a salute to Palette de Bine of Mont Tremblant, Quebec

I doubt there is anyone who is more true to the (cocoa) bean, more respectful of cacao, or more passionate about the integrity and creation of fine artisanal chocolate than Christine Blais of Palette de Bine (meaning ‘flavours of the bean’ in Québecois–French Canadian French.) It is for her commitment to excellence and the sustainability of craft chocolate, that I choose to salute this multi-award winning chocolate maker in the #womenhelpingwomen and #WomenInChocolate movement.


Christine Blais is the knowledgeable and passionate driving force of Palette de Bine Chocolate in Mont Tremblant, Quebec.

palette de bine of mont tremblant, quebec, makes pure and delicious chocolate

Christine Blais is an architect by profession; a chocolate maker by passion. I visited her in her tiny chocolate kitchen and shop in Mont Tremblant, Quebec, in 2017, and was so glad I made the trip–especially in view of news you will read at the end of the post.

Mont Tremblant is a scenic 90-minute drive from Montreal’s international airport, and normally, I would have doddled my way along taking pictures. But it was pouring rain for the entire journey, so I quickly made my way to this tiny piece of chocolate heaven and learned much in my two-hour visit.


Christine’s helper Audrey-Ann prepares a block of aged chocolate for the next step in its journey to perfection.

Christine works with cocoa beans from 6-8 origins at any given point in time. At the time of my visit, she had beans on hand from Tanzania, two different Guatemala farms, Peru, Bolivia, Belize, and Haiti. Christine looks for opportunities to work with women in the world of cocoa, and is happy to be working with a women’s cocoa cooperative in Haiti that has 1,500 farmers participating in the program.

When Palette de Bine won an international award for its Haitian bar, it really helped raise the profile of Haitian cocoa beans among the chocolate community, and in turn has helped the Haitian cocoa farmers and the economy of the country. “Sustainability is the key component to what we do,” says Christine. “We use only organic beans, and if I can’t see the faces of my farmers, I will not buy the beans.”

What is notable about the chocolate making process at Palette de Bine is that after the cocoa has been roasted, winnowed, and refined in a melanger, Christine adds either locally produced maple sugar or organic cane sugar from Paraguay, forms the chocolate into large blocks, and then ages them for at least two weeks.

The chocolate bars at Palette de Bine are brushed with a french-made silk brush to remove any marks made when the bars are removed from the mold. Brushing also it gives the bars a satin finish. They truly are works of chocolate art.

“Aging the chocolate helps reduce the astringency of the chocolate and cool down the acidity,” explains Christine. As beans from different origins have distinctly different flavour notes, the labour-intensive process for each origin differs. The result is that each bar you experience at Palette de Bine sings with its own unique flavour. As Christine is largely a Purist in the way she creates her chocolate (those who have read volume I of Chocolatour will recall that I tried to categorize chocolatiers and chocolate makers according to their prevalent style), all the ingredients in Palette de Bine products are pure and true to the bean, dairy-free, nut-free, soya-free, and vegan.


Locally harvested Balsam fir buds are used in the Sapin bars at Palette de Bine.



The Palette de Bine Sapin Bar features wild Bolivian chocolate infused with Balsam fir buds from Quebec. It is a work of art. Visually, and in your mouth!

The 70% Maple Bar (Bines L’erable) and the 70% Balsam Fir Bar (Sapin) feature local ingredients and offer unique flavours that enhance, not overpower, the cacao. The wood grain seen on the chocolate bars is the same wood grain seen on (some of) the thin cardboard packaging that features eco-friendly ink.

If you love pure, handcrafted dark chocolate, do look up Palette de Bine. Christine is one of the best and most dedicated chocolate makers in Canada, and one of the finest in the world. This page lists places you can purchase the bars around the world.

My thanks to Tourisme Quebec for helping facilitate my media visit to Mont Tremblant (Tremblant), a beautiful alpine skiing region in the Laurentian Mountains. Of special note is that Palette de Bine makes tiny chocolate skis to salute the importance of alpine skiing to the region.

a new challenge for palette de bine

Editorial update: On October 3, 2017, the Palette de Bine chocolate shop and kitchen in Mont Tremblant burned to the ground. With strength and determination, Christine has rebuilt her beautiful world of chocolate. Let’s continue to support this incredibly talented and innovative woman of chocolate in every way we can. Please place your order at this link. Chocolate like this makes a super gift for any chocolate lover, Canadian patriots, and skiing enthusiasts.




