The cornershop might have been selling Creme Eggs since mid-December but last Sunday marked the official start of Holy Week, a.k.a. the pleasant, chocolate-smeared slide into the long Easter weekend.
Now is the time to eat handfuls of Mini Eggs like they're trail mix, plough through five buttered hot cross buns in one sitting, smash into daintily iced eggs with cocoa-crazed abandon, and break the heads off Lindt bunnies. It's what Jesus would have wanted.
This Easter, in reverential honour of the Resurrection of Christ (and accompanying four-day sugar high), we asked some of our favourite chefs to describe their dream Easter egg.
Things got weird. Like, way beyond pistachio-flavoured-fondant-weird.
Our chefs delivered a basketful of eggs so beautiful and delicious; so resplendent with Eastertide joy that Peter Carl Fabergé himself could not have dreamed them. Just the thought of these hot chip-filled, custard-doused, gold foil-wrapped ovums would give the Easter Bunny an anxiety-induced case of myxomatosis.
Join us for the wildest Easter egg hunt of your life.
Fergus Henderson, nose-to-tail chef and co-founder of the St. John restaurant group in London.
"Those who eat Cadbury's Fruit and Nut chocolate affectionately refer to it as 'fnerr' (at least, they do in my household). The raisin and nut creates a dilemma. Is there enough fruit? Is there enough raisin? Is the nut-to-raisin ratio correct? One toys with the possibility of eating Cadbury's Whole Nut, but one always misses the chew of the raisin. This all filters back to the Sultana Bran Theory: In Sultana Bran, one is always anxious that there are not enough sultanas. One is tempted to add more, but then your breakfast is ruined—there is too much chew. Kellogg's' administering of sultanas has been worked out over years to perfect the crunch-to-chew.
The egg must be solid fnerr: it is disappointing when eggs are just a thin shell, an empty promise. It seems to be against the spirit of Easter. The only trouble is that these eggs will weigh down the Easter Bunny, who must deliver them by hand. Not a man dressed as a rabbit, but a real, giant, friendly rabbit. That's who will deliver my fnerr egg."
Gabe Pryce, chef. Former co-owner of Rita's and Quilombero in London, alongside Missy Flynn (see below.)
"I would love a massive ostrich egg filled with scrambled eggs and topped with wine dribbles and bread to represent everybody's favourite guy, Mr. Jesus, surrounded by the ever-controversial 'devilled eggs.' Oh, the temptation of Christ, what a time."
Missy Flynn, bartender.
"I would like a large egg-shaped wheel of Stilton served with a glass of port, a refreshing stick (namely celery), and a nose peg."
Martin Morales, chef-owner of several Peruvian restaurants in London.
"I love ekekos and I dream of having a chocolate ekeko with tons of different types of sweets to decorate it. Ekekos are good luck charms in Peru. They are a dude made of ceramic from the Andes, with an Andina wooly hat, and carrying stuff like money and gifts to bring you good luck. He's always smiling. I love hundreds and thousands, pear drops, Smarties, Peanut M&Ms, and all sorts of sweets, so my dream Easter egg would be inspired by the ekes of Peru, laden with all my favourite chocolates and sweets and even more inside."
Zuza Zak, author of Polish cookbook Polska: New Polish Cooking.
"Easter is massive in Poland, bigger than Christmas. First, there's Palm Sunday, when it is traditional to make huge bouquets of dried flowers and catkins from the willow tree. Then, on Easter Sunday we prepare baskets filled with sugar sheep, hand-decorated eggs, dried sausages, and other foods that are taken to church. It's an amazing sight.
My dream Easter egg would be woven from dried flowers and branches of catkins. It would be the size of a small child. Inside it: all my favourite foodie treats. I guess it would be an Easter egg hamper really—Fortnum and Mason and Wojciech Amaro (a Michelin-starred chef from Warsaw who sources amazing products from all over Poland) would be commissioned to make it, collaboratively. In his restaurant, I once had a starter of paper-thin slices of lardo and pickles, served on the stump of a birch tree.
My Easter egg would be full of amazing stuff like this, all my favourite Polish cakes, unusual vodkas, as well as three or four bottles of Laurent Perrier 1988 Grand Siècle thrown in for good measure."
Ryan Chetiyawardana, bartender and owner of London bars Super Lyan (formerly White Lyan) and Dandelyan .
"The Mega Egg is an egg that lays more eggs. It also slathers itself in well-aged balsamic vinegar because that's the best poncy ketchup and makes everything taste delicious. It's made out of darkish milk chocolate and has a layer of Tunnock's tea cake at the bottom, a layer of passionfruit caramel, then a core of 60s Bowmore whisky. The smaller eggs it poops are variously filled with either chocolate Royce' chocolate potato crisps, chocolate covered peanut butter, or some magical way of covering fruits and flowers in chocolate so they actually taste real (and good). The wrapping is bling-as-hell gold foil, but you've got to catch it as the Mega Egg runs around like a mad haggis."
Claire Ptak, owner of Violet bakery and cafe in London.
"My dream Easter egg would be made of dark milk chocolate (at least 40-percent cocoa) and filled with jasmine-scented dark-chocolate. The whole thing would be covered in gold leaf because the golden egg is the one to find in an Easter egg hunt."
Meriel Armitage, co-founder of vegan taqueria Club Mexicana, currently in residence at Pamela in East London.
