Blondel Chocolate

chocolate at blondel

Les françaises are justifiably proud of their chocolates and chocolatiers, but if you talk to them about Swiss chocolate, many will say – “Oh, Swiss chocolate is very, very good.” Yet when I press them on which particular brands of chocolate are “very good”, they often don’t, or can’t, pin down the specific names* of any.

chocolates at Blondel

Folks who have been to Lausanne – French, American, and otherwise – however, always talk in glowing terms about Chocolats Blondel. And indeed, they’re worthy of adulation from people, far and wide, a fact I recently was reminded of.

chocolate truffles

Blondel is a narrow slip of a shop; one wall is lined with various flavors of chocolate barks (in light, milk, and dark chocolate, studded with everything from dried cranberries to unusual bitter almonds), and the other side of the shop has showcases of classic dipped chocolates and candied fruits, which get also get a dip on one of the many bowls of chocolate being passed around the kitchen, which I visited with my tour group.

candied oranges dipping chocolates

Only four chocolatiers work in the laboratiore, and they’re as nice as can be. The two who were working during our visit also had excellent skin, so if anyone tells you chocolate will cause skin problems, I’ve seen with my own eyes that it’s possible to spend your life around the stuff and still have flawless skin. (The waistline, however, I’m not so sure.)

chocolate dipped oranges

The shop uses various kinds of chocolate, Swiss and French, and if they make it, they dip it in chocolate. I was particularly interested in the white chocolate filled with bitter almonds, which are pretty rare, and contrast nicely with the sweet, creamy taste of the almost pure cocoa butter. I happily took seconds on that one.

Lots of nutty pralines are ground up daily, which are mixtures of caramelized hazelnuts, walnuts, or almonds, which get pounded repeatedly until they’re an almost-smooth paste, with little sparks of crackly-sweet nuts when you bite down into it. We tasted a lot of different pralines this week and each spoonful seemed to bring a look of ecstatic pleasure whenever a chocolatier offered us a taste of it right out of the machine or jar.

blondel gananche for dipping in chocolate

At Blondel, praline gets mixed with just enough chocolate to firm it up into squares, then passed through a cascade of melted chocolate, then carefully topped with a toasted nut placed squarely in the center.

blondel chocolates

Soft milk chocolate ganache logs get hand-dipped in even more chocolate, then rolled in powdered sugar to create stubby truffes that simply melt away into nothing but a creamy memory of chocolate when you pop one into your mouth.

Toasted nuts also make an appearance in my favorite bark, which they call chocolat au marteau (chocolate to hammer). The one I could not stop eating if my life had depended on it, they made in front of us (perhaps because they saw how much I was eating?) Turkish pistachios, almonds, and hazelnuts were mixed on a bowl then spread into a huge oval on a marble, then left to harden.

blondel chocolate

Because the chocolate is tempered, it hardens quickly and within five minutes or so, you can find yourself munching on some of the best candy you can get your hands on. (If you buy it in the adjacent shop, malheureusement, you likely have to wait a few minutes more.)

dipping fork chocolate marteau

The folks in Lausanne are generally a pretty cheerful bunch – proud of what they do, and more than happy to share it with others. I was particularly happy they shared three generous platters of chocolate with us – although I was a little miffed I had to share it with the rest of my group— Just kidding you guys!
; )

(Or maybe not…)

Chocolats Blondel
Rue de Bourg 5
Lausanne, Switzerland
(Closed Sunday)



Related Links and Posts

Lausanne

Régis Chocolatier

Chocolatiers and Chocolate-Makers

Chocolate-Covered Salted Peanut Caramel Cup Recipe

Hirsinger Chocolate

*The most common brands of chocolate one finds in France for sale are Nestlé and Lindt.

48 comments

  • lovely! the dipped orange slices are beautiful.

  • Excellent post. You say chocolate has no bad effect on skin. I wonder if the people working there eat less chocolate because they work with it all day and probably get less excited than others when it comes to eating it. I know this happens in a bakery, workers are allowed to eat as much as they want but they eat quite little.

  • My mouth is watering so much! I think that I need a visit there soon. Those chocolate logs and the nuts perched on that glorious shiny chocolate….who cares about having a waistline?

  • I love dark chocolate and it has to contain at least 60% cocoa for me to truly enjoy it. Anything less and I’m not interested. Love the chocolate-dipped orange slices. Cheers!

  • I can agree with it not affecting your skin, but your waistline most definitely! I most loved the chocolate-covered nuts when working in a shop in Virginia. You just kept popping and popping them in your mouth. It’s a nut, so it’s healthy right?! ;) Loved your pictures!

