artisan chocolate in Gruyeres, Switzerland

In last week’s post, I introduced you to the medieval village of Gruyères, Switzerland and we discovered it’s not all about the cheese. Gruyere cheese is indeed wonderful, but I’d like to introduce you to Gruyères chocolate.

gruyeres-chocolate

The white crane or “gru” is the official symbol of the village of Gruyeres. You will find one on nearly every building in the village and it is the logo of Chocolaterie De Gruyeres.

gruyeres chocolate is an excellent example illustrating the evolution of swiss chocolate

gruyeres-chocolate

You feel a strong sense of tradition when you enter Chocolaterie De Gruyeres, but you also get a strong sense of adventure, with all the innovative chocolate products.

Richard Uldry is the talented chocolate maker born just 10 minutes from the village of Gruyères where he now owns and operates Chocolaterie De Gruyères a tiny retail chocolate shop and workshop inside the historic walled village. His online site is currently under construction, but the physical site is awaiting your arrival. You walk up the stone stairs to the tiny chocolate shop. The chocolate workshop is on the lower level.

gruyeres-chocolate

The chocolate at Chocolaterie De Gruyeres is conched (mixed to smoothen) anywhere between three and seven days, depending on which cocoa beans that Uldry is working with, and the desired end product.

I loved meeting Uldry and hearing his story about his own evolution in the world of Swiss Chocolate and the evolution of Swiss chocolate throughout the industry. Over the past 25 years, Uldry has worked as a baker, patissière, and glacière (ice-cream maker). In 2013, he opened his chocolaterie (chocolate shop) and decided to go bean-to-bar and truly immerse himself in the world of chocolate. “My dream was to make really good chocolate,” he told me.

swiss-chocolate

And make good chocolate he does! The 70% São Tomé bar from Chocolaterie De Gruyères is one of the finest chocolate bars I have ever had. When you open the clear wrapper, you get a whiff of the intense chocolate flavour you are about to enjoy. You break off a square of the chocolate and hear that intense snap achieved when the chocolate is just the right thickness and consistency. You taste a piece of that square and let it melt slowly in your mouth, and are pleased that the silkiness of that Grand Cru single origin bar still closely resembles the silkiness we have come to know and love in Swiss chocolate. “I buy my cocoa beans via Felchin, as they have access to the very best beans in the world,” says Uldry. Time and time again when I have visited small chocolate makers who are doing amazing things with chocolate, it has been revealed that their beans have come via Felchin, a Swiss company known for creating the finest couverture using their traditional chocolate-making equipment. The beans used to make this stunning São Tomé bar boast natural flavour notes of a lovely fruitiness (without the acidity) blended with molasses and caramel, yet the only ingredients added to the cocoa beans are cane sugar and cocoa butter. It is the epitome of perfect dark chocolate without the intensity or bitterness that turns many palates away from  dark chocolate.

swiss-specialties

Moutarde de Bénichon is a Swiss mustard-based condiment primarily enjoyed at Thanksgiving fall suppers and can be paired with turkey. The special recipe sold at at Chocolaterie De Gruyeres has been developed by Richard Uldry’s wife.

Another product that Chocolaterie De Gruyères proudly offers is the Moutarde de Bénichon, a dark chocolate-coloured “jam” or condiment made with ground mustard, white wine, sugar, cinnamon, anise, cloves and flour (so not gluten free) that is a specialty of the region. I enjoyed it spread on top of cream cheese with a bagel and fruit.

gruyeres-chocolate

Richard Uldry of Chocolaterie De Gruyeres is a true master of chocolate excellence.

Part of what I really love about my work with Chocolatour is the opportunity to meet passionate and creative people like Richard Uldry. They are most often found in places off the beaten path, which is what makes chocolate-focused travel and chocolate tourism so very intriguing. Please stay tuned for the next post as I continue my quest for the world’s best chocolate adventures.