Thanks to Tourisme Quebec for supplying me with this family fun photo of skiing at Mont Tremblant.

Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I researched and wrote Volume I of Chocolatour that won a Readers' favourite Award in 2014. Always enjoy experiencing new destinations and flavours.

88 Responses

  1. It is truly fascinating to know the journey of chocolate from a bean to a bar, isn’t it? Thanks for the great write-up, and for taking us along on your chocolate journeys.

  2. Oh gosh, I’m sure sorry to hear about the fire, Doreen. She sounds–as does the chocolate she creates–marvelous on every level!
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…Alex Kershaw, Award-Winning WWII AuthorMy Profile

    • Hi RoseMary! Great to hear from you, and I love your new profile pic. It sounds like Christine has recovered quite well from the fire and is doing some great new things in addition to her regular lineup of chocolate creations. What are you doing to stay positive during the pandemic? Good chocolate sure helps!

  3. I didn’t know about the aging either but have certainly enjoyed Christine’s chocolate on many occasions. It’s fairly easy to find in Toronto. I like giving Palette de Bine as Christmas gifts/stocking stuffers because it’s pure, Canadian, delicious, and unlikely to trigger allergies.

  4. I keep learning more about chocolate as I read your site. I certainly didn’t know that chocolate could be aged!

    • Thanks for the words of confidence, Karen. I’ve been immersed in the world of chocolate and cacao for the 11 years now and continue to learn something new everyday! It’s an amazingly delicious and multi-faceted world.

  5. Bola says:

    No doubt Christine is an amazing woman. Thanks for the insight as I didn’t know that cooling down the chocolate reduces the acidity.

    • Hi Bola and thx for your comment. It is the aging of the chocolate that helps eliminate the bitterness and level out any acidity that may be naturally present in the cocoa beans. The chocolate maker can really play with the flavour profile of the end result chocolate by practicing these advanced techniques.

  6. Doreen, we loved this story of passion and surviving tribulations. While we have had only one visit to the Quebec region, it is an area we quickly fell in love with. Our hope is to visit again and explore more of the landscape. We will certainly keep our eyes peeled for some of these enticing chocolates.

    • I’m glad that you were inspired by Christine’s story, Jeff and Crystal. Quebec is a huge province with much to see! I hope that once the border reopens, you’ll be able to return and continuing exploring. And be sure to bookmark the link I included in the post for places throughout the province that also sell Palette de Bine chocolate.

  7. Linda Paul says:

    What horrible dual challenges Christine has dealt with. She is an incredible woman. I had no idea that aging was a thing for chocolate. I always learn something new from your posts, Doreen. I will check out her online offerings.

  8. What a wonderful story of a woman-preneur! I drooled over your story of chocolate done to perfection. Especially when I saw that great block of aged chocolate!

  9. Hooray for Christine and getting her shop back in business after the fire, for her wonderful work focusing on #womenhelpingwomen, and what sounds like divine chocolate-making. I love that huge block of aged chocolate — might show up in my dreams.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted…Scary Travel TalesMy Profile

  10. I love Christine’s story and her detailed attention to chocolate-making. I’m sorry she’s been hit with a double whammy of the fire and the coronavirus. We need chocolate during these troubled times.

    • We sure, do, Pamela! I’ver already ordered chocolate from three chocolate makers in the past 2 months and am about to place my 4th order to help get me thru this pandemic! Thx for stopping by.

  11. Hi there,
    Oh no… As I got to the end I was going to ask how or if we can also visit. Then I saw the note about the place burning. Any chance they are back up and running. I hope so…. Nikki

    • Hello Nikki. My apologies for a late response. I was sure I had replied to your comment, but somehow I found it in the trash. I do recall visiting your site and maybe I got lost in dreaming of travel. Christine’s chocolate shop is indeed again up and running. She moved across the street from where her chocolate shop had burned. So when travel once again opens up, do plan a visit to Mont Tremblant, Quebec. It is a lovely alpine community where you can find superb chocolate.

  12. sanchez says:

    We rarely see that anymore because food production has become so industrialized. And it makes me feel so much better about buying a product. And of course, in my world organic is also good too! It seems like she makes a really good chocolate product. I would love to go to Quebec. So if I get there, I’ll check her out.Thank you for sharing
    Have a nice day!

  13. I unknowingly missed World Cocoa and Chocolate Day! As penance, I will eat even more chocolate than usual.

  14. This really seems like a unique experience, Doreen! Thanks for sharing!

  15. Mehedi Hasan says:

    It’s wonderful to hear some good news coming out of Haiti for once. Thanks for telling the compelling backstory to this deeply flavourful chocolate. I’ll be heading back to The Candy Bar (Toronto) to source more of her creations.

