<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Lancashire Life today click here

Philippa James visits the Chocolate Rooms in Tarleton

PUBLISHED: 16:42 07 July 2014 | UPDATED: 21:27 04 February 2016

Paul Williams preparing another batch of chocolate

Paul Williams preparing another batch of chocolate


This Tarleton business is the home of Lancashire’s answer to Willy Wonka, reports Philippa James

Jacqui Williams Jacqui Williams

The place she spotted had been an old cow shed in Tarleton many years back but she and her husband Paul saw its potential. ‘It was completely wrong for chocolate and baking, but it had something special,’ said Jacqui.

They both embarked on a radical change of direction. He had worked in the finance industry and she was a senior buyer in the textile trade, travelling the world to seek out new products. They set up Choc Amor, a bijou shop and chocolate workshop in Botany Bay, Chorley.

Success meant they needed to expand so, while keeping the original outlet and with the support of an ‘amazing landlord’, they moved into Tarleton creating The Chocolate Rooms providing chocolates, cakes, platters, sandwiches and salads.

This is a delightfully quirky business. There is a bull’s head on the wall, for instance. Jacqui had wanted a stag’s head, but couldn’t get one so, in homage to the old cow shed, ‘Bertie the Bull’ took pride of place complete with earrings and lipstick. There’s also an unusual mannequin lamp from eBay.

Paul and Jacqui Williams Paul and Jacqui Williams

We sat at a table for coffee which had three small chocolate buttons, white, milk and plain on the saucer. ‘That came about by default,’ she said. ‘We were too busy for me to keep up with baking chocolate biscuits to go with the coffees, and this means guests can try the three of Paul’s lovely creations. He really is the Willy Wonka of our business.’

‘I get to play about with unusual flavours,’ he agreed. ‘We’ve just done some work with Flavour Fresh, the tomato growers down the road, to create a Tomato Truffle. Other recent creations have been Garlic and Mushroom, Tonka Bean, Smoked Sea Salt and Cocoa Nib, Chilli Cappucino, La Bomba – a Pina Colada chocolate - and even an Orange Jalfrezi.’

In the spring, Paul teamed up with Holland’s Pies and created a limited edition Beef Pie with dark chocolate and chili. ‘We like a bit of madness,’ Paul confessed. The madness has paid off. Made in Lancashire, the producers’ support group, said: ‘Paul’s Salt Liquorice has wowed judges in The Great Taste Awards, being awarded one star in the world’s largest and most rigorous food awards scheme involving over 400 judges and thousands of hours of blind tasting.’ They are entering more products this time, and have been short-listed again. While awards are nice, they are proud that much of their business comes from word of mouth.

Jacqui’s Millionaire’s Shortbread is so delicious that it is called Billionaire’s Shortbread and it is this month’s recipe. It was meltingly sublime, with different pockets of flavour hitting my taste-buds. I will be returning for another coffee and slice very soon.

The Chocolate Rooms, Tarleton The Chocolate Rooms, Tarleton

I think the reason I like Paul’s chocolates is because of the purity of flavour. Paul said all ‘good’ chocolate should have a minimum of 50 to 60% of cocoa solids, but in many of the mass produced bars they are supplemented with imported whey powder and curds to bulk them out as the price of cocoa butter has soared. There can be as many as twelve ingredients in a standard chocolate bar creating the super-sweet experience that many crave in their chocolate.

So looking to the future? The couple agreed they feel very strongly about continuing to use local suppliers wherever possible, mentioning too many to list. They will be having an ice cream cart, tables outside, and are planning a manufacturing ‘hub’, where they can produce freshly made, local dishes and baking.

‘We can’t, of course, say everything is locally sourced, but we know the provenance of what we purchase,’ said Paul. Even Lancashire food producers can’t grow cocoa beans. They also host chocolate making classes, talks and tastings, and run kids’ parties where the children can have fun sprinkling away on chocolate lollipops.

Remarkably, while Paul has a terrific passion for making chocolate he isn’t that fond of the stuff. That is why he has to get the flavours ‘spot on’ because, if he likes them, there’s a good chance that others will too. He’s certainly not wrong.


Related articles

More from Food & Drink

Ad Feature: La Locanda

Friday, February 16, 2018

When you visit La Locanda, a true taste of Italy is guaranteed, thanks to the owners, Maurizio and Cinzia Bocchi, a husband and wife team who hail from Lake Maggiore, in northern Italy...

Read more
Friday, February 9, 2018

The Boho Baker makes a traditional Lancashire cake that could be a great alternative to pancakes.

Read more
Thursday, February 8, 2018

Treat Mum to a deliciously authentic Italian meal to remember this Mother’s Day (Sunday, March 11th).

Read more
Thursday, February 1, 2018

A crafty collaboration has brought the worlds of beer and art together in Salford, as Rebekka O’Grady discovers

Read more
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Mother’s Day at The Lock - Sunday 11th of March.

Read more
Wednesday, January 31, 2018

It’s Pizza o’Clock at The Top Lock - Monday to Thursday from 4 ’til 9pm.

Read more
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Treat your mum to an extra special afternoon tea at The Butlers Arms this Mothers Day.

Read more
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Start the weekend The Butlers Arms way, with 2 for 1 from our Friday Seafood Menu, Fish & Chips and on Prosecco.

Read more
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

You’re a vegetarian, they love a steak. Perhaps it’s the other way round. Maybe you’ll both have the steak or you’ll both try vegan.

Read more
Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The contemporary vibe of this new Ribble Valley restaurant will have surprised customers who recall the old hotel dining room. Roger Borrell reports.

Read more
Lancashire Restaurants Whalley
Thursday, January 25, 2018

Contemporary Chinese restaurant Tattu is calling time on those January blues with a host of special events lined up for February from Valentine’s Day through to a week-long celebration for Chinese New Year.

Read more
Monday, January 22, 2018

Join Arlene Phillips and Strictly Come Dancing favourites Aljaz and Janette on this exclusive 8-day river cruise along the Danube

Read more
Monday, January 22, 2018

Take a break from your spending spree with this selection of afternoon teas located around the main shopping areas of King Street and Exchange Square in the centre of Manchester.

Read more
Afternoon Tea Manchester
Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Our new columnist, Debby Donnelly-Addison is determined to fly the flag for produce from the county, as Emma Mayoh discovered

Read more
Great British Holidays advert link

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Lancashire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area

Property Search