It was a cool winter morning when I drove up to the Keith Tulloch Winery, not for wine but for morning tea at the artisan chocolate shop tucked within this sprawling complex in Pokolbin. Going by the name of Cocoa Nib, this hidden little gem is an indulgence you shouldn't miss when in the Hunter Valley.
A much-needed coffee was had with a petit tart from a glass counter, of which the choice was a hard one. The pretty sweet treats on display included combinations of various flavours, from lemon to pistachio, raspberry, banana and white chocolate, but it was the caramel and coffee combo that took my fancy and it went down easily with my cappuccino to warm the soul.
I couldn't leave this little abode without purchasing some delicious choccies to take home and there's a wonderful array to choose from. Using high-quality French couverture chocolate, Cocoa Nib's products come in assorted forms. There's bars and bites to blocks of chocolate, barks and bonbons, white chocolate to milk and dark chocolate, gluten-free to vegan, and more.
To the front counter I headed next, for the bonbons, the original reason for my visit. I had read about and seen pictures of these hand-painted domed mounds that looked next-level amazing and just had to see and try some for myself.
The cute masterpieces are what make this chocolate shop stand out from others in the Hunter Valley region. They come in various colours and flavours that range from the acquainted to the unacquainted. The combinations here include the apricot and almond, the passionfruit caramel (who would of thought these two go together but they are popular), the lemon meringue pie, the blueberry and Earl Grey, the crispy wattle seed and coffee, the lamington, the yuzu cheesecake, a creme brulee, a raspberry delight and many more that are mind-blowing. In fact, there are around 20 flavour combinations, making it hard for a chocoholic to choose.
These beautiful temptations take up to 4 days to make and can be bought individually or in quantities (4, 8 or 12 pieces) boxed up for your own pleasure or as gifts for loved ones. They're so very unique and enticing.
Another item worthy of mention for its uniqueness is its hot chocolate ball, which is a dark chocolate shell filled with hot chocolate powder and marshmallows. Pop it in your favourite cup or mug, add hot milk and you have your perfect winter warmer.
Other products you'll find at Cocoa Nib include bags of peanut brittle, coconut roughs, honeycomb, salted butter caramels, speckles, and caramelised popcorn and pecan chocolate (both milk & dark varieties).
If you're looking for something special for Christmas or Easter, then be sure to visit in the days leading up to these occasions as you'll be able to pick up treats like chocolate Christmas trees, hand-painted Easter eggs, and more, that will make for moments of joy.
This charming shop-cum-cafe is decked out with pristine white tiles, wooden furniture and throw pillows giving a country vibe inside, whilst outside seating provides views of the vines and the Broken Back Mountain Range from immaculate hedged areas containing gorgeous flowers. When the weather is warm, and if you're not in a rush, I suggest sitting outside and enjoying a wine and chocolate tasting collaboration with Keith Tulloch Wines and Cocoa Nib's little pieces of luxury.
There's a lot to love here and the lady behind Cocoa Nib is former pastry chef-turned-chocolatier, Aymee Slaviero, who loves getting creative in the kitchen. You never know what new flavour combinations she will come up with next, making each visit here full of surprises.