March 19, 2013
The first instalment of my selection of Easter chocolate delights!
Easter, in the foodie celebratory sense at least, goes together with chocolate like Laurel goes with Hardy. A good time is had by all, and one would be a little sad without the other.
So, please forgive me for straying from my usual once a fortnight posting. I am splitting my Easter chocolate shopping post into two, and bringing you some of it early, to give you the best chance to get your mitts on some of the delicious things on offer. By next tuesday, while you might have time to get to the shops before the big weekend, you won’t have time to order from the smaller artisan makers. Do it now and you should be in with a fighting chance, and trust me, these are worth fighting for.
And don’t forget, that if you are in visiting distance of any of The Chocolate Festivals, they are a glorious one stop shop for all things Easter and chocolate.
I will start with Chococo, a Dorset based company making really fun and inventive things with good quality chocolate. I included some of the filled chocolates in my Christmas roundup, but this is the time of year when their moulded large scale creations deserve centre stage. The lead photograph of this piece is the unopened eggs I am going to review. They are so stunning to look at that I rejected the picture I took of them inside their packaging, even though Chococo’s packaging is particularly appealing.
The Dorset Dinosaur is a beautiful large sized speckled egg made of milk chocolate that has a good chocolate taste. This chocolate is not complex, but it is pleasing, and everything they do is of fine quality. What makes this egg extra special is the glorious surprise of mini chocolate dinosaurs and fossils inside, in white and dark chocolate. The dark chocolate is lovely and deep in flavour and this egg has huge charm.
The Lemon Meringue egg has a shell of good tasting milk and white chocolate, and its interior is just as great a surprise as The Dorset Dinosaur, if a little less cute. The meringue shards crunch and then melt in your mouth, great for texture. The strips of candied lemon are really delicious. The lemon flavour is gentle with no sourness, and is a nice balance to the sweet chocolate and meringue. The whole affect is a great burst of interesting things in the mouth, while not being at all overpowering.
Chococo also do some fine hens, whose bellies hold a stash of mini eggs with pretty coloured shells. I particularly liked the milk chocolate used for the hens, it has a good depth of flavour and is not overly sweet like so many chocolate gifts, with nice caramel notes and some smokiness.
Finally from Chococo, a combination of two of my favourite things in the whole world in their hot cross bun chocolates! Again these are milk chocolates, a milk shell with a flavoured milk ganache. What I liked about these was the warm orange fruit notes, baking spices and evidence of dried fruit. They really do evoke a classic fruited bun. Everything from Chococo is available from their website, it is all made to order so do leave plenty of time. They also have a shop in Dorset if you happen to be in the vicinity.
Paul Wayne Gregory, a very talented chocolatier based in London, with a flair for flavoured ganaches, has designed a series of striking painted eggs. They come in milk and dark chocolate, which is glossily well tempered, and has a nice crunch thanks to the fine shell of painted decoration.
The one I tried was dark chocolate. It was nice and thick, very smooth, and with a good cocoa taste. There was no complexity or intensity to the chocolate, but equally no bitterness. It is a chocolate that goes down easily, but which I find most exciting when showcasing the flavours of Paul’s filled chocolates. Paul’s eggs and chocolates can be bought at The Chocolate Festivals and at Paul’s shop and online.
Rococo Chocolates always have tantalising gift-worthy products that combine their trademark prettily quirky packaging and top notch chocolates. You could get something here for Easter from their usual range with no stretch of the imagination needed. However they have added a couple of special things.
This delightful stacking egg is designed by Donna Wilson and is called The Food Chain. It has three ganaches, inside a carrot egg, inside a rabbit egg inside a fox egg. It tastes as good as it looks, if that is possible.
Rococo also have the traditional gift covered, with an egg featuring their classic floral chocolates. The egg itself if fine quality dark chocolate, and it contains four of each of their rose and violet creams. Rococo can be found at The Chocolate Festivals and at their four hugely tempting boutiques. Their award winning creations can also be bought online.
I also have to tell you about the Rococo hot cross bun chocolate offering. It excites me no end to see so much attention being paid to the hot cross bun’s glorious fruit and spice flavours. Rococo’s version is a little larger than the Chococo chocolate, and in this case it is milk chocolate enrobed marzipan. I have a confession, I don’t like marzipan. But I think Rococo’s superbly gifted Principal Chocolatier Barry Johnson has managed to convert me with this one divine example. When I cut into the chocolate I was met by a gloriously fruity aroma. If I hadn’t known better I would have thought fruit cake was baking. The marzipan is rich with almond, and beautifully complemented by orange, spice and plump dried fruits. I love it when my eyes are opened to something for the first time!
Last on this week’s list, but very definitely not least, is the multi-award winning chocolatier Damian Allsop. Damian has some small caramel eggs, and these or any of his usual collection would be one of the finest chocolate gifts you could buy. But special for this year is something to get even more excited about, a full sized egg of Pacari 70% Raw chocolate with six Pacari Raw 70% water ganaches. There are many reasons why this particular chocolate was named top dark chocolate in the world at last October’s final of The International Chocolate Awards. Damian’s water ganache presents a stunning focus on this exemplary chocolate. This egg combines both and would be a huge treat for anyone lucky enough to get one. Damian’s chocolates can be found at The Chocolate Festivals, via his website, and at various other shops listed on his website, including London’s Alexeeva & Jones.