Are your chocolates gluten-free? Contrary to what some "free from" brands would like you to believe, ALL chocolate is naturally gluten-free and so you have to add an ingredient containing gluten for it to become an issue! Most of our loose fresh chocolates or any of our range of bars, clusters, slabs or novelties made in our chocolate kitchen in Holton Heath do not contain gluten in their recipes. In August 2022 we started working with an oat m!lk chocolate produced in Colombia which is 100% plant-based and is also gluten-free as it is made with gluten-free oat powder. However we do work with an oat cream (which the manufacturers Oatly advise is not definitely gluten-free) to make our vegan-friendly caramels & occasionally work with beer (which will be flagged in the chocolate box information), and biscuits to make chocolate biscuit cakes. As we make all our items in our chocolate kitchen, we do flag on all ingredients lists & on packaging that they are made in the same room, so might contain traces. If an item definitely contains gluten, it is flagged on their product page & on their ingredients list on their page on the website.
Are your chocolates suitable for vegetarians? Yes, our chocolates are suitable for vegetarians - we have even checked any alcohols that we use to ensure that they are vegetarian.
Do your chocolates contain nuts? Yes. We work with a variety of different nuts including hazelnuts, pecans, cashews, almonds, pistachios and brazils but not peanuts. As our chocolate kitchen is one room, we cannot guarantee that any of our chocolates, even if they do not overtly contain nuts, are 100% nut-free.
Can you guarantee that your non-nut based chocolates are "100% nut-free"? No, we cannot give any 100% guarantee of any of our non-nut based chocolates being nut-free as stated above, we make all our chocolates in one room and, as a result, any of our chocolates may contain nut traces.
Do any of your chocolates contain alcohol? Yes, some of our fresh chocolates & truffles have alcohol in them and are clearly marked as such in their product descriptions in the relevant selection box details & on the menu that comes with each box. Unlike lots of chocolate makers who use neutral alcohol as a preservative without advertising the fact, we do not do so. So unless it says so, our chocolates do not contain alcohol. We do offer "Alcohol-free" selection boxes if you want to select a box with definitely no alcoholic flavours inside. None of our bars, slabs, clusters, biscuit cakes, honeycombe items etc contains any alcohol.
Do you make any chocolates suitable for vegans? Yes, we make a wide selection of dark & oat m!lk chocolate items which are suitable for vegans as these chocolates are plant-based & naturally vegan-friendly. This includes our full range of oat m!lk & dark chocolate studded slabs, assorted dark chocolate treats in cartons, novelties including ducks, turtles & orangutans, dipped orange segments, boxes of vegan-friendly or ginger chocolates, 70-100% hot chocolate flakes, origin bars, cocoa dusted cocoa beans, cocoa nibs & coffee beans...you get the idea that there is a lot! There is a vegan-friendly category in our online shop to make it really easy to find all our vegan-friendly chocolates. Whilst all our dark & oat m!lk chocolate vegan-friendly items comply with vegan requirements in terms of their recipes, please be aware that we cannot guarantee that they are 100% free from any traces of dairy etc as we do make all our chocolates in one room.
Do you make any dairy-free chocolates? Yes, we do make a wide selection of items in dark & oat m!lk chocolate that do not contain any dairy and are therefore also suitable for vegans. However, we cannot guarantee that they will be 100% dairy-free as we make everything in one room & do work with milk and other dairy products.
Why is your Oat M!lk chocolate spelt with an !? This is because it is a milk chocolate plant-based equivalent product in that it is made with gluten-free dried oat powder instead of dried whole milk powder. It is an attempt by the powers that be to show that it is made with a different type of milk to cows milk. We quite like the ! as it does make it stand out & hopefully make the point! We love the oat m!lk product as it tastes just like a classic milk chocolate but without the dairy or nuts or gluten. There are quite a few milk alternatives on the market made with cashew, hazelnut or almond, which, while they address the dairy issue, don't help if someone wants to avoid nuts as well!
