These excellent Irish chocolatiers can supply the perfect easter eggs for all the family …
Intricate and gourmet Easter egg design is becoming the next big thing. And hotels are jumping on the chocolatey trend and trying to outdo each other’s Easter treats each year. Last year saw The Ritz London unveil a collaboration with Fabergé, with Head Pastry Chef Lewis Wilson creating a spectacular hand-crafted Fabergé egg inspired by a locket from Fabergé’s current collection. Le Royal Monceau’s pastry chef Quentin Lechat meanwhile drew inspiration from the Moai statue of Easter Island, and Le Bristol Paris’ Head Chocolatier, Johan Giachetti, took it a step further, inspired by the arrival of Socrate, Le Bristol’s permanent feline resident. The beautiful Birman cat was honoured in milk chocolate, napping on a silky red cushion made from white chocolate inside the egg. In Mauritius, the Royal Palm Luxury Beachcomber hotel has just unveiled a unique beehive-shaped egg, La Ruche. But let’s face it, Mauritius is a bit far to go for an Easter egg. Fortunately, there are excellent Irish chocolatiers who can supply the perfect eggs for all the family.
For squirrelling away
Some call her creations works of art and for Easter 2023, Paula Stakelum, Global Director of Chocolate and Patisserie at Red Carnation Hotels has created a masterpiece inspired by a rare species of red squirrel that lives on the Ashford Castle estate in Co Mayo. The colours of the egg represent the markings of the red squirrel, and it’s made with Ashford Castle’s signature “Legend” milk chocolate. Inside is filled with a new Legacy blend of chocolate which has a creamy hazelnut taste. If you’re not staying at the hotel, this limited-edition Legacy egg can be purchased from Mrs Tea’s Boutique and Bakery on the estate priced at €60; www.ashfordcastle.com.
For flower lovers
This chocolate floral egg by NearyNógs, Northern Ireland’s first bean to bar chocolatiers is made with ethically and sustainably sourced chocolate (60 per cent Ecuador, Hacienda Victoria cacao to be precise). It is described as “a bright floral chocolate with notes of caramel, cream and sweet fruit” and comes in an eco-friendly tub, £12.95; www.nearynogs.com.
If you are already planning your Easter table, then the perfect accompaniment is one of these prettily wrapped eggs in pastel colours from Butlers Chocolates, which come in four sizes. Do check out its Glorious Easter bundle too, in a reusable jute bag. This includes an assortment of chocolate eggs and gifts, available at Butlers Chocolate Cafes and online; www.butlerschocolates.com.
For pet lovers
From the now iconic Walter the Puppy, €9, to his new best friend Curly The Puppy, €9, made with marbled white and milk chocolate, there are lots of delicious eggs to choose from at M&S, as well as a diary-free bunny; www.marksandspencer.com.
For after dinner
Grá Chocolates’ Easter collection, created by Gráinne Mullins, and her team, is made from ethically sourced Valrhona chocolate, Casa Luker cocoa butter and Irish cream and butter. The Easter eggs are meticulously made and created in small batches, with each chocolate taking three days to make and finish. This Mint To Be egg, €45, is handprinted in shades of dark and light green in a milk chocolate shell with peppermint. Inside are mint fondant chocolates, perfect for after dinner. These luxury eggs will be stocked in Brown Thomas Grafton Street, Brown Thomas Galway and Brown Thomas Dundrum and are also available to order now at www.grachocolates.com.
For treats or cake decorations
Hazel Mountain Chocolate are small batch producers with an adorable range for Easter. If you like chocolate hens, then Henrik, will appeal and has joined the flock. These Dark Chocolate Bunny bites €4.20, are creamy, smooth and without a bitter after taste. They’re ideal as a little treat or as a decoration on an Easter cake; www.hazelmountainchocolate.com.
For hostess gifts
Skelligs Chocolate’s extensive range includes a solid hazelnut praline egg, a dark chocolate solid whiskey egg, as well as hampers. The Sunny Side Up Hamper, €30, includes a chocolate surprise, milk chocolate egg, white and milk chocolate bar and chocolate lollipop – handy to have if you are popping round to visit friends or neighbours over the long weekend; www.skelligschocolate.com.
Frank Keane opened the doors of Koko Kinsale in 2012 and has been perfecting his craft ever since, using only the finest chocolate from around the world and locally-sourced ingredients. He makes his Easter eggs above his small shop. No two eggs are exactly alike, €20, which makes them even more special; www.kokokinsale.com.
As well as Bean & Goose’s now iconic Easter Hare and Goose, €22.50, there are lots of spring gift bundles, and chocolate sharing slabs. These make great gifts and come in boxes which are decorated with illustrations of Irish landscapes by Anna O’Hara. Made from the finest, rarest cocoa in the world, these chocolates will last long after Easter. I believe they are best eaten with an espresso as a daily treat; www.beanandgoose.ie.
Did you know Lidl’s Deluxe range of eggs is made by Cavan supplier, Aine’s Chocolates, which has been in business for over 20 years? The eggs range from honeycomb with milk chocolate, and raspberry with white chocolate, to dark chocolate or mint, €8.99. This year, there’s an additional new line added to its Deluxe egg range, made by Skelligs Chocolates in Co Kerry. This luxe collection includes milk, white and dark chocolate eggs with opulent truffles inside, €9.99. Pick up some of Lidl’s Ruby Port while you’re shopping – wine connoisseurs recommend pairing this with dark chocolate eggs especially; www.lidl.ie.
Lily O’Brien’s Desserts Collection Eggs, €15, includes nine delicious chocolates from the Lily O’Brien’s much loved Desserts Collection including crème brulée, raspberry infusion and Key Lime Pie. Alternatively, try the Sticky Toffee Egg, €15, a handcrafted milk chocolate egg with eleven sticky toffee chocolates – think sweet smooth caramel smothered in milk and dark chocolate; www.lilyobriens.ie.
For gin lovers
For those who like unusual flavours for their eggs then do peruse the limited edition range by Dublin bean to bar chocolate makers, The Proper Chocolate Company. Its Gin Fizz, €22.50, comes in two sizes. There’s also a speckled salted caramel egg with cocoa nibs. Shop online and for a list of stockists around the country; www.properchocolatecompany.com.
For Easter egg hunts
Pop into Aldi this week and you’ll find great value decorations (from garlands to LED trees, now officially a thing), crafting kits and flowers. Our top pick is its Easter egg kit, €4.99, which includes everything you need for a fun-filled Easter egg hunt at home; www.aldi.ie.
For artisan lovers
At The Farm Shop at Killruddery, Co Wicklow, chocolate lovers will find a wide selection of artisan Easter eggs and treats sourced from Lir Chocolates,€10, Nibbed Cacao, from €6.95, and Chez Emily, from €2.50, among others. Chocolate bunnies and a variety of vegan options are vailable too. While you’re stocking up, do get some tickets for Killruddery’s Easter Treasure Trail and Family Weekend in aid of the DSPCA; www.killruddery.com.