As with most holidays, Easter is subject to a fair bit of commercialism. But when commercialism translates into shopfuls of chocolate eggs, we’re not going to complain too much. Besides, it seems the UAE’s appetite for chocolate products is on the up – last year, UAE residents ate an estimated 9,069 tonnes of the stuff, while confectionary giant Mars reported sales of more than Dhs1,650 million across the GCC region. Perhaps it was this figure that prompted Mars to open a factory in Jebel Ali earlier this year, which will not only help satiate the Middle East’s appetite for chocolate, but export the brown stuff to European and Asian countries. Dubai really is becoming the chocolate hub of the region.
To celebrate the city’s sweet tooth, we embarked on the toilsome task of rounding up the city’s most unique (not to mention tastiest) cocoa-based concoctions. Our journey took us from Asian-style takes on chocolate to spicy cocoa dishes and more unashamedly decadent treats, all of which are listed, alphabetically, for your culinary pleasure.
And if one dish isn’t enough, there’s even a chocolate-themed afternoon tea for you to try over the Easter weekend. Chocs away!
Chocolate and hazelnut truffle at Gaucho This purveyor of fine Argentinian steak proves itself equally proficient when it comes to dessert. The kitchen has been so good as to pair truffles with white chocolate and ginger ganache, providing a sweet yet spiky taste that proves a spot-on conclusion to the meal. Dhs40 (ice cream is an additional Dhs35). DIFC (04 422 7898).
Chocolate cremeux at Karma Kafé Not quite ganache, not quite mousse, but somewhere in between, this chocolate cremeux offers a smooth, slick texture and a festival of flavours, with hints of passion fruit, mango, red-chilli coulis, and (of course) chocolate, accentuated by a subtle sprinkle of Maldon sea salt, Chinese five-spice and olive oil. Dhs45. Souk Al Bahar (04 423 0909).
Chocolate truffles at JW’s Steakhouse ‘Truffles are two desserts rolled into one, with an outer chocolate shell and a rich filling,’ says JW Marriott pastry chef Keith Taylor JW’s offers two such desserts: the milk chocolate lime truffle, which juxtaposes sweet chocolate with tart of lime; and white chocolate passion fruit truffle, which incorporates vanilla bean to balance the tangy fruit. Complimentary for JW Steakhouse guests. JW Marriott Dubai, Deira (04 607 7977).
Dark chocolate fondant at Caramel Made with Valrhona gaunaja dark grand cru chocolate and a blend of Venezuelan cocoa beans, this fondant offers a distinct, intense and bitter chocolate flavour that lingers on the palate as a reminder of the decadent treat that has just passed your lips. Dhs38. DIFC (04 425 6677).
Dos Amigos at Pachanga Dos Amigos (or, as linguists will tell you, ‘two friends’) is a rich chocolate mousse served with chocolate biscuit and dulce de leche ice cream. For the uninitiated, dulce de leche is made from slow-heated sweetened milk to create a smooth caramelised taste. You’re likely to be very good friends with Dos Amigos. Dhs65. Hilton Dubai Jumeirah (04 399 1111).
Easter sphere at At.mosphere The world’s highest restaurant is serving a three-course Easter set menu, rounded off wonderfully by a sphere of caramelo, vanilla mousse, chocolate cookies and raspberry jelly – what more could you ask for from an edible ball? Easter menu Dhs590 for three courses, Dhs750 (with grape pairing). Burj Khalifa (04 888 3828).
Milk chocolate orange and sesame at Vienna Café Classic chocolate meets traditional Asian-inspired flavours in this dessert, dished up in the JW Marriott café. The orange and sesame prove to be the perfect bedfellows, providing a complement to the rich milk chocolate flavour, while the presentation of the dish is reminiscent of the rising sun, making this concoction an Asian-influenced chocolate treat. Dhs18. JW Marriott Dubai, Deira (04 607 7977).
Molten chocolate cake at Zafran The cake includes 72 per cent Belgian dark chocolate combined with super-fine Italian flour and vanilla pods from Kerala in India. What’s more, it’s uniquely spiced with star anise and cinnamon, to provide a delightfully alternative tang. Think of it as a cross between a chocolate mud cake and a soufflé. The Molten Cake, as you can guess from the name, is served piping hot from the oven, with a scoop of real vanilla ice cream rounding off this sinful cocoa experience. Dhs30. Dubai Marina Mall (04 399 7357).
White chocolate and vanilla sphere at Armani/Ristorante A sweet treat with a story behind it. According to our sources, this dessert was initially created in 2007 in honour of the city of Florence (the sphere was purple, a colour closely associated with the city). When executive pastry chef Romain Renard brought the dish with him to Dubai, he decided to change to white and gold to coincide with ‘Arabic colours’. The recipe, however, remains the same – the sweet, creamy white chocolate is brought to life by rich, fragrant vanilla, which in turn is offset by the twinge of the vibrant cassis sorbet underneath. Dhs100. Armani Hotel Dubai (04 888 3888).
Our pick of chocolate-fuelled fun this Easter Al Fayrouz Al Samar Cake Boutique is providing chocolate sustenance to Al Fayrouz at Al Qasr, which is hosting a chocolate-themed afternoon tea on Friday April 6 until Sunday 8. The deal includes a glass of bubbly and a chocolate buffet, which can be enjoyed with views of the Madinat’s winding waterways. Dhs220. 3pm-6pm, April 6-8. Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
Mazina Roll up your sleeves and let your imagination run wild at this brunch’s special chocolate egg-decorating class on Friday April 7. There’s also an extensive international buffet and a special seasonal prize draw. Dhs195; half price for kids aged seven to 12; free for kids under seven. 12.30pm-3.30pm, April 7. The Address Dubai Marina (04 436 7777).
The Palm Easter Shop Atlantis The Palm is pulling out all the stops for Easter. Until April 10, choose from a wide range of chocolate delights, including white, milk and dark chocolate, Easter eggs in all sizes, Easter bunnies, cakes and signature cupcakes. Prices vary. Open daily 10am-9pm. Until April 10. Atlantis The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 426 0000).