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Little Beetle goes to the market…!

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It’s beginning to look a lot like CHOCOLATE! I’m very excited about this weekend as Little Beetle Chocolates will be officially open to the public for the very first time. The last few weeks have been all filled with orders, deliveries, planning and logistics behind the scenes and I’m hoping that this first event will go well. I decided to launch at my local community christmas market because I would like to get involved with my local community before opening up to a wider audience. In a smaller setting like this, I’m hoping to be able to chat to more people in-depth about what Little Beetle Chocolates can offer and to let more people Taste. Better. Chocolate.

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I’d like to take the opportunity here to give special thanks to a number of people who gave me professional advice and inspiration for this launch: Luke from The Chocolate Bar in New Zealand, Catherine from Kosak in Paris and of course the three chocolate makers Duffy’s, Chocolate Tree and Pump Street Chocolate. As I signed up for this event a bit late, I would also like to thank the organiser David Cotee for squeezing me in!

Little Beetle Chocolates will have a small table among the other food businesses (e.g. small artisan bakery, organic groceries, local craft beer, cakes and pastries) and along many craft sellers. The event will take place in Fulbourn, at the village hall from 2:30 to 5pm on 9th December 2017.

I will post an update in a few days after the event to let you know howit went. Fingers crossed there will be many people wanting to Taste. Better. Chocolate.

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UK Easter Egg Hunt – Forget the creme egg!

It’s only ten days until Easter, a peak time in chocolate trading, when every shop is flooded with chocolate eggs, bunnies, hens and chicks, lambs and hot cross buns. And no matter how early or late Easter is, those (in)famous creme eggs hit the shelves bang on Boxing Day (yes, last December!). I always think it’s waaay too early and you will see from this blog anyway, that I am not a huge fan of anything by Cadbury, especially these chocolate eggs filled with a painfully sweet fondant (sugar paste).

So, in today’s post I would like to show you some alternatives. Living in the UK makes it so easy to swap boring creme eggs to something much better. There is an ever-growing offer of beautifully handmade, delicious chocolate treats, that are created with higher quality chocolate, less sugar, and with lots of creativity and passion. My list is almost entirely based on what I found on Instagram, my favourite platform to see what other chocolate makers and chocolatiers are up to. Also, this list is a very subjective collection, and probably missing many creations that exist on the market. But hopefully, I can give you some ideas in time to fill your Easter baskets.

If you have kids, and you are thinking that these are too expensive yet not enough for them, please think twice. Choose quality over quantity, and you will see that kids are genuinely open to new things. And if we stop saying: “Honey, you won’t like this, it’s dark chocolate”, we get one step closer to a generation growing up on good quality chocolates (consumed in moderation). If I haven’t convinced you, just take a look at this recent survey and see how much sugar your kids will consume if they receive the average amount of traditional Easter treats. I honestly hope that you will change your mind.

No kids? At least, you don’t have to share your chocolates with them (or trying to eat them hidden behind a cupboard door). There is no excuse for not treating yourself to some really good chocolates!

Let’s see what are my favourite picks* from this year’s Easter season:

Pump Street Bakery

It all started with the chicken (or the egg?!). In time, I will write more about this British chocolate maker, launched at a place that first became famous for their freshly baked breads and pastries, hence the name. Then they decided to make chocolate directly from the cocoa beans (bean-to-bar), and they’ve had a triumphant success. If you have already tried their chocolate bars, then you know, that these two bean-to-chickens will be a bliss (if you haven’t, just believe me!). The milk chocolate chicken is made from their 58% Madagascan chocolate, high cocoa content (= less sugar), creamy and fruity. The dark chocolate chicken is made with their Jamaican 75% dark, a rich chocolate with sweet fruity notes. They weigh 35g each. Both chickens are available from their web shop for £5.95 each, and come in a cute, specially designed cardboard tube, sitting on a nest.

pumpstbakeryMilk and dark bean-to-chicken (photo: PumpStBakery)

Dormouse Chocolates

Manchester-based chocolate makers teasing us this Easter with three bean-to-egg creations. Two darks, a rich and fruity Guatemalan 72% and their award-winning Madagascan 75.6% with a deep oaky flavour note. The third is a high cocoa milk chocolate egg, Guatemalan 51.5% cocoa giving you a satisfyingly creamy caramel flavour. They are £10.00 each available from their website.

