It’s Eggs, Eggs and More Eggs
Easter is just around the corner and it’s time to go egg shopping. There certainly is no shortage of egg-shaped chocolate in the shops at the moment but, if you’re like us, it’s tempting to throw a few bags of Cadbury Mini Eggs and gold foil chocolate bunnies in the shopping trolley while at Waitress or M&S and call it done.
However, why miss an opportunity to indulge in some really decadent chocolate? There are a number of creative, passionate purveyors of truly gorgeous chocolates and sweets around our neighbourhood, shops we often walk right past and rarely allow ourselves to go inside. However, in the interest of research, we spent one sunny Sunday afternoon walking from one chocolatier to the next, sampling and photographing the best of the Easter treats on offer.
So whether it’s Easter baskets for the children, a special treat for your partner, a gift for whoever is cooking Easter lunch or some other reason to indulge, we offer our tips for the perfect Easter treat from some of the most decadent chocolate shops in London. All within a short stroll of our Chelsea studio (alas!) and all taste-tested by our lucky staff.
In no particular order…
L’Artisan du Chocolat on Lower Sloane Street
Truly artisan french-style chocolate made in a state-of-the-art production facility in Kent by an exquisitely talented master chocolatier, Gerard Coleman. Each chocolate is a little piece of art, as is the packaging, often designed with a theme by commissioned artists. The Easter collection is extensive and incredibly creative, and includes our favourite of all the Easter chocolate we tasted: passionfruit mini eggs. Oh my, they left us rolling our eyes and nodding our heads at each other in mutual delight, pretty much speechless. Passionfruit is one of several mini egg flavours packaged in gorgeous egg-shaped tins designed by British artist Bibi King-Harman. L’Artisan specialises in salted caramels and the best way to taste all the varieties is in the Salted Caramel Bunny Box, fuzzy ears and all. We also loved the traditional large chocolate eggs delicately decorated with chocolate lace butterflies and dragonflies, as well as the marbled Balloon Eggs with edible strings. L’Artisan even offers no-added-sugar ganache mini eggs in dark chocolate and caramel milk chocolate. If you’re a chocolate lover, you must visit this exquisite shop.
Rococo Chocolate – Kings Road
This London-based chocolatier is the source for Easter chocolate with a sense of humour. We spent ages in this shop, admiring the detail of the handpainted eggs, moulded chocolates and witty labelling. From the Stroppy Teenager Easter Egg (a hollow chocolate shell filled with Praline Quail and Salted Caramel Seagull eggs), to the little Workaholic Hen and her generous output of chocolate eggs, to the chocolate New Potatoes with Mint, we were both salivating and giggling. The best find was a little carton of English birds eggs, hand painted to look just like real robin, sparrow, sky lark, blackbird, song thrush and nightingale eggs in interesting flavours like sticky toffee, coconut, coffee and pistachio. We could go on and on, we just loved the entire selection.
Best of all, Rococo has a very informative blog on its website, where you will find a downloadable Easter egg hunt. All you need to do is print out the clues and hide them in your house or garden. And of course, have a bag of Rococo’s Hunting Bunny foiled eggs as the prize.
Rococo owns its own farm on the Caribbean island of Grenada and grows ethical, organic cocoa which is used for much of its product line. It is feel good, taste good chocolate that makes you smile.
Pierre Hermé – Lowndes Street
The Tokyo and Paris-based chocolatier’s little shop near Lowndes Square is like a jewellery box full of chocolates and macaroons that are almost too pretty to eat. But eat them you will because they are the most exquisite, sophisticated chocolates we have tasted and the Easter collection is jaw-droppingly beautiful and delicious. Pierre Hermé’s designs for his intricate hand-moulded chocolate eggs are influened by mythology and art so each chocolate creation could be a sculpture in disguise. The chocolate Lapin, which is inspired by the french sculptor Francois Pompon, is stunningly beautiful with curved lines and a matt finish. The boxes of jewel-like foil-wrapped Oeufs, filled with various praline flavours, make lovely gifts. The beautiful box with Hermé’s signature leather lanyard is one to keep even when the chocolates are gone. For something more down to earth, a takeaway-style box of Oeufs Croquant Nougatine is still a decadent treat.
