Imagine being given free creative rein in England's most exclusive chocolate factory, one that uses the latest equipment and specializes only in top-end ingredients. It's a fantasy come true for any chocolate connoisseur and the man who can make it happen is Bill McCarrick, master chocolatier at Sir Hans Sloane Chocolate House in Surrey. The newest player in the increasingly competitive world of élite chocolatiers, McCarrick wants to take cocoa appreciation to a higher level by letting clients create bespoke handmade chocolates. "Conventional definitions of luxury chocolates are passé," he says. "This is a different echelon of luxury to do with rarity, and I'm offering a creative personal experience."
First, McCarrick asks about your taste preferences, especially for fruits and wine. Once you've decided what flavor to imbue your filling with, the tasting starts, with McCarrick helping to pick from a range of couvertures (the mixture from which the chocolates are made) to find the best match for your chosen center. It's terroir rather than cocoa content that counts; you may want Panamanian chocolate redolent of tobacco, a more floral Madagascan, or a Venezuelan infused with red berry and raisin. Production starts only after more fine-tunings to ensure your chocolate is just right whether it was conceived to complement a certain wine, to encapsulate a spice remembered from a special holiday or simply to attain the ultimate in chocolate indulgence.
The $2,400 tailor-made package includes tasting consultations, a handmade rosewood-and-maple inlaid box containing 60 customized chocolates, and a backup box of another 60. As all good chocoholics know, it wouldn't do to run out. www. sirhanssloane.com