  16. So sad to read that her store has burned down. Hopefully she can rebuild soon because it all sounds amazing!

  17. Hand crafted Dark chocolate is a personal favourite. It is really fascinating to see the passion of Christine for her craft. The Palette-De-Bine has definitely raised chocolate making to a fine art.

  18. neha says:

    It is so impressive. Christine and her journey is quiet inspiring. And once again she proves, follow your passion with true heart and then you will be able to succeed. Mastering chocolate is a hard work, and I really admire her for it

  19. What a sad end to your story, but with such passion, I’m sure Christine will rise from the ashes. I’m glad you’ll keep us posted. Chocolate is far more complicated than most people know, and I learn something new about the process every time I visit Chocolatour.

  20. Erica says:

    I love how she says that if she can’t see the actual face of the person who makes the chocolate, she won’t buy. We rarely see that anymore because food production has become so industrialized. And it makes me feel so much better about buying a product. And of course, in my world organic is also good too! It seems like she makes a really good chocolate product. I would love to go to Quebec. So if I get there, I’ll check her out.

    • Hi Erica. Do check out the list online of places that carry Palette de Bine Chocolate (I’ve provided the link near the end of the post.) There may be somewhere closer to home for you.

  21. Ami Bhat says:

    I just love the way you cover these local chocolatiers. This one was quite interesting given her penchant for organic stuff and local produce. It does make the whole deal sweeter.

  22. Christine sounds like a wonderful person and chocolate maker. Her commitment to sustainable practices and real relationships with the farmers is so admirable. Wow, we were so sad to read about her tragedy. We definitely send her our best thoughts.

  23. I truly did not know how much work went into chocolate until reading your post. The skill, science and artistry they need to create wonderful chocolate is truly amazing. Is the proper name for them “Chocolatier”? Also, is there a level of skill, or ranking you must earn to be called one?
    Thank you for always sharing these with us.

    • Hi William, and thanks for your interest in my world of chocolate! Professionals who make chocolate directly from cocoa beans are called chocolate makers. Those who make their own chocolates from couverture (prepared commercial bulk chocolate) are called chocolatiers. Some chocolate makers call themselves chocolatiers as the term is more well known than the term chocolate maker. To be called a Master Chocolatier or Chocolate Master, the individual would have had to have taken some specialized training and won some awards.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…a salute to Palette de Bine of Mont Tremblant, QuebecMy Profile

  24. Christine’s passion for chocolate is so obvious. No wonder she is excellent at her job. I am not much of a chocolate person, but this is special. So once in a while I don’t mind hand crafted chocolates such as these. It has that quintessential personal touch.

  25. Palette de Bine chocolate sounds wonderful, and producing chocolate in such a thoughtful, conscious way. Please let us know when she’s up and running again; I’m really curious to taste that maple-infused variety!

  26. Dannielle says:

    Anything involving chocolate is right up my street! This lady seems pretty cool and I love that she sticks to organic beans!

  27. Carol says:

    This story made me really hungry for chocolate. There should be more than one day a year dedicated to eating chocolate. It is important to buy from locals. I am so sorry to hear that her chocolate shop suffered a fire. I was hoping to visit her next year. Thanks for the great story.

  28. krista says:

    what a wonderful and interesting woman! the food alone sounds like it would be worth a trip to Quebec, I have always wanted to go! I am so terribly sorry for what happened! hopefully she gathers the strength to continue!

  29. It’s been a couple of years since I was in Mont Tremblant, but Christine’s shop sounds like it would have been worth the trip. My thoughts and prayers are with her and her team as they work to rebuild. How very sad.

    • Hi Debra, and thanks for stopping by. I think that Christine will be the kind of person who will find a way to get her chocolate back into production at the earliest possible moment. I will keep everyone posted!

  30. Jo Castro says:

    Just read your article with great interest, and thinking what an interesting lady and a fabulous product – then read your comment at the end. Oh how terrible. That’s just dreadful news. I hope that Christine has the strength and tenacity and wherewithall to get up and going again.

  31. Your posts are totally decadent — please keep them coming! But I just happened to read your reply to the comment above about Christine’s chocolate shop burning down. That’s terrible and I hope that she’ll be back making her wonderful chocolates again soon.

