BLIND TASTING: WE TEST SWISS CHOCOLATES
by Sheridan Jobbins
Main pic: Caro Blackwell from Caroblackwell.com
CHOCOLATE SHOPS IN GENEVA – OVERWHELMING CHOICE
You could build a calendar from the chocolate shop window displays in Geneva. In winter they’re filled with reindeer and snowmen. Spring and Easter bloom with bunny rabbits. Chocolate and marzipan cars arrive for Geneva’s International Motor Show in March. There are colourful chocolate fish in the summer, conkers and pumpkins in the autumn and the so-called Marmite pots for the traditional Escalade celebration in December, followed by old-world Christmas boxes which contain the memories of childhood.
SOLID CHOCOLATE: SWISS INVENTION WITH BABY MILK
The Swiss are rightfully proud of their chocolate as a Swiss invention with a cute story. Daniel Peter, son-in-law to the Cailler family had been struggling to make milk chocolate but couldn’t get the milk solids dry enough. After his wife prematurely gave birth, his neighbour, Henri Nestlé – yes that one! offered the young family his powdered milk baby formula. (You can see where this is going.) Peter incorporated the powdered milk into his chocolate recipe et voila!
SWISS CHOCOLATE SHOPS
Walking down the main shopping street of Geneva – the one with the identity crisis – the straight road is called Rue du Rive, Rue de la Croix-D’or, Rue du Marché, Place de la Fusterie and Rue de la Confederation all within a kilometre. Along it you’ll find Favarger, Auer, Martel, Sprungli, Globus, Läderach, Lindt, and Pougnier. In the streets running off it are Rohr, La Bonbonnière, Gilles Desplances, Teuscher, and Philippe Pascoët,. If you travel a little further there’s Arn, Sweetzerland and Du Rhône, Chocolaterie Micheli. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the choice.
So, which is the best? We decided to do our own blind tasting – and highly recommend it as a great after-dinner or family fun activity.
OUR BLIND TASTING OF SWISS CHOCOLATES
We decided to create our own blind tasting.
WHAT WE TASTED
We bought 11 plain milk chocolate bars (plaques plains) on the high street, unwrapped and numbered them on a plate. Then, we tasted them one by one – with a glass of water as a palate cleanser in between.
HOW WE DID IT
We marked them out of 10 for:
flavour, chocolatiness, creaminess and sweetness.
The first thing to note is this: ‘Your taste is in your mouth.’ That’s more than a catty thing to say when you don’t like someone’s dress sense. People have individual preferences for sweet, salty, umami tastes, so these findings are clearly subjective!
We ‘weighted’ our findings according to the chocolates declared as ‘favourites’ by most of our testers. These are the ones we included in our final findings. One high scorer was no-one’s favourite, but weirdly, none of us predicted the standout winner.
NUMBER 5 – Sprüngli
Cost CHF6.20 per 100g
This was the lowest overall point scorer because it absolutely divided the voters. Four gave it a terrible review (No taste!) One commented that it tasted ‘manufactured like a VSOP brandy.’ Two testers, however, listed it as their favourite describing it as ‘Balanced, creamy, not too sweet.’
NUMBER 4 – Auer
Cost CHF5.50 per 100g
This scored better overall, but half found it too sweet. The person who listed it as their favourite found it ‘Nutty, creamy, balanced with a good chocolate flavour.’
NUMBER 3 – Chocolaterie Martel
Cost CHF7.50 per 100g
This chocolate is at the high end of the price – so it’s a bit of a slap in the face that two people said it tasted like a ‘Kinder Surprise.’ On the other hand it was also described as ‘Balanced with a nice back note.’ And, ‘Nice kick of cocoa. Melty, pleasing. Best aftertaste.’
NUMBER 2 – Cailler
Cost CHF2.30 per 100g
Well, at nearly 150 years, old the old girl is still working her magic. The cheapest chocolates had the second highest score with most commenting on a ‘honey’ flavour, and liking the ‘gooey’ texture.
THE OVERALL WINNER! – Lindt Lait
CHF2.40chf per 100g
Four tasters marked Lindt as their favourite. It was particularly popular with the hard markers who liked its ‘light velvetiness’. The results, when they were revealed at the end, lead to a ‘vibrant’ discussion about whether the ubiquity of Lindt chocolate has trained our tastebuds to expect its qualities as being fundamental to chocolate.
Organise your own Swiss chocolate blind tasting and let us know how you get on.
ALSO – don’t miss our article about the 5 best places to taste chocolate in Geneva – featuring chocolate shops and their specialities – so, you can create your own amazing chocolate walking tour.