  • Enough is enough! My list of must-try chocolatiers is already a mile long, grace à toi. When will I ever accomplish my eating spree if you just keep adding to the deliciousness?

  • goodness gracious, how I love Blondel.

    The chocolate bark with mint sprinkles is an addiction that I don’t get to feed very often, but I must say that their pâte de fruit is the best I have tried to this day (and I have tried, uhm, like, a couple…)

  • Caroline: Like your pâte de fruit explorations, I’ve had plenty of (er…a couple of) chocolate barks, and that bark filled with pistachios and other nuts was truly amazing. If my luggage wasn’t stuffed to the gills with Swiss wine, I would have brought some home. But it’s probably better I didn’t – now I have an excuse to go back!

  • A client of mine lives in Switzerland and by agreement the last time I did a bit of work for her…in lieu of payment she offered to ship me some chocolates. Swiss chocolates? Yes, please. My package arrived last week and I’m almost overwhelmed with the assortment of bars, each one better than the last. If we do this again though I think I might have to suggest Blondel…oh my.

    Interestingly after sending off the parcel, she and her husband took a weekend trip to Italy where she thought the chocolates outshone their Swiss counterparts however I’m not complaining. The Frigor Lait (milk chocolate with a creamy almond and hazelnut filling) bar we had for dessert last night from Cailler was so above and beyond the typical offerings I can find in Denver…I’m happy.

  • I’m jealous of your Switzerland cheese and chocolate exploits. Nothing like good chocolate for a moment of pure pleasure. I’ve been “good” for the past two years or so, using mostly cocoa powder but I’m starting to give in to the “real thing” every now and then. Screw the waistline. A few inches larger will make look pleasnatly plump :)

  • Yum! Very inspiring! I just made some bark yesterday so was very excited to go their website and see what kind of barks they make. WOW! Basil bark! Poppy seed bark! Quite the selection…
    I have a question about how they pour their bark – it looks so perfectly…perfect… and rectanglular. I see they even have a line drawn and the chocolatier has his hands in it too… Is their a trick?? I don’t make nearly that much and it has a mind of it’s own like an unruly child. It ALWAYS flows over the parchment I put down!

  • amazingly enough, i still haven’t gotten as far west to lausanne. even though, this post may have just sealed the deal. i’ve got your others bookmarked as well, and certainly hope to make it to the french part of switzerland soon. you’ll have to come to the german part too – then we can exchange notes on them both ;) läderach does some mighty fine chocolate bark here with a dozen or so different combinations of ingredients (honey, nuts, fruits, spices, etc.), but those by blondel sound awfully tempting, i have to say…

  • @Chococurious, next time you make bark try using a shallow pan lined with wax paper or parchment. This not only prevents it from flowing over the parchment, it also helps with portion control. Sprinkle whatever you’re using (nuts, cranberries, etc) over the top and then bang the pan down on the counter two or three times to seat everything in the bark. As David mentioned, if the chocolate is tempered properly you’ll be able to enjoy the bark in five minutes or so. Once the chocolate sets score the bark with a sharp knife before cutting all the way through.

    It’s been years since I was in Lausanne; I loved the city and the people and would like to go back again but I just can’t bring myself to book a flight to anywhere but Paris when I travel to Europe.

  • Oh, my goodness. . . .that bark! *swoons*

  • Will: Thanks for adding that tip. Tempered chocolate does set up quickly and they use a marble, which is cool and really makes the chocolate set faster. Also the more add-ins you have (like nuts and dried fruits) the thicker the mixture is.

    Lausanne is just 3+ hrs from Paris and it makes a nice adjacent trip to a visit to Paris. We did a lot during our one week tour!

  • The chocolates are beautiful and delicious to look at. Thanks for sharing David.

  • As always, it look ‘ravissante’!

  • This was not the post to read when menu planning some “lighter fare” for our week!
    What stunning pieces, I can imagine how much lessened their inventory was after everyone in tour left :-)
    Thanks for the great post, I’m eagerly awaiting to see where the next stop was on the tour!

  • Ah ha ! So now I see why you are visiting Switzerland so often :) That chocolate looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g !

    Maybe you know this, but I just finished Coco Chanel’s biography and learned that she is buried in Lausanne.

  • On my 1-day trip to Lausanne I missed Blondel chocs completely!
    Horrors..must go back soon to taste test Swiss chocolate!!

  • OMG! you just nailed my favorite place to go. I love Blondels! that hammered chocolate is to die for. we went in one night right at closing and i can tell they wanted outta there but they were as nice as can be to my pushy American guests who were with us and had no concept of closing time in Switzerland is next to religion. thankfully, i read between the lines and hurried them up.

    but ya, Blondels. anytime i send chocolate to a friend, i go THERE. simply amazing. wish i had been on your tour!

