By Helen Cross

No sooner have the shops removed the crackers and advent calendars from their shelves, do we see the bold, brash and brightly coloured boxes of mass produced Easter eggs making an appearance, replacing the festive hangover. I think I may have spotted my first Easter egg as early as mid January!

However, if you’re after something a little different to satisfy your chocolate cravings this Easter then I urge you to explore the offerings of the award winning Chocolate Tree and I think you’ll bypass the sickly sweet supermarket offerings and fall in love with real quality chocolate expertly made by a small but talented team based in East Lothian, who really are passionate about what they do and want to share their passion for real chocolate wider.

What began as a fun hobby, for Alastair Gower, who has lived in East Lothian all his life, and his wife Friederike who is originally from Germany, selling artisan chocolates at music festivals in 2005 has evolved into a successful business not only here in Scotland but globally.

This success is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon. The enterprising husband and wife duo not only want to introduce people to quality chocolate but also want to make a positive social and environmental impact, working closely with farmers and paying them a premium price.

However, Alastair and his team of 18 have outgrown their old workshop and in order to grow the business and continue to create craft chocolate whilst protecting biodiversity and rewarding farmers with a true premium for their crops, they have undertaken a huge project costing £80,000, allowing them to invest in the long term future of The Chocolate Tree.

The team will move production to the former Knowes farm shop, just outside East Linton, breathing new life into this much loved building. New traditional chocolate making equipment will also be purchased to increase chocolate production allowing the artisan crafts men and women behind the scenes to make more chocolate, which not only tastes delicious but is also a work of art visually.

By expanding production in East Lothian, The Chocolate Tree is playing an important role flying the flag for the expanding food and drink offering this corner of Scotland boasts, while also operating the hugely successful and enticing chocolatiers at 123 Bruntsfield Place, which opened it’s doors in Edinburgh in 2009. I can testify that during the four years I lived in Edinburgh I was a frequent customer and although perhaps a bold statement to make in print, I truly believe you will not taste a better hot chocolate anywhere. Heaven in a cup.

When asked about future plans beyond moving premises and increasing production of more quality chocolate Alastair expands by adding; “Our plan going forward is to grow our retail market, not supermarkets but specialist good food shops and we also want to grow our export market. Already our produce is available in Japan, China, Sweden and North America. But most importantly we want to educate people and introduce them to good quality chocolate that is not only delicious but affordable.”

You can really hear Alistair’s love and passion for what he and the small team behind The Chocolate Tree have created, which is so refreshing and inspiring. They may have started from humble beginnings but over a relatively short period of time The Chocolate Tree is making its mark in a competitive market, up against big brands with big budgets. However, there is definitely real substance behind its offerings and you can’t doubt the skill and attention to detail behind every bar created.

The 2018 Chocolate Tree Easter Collection

All chocolate Eggs and Bunnies are made in small batches. The organic milk eggs are made from Belgian couverture and come with 60g of mini bunny rabbits.

The dark eggs are all made from the in-house speciality chocolate (Peru Chililique 70%) and come with 60g of dark chocolate covered hazelnuts. The luxury milk chocolate egg comes with 60g of milk chocolate covered almonds.