I have been dumped on the edge of an industrial estate, just on the outskirts of the city, looking for what seems to be Leeds’s only artisan chocolatier – Lauden Chocolate. This, I think, is how niche crime thrillers start. But I find Lauden’s unit and no blood is shed. I meet Stephen Trigg, who has built up, with his wife, Sun, a very successful chocolate business, supplying big, Michelin-starred restaurants and British Airways first-class passengers.
Stephen is the UK Chocolate Master and later on this year will represent the UK and Ireland in the Chocolate Master final. He seems perfectly happy, but it’s deeply selfish, I say, not to have a city-centre shop in Victoria Quarter or the Corn Exchange.
I sample a lot of his chocolate. The filled chocolates, from £7, are, no surprise, masterful and beautiful. There are a lot of fruit- flavoured centres that even I, fruit-centre averse, think are divine (orange was my fave). Then, I fall in love with a Diplomatico Rum and Vanilla bonbon from the rum and whisky pairing range, from £7.
There is a jar of caramelised blonde hazelnuts in the collection, £11.90, which will be a must for any nut lover’s stocking (182 days to go). The chocolate spread, £7.95, is grownup, dark and hazelnut-heavy with a final sing of salt.
Lauden also does a healthy snacking bar containing whey protein (a vegan version also available), £4, rich in Medjool dates and nuts. The balance is perfect and it is absolutely best-ever superb.