Easter food has become a work of art.
The traditional seasonal menu of a boiled egg for breakfast, roast lamb for lunch and a slice of simnel cake for tea seems light years away from the zany takes on Easter food today.
The Easter egg is a prime example. Long gone are the days when you would break through the milk chocolate to reveal a disappointingly small sachet of your favourite sweets of yesteryear.
These days its all about style and flavour as the supermarket giants and confectioners try to capture people’s imagination and latch onto wider trends.
Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal has gone for the quirky route rather than the traditional one with his Easter range for Waitrose.
His Chocolate Scotch Egg (£6/110g) features a zesty mango and yuzu fondant yolk. The treat is encased in a smoked milk chocolate caramel ganache in the shape of an egg. It is coated with milk chocolate, maple-crunch breadcrumbs.
Mr Blumenthal, who gives his name to the Heston from Waitrose range, said: “In previous years we’ve taken the idea of the typical chocolate egg and reinvented it with an unexpected twist.
“This year, my Scotch egg does this in a way you wouldn’t expect - sparking the imagination as you cut into it to find a curious surprise.”
His other Easter offering is The Chocolate Teapot (£20/240g). The milk chocolate teapot comes with cocoa nib ‘tea leaves’ and ‘sugar cubes’ made from chocolate. They are flavoured with teas like Earl Grey and Jasmine.
The restauranteur added: “I wanted to offer something a little extraordinary to shoppers this Easter, something fun and whimsical that we could bring to life in chocolate form. The teapot is utterly scrumptious and the ‘cubes’ that come with it contain my favourite selection of teas, which bring an array of fragrant notes and unique flavours too.”
Another left field Easter offering is Marks and Spencer’s ‘Proseggo’ Easter egg. The prosecco-infused treat is part of a range, which has been in the pipeline for more than a year.
Easter egg developer Katy Patino has created a series of eggs pitched at the youth and adult markets. Eggs start at £2, while the prices of character eggs like Moonbeam the Unicorn have been lowered to £5 each.
The luxury egg range includes five new chocolatey delights. These include The Ruby Egg (£10), which features the newly discovered Ruby cocoa beans which are the latest trend in confectionery. There is also the Bee’s Knees Egg (£8) which is said to take white chocolate to the ‘next level’.
But there is no doubt which is the designer’s favourite. Katy said: “I absolutely love the new and on trend Proseggo Egg. We’ve infused luxury milk chocolate with raspberry, blackcurrant and prosecco for a delicate flavour with floral notes. And, at just £5 you can treat your loved ones to that touch of luxury without breaking the bank.”
Retailers Ocado and John Lewis also have prosecco-themed eggs, while Lidl has as gin and prosecco infused one.
Asda has also brought back the popular Free From Belgian Dark Chocolate Easter Egg for those who avoid dairy, wheat, gluten, or live a vegan lifestyle.
Perhaps the most unusual offering is The Cheesealicious Easter Egg. The world’s first spreadable ‘Cheester’ egg will be available in Sainsbury’s stores nationwide from April 10.
The £5 egg is made entirely from cheddar. The Cheesealicious Easter Egg pack from Butlers Farmhouse Cheeses contains 120g of cheddar cheese, one packet of oatcakes, and one sachet of chutney.
Emma Garvey, cheese buyer for Sainsbury’s, said: “We’re always looking for new and unique products to offer to our customers, especially during gifting periods throughout the year when people are on the lookout for something special to give their loved ones. The Cheesealicious Easter Egg seemed like an obvious and exciting choice to expand our Easter egg offering and cater to cheese afficianados nationwide. The egg is truly delicious and we can’t wait to see the response from our customers.”
But despite our thirst for something new there is still a place for tradition.
The humble hot cross bun is still in demand. Marks & Spencer sells 42 million hot cross buns each year and sales are already up more than 160 per cent on last year.
But even this symbol of Easter has undergone a fruity twist, Marks and Spencer is set to have a range of eight, from fruity blueberry, zesty marmalade to indulgent salted caramel and chocolate.
M&S hot cross bun developer Sadia Usman said: “This year sees the launch of two delicious hot cross bun flavours, adding to the already fantastic collection. The Golden Hot Cross Buns are made with a blend of golden wholemeal flour, honey and are bursting with goldenberries, sultans, raisins and dried cranberries, a scrumptious twist on the classic. For those who prefer a little sweetness in their buns, the Mini Chocolate Hot Cross Buns are loaded with chocolate chips. Our buns are equally delicious whether served hot or cold. The question is, how do you eat yours?.”
Perhaps the real question for Easter food gurus is how do you top it next year after this avalanche of prosecco-filled chocolatey joy and a bit of cheese on the side?