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Cocoa beans come mainly from South America and Africa and are made into chocolate often in Belgium and France. The last stage of forming chocolate into various shapes is what makes Irish chocolate Irish. One woman has changed all that and is importing raw coffee beans from Peru to Dun Laoighre and roasting them herself, grinding them and putting them through a long process to make chocolate from bean to bar. Born in the West Indies of Irish roots, Shana Wilkie makes organic chocolate which has nothing but organic sugar and cocoa butter added. Wilkie’s chocolate bars are rich and delicious while being as healthy as can be. This is a most exciting development in chocolate in Ireland. The bars are available from The Chocolate Shop at Cork’s English market. €5.90. Research continues to confirm that a few squares of chocolate with 50% or over cocoa content a day are good for us, so enjoy Easter this year. Lay off the creamy fillings to avoid excess fat and sugar.
For our survey we chose a mix of dark and milk eggs, many of which are made in Ireland.
The Chocolate Shop 300g €24.95 (€8.31/100g)
In a simple, see through box with a dark shell tied with ribbon, this was the favourite presentation. With high cocoa solids at 63%, the quite thick shell is flecked generously with toasted almonds. The chocolate is rich and lively and for the aficionado, a cut above the other eggs. Made in France by Michel Cluizel for The Chocolate Shop English market.
Lily O’Brien’s Uglies, 230g €9 (€3.91/100g)
This milk chocolate eggs has 30% cocoa solids with lots of vegetable fat from rapeseed and palm oils, along with glucose and barley syrups. Two separately wrapped Uglies chocolate cookies are included with a thin-shelled egg speckled with biscuit. The chocolate is quite vanilla-flavoured in style and the biscuit pieces are good to relieve the smooth chocolate texture. Younger tasters liked it. Made in Co Kildare.
Lir Milk chocolate egg with truffles, 210g €10 (€4.76/100g)
With 31% cocoa solids, an attractive criss-cross pattern of dark chocolate on a milk chocolate shell has nine wrapped truffles with it. A nice, creamy style with a toffee finish was liked by most tasters. Made in Co Meath.
Butlers Milk chocolate egg, 420g €17 (€4.04/100g)
32% cocoa solids in the milk chocolate shell has two dark almond and orange bars wit it. The thin shelled egg was oversweet and had a fatty mouthfeel not liked much by tasters. Made in Dublin.
Chocolate Alchemist 100g €5.90 (€5.90/100g)
The design is the most contemporary of all samples. The wrapping warns of adverse effects on children of e-numbered colour additives for whom dark chocolate may be too intense anyway. A good, small size for a modest treat for adults with a decent 55% cocoa solids. All tasters liked this soft darkness. Made in Belgium. This brand is stocked in Wrights of Howth, Fallon & Byrne, JJ Gibney, The Food Room, Clontarf, Avoca Handweavers all in Dublin, The Galway Roast, and The Chocolate Shop, English market.
Marks & Spencer Sicilian orange and pistachio nut dark chocolate egg & truffles 345g €17.99 (€5.21/100g)
From a large range of eggs, we chose this Irish made one which has three butterscotch and two dulce de leche truffles. Its smooth, dark shell is studded like jewels with pistachio nuts, crystallised orange pieces and silver colour
ed balls. 64% cocoa solids in the egg shell is flavoured with orange which is so rich it is best suited to those who really love orange flavoured dark chocolate. A little goes a long way though one taster found it less flavoursome. Good quality.
Aldi – Róisín’s milk chocolate honeycomb egg, 278g €8.99 (€3.23/100g)
5 ‘caramel sensations’ come with this milk chocolate egg with 30% cocoa solids. A fairly thin, ridged shell has nice crunchy honeycomb throughout providing a toffee aftertaste liked by tasters. Fair value. Made in Ireland.
Two packs of two fingers of caramel bars come with this milk chocolate egg containing the lowest cocoa solids of the selection at 20%. These eggs are no longer made in Ireland, but in the Bourneville plant in the UK. Tasted blind, our team found the chocolate fatty and clinging to the palate and were surprised it was from its usual favourite manufacturer.