A few weeks ago, when I wrote about the delicious Pierre Marcolini filled barres, Dormouse chocolate (chocolate people can be so nice) asked me on Instagram if I’d ever tried Éponine barres. I’d never heard of them, so off I trotted to purchase three: billionaire’s praline barre, cherry and pistachio barre, and the hazelnut praline (£5/70g each, eponine.co.uk). I have a fantasy of settling down, on a window seat (I love a window seat), with a good book and an entire one of these all to myself. That never happens. The reality is that I slice a bit off and share with others, and I don’t have a window seat. But what an excellent present idea: a barre and a book.
The billionaire’s was my favourite, like a grown-up Twix, all caramel and shortbread, but in proper dark chocolate; really, truly excellent. The hazelnut praline was a tad too sweet, but my tastebuds have changed now. The cherry and pistachio – pistachio and almond marzipan, a squidgy fruit layer – had a Bakewell tart vibe and would be a marzipan lover’s dream. Éponine also makes some of the prettiest (untried) boxes of chocolates I’ve seen (from £17).
Talking of filled bars – I’m rarely off the subject – Careless Collection has launched its Cocktail Collection: four boozy bars (£16.50, thecarelesscollection.co.uk), a year in the planning. Espresso martini (Tia Maria, coffee, cardamom); kir royale (raspberry, cassis, pistachio); bourbon old fashioned (Jack Daniels, chocolate caramel, candied orange) and amaretto sour (amaretto, lemon, flaked almonds) – the latter two took my breath away.