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Best dark chocolate 2023: Get your chocolate fix with these darkly decadent cocoa treats

Looking for a new choccy treat to indulge in? These are the very best dark chocolate bars and selection boxes around

Dark chocolate – the more intense, and some would say more sophisticated cousin of mainstream milk chocolate – is worth getting right. It may not be everyone’s choice of sweet treat, but if you’re ready to go to the dark side, it pays to shop around for the best dark chocolate you can find. This is no time for nipping to the corner shop. While great dark chocolate is characterful, smooth and rich, poorly made versions can be unpleasantly bitter, waxy or grainy and leave you feeling short-changed from your chocolate hit.

The beauty of dark chocolate lies in the higher cocoa percentage – usually 50-100% – coupled with lower sugar content, allowing the true profile of the cocoa beans to shine through. Your tastebuds may pick up on surprising and intense flavours – fruits, florals, nuttiness or smoke – rather than being bombarded with sweetness as with your run-of-the-mill grab-and-go chocolate bar. All this flavour often means that just a few squares are enough, so let’s make sure those few squares are really good ones.

Best dark chocolate: At a glance

How to choose the best dark chocolate for you

How dark do you want to go?

There’s dark chocolate and then there’s dark chocolate. While dark chocolate in the UK can contain anything from 50% cocoa solids, we’d recommend looking for something that has at least 70% in order to be able to enjoy all those deliciously nuanced notes that come from good beans. If you have never tried anything at 100%, then it’s worth getting hold of some (we’d recommend Montezuma’s or Hotel Chocolat) just to see for yourself how the character of chocolate is so easily changed with the additions of milk, sugar and flavourings.

And speaking of flavourings, do you want any in your chocolate? Purists may enjoy their dark chocolate unadorned, but in our testing, we admit to being completely seduced by all the chocolatiers’ imaginative flavour pairings – from subtle salt crystals to exotic citrus ganache – and we hope you are too.

How much should you spend?

Paying cocoa farmers a fair price comes at a cost, but it’s a cost we should all be willing to pay for our bars of the good stuff. Fully traceable chocolate – down to the single-origin bean – also means you’ll pay a slight premium. In general, you should expect to spend £3-5 for a bar, while artisanal chocolates will be priced higher as you’re paying for the chocolatier’s hard work in developing and decorating too. We think it’s worth it, though.

How we test dark chocolate

When recommending dark chocolate, we put our money where our mouth is and personally try every bar we can lay our hands on before compiling our final roundup ready for your perusal. But it’s not just mindless munching. We observe each chocolate for a good texture, snappability, chunkiness and aroma before making notes on its melt profile and what tasting notes come up when we eventually chow down.

For a quality dark chocolate, we’re looking for a superior melt, absolutely no graininess and when it comes to taste, it needs to be something really stand-out. So, whether that is the ultimate premium plain dark chocolate with subtle top notes of smoke or the most divine hazelnut filling we’ve ever found, we’ve endeavoured to cover all bases in our search for the best dark chocolate on the market. We’ll also consider sustainability, price and fairtrade credentials before arriving at our final decision. Chocoholics rejoice.

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The best dark chocolate you can buy in 2023

1. Love Cocoa Maldon Sea Salt 70% Dark Chocolate: The best salted dark chocolate

Price: £5 for 75g | Buy now from Amazon

You’d expect the great-great-great grandson of the original Mr Cadbury to know a fair bit about chocolate-making and happily for us, he does. Happily too, he pays cocoa farmers fairly for their precious wares via his ethical British chocolate brand Love Cocoa, unlike many of the big confectioners. Aside from that, this single-origin 70% dark chocolate is exceptionally tasty; a deeply, dark and luxurious tasting bar with an expensive feeling snap to it, and just the right thickness to melt slowly in the mouth.

We love the gentle fruitiness of it, which is set off with the brilliant tang of hand-harvested Maldon sea salt flakes (they purposely chose the famous Essex salt in place of the Himalayan stuff for the carbon footprint) that should delight plain chocolate lovers and adventurous palates alike. If not, try the sharply zesty Gin and Tonic Dark or the intriguing Avocado Dark. All Love Cocoa chocolate uses sustainably sourced palm-oil free ingredients, the packaging is plastic-free and each bar purchased means a tree is planted is East Kenya. Tastes good, does good – and is even better with a glass of red.

Buy now from Love Cocoa

2. FATSO Nan’s Stash: The best chunky dark chocolate

Price: £6 for 150g | Buy now from SO FATSO

This cheeky bar of dark chocolate boasts some serious credentials: it’s made with 70% cocoa single origin fino de aroma certified cacao and is ethically sourced from Colombia, but that’s where the seriousness ends. FATSO was created as an antidote to the often po-faced image of posh dark chocolate and the bars are intended to be devoured rather than savoured; we’re happy to oblige. Nan’s Stash is a hugely chunky, fat slab of deliciously rich and slightly creamy chocolate impregnated with crunchy peanuts, splinters of hard toffee and buttery digestives to make a fabulously indulgent snack. If Nan’s Stash doesn’t float your boat then check out the other FATSO flavours, like the breakfast inspired Morn’N Glory: cornflake, toast and marmalade spiked 60% Colombian goodness.

Buy now from SO FATSO

3. Chococo Dark Chocolate Medium Selection Box: The best dark chocolate selection box

Price: £19 for 16 | Buy now from Chococo

We’ve long been fans of Dorset-based fresh chocolate company Chococo. The husband and wife team turn out phenomenal handcrafted artisanal chocolates in a dizzying array of flavours and forms, using hyper-local ingredients such as Dorset’s Black Cow vodka and fresh cream from neighbouring farms. They do all sorts, but its current medium dark selection box is a tempting treasure trove of 16 imaginative flavours of fine origin chocolates and truffles, beautifully decorated and boxed.

This box contains many of its award-winning flavours and seasonal limited editions. All chocolates are free from additives and preservatives and have a short shelf life due to their freshness, so you’ll need to eat quickly – what a shame.

Buy now from Chococo

4. Crosstown Yuzu Passion Fruit Chocolate: The best filled dark chocolate

Price: £6 for 100g | Buy now from Crosstown

You may know Crosstown for its award-winning gourmet doughnuts, but the brands new foray into chocolate looks to be just as wonderfully indulgent as anything coming out of the bakery. Inspired by favourite fillings and ingredients used in the doughnuts, we have fallen hard for the combination of passion fruit and yuzu ganache filled dark chocolate.

This reassuringly chunky bar is made from Crosstown’s 72% signature fine dark chocolate, which is perfectly complemented by the zesty, zingy contrast of the Japanese citrus and tropical flavour of passion fruit.

Buy now from Crosstown

5. Seed and Bean Sicilian Hazelnut Fine Dark Chocolate: The best value dark chocolate

Price: £4 for 80g | Buy now from Seed and Bean

Remember we said to look for dark chocolate over around 70% to really nail those deep cocoa notes? Ignore us on this occasion; Seed and Bean’s delectable Sicilian Hazelnut Fine Dark Chocolate comes in at a relatively low 58% cocoa solids but has made it onto this list simply for how approachably yummy it is. Anyone who thinks dark chocolate isn’t their thing may be surprised after a bite of this smooth, sweetly nutty bar which is silky in the mouthfeel and generously imbued with a high quality Italian hazelnut paste to make a kind of understated praline bar.

We like the thinness of this chocolate, which is organic and ethically sourced, and its purse-friendly price tag means you won’t feel too guilty for eating the entire bar either. If you’re not nutty about nuts there are 11 other dark chocolate varieties in the Seed and Bean range that are just as good.

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