with different ingredients. So for example the smooth nutty notes of Las Trincheras 72% make it perfect for baking and Rio Caribe 72% pairs perfectly rums and cognacs in desserts and truffles.  

We have even been known to custom make couverture chocolates for specific recipes, getting exactly the right flavour notes and sugar level.  

Making chocolate truffles with couverture chocolate

Allergy free chocolate: The professional kitchen now has to be super aware of food allergies and intolerances. So what is increasingly known as Allergy Free Couverture Chocolate helps manage this. Willie’s Cacao couverture chocolates contain no soya or gluten, and we have dairy free milk and white chocolates.  

Vegan Couverture Chocolates – dark, milk and white: All the Willie’s Cacao dark couverture chocolates are dairy free and suitable for vegans, but we now have Surabaya 42% Vegan Couverture Milk Chocolate and 36% Vegan Couverture White Chocolate . Both of these are oat based and have our characteristic depth and purity of flavour. 

Ethically sourced: All our beans are sourced direct trade, which means we buy them directly from the farmers paying a higher price premium than Fairtrade. Since Willie himself is a cocoa farmer, we put naturally put the interests of the farmers at the heart of how we do business. We have very long standing relationships with all the small farming groups we work with. They grow cacao the traditional way under shade trees so supporting bio-diversity, and without using pesticides or other chemicals. To ensure there is no contamination, we get a third party laboratory to test all the cacaos for chemicals when they arrive.  

Versatility: Willie is fond of saying that there is a chocolate for everything. Couverture chocolate is used for baking, desserts, ice creams, ganache, truffles, coating, moulding and much more. For some of these you need a light chocolate like Sur del Lago 70 that allows other ingredients to shine, and for others you are looking for distinct flavours. We even have two different couverture milk chocolates: the more intense Surabaya 54% with caramel notes and the classic Rio Caribe 44% with nutty notes.  

To order trade samples or for trade prices please email or call 01884 840650.

Vegan Chocolate


No, you aren’t dreaming. You’ve read right, and there’s actually a whole section of my website dedicated to nothing but vegan chocolates.

I am a dark chocolate fanatic myself, so many of my bars and gift chocolates are in fact naturally dairy free and suitable for vegans. The only ingredients in my dark chocolate are cacao, raw cane sugar and little natural cacao butter.

What makes my dark chocolate naturally vegan?

What Is Artisan Chocolate? Willie’s Cacao explains. Willie Harcourt Cooze visiting cocoa farmers directly in Venezuela vegan

Cocoa Butter!

The name may be deceiving but cocoa butter is naturally free of dairy, eggs, honey and other animal-derived ingredients. Cocoa butter is a type of fat that comes from cocoa beans.

Approximately 50% of each cacao nib is cocoa butter. To make cocoa powder you need to remove some of this butter and I do this on a pair of antique cocoa butter presses. I make the chocolate exactly as I do for the bars then physically press the butter out of the conched 100% cacao.

This is very different to the industrial process that is called Dutching in which the cacao is washed in an alkaline solution to neutralise their acidity.

What about my Vegan White Chocolate?

Vegan White Chocolate

Smooth, Nutty Oat Milk!

Next, I wanted to experiment with a Vegan White Chocolate and a Vegan Milk Chocolate.

Rich and creamy chocolate, made from single estate Medellin cocoa butter with notes of Barbados raw cane sugar.

Dairy Free and Vegan. Perfectly balanced.
Proudly Plant Based.

Discover my favourite Vegan Recipes:

Some of my all time favourite recipes are naturally vegan. Taking flavour inspiration directly from the natural notes of the cacao. From my dark chocolate sorbet to my fiery cacao harissa, these 100% vegan recipes range from sweet desserts to savoury dinners.

Vegan Chocolate Spread


Prep Time: 4 minutes

Cooking Time: 3 minutes

Serves: 230 g

A chocolate spread for everyone, vegan and nut free!


Prep Time:1 hour 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 40 minutes

Serves: 4 – 6.

The addition of cacao at the end thickens and enriches the gravy.

Vegan Stew
Vegan Chocolate Bites


Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cooking Time: 0

Serves: 40

One day my mum mentioned in passing how she had been making some great chocolate fruits and nuts bites using the 100% cacao and no added sugar.

I didn’t think much more about it until I tasted them.

They’re the best energy snack going – delicious, healthy and full of zing.

How to use my 100% cacao cylinders to Make Luxury Vegan Hot Chocolate :

Wille’s cacao 8 Top Tips for Making The Best Luxury Hot Chocolate, Aztec style hot luxury chocolate vegan

My 100% cylinders are my personal choice, I use them to make my Aztec hot chocolate. They’re also naturally vegan.

