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North East's own artisan Easter Eggs put to the taste test

Foodwise, Easter is all about chocolate. We tested some locally handcrafted sweet treats with the help of 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron Air Training Corp

If your fasting efforts for Lent are still going well, you probably won’t need me to tell you that the end is in sight.

The luxurious foods we should have been avoiding in the run-up to Easter will soon be back on the menu.

Perhaps not surprisingly, given the almost seductive pleasure eating it induces, chocolate is one of the most popular foods people eschew during Lent.

It’d be hard to beat the guilt-free joy of cracking open a beautifully packaged chocolate egg when Easter Sunday finally arrives.

So, imagine too, the outrage of smashing open an egg only to discover it’s a cheap tasting, hollow sham of a confection.

To help decide which treats are worth shelling out for, Journal Taste took a selection of artisan Easter eggs and other sweet indulgences handmade by chocolatiers in the region, along to 346 (Tynemouth) Squadron Air Training Corps, for rigorous testing.

The panel of adult staff and teenagers charged with undertaking this vital community service were Officer Commanding, Flight Lieutenant Dan Laidler, 25, a secondary school teacher in civilian life; Sergeant David Carter, 21, who works for Nissan; Sergeant Sarah Robson, 27, a veterinary nurse, and cadets’ Corporal Amber Robson and Rivo Roost, both 15, and Tom Jenkins, 14.

Here’s what our troop of chocolate scoffers made of them all.

Davenport’s Artisan Easter Egg filled with Floral Collection chocolates

Davenports Artisan Egg with Floral Chocolates
Davenports Artisan Egg with Floral Chocolates

£10.95, www.davenportschocolates.co.uk

Available from: Mmm... and Fenwick, both Newcastle, or order direct from Davenport’s Chocolates, 0191 469 6579.

What you get: A handcrafted dark chocolate egg decorated with sugar flowers containing six fondant creams – Rose and Geranium, Violet, Lavender, Bergamot, Fennel Blossom and Rosemary and Lemon Flower – each finished with a floral design.

First impressions: Sarah Robson: “Looks very feminine and spring-like and it really stands out.”

Amber Robson: “I love the flower decoration. But it’s probably too girly for the boys.”

This last comment is met with nods of agreement from the male testers.

Taste: Thick chocolate that snapped well and had a smooth texture. It was a bit too bitter for our testers, however.

Sarah: “This is definitely an egg for dark chocolate lovers. And I’m not sure about the floral chocolates. They look beautiful and are very different, but again, I’m not convinced they would be to everyone’s taste.”

Dan Laidler: “One for the real chocolate connoisseur.”

Verdict: 3½/5

Kenspeckle Russian Matryoshka Nested Chocolate Egg

Kenspeckle "Russian Doll Egg"
Kenspeckle "Russian Doll Egg"

£25, www.kenspeckle.co.uk

Available from: Buy online from Kenspeckle, call into the firm’s home at the Lynemouth Resource Centre, Bridge Road, Lynemouth, Northumberland, NE61 5YJ, or pre-order and collect from either Tynemouth Market or the Newcastle Quayside Sunday market.

What you get: Five chocolate eggs hidden inside one another Russian doll style. Each handcrafted egg is made from a different chocolate starting with a quail-sized one. The sequence ends with an ostrich-sized egg decorated with swirls of chocolate.

First impressions: Tom Jenkins: “Wow, that’s a lot of chocolate!”

Dan: “It’s amazing. There’s enough to feed the squadron here! I love the mystery of not knowing what’s coming next. It’s really ambitious and given how much chocolate you’re getting, great value for money.”

Taste: The thick and creamy white chocolate outer egg willingly gave way to the smaller ones. The only thing our panel thought let this egg down was the dark chocolate.

Sarah: “It’s got a bit of a strange flavour. It’s bitter as I expected, but there’s something else going on. Love the white and milk chocolate, though. Really nicely balanced. And there’s plenty of it.”

Verdict: 4/5

North Chocolates Family Hamper

North Chocolates Family Hamper
North Chocolates Family Hamper

£30 plus postage and packing, www.northchocolates.co.uk

Available from: The website.

What you get: A re-usable wicker basket packed with treats from North Chocolates’ range guarded over by a gorgeous keepsake Easter bunny. The hamper includes small handmade jewel wrapped eggs, chocolate bunny lollipops and carrots and five bars of ribbon wrapped chocolate. In ours was a Raspberry Beret bar, Honeycomb Crunch, Popping Candy, Peppermint Crunch and a special limited edition Hot Cross Fun.

