Walk in to any one of Paul A. Young’s caves of confectionary delights and you’ll be immediately overcome by the powerful aroma of deepest, darkest chocolate. Platters of individual mouthfuls are piled high in displays that would make Bruce Bogtrotter jizz in his pants, and an expensive hush blankets the room. If you listen very carefully, you can almost hear the sound of cocoa and nuts and sugar being spun into little parcels of decadence from the on-site kitchens downstairs.
I’ve visited two of Young’s three stores, one tucked away in Camden Passage’s warren of narrow, bustling lanes and the other – the flagship – in the heart of Soho (the third is in Bank). Whichever you visit, there is always a simmering vat of something dark brown and delicious in a corner, which is either pure melted chocolate to be ladled neat onto fresh ice-cream in the summer, or a bubbling cauldron of Young’s famous ‘Aztec’ spiced hot chocolate in the winter.
You can buy boxes of assorted truffles and chocolates as gifts, but if you’re throwing a party for one you’d be mad not to try one of the famous brownies, which come in a number of seasonal varieties. The original is a classic, rich and intense, but in my view if you’re forking out a fiver for a wodge of brownie you should err on the adventurous side. The super-sweet Salted Caramel Pecan variety and the world’s first Marmite brownie are available all year round, and in November you can try the ‘Bonfire Brownie’, a smoky blend of dark chocolate, cardamom and ginger. Regardless of flavour, the texture is dense and gooey almost to the point of indecency, like a baked ganache.
As Young’s products contain no artificial ingredients or preservatives, you’ll be lucky to get a week’s worth of life out of them, but I can’t imagine anyone taking that long to suck one of these bad boys down. If you’re buying gifts, though, it may be worth checking with the staff, who are always smiling and helpful. In my experience they’re generally pretty good-looking too, which is a nice bonus. After all, there are few things more pleasing in life than a fit bloke handing you a bag full of chocolate.
Brownies, ice cream and Aztec hot chocolate from £4.50 a pop, individual chocolates from £2.
Address: various. See website here.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.