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Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

70 Responses

  1. Ami says:

    While I can control on most food types, chocolate is something that remains my weakness. And a tour like this, which has not just chocolate but a lot of stories and history around it, is bound to be something that I will enjoy. Thanks for sharing this.
    Ami recently posted…Whispers of a Ghost Town – DhanushkodiMy Profile

  2. Indrani says:

    I love such destinations which combines well with food and this is chocolate! How I wish I could be there. Must be a great learning experience visiting his shop. From the pics I can make out they must be vanishing off the shelf very fast.
    Indrani recently posted…Tata Hexa Exteriors and Interiors – a Review with ImagesMy Profile

    • Hi Indrani, and thanks for your comment. When you visit a small artisan chocolate shop, you will find that they do not carry a large quantity of chocolate products as everything is made by hand and has a relatively short shelf life. They therefore must make only what they anticipate they will sell that week.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…celebrating the best chocolate treatsMy Profile

  3. Vyjay says:

    It was fascinating to read about the evolution of Swiss chocolates. I would like to take a bite of the chocolate, hear the snap and let the piece of chocolate melt slowly in my mouth providing one of the most sensory experiences in the world.
    Vyjay recently posted…Shimla to Manali – An Enchanting But Perilous Road TripMy Profile

  4. Erin says:

    How cool that you got to meet the chocolate maker! There’s nothing like talking to someone that’s so passionate about what they create. And that chocolate — sounds absolutely delicious!

  5. Kevin Wagar says:

    I love how Richard has remained true to the history of his profession while exploring new and exciting ideas for chocolate products. This would be a great place to visit and taste!
    Kevin Wagar recently posted…How to Summit Mauna Kea: Spaced out on the Big IslandMy Profile

  6. Mar Pages says:

    That chocolate bar sounds so delicious! I do know my favorite cheese but definitely have to go back and check out this one!
    Mar Pages recently posted…Tonga’s capital, Nuku’Alofa, photo tourMy Profile

  7. Wow! What an amazing indulgence, chocolate delicacies in the gorgeous Swiss Alps. Great work finding this gem and sharing it with all of us. Thanks.

  8. What wonderful dark chocolate! I want some!!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted…Visiting Folly Cove: Why place matters in novels – & a book giveawayMy Profile

    • Hi Irene. I know! That’s why I started Chocolatour. So many great chocolates go undiscovered if people don’t travel with chocolate in mind. Many of these chocolate makers are so small that you would never discover them if you didn’t catch wind that they existed. And many don’t mail their products outside of their countries. All the more reason to venture out and visit them. Thx for stopping by.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…artisan chocolate in Gruyeres, SwitzerlandMy Profile

  9. Mimi says:

    Yum what an experience you’ve got! I always feel so intimidated when I meet masters of food, as I just simply love food and haven’t developed the knowledge of knowing the difference of many things I eat. Gotta say I get better with time though and attending to more and more of these types of venues.
    Mimi recently posted…Eat in Dubai: The Brunch with Caribbean Flavours @ Miss Lily’sMy Profile

    • Hi Mimi: It definitely takes dedication, and a desire to learn, that will help you become an expert in any given field. It has taken me 7 years to get to the point I’m at now, where I really understand a lot about the world of chocolate. But I know that I still have a lot to learn! I’m going over to your site to see what you experienced with that Caribbean Brunch! Thx for stopping by.
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…artisan chocolate in Gruyeres, SwitzerlandMy Profile

  10. My husband is Swiss so this place sounds right up his street…and mine! Interesting to see that they make a chocolatey mustard too, I’d love to try that
    Suze – Luxury Columnist recently posted…GLAM Restaurant, Palazzo Venart – The New Venice Dining SensationMy Profile

  11. Alessandra says:

    I can only imagine the people and the chocolates you taste during your journey! It’s so interesting to learn about these small chocolatiers 🙂
    Alessandra

  12. What a lovely post–and tantalizing photographs. Both you and Richard Uldry know your chocolate. It’s always fun to learn what goes on behind the scenes.

