Chocolate Roundup #3: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland

ChocolateBack by popular demand, the third chocolate roundup is here! And today on December 1st, what I consider the official start of the holiday season. We even had our first snowfall here in Zürich yesterday. Christmas trees and mistletoe are on people’s minds, roasted chestnuts and marzipan, panettone… and chocolate of course! Perhaps the majority of that chocolate will be shaped like Santa Claus, but for me… it’s all about bars.

So here’s what I have been tasting lately. Let me know what you think of these bars if you are already familiar. And if not, be sure to let me know what’s in your chocolate drawer!

There is no other place to begin than with a bar near and dear to my heart.  A bar that is both an old and a new favorite.  It was at this year’s Salon du Chocolat in Paris where I was chatting with Franck Kestener and tasting his products.  He gave me a square of a bar that almost had me fall on my knees, it was so divine.  My immediate reaction was – wait, I know that bar, I have had it before (because I probably had the same reaction!)  Fast forward to me rifling through my collection of chocolate bar labels back at home – and voilà, there it was, the original packaging I had saved years back (which has since changed, hence my not recognizing it at first).  Why did I save it? So I wouldn’t forget what it was, and be able to buy it again.  That was how my collection began after all.  Now… back to that bar.  Supreme quality dark chocolate, thick and solid. A layer of crispy and delicate sablé (buttery shortbread).  Each square just ready to burst with salted caramel, a perfect compromise between liquid and soft.  It can be difficult to cleanly cut individual squares, so I recommend simply taking a row and enjoy biting off one by one.

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Italy is back in this third roundup with Amedei’s Toscano Red, a 70% dark chocolate with a delicious variety of dried red berries: strawberries, raspberries and cherries. Don’t be intimidated by the word “bitter” on the label; the berries, along with a touch of vanilla, round it out very nicely, and in the end it’s quite addictive.  A small and light bar with a perfect snap, it goes rather quickly…

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Another chocolate that did not stick around very long was Debauve & Gallais’ dark chocolate with pieces of nougatine.  I first discovered this prestigious chocolatier (Paris’ oldest, since 1800) back in 1999 when living in Paris and rediscovered it in 2002 when doing research for Mort Rosenblum on his book, Chocolate.  I have remained a fan of the beautiful and refined individual pralines, but had never tasted their bars.  It was time. Think crunchy bits of hardened caramel in a sweet dark chocolate (72%).  I am often disappointed when chocolate bars that are made with berries or bits of toffee have just so few of that ingredient.  You can see above that Amedei’s bar was not one of them, and nor was this one below.  However, I was very surprised that with such a high quality chocolate maker, the bar bloomed (discoloration) after just a few days, hence no glamourous close-ups below.

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And last but not least, two more bars from Austria and Switzerland… that I haven’t actually tasted yet. You first! I smelled them, that’s for sure.  You open these wrappers and there is no doubt about what flavors you have in your hands.  So how do you all feel about savory ingredients in your chocolate?

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The top bar is Bachhalm’s dark chocolate with … mushrooms!  Did you notice the word “shiitake” above on the packaging?  It is 54% chocolate with dried shiitake mushrooms and a touch of white truffle oil.  The other bar is 42% milk chocolate with kiwi, pine nuts and curry from Nobile.  A label in German, yet a name in Italian had me curious: Nobile, artisti del cioccolato.  When I asked one of the chocolate makers if Nobile is Swiss or Italian, he said, “Swiss chocolate, absolutely, but with an Italian spirit and inspiration.”

I think I bought both of those bars out of pure incredulity!  And perhaps to take out at a dinner party, see the reactions of guests!  Would you taste them? Or have you already??  What else have you tasted?  Let us know!

In case you missed the first two Chocolate Roundups, here they are:
Chocolate Roundup #1
Chocolate Roundup #2

34 Responses to “Chocolate Roundup #3: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland”

  1. Kitchen Butterfly says:

    Once I saw Fleur de Sel…I stopped reading, sated by the mere thought of it!