What colourings do you use and are they all suitable for vegetarians & vegans? We only work with natural colours and minerals, all of which are vegan-friendly. We certainly do not work with any of the 6 'azo' colours which if used, have to come with a warning that they might make children hyperactive (yes really!) and we also don't work with any non-azo colours which are not vegetarian or vegan-friendly. As a result, we are v restricted in the colours we use and that is why you will notice that none of our chocolates are as brightly or as strongly coloured as some chocolatiers achieve as we can only work with natural fruit & vegetable extracts. The edible shimmers are made of minerals (iron oxides) and are dusted on with paintbrushes so the amounts used are tiny. Sept 2022 update: We are aware that titanium dioxide (E171) used in white colours is no longer being used in the EU as of August 2022. Whilst this is not the case in the UK, as we always aim to follow best practise, we have sourced an alternative white colour (made with calcium carbonate) & are now working with this instead. There are a few chocolates which were made a while ago which are working their way through stocks, but we should shortly be able to announce that all our chocolate decorations are E171-free! It has been a huge project and it took us much longer than expected to find an alternative, but we have got there! All our Halloween & Christmas chocolate items are being decorated with E171-free colours.
Do you work with raw egg in your chocolate kitchen? No - the only chocolates we work with that contains egg are any containing fruit curds. These curds are supplied to us by a local preserves company as finished items. Our bakery which makes everything for our chocolate house cafes & our postal brownies, is in a separate room to our chocolate kitchen at our Holton Heath HQ, so there is no cooking involving eggs in our chocolate room!
Do you work with diabetic chocolate? No, we do not work with any "diabetic" chocolate as to be honest, we dont believe in it! We only work with fine quality dark chocolate which means low sugar levels of 30-25% and less. Such high quality dark chocolate also has a low glycaemic index. We understand that there is much debate about the quality & role of "diabetic" foods within the diabetic community & that they may not actually be that good for diabetics. We advise any diabetic who is unsure of what to eat wrt to chocolate to consult their GP/practice nurse & have a look at the Diabetes UK website where you will find a joint statement from the Food Standards Agency & Diabetes UK about "diabetic foods". In summary, the statement says that: "There is no single food that people with diabetes must not eat & they do not have to cut out sugar totally. However, like everybody, people with diabetes are recommended to eat only small amounts of food that are high in sugar &/or high in fat."
Does your chocolate contain soya? All our milk, oat m!lk and dark chocolate grades from Venezuela, Ecuador, Madagascar & Colombia are soya-free (they either contain sunflower lecithin or no lecithin at all). The only exception is the 67% Madagascar dark chocolate chips we use in our bakery to make our chocolate biscuit cakes, brownies and chocolate chip scones & cookies. Our white & gold chocolates do however contain a small amount of soya lecithin.
Do you make your chocolate from cocoa beans? No. We work with "couverture" chocolate as do most artisan chocolatiers. It comes to us in large blocks or buttons for us to then temper & create our beautiful chocolates. Making couverture from beans is a different skill base & one that also requires a lot of space & machinery that we do not have. We liken ourselves to being like bakers - they work with flour to make their artisan breads, we work with couverture that has been processed for us, to make all our chocolates. We also strongly believe in working with fine couverture chocolate that is Raisetrade ie: it is processed in its country of origin - from the cocoa beans to the chocolate. This means working with fresher beans, local sugar (& milk if milk chocolate) & importantly, local labour which adds significantly more to the local economy than exporting commodity dried cocoa beans, even fairtrade beans, to be processed in the West. For more information about all the chocolates we work with, see Our Chocolates page.
