Easter is just a bunny hop away, which means one thing – CHOCOLATE! And lots of it. To help you prepare for the obligatory Easter egg hunt and long Sunday lunch, we've checked out what the local chocolatiers have on offer to tantalise the taste buds. Behold our pick of the best boutique chocolate companies for Easter – the list is so good you will have to try and hide your purchases from yourself!
The term 'Sweet Studio' conjures up delightful images of extravagant treats being carefully curated, and that's exactly what you'll find at Darren Purchese's Burch & Purchese in South Yarra. With ingredients like smoked white chocolate cream, coconut 'caviar' and yuzu curd, Purchese masters the balance of flavour and texture in every creation.
His Easter offerings are exquisite – 'fried egg' lollipops, salted caramel eggs brushed with gold lustre and the B&P Easter Bunny, to name a few. But you simply can't go past Pablo the Easter Penguin, although he's almost too cute to eat!
(Editor's Note: The B&P Easter Bunny paid a visit to the TUL offices last week and we can personally vouch for every item in the Easter range!)
Burch & Purchese
Cacao has been whipping up award-winning chocolate since 2003, when owners and chocolatiers, Laurent Meric and Tim Clark, opened their first concept store in St Kilda. 11 years and 4 stores later, the dynamic duo are still as passionate about their craft as ever, making more than 30 decadent varieties of chocolate ranging in colour, shape, flavour and texture.
For Easter, they've got milk chocolate 'Chicken Little' chicks or a goofy bunny for the kids, and for the perfect excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast, be sure to pick up half-a-dozen hollow chocolate eggs cleverly packaged in an egg carton.
Hint: if you live in metro Melbourne and order between 9am and 12pm on a week day, you'll have your Easter gifts delivered to you in 4 hours – eggcellent!
Cacao | Various locations
Want to head to Europe this Easter but perhaps don't have the funds? Then look no further than Ganache Chocolate, one of Melbourne's best boutique chocolate producers. After chocolatiering his way around Europe, founder and Master Chocolatier, Arno Backes, had a dream to open a European-style Chocolate Lounge – cue Ganache.
Backes and his team have come up with just about every bunny you can think of for Easter – Scooter Bunny, Schoolboy Bunny, Heir Austria bunny and the list goes on. But for the gift that keeps on giving, book your loved one into a chocolate making course. Think truffles, mousse and macarons. Enough said.
Ganache Chocolate | 250 Toorak Road in South Yarra & 245 Collins Street in Melbourne
Image Credit: Haigh's Chocolates Facebook
Haigh's Chocolates will celebrate its centenary in 2015, making it the oldest family-owned chocolate manufacturing retailer in Australia. Today, the company is run by fourth generation Haighs, with 14 retail stores across South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria.
The list of delights on offer from Haigh's for Easter is endless, with highlights including the Hot Cross Bun chocolate featuring a spiced chocolate fudge-filled centre and delicate white cross, and their famous Easter Bilbies, part proceeds of which will go to the RFA to protect the Bilby and its habitat.
Haigh's have this year also released a special edition UTZ Certified Egg, made to commemorate the company's commitment to UTZ certification in support of sustainable farming.
Haigh's | Various locations
In 2001, Koko Black's founder, Shane Hills, embarked on a European adventure to discover the essence of chocolate, which he felt was not being fully expressed. And boy, are we glad he did. With the assistance of talented Belgian-born chocolatier, Dries Cnockaert (who Hills met on his mission), Koko Black was born, with the first salon opening in 2003.
For Easter 2014, Koko Black has commissioned designer and illustrator, Beci Orpin, to create its Signature Keepsake by Beci Orpin range. Orpin's adorable illustration 'jump and make magic' features on a range of gift boxes filled with speckled eggs, bunny pralines and more.
Koko Black | Various locations
The Dutch word Liefje translates to sweetheart, loved one or darling in English, which is perhaps the perfect name for this new chocolatey kid in town. Made in Melbourne from the finest fairly-traded Peruvian organic raw cacao couverture, FODMAP dieters rejoice; Liefje chocolate is free from dairy, gluten, cane sugar, soy and preservatives. And the virtuosity continues. Sweetened with Canadian maple syrup, you'll be free from the sugar high and subsequent crash. What's not to love?
There are three flavours of Liefje chocolate currently available – Smoked Salt, Hazelnut Crunch and Spice Trail – and the beautifully (and environmentally friendly) packaged gift box containing all three makes for the perfect Easter Gift.
Liefje | Click here for stockists
Image Credit: Pana Chocolate Facebook
At Monsieur Truffe, they are not just chocolatiers, they're chocolate makers (chocolatiers make chocolately treats from ready-made premium chocolate, or couverture. Chocolate makers source the cacao beans and start from scratch). On any given day, the team can be found in their East Brunswick factory trying to perfect the ultimate chocolate from 'bean to bar', which exceeds the couverture they source for their products.
The Monsieur Truffe philosophy is based on single-origin chocolate that captures the distinct flavours from the regions of the cacao beans they use. At their stores and stockists, you'll find products that are locally made with beans that span the globe; Madagascar, Vietnam and Ecuador are just the beginning.
This Easter, they've popped the traditional chocolate bunny into his very own chocolate car, and if you spend over $35 on Easter stock you'll go in the draw to win one of their three-kilogram giant roosters.
Healthy chocolate is an oxymoron right? Wrong! Pana Barbounis, founder and chocolate maker at Pana Chocolate, is perhaps best described as a modern day saint, with his range of raw, organic and lovingly handmade chocolate. Pana's claim is that their chocolate is as healthy as it is luxurious and will deliver vital antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. (Worth a shot!)
In store at the Pana Chocolate cafe in Richmond, you'll find cute, bite-sized chocolate bunnies and Raw Cross Buns, which at the time of writing this article were undergoing their final taste test. The Pana Happy Easter gift box is available in store and online and comes with four Pana bars in flavours of Mint, Nuts, Coconut & Goji and Raw Cacao.
Pana Chocolate | 491 Church Street in Richmond
Main Image Credit: The Fab Guide