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If you've been abstaining from sweet treats for too long as part of a diet, or an enforced period of self-denial is finally coming to a close, then treat yourself to a slice of indulgence in something you consider nice – but naughty. Square Meal lists the cream of London’s chocolate and cake purveyors, specially for your delectation. Enjoy.
Treat yourself to a cone of lusciousness in this irresistible olde-worlde gelateria – you’re sure to fall for irresistible classic flavours such as stracciatella, amaretto or pistachio. Pair your creamy treat with a tea or luxurious hot chocolate, and don't forget to take home a box of Angelo chocolates.
These pretty chocolate shop-cum-cafés celebrate the idea that cakes and chocolate are precious and wonderful things – a refrain with which Lent-weary abstainers will no doubt agree. Pick up a chocolate-custard cake, chocolate brioche or a mighty brownie in the bakery, sit down to a treat-filled afternoon tea served on swirly vintage crockery, or choose a selection of handmade chocolates from the boutique – flavours range from ginger to lavender to sour cherry.
Venerable grocer to the Queen, Fortnum & Mason offers several avenues for indulgent celebrations. Ascend to the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon on the fourth floor for a right royal afternoon tea, trip over to The Parlour for ice creams in all styles and flavours, or indulge in a glass of top-quality Champagne at the 1707 bar. Alternatively, browse the food hall for high-class chocolates, decadent truffles, and more.
Queues reach down the street at these cupcake emporiums selling brightly coloured, buttercream-topped cupcakes that are almost too pretty to eat. Almost, but not quite. Specialities include chocolate and red-velvet flavours, which keep the crowds coming back for more; alternatively, indulge in the Hummingbird Café's irresistible brownies, pies and cakes.
The stacks of perfectly formed multi-coloured macarons in the windows of Ladurée turn heads on London’s chicest streets. Pop in for a sugar rush – flavours are virtually limitless, ranging from chocolate ganache with cherry jam to pear and chestnut, orange blossom, or caramel with salted butter. Cakes, chocolates and hot drinks complete the experience.
One of London’s top chocolatiers, Paul A Young deals in glossy bars and balls of the brown stuff in all sorts of flavours, from the perennially popular salted caramel to more acquired tastes such as Marmite truffles. He also serves a pure and potent hot chocolate that can be spiced according to your taste. It’s worth seeking out one of his three shops just for the eye-catching seasonal window displays.
Cake artiste extraordinaire Peggy Porschen has won over Hollywood stars and home-grown cake fiends alike with her uber-girly, pastel-coloured ‘cupcake café’ (pictured, top right) in Westminster. Stop in for a slice of good old-fashioned Victoria sponge, or opt for something more zesty – treats include lemon and passionfruit cake (lemon sponge covered with homemade fruit preserve and coconut shavings). Otherwise, try the Black-Forest cupcakes or decadent vanilla-chiffon cake.
Winner of the BMW Square Meal Restaurant of the Year award for 2011, Jason Atherton's flagship restaurant didn’t earn its title on main courses alone. Take a seat at the Michelin-starred venue's Dessert Bar and enjoy classic tiramisu, fresh ice creams and sorbets, or imagination-defying chocolate ganache with sesame crumble, chocolate 'coral' and banana ice cream. Add a little liquid indulgence to your dessert experience in the form of a delicious hot chocolate or sweet cocktail.
If you’re the sort of person who flips straight to the dessert options as soon as they’re given a menu, then award-winning chocolatier William Curley’s four-course dessert menu is a golden ticket. Enjoy four sweet courses of mini delicacies, such as rosemary ice cream with chocolate crumble, chocolate mousse with hazelnut-and-chocolate cake, or chocolate millefeuille, plus petits fours.
Combine two vices – cake and chocolate – at this stunning grand café in the most luxurious part of town. The Wolseley’s chocolate pot is rich and decadent – chocoholics can pair it with a cup of Austrian hot chocolate, while the less cocoa-deprived can opt for a balancing bitter coffee.