Some Egg-stra Special Easter Treats

Easter in the capital is a pretty wonderful place.  Everywhere you go there are egg-stravangant Easter eggs and Easter-themed treats in abundance!  Some of my favourite window shopping spots have been the golden chocolate rabbits in Paul.A.Young, as well as Fortnum & Mason’s beautiful bunny biscuits (I am addicted to bunny-themed anything so it’s hardly surprising that these treats in particular have caught my eye)!

However, my favourite local bakery in London is Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden, and having seen their special selection of Easter cupcakes advertised on Twitter whilst I was back at home visiting the family, I couldn’t resist taking the slightly longer route to the library on my first day back in the capital to pick up some of these egg-stra special treats to help me power through the essay writing that day!

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My favourite by far was the Hot Cross Bun Cupcake, simply because the warmth of the cinnamon, which was enhanced by the sweetness of the raisins, positively oozed with Easter vibes.  It literally tasted just like a hot cross bun, nostalgically returning me to those childhood days of eating warm, toasted hot cross buns, loaded with butter, in the garden with my mum.  Even as a massive fan of Primrose Bakery, I just wasn’t expecting such perfection!  And the smooth, creamy, all-spice cream cheese frosting, topped with crunchy hot cross bun croutons, really was the icing on the cake.  These cupcakes were an absolute dream, and quite frankly I’m a little bit disappointed that it isn’t Easter all year round now!

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Next up was the Creme Egg Cupcake.  I do find it hard to say no to a good chocolate cupcake, and this was certainly no egg-ception!  With its rich and indulgent dark chocolate brownie sponge, which contained an egg-cellent surprise of a mini creme egg in the centre, this cupcake was an absolute treat.  It was made even better with its sweet, fluffy yellow and white marshmallow icing, which always adds a beautiful thick and gooey texture to the whole experience.  And for the half a creme egg on top, no one can ever have too many creme eggs at Easter!

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And last but not least was the beautifully decorated Vanilla Cupcake.  With its soft sponge and flavouring, it makes for a delicate and delightful Easter treat, especially with its lovely, thick vanilla frosting.  I absolutely love the bright colours on the decorative eggs, which added a lovely crunch in comparison to the delicacy of the rest of the cake.

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I also discovered some beautiful bird truffles in Godiva’s Covent Garden shop, which I took home to make a lovely little Easter nest for the boyfriend.

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This was created very simply using a chocolate meringue from Carluccios, chocolate whipped cream, Mikado sticks for the nest, Marks & Spencer mini eggs, and the beautiful Godiva bird truffles.  Each one was satisfying with a beautiful and interesting filling.  The white chocolate bird was filled with a thick and nutty milk chocolate delight, the dark chocolate bird was filled with a runny banana-flavoured syrup, and the milk chocolate bird was a caramel-themed treat.

I am a massive fan of themed treats and all of the bakeries and the shops in London really showed off their talents this Easter with an array of delicious tasting and looking treats for us all to choose from!  I cannot wait for the next big event to come along in the capital because, let’s face it, it manages to create something special every time!

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Brilliant Bill’s

Everybody I know has been raving about Bill’s, a small chain that has grown over recent years to become a foodie favourite.  I first heard about it from my best friend, who enjoyed her first experience at the new Bristol branch about 6 months ago.  Then one of my friends in London mentioned that she really wanted to try their afternoon tea, as she’d been told about their delectable homemade jam.  Having heard great reviews, I was hardly going to turn her down!

Unfortunately, my first experience at Bill’s did not quite meet my expectations, as the staff at the Covent Garden (St Martin’s Courtyard) restaurant were rather rude and abrupt when dealing with our complaint that our afternoon teas had been apportioned unequally across the two stands that six of us were told to share from.  Aside from the unpleasant service, the food was rather good, with an excellent variety of sandwiches; warm scones, clotted cream, and fresh jam; chocolate cake, strawberry and cream tarts, lemon meringue pies, and flapjacks, especially when you consider the bargain price of £9.95.  If there is one thing that Bill’s cannot be praised enough for, it is their dedication to providing good food at excellent prices.

