Tried & Tasted: Willie’s Cacao

Willie Harcourt-Cooze is a real-life Willy Wonka, transforming fine flavour cocoas from single origins and estates into superior quality chocolate blocks and bars. He was the man behind Britain’s first 100% chocolate bar, and from the shiny gold wrappers to the exotic bean-focused flavours, Willie’s Cacao continues to be a chocolate to excite all ages.

His secret? Simplicity. By using just raw cane sugar and natural cocoa butter, and no soya lecithin or vanilla, Willie’s Cacao really is all about the flavour of the bean – and they really do taste good. The thick, squared slabs are gloriously smooth and creamy, with the varying percentage bars offering different, always-subtle flavour notes, from deep cherries and plums in the Los Llanos Gold 88% dark chocolate to gentle spice mingled with red fruit in the 70% version.

Even the three lower-percentage milk chocolate bars maintain exquisite flavour. The simple combination of cacao, raw cane sugar, natural cocoa butter and milk makes for an intensely smooth and chocolatey experience, with Willie’s Milk of the Stars 54% Indonesian chocolate oozing deep caramel notes characteristic of this remarkable bean from Surabaya in Java.

Not that Willie’s averse to adding in new flavours altogether. From Dark Chocolate with Ginger & Lime to White Chocolate with Raspberries & Cream, each bar is crafted in small batches in his small factory in Devon, using only natural ingredients.

Chocolate and orange is always a winning combination and – again – Willie expertly delivers. Cuban Baracoan beans make up a minimum of 65% cacoa solids, with their delicate honey notes perfectly complimenting the flavour of essential orange oil. These same beans are given a tropical twist in the Ginger & Lime, paired with the gentle heat of crystallised stem ginger and slight tang of lime.

It really is bean-to-bar chocolate at its very best. By choosing Criollo and Trinitario beans which are less productive but produce a much more interesting range of flavours and aromas than Foreastero beans (from which more than 75% of the world’s chocolate is made), Willie has developed a range of single-estate dark, milk and white chocolate that’s so good it really does feel like you’ve landed the winning ticket.

Few things give me such pleasure as watching someone gasping with delight as the chocolate melts, and the realisation dawns that all taste comes simply from the cacao…’ – Willie Harcourt-Cooze


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