  32. So very shocked and saddened to learn that Christine’s chocolate shop and chocolate kitchen in Mont Tremblant burned to the ground today, October 3, 2017. Prayers that she had sufficient insurance to cover the financial loss, and emotional strength to rebuild and relaunch Palette de Bine. How very sad for Christine, for Quebec, and for the entire world of chocolate.

  33. Nancy says:

    I unknowingly missed World Cocoa and Chocolate Day! As penance, I will eat even more chocolate than usual.

  34. I love the bark look to the chocolate–it’s an appealing design. The more you write about organic chocolate and the folks making it for us, the more I seek it out everywhere I travel.

  35. Wow, the chocolate bars at Palette de Bine look amazing!

    • They taste every bit as good as they look. they are sure to be in short supply over the next while as the shop burned down yesterday. Please send positive vibes to Christine as she rebuilds her world of chocolate.

  36. I didn’t know there was a ‘World Cocoa and Chocolate Day” but what a brilliant idea! We visited several cocao farms in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Nicaragua during our time in Central America and I came away truly impressed with what it takes to go from beans to bar. Christine Blais sounds like a remarkable artisan and well worth her salute, especially for her statement “…if I can’t see the faces of my farmers, I will not buy the beans” which makes you understand her commitment to the ethical origins of cocao farming. Kudos!

  37. Doreen — thanks for the detailed explanation of how this chocolate is made. The process is so much more complex than I would have ever known. I looked at the list where you can buy the chocolate. None in Florida but there is a shop in New York, and I’ll be visiting the city at Thanksgiving. Will try to get there.

    • Thank YOU Jeannette, for always having a meaningful comment to add to the conversation. I truly appreciate that, and do hope you find the opportunity to get yourself some Palette de Bine chocolate. I know u will love it.

  38. I’m impressed with Christine’s dedication to quality and with her approach “if I can’t see the faces of my farmers, I will not buy the beans.” Balsam fir is an unusual addition. I’d be willing to try it.

    • Hi Donna. I’d had a Douglas Fir Truffle at SOMA chocolate maker and loved it. So I’m not supposed that I loved the Palette de Bine Sapin bar equally well. You’d be surprised how these infusions can really enhance and not overpower the real flavour of the cocoa.

  39. It’s wonderful to hear some good news coming out of Haiti for once. Thanks for telling the compelling backstory to this deeply flavourful chocolate. I’ll be heading back to The Candy Bar (Toronto) to source more of her creations.

  40. I was intrigued by the idea of “aged chocolate”. There seems to be as much to chocolate making as there is to cheesemaking!

  41. noel says:

    what a gorgeous bar, so beautiful and simple. I would love to visit and sample this

    • You are very right, Noel. I think that simplicity is one of Christine’s guiding principles in her chocolate creations. Everything she does is for the purpose of letting the natural notes of the cocoa shine through. Thx for stopping by. 🙂

  42. What an amazing experience. So sad that I missed World Chocolate Day… but I’ll still have a bite today in honor of the occasion! Glad to see someone take such care in their craft. I bet adding the maple sugar or organic cane sugar really adds a unique flavor to the chocolate that is hard to beat.

    • Hi Lee, and welcome to Chocolatour! I believe it is the first time you have been here. Glad you enjoyed the post, and yes. Chocolate that has been sweetened with maple sugar has a truly amazing flavour. The organic cane sugar has less of a detectable flavour, but it is definitely less sweet and better for you that regular white crystallized sugar. I hope to see you back here again soon. 🙂
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…a salute to Palette de Bine of Mont Tremblant, QuebecMy Profile

  43. Phoenicia says:

    A chocolate kitchen! Sigh!

    It really is interesting to understand the process of producing chocolate. We take it for granted (well I do), that I can pop to the supermarket almost anytime of day and take my pick from a huge selection. I can also see how passionate chocolate makers are about their work.

  44. A very interesting woman and so creative. I had no idea cocoa came from so many locations. Excellent article!!

  45. Catarina says:

    It’s amazing how many dedicated chocolate professionals there are in the world. Christine is a prime example and I join in your applaud.

  46. Satinka says:

    I’m impressed with Christine’s integrity: “Sustainability is the key component to what we do,” says Christine. “We use only organic beans, and if I can’t see the faces of my farmers, I will not buy the beans.” She truly understands that organic production is the only truly sustainable way to produce food. Real food. None of the faux stuff on the market these days. It takes effort to support these organic markets because the faux food is so heavily subsidized. I applaud Christine’s Chocolate-making! I also applaud you, Doreen for covering this amazing story! Bravo!

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