Which delivery services do you use to send the chocolates? Most of our items are sent by Royal Mail as we find postmen very efficient at delivering to domestic addresses. We offer a variety of postal options but all are tracked so that you can follow the progress of your delivery and have confirmation of when it is delivered. We offer a 3-5 day standard tracked service (we can't guarantee this timeline, particularly if circumstances beyond our control - such as postal strikes - affect delivery providers), a first-class tracked service (usually next day but not a guaranteed next day service) and, for the same price, a first-class tracked future day delivery service in which you choose your preferred future weekday delivery date from the calendar (however, this is also not guaranteed delivery date). Please note that we cannot offer a preferred delivery date service on our standard service - they will leave us as soon as we can pack & despatch the items. We are not currently able to offer a guaranteed next day delivery service. If the recipient is not in to receive the item, the postman will leave a card & the item can be collected from the local delivery depot. We may use a courier if you place a very large order with us that weighs over 6kg in total.
Can I choose a future delivery date for anything on your website? Yes. If you click on the 1st Class 'future day' delivery option when going through the checkout, a calendar will pop up below and you can enter the preferred future delivery that you would like. Please be aware that this is a 1st Class service and so it is NOT a guaranteed date as we currently do not offer guaranteed delivery. This preferred day service applies to all our items on our website.
Do you deliver on Saturdays & Sundays? Parcels sent from our Chococo HQ may be delivered during your postie's Saturday round. We are not able to offer Sunday deliveries.
I used to be able to send items to multiple different delivery addresses in the same order, why not now? We removed this function from our new website launched in October 2020 as it was causing quite a few issues on our old site. Our new site is much more sophisticated in that if you are logged in, it remembers all your card & billing address details, so it is actually super quick to create a new order with a different delivery address and gift message each time. This makes it much simpler for both you to use and us to manage at this end. Your card details are held by a secure third party payment provider which helps speed things up for you.
Can I include a gift message with the item I have ordered? Yes, you can add a free gift message - just click on the words ADD A FREE GIFT MESSAGE under the payment section when going through the checkout and a box will pop up for you to add your message. You will need to save your message by clicking the SAVE button and this will be added, exactly as you have written, to a gift card by our despatch team and placed on top of the item(s) in the postal box so will be the first thing that the recipient sees.
Do you include a delivery note showing the price of the item(s) in the box? No, we don't as we fully appreciate that many items are sent as gifts, so we do not include anything that shows the price of the item. The only extra elements we will include would be the gift message, if you ask us to include one, and sometimes a postcard with information about us and perhaps an offer.
Is the postal box branded as being from Chococo? Yes, it is now as we took advice from our business mentors, who have vast experience of managing online businesses, who recommended in 2020 that our boxes should be branded to show pride in our brand and this is in line with many other premium businesses, especially in the food and drink sector, who have branded boxes.
Why do your selection boxes have grids inside and how do I access the chocolates easily? We have had cardboard grids in our selection boxes ever since we launched the business for 2 reasons - to ensure the chocolates travel safely as they cannot bash into each other in transit & also as they are cardboard! We refused to use the plastic trays you see in so many other chocolate selection boxes back in 2002 and we will never use them! If you find it difficult to extract the chocolates, just remove the grid dividers and you will find it very easy to get the chocolates out - we give this suggestion on the welcome card & menu that is inside each box.
Why are there more chocolates shown on the menu than are in my selection box? Our online selection boxes are made up to templates from our main seasonal menu of approximately 40 different chocolates which are all handmade using the freshest local & ethically sourced ingredients on a cylical basis. By definition, we cannot fit all the flavours in every box, given our largest box contains 25 chocolates. This main menu is also used in our chocolate shops where all the chocolates we are currently making are displayed in our chocolate cabinets for our shop customers to choose their preferred selection to put in their box. Online, we have compiled various different box selections with smaller menus to cover the most popular options, as we cannot manage the complexity of every online customer choosing the specific contents for their box. We don't have the people resource to do this and would have to charge a lot more for each box! If you want to choose the contents of your selection, you can always visit one of our 4 chocolate houses and see what they have instore that day. However, our boxed selections online cover the most requested options, ie: our Chococo selection boxes containing the widest selection we are currently able to offer, our award-winners box which will contain x2 of each of our key award-winners for sharing, a milk chocolate selection, a dark chocolate selection, a no nuts or no alcohol selections. Substitutions of one flavour for another is sometimes necessary in the themed boxes especially as we make in small batches and not all ingredients are always available, especially in these tricky times post-Brexit.
