Chocolate-filled Easter – story and recipe

The industry has been in a state of evolution since the first chocolate house was opened in London in 1657. No, I don’t mean a house made of chocolate, nor a house in which one eats chocolate, but a kind of bar for chocolate. No, not a bar OF chocolate but a place for drinking chocolate. They advertised: “In Bishopgate St, in Queen’s Head Alley, at a Frenchman’s house, is an excellent West Indian drink called Chocolate to be sold, where you may have it ready at any time and also unmade at reasonable rates.”

It’s only been an eating confection for about 10% of its history and for the masses it’s only been affordable for an even shorter period of time. But so popular is it now that Easter wouldn’t be Easter in the Western world without a healthy (or unhealthy) dose of it.

For me the nicest and most memorable Easter egg was the first that my husband bought for me (ahhh, romantic, isn’t it?). He bought it at some personal cost (not in money but in embarrassment) in Thornton’s somewhere in West London. The clients had to write their messages on slips of paper which were then given to the staff member responsible for decorative calligraphy. Each egg was expertly inscribed with the sentiment in icing and then boxed and passed to the counter assistant. All very well so far but the next step is cringe-making. The assistant then bellows the message (“I love you my sweet snookums”, “My heart belongs to you my snuggles”, “Forever your passion pixie”) across the shop to the waiting customers, most of whom, being men, were covered in blushes.

I can’t say I am a chocoholic but on the other hand I can’t allow a piece of chocolate to remain unmolested. I’m OK if I don’t start but that first mouthful is my downfall. I do very well for chocolate gifts at both Christmas and Easter as the husband gets migraine if he has more than a couple of grams of either bar or egg. I guess I should tell our friends about the problem but…er, well…would you?

You probably expect me to say that I only eat the best, the finest quality. Well, no. I love all types…apart from (sorry, American friends) Hershey’s. I can understand why it’s popular with woodsy, outdoorsy types as it does double-duty on a camping trip. If the soap runs out you can always use the “Candy”!

Paul young chocolate shop The UK hasn’t got a fantastic reputation for high quality chocolates – apart from a few notable exceptions such as Paul Young (on Facebook). Paul has elevated British chocolate-making to a new level. He now has two fantastic shops, well worth visiting (Islington and the City of London). You’ll find award-winning fresh hand-made chocolates, bars, brownies and hot chocolate, all produced on the premises by Paul and his team.

We probably like all those low-% cocoa butter confections because that’s what we have been accustomed to since childhood. Some say it’s not real chocolate, but I can live with that. It’s evident that it doesn’t compare to Paul’s hand-made delights. The cheap bar in blue paper doesn’t have the flavour nor, equally important, the texture of the finer chocolate. Perhaps we should consider them as completely different products and enjoy each one when appropriate. The ordinary mass-produced bar when we need a quick sugar fix, and the pure heaven of the silky, rich specialities of the craftsman when we want to spoil ourselves or others.

I wish you all a peaceful Easter and to my Greek, Russian and Bulgarian friends I wish you a good Orthodox Easter for next month!


Chocolate sauce to go over anything

100g dark chocolate, 70% cocoa solids, broken into pieces
10g butter
2 tbsp whipping cream
2 tbsp golden syrup, warmed
2 tbsp brandy or liqueur of your choice

Slowly melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water.

Remove from the heat and stir in the golden syrup, liqueur and cream, and use while it’s still hot.


Article and recipe by Chrissie Walker © 2018


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