As winter pushed out autumn last year, I ordered a box of chocolates from Gabriella Cugno. Cugno, patissier and chocolatier, makes a selection of ‘gourmet filled chocolate bars’ about four times a year, as well as other specials (Easter eggs) that you pre-order. I love this restraint – the fact that there’s no endless stock. You wait. And if you miss that release, then you wait for the next one.
I had almost forgotten about my order until just before Christmas when the orange box arrived. Nestled inside, as cuddled up as newborn kittens, were six bars. Usually I share with my family. Not this time. I hid the box and every day over the Christmas break I would take one bar out and eat it all by myself while reading Craig Brown’s Ma’am Darling.
Cugno makes all the bars completely by herself, which is why production is limited to 150-250 boxes. The first one I tried (I ordered the mixed milk and dark box, £27) was orange and Piedmont hazelnut, a crispy hazelnut praline with an orange caramel. The peanut praline bar was wonderful (I’m still dreaming about it), like a posh Snickers. If you like peanuts you’ll probably not see a better use of them in a chocolate bar. The pecan and maple – even though it was enrobed in white chocolate – was superb, all praline and feuilletine wafer in beautiful harmony. I could go on, but know this: I almost wept eating them they were so perfect. These are not cheap chocolates but, to be honest, they’re a bargain for the joy they bring.