Do you send chocolates overseas? Sadly no longer due to Brexit. We used to send our chocolates to selected European countries but, as things currently stand, this is no longer an option for us. We are monitoring the situation and will revert to European deliveries if it becomes easier to do so at any point in the future. We are currently still sending parcels to Northern Ireland, but will keep this under review. We do not send to the USA, Canada or the rest of the world due to the amount of time our perishable items are likely to spend in transit.
What happens if no one is in to receive the chocolates? All items are sent by tracked delivery so depending on the postman may require a signature on delivery. If no one is in, a card will be left by the postman and the item can either be collected from the local delivery office or a re-delivery can be arranged. Royal Mail offers an online re-delivery service so that you do not have to call them first, just arrange it via their website at royalmail.com. Please note that if no one is available to accept delivery, or if goods become unsuitable as a result of non-delivery, we cannot accept liability.
Do all your products on your website have a short shelf life or is it just some items like selection boxes? The only products on our website which have a short shelf life are our fresh selection boxes! These products are clearly stated as having a short shelf life of max 3 weeks from receipt on their product pages - we explain this in terms of both the words & pictorial icons. We also offer brownies with very short shelf lives & chocolate biscuit cakes with a relatively short shelf life. Everything else has a shelf life of several months, so you do not have to wait to order for delivery close to say Easter or Christmas for items such as Easter eggs, chocolate baubles, studded slabs, bars and novelties etc.
If your chocolate selection boxes are fresh should I wait to order closer to the time that I want them? No! With our service, you can place your order today for us to send out fresh selection boxes to you or direct to your intended recipient for a date in the future. At peak times (especially Christmas) we strongly advise that you pre-order early for delivery of freshly made chocolates later, to ensure that your order will arrive in time. Any fresh seasonal items (eg: chocolate biscuit cake wreaths) will have a future first delivery date that we apply anyway, so you can pre-order months beforehand & we wont despatch the items until we have made them! You can of course choose a date closer to Christmas than the first one we allow. However, if you leave it to order at the last minute, we may not be able to fulfill your request, as our volume will be already committed & there is a limit to how much we can make & pack when the final posting deadline is getting very close! When ordering online, if you click on the 'future day' delivery option as you go through the checkout process, a calendar will pop up below and you can enter the preferred future delivery date you would like. Please be aware that is not a guaranteed date though as we currently cannot offer guaranteed delivery, but it will be close to that date if not exactly!
How do I store my chocolates once they have been delivered? We advise that all our chocolate items are stored somewhere cool, dry and away from direct sunlight, heat sources or strong odours. That means not near radiators, windows or strong cheese folks! By the way, be wary of storing chocolates in your garage if you use that for other food or drink items, as contrary to popular belief, mice actually prefer chocolate to cheese, as some of our customers have discovered to their cost over the years. Our selection boxes containing fresh chocolates with a short shelf life of a few weeks are happiest at c14-16 degrees (an old fashioned pantry would be perfect for them), but if the only cool place in your house is the fridge, they can be stored there (but away from that cheese or any other strong flavours you may have in there!). Just like cheese though, the flavours are best if the chocolates are brought back to room temperature before being eaten.
Can I freeze my selection box to save the chocolates to eat at a later date than the 'Use By' label says? Yes! We recommend that you wrap the box in clingfilm, or some kind of wrapping, to keep moisture down & to defrost the box slowly. The chocolates will lose their shine, and some may go a bit 'tacky' to touch but they will taste fine. Co-founder Claire's mum has been the chief tester for freezing Chococo chocolates as she spent many years living in the tropics and is a big fan of freezing things to extend shelf lives!