  13. Sushmita says:

    Moutarde de Bénichon sounds delicious! Waiting to try it out, wonder when the wait will end!
    Sushmita recently posted…Easy & Valuable Personal Finance Basics! This Diwali take steps ahead towards Prosperity.My Profile

  14. Ada says:

    ahh Swiss chocolade!! Looks like great trip! Ive been in chocolade museum in Koln Germany so something similar but bigger 🙂

    • Hello Ada and thanks for your comment. My post is about visiting a tiny chocolate shop and workshop in a tiny village. Definitely not a chocolate museum. But I’ve been to quite a few of those. You’ll find write-ups on them in other posts if you’re interested in searching my site. But I’ve yet to get to Germany. I’ve heard they have a couple of good chocolate museums. Hopefully, sometime soon, I’ll get there!
      Doreen Pendgracs recently posted…artisan chocolate in Gruyeres, SwitzerlandMy Profile

  15. Wow, I want to try the Moutarde de Bénichon. I have never heard of such a thing, but it does seem tempting, and opens a bunch of opportunities to put on things.
    Thanks for sharing this.

  16. Dark chocolate, cheese, Switzerland. An unbeatable combination! As for chocolate fondue – well, sheer bliss. 🙂

  17. Anda says:

    You are so lucky to be able to taste all the good chocolate in the world. I’m a chocolate addict but never tried the one in Gruyeres. I’m sure it’s divine.
    Anda recently posted…Interview With Debbra Dunning Brouillette from “Tropical Travel Girl”My Profile

  18. Chris says:

    Another great little find.

    I’m really curious about that spread.

    What did it taste like (does it compare to/mirror anything)?
    Chris recently posted…How to ReykjavikMy Profile

  19. Chocolate jam with cream cheese? Now that’s different, but it does sound delicious… We notice the “Grand Cru” name on the 70% São Tomé chocolate wrapper label – maybe to indicate, like wine, that this is REALLY good chocolate??
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Immersed in Myanmar on the “Belmond Orcaella”My Profile

  20. Kim says:

    If I go visit Switzerland in Europe, I’ll check this one out! It’s so authentic and how can I miss a chocolate stop? 🙂
    Kim recently posted…Useful Travel Tips for Getting Around Japan on a BudgetMy Profile

  21. Cheese and chocolate, two of our favorites! The Swiss might just be the best at making both of them. Thanks for the inside look.

  22. I should never ever read your posts when I’m hungry. That’s like reading Marquita’s posts when I first wake up or Donna’s when I want to travel, Susan’s when…you get the idea!

    What a wonderful described village and the shops. The chocolate made by Uldry sounds just like something I could nibble on right now.
    RoseMary Griffith recently posted…The Great Sister Road Trip of 1996My Profile

  23. Doreen, your description of tasting that dark chocolate in Gruyeres made my mouth water. And I’m at work right now so there’s no decent quality chocolate available. Sigh.
    Rachel Heller recently posted…The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in BerlinMy Profile

  24. Sue Reddel says:

    I absolutely love dark chocolate and Mr. Uldry’s sounds simply divine. I’d love to get my hands on some of the chocolate jam yummy! Nice to learn that Gruyeres is know for great tasting chocolate as well as wonderful cheese.

  25. You had me craving some of de Gruyères fine chocolate as you described (in tantalizing detail!) unwrapping the bar, breaking off a piece and letting it melt in your mouth. Mmmm. 🙂 I’d love to take this tour. Your mention of the condiment, Moutarde de Bénichon had me wondering how it would taste when paired with a favorite of mine, Gruyere cheese. Another Mmmm?

  26. Oh this place looks wonderful, and I would love to try that jam. It’s so fun to have the opportunity to discover such interesting places in the world that we’d otherwise miss. Thank you so much for sharing Doreen!

  27. Jeri says:

    I’ve had Gruyere cheese many times, but your introduction to Gruyere chocolate sounds wonderful. My boyfriend made chocolate fondue out of Hershey bars this weekend by adding a bit of cream and a bit of dark chocolate. Yeah, we were slumming it 😉

  28. I have to confess to never having been to Switzerland (unless Zurich airport counts) but I’ve enjoyed some of their chocolates over the years. The 70% bar sounded like heaven and I’d love to try some of that dark chocolate jam with the intriguing list of ingredients. I think you found the best travel niche!

