Let’s face it, any holiday worth celebrating has a stockpile of chocolate associated with it. You can woo your Valentine with truffles, fill your stockings with chocolate Santas, you can even pelt Mars bars at obnoxious trick or treaters at Halloween, should you wish.
Yet Easter has its own special breed of chocolate: the Easter egg. The zenith of cocoa treats; with each high street Willy Wonka competing for the most imaginative of iterations. Easter has become the Olympics of chocolate.
So who got gold this year? Well, it was my arduous task to try and find out.
It’s a tough gig, but someone has to do it.
The Chocolate Libertine
The Chocolate Libertine’s eggs are such works of art that you’ll have trouble eating them. Hand-decorated and filled with everything from chocolate nests to bunny rabbits, they bring a whole new meaning to the word artisan. Easter eggs can often shout loudly from the box but amount to little more than glitzy packaging. The Chocolate Libertine’s Easter offerings are delicious and elegant from the first mouthful to the last.
Best for… creativity, child-like surprises and craftsmanship
Charbonnel et Walker
Let’s start with the Milk Chocolate Egg. So far, so simple. Sure, the box is really pretty- sort of like what would happen if William Morris, Laura Ashley and Cath Kidston had an orgy – but the shell itself is standard egg fare. You know the type; tasty, but inoffensive. So imagine my delight when, upon cracking open the egg, I find – not a selection of equally bland mini eggs, like a confectionary Russian Doll- but an actual, delicious chocolate box selection of treats- complete with written guide. An Easter egg and a chocolate box? That is quite literally Christmas and Easter coming at once.
The English Rose and Violet number attempts the same whimsical move, but with disastrous results. Those rose and violet creams taste like you are chewing perfume. But I have it on good authority that some people rather enjoy that. So, if you happen to be such a person, you will have a field day with these.
And so we come to the mini eggs. Hold on to your Easter bonnets… Possibly the closest I have come to imagining what a crack addiction may feel like, is having this box of eggs on my desk. Handily they come smeared with a gilt lustre that semi-stains your hands, meaning you could eat the whole box but you’d be caught gilt-handed. Soft, salty, ruthlessly addictive, these come close to the best thing I have ever eaten.
Stunning packaging, great attention to detail and possibly mini eggs laced with crack.
Fortnum & Mason
The popping candy chocolate buttons that live within Henny’s belly are disturbingly good. But I mean disturbing in its truest sense. Eating them feels like a small bomb has been detonated in your mouth and the shock waves have surprising longevity. So tasty, sure, but odd too.
More of a pleasant surprise is the main Henny Penny egg. Instead of the insipid sameness that typically plagues large Easter eggs, Henny Penny is made from Butterscotch Popcorn. It is salty and buttery with a crackling texture and a well-rounded, satisfying taste. Absolutely delicious, I ate it all in one sitting and have absolutely no regrets.
The milk chocolate eggs are well-made, delicious praline chocolates that are mostly worth the price for the imagination and ingenuity at work here. Cracking these open like a regular egg is 70% of the fun here, but the chocolate is certainly tasty enough to make these more than just a brilliant gimmick.
Imaginative and playful chocolate, but with real flavour to back up the heart-warming gimmickry.
The Ruby Chocolate egg is, despite its sumptuous packaging, a combination of all my pet hates about chocolate. Granted, this list is small, but it comprises of: 1. Coloured chocolate and 2. Caramel. This does both with aplomb. The pink egg is saccharinely and overbearingly sweet and the caramel truffles are a confusing mix of their mother egg, with conflicting tastes of sea salt and caramel thrown in. This will genuinely be someone else’s goldmine, it was just my own personal nightmare.
More aligned with my taste-buds was the Red Card egg. Super simple, beautifully made and absolutely delicious. The praline truffles are mouth-wateringly superb.
Sexy, heritage appeal (yes that’s a thing) and radical flavourings (IF that’s your thing).
Dominique Ansel Bakery
I firmly believe these are too cute to eat. Have you seen them? The adorableness of these frothy little creatures is too accurately rendered. I’m fairly sure gobbling them up amounts to animal cruelty. However you would be amply rewarded if you did. They are, as befits this brilliant bakery, tantalisingly tasty and wonderfully constructed. Though the caramel centre is not to my taste, there’s enough balance of textures to make it not too overbearing. The marshmallow is a particular highlight.
Best for…. Craftsmanship that tugs at your heart.
Divine have championed fair-trade chocolate long before fair-trade went mainstream and what better time of year to go fair-trade than Easter with all its chocolate offerings? This year’s range of eggs is masterfully inventive, boasting a popcorn partnership with Joe and Seph’s and a pink Himalayan Salt Chocolate Easter egg that is every bit as gorgeous as it sounds.
Best for...Moreish eggs with an ethical edge
One hopes that the person who came up with the concept of a Waitrose avocado Easter egg did so with a sense of irony. It seems only fitting that Waitrose – so beloved of the middle classes – should embrace the avocado.
The chocolate scotch egg is equally off-beat and delightful – with a mango and yuzu fondant yolk to complement the shell.
Best for… eggs with a sense of humour
Could there be anything more luxurious than the Claridges Easter egg? Boxed in its signature blue, the art-deco inspired egg is wrapped in a black satin bow and is wonderfully decadent. The milk chocolate is better-then-your-average, with a creamy finish that elevates it beyond typical Easter egg casing. The treats inside are salted caramel mini gulls eggs, and are surprisingly tasty. This is a must-have gift for someone special this Easter. Preferably you.
Best for… Pure luxury