"The first time I got a buzz from mixing unusual flavours together was at school when I was about 11-years-old. It sounds ridiculous now, but I thought combining chips and chocolate was THE BEST THING EVER and actually quite sophisticated. I would sit by myself with different people every lunch time and tell them about how clever I was, and how amazing salty, hot chips were with chocolate bars (it didn't really matter which one) broken up and left to melt a bit on the top. Before long, I had quite a few devotees of this classic combo! I was pretty pleased with myself.
I haven't re-created it since, but if I could, I would definitely create an Easter egg homage to my first foray into food (albeit by with a questionable palate and ingredients). This Easter egg would need some Heston-style wizardry, but why not go high-end with a fantasy egg? It would be made from 80-percent dark chocolate, (maybe Dark Sugars chocolate or Pump Street Bakery's sourdough bar), then inside would be hot chips. Not trendy street food fries but big fat chip shop ones—really crispy on the outside soft in the middle. The eggshell would be pretty thick chocolate so you could scrape the chocolate off with each chip without breaking it.
Decoration-wise, it could just be a typical egg, with a big old chip shop surprise in the middle, or look like proper chips in newspaper for a kitsch effect. A little chocolate holder of Maldon sea salt would be nice too, so you could keep adding it to your chocolate chips."
Harneet Baweja, founder of modern Indian restaurant Gunpowder in London.
"My dream Easter egg would be an egg-shaped cake factory whose walls would be made of chili chocolate. The factory would churn out spiced- and fruit-infused cakes such as strawberry and cardamom or Old Monk rum-infused balls. Everything is held together with Darjeeling tea-infused cream."
Margot Henderson, chef and owner of Rochelle Canteen in London. "My easter egg would be a marijuana, dark almond chocolate Easter egg with ants infused in it—they will give it a slightly lemony flavour. I like the idea of been gently stoned all Easter break.
It needs to be great chocolate from ethical companies who encourage and pay farmers properly for their cacao beans. The marijuana needs to be grown outdoors—definitely not skunk. I am no expert but it should be gentle. It would be nice to have it in the shape of an artichoke so you could just break off the chocolate leaves and munch away happily."
Dominique Ansel, chef, Cronut creator, and owner of Dominique Ansel Bakery with locations worldwide.
"If I were to create a dream Easter egg, then it would be a perfect egg-shaped croissant. Flaky, fluffy, buttery layers inside, baked until beautifully golden on the outside, and still warm from the oven. The inside would be filled with a bright yellow custard cream, flecked with Tahitian vanilla beans. Wow … this is making me really hungry."
Sami Tamimi, chef director at Ottolenghi, co-author of Jerusalem: A Cookbook.
"I would love a giant chocolate, orange, and caramel egg filled with halva cream and pistachio. It would have salted liquorice hooks, and on the hooks a collection of tea pots of various shapes, sizes, and styles will hang various. I want to double my collection."
The team at Cottonrake Bakery in Glasgow.
"We want a gleaming dark chocolate egg with a mirror like shine—no embellishment, no marks, no seams. Nothing tainting the sheen of perfect Valrhona manjari. The only way we're getting in is to crack the dark mirror, smashing the shell to sweet smithereens. As the shards explode, we'll see a pâte de fruit dance floor, silver edible balls hanging from above, sweet pastry steam filling the floor, and edible glitter filling the air.
It would release the ultimate club night in an egg, because us bakers love a dance in the wee small hours."
Marianna Leivaditaki, head chef at tapas restaurant Morito Hackney Road.
"The egg would be in the centre of a huge tree really high up in the sky. A very long staircase would lead to a tiny door and by entering the egg, you enter a magical space full of peculiar people, intense colours, textures, and aromas. The scene reminds me of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Large silver trays go round with glasses full of extra-thick hot chocolate. Orange marmalade is bubbling on the fires and eaten with cold custard under the blossoming orange trees which of course grow naturally in the egg. The smell of roasting coffee beans comes from somewhere far and unidentifiable but blends beautifully with the spicy brandy pouring out the giant fountain—the masterpiece of the egg!"
In an old town down a narrow street, there was a small turning into a little square that stood behind the town's market. There were numerous little shops, one selling brushes, one selling flowers, an apothecary, a hat shop that seemed to be filled to the rafters with ribbons of every colour, but most wonderful of all was the grocer's shop. All that was made within by the clever cooks was extraordinarily delicious.
The grocer's shop window enormous—all the better for showing off the many delights of which the grocer was justly proud, such as hams and pies, bacon and cheese, breads and butter, jams and pickles, cakes, tarts, and biscuits of rare quality. Right in the middle of the window stood a great golden hen. The eyes were jewelled and flashed in the sunlight. The feathers were as delicate and finely crafted. The feathers moved with a remarkable fluidity and the head turned and the eyes blinked in a manner most convincing—almost alarming.
Around the hen's feet were many trays piled high, filled with golden eggs. The eggs were laid by the marvellous mechanics of the golden hen. The clever device that caused the hen to ruffle her feathers, move her head, flash her jewelled eyes, and then utter a funny little squark before laying a golden egg was the toast of the town.
A customer had only to make a purchase of a loaf of bread, a pat of butter, a small package of streaky bacon, a bag of tea, and a jar of marmalade to bring forth the celebrated egg from the great golden hen in the window. A half dozen golden eggs were then given over the counter with great charm. And then there was much glee when it was discovered that each golden egg was made of the finest chocolate.
One might think that such a beauty was in peril from a pilferer. Not at all, for as everyone knows, should you try to steal a golden hen, then the yolk is on you and the chocolate turns to mud."
All illustrations by Alice Duke.
This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in April 2017.