Being Swiss somehow seems to make me an expert in matters concerning Chocolate. Friends, colleagues, neighbors who are about to travel to Switzerland never venture there without asking me which Chocolate they should try, buy or bring back. I am usually excited to share my opinion, unless in situations where a Belgium, French or other national from a Chocolate savvy country tries to start degrading the Swiss Chocolate. There I have no choice but to tell them straight out that nothing else reaches the quality (ever heard of Belgium or French Quality?) of Helvetic Chocolate. Just between us, and out of reach of Belgian, French or even Swiss ears, I actually quite enjoy all three, but since I cannot stand biased accusations, I have to result to defending my heritage.
So what do I recommend? First of all, no matter what Chocolate you decide to savor, the main thing is that you give it the attention it deserves. Which means, should your mind be in any way littered by taste crippling thoughts about calories or bikinis, do not even try. You are not worthy of eating chocolate. I am often told that people cannot believe I love chocolate, simply because I do not carry it around my midsection. Once and for all, it is not chocolate that makes you fat, it is you not being able to balance its consumption properly. A 100g bar should last you a week, not a day! And if does not, you are not giving it the respect it deserves.
Which brings me to the next important point: anticipation. Half the joy of eating chocolate is the anticipation. Imagining or remembering what it is going to taste like when it melts in your mouth. I have a chocolate moment every day, not a big one, but a well deserved one. The other great thing about anticipation: it doesn’t have any calories either!
Last but not at all least: Quality! Buy the good stuff. No matter wherein North America you live, you can buy chocolate other than the low end Nestle, Hershey or any other of those ‘we have to add other stuff because our chocolate is not good enough’-brands. The reason why people tend to eat as many of those evil ‘cash registry lane pavers’ is because they do not manage to satisfy fully and leave a craving for more.
Trust me. If you have a really good piece of chocolate, and give it the attention it deserves, you will be happy with just one piece. I used to gobble down bars almost unnoticed while reading books. That is the perfect recipe for feeling awful later, as soon as you close that feel-good story book.
Now, having said all that, which one to go for? Well, like anything else, chocolate tastes vary. More expensive does not always mean better. My sister for example prefers a Swiss grocery giant’s own brand to an exclusive chocolatier’s recipe. Dark chocolate has more of the good stuff and leaves you feeling satisfied with less. Too much of a cocoa content though can turn it rather bitter, which not everybody enjoys. Personally I do not go higher than 70% cocoa content, and even that usually would have to have something else in it counter balance the bitterness. As far as white chocolate, well, I do not consider it chocolate. Unless it is in some dessert mousse, I do not touch it. Here are my personal favorites:
Ovomaltine Chocolate: like the Ovaltine drink powder mixed in with milk chocolate; a pleasurable crunch without being too sweet. I cannot get it in Canada, therefore I guess the anticipation level is so high, it’s ranked at first place.
Cailler Cremant Chocolate: my grandmother’s favourite as well, dark chocolate, also great for dipping in a cup of warm milk. I am a little upset though that Nestle managed to gobble up Cailler and after my last visit back home, I had a feeling they changed the recipe.
Cailler Chocmel: same brand but milk chocolate with almond splinters and honey. First the chocolate melts on your tongue and then there is a wonderful after crunch.
Minor Chocolate: probably mostly due to the fond memories of accompanying my Dad every Sunday on his drive to the local kiosk at the train station to pick up his weekend paper. Needless to say a “Minor Stengel” always made it to the cashier as well. As their English website reads: The much sought after Branche is more than a delicious praline stick, it is a bite of delight.
Now, none of these widely available grocery store chocolates will compare to freshly made chocolate that you get when you enter a smaller boutique that makes their own. The sweet smell of chocolate in your nose will add much to the pleasure and although prices will dramatically increase, it is well worth it for a truffle or two.