Easter is fast approaching, and in such turbulent times, why not use the opportunity to support Irish chocolatiers?
There's no doubt that it will be a strange Easter this year, with celebrations strictly confined to the house (and back garden if you have one), and family visits unfortunately not allowed. While there's little doubt that you'll be eating lots of chocolate to mark the occasion, allow yourself to be tempted away from the cheap deals and multipacks in the supermarket, and turn your attention to something more homegrown.
Small Irish businesses are really feeling the pressure these days, as the Covid-19 outbreak continues to affect our day-to-day routines. A holiday like Easter, which is normally dominated by the larger supermarket chains, can be a real opportunity for all of us to show our support to small Irish businesses who may be struggling. Plus, Irish-made chocolate is always the tastiest option.
If you'd like to support small businesses during this trying time, sample a few of these delicious Irish Easter treats.
Master Chocolatier Anne Rudden has won 21 Great Taste Awards since it opened its doors, and uses the freshest butter and cream to make its delicious milk and dark chocolates, as well as truffles, and Irish crème liquers. Handmade in Co. Cavan, it's melt-in-the-mouth at its best.
A favourite that has truly stood the test of time, Lily O'Brien's chocolates have been gracing our Easter celebrations since 1992. Founder of the business Mary Ann O'Brien honed her chocolate-making skills among world class chefs and chocolatiers in both South Africa and Europe before embarking on her own business, and the resulting beautiful chocolate creations are a treat for us Irish customers. Lily O Brien’s Easter eggs are available at all major retailers nationwide and online, where standard delivery in Ireland for orders over €35 is free.
The Chocolate Garden of Ireland is an award-winning family business making hand made chocolates and premium ice cream, and for those conscious of gluten in their treats, all of their products are gluten-free. The business operates from the beautiful surroundings of the Carlow-Wicklow border, where it offers customers a visitor experience, café and ice cream parlour — sadly closed now until the coronavirus outbreak is over. You can order for delivery or over the phone for collection.
Originally founded in 1932, Butlers has taken pride of place in Ireland's confectionery offerings for decades, and is still widely loved around the country for its second-to-none hot chocolates. Butlers is now available in over 40 countries and 60 airports around the world, but we still love to think of it as a small, homegrown business, from its origins in Dublin's Lad Lane. Their cafés are sadly closed, but online delivery is still available.
Founded by Patrick and Kelli Marjolet in May 2016, the Proper Chocolate Company produces bean-to-bar chocolate in micro-batches from their hub in Dublin. Sourcing the finest cocoa beans from the best producers, the business treats chocolate making as an art form, and the results speak for themselves. And in a special treat, if you order before March 31, you can get 10% off and a free chocolate bar with the code LETSHELPEACHOTHER at checkout.
Chocolate Hare, €19.50
A personal favourite here at the IMAGE offices, Bean and Goose is made at Last Tree Farm based in the Wexford countryside by sisters and co-founders Karen and Natalie Keane. From 2014, the business has grown from local street food markets in Dublin to becoming a nationwide favourite, and uses the best ingredients from the Irish land to keep it that way.
Born and bred in the Burren in Co. Clare, Hazel Mountain Chocolate makes what have to be some of the most beautiful chocolate creations on the market. Their cacao beans are roasted and ground onsite to create the highest quality small batches around, and their visitor's centre and coffee shop in Co. Clare is a great day out to plan for the summer.
Read more: 8 celebrities to follow for light relief during the coronavirus crisis
Read more: The motherhood adjustment: 'You are just off centre of the only stage you've known'
Read more: Home School Hub: RTÉ will broadcast TV classes for primary school children from today