For any chocolate-loving child (or adult), the window displays of Barcelona’s pastisseríes become a feast for the eyes this week. From intricate fairytale castles to lovingly-created cartoon animals, and even favourite Barça players, nothing seems beyond the skill of the city’s best chocolatiers. Such exquisite creations may look effortless, but months of work go into the planning of these delicious, edible sculptures, and there’s a healthy rivalry among the city’s best known pastisseríes to produce the most fanciful display.
Known as the ‘mona de Pasqua’, these delicacies have their origins in the 15th century, when a simple doughnut-shaped sponge cake was made to mark the end of Lent and the beginning of spring. The cake was topped with hard-boiled eggs, those that fasting Christians had saved up over the 40 days of Lent. Today, the mona is adorned with chocolate eggs, one egg to symbolise each year of the child’s life (though the mona will never have less than two eggs or more than 12).
The modern-day mona de Pasqua is usually given by godparents to their godchildren on Easter Sunday. Local children don’t get to tuck in straight away, however, as tradition dictates that it is not to be eaten until Easter Monday (often referred to as ‘Día de la Mona’), when families get together and celebrate with a hearty lunch, and the kids finally get to eat the mona.
The Gremi de Pastissería de Barcelona, a Catalan association of professional bakers, expects that more than 700,000 mones will be sold this week. Take part in the most delicious traditions of the year and head along to one of our favourite mona makers.
Foix de Sarrià. Major de Sarrià 55.
This cherished classic celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2011. Today, it still belongs to the family of Surrealist poet and journalist Josep Vicenç Foix, who once ran it. Take your pick from the classic cake or a wide selection of modern mones, or even get one personalised.
Oriol Balaguer. Pl. de Sant Gregori Taumaturg 2. Travessera de les Corts 340.
This well-known chocolatier likes to surprise each year with a brand new take on the chocolate mona. While the kids may well prefer something more festive, this is the place to head if you are buying a treat for someone with an eye for luxury. Baker Balaguer’s sophisticated designs are easily recognised for their ‘less is more’ minimalism.
Escribà. Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes 546.
This is a must-see on the mona list. From little eggs that cost a few euros to spectacular creations of every shape and size imaginable, Escribà is the place to indulge all your child’s chocolate fantasies.
La Pastisseria. Aragó 228. Via Augusta 166.
Josep Maria Rodríguez Guerola is a young chocolatier who is making his mark on this local tradition. His mona collections are a delight for all the senses, with lashings of creativity and fun.
Natcha. Sarrià 45.
This pastissería in Sarrià is famous for its chocolate treats. It has something sweet for children of all ages, including some Star Wars themed monas.
Easter wouldn’t be the same without indulging in mounds of chocolate, and the tradition of la mona de Pasqua allows us to do just that. What shape will yours come in?