This weekend marked my second Easter as a dairy-free mum and in all honesty, it was pretty damn good. With 18 months of avoiding cow’s milk behind me, I found it much easier to hunt out alternatives, including Easter eggs for me and the little miss. She was far too young for chocolate of any kind last year. However, while we don’t make a habit of giving her super sweet things like chocolate on the regular, this year she had a dairy free egg all of her own. Here she is preparing to crack open her Tesco white chocolate button egg mid morning.
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I’m not much of a white chocolate fan personally, but it went down a treat with Alex, even if it tasted slightly like icing or frosting to me! Luckily, this year I was very happy to receive a few Easter packages of my own, featuring some fantastic goodies from two of my retail favourites, M&S and Hotel Chocolat.

M&S Dairy Free Easter

I’ve always loved a bit of M&S for a treat. Percy Pigs have a special place in my heart and since going dairy free I’ve been delighted to discover the growing Free From range at M&S. I was invited for an introduction to the range at my local M&S Silverlink last year and was suitably impressed with the efforts the retailer has put into this growing market. Their coconut & chocolate cream Bailey’s alternative caused a frenzy at Christmas and the Coconut Cream Dessert they sell is a consistent favourite here served with strawberries.

For Easter, the brand put together some nice non-egg options, including some gorgeous little sweet boxes with deliciously juicy jellies, which just happen to be my personal weakness. Dark chocolate eggs also feature in the range. I know some parents would prefer to have a ‘milk’ chocolate alternative for little ones, but Alex rarely gets chocolate and is very happy with a little taster of dark chocolate as a result. Plus -the egg came in very shiny and elaborate wrapping – which she’s usually far more interested in.
M&S dairyfree goodies

Hotel Chocolat Dairy Free Easter

Hotel Chocolat is another brand I’m pretty smitten with. When friends, family, clients or colleagues are due a gift, it’s my go-to retailer for choosing something tasty to send. Two years ago I completed one of their Bean to Bar experience days and along with being a heap of fun, it helped me learn a lot about the brand’s ethics, sourcing and ingredients and in turn won my customer loyalty. Buying boxes of Hotel Chocolat at Christmas for clients has become a little envy inducing since I’ve gone Dairy Free but I’m glad to see the retailer stepping up and offering more vegan products within their range. For Easter they had a really decent range of dark chocolate eggs. We received some delicious almond and raisin studded dark chocolate eggs from my mum and Hotel Chocolat were kind enough to gift Alex and myself these beautiful eggs too. Again the child option is dark chocolate, but it was wrapped to appeal to littles. The ginger studded slabs with the adult egg make the perfect accompaniment to a coffee and if you act fast, you can snap them up at half price in the Hotel Chocolat Easter sale. Egg-cellent!
Hotel Chocolat dairyfree Easter eggs

Looking ahead to Easter after the ladder

Alex is now over half way up the milk ladder. In fact, if we can just get her to happily eat some baked cheese and not stay up all night screaming, her next rung up is milk chocolate. This means there’s a very real chance that next year we won’t need to launch a dairy free egg hunt at Easter. The reintroduction of dairy still produces mixed feelings for me as her mum. I’m excited for us both that a future without vigilant label checking and restaurant managers who make me cry is well within sight. However, I’m not too sure I can go back to consuming dairy to the scale I once did. I won’t go back to using it in my coffee or cereal at home because I simply don’t think we need to. Nowadays, I much prefer the taste of a good quality dark chocolate than milk chocolate too. In fact, chances are I’ll be hoping for something from the M&S or Hotel Chocolat dairy free ranges next Easter too. It’s amazing what a difference a year makes. Last year, I felt a bit deprived at Easter time and Easter weekend 2018 has been thoroughly indulgent. Here’s to retailers continuing to step up by providing delicious dairy-free alternatives ,so kids with allergies and intolerances never need to feel left out!

I was lucky enough to be gifted Dairy Free Easter packages by M&S and Hotel Chocolat. However, all the opinions expressed in this post are my own and I received no money for publication of this post.

Christmas is a lovely time of family, festivity and FOOD! There’s not much that tops the pure indulgence of the holiday season and the jewel in the crown of this socially acceptable eatathon is Christmas Day itself. It’s become a tradition in our household that I prepare the starter for Christmas dinner while my hardworking Ma makes everything else including dessert. This is in spite of the fact that neither she nor I actually eat Christmas pudding. For our final course we usually tuck into a large bowl of rum sauce and soya rum sauce respectively, mmm.

This year I decided we deserved more, far more. So, I got my hands on some alternatives to the traditional Christmas pud, desserts without a zillion nuts and sultanas but not without a festive feel. Here are my top three and their respective reviews.

1) Bettys chocolate orange cake £12.95

This is a very classy chocolate cake – filled with chocolate orange ganache, it’s coated with swiss milk chocolate and shimmering gold chocolate. Extraordinarily rich it found favour among the adults who said it went perfectly with a cup of after dinner coffee. This is quite a large cake and could easily feed 10 with it being so rich, however we thought it would be better at an adults gathering or perhaps a New Year shinding because of how utterly indulgent it is. The mix of textures from crisp chocolate through to soft, moist cake and smooth ganache were mouth watering.

Bettys chocolate orange cake

Bettys deliciously rich chocolate orange cake

2) Asda Sparkle Chocolate Cheesecake £7. Apologies for the photo quality on this one, I didn’t have my camera to hand and my iPhone seemed to think this was a blurry cheesecake and not a sparkly one. What you should be able to see though is that it came generously topped with chocolate sauce, curls, balls, flake and more gold shimmer! Apparently gold shimmer is where it’s at when it comes to festive desserts. This was the all-round family favourite thanks to the chocolate topping and crunchy chocolate biscuit base. Not quite so rich as the Bettys cake this still felt like a luxury dessert and the cheesecake tasted ‘cheesy’ unlike many cheaper cheesecakes you buy in supermarkets and at 1kg per serving, it was a real family sized dessert. This was probably our favourite all rounder and is a great fallback for those with unexpected guests.

Asda sparkle chocolate cheesecake

Asda sparkle chocolate cheesecake from the top, complete with sparkle

And to show it’s plentiful size.

Asda sparkle cheesecake from the side

Deep and crunchy and even chocolate cheesecake

I decided to take a slice snap to just how deep the cheesecake was, and yes that is a Christmas tree in the background.

3) Coles black cherry and Amaretto Christmas pudding £6.95-£8.95 This was the closest to a traditional Christmas pud and the dessert I as a huge cherry and Amaretto fan was most excited about.

Cherry and Amaretto pudding

Cherry and Amaretto pudding with cream

Unfortunately, this wasn’t quite the cherryatto delight I was hoping for. It was a little like a toffee pudding crossed with a traditional pud. A strong selling point for the non-Christmas pud eaters was – though it did have almonds on the top it was relatively nut free and sultanas were nearly non-detectable. However, it wasn’t nearly as Amaretto flavoured as I would have liked and the sweet almond liqueur was only really noticeable when you got a cherry (oo-er) which were obviously soaked in the stuff. Still, it was definitely nicer than the traditional Christmas pud and a good compromise for the family. It also felt like a proper grownups dessert.