Chocolate has been one of our favourite treats and little ‘sins’ since it was first imported from the Americas by the Spanish. Today, the art of chocolate making is evolving ever more into the realm of gourmet creations of exquisite skill, creativity, and yes, deliciously tasty fun!

Until the 16th century, this addictive delicacy was unknown to all but the indigenous people of Central America. Its origins among the Olmec, Maya and later Aztec cultures stretch back almost 4,000 years, but for the wider world the appearance of the bitter tasting cacao beans and the associated hot drink transformed the sweet tooth, after sugar was added. This combination formed the beginning of a veritable revolution in non-savoury foodstuffs, for it constituted the basis for the edible chocolate of the kind that today has billions of aficionados the world over.

Bonbons are the oldest known sweet chocolates designed for eating, and they date back to the elegance of the 17th century French royal court. By the early 19th century, Dutch and English chocolatiers had paved the way for the now-ubiquitous chocolate bar, and can you believe it, milk was only added to the mix a little more than 100 years ago? This Swiss invention was the biggest step in chocolate making since the addition of sugar to cut out the cacao bean’s natural bitterness, and it formed the basis of Nestlé, one of the largest food companies in the world today.

Among the many mass-produced and luxury chocolate brands, there are some that stand out for a variety of reasons. In this article we have selected three that might tickle your fancy, including an international favourite, an artistic interpretation of the chocolate that recalls its early days as the favourite of aristocrats and courtesans, and our own region’s boutique chocolate factory in Mijas pueblo.

Godiva Chocolate: Belgian Perfection

Belgium has gained international fame for a good number of things, foremost among them a reputation for creating some of the most delicious chocolate confectionary in the world. These precious little delicacies most often come in the form of bonbons, and one of the names immediately associated with premium Belgian chocolate is Godiva, a luxury brand of master chocolatiers that has its roots in 1926. In just under a hundred years, it has become a reference for quality, creative innovation and delicate culinary artistry.

Known the world over, Godiva products are available through a global network of 500 boutiques whose décor and ambience reflect the values of this noble brand. Here you will encounter a wide range of products designed to offer the ultimate chocolate experience; it is a world of gorgeous flavours, scents and visual sensations that can be enjoyed at Harrods, the landmark Rue Saint-Honoré boutique in Paris, at Dubai Airport, the Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi department store in Tokyo or at the El Corte Inglés Club del Gourmet in Puerto Banús, and also at La Cañada, in front of Fnac. Lose yourself in the sweet delights of beautifully crafted pralines, biscuits and fantastic gifts.

Ekhi Gold: Spanish Artistry

Spain has its master chocolatiers too, and none finer than Juan Mari Iriarte, who hails from Navarra in the north of the country. His inspiration and desire to produce superlative confectionary follows an artistic path that merges two of history’s most prized treasures: cacao and gold. As a result, every bonbon created by Iriarte is an edible jewel founded in premium ecological cacao sourced in Peru and 23,9 carat gold. These two noble ingredients are merged through a handcrafted process in which the chocolatier emerges almost like an alchemist of old to produce the ultimate in luxury confectionary delicacies.

Ekhi Gold is now a reference of art, creativity, skill and exquisite raw materials within this field, and its creator’s products are desired across the world – to celebrate special events, offer gifts with a difference, or simply to enjoy! From the Côte d’Azur and the Emirates to Singapore and Marbella, Ekhi Gold is a delicate indulgence grounded in the finest ingredients and the hands of the maître chocolatier. It evokes the age-old association with art and privilege that chocolate has enjoyed.

Mayan Monkey: Local Inspiration

Our own local maison chocolatier blends fun, artistry, quality, innovation and also ethics into its unique offering in Mijas pueblo, where customers and visitors are welcome to visit the shop and also peek into an artisan’s workshop that is a 360-degree chocolate experience. It’s tasty fun for young and old alike, but there’s a serious side to this modern boutique chocolate maker on our doorstep, as Mayan Monkey has as much to do with ethics as with gastronomy.

Having already earned a reputation for the quality and creativity of its products, Mayan Monkey is making a firm stand against slavery – yes, a human evil that has been making a comeback in recent decades, particularly in parts of Africa and Arabia associated with cacao production and chocolate consumption. “There are more slave workers in the world today than ever before, and the proliferation of it in cacao production gives a bitter edge to our enjoyment of this sweet snack,” says Jason Godwin, founder of Mayan Monkey.

“Slave and child labour are kept alive by the pressure to produce cheap cacao for mass producers, so let’s vote with our feet and support those producers who use ethically sourced cacao, even if this adds a euro or two to the product we consume.” It puts a chilling, little-mentioned slant on the world’s favourite sweet, but by opting away from mass-produced, sugar-filled chocolate and embracing ethical alternatives made with organic ingredients, we are also benefiting our health and that of our children, wherever they are from.