Choose your single estate cacao bean. Which of my prized beans will you enjoy the most? Why not try a few and experiment? My personal favourite is Peruvian black, Chulucanas, it’s fruity with notes of raisins and plums. Your personal favourite, however, may well be different. You won’t know unless you try… Check the descriptions in each of my 100% cylinders and pick those that resonate the most with you. Are you into toffee caramel notes, smooth and nutty, fruity? Discover my 100% cylinders.

Simmer to thicken it. Don’t miss this stage, once it’s boiling with the water, lower the heat and simmer for around 3 minutes or until it thickens. It makes all the difference!

Froth It! The Aztecs knew it, and you do too… with Aztec-style hot chocolate when you use just water and perhaps a little sugar, you’ll get a lighter froth than with milk, frothing is wonderful and necessary.

Milk or Water? It’s entirely up to you, I use water, so did the Aztecs. There’s already enough smooth and creamy cocoa butter to make a really wonderful hot chocolate but you can try it with a plant-based dairy alternative, and decide your own favourite.

Experiment with flavours. My Aztec Hot Chocolate Recipe uses Ancho chilli, it’s mild, but the Aztecs would have used many types of chilli with varying heats. Over the years in different countries many other flavours have been added to hot chocolate. For example, when hot chocolate arrived in the east they added spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, crushed rose petals and jasmine leaves. Can you think of anything else you’d like to try?

Want to know How I Make My Chocolate from Bean to Bar? Find out here

Pink Valentines Chocolate and Love

We all know chocolate and love are a match made in heaven, but have you ever wondered why sweet treats pair so well with romance?

Cacao has through its long history often been associated with romance and sex. Cacao was revered for its aphrodisiacal properties among the Maya and the Aztecs in ancient times. The conquistador Bernal Díaz describes seeing the Aztec emperor Motecuhzoma consume vast quantities of a cacao drink, which he was told was for success with women.

The Spanish were very taken with the idea of chocolate as a love potion. Although the Church usually allowed it to be drunk by priests and monks during fasting, a number of Inquisition documents reveal a deep suspicion of its alleged power to excite the venereal appetite, citing examples of men who sought out ‘knowledgeable women’, or witches, to cook up seductive chocolate drinks with which to debauch their targets. Equally, women would mix their blood with chocolate in order to seduce unwilling men.

Try Making My Aztec Hot Chocolate

Aztec Hot Chocolate

Modern research into the cravings of the female sex has shown that chocolate increases libido and counteracts mood swings in women. It contains magnesium and iron, so female chocolate cravings might signal a physical need for these nutrients because magnesium levels rise and fall during the menstrual cycle and iron may become depleted. Chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, another chemical that is found naturally in the body; it releases a dopamine in the brain that stimulates physical pleasure. It has been suggested that this is why some women say they prefer chocolate to sex, although this is probably oversimplifying things. After all, men love chocolate too.

Perhaps part of chocolate’s appeal is that it contains a molecule called anandamide, which is said to activate cellular receptors and make you feel happy and high. I am the living proof of this theory! Whenever I experience a dip in energy at the factory, I whip up a quick hot chocolate booster, or just grab a bite of unsweetened cacao if I’m pressed for time. Within minutes, I’m buzzing and energized again. My chocolate never fails to uplift me.

Showing our love through chocolate is still a truly romantic gesture and what better way to express it than with the pure flavour of real chocolate, made with 100% natural ingredients in small batches from the world’s finest cacaos.

Discover my favourite Valentine’s Gifts:

Take your pick from my best selling Valentines Day chocolate gifts. All deeply indulgent and thoroughly luxurious. From my Signature Truffles with beautiful gift sleeves to my Letterbox Chocolates, perfect for when you can’t be there in person on Valentine’s Day.

Signature Truffles

Willie’s Signature Collection of Chocolate Truffles
has been chosen by The Independent as The UK’s Best Luxury Chocolate Box –
‘The stylish personalised box paired with decadent chocolates make this our winning box.’

Simply sublime, they are craft made from fine single estate cacaos and completely natural ingredients.

Exclusively available on our website.

Letterbox Chocolates

Go on a chocolate tasting adventure. Each letterbox contains 10 or 12 delicious artisan chocolate bars, 2 of which are limited edition chocolates, handmade by Willie just for these boxes.

Each Tasting Box has a different theme – Choose The Discovery Tasting Box as the perfect introduction to single estate, bean to bar chocolate. Discover the amazingly different flavours of fine single estate cacaos.

Letterbox Chocolates
Valentine's Truffles

Chocolate Boxes

These beautiful boxes of artisan chocolates and luxurious praline truffles taste every bit as good as they look! We make all our truffles and sea salt caramel from scratch, even roasting our own nuts for the pralines.

Pure Flavours. Pure Pleasure.

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