First Impressions: Rivo Roost: “It looks really attractive. I like the way it’s got lots of different chocolate to pick on.”

Amber: “It’s not traditional but it’s got the eggs in it. The rabbit toy is gorgeous! It looks really good value.”

Taste: The panel loved the range of chocolate options catering to all tastes. The eggs turned out to be solid, finely textured milk chocolate that split into two for sharing.

The quirky Hot Cross Fun bar was a winner: breaking into it gave off a wonderful seasonal mixed spice smell that followed through when eaten and took the bitter edge off the rich, dark chocolate.

Sarah: “It’s the perfect Easter gift for any age.”

Verdict: 5/5

The Chocolate Smiths The Extremely Chocolatey Mega Gooey All-Things-Delicious Limited Edition Ultimate Easter Egg

Chocolate Smiths Mega Gooey Easter Egg
Chocolate Smiths Mega Gooey Easter Egg

£15, www.thechocolatesmiths.com

Available from: Fenwick, Newcastle; Deli Delivered, Gosforth; to order via The Chocolate Smiths website or direct from Tynemouth Market.

What you get: An eye-catching handmade ostrich-sized milk chocolate egg with the imaginative addition of marshmallows and popcorn rooted in the shell, and the promise of caramel, honeycomb and popping candy. The egg comes’ nesting on more marshmallows and toffee popcorn.

First Impressions: Rivo: “Oh yes! This looks the business!”

David Carter: “That’s one giant rocky road Easter egg! It looks fantastic! This is an egg that crosses the age divide. Would I pay £15 for it? Yes.”

Taste: Flavour wise, this egg was the most exciting. The exceptionally thick shell (it needed a few hefty bangs to break) that looks like a pop art creation, gave way to a hollow egg with the caramel, honeycomb and popping candy treats locked in the outer casing.

It was chocolate chaos – but in an exciting and delectable way.

Tom: “Messy, but lots of fun.”

David: “Mmm. I can’t say anything else. Too busy eating!”

Verdict: 5/5

Betty’s Milk Chocolate Spring Flowers Egg

Betty's Spring Flower Egg
Betty's Spring Flower Egg

£42.50, www.bettys.co.uk

Available from: Order online

What you get: A visually appealing vintage-style handmade Swiss Grand Cru milk chocolate egg beautifully decorated with Royal icing spring flowers in pastel shades and hand piping.

First impressions: Tom: “It’s got a really nostalgic design. It looks like the sort of egg you’d give your granny.”

Amber: “It’s pretty and very spring-like. I like it.”

Taste: A disappointingly thin chocolate shell gave way to a hollow egg with no hidden surprise. The most unexpected thing was the lingering salty aftertaste left by the chocolate.

Sarah: “It really is quite salty. Is it supposed to taste like that? Unfortunately, this egg’s all front and no substance.”

Verdict: 2/5

Cabosse Bird of Paradise Easter Egg

Bird of Paradise Egg, Cabosse, Warkworth
Bird of Paradise Egg, Cabosse, Warkworth

From £9 to a maximum of £40 depending on size, www.cabossechocolates.co.uk

Available from: Handmade to order direct from Cabosse’s shop at 5 Dial Place, Warkworth, Northumberland, NE65 0UR, 01665 712 644.

What you get: There’s a real sense of drama about this range of striking eggs from chocolatier Louise Frederique. Each hand moulded egg is decorated with an exquisite bird of paradise memento, and filled with fresh cream chocolates whose flavours include champagne, mint and strawberry. The eggs themselves come in either extra thick milk or dark Belgium chocolate.

First impressions: Sarah: “This looks so lovely I don’t want to break into it. It’s absolutely stunning. ”

Dan: “This is a statement egg. It would be great as the table centrepiece for Easter Sunday lunch and you could see who’s got the courage to attack it first.”

Taste: The rich Belgium chocolate shell melted in the mouth, while the 12 chocolate truffles within had the softest, most delicious fillings.

Sarah: “Probably only for the adults – but that’s not a bad thing! A really cracking egg.”

Verdict: 5/5

Kenspeckle Chocolate Hens’ Eggs

Kenspeckle Hen's Eggs
Kenspeckle Hen's Eggs

£6, www.kenspeckle.co.uk

Available from: Buy online direct from Kenspeckle, call into the firm’s home at the Lynemouth Resource Centre, Bridge Road, Lynemouth, Northumberland, NE61 5YJ, or pre-order and collect from either Tynemouth Market or the Newcastle Quayside Sunday market.