  2. Tweets that mention Chocolate Roundup #3: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland | MyKugelhopf -- Topsy.com says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Travel News and Kerrin Rousset, James Robinson. James Robinson said: Chocolate Roundup #3: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland: Back by popular demand, the third chocolate roundup is here! http://url4.eu/rY5J […]

  3. kelleyn says:

    I don’t know how you stay so slender. These are making my mouth water! I haven’t tried any of these yet, but my favorite right now is by Lindt which is a dark chocolate with Sea Salt. Yummy!

  4. Kerrin says:

    Once again, fleur de sel is a big hit – and it’s one of my personal go to choices for chocolate. Dark chocolate with salt, you’ve got my attention.

    kelleyn, that Lindt bar you mention is phenomenal – I always have (at least) one of those lying around here. This one, right? –> //mykugelhopf.ch/2009/01/on-the-lookout-for-chocolate/

  5. Nic says:

    Oh I’ve got my eye on the chocolate with the caramel in it, looks fabulous!
    Lovely blog you have here, Kerrin, so many fabulous recipes.

  6. VeggieGirl says:

    You know how much I looooove chocolate, dear Kerrin! 🙂

  7. Daily Spud says:

    Chocolate and mushrooms, now that would be a challenge! I think I’d be up for trying it… at least once anyway 🙂 As for my own chocolate drawer, it is sadly empty – I just finished the last of my supplies from the chocolate festival that we had in Dublin about a month ago – it’s time to stock up again!

  8. uberVU - social comments says:

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by jamrobis23: Chocolate Roundup #3: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland: Back by popular demand, the third chocolate roundup is here! http://url4.eu/rY5J

  9. Meeta says:

    I’ve died and gone to heaven – You tease!

  10. Chocolate Roundup #3: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland … | austriatoday says:

    […] December 1st, what I consider the official start of the holiday season. … The rest is here: Chocolate Roundup #3: France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland … Share and […]

  11. Sunita says:

    Hi Kerrin, it was lovely to meet you on Saturday at the FBC. Wish we got a little more time to chat. You have a lovely blog here, and chocolate has already won me over 🙂

  12. Julia @ Mélanger says:

    Kerrin, yet another fantastic wrap up of the range of exquitie chocolate available from around Europe. I just shook my head at some of the flavours. Particulalry mushroom. Seriously? The photograph of the chocolate/shortbread/caramel combination had me wishing I was there with you = helping you iwth the ephotograph, so I could gobble up the subject matter once done, of course!

    You’ve had snow there in Zurich??!! 🙂

  13. Kerrin says:

    Nic, thanks so much for checking out the blog. And yes that chocolate with the caramel – simply divine !

    VeggieGirl, oh yes I do know how much you love chocolate. This post was for you then ! 🙂

    Daily Spud, I know – mushrooms and chocolate. There’s a reason I still haven’t tried it ! But it’s all about the experience, right ?! I will… eventually ! Before it smells up the rest of my chocolate bars that is. So what was in your drawer before you emptied it out ? And a chocolate festival in Dublin ? Do tell us more, please !!

    Meeta, I’m not teasing you silly, I’m sharing with you ! haha! 🙂

    Sunita, fabulous to meet you too ! We’ll have more time to chat for sure… at FBC 2010 ! 😉 Thanks for the sweet words, chocolate’s not a bad place to start here…

    Julia, thanks so much ! As for mushroom – yes, seriously. And yes seriously it did snow here for the first time this season. Just one day of flurries, love the snow. It’s white on the mountains but not on the ground here in Zurich… yet. And by all means, please DO come here and help. I could use your expertise on styling, photographing… and tasting ! 🙂

  14. Jen says:

    Being Viennese, I know the Bachhalm chocolates, they are one of my favorites and I really like the Shiitake one. Also very good is the one with dried fruits and nuts and the one with cane sugar and rum. You should also try the Zotter chocolates, they are so divine!
    I loved the Sprüngli chocolates in Zürich, though 🙂

  15. Nanda says:

    Wow.. thanks for this 🙂 It’s added to the list of things to do the next time I’m in Paris.

