Easter exotica, Melbourne-style

Published on 17 April 2019

Photo: Easter gifts from Bibelot

Hot-cross cruffins. Dinosaur eggs. A gelato sandwich delivered to your door. This week, Melbourne has a whole lot more happening for your sweet tooth than rabbits in foil.

It’s Easter. Time to decide how you like your edible symbols of fertility and rebirth. If you’re the city of Melbourne this week, you like them remixed, refashioned and specced-out to the max. The hot-cross bun debate might be too intense to even get into (Wild Life? Baker Bleu? Phillippa’s? Baker D Chirico? Q le Baker?), so perhaps it’s worth considering the other hot-cross things going around town right now.

Lune Croissanterie’s Fitzroy mothership is open every day of the Easter weekend, from Good Friday through to Easter Monday, all the better to get in on the return of the hot-cross cruffin.

Do you prefer your hot-cross action in a more spoon-ready form? Caulfield heroes Sundae School Ice Creamery have churned just the thing for you: hot-cross bun ice-cream.

Speaking of ice-cream, gelato kings Pidapipo and chocolatiers par excellence Hunted + Gathered have teamed up to produce two special Italian-inspired Easter gelato sandwiches. The Columba Grande, a DIY arrangement of cake, a tub of gelato and a box of chocolate sold in a custom tote and made to share, and the Colombimbi, two slices of the classic Italian Easter cake called colomba, with gelato, to be greedily devoured on the spot. The gelato flavour? Fior di latte with almond brittle, candied orange and 70 per cent Dominican chocolate chip. There’s also a colomba di Pascqua chocolate, containing candied orange, pearl sugar and roasted almonds. These fine things will be available from Hunted + Gathered’s shop in Cremorne, Pidapipo’s stores on Lygon, Chapel and Degraves streets, selected retailers and – whoa! – Uber Eats.

Eggs from Koko Black's Easter range

From playing with traditional baking icons to reworking a culinary landmark closer to home, this month also sees the return of the Easter Bombe, pastry chef Lauren Eldridge’s festive reworking of the signature Stokehouse dessert – Easter-egg chocolate parfait with mandarin sorbet, raspberries and toasted meringue, available at the restaurant till 24 April.

Keen to create your own masterpiece? The Easter-egg classes at Kirsten Tibballs’ Savour cooking school have passed for now, but it’s not too late to drop by the Brunswick premises to pick up supplies to make your own regardless.

Just the chocolate, thanks.
You’re about the cacao? The city’s top chocolate talents have been busy tempering and teasing their finest product into seasonal specials. Here are a few of our favourites:

For Bibelot’s Easter range, the team ups the fun with a range of kid-friendly dinosaur eggs, including Damien the Dino, hatching out of a chocolate egg. The miniature Crunchy Dino Eggs involve a white-chocolate shell, pieces of wafer and a caramelised-almond centre, while for bigger kids there’s chocolate-coated ’smores with layers of raspberry jam, marshmallow and biscuit. From the regular range, the boxes of too-pretty-to-eat bonbons, in flavours such as honey and rosemary and chestnut and whisky, are never a bad idea.
285-287 Coventry St, South Melbourne, 9690 2688, bibelot.com.au.

Koko Black
Koko Black has won many fans around Australia, but the original store was in Melbourne’s Royal Arcade and Melbourne continues to be the ground-zero for its production of luxurious and inventive chocolates. Think hazelnut praline-filled eggs and eggs studded with caramelised coconut flakes for Easter or, less traditional but equally tasty, bars featuring native Australian ingredients selected by Brae chef Dan Hunter. Boxes of delicate bite-sized chocolates feature crowd-pleasing pairings like pistachio and dark chocolate or you can spring for a jar or two of chocolate-coated macadamias – there are eight to choose from, from wattleseed- to honey-roasted and more.
Various locations, kokoblack.com.

Monsieur Truffe
The Truffe, one of the OGs of local chocolate roasteries, sits behind a bright red door on Brunswick’s Lygon Street. Pass through it and you’ll be greeted by a multitude of delights. Caramel chocolate with Tasman sea salt? 72 per cent with roasted and salted pistachios? Yes, please. Then there’s the bean to bar range and the gianduja, which comes in both milk and dark varieties. While dedicated chocolate-lovers – even vegan and gluten-avoidant ones – would be happy to unwrap a bar of Truffe any day of the week, for Easter the team have cooked up a special range of boxed gifts, including chocolate fish and, of course, the traditional eggs.
351 Lygon St, East Brunswick, 9380 4915, monsieurtruffechocolate.com.

Kep Whitley
Down Victoria Harbour way, chocolatier Kep Whitley is rocking April with Easter eggs filled with nut clusters and caramel truffles, praline-filled bunnies, Easter bonbons and hollow hen and chick packs for the kids. She’s also doing cones of hot-cross bun soft-serve, replete with white-chocolate crosses, right up till Good Friday.
892 Bourke St, Docklands, 0423 942 115, kepwhitley.com.

Ratio is more than just a chocolatier. It’s one of approximately 30 bean to bar stores in Australia, meaning Ratio buys cacao beans direct from suppliers and turns them into chocolate right here in Melbourne. Along with single origin and flavoured bars, Ratio’s café and retail space also offers seven kinds of chocolate gelato, hot chocolate, iced chocolate, plus a regular line-up of gift boxes. Easter treats include marshmallow-filled chocolate bunnies and a half-egg filled with rocky road. All the chocolate is single origin and the dark chocolate is vegan-certified. But get in quick - this Brunswick operation is open until 10pm on the Thursday before Easter, then closed for the long weekend. And what's Easter without chocolate?
186 Sydney Rd, Brunswick, 9388 8920, ratiococoa.com.au.

By Emma Breheny and Pat Nourse