· By Oonagh Simms
Easter Gift Guide
There’s a consensus within my family that Easter is far superior to Christmas when it comes to enjoyment levels. A lazily long weekend, no pressure to panic buy pressies, the food is lighter, fresher but just as decadent, walks are abundant, the days are brighter, you can go to the pub for longer and it’s, generally, far more relaxed. So if you’re staying with family, visiting pals, throwing a bash and looking for stylish sweet treats to both impress and indulge here are some of my favourite finds for when you ‘shouldn’t have’ but you did anyway because you’re no fool.
She’s like a creative patisserie rock star- no messing. She has dessert bars in Vegas and magic’s up edible installations in Singapore museums. Recently, the wonderful buying team at Harrods started stocking her edible crayons and I cannot get enough of them as a dinner party gift with a ‘wow factor’. 8 individual chocolate crayons ranging in flavours from passionfruit to peppermint and encased in an art set- sold with sheets of rice paper to draw on, then eat. Pop them out on the table after dinner- let everyone have a scribble then nibble away at the corners whilst drinking more wine. I love everything about this creativity- meets confectionery- box of treats.
Pump Street Eccles Cakes- £11.70
Nestled in a cobbled square just off the endlessly grey coastline of Suffolk this popular Orford bakery is a welcoming pop of pink. I’m lucky enough to have visited Orford several times although I can never quite shake off the feeling that it’s the sort of place ‘other people’ go on holiday. It’s a bit men in faded rugby shirts, neat women in Jules wellies and polite but over confident kids in sandals. You know, nice, but, smug second- homey nice. Still, the warmth of Pump Street bakery is enveloping- the brown parcels of their own brand single origin chocolate, the stripped wood shelves filled with fresh sourdough and the eccles cakes… Their Eccles cakes with divine layers of flakey puff pastry, stuffed with Armagnac-infused raisins and sprinkled with crunchy sugar that sticks to your lips. Incredible with a cup of tea and life affirming when you receive a box of them to dole out to guests over the bank holiday. The perfect Easter treat and, because you can order them online, you don’t even have to push past the crowds to get them. Deeelicious.
What are you serving up for dessert on Easter Sunday? But... are you though? Or do you fancy picking up a bottle of the stunning Hundred Fifty Lbs - a cold brew coffee liqueur- pouring it over scoops of vanilla ice ream and serving up the sexiest twist on an Affogato this side of Milan? That sounds much better doesn’t it? Produced by Strange Hill in collaboration with the Department of Coffee and Social Affairs- made with single-estate beans from El Salvador and Cameroon, it’s mellow and chocolatey with a warming hint of pepper on the finish. It is beautifully bottled and labelled and also creates the most delicious hassle free espresso martini’s (just add vodka, carefree Bank Holiday abandon and shake)
Alain Ducasse, he of 3 Michelin star and £15 cups of coffee fame. Alain Ducasse recently opened a chocolate shop in the teeth achingly stylish Coal Drop Yard- it’s all bare brick walls, industrial hard edges, zinc counters and gleaming cabinets. The lighting is low and the prices are high. But, this wee guy caught my eye so I’m picking up a couple as Easter gifts because the quality is, well, Alain Ducasee, the design is inspirational and….you know, it’s a lil bunny.
I must include Maitre Choux eclairs in this round up because I want to eat them all the time and it makes me sad I can’t eat them all the time. I love how the cream squishes out of the Paris Brest one. I love how the pastry melts away into the chocolate, I love how they layer and sprinkle. I love how they glaze them within an inch of their shiny lives I love how they charge a fortune for them because they are worth a fortune. If you haven't guessed, I love them.
Need an alternative to Simnel cake because no one likes or really knows what Simnel cake is? This Colomba cake is the one. An traditional Italian Easter cake, a spring counterpart to panettone and pandoro- shaped like a flying dove. This one has been infused with macaron-flavoured cream and candied peach pieces. But none of that matters really because let’s take a moment to look at how it is wrapped. Look at those vintage fruit illustrations, and the font and that sunny orange colour, AND the hand tied parcel string. If you turn up to dinner gifting one of these you are an absolute touch of class and you know it.
Every couple of months we whip up new limited edition flavours for Harrods. They sell our signature large marshmallows as single serves on their deli counter and for Easter we’ve created perhaps our favourite flavours yet- including Lemon Sherbert & Ruby Chocolate- whipped from fresh lemons, a dash of sherbert tang, drizzled with ruby chccolate and scattered with edible spring flowers. Easter Mini Eggs Marshmallow- a tahitian vanilla marshmallow studded with the universally adored Mini Eggs AND our super popular Dark Cocoa Marshmallow our first ever chocolate marshmallow, whipped from single orgin cocoa to create the lightest, chocolate soufflé taste. We’ve also made these flavours available in our Easter Party Box. 36 marshmallows wrapped and delivered next day, as though you’ve just popped out to Harrods Food Hall and picked them up yourself- fancy pants.
Easter chocolate. I’m not against Easter chocolate- I just don’t need it to be an egg. I love this brand and their unwavering dedication to producing beautiful tasting and beautiful looking chocolate and this flavour is no exception. Coco Chocolatier’s Easter Spice chocolate is beautifully unique crafted from Nutmeg, cinnamon; cloves, allspice & star anise make it earthy and uplifting just like freshly baked hot cross buns. Wrapped in original art from independent artists from around the world each bar is something truly special.
Chicken Feet Eggcups- £3.25
Already had enough of the sweet stuff? Well, I’m staying with family for the Bank Holiday weekend and have already picked them up four of these crackers! The cutest of Easter egg cups for holding your brekkie dippers. Super reasonable, super thoughtful, eggcups are always something that you forget to buy or replace until you actually need them. 4 of these gorgeous little chicken feet eggcups are the same price as a half decent bottle of wine. Chic, playful and I’m already quite excited about using them.