    BTW – did you find any of these in Zurich?

  16. Kerrin says:

    Jen, thanks so much for the comment and letting us all know about the shiitake bar ! Ok, now I will absolutely try it ! I had included Bachhalm’s hot pink blackberry bar in the first roundup (//mykugelhopf.ch/2009/06/kras-chocolate/) and loved it. Definitely good quality chocolate. I’ll have to try some other bars of theirs. And Zotter I have never tasted, but I think I saw it around town here. Divine you say? That I have to taste ! 🙂 Danke!

    Nanda, except for the bars from Franck Kestener and Debauve & Gallais which I did get in Paris, the rest I got here in Zurich. You can find many of Bachhalm’s bars at Globus and the Amedei and Nobile chocolates at a small shop in the old town, called Truffe. Let Elisabetta (at Truffe) know I sent you! 🙂 Hope you enjoy !

  17. Steve says:

    I know why this is called a ?roundup.? I read it and gained 5 pounds. Really funky sounding chocolates, but i?m not too sure about the shitake. However, chocolate with salty caramel ? now you?re talkin?. And as usual, fabulous photography. Those shot look live, and delicious. One more thing ? not only am i impressed that you saved a chocolate label that long, but you were actually able to find it. Bravo!

  18. MarcusAdkins says:

    They all sound so good!
    Can you e-mail me a few samples?

  19. Lani says:

    All those chocolate wrappers!!! I am so impressed by your taste buds. I do love the dark chocolate with sea salt. I am loving the nougatine! Anything crunching is number one on my list. How about a KitKat bar? The photography is so perfect that it looks absolutely touchable! And how do you stay so thin?

  20. Mowie says:

    Ooooph, Kerrin – what a post! You’ve got me salivating all over my keyboard (mmmm… nice!). Thanks for ‘sharing’! =)

  21. Kerrin says:

    Steve, very cute about the “roundup” ! I never thought of it that way, haha!

    MarcusAdkins, email you a few samples, now that would be pretty neat !

    Lani, I love crunch in my chocolate too ! KitKat bars, I remember those, haven’t had one in ages ! You probably love a Crunch bar even more than that I bet. How do I stay so thin … a question I get asked a lot in fact. Answer is – running and tennis and swimming and more running ! And luck too ! 🙂

    Mowie, grab a napkin, quick ! 😉

  22. Hilda says:

    You made me come back, you cruel thing. I saw your post the other day and couldn’t scroll down, too much chocolate, too much teasing. Oh to be as slim a chocolate-lover as yourself…is not my lot. Anyway, since you were doing research for Mort Rosenblum’s book, did you have some Felchlin chocolate? I would really like to get my hands on some of that, no joke. And when I was still living in Paris I’d try different chocolate flavors at La Grande Epicerie like dark chocolate with matcha etc… Are you coming to hang out at William Curley’s shop with me all day next time you’re in London? 😉

  23. Daily Spud says:

    Kerrin – re: the chocolate festival in Dublin, here’s my post on same – it will give you some idea of what was in my stash 🙂 – http://www.thedailyspud.com/2009/11/04/raising-the-chocolate-bar/

  24. Kerrin says:

    Hilda, I am so cruel ! haha ! Thanks for putting yourself through that blog post – again ! And yes I most absolutely do know (Swiss) Felchlin – that happens to be one of my all time favorite chocolates. I discovered the 65% Maracaibo years back (not with Mort though) and it has been one my go-to bars ever since. LOVE living in Switzerland now and being able to find it so much easier ! As you said, La Grande Epicerie in Paris is definitely a great address for chocolate, lots and lots of brands. Next time I’m in London, you’ve got a date – with William AND me ! I already can’t wait ! 🙂

    Daily Spud, thanks for checking back and sharing the link. Oooh, looks like a fun and delicious festival. And a recipe for Turkish Delight truffles too, mmm !