Do you offer a Click & Collect service? Not currently.
Do you offer a Call & Collect service? We can offer this but please be aware that our chocolate houses are not really geared up for this and may not answer their phone if they are busy! You can call each chocolate house direct to place and pay for an order over the phone. The team member will confirm the best collection date & time with you. Each chocolate house phone number is listed on their page in the Chocolate House section on this website.
How do I find your Chocolate Houses? The pages for our Swanage, Winchester, Exeter & Horsham Chocolate Houses on this website give details of their locations, opening times & other useful information.
Are your Chocolate Houses open on Sundays? Yes, please check the relevant chocolate house page for their latest opening times
Do your gift vouchers for use in your chocolate houses have an expiry date? There is no expiry date on our gift vouchers.
Do you run chocolate events for children or adults? Yes we are starting to run events again. Any events will be promoted on our blog and social media pages. We can offer chocolate tasting events at all our Chocolate Houses plus more interactive workshops in Exeter, Horsham & Swanage. Our old chocolate kitchen opposite our original Chocolate House in Swanage is a great space for us to offer chocolate making workshops for adults & childrens birthday parties. You can book the space for a private party or book into workshops which take place in most holidays. Once they start again, there will be information about all our chocolate events in all our locations on our website. We also recommend that the best way to keep up to date with any news on workshops & the availability of them in holiday periods etc, is to join our mailing list or Facebook page. We will publish any workshops updates in our emails & Facebook pages for members to keep up to date with all our news.
Where can I buy your chocolates? We offer our full range of our chocolates at our chocolate houses in Swanage, Winchester, Exeter, Horsham & on our website. Historically, we have also supplied a number of delicatessans & independent shops in Dorset at key times of year, including Christmas & Easter, with a selection of pre-packed gifts such as Christmas trees, Easter eggs, bars & nut-based selection boxes. Nationally, in normal times, we supply Wholefoods Market stores, Liberty, Harvey Nichols & other independent stores around the country. However, they usually will only take a very small selection from what we offer & do not stock any of our fresh cream chocolates & truffles. If you want to buy those, it's best to either visit us in Swanage, Winchester, Exeter, Horsham or buy direct from us online.
Can I buy chocolates from your premises in Holton Heath? We are sorry but we do not have any shop facilities at our chocolate kitchen in Holton Heath where we make all our chocolates as it is not geared up for the general public. If you want to buy the widest selection of our chocolates locally, your best option is to buy them from our original Chocolate House in Swanage or order online. Further afield, you can visit our Chocolate Houses on Winchester High St, on Gandy St in Exeter or the Carfax in Horsham to buy our full range.
Do you offer factory tours? We do not offer tours as our production space in Holton Heath is not geared up for visitors.
Do you make your Chococo Gelato or is someone else making it for you? Our Chococo Gelato is all made in-house in our dedicated gelato making room at Holton Heath. We started making our own gelato in 2019 as we wanted to offer unique flavours based on & using the same ingredients as, many of our award-winning chocolates. Our gelato maestros make small batches & we ship them to our chocolate houses in our own freezer van, so the flavours you are enjoying are still v fresh. Several of our most popular flavours are now available in take home tubs from our chocolate houses.
How do your subscriptions work? Please see our separate subscription FAQs here
Do you allow dogs inside your chocolate houses? We only allow special assistance dogs into our chocolate houses. There are a number of reasons why we don’t otherwise allow access to dogs. Firstly, fine chocolate is highly poisonous to dogs and our chocolate houses are full of chocolate! If any chocolate inadvertently ends up on the floor, or in a place that is accessible to dogs coming into the premises, then there is a risk that a dog may eat it and become ill or worse. We are also a family-friendly business and take account of the fact that not all children coming into our chocolate houses will be happy to be around dogs; we want to make sure that we provide a safe environment for them. There is outside seating at all of our chocolate houses, water bowls can be provided for dog use and at our Swanage chocolate house, we also provide dog hooks outside.