  • David,

    I have a bone to pick with you. I was just in Paris last week for a trip of a lifetime. I planned for this trip for months, relying mainly on several of your blog entries. A highlight of my trip was, of course, Denise Acabo’s shop. The item I was looking forward to the most was the famous Bernachon Kalouga bar. Well, wouldn’t you know that you and the people you were leading on your tour bought up all of them just a couple of days before my visit to her store? At least you left me a couple of Henri Le Roux’s pâte à tartiner jars. Well, I guess I forgive you, but you still owe me a Kalouga bar.

    Mariana.

  • Oh yes! My favourite Blondel’s chocolate :))
    (unfortunately, I work just near their shop ;)

    Greetings from Lausanne!

  • David,

    Great photos, great looking chocolates and your description adds the “drooling” effect. You mention that they use Swiss and French chocolates as the base of their products, but no name. I was wondering if they are using Felchlin’s. Felchlin is the only Swiss chocolate manufacturer that produces higher quality and higher concentration of cocoa in their milk chocolates (that is why I like to use them). (Note: I have absolutely no connection with the company). The Swiss like their chocolate sweeter than others; I do not.

    I also happen to agree with Barbara (although it is a matter of personal preference), that in comparison, Italians produce chocolates with higher cocoa mass, therefore, they taste in accordance. In addition, they are expert in manipulating the cocoa butter concentration in most of their products, which shows in the “mouth feel” of their products.

    Lastly, it is a bit of misconception with respect to the waistline” effects of the top quailty chocolates. Although, I am not advocating to consume an entire bar in one sitting, but cocoa butter (the fat content of the chocolate) does not have the same effect as other fats, like butter; in fact there are studies that demonstrated the cholesterol-lowering effect of cocoa butter.

    Once again, thanks for a great post (my weakness)
    Georgette of Chocolatesandfigs.com

  • @Chocpcurious,

    Most likely they use molds for creating their bars to assure clean borders. There are other methods chocolatiers use to create perfectly sized bars, or bonbons (they use an equipment called guitar) but I doubt they used that method for production of bars.

    Georgette

  • these are gorgeous. the oranges are my favorite photo, but the description of the praline was making my mouth water. thanks so much for sharing with us!

  • Chocolate bark reminds me of Christmas. When I was a kid (oh so many years ago…) my Mother would sprinkle dried cranberries on a baking tray and then pour melted chocolate over top and let it harden. Our task as kids was to break the bark into pieces, not too small or not too large and try very hard not to eat everything in sight. These pieces were then wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon and given to the neighbours or to guests who came for a visit. Good memories. :-)
    I like to dip apricots in chocolate, but may try oranges the next time. They look amazing.

  • I’m not really surprised that the folks of Lausanne are cheerful – I’d be pretty chipper if I had their job, too. Beautiful writing and photo’s, too, thanks David. The oranges look most desirable.

  • Now you have to try some Belgian chocolates too… I think they are even better than the Swiss ones… and I have a couple of Swiss friends that agree with me on that :)

  • nuts… and chocolate… Health food – surely :-)

  • Georgette and Barbara: There are some excellent Italian chocolates, but many are more artisanally made – like Amano and Domori – and are pretty pricey for a chocolate shop to use. The good brands are hard to find outside of Italy.

    (Interestingly, they’re easier to find in America than they are in France; I’ve only seen a few random bars in Paris, for example.)

    Lia: Belgium has some very good, and some average, chocolates. (I worked in a shop in Brussels for a bit and wrote about it in my chocolate book.) Many of the commercially available Belgian chocolates, like Leonidas, are notably sweet, but there are some better ones as well. People like Laurent Gerbaud are making very good chocolates in Belgium nowadays. He actually uses Italian couverture chocolate, too.

  • It seems that I’m always reading your blog when I’m traveling back and forth between Paris and Switzerland. I’m on my way to Vevey this afternoon.

    From reading your blog, I know that you’ve been to Poyet in Vevey, but have you ever tried the artisan chocolate made by a group of chocolatiers, including Blaise Poyet? A friend gave me a box of “Spicy Song” – 7 different chocolate tablets with cardamom, ginger, tonka, espelette & tasmania Pepper, muscade and anise and I love the one with cardamom. At Sfr. 40 a box, it’s a real luxury item, so I’ve been rationing them.

    Here’s the link: http://www.lecarredeschocolatiers.ch/en/chocolats/index.php?idIndex=2&idContent=23

    And thanks for signing 2 copies of your book at the recent signing at WHSmith in Paris, although I made a mistake and gave you the incorrect spelling of the name of the recipient of one of the books. At least I gave you the correct spelling of my name!

