Chocolate Roundup #9: Switzerland, UK, USA, Poland
Not a day goes by that I don’t have at least a few squares of dark chocolate. It’s often one of my old standbys, like Felchlin 65%, Ballenberg with salted pistachios or Lindt with fleur de sel. But most of the time, I am tasting new brands from Switzerland and all over the world. With a recent birthday and lots of chocolatey care packages coming my way, my chocolate stash was overflowing – even more so than usual. That means one thing… time for a new roundup ! Don’t forget to let me know what you’ve been tasting too.
Let’s start with my favorite new find, chocolate bars from Hausammann bakery in Zürich. They may be known for having the city’s best zopf (arguable, of course), but it’s now my go-to address for chocolate. Standing on line for bread one day, I noticed a whole array of chocolate bars in the corner with Felchlin’s signature Grand Cru emblem. I quickly gave up my spot to check it out, and I’m so glad I did. Using Felchlin’s couverture, Hausammann puts their personal touch on it thereafter – several varieties of milk chocolate with wild berries, caramel or hazelnuts and a few dark bars as well. I of course grabbed the latter, one of which was dark chocolate with vanilla and nougat. A very thick bar, no where near stingy on the nuts and a real homemade feel to it. Perfect for a sweet afternoon snack.
There were also a few bars with a more sleek and classic Felchlin style packaging, using the traditional 10-square mold (that I also noticed at La Violette in Murten/Morat). The only dark chocolate was with peppermint, a thin bar with a perfect snap and an addicting crunch from small mint pieces. This may be too sweet for some, but I didn’t mind it at all. If you break up the squares, the loud clinking sound reminded me of the pieces to a game of checkers. That’s good tempering. I went back the next day and got a few more of this bar. (And by the time you are reading this, I will probably already have to return again.)
A fan of dark chocolate and mint (as in Chocolove’s peppermint bar too), I was excited to try yet another brand doing this combination. British chocolate company, Divine, is perhaps best known for its use of chocolate from Ghana, as is proudly announced on the packaging. Reading the ingredients on any of their bars, you’ll see that they use Fairtrade cocoa, Fairtrade cocoa butter and Fairtrade sugar; and happen to have introduced the very first Fairtrade chocolate bar to the UK market back in 1998. I was pleasantly surprised when I bit into this thick and very smooth dark chocolate with tiny crunchy pieces made from sugar and peppermint oil.
I love textures in chocolate, especially when that’s from caramelized nut praliné, crisp feuilletine, pretzels… and even toasted bread crumbs. Reminiscent of Theo’s Bread and Chocolate Bar, Chuao Chocolatier in San Diego, California has a dark chocolate bar made with toasted panko bread crumbs and sea salt. There’s a warning right on the packaging itself, that it will remind you of pain au chocolat and chocolate covered pretzels, thus irresistible. Venezuelan brothers Michael and Richard Antonorsi, have it as their mission to create “unusual, unexpected and delicious flavors.” With this panko bar, mission accomplished ! Likewise with their dark chocolate with coffee and anise; the firecracker, dark chocolate with chipotle, salt and popping candy; and their latest, a milk chocolate bar with kettle-cooked potato chips (watch how it’s made). Now if they can just make their potato chip and honeycomb bars in dark chocolate, it would be my mission accomplished.
Last but not least, the wild card in this chocolate roundup… from Poland ! There has been chocolate from Croatia (Kras), chocolate from New Zealand (Schoc) and even chocolate from Slovenia (Piranske Soline); and now the same friend that brought me back the last two, recently returned from a trip to Krakow. I can’t say I had ever tasted Polish chocolate before, so I was really excited to try it (despite a bit of blooming it looked like it underwent). Krakowski Kredens has a wide array of traditional sweets and a few chocolate bars, including “milk chocolate with bison grass”… anyone ever try that ?! For me, it was dark chocolate with salt, my favorite combination.
Salt, in chocolate as in baked goods, is there to enhance the natural flavors and sweetness, but unfortunately, this bar was simply too salty. So while the balance wasn’t quite right and the quality didn’t exactly compare to that of Felchlin above, I still got a real kick out of trying it (and finishing it) and adding the wrapper to my forever growing collection of chocolate bar packaging from around the world. What will be the next new country that I add ? Only time and travels will tell…
Past Chocolate Roundups:
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
Chocolate Roundup #5: France, Belgium, Switzerland, USA
Chocolate Roundup #6: Please Pass the Salt
Chocolate Roundup #7: France, USA, New Zealand
Chocolate Roundup #8: Switzerland, Italy, USA