  25. Shella Tanzilia says:

    Oh oh, I know that chocolates. I got it this season, its imported chocolate in my country 😀
    Europe has a very great chocolate! Surely, my family love Europe chocolate ^^

  26. Jamie says:

    You’ve taken my breath away! I was lucky enough to attend Le Salon du Chocolat once and it was amazing! How I would love to go on a chocolate tasting jaunt with you! Right now I am into the marvelous chocolates of the chocolatier Nantais Debotté which are sublime. But that chocolate bar with a layer of soft salted caramel has got to be it for me!

  27. Jack says:

    Kerrin…Interesting write-up…I remain quite amused and skeptical by some of the combinations chocolatiers will experiment with (mushrooms?…hmm…). I guess I am more of a traditionalist and prefer just the straight stuff…no fillings, no flavors added to the chocolate…Just the unadulterated taste of a very good chocolate! Perhaps your next roundup could cover ‘naked’ chocolates: dark, milk & white (would be happy to offer up some of my stash for you to taste)…

    BTW, how do you manage to sleep at night if you’re eating so much chocolate?

  28. Kerrin says:

    Shella, oh yes, the array of chocolate in Europe is quite extraordinary!

    Jamie, the Salon du Chocolat 2010, we are so there ! Thanks for sharing about Debotté, checked out the site and looks real good to me. Nantes is a fabulously gastronomic city, would love to visit one day. And yes, the chocolate with the soft salted caramel above – my #1 too !

    Jack, I totally year you – there’s a reason I still haven’t tasted the last two bars above. While I do love caramel and salt in my chocolate, and berries sometimes to change it up, I’m also a purist like yourself. But for me, that means only dark. I rarely do milk and never ever do white. I think the ‘naked’ chocolate roundup is an excellent idea, thanks ! And thanks for even offering to share your stash… oooh how could I possibly say no to that ! 🙂

    Good question about sleeping at night – I guess my body is so used to the chocolate, that it doesn’t really affect my sleep patterns. Actually, get this – I remember the first time I was in Switzerland back in 1995, the host family I stayed with served me a square of chocolate every night before going to bed ! True – the mother said it helps you sleep better… !! Try it ! 🙂

  29. Jen Laceda says:

    They all look yummy to me!!!

  30. kelleynr says:

    Yes, Kerrin Fleur de Sel is the very on I am talking about. I can’t seem to get enough of it. I hide it in my purse and take it to the movies with me and I eat the whole thing, and I don’t fell on ounce guilty about it. I don’t think I would want to try chocolate and mushrooms, but I have once heard of a chocolate and carmalized onion chocolate made in the south of France. I think I might give that one a go given the chance.

  31. kelleynr says:

    Sorry for all the spelling mistakes. It is almost one in the morning hear. Can’t sleep!

  32. Kerrin says:

    Jen, even the last two ?! 😉

    kelleynr, thought so about the Lindt bar ! I can’t get enough of it either, and I do have it quite often. (No reason for guilt, good.) And good idea to bring it to the movies with you – sure beats greasy, buttery popcorn and soda, right ? Tell me more about this chocolate with caramelized onions, I’m intrigued… do you know the name of the chocolate maker or brand, or even town it’s made in ? Thanks !

  33. Stéphanie says:

    Ma participation pour le “round up number 4” va trouver le chemin de la Suisse prochainement!

  34. Myriam @ Detours says:

    Wow, another fabulous round-up Kerrin – wish I could fly back home at this very minute to go and stock up on all these chocolate gems…

    Funny reading about your ‘ah ah’ moment with Kranck Kestener’s Atlantique bar too 😉

    On another note, I didn’t know you’d worked with Mort Rosenblum on his book – wow! Really enjoyed reading it, along with the more historical “The True History of Chocolate’ by Sophie D. Coe.

    Really love Debauve & Gallais as well – so much history there! Their chocolates are a bit more conservative than what you might find at Kestener, Genin and the likes – but still amazing…

    Wish you could come to Sydney one day so I could share my local ‘finds’ with you!

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