It’s not everyday you get to go backstage at a 5* London hotel and down into the depths of their kitchens to make Easter eggs, but that is exactly what I did on Tuesday evening. I was invited along to the Hotel Cafe Royal on Piccadilly Circus to meet with their head pastry chef Andy Blas and learn the secrets behind their legendary home made Easter eggs. And what’s best is that you can win the opportunity to have your own experience there too!
Myself and the other bloggers gathered in the hotel Cafe which was apparently Oscar Wilde’s favourite hangout – and I could see why, it’s gorgeous! There were all sorts of treats displayed (including their Easter eggs) and I will definitely be coming back here for afternoon tea one day!
We were then whisked through the luxurious cocktail lounge of the main hotel and into the busy bustling kitchens. Seriously a foodies dream! Andy led us through to to the Chocolate Room where their amazing eggs and other treats are usually created, but would be too small for us all to fit. It was amazing to see the HUGE VATS OF CHOCOLATE and also the biggest Easter egg I have ever seen! Unfortunately I didn’t get a shot of my hand in comparison to this egg but look at the tiles behind on the wall – it’s ginormous!! Andy told us he’d be selling it in the Cafe shop but not for crazy amounts of money as he wants someone to have the excitement of buying it and giving it to a loved one for Easter. Total Charlie and the Chocolate Factory moment!
It was then time for us to get to work (oompa loompa doopedy doo) and start making our own (normal sized) eggs! Exciting! I attempted to make my own Easter eggs last year but I couldn’t wait to learn real tricks of the trade (and had my fingers firmly crossed I wouldn’t be quite so clumsy / messy as I had been home!) Andy showed us examples of the eggs he and his team have been making and selling this year and they all looked like stunning works of art using coloured cocoa butter to create abstract designs on beautifully shiny eggs. Gorgeous, and definitely not how mine turned out last year!
We started off by polishing our moulds with cotton wool buds, which Andy told us is the secret to getting super shiny chocolate. We were then given tubs of red, yellow, green, black and white cocoa butter to start painting our designs into our moulds. Lots of people were using paint brushes and even tooth brushes to paint in their designs but I thought why change the habit of a lifetime and went for the messy method – using my (gloved) hands! It was really fun to experiment with stripes, swirls and dots and I couldn’t wait to see how my design would look when the dark milk chocolate was set behind.
To aid our creativity we were given an incredible CHOCTAIL (Yep, a chocolate cocktail!) which is part of the Hotel’s special Easter range and was made from chocolate infused vodka and raspberry foam (if Willy Wonka made alcohol….) I’ve never had a chocolate cocktail before and it was amazing! I also loved the glass it was served in – very Oscar Wilde!
It was then time to ply our eggs with chocolate – check out the size of those bars! Whilst it’s not vodka infused, it is still extremely special chocolate, in fact it’s recipe is completely unique to the Hotel and Andy’s specification. How cool is that?!
Andy showed us how to ladel the melted chocolate into our moulds (just look at that bowl – I nearly had a Verruca Salt moment yelling “I want it all. Now!”) We then tapped the side of the mould with a wooden spoon until all the air bubbles rose to the surface and then flipped the mould over the bowl so the excess chocolate flowed out and we were left with neat chocolate lined shells. Now this all reads like it was quite easy and mess-free. Nah, not when I’m involved! Still, what went all over my hands meant it could then be licked off mmmm! (And of course I then re-washed my hands Chef!)
We put our moulds on a trolley which were then put into the industrial fridge to set and Andy showed us how to correctly temper chocolate. Once the moulds were ready, we popped them out and after several ooohhss and ahhhss we popped them on some old egg crates, ready to be filled. The eggs all looked so pretty and I couldn’t believe how shiny they were! It was so cool to see everyone’s designs – they all looked amazing and so different considering we’d all used the same colours and style.
Willy Wonka Andy then presented us with the biggest bowl of sweets I’ve ever seen (they don’t do things by half at the Hotel Cafe Royal – my inner Augustus Gloop was very happy!) We all popped our favourites into one half of our eggs and then it was time to seal the deal (the bit I struggled with most when trying to make my own eggs at home).
However, Andy made it look like an absolute doddle, simply heating the bottom of a metal pan on the hob, turning it upside down and then gently rubbing the open edge of half the Easter egg on for a couple of seconds and popping it neatly onto the other half of the egg. Easy! And it actually was easy!!! The secret is to only heat the chocolate on the pan for a couple of seconds as if it’s left on too long it will melt too far and won’t match up with the other half of the egg. We then popped them in boxes and they looked good enough to sell on the shop along with Andy’s own creations! (Though there was no way I was letting this bad boy go!)
I couldn’t believe it when Andy told us the eggs in the shop sell for just £7 each. What a bargain! They’re all 100% hand made and uniquely designed using the Hotel’s signature chocolate and filled with sweets, yet cost less than many supermarket eggs! I know which one I’d prefer! To make Easter even more special for some lucky buyers, Andy has also hidden 5 golden tickets inside the eggs for the finders to come and have the same incredible Easter egg making experience as I did. (See, he really is Willy Wonka!) So get on down to The Cafe at Hotel Cafe Royal and buy an egg or two for the chance to win!