Bean-to-egg (photo: Dormouse)

JK Fine Chocolates

Ever heard of the Triple Truffle? Jamie Kemp, chocolatier of JK Fine Chocolates is the inventor of these triple-layered delights (a creamy caramel centre surrounded by a single-origin ganache layer and enrobed in single-origin chocolate), and this year he created these rustic mini eggs filled with some of the best single-origin chocolate ganaches from Vietnam (70% Tien Gang by Marou), Ecuador (70% by Montecristi) and Venezuela (43% milk), and of course his award-winning salted caramel. Available in a box of 8 (2 of each flavour) for £12.50 or a box of 16 (4 of each) for 22.50 from his web shop.

Single origin eggs filled with delicious ganache
and award-winning salted caramel (photo: JKFineChocolates)

Zara’s Chocolates

Moving to Bristol now to show you these funky cactus eggs by Zara’s Chocolates. All three milk chocolate eggs are made and decorated by hand and hide a golden egg inside. For a more futuristic design, you can choose one of their marbled eggs: a 67% Madagascan dark with a crunchy almond brittle lining on the inside, a 36% Javanese milk with a honeycomb pecan crunchy inner layer, or the all-time favourite salted caramel egg available in both milk and dark (39% or 76% Ecuador) with 6 salted caramel chocolates on the inside. The three cacti eggs are £10.00, the crunchy eggs are £13.00 and the salted caramel eggs are £18.00 from their web shop.

Fun cactus eggs and crunchy marbled eggs (photo: Zara’s Chocolates)

Fifth Dimension Chocolates

Russel and Albert are well-known for their amazing (and multiple award-winning!) filled chocolates inspired by their travels, but come Christmas or Easter, they also offer seasonal products, that are just as great! I mean, look at these beautiful galaxy eggs, they are handmade from high quality Colombian chocolate. Choose either 65% dark or 50% milk for £13 each. Another fun product they have is their Disc’O Egg, which is layers of 34% white, 50% milk and 65% dark Colombian chocolate discs, weighing a total of 400g, perfect for sharing (if you do :)). Unfortunately, the Disc’O egg is not available online, but you can grab one if you happen to be at Taste Chocolate Festival in Bristol at Easter weekend for example. (See more Easter chocolate events at the end of the article.)

Galaxy and Disc’O Eggs (photo: 5DChocolates)

Hill St.

New kids on the block, Hill St. was founded in 2016 by two brothers, a chocolatier and a designer. Website still in progress, but if you happen to be near Saffron Walden, check out their chocolate shop. Their Easter range of shapes come in different sizes and are filled with caramel eggs, praline characters, moulded chocolates and wafer crisp chocolate pearls.

The egg-cowboy, the sheep and the pink chicken (photo: Hill St. Instagram)

Chocolate Events this Easter

What better way to enjoy chocolates at Easter than to visit a chocolate fair or festival. This year, there are several locations to choose from, so don’t miss out if you are in the area. Click on the links for more info about the venues and event programmes.

8 April / Oxted – Chocolate Fair (FREE entry)

9 April / Dorking – Denbies Chocolate Fair (FREE entry)

8-9 April / Ramsbottom – Chocolate Festival (Free entry)

15-16 April / Bristol – Taste Chocolate Festival (£4/entry)

14-17 April / York – Chocolate Festival (FREE entry)

*Disclaimer: This list is my subjective selection. This is not a paid advertisement of the chocolatiers or events that are mentioned. I didn’t receive any money or favour for writing the article.