Luckily, Bill’s in Bristol saved the day with their impeccable and friendly customer service, whilst still managing to serve great food, exactly as expected from all the wonderful things I had heard about this restaurant.  Whilst my best friend tucked into her burger, I started on dish one of five: hot cross buns with a whipped cinnamon butter.

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As it is coming up to Easter, I decided to treat myself to a traditional holiday indulgence.  I was automatically drawn to this dish on Bill’s menu, as I have always loved hot cross buns, but have never seen them served with a cinnamon butter.  I have to admit the flavours in this butter were a great addition to these warm, toasted, fruity hot cross buns; it was almost like a sweet, melted peanut butter.  These would make the perfect Easter treat in between shopping for Easter eggs!  (Plus, Bill’s have some extremely colourful chicken shaped ‘eggs’ for you to pick up on your way out if you’re much more interested in the easy life like me!)

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Next up were these beautifully fresh mini cinnamon doughnuts, with sweet strawberries and a pot of hot melted chocolate sauce, all served on a cute, rustic wooden board, with an elegantly designed greaseproof paper.  These were literally bite-size pieces of heaven.  Soft, warm, and sugary, there was no mistaking how fresh and wonderful these mini doughnuts were, and the chocolate sauce just completed the whole package.

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My favourite dish was the pecan pie accompanied by banana ice cream.  I find that pecan pie is one of those desserts that feature so infrequently on restaurant menus that I get insanely excited when they do eventually pop up!  Pecan pie was my favourite dessert growing up, until Marks & Spencer discontinued my one true love and created a pecan pudding shaped hole in my life, and I have spent those long, empty years trying to find the perfect pecan pie to fill that void.  Tonight, I may have finally found a winner! This pecan pie was everything that it should be: soft, sweet, gooey, with so much pecan goodness you could weep with joy.  I literally couldn’t be happier right now!

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I followed up the pecan pie with what I assumed was going to be my favourite pudding of the evening (as normally the pecan pie is a complete disappointment and everyone knows I am a MASSIVE fan of jaffa cakes)!  However, I was shocked that I was quite happy to leave half of this pudding due to the fact that I did not fall head-over-heels in love with it.  It certainly had all of the right components to make a jaffa cake: an indulgent chocolatey coating and a soft cake bottom, which sandwiched an orange jelly elegantly in between them.  However, something just wasn’t quite right, and I believe it was the cake:chocolate:orange ratio.  Essentially, the orange was wonderfully strong in flavour (this is certainly not a criticism; I am never one to complain about too much flavour!), but the chocolate was overwhelmingly thick on the edges and the cake was disappointingly thin in contrast.  It also wasn’t as fun to eat as a traditional jaffa cake, as I’m one of those people who love to tear the cake off from the delicate jaffa centre, leaving the best bit for last.  However, if you have a real craving for something chocolate orange after your main, this is definitely the dessert to go for!

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My last pudding was the crème brûlée with raspberries and shortcake biscuits.  This was truly a beautiful crème brûlée: it was smooth and creamy, with a beautifully crunchy caramelised topping.  Unfortunately, there was only one raspberry in my dessert, but the raspberry certainly added a lovely contrast in flavour to the delicious vanilla custard.  I loved the fact that the vanilla seeds were visible in every spoonful, confirming that the freshest ingredients are used for every dessert.

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All of this was washed down with my favourite drink of all time: a pink lemonade and vanilla ice cream float (a drink that I discovered on my first trip to Bill’s).  Attention to detail is as prominent as ever, with a delicate strawberry propped onto the side of the glass.

This was a truly wonderful evening – great company, great food, and great service.  I am glad that I finally got to experience the side of Bill’s that everyone has been raving about for so long, and I can’t wait for my next visit, where I might try something a little more savoury from the menu (finished off with a large slice of pecan pie, obviously)!