If something good has come out of this pandemic it’s a growing appreciation of better quality food and supporting local suppliers. For Easter eggs this year, we have focused on Irish produced and have been hugely impressed with the range.
I’m looking forward to tasting the chocolate made by Dublin-based Erik Van de Veken at Arcane Chocolate. The eggs look beautiful, but only mini eggs can be posted, so check availability at www.arcanechcolate.com. Limerick-based Braw has a delightful and delicious milk chocolate geometric shaped bunny made by Anna Coffey Lynch which will appeal to the designer in your life and can make it through the post. We listed Gra for Valentine’s Day and the eggs look superb, from grachocolates.com.
Don’t feel obliged to finish all eggs quickly. There are plenty of uses for leftover chocolate. Sprinkle bits on coffee, over cakes, ice-cream and pancakes, in your sourdough as it bakes or warms. Seal pieces in a bag or tin and keep them out of sight. You will be glad of the treat on a rainy day
With cocoa solids 33%, this solid egg was the first choice for all tasters. A decent layer of hazelnut paste between layers of chocolate doesn’t overpower the rich milk chocolate. It looks small (there are larger and different flavoured versions), but is weighty and better value than it seems on first sight. Delicious. Made in Co Kerry. From delis and speciality shops. We bought in The Chocolate Shop English Market Cork, where there is a wide range.
This Dublin-based chocolate maker’s egg safely made it through the post. Founded by Patrick and Kelli Marjolet in 2016, with this bean-to-bar egg they use no emulsifiers or flavour additives but have an interesting method of caramelising milk powder and adding cocoa butter and sugar to create a golden coloured toffee style chocolate with a hint of salt which appealed to tasters of all ages.
Delicious milk chocolate has 33.6% cocoa solids. With a clean, fresh flavour, the vanilla is low key. Not heavy, elegant, but still rich, all tasters liked this one. Packaging is commendably plastic-free, and the box has pretty images of Kinsale where this range is made. There are hand-painted eggs and bunnies too. Makers will post, click and collect, and sell from kokokinsale.com and their Pier Road shop/coffee takeaway.
While it looks small, there is plenty to get our teeth into here. The 70% cocoa solids is dark, but not at all bitter in an elegant chocolate shell that comes with five delicious chocolates — peppermint, cherry and other flavours. Also in milk chocolate and several sizes, there’s a cute bunny holding an orange carrot (€7.95). From Bradleys Cork, Chocolate Shop Cork. Online at lorge.ie, eggs need to be ordered by March 26. Made in Kenmare
Decorated with white chocolate, smarties and jellies, this hollow egg had good shelf appeal for the five and nine year olds. The 33.8% cocoa solids shell didn’t appeal to them as much, perhaps due to quite a lot of vanilla flavour. Adult tasters enjoyed it more, though not as their first choice. Plenty of other flavours and sizes. Made in Dublin.
One of three we came across made by Áine’s Handmade Chocolate in Co Cavan, with 38% cocoa solids, this is rich and interesting and appealed to the adult tasters. The others from Áine are Lidl Deluxe milk chocolate with honeycomb (310g €5.99 – €1.99/100g) and Aldi Áine milk chocolate (500g €9.99 – €1.93/100g) have 33 - 34% cocoa solids. Kids preferred the Aldi Roisin’s honeycomb (270g €7.99 – €2.95/100g), made in Kildare.
Accompanied by a selection of mini bars of varied flavours, there’s a lot of vanilla flavour, but it’s well balanced with the 40% cocoa solids. A fairly thin shell has an appealing creamy texture of medium richness. Tasters liked it and the bars, dipping back for more. It was the first to be finished. Widely available and online at butlerschocolates.com. Made in Dublin.
With 33% cocoa solids, this egg shell is sizeable and ideal for those who want to avoid extra sugar from chocolates with fillings. Tasters liked the creaminess and simple chocolate flavour. In plenty of shapes and sizes, made in Cork. Available for click and collect at oconaillchocolate.ie. We bought in Roughty Foodie, English Market, Cork.