But if chocolate isn’t what you’re after, come here for the macaroons which are the best we’ve ever tasted. Pierre Hermé made his name as an avant-garde pastry chef, and the macaroon is a little testament to that reputation. Every single thing in this shop is divine.
Daylesford – Pimlico Road
The selection of chocolates and jellies at Daylesford’s Pimlico Road outpost is ever so slightly kitschy but perfect for the children’s Easter baskets. Gorgeous paper eggs filled with praline chocolates, cellophane bags with chocolate hens and eggs, boxes of sugary shimmery jellies in assorted fruit flavours, chocolate eggs in boiled egg cups, solid chocolate hares (definitely not rabbits!), even jars of cutters for sugar biscuits in Easter shapes. And of course the Earl Grey Tea flavoured chocolate egg. This is traditional treat shopping at its best.
Prestat – Pavilion Road
Quintessentially English chocolate, packaged beautifully since 1902. This little tea room on one of the quaintest stretches of shops in Chelsea has a carefully edited display of Prestat’s Easter treats. The most popular include handpainted polka dot Easter eggs wrapped in Prestat’s gorgeous packaging, complete with a Royal Warrant. These must be what George and Charlotte will find on Easter morning. There are also little bags of foiled wrapped praline-filled eggs, perfect for a decadent egg hunt. While you’re here at the cafe, why not have a cup of tea and a cake while you admire all the adorable chocolate gift boxes and contemplate how a Hot Cross Bun Spiced Easter Egg or London Gin Truffles might taste? We did say it’s quintessentially English…
Partridges – Duke of York Square
For American-style Easter treats, head to this family-run gourmet grocer at the Duke of York square near Saatchi Gallery, or it’s sister shop on Gloucester Road. It’s got a huge range of chocolates, sweets, cakes, biscuits and even decorations if you are needing to throw an Easter bonnet together in a rush. The selection is almost overwhelming and just walking the aisles induces a sugar rush. Bunny-shaped marshmallows, gorgeously wrapped Italian Easter dove cakes and countless varieties of chocolate eggs can be found here. For the non-traditionalists, you can even find chocolate dinosaurs.
If you’re willing to spend £850 for a chocolate egg that’s large enough to camp inside, this is the place for you. It’s called the Piñata egg and it’s filled with enough chocolates and gummy sweets to feed a small country for a year. Or if you really want to splash out, check out the Godiva counter where there is a £1000 egg that was handmade in Brussels by a team of master chocolatiers and weighs 13 kilograms. There are also some lovely things for mere mortals with a good budget including tins of jelly eggs that are far superior to normal jelly beans and lots of Harrod’s brand novelty chocolates which are creatively designed and beautifully packaged. Charbonnel & Walker is also well represented, with gorgeous chocolate eggs in pastel boxes. There’s only one Harrods, and its food hall is a destination that never disappoints.
Peter Jones – Sloane Square
We have a love-hate relationship with Peter Jones. It’s fussy and old fashioned, yet the shop always carries exactly what we need. The Easter treat department next to Electronics (odd positioning, but that’s Peter Jones) has a wide range of wonderful things that would look great in an Easter basket. We love the bunny-shaped chocolate lollies, the bags of bunny-shaped marshmallows and the huge variety of chocolate eggs. Everything you need for your egg hunt is here, including a Great Egg Hunt Kit. The selection of stuffed toys and games is great too, including the softest, most adorable bunnies. So even if you are avoiding sugary sweets, you’ll find lots of lovely Easter treats at Peter Jones.
And for the basket…
Monogram one of ours, of course! The Covent Garden Market Basket and the soon-to-be-launched Pom Pom Basket (shown above) make great Easter baskets for kids of all ages, even the grown up ones.