Muddy Easter: Surrey’s best artisan chocolatiers
Did someone say chocolate? We don’t really need Easter as an excuse to eat this delightful confectionery, but as it’s just around the corner it did seem to be a good opportunity to hunt down Surrey’s finest chocolatiers and artisan chocolate-makers – none of that mass-produced sickly sweet stuff for me (and you). And I’ve even managed to learn a thing or two about chocolate along the way.
Bachmanns Patisserie, Thames Ditton and Weybridge
Bachmanns is the award-winning patisserie and chocolatier established 26 years ago by Swiss-trained Ernst Bachmann and his wife Marilyn. This is surely the gem in Surrey’s chocolate crown, with close to 30 national awards tucked away. Each chocolate is hand-made on their premises, using the finest dark chocolate imported from Switzerland (natch), and traditional Swiss techniques. That means three separate layers of chocolate on each egg, followed by decorations including hand-piped chocolate flowers. No thick layers of indelicate chocolate here. Hundreds of eggs are being made for Easter and every one of them will be different. They almost sound too good to eat. Almost. These days Ernst and Marilyn’s son Chris is at the helm, although Ernst still comes into the shop three or four days a week. They’re a family who is passionate about chocolate (well, we all are, but in a slightly different way!). And, you know, when Chris says “you might get different chocolate, but you certainly won’t get better chocolate”, I do believe he’s right!
Bachmanns, 6 Criterion Buildings, Portsmouth Road, Thames Ditton, KT7 0SS; and
32 Church Street, Weybridge, KT13 8DX. bachmanns.co.uk
Ildiko’s Chocolate, Walton-on-Thames, available online and at farmers’ markets
Chocolate that looks pretty, and tastes great. That’s what you get from Ildiko’s Chocolate, an independent, family-run chocolatier based in Walton-on-Thames. Ildiko’s produce a wide range of chocolate slabs made from the finest Belgian and Arriba chocolate that’s beautifully decorated with freeze-dried fruits, nuts and flower petals. Hungarian-born Ildiko, and her husband Tamas, turned Ildiko’s hobby into a business about three years ago. Ildiko’s also makes caramel sauces in flavours like clotted cream, sea salted, vanilla, chocolate and lavender, and a range of gorgeous truffles. I’ve put my order in.
Brocks Chocs, Brockham
This is the chocolate company started by a 10-year-old. (Yup, you read that right. 10!). Danesh Amin started out making his chocolates in his mum’s kitchen, and selling them outside his father’s village store in Brockham. By 12 he was suppling nearby shops and at 15 he’d won a sponsorship deal with Belgian chocolate maker Callebaut to train as a chocolatier (he’s now 18 and at uni). But this isn’t chocolate for kids. These are award-winning combinations such as chocolate with lemon and gin, milk chocolate with chilli, plain chocolate with lemon and orange, and one of the best-sellers, white chocolate cola explosion. For Easter, there are a range of eggs, topped with caramel fudge, ginger pieces, cola explosion or strawberry. Plus there are children’s eggs with chocs inside. There are also chocolate lolly pops. It all sounds utterly deeeeelish… but make mine a lemon and gin.
Brocks Chocs are available at the Brocks Chocs store, Unit 23, The Belfry, Redhill, RH1 1ST, as well as various suppliers in Surrey including Denbies Wine Estate, Tadworth Fine Foods and the Ockley Village Greens Farm Shop and online at brockschocs.co.uk
Ok, so Cocoa Bombón, don’t specifically make Easter eggs. Owner Hanna Wicks says she just can’t compete with the big boys. But these handmade chocolate creations, lovingly crafted from her kitchen in Dorking, are to die for. So I’m including them in this guide anyway. Let’s say they offer a more sophisticated chocolate alternative to all of those ducks and chicks out there. Hanna uses only the finest Belgian chocolate, sourced from 100 per cent sustainable cocoa beans, pure cocoa butter and natural vanilla. Hanna’s boxed chocolates come in rounds, squares, brittles and slims, in flavours that includes crystallised ginger, sea salt, honeycomb and almond. You know, don’t mind if I do.
Monty Bojangles Truffle Bar, Reigate
A chocolate shop and coffee shop all in one. Pop in for your morning coffee, treat yourself to a scoffable truffle, buy the family’s Easter eggs, and hey presto, you’re all sorted and you’ve barely lifted a finger. The button bedazzled Belgian chocolate egg come in two sizes 125g and 300g, but if chocolate is not really your thing (really? you must be kidding) there’s the option of dusted truffles, plus a range of sweets including Hope & Greenwood Afternoon Tea Boiled Sweets.
Monty Bojangles, 57 High Street, Reigate, RH2 9AE. montybojangles.com