Monday, March 29, 2010

Sweet Swiss Treats in Toronto (say that 5x fast!)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Swiss-Master Chocolatier is the kind of place that feels like home: it's certainly the tiniest chocolate shop I've been in but that's part of its charm - it feels so warm and comfy. Might I add that being surrounded by chocolate on all sides is my idea of heaven!

Swiss-Master's owner, Ingrid Laderach Steven, is a Swiss chocolate expert in every sense of the word - right down to the truffle she makes with the very popular Swiss Florentine (candied fruit - orange rind in most cases - and toasted nuts covered in honey and sugar and baked until the mixture is a nice caramel brown colour). She's from Lucerne, and her family's chocolate-making legacy goes back generations. She said as kids each family member had to learn how to make chocolates!

She personally led a tasting of her top-selling truffles for Mark and I tonight. We tried (top row in picture from left to right):
  • Fruit of the Gods: Delicious dark chocolate* truffle made from the Criollo cocoa bean
  • The Dome: Buttercream ganache with a creme brulee top**
  • Griotte: Whole cherry soaked in cherry liqueur and dipped in dark chocolate
  • Champagne-infused truffle: With a dusting of icing sugar
  • Rigolleta: Creamy milk chocolate truffle with a Florentine top
    *Mark's favourite truffle
    **My favourite truffle

So if the truffles sound amazing, and believe me they were, wait until I tell you about the chocolate-covered strawberries. INCREDIBLE. By far my favourite thing we tried. The first bite I had was all chocolate, it took me two bites to get to the plump juicy strawberry. I loved them so much because I realized at that moment that I've had way too many mediocre chocolate-covered strawberries - you know what I mean, the ones that use a thin chocolate coating dip, and I guess people think they can skimp on the quality of the berries - these were the best of the best in terms of strawberries, and Ingrid used tempered chocolate - and lots of it. First each plump juicy sweet strawberry is covered with tempered white chocolate, and then with dark chocolate. They only have them at certain times of the year so be sure to call ahead.

Ingrid also makes liqueur chocolates. Mark tried a Kirsch one, while I tried a plum liqueur truffle. She wasn't kidding - they are STRONG! But the sweetness of the chocolate went nice with the kick of the liqueur. Incredible. Ingrid told us in Switzerland kids are allowed to have these chocolates, but in Canada they have a strict rule: They are not to be sold to minors!

It's nice to support a local chocolatier, especially one who will be celebrating her 25th year at her shop and who has established an amazing and loyal local following (and a celebrity following - Prince is among her visitors!) And with the amount of attention she pays to her chocolate, I can see why she's so well-loved in the area (come on, LOOK at that picture up there ^^^> Do you SEE the amazing swirl painting she did on it?!)

Ingrid's got an amazing and touching philosophy behind her chocolates - ask her to read you her “Beautiful Chocolates for Beautiful People”
promise, it's really touching - she's so sweet and we really enjoyed our time there - so much so that we came right home and wrote this post. Goodnight all!

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