Swiss chocolate is one of the first things that popped into my head when I thought of Switzerland. So without my usual ridiculously specific itinerary to fall back on for Zurich, thanks to the last minute Prague-to-Zurich switcheroo, I let that first image be my guide. In other words, our Zurich trip turned into a full-on chocolate hunt.
And chocolate shops are everywhere. From least favorite to most favorite, here’s where I went:
Confiserie Teuscher is a family business (albeit a huge one with a global reach), and their chocolates are free of chemicals, additives or preservatives. I’m not going to lie–I wasn’t even remotely interested in visiting one of their shops in Zurich because you can get Teuscher anywhere. There’s a shop in Boston, and I’m sure you can pick up a bar in Philly. Their chocolate is good and all, just easily obtained. But hey, when faced with a chocolate shop, it’s hard to say no. So yeah, I picked up a bar of something. Just to be polite.
Confiserie Sprüngli sells chocolates within 24 hours of production, which means everything is superfresh. The cream, butter, and milk used are sourced from Zurich. And look, I’m not going to turn down fresh truffles–ever. But again, Sprüngli isn’t exactly hard to lay hands on. I nabbed a box of basic milk chocolate and dark chocolate truffles. Even though I wasn’t excited about it, they sure did taste great once I got home to Philly!
Opened by Dieter Meier, musician and frontman of electro-pop band Yello, Oro de Cacao says their chocolate is made by some crazy cold extraction method so that “cocoa butter, cocoa powder, polyphenols (which includes the bitter compounds) and pure flavourings are individually precipitated to allow an unlimited variety of different chocolate creations.” That’s all fine, and I admit that the bar of Cuban chocolate I bought was fairly delightful. Plus, the location is really handy: on a Limmat River walkway. The shop is super minimal.
Honold Confiserie created the world’s first cherry kirsch baton nearly a century ago. Now? They sell a bit of everything, from truffles to cakes and pastries. Of course I bought some truffles. Of course.
Läderach specialises in big slabs of chocolate, but I completely fell in love with their minimousses, which are sorta-kinda like super fancy Mallomars. But instead of marshmallow, they’re made of the very lightest chocolate or vanilla mousse. And, of course, the chocolate covering is about two trillion times better. And I bought truffles, because come on. When will I not buy truffles?
Oh, Max Chocolatier, you have my heart! There are two shops–one in Lucerne and one in Zurich. The story goes that Patrik König was a banker and had a shop that sold watches–and he was a solid chocoholic, as was his son Max, who has Down’s Syndrome. So they expanded the watch store space and opened a chocolate shop, one that is far more artisanal than the big operations in Switzerland. Oh, and Max is co-owner. And let me tell you–their chocolate is fantastic. I still have dreams about their fig truffles. I returned multiple times to buy more. The bars are tremendously great. And they make these things called Plättli, which are thin squares of chocolate. I’ve been hoarding a box of dark chocolate with chilies and cranberries until I can return to buy more varieties (seriously, I’m thinking about making a quick trip in early December so I can have them for holiday gifts). I’m a superfan. Even their staff is better than anywhere else.
And look, don’t discount the grocery store for chocolate. We nabbed three random bars of chocolate there that turned out to be really good. Chocolate with Frosted Flake type of things. Chocolate filled with big nuggets of candied ginger. A few other things. So much better than anything you can buy in an American grocery store, that’s for sure. It’s not even a contest.
While I don’t count this among the chocolate shops, we also stopped a place in Lucerne that had a chocolate wall/fountain:
It reminded me a lot of the chocolate river at the Hershey Park chocolate museum. You know, likely totally infested with crap that would make you totally sick if you tried to eat it, but it sure was fun to look at.