When you’re a pastry chef, Easter is truly your time to shine – especially if you’re also a professionally trained chocolatier, like The Charles’ multi-talented head pastry chef Rhiann Mead. This is one of her favourite times of year. It’s a prime opportunity for her to flaunt her chocolate-working skills, learnt during an apprenticeship at prestigious London chocolatier William Curley.
“In my first week I was shown how to create a chocolate flower – something that was well beyond my skill level at that time and something I’ll never forget,” says Mead, who further honed her skills crafting decorations, petits fours and chocolate bars at Sydney fine diners Bennelong and Quay. “The head chocolatier, Alistair Birt, invested so much time in teaching things, from the most simple decorations to a technical chocolate sculpture.”
And this fantastically chocolate-heavy time of year is the perfect time for Mead to put those technical and artistic skills in the spotlight. For The Charles’ first Easter she’s designed mini chocolate eggs to create an elegant, adult-friendly version of the Easter egg hunt. Salted muscovado caramel is encased in a 64% dark chocolate shell, flecked with gold leaf, then wrapped in colourful foil to “really spark that childhood nostalgia”, she says.
The opulence of The Charles’ dining room, which evokes the old-world glamour of Europe’s finest restaurants, is mirrored in a collection of larger, hollow eggs.
They begin with cocoa butter shells coloured with the light pinks and burgundies that are The Charles’ hallmark, as well as a gold lustre combined with cocoa for a gold-speckled effect. Depending on which egg you select, it will be lined with either a 40% milk or a 66% dark chocolate, combined with a beautifully textural crunchy praline mix.
The extra-special finishing touch on both eggs? A smattering of gold leaf, adding some extra Easter sparkle.
And unlike your ordinary mass-produced Easter eggs, every single creation served at The Charles is hand-tempered, decorated and finished – a practice of patience, and demonstrating a deep understanding of science and flavour. (Not to mention, working with chocolate in Australia can be a difficult undertaking, thanks to our warm and humid climate.)
The Charles’ signature dessert trolley will also be getting the Easter treatment, with Mead adding classics such as simnel cake – a fruitcake widely eaten this time of year in Britain that’s popping with marzipan, and with extra marzipan balls on top representing 11 disciples (minus Judas). And, now it’s an acceptable time of year to start eating hot cross buns, there’ll also be a hot cross bun gelato on the specials list in the lead up to the big weekend.
Keen on sampling Mead’s chocolate skills beyond Easter? You’ll find her cocoa-crafting handiwork on The Charles’ menus and dessert trolley year-round. A black forest cake on the bistro menu is a chocolate-lover’s dream, with three types of couverture chocolate, as well as cocoa nibs and cacao powder. And on the roaming dessert trolley you’re sure to find deftly crafted moulded chocolates, hand-dipped rochers and moreish chocolate bars.
The Charles Easter Eggs are available on the Dessert Trolley from Monday 27th of March – Sunday 9th of April. The Charles is open for Lunch and Dinner on Easter Saturday & Easter Sunday.