What you get: Six uniquely different, handmade hollow milk, dark and white chocolate speckled hens’ eggs nesting on ‘straw’ presented in a clear plastic egg box.

First impressions: Sarah: “I really like the quirky presentation. It’s got novelty value. I would have liked it more if the ‘straw’ had been edible too, though. An idea for next year?”

Taste: The panel loved both the smooth and creamy thick shelled milk and white chocolate eggs. But again, they thought the dark chocolate let the side down.

Dan: “It’s a bit like good quality cooking chocolate. Fine for a cake, but not an Easter egg. Having said that, they’re good value for the price.”

Verdict: 3/5

Cabosse Trophy Egg

Cabosse Trophy Egg
Cabosse Trophy Egg

£20-£25 depending on choice of filling, www.cabossechocolates.co.uk

Available from: Handmade to order of direct from Cabosse’s shop at 5 Dial Place, Warkworth, Northumberland, NE65 0UR, 01665 712 644.

What you get: An extra thick, hollow 19cm tall milk chocolate trophy-style creation with four rabbits on the pedestal. It can be filled with anything the customer wishes from Cabosse chocolates to their own keepsake gift. This one contained a novelty rabbit ornament filled with chocolate covered raisins.

First impressions: Sarah: “It’s very decorative and while not an egg is in the spirit of Easter. I like the fact you can fill it with what you want.”

Rivo: “It’s fun and different.”

Taste: Super thick milk chocolate that the panel described as tasting like “very superior Galaxy”.

Dan: “That’s not a put down; it’s a compliment. It’s gentle on the palate and light and fluffy. Like Easter rabbits.”

Verdict: 4/5

Betty’s Milk Chocolate Chick Egg

Bettys Chocolate Chick Egg
Bettys Chocolate Chick Egg

£9.95, www.bettys.co.uk

Available from: Order online

What you get: A handmade hollow Swiss milk chocolate egg decorated with an attractive white chocolate chick.

First impressions: David: “Looks appealing and cute for the kids, but it’s a bit small isn’t it? Wouldn’t last long.”

Tom: “It’s a bit expensive for what you’re getting.”

Taste: The chocolate was erring towards being too sweet, but gentle on the palate.

Dan: “Pleasing but not memorable.”

Verdict: 3/5

The Chocolate Smiths Americana Bizarre Egg

Americana Bizarre Egg
Americana Bizarre Egg

£5.95, www.thechocolatesmiths.com

Available from: Fenwick, Newcastle; Deli Delivered, Gosforth; to order via The Chocolate Smiths website or direct from Tynemouth Market.

What you get: A handmade tribute to two of America’s finest exports, creamy peanut butter and salty pretzels, wrapped in Belgian milk chocolate and gold foil and presented in a small box.

First impressions: Rivo: “It’s not very interesting packaging. It looks a bit plain. I’d probably walk past this on the shelf.”

Taste: An undecorated egg gave way to a hollow interior with one giant pretzel surrounded by velvety smooth peanut butter entombed in the shell.

Sarah: “That’s disappointing. I was expecting peanut butter coated pretzels inside the egg. It’s a great idea to combine the two, but there’s not enough.”

Amber: “It’s not great.”

Verdict: 2/5

Davenport’s Fudge Mallow Easter Egg

Davenports Fudge Mallow Egg
Davenports Fudge Mallow Egg

£10.95, www.davenportschocolates.co.uk

Available from: Mmm... and Fenwick, both Newcastle, or it can be ordered direct from Davenport’s Chocolates, The Chocolate Factory, Pelaw Industrial Estate, Green Lane, Gateshead, NE10 0UW, 0191 469 6579.

What you get: A handmade milk shell encrusted with marshmallow and fudge pieces, filled with fresh butter and dairy cream vanilla fudge sweets enrobed in chocolate.

First impressions: Amber: “This is more subtle than the other marshmallow egg. But I like the way the mini marshmallow and fudge pieces are more artfully placed on the front rather than just splodged.”

Taste: A creamy chocolate shell housing six pleasantly sweet, soft, melt-in the mouth fudge briques.

Sarah: “You can really taste the cream in the fudge and the marshmallow and fudge pieces worked into the shell add a nice soft-crunchy combo.”

David: “It’s less sickly sweet than the other one and a more sensible size, which is probably better for younger children. I’d be happy to get this, but I do prefer my Easter eggs a little more crazy!”

Verdict: 4/5

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