  • Self-esteem shattered! How can I call myself a chocolate blogger when I’ve never had the chance to try white chocolate with bitter almonds? Oh, the tragedy!

  • Love the article on Swiss chocolate, I can just imagine the wonderful aroma that must’ve come up from this shop.
    My question is about the pralines, which is one of my favorite candies and one I make at least several times each year. The style I make are simple, brown sugar and walnuts, some butter, vanilla and a pinch of salt. These that you mention are quite different and I would love to learn how to make this type. I imagine the taste would be not at all like the ones I make. Could you please let me in on the difference and tell me where I could find a similar recipe to try?
    Thank you!

  • I was feeling extremely proud of the pistachio butter cups I just posted about, but after looking at these photos I realize I have a looong way to go. Oh the loveliness of those candied chocolate dipped orange slices (and I don’t even like candied fruit…)

  • Hi Debbie: Praline is different than what we in the US think of as “pralines.” Usually in confectionery work, it’s nuts and sugar (in equal parts) caramelized, then left to cool, then ground to a paste in a machine with granite rollers that many chocolate shops have. (A very strong blender might work as well.)

    Am not sure where you’ll find a recipe, but that’s the technique.

  • Oh…and thanks for the lesson on tempering. I was wondering why I had to store my chocolates in the fridge.

  • a glorious post and equally alluring pixies! It’s fascinating to learn so much about my chosen ‘home town’ although I am not living in lausanne presently…. :)

    THREE COOKIES: I have a friend working for one of the delicious chocolate makers – also in Lausanne. She NEVER gets tired of eating their chocolate and praising their produce – even after far over 10 years of working there…. She also is stick-thin and can eat like a horse without putting on any weight. [Quite disgusting I find :)))... ]

    Quality chocolate never goes in the fridge… This my friend is also always telling all her customers. Anyway, you’d never keep those pralinés long enough to actually ‘store’ them… Way too delicious!

  • Just back from a tour of the Theos Chocolate Factory in Seattle where I had the good fortune of interviewing VP Deb Music — I can still smell the chocolate days later. Your post takes me right back to the racks filled with caramels that tasted of creme brulee and ghost chilis, glistening citrus slices being readied for dipping, chocolatiers hand-painting and patching enrobed chocolates with the care of restoration artists in the back rooms of museums. And now to my own kitchen to recreate that nutty bark; just the thing with a bucket of popcorn an old Hitchcock film.

  • I love your posts! And that final picture of the nut studded chocolate – stunning!

  • OMG! I have to start saving for the next tour you do like this.

  • David,

    Thanks for your comment. I believe you meant to mention Amedei (not Amano; Amano is American). With respect to price, unfortunately you are right. But recall the saying: “You got what you paid for?”

    The thing is that each chocolate manufacturer has some great successes and some failures, as well. So, one just need to know how to evaluate their products and select only the successes.

    Are you familiar with Felchlin? Did you ever use their product?

    Thanks,

    Georgette

  • You are making me missing Lausanne! I lived there for 4 years and I take the occasion to suggest you a place to visit at your next trip to Lausanne. I don’t know if you know Tristan, he’s a chocolatier who has a very small shop in Bougy Villars,a nice village looking toward the lake on half way between Lausanne and Geneva. There I found the most tasty and incredible chocolate I’ve ever tried! His chocolat boxes filled with different truffles, paves, chocolate thin tablets and rochers were a must of Christmas and easter periods! I miss it!

  • I’m trying to remember where I saw Blondel outside of Switzerland. It might have been at the Chocolate Show in Paris Porte de Versailles but I’m not quite sure.
    It’s great to mention them anyway, I wish small quality chocolate makers in Switzerland (and Belgium) enjoyed more exposure, similar to that of the French chocolatiers. Nothing better than expanding one’s chocolate horizon.

  • Just made some bark and used gloved hands to spread it out this time. So much easier than trying to move everything around with my spatula! It almost looks as good as theirs :) – and it’s rectangular too!
    Thanks for explaining your technique Will. I will try that the next time I put my inclusions on top. It’s a good idea. And thank you for your feedback Georgette – but it’s the BARK that had me curious not the BARS :) Thanks anyways!
    And thanks for such a great post and photos David. I always love reading your blog and seeing your pics.

  • That sounds and looks incredible! Would love to try some someday :)

  • Hi David! I’m new in your blog, it’s fantastic!!!
    I actually live in Lausanne and I can confirm that these chocolates are the very best!!! I always get some for presents every time I get the opportunity. Great post!

  • That looks like just the place for me! I don’t think I would be able to stop eating the bark too. It’s very dangerous to have around! The milk chocolate ganache logs look very interesting.