UPDATE: Co Couture has now re-opened after being closed for a few months. Hooray!
Belfast chocolate lovers rejoice!
I thought I knew about all of the best spots in Belfast to grab a quality bite to eat/a treat but I only recently discovered the amazing, gourmet, Co Couture chocolate shop that resides beside City hall (left at city hall, past Cafe Nero, down some steps). When you first enter the shop, you’re immediately greeted with the smell of warm, melted chocolate, oh what a greeting it is! I was not the only customer to notice or appreciate this and it’s due to the chocolates being made on site with no door separating the seating area and kitchen, allowing the smells to float through.
The second thing that grabs your attention is the selection of chocolates and cute mini brownies on display. During my visit there were two brownie flavours: classic and salted cashew butter (gluten free). As for the chocolates, there was quite a range (and still more to come), some of which included: orange, hazelnut creme, Japanese cherry sencha (this was my choice) and even Irish whiskey truffle!
You get one of these chocolates with your order of coffee/hot chocolate and the rest are 80p each, which is an absolute bargain when you understand the high quality of these treats, evidence of which could be seen from the many awards that sat upon the shelves.
Impressive chocolate flavour
Immediately upon tasting the chocolate you’ll realise that these are very different from your average box of chocs that claim to be “dark” yet are only 40% cocoa solids. These differ not only in terms of darkness (most are 72%) but the flavours as well, which is also extended to their hot chocolate drink.
As the makers have slowly replaced raw unrefined cane sugar with the smallest amounts of honey, this allows the flavours to come through so much more, plus, you aren’t hit with a sugar rush which is why I feel most people would be satisfied and satiated with a small selection as opposed to having that uncontrollable sugar craving that is commonly associated with standard chocolate.
As I’ve just briefly mentioned, one of the key factors behind the rich flavour is that nearly all of them are now refined sugar free with only small amounts of honey being used and a bonus for those who are lactose intolerant/avoiding dairy is that the dark chocolate is dairy free. Furthermore, the base couverture chocolate that is used is organically sourced and originates from Madagascar, which provides a more developed, fruity flavour.
Another major plus which I loved is that because they use couverture chocolate in bar form rather than sourcing and grinding the beans themselves, this provides x4 times the profit for the cocoa farmers meaning that they get a better wage, now if that wasn’t a good enough reason to get you in there then maybe this next point is. The ganache that is made here to create the truffle centre is water based rather than cream, meaning it’s lower in calories but due to the overall rich cocoa content of the chocolate it does not affect the flavour.
These are just a few of the questions and answers that I felt highlighted the essence of the brand.
- How did the passion for high quality chocolate making begin?
Deirdre (the boss) fell in love with high-end chocolates while working in New York when she was an international sales & marketing executive. There was nothing like this available in Belfast, so she decided to move back home & set up shop!
- How do you keep the balance between enjoying chocolate and being healthy?
Many people don’t know that chocolate is actually a fruit; it grows on a tree! The chocolate that we eat is made from the seeds of the Cacao pod, so if you’re eating a bar of 100% chocolate you’re eating 100% fruit- nothing bad about that! As you get into lower percentages, for example dark chocolate at around 70%, the other 30% is made up of sugar, cocoa butter, flavourings, etc. Obviously the lower the percentage the more sugar is in the chocolate, but because we use natural unrefined cane sugar/honey instead of the usual refined white sugar our chocolate is much lower in calories. Also, because we use the finest chocolate in the world, it’s much richer so you don’t need to eat a lot of it to satisfy your chocolate craving. If you eat a bar of Cadbury’s you’re eating mostly sugar, but with our chocolate you’re getting the flavours of the Madagascan Cacao beans, which will give you that chocolate hit straight away.
- Tell me about the fresh mint and honey brownie that you made that was lower in calories than a banana?
We were able to use very little sugar in the Fresh Mint & Honey brownie because of the honey content and the complementary mint flavour, so that brought the calories count way down!
Prices and gifts
Update: They now only sell individual chocolates with the drinks, so if you want some chocolates to take away they come in boxes now.
As mentioned earlier, each of the individual chocolates/brownies are 80p each, you can also buy a box of 6 to take away with you for later or as a gift.
Other options are bags of mini chocolate bars (there’s even a 72% chilli chocolate version for weirdos like me that love this combo!) or bags of hot chocolate mix, each of which are £5.
Before concluding this piece, I also want to mention the courtesy that was extended not only to me but a young lady and her family who were there celebrating her birthday, these customers also left very happy and with every intention of returning. For me, there will definitely be repeat visits to this shop and I highly encourage you to visit at least once, everyone loves a bit of chocolate so why not give your body some of the best kind, you know you deserve it.
Lastly, please support this quality product and business as it’s one of a kind in terms of what we have on offer here and will help to ensure that we continue to have a great supply of chocolate right here in the heart of Belfast.