Hop to it!
16 April 2014
"With chilli sourced from South Devon Chilli Farm, Cheltenham-based chocolatier Ben Axford has revolutionised these smooth and silky cubes by swapping heavy cream for coconut oil."
Step away from the juicer, the matcha tea and the chia seeds: this month, we’re talking calories. Set your Easter bonnet to a jaunty angle and unbuckle your waistband, as it’s time to feast...
1. Road to perfection
Hotel Chocolat Rocky Road to Caramel Extra Thick Egg, £28/510g
Leave the Kinder Eggs for the tots, and welcome to the world of grown-up confectionary. You may need a hammer to break into it but, once there, this egg's half cookie, half caramel shell is filled with solid bunnies and caramel chicks. Yes that’s chocolate inside chocolate. Available in store at Hotel Chocolat in Bath and Bristol.
2. Coco coconut
The Chocolate Society Coconut Easter Egg, £25/220g
The Wincanton-based chocolatier has done it again with this Pascal creation. You’ll only find exquisite French Valrhona chocolate in this beauty – a smooth white chocolate egg with caramelised coconut pieces throughout, hand finished with a dark chocolate outer shell to make it look like a real coconut. Delve in, and six coconut and rum truffles await the lucky forager. Available online.
3. Clucking chocolate
The Fine Cheese Co Chocolate Chicken, £6.99/150g
How do you like your eggs on Easter morning? We like ours with a boozy helping of Marc de Champagne truffles. Thankfully this devilishly dark chocolate chicken knows how to lay such beauties. Available in store at The Fine Cheese Co in Bath.
4. Welcome back
The Purbeck Chocolate Co Chococo Heavenly Honeycombe Egg, £12.95/175g
It proved a bestseller in 2013, so it’s no surprise the bunnies down in Dorset have redeveloped this family favourite. Now available in milk and dark chocolate, both gold- dusted versions come with hefty rubbles of Chococo’s homemade honeycomb nestled inside, made using local honey and Fairtrade sugar. Available in store at Papadeli in Clifton and online.
5. New season cheer
Badger Ales Hopping Hare, £3.55/500ml
It’s not all about chocolate, ya’know. Sip this lightly golden 4.4% ale for a chipper grapefruit and floral hop aroma – perfect with the roast lamb, and even better with spiced-up leftovers. Available from Hall & Woodhouse in Bath.
6. Sweet flight
Carluccio’s Colomba Tradizionale, £13.95/750g
Light, buttery and flecked with candied rubble of orange peel and sultanas, then topped with hazelnut icing and almonds, this trad Italian dove-shaped cake is amazing dunked into a Vin Santo- spiked black coffee. Available at Carluccio’s deli in Bath and Bristol.
7. Feed the 5000
Cottage Delight The Family Egg, £34.95/1.2kg
We reckon the family that eats together, stays together; so spread the chocolate love with this colossal creation. Visiting family this Bank Holiday? It’s the perfect present to keep a nest of chirping chicks happy! Available from Edington Farm Shop.
8. Pop idol
James Chocolates Popcorn Chicken, £25/725g
Shepton Mallet based James has been nurturing these handsome roosters all winter, and now it’s time to delve into the thick salted- caramel milk chocolate shell peppered with popcorn (yes, really). A great centrepiece for the Easter table. Available online.
9. Heaven sent
Fudge Kitchen Taster Box, £16/4 slices Hot cross bun is the latest seasonal flavour fudge from this Bath-based store, and it’s a real winner. Pop into the Abbey Churchyard shop to watch them whip up a heavenly slab of the stuff – it’s lightly spiced, flecked with juicy fruit and as smooth as silk. Available in store at the Fudge Kitchen in Bath. www.fudgekitchen.co.uk
10. Box of delights
choconchoc Easter Hamper, £24/382g
The name says it all – this Rode- based family confectioner has been building beautiful layered chocolate creations since 2003. Untie the ribbon to uncover a medley of springtime blends of white and dark Belgian chocolate. Available online.
11. Top bake
Bertinet Kitchen Hot Cross Buns, £2.40/4 pack
Those of you who know the name will know the reputation. So do we really need to tell you to run, actually run, to get your mitts on a pack of these seasonal beauties? They are just the right side of sweet, aromatic with spice and juicy with dried fruit. Bring us butter – and bring it now! Available from Bertinet Bakery in Bath.
12. Gin o’clock
Prestat London Gin Truffle Easter Egg, £15/170g
You may turn your nose up at boozy chocolate liqueurs, but this egg is worth a double take. Crack into the milk chocolate shell flavoured with lemon oil and bite into the gin-infused ganache truffles, then remember why you love Easter. (And gin.) Available in store from Papadeli in Clifton and online.
13. Ewe want one?
Huffkins Seasonal Gingerbread, £2.25/35g
Baked in Cotswold ovens using local flour and butter to ensure a chewy base, and real ginger for a fresh and fiery crunch, these iced cookies are great seasonal snacking. Available in store at Huffkins Bakery & Tea Rooms in Cheltenham, Burford, Stow-on-the- Wold and Witney, or online.
