Chocolate Roundup #10: France, Bolivia, Australia

Switzerland’s first Salon du Chocolat is in just two months, in Zürich on March 30th, 2012.  You may think I can’t possibly have chocolate on my mind any more than I already do, but… everything is possible.  Helping to organize this delicious event, meeting with chocolatiers and pastry chefs, and talking about chocolate around the clock brings on even more cravings than usual.  Luckily my chocolate stash is always overflowing with new bars to taste.  While most of these tastings are of Swiss chocolate, I thought I would highlight a few non-Swiss wrappers that are now part of my collection.

There is no better place to start than with a current favorite of mine.  I have always been a fan of Henri Le Roux’s silky salted butter caramels (he’s the inventor of the famous CBS – caramel au beurre salé) and individual chocolates with buckwheat, but I have only more recently discovered his bars, thanks to the Salon du Chocolat in Paris.  One word, people: Goviro.  Fleur de sel, crêpes dentelle (super thin, crispy golden butter biscuits) and caramelized almonds in smooth dark chocolate – that is the recipe for a stellar bar – and an addiction.

Henri Le Roux chocolate, FranceHenri Le Roux chocolate, FranceHenri Le Roux chocolate, FranceHenri Le Roux chocolate, France

Thanks to Le Roux’s new shop in Paris’ St German des Prés (in addition to those in Brittany on France’s west coast), I have a few more of those Goviro bars, as well as the Embruns bar with just fleur de sel, and the dark chocolate bar with coffee.  I love the look of the square bar above right/below left.  They are all kept safe in a cool, dry space – heeding the golden rule on the packaging, “do not refrigerate.”  Really, do not refrigerate chocolate – ever.

Henri Le Roux chocolate, FranceHenri Le Roux chocolate, France

Another bar that has jumped up to my top ten is El Ceibo’s dark milk chocolate with Bolivian specialty coffee.  Organic cocoa beans and organic coffee are from local plantations, and worked from the trees to the chocolate by the El Ceibo cooperative in Bolivia.  As the packaging proudly states, “We do not collaborate with the producers, we are the producers.”  Non milk chocolate eaters (me), do not turn away from this bar.  You may even think it is purely dark at first, but then you’ll be thankful for the light touch of milk that adds a rich creaminess and a sweet finish, with the undertone of robust coffee and an overall wonderful aroma. A perfect balance in the end.  No surprise that chocolate mastermind Chloé Doutre-Roussel is behind the creation of these bars, working with El Ceibo since 2007. (You may recognize her name from Paris’ Salon du Chocolat in 2010 when she launched her own line of chocolate and tea too.)

El Ceibo’s two pure dark chocolate bars both have an incredible smoothness to them as well, without the addition of milk, and a unique flavor that sets them apart from other chocolate you may have tasted (75% fine dark chocolate and a limited edition with heritage cocoa beans).  The final bar in the line, 77% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs and Uyuni salt from the world’s largest salt flat (also in Bolivia), masterfully combines dark, crunchy, bitter (nibs), fresh (salt) and intense.

El Ceibo chocolate, BoliviaEl Ceibo chocolate, BoliviaEl Ceibo chocolate, BoliviaEl Ceibo chocolate, Bolivia

Another French name that many of you may recognize is Mariage Frères.  But for tea, not chocolate, right ?  Waiting in line to pick up a tea order for a friend in this very exclusive, elegant tea room, I noticed a few chocolate bars on the wall.  What was my natural reaction ? To get one of course, especially when I saw there was a dark chocolate bar filled with “praliné croquant” – two words each a weakness of mine, and together, I clearly had no choice.  I would be curious to learn more about the chocolate they are using, which was smooth and of a high quality; and this bar had a light praliné filling.  There isn’t quite enough crunch to warrant the croquant in the name though.  Overall, a pleasant surprise that made waiting in line well worth it.

Mariages Frères chocolate, Paris, FranceMariages Frères chocolate, Paris, FranceMariages Frères chocolate, Paris, FranceMariages Frères chocolate, Paris, France

Lastly, while there have been many countries in the previous nine chocolate roundups that may not immediately come to mind when we think of chocolate, like Croatia, Slovenia, Poland and New Zealand, here’s another first appearance… Australia. Luckily I have a friend Down Under who contributes to my sweet discoveries around the world, this one from Koko Black in Melbourne. The Criollo beans in this single origin bar were from Mexico.  If you think about how chocolate was consumed in Mexico, as a beverage blended with spices, you may not be surprised that this bar is not at all sweet either, with “a very earthy, smoky character.”  I love the size, thickness, snap and texture of this bar, and would recommend it to someone who likes their chocolate with savory notes.

