Chocolate Overload! We Dare You to Visit All 6 of These Artisanal Shops in Zurich
Mention Switzerland, and most people think of mountains or watches—but most of all, of chocolate. Those silky-smooth milky mounds and luscious ganaches. Those perfect pralines. Those tantalizing truffles! But how many know that the Swiss invented milk chocolate itself? They also came up with chocolate bars (200 years ago), confection-filled bonbons (bring on the sampler boxes) and the “conching” method that creates melt-in-your-mouth fondant (thank you, Rudolph Lindt). It’s no wonder the Swiss lead the world in its consumption, eating 23 pounds per person per year, or the equivalent of a bar a day. If Switzerland is the world’s best country for chocolate, then Zurich is the chocolate capital, packed with as many craft chocolate boutiques as those shops have masterful bonbons under glass. Here are some of the best artisanal chocolatiers in Zurich, where the delights of cacao (which translates to “food of the gods”) have been elevated to an art form.
Walk into Sprüngli’s flagship store in its prime location on Bahnhofstrasse, Zurich’s answer to the Champs Élysées, and you’ll immediately see why connoisseurs throng this family-run emporium of sweets, now run by the sixth generation. Gleaming counters, one after another, show off dazzling creations just as they have since the boutique’s opening in 1859. Among them are Sprüngli’s signature treats: exquisite truffles, including the truffe du jour that is so fresh it’s sold for just 24 hours; light and airy Luxemburgerli (filled macaroons that originated right here and became a symbol of Zurich) in a rainbow of colors and flavors; and bars made with milk from hay-fed cows, which raises the milk fat content. There are so many choices that gift boxes, which are gorgeous, contain as many as 115 varieties. But don’t leave without tasting the best chocolate cake in town. That’s the the dense, rich truffle cake served in the shop’s attached café. “People come here to feel the spirit,” says Sprüngli spokesperson Zoe Gertsch. “There’s no other café like it.” Paradeplatz, Bahnhofstrasse 21
Like Sprüngli, the Confiserie Teuscher, a family business that first opened in the Alps in 1932, uses all-natural ingredients with no chemicals, additives, or preservatives. But here, they’re displayed amid a riot of artificial roses — protruding from vases, hanging from the ceiling, wrapped around columns and clinging to walls. It’s like grandma’s tearoom gone amuck. But don’t let that fool you. Truffles are the refined stars of this show, and they come in some 20 different flavors, including Baileys, orange, jasmine, and the signature Dom Pérignon dusted with powdered sugar. A special dark chocolate truffle is flavored with rose oil or lavender oil, as per your wishes. Eating one is “like remembering a summer day in the South of France,” says salesperson Natalia Guldener. Storchengasse 9
With more than 40 outlets around the country, it’s hard to find a Swiss town that doesn’t have a Läderach Chocolatier with sheet-sized chocolate “bark” beckoning through polished windows. Yes, the airy modern shop on Bahnhofstrasse has its trademark mega slabs in milk, dark, and white chocolate, plain or packed with nuts, cranberries, raspberries, cornflakes, and more. But it also sells more than 60 flavors of truffles