14. Master bakers
Hobbs House Bakery Hot Cross Buns, £4.25/6 pack
Those of you who know the name will know the reputation. So, do we really need to tell you to run, actually run, to get your mitts on a pack of these seasonal beauties? Bring us butter – and bring it now! Available from Hobbs House shops in Nailsworth, Tetbury and Chipping Sodbury.
15. Sweet for my sweet
Meg Rivers Simnel Cake, £20
We’ve turned to this family-run bakery in Shipston-on-Stour for a cake rich in history and taste. The sweetness of the traditionally decorated marzipan top perfectly balances the exceptional sponge and the bitterness of the dried fruits and candied orange peel. One slice is definitely not enough.
16. Melted devotion
Daylesford Praline Hen’s Eggs £25/6
Cotswold food mecca Daylesford has trumped all other Easter treats with this deceptive crate. Blown and sterilised before being filled with smooth hazelnut praline, these real hen’s eggshells are best popped in the microwave for 30-40 seconds. Serve with fruit soldiers for a truly indulgent breakfast in bed. Available in store at Daylesford and online.
daylesford.com5. Feed the 5000
17. Sugar for my honey
Lick The Spoon Dark Chocolate Honeycombe Egg, £9.95/220g
We love this dark beauty made with Lick The Spoon's house blend 75% cocoa dark chocolate, studded with hefty rubbles of their Taste of the West Gold award- winning handmade honeycomb. Available in store at Lick The Spoon in Cirencester.
18. Heaven sent
Artisan Truffles, £4.50/150g
Classically trained pastry chef Ori Hellerstein has turned his magic hands from bread to confectionary with his new range, Artisan. These sea salt caramel, hazelnut praline and raspberry coconut truffles are all hand crafted from all-natural ingredients, and beautifully packaged by hand in Painswick. Available from Stroud Farmers’ Market every Saturday 8am-2pm.
19. Truffle shuffle
Benjamin Chocolatier ‘2 chilli’ Milk Chocolate Truffles, £7.50/150g
With chilli sourced from South Devon Chilli Farm, Cheltenham-based chocolatier Ben Axford has revolutionised these smooth and silky cubes by swapping heavy cream for coconut oil. Omitting the dairy gives long, clean and distinct tasting notes, with warming cinnamon followed by a chilli kick. Sophisticated scoffing. Available in store from Maison Chaplais, Cheltenham, Broadway Deli and online.
20. Slice of nice
Paxton & Whitfield Wiltshire Fruit Loaf, £5.65/600g
This sweet and sticky loaf has no additives or preservatives and uses only the finest ingredients, including local farmhouse butter. Serve with Paxton’s Cave-Aged Cheddar, or a creamy Stilton with slivers of fresh pear, for the best snack plate ever. Available in store from the Stratford Upon Avon and Bath stores and online.
21. I heart you
Cotswold Chocolate Company Sweetheart Egg, £8.50/240g
Handmade with Fairtrade 34% milk chocolate in their Stow-on-the- Wold kitchen, Tony and Heidi have created a romantic double-dipped thick-shell egg, while hidden deep within lie yet more delicious milk chocolate buttons. Available in store at Stow-on-the-Wold and Broadway.
22. Chick chic
Plush Chocolates Spotty Chick, £7.99/50g
One-time Oxfam employees Jen and Sarah set up Plush Chocolates in 2008 with an aim to improve the lives of cocoa producers. You’ll only find Fairtrade ingredients in these Easter chicks filled with organic milk chocolate buttons. Available from Burford Garden Company and online.
23. Spread on
Rosebud Preserves, from £3.40/198g
Located in the Yorkshire Dales, Rosebud Preserves has been making its heavenly jams, marmalades, jellies and chutneys since 1989, using only traditional methods and sourcing the finest local and seasonal produce. Sounds familiar to plenty of our wonderful local preserving pros, right? But then we dipped our finger into the gooseberry and elderflower jam and were hooked. Add a dollop of the sharp redcurrant jelly to your gravy for the perfect rich liquor for the Easter Sunday lamb and serve the apple, peach and apricot chutney with your cheese board for a very happy end to the feast. Available to buy online.
Steens Raw New Zealand Manuka Honey, from £8.50/340g
No hot cross bun is complete without a smothering of honey and if you’re looking to push the boat out this Easter weekend, we’ve found the Rolls Royce of the buzzing nectar. Steens Manuka honey is not only collected from remote and untouched areas of native New Zealand but it’s purity and impressive antibacterial activity are down to the minimal processing, so you get all the bee pollen, enzymes, flavours and aromas of the hive. You can even track your pot of amber goodness to its origin with the online hive tracker! Available from Wild Oats Wholefoods, Bristol and Whole Foods Market, Cheltneham.
25. Seal the deal
Pistachio Nut & Sicilian Orange Dark Chocolate Egg £12/345g
This beauty may not come with a life story of the local chocolatier but we’re smitten with it’s hollow dark chocolate egg flavoured with Sicillian orange oil sitting on a bed on decadent caramel coulis truffles. Be warned though, you will have to fight for the rubble of candied orange, nut and sugar pearl that adorn the beast. Available in stores across the South West and online.