Alsatian-sized chocolate made in Taverham to be auctioned off

Weighing as much as a four-year-old child and big enough to feed a family-of-five for about a week, this egg is guaranteed to keep any chocolate lover happy.

Saffire Chocolates, based at of Taverham Nursery Centre have made the egg, which will be the prize in a charity raffle for the East Anglian Air Ambulance. The milk chocolate egg, which is decorated with dark and white chocolate, is 65cms (25.5in) tall - as big as a large Alsatian.

Half of the egg was completed in the first day of production, at the end of which over 7kg of chocolate had been poured into the mould.

Saffire Chocolates manager Gary Funnell, 46, of Dussindale, said: 'It has taken a whole day to make half of the egg, in total it could weigh between 15-20 kilos (33-44 lbs).'

The business was founded five years ago by Gary's mother, Angela Ruthven, 66, of Aylsham Road in the north city. She worked in education, but following her retirement decided to develop her hobby of sweet-making. She discovered her passion for chocolate while doing a distance learning course with the International School of Chocolate, following which she travelled to Belgium to build upon her skills with one the country's best artisan chocolatiers. The company continues to be family run and her son, daughter-in-law and niece are all involved in the production of the handmade chocolates.

Last year the company moved from Waterloo Road to Taverham. The unusual chocolate-makers were a finalist in the EDP Norfolk Food awards, run by our sister paper, and have previously made a 'Norfolk' chocolate flavoured with local lavender and whisky.

Mr Funnell said: 'All of our chocolate comes from Belgium and we make all the centres of the truffles ourselves. We try to use ingredients from Norfolk as much as we can. We have our own recipes and we are constantly developing.'

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They are the only remaining standard-bearers for Norwich's long history of chocolate production, which started with the founding of Caley's chocolate in 1883. Since then both Rowntree and Nestle have also produced their chocolate products in the city, however following the closure of the Nestle-Rowntree factory in 1994, today Saffire Chocolates are the only chocolatier in the city who continues to produce handmade chocolate.

Caley's still has its chocolate cafes in the Guildhall and on White Lion Street, but its products are no longer made in the city.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance will be touring with the egg and selling raffle tickets around Norfolk. The Castle Mall and Saffire Chocolates in Taverham have both been confirmed as locations on the tour and the charity is currently looking for other places for the giant egg to visit. The winner of the raffle will be drawn over the Easter weekend at a location to be confirmed.

Saffron Chocolates has said they intend to continue to donate a giant egg to be auctioned for charity each year. Several of the eggs, which Mr Funnell says 'would feed a family of five for about a week', will be sold within their shop and are expected to retail between �110-�135.

* To buy raffle tickets direct or offer to sell them from your business call the air ambulance on 0845 0669999.

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