Koko Black Chocolate, AUSKoko Black Chocolate, AUSKoko Black Chocolate, AUSKoko Black Chocolate, AUS

What have you all tasted lately ?

~

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
Chocolate Roundup #9: Switzerland, UK, USA, Poland

* Salon du Chocolat in Zürich, March 30 – April 1, 2012 *

13 Responses to “Chocolate Roundup #10: France, Bolivia, Australia”

  1. Katrin says:

    Great photos as usual, Kerrin. And love the added detail of the teethmarks on the chocolate – wonderful idea, it adds realism ;-)

  2. valentina says:

    IF you ever give a course on chocolate I will register. So much that I’ve been learning just by following your blog. Thank you. This description – Fleur de sel, crêpes dentelle (super thin, crispy golden butter biscuits) and caramelized almonds in smooth dark chocolate – that is the recipe for a stellar bar – and an addiction, has made me add this bar to my purchases when in Paris in early March. These short trips came to being as part of my new ‘sweet education’ that has taken shape because of MY Kugelhopf.

  3. Kiki says:

    Ha! Just THE thing I need today, when I (v. hesitantly!) started a mini-fast…. Used to fast every year for a while, always in February – then went to not drinking any alcohol during the whole month of February and then just sank away from the difficulty of it all…
    But hey ho, it’s 2012 – and although no NY’s resolutions were taken (apart from being – even – more Zen…) I just HAVE to do something to lose a bit of weight. And then comes dear Kerrin with a hand full of the most delicious choco photos and a poetic trip through several choc’s heavens…. gooory glory! Luckily I’m not into sweets…. lol!
    Honestly, a very tempting trip you’re proposing and I can throw in a BRAVO just before fainting with weakness!

  4. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    So funny, here I am with 10 minutes to check emails and saw your latest update in my inbox. What a joy to discover that you talk about the Koko Black chocolate here. And what an even better joy to see that it arrived in good condition. So glad you liked the chocolate. Will have to get some myself now to try, too. Anyway, can’t believe this is round up #10 and you still have so many finds to share with us all? This is a great series. I particular love the “bait and switch” find at Mariage Frères. You innocently line up for tea, and they hook you in with chocolate, too. That’s a delicious diversion though, no? :)

  5. Ilana says:

    Who better than you to help organize the salon du chocolat??? Way to go! I am soooo proud of you!

  6. Ruvi Kinigama says:

    yum yum yum…. need I say more. We are looking to travel this April and just digging around for tips on where to go and what to see, do and EAT! This was a great article with yummy tips. Thanks for the insight.

  7. Kerrin says:

    Katrin, thanks ! Not sure if teethmarks were a great idea – or simply just lack of resistance. ;)

    valentina, I love contributing to your sweet education. And we’ll get to continue face to face on a Sweet Zürich tour soon too ! Definitely put Henri Le Roux’s shop on your Paris must visit list, so many incredible things to taste there, including his outstanding caramels.

    Kiki, OOPS ! Didn’t mean to throw temptations at you like that ! ;) But sounds like you are able to resist – still don’t understand how you can “not be into sweets.” ?!

    Julia, if only you could see the collection of chocolate papers here, you’d believe I could more realistically be at Chocolate Roundup #50 right now ! haha ! Love your “bait and switch” comment about Mariages Frères. ;) A delicious diversion indeed.

    Ilana, thank youuuuuuuuuuuuu !

    Ruvi, thank you – and my pleasure. Hope you enjoy your travels in April !

  8. Emma says:

    A nice selection !

    Of these, I have only heard of El Ceibo, but haven’t tasted their offerings. How excited would I be to return to Mariages Frères, let alone to discover chocolate for sale there as well?! I’m still dreaming of the iced teas my mum and I enjoyed there back in 2003:)

  9. Kiki says:

    Kerrin; the shot I call ‘the bite’ above doesn’t let me get my sleep….. and now I find on one of the blogs I follow loosely here another sweet link, going to Richard in Paris, talking about Henri Le Roux….
    http://www.ipreferparis.net/2012/02/sweet-week-4-day-1-henri-le-roux.html
    Enjoy!!!
    sweet bisous
    Kiki

  10. Vahtikoira says:

    Love your blog. Keep going. I really admire your writing style. Great photos too…

  11. Samual James says:

    Great information about the stuff we almost daily eat and never think in that way to know something about it.I like your detailed shots with that marks of teeth.

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  12. Sara says:

    Beautiful photos! Wish I could eat them. :)

  13. Myriam @ Detours says:

    Nice round-up Kerrin! I’ll have to try the Goviro then, it’s going right at the top of my shopping list.

    PS: how nice of you to include Australia. We do have delicious chocolate indeed ;-)

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