    • Thanks, Kay. I do indeed like I have the best job in the world. Chocolate makes the world smile, and sharing the stories of some of the most amazing chocolate makers of the world indeed makes me smile.

  29. Dark chocolate is nutritious and I’d love to try some of that bar you wrote about!

  30. Susan cooper says:

    Hi Doreen, it’s always fun to meet people who have such passion for their work and are pursuing their dream. Sounds like Richard is just that type of guy. Can’t wait to see his website when he gets it up.:)

  31. Phoenicia says:

    The chocolate shop is based in such a pretty little village – a hidden gem. The type of place I would like to go to take time out to relax.

    I much prefer dark chocolate providing it is not too bitter. I find it rich and you do not need too much of it for your taste buds to be satisfied.

    • Absolutely, Phoenicia. You only need a small piece of dark chocolate to satisfy. And yes, Gruyeres his a lovely place to escape the hustle and bustle of the modern world. I hope you get to visit sometime soon.

  32. noel says:

    What a fun visit and that chocolate jam sounds really interesting, I would love to try that someday and of course also visit the area.

  33. Sabrina Quairoli says:

    Yummy, I would love to try Moutarde de Bénichon. It sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  34. Kathy Andrew says:

    Really good development for Swiss chocolate which already has a good reputation. Looks like a great place to visit to from your beautiful photos.

    • Hi Kathy and thanks for your comment. Yes, I was blown away by the amazing adventures I had on my second Chocolatour to Switzerland. Getting off the beaten path and into the smaller centres was really a plus.

  35. Karen Warren says:

    How fascinating to meet the chocolate maker. But I must admit I’d be more tempted by the Moutarde de Bénichon than the chocolate – perhaps with some Gruyere cheese!

    • Hi Karen: The past 7 years of my life researching chocolate has given me the privilege of meeting some of the finest chocolate makers in the world. I really admired the focus and creativity of Richard Uldry. He is truly a Swiss gem.

  36. Michele Peterson says:

    Your descriptions of the silkiness of the dark chocolate at Chocolaterie De Gruyères makes me want to run right out and get a bar of it. I think a Swiss Chocolatour is a fantastic idea!

  37. Beverly says:

    Chocolaterie De Gruyeres looks like an enchanting place to visit. In the photo , it looks like a place one would stumble across in a fairy tale. The tiny chocolate shop seems to invite people inside to enjoy their delicious dark chocolate. I would love to sample some moutarde de benichon with turkey. Thanks for taking us on another delightful chocolate adventure, Doreen

  38. Linda Paul says:

    The Moutarde de Bénichon sounds like a delicious step up from Nutella. I’m quite taken by your descriptions of the village of Gruyeres.

    • Thx so much, Linda. And with you loving an alpine climate and trekking, I guarantee it would be a destination that you would enjoy. Perhaps we can do a Swiss Chocolatour together next fall. That would be amazing!

  39. Catarina says:

    Not only does Gruyères produce delicious cheese it seems the same applies to chocolate. Can’t help wondering if their chocolate will ever become as famous as the cheese.

    • It is indeed, possible, Catarina. But Richard Uldry would have to expand his chocolate shop in order to increase production. Right now, it’s just a tiny shop and production area that can keep up with the local market. I’ve observed Hummingbird chocolate of Canada who was in a similar position until they won a world award for their chocolate. Now, they are perpetually sold out of their chocolate and can’t keep up with the demand!

  40. Donna Janke says:

    The dark chocolate bar sounds delicious. I like dark Chocolate, but sometimes it can be too bitter. The Moutarde de Bénichon sounds interesting.

    • Hi, Donna and thx for being the 1st to comment on this post. Yes, quite a few people think that dark chocolate is bitter as some of it certainly is. I always jump for joy when I find a dark chocolate bar like this Grand Cru from Gruyeres that is darn right perfect.

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