Easter confessions of a chocolatier

Steven ter Horst tells us what Easter is like for a chocolatier and how people can avoid eating cheap and sweet eggs on Easter Sunday.

Steven ter Horst tells us what Easter is like for a chocolatier and how people can avoid eating cheap and sweet eggs on Easter Sunday. “Easter for a chocolatier is just mayhem,” says ter Horst from his Rundle Street chocolate shop and cafe, Steven ter Horst Chocolatier. “You start thinking about Easter before Christmas. We decided on a range and packaging two weeks into January. Your bigger companies would have been looking at production back in June last year. It’s pretty full on. People just go mad for chocolate over Easter. It’s a good industry to be in but it is seasonal. It’s busy over Easter but in January, when it’s hot, we’re dead quiet.” Some specialty Easter chocolates ter Horst will sell include a hot cross bun chocolate, a half egg – filled with salted caramel and shortbread – and their popular Dozen Hen’s Eggs, which contains 12 hollow chocolate eggs in an egg carton. When it comes to specialty dates, such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas, ter Horst says the shop is not traditional. “[Before Valentine’s Day] you won’t come in and find heart-shaped this or heart-shaped that. In the past we have tried to be traditional like other chocolate shops but that doesn’t sell. What we’ve found is the quality of our products speaks for itself and people will purchase based on that. They don’t seem to go down that traditional path. But with Easter, everything is out the window. They want it egg-shaped, they want it traditional, and we cater for that to a certain extent but the sales of our handmade chocolates will go crazy as well. It’s all over the place.” ter Horst has some professional tips for people buying Easter chocolate, which include spending what you can afford and that bigger isn’t always better. “You get what you pay for but you don’t want to get carried away. I think people in this day and age think the more grandiose it is the better. It is almost like a competition: ‘look how big and awesome mine is!’ You go to a supermarket – I was looking at some packets yesterday – and the packaging was made in China, eggs made in the UK and it was assembled in Australia. That’s a lot of hands and air miles coming into play. With us, everything’s made locally as much as we can. “People in a small business will try and help you buy something special for a cheaper dollar point. If you go to your big shops, your supermarkets, you’ll get what you pay for. It’s always good to educate your kids young on how things should taste. The most intriguing thing about being in a chocolate shop is hearing, ‘oh, my daughter doesn’t like dark chocolate’. It’s normally because they haven’t been introduced to it properly or, when they are introduced to it, it’s cheap, nasty dark chocolate.” ter Horst says you can buy decent chocolate from a supermarket. To avoid low quality chocolate when purchasing from a big store, ter Horst says to look at the ingredient list. “You’re looking for cocoa, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla and soy lecithin is also predominately used. A high quality milk version of that will just have high quantities of sugar and skim milk powder. As soon as they list cocoa powder or vegetable fats, that’s when you start running into trouble. Cocoa powder is a cheap product to buy; they put vegetable fat with it to replace the cocoa fat that’s naturally in it. It’s all downhill from there. “If you go to one of you’re cheap shops, and you buy a bag of eggs from there and it’s like eating a dusty, dirty chocolate, you’re not eating actual chocolate. It would be nice if Australia had the laws like they do in Europe, where you can’t call ‘compound chocolate’ chocolate.” steventerhorst.com.au

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