Chocolate Roundup #5: France, Belgium, Switzerland, USA
Rain, sun, winter, summer, all in one day even… the weather isn’t something we can all depend on right now. So in these times of uncertainty, you need to look to something that is a constant, that will always be there, that will never let you down. What’s that, you ask? Chocolate, of course.
Seems like many of you have a sweet tooth like I do. Time for another chocolate roundup! Below are just a few of the many chocolates I have tasted lately. Don’t forget to let me know what you’ve been tasting too!
First up is a longtime favorite of mine. Whenever I come back from Paris, there are always a few Absolument Praliné bars in my bags (above) from Pierre Hermé. These I put in a special spot and take out on a rainy day. There have been plenty of those lately, perhaps another reason why I don’t complain about the weather! It’s not a single bar of chocolate, but rather 6 mini bars, 3 coated in milk chocolate and 3 in dark chocolate. You may all know my preference for dark chocolate by now, but I have to admit, I prefer these bars in milk. The contrast of the soft, creamy, milk shell with the fine crispiness of the praliné and just a touch of salt… is sublime. But what makes the crispy texture so irresistible are the roasted salted corn kernels mixed with the almonds. I always read the ingredient list on chocolate bars before I buy them, and I can still remember the first time seeing those words, “praliné amandes aux éclats de maïs grillé et salé.” I knew that was a bar for me.
Next is a new brand I discovered recently. I pop into Zürich’s Chocomotion shop quite often, as they always seem to have something new on display – and my sweet radar brings me right to it.
No way I could miss the packaging on Belgian chocolate, Zaabär (no relation to New York’s Eli Zabar, by the way). Bright silver wrappers…vacuum packed! It reminded me of the packaging for astronaut ice cream. Has anyone ever seen vacuum-packed chocolate before? I don’t know that a bar in standard packaging isn’t as fresh, but perhaps this one would last longer unopened. That said, how could you have these bars and resist opening them? Not a big fan of spices and savory ingredients in my chocolate, I was happy to find a sweet bar of theirs, dark chocolate with meringue. The first bite and I had an immediate taste memory of trying Dolfin’s summer bars. Same exact aroma, same Belgian chocolate perhaps. I liked the thickness of the Zaabär Klassic bar, real hefty with sweet morsels of meringue. I’ve tried a few other products of theirs, like their Boccata Khalife, clusters of grains, cherries, hazelnuts and spices dipped in chocolate. They go fast, hence the lack of photo here (oops). Take a look at their website, they have a huge product line, with many items I have my eye on for future roundups.
Another new find for me is Early Beck, which I stumbled upon while in Gstaad. A quick visit to the charming mountain village with a serious kick of luxury, led me into this corner boulangerie on the promenade. An excellent bakery and sweets shop, they had a whole wall of chocolate: Early Beck packaging on Grand Cru 49% milk chocolate from Venezuela, 65% Maracaibo dark chocolate… this was all sounding rather familiar. I loved Early Beck’s chocolate, and that probably has something to do with Felchlin being their chocolate of choice. Well, good choice! The milk bar with little granules of coffee crisps was quite good, a sweet confection to enjoy as an afternoon snack. I liked the slim shape of the bar, and I loved their wrapping.
Another Swiss bar I tried recently and almost more of a sweet confection, is Cailler‘s new almond cranberry bar. Part of the recently launched product line with curved squares, this chocolate has a great look and mouthfeel. Can’t miss the packaging either – its bright pink will grab you instantly. As Zaabär reminded me of Dolfin, this bar of Cailler’s brought me back to tasting Chocolat Weiss’ white chocolate bar with red berries… made me think of Fruity Pebbles breakfast cereal. Love that fun childish sweet flavor mixed into excellent dark chocolate. Another one to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Last but not least is an American chocolate many of you may have heard of, and some of you even told me about here on the blog. I listened, I tried and I like (thank you!). I have had the pleasure of exchanging many emails with Shawn Askinosie, founder and chocolate maker of Askinosie chocolate. I would need a dozen blog posts to tell you all about the different chocolate bars and wonderful programs he has put forth, including Chocolate University. Started a few years ago to educate the children in their neighborhood (Springfield, Missouri), it has now expanded into Chocolate Honors. I will feature Askinosie again, if not only to share a special chocolate recipe by Shawn himself. And to tell you more about the chocolate, the Choc-o-lot numbers, how both Shawn and I love using his cocoa powder and even his favorite bar. But for now, a preview of the bars, thin, sleek and with artisanal packaging. The most interesting of all, his white chocolate made with goat’s milk powder. For those of you familiar with Askinosie chocolates, what’s your favorite?
Here is a list of the previous chocolate roundups, stay tuned for #6 !
Chocolate Roundup #1: Croatia, USA, Austria, Switzerland
Chocolate Roundup #2: Switzerland, Spain, Italy
Chocolate Roundup #3: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland
Chocolate Roundup #4: Caramel & Salt