“Chocolate is perceived by the brain to be a perfect food – its odour is exactly the same whether it comes through the nose or through the mouth,” says Professor Barry C Smith, director of the Institute of Philosophy and founding director of the Centre for the Study of the Senses at the University of London. “It has an exact match of anticipation and reward, and the brain is very happy when what it wants is matched.” When better to explore this thesis than Easter, through a cherry-picked selection of deluxe eggs…
The Deco Easter egg (£60, first picture) at Claridge’s is inspired by the hotel’s art deco checkerboard lobby. Head pastry chef Ross Sneddon has used fine Valrhona dark, milk and white chocolate for the shell and filled it with a selection of homemade chocolate quail eggs. Each egg is packaged in the hotel’s instantly recognisable eau de nil box and tied with an elegant black satin bow.
Fortnum & Mason has created some of the most imaginative eggs this year; take the Jewellery egg (£175), a thick chocolate shell that comes with a sterling-silver Fortnum & Mason Bee Charm on a silver chain in a gift box. Beneath the egg a drawer is packed with salted dulce de leche and hazelnut praline milk chocolates. Continuing the bee theme is the spectacular Easter Chocolate Beehive Sculpture (£250), inspired by the beehives on the shop’s roof. Open it up to spy on the most delightful interior fit for a queen bee.
Harrods’ limited-edition hand-painted Couverture eggs (£195, second picture) have a beautiful hummingbird design that heralds the arrival of spring, while Hotel Chocolat’s Giant Ostrich Egg (£75, third picture) is to scale – enormous, with the thickest of shells, combining chocolate, crispy rice and cookies. Inside it contains pralines, molten caramels and champagne truffles. The whole is packaged in an elegant hatbox, with “egg-letts” hidden in the tissue paper for a mini Easter egg hunt.
For something with a simple elegance, Parisian chocolatier Pierre Hermé has created the Oeuf Galets (from €95, fourth picture), a tribute to citrusy chocolate from Peru with golden disks or galets.
But if it’s bespoke that is needed, independent London chocolatier Paul A Young is creating an extremely limited selection of customised eggs standing at 1ft tall that can be hand-decorated in the customer’s choice of colours (pre-order only, from £125).
The only problem with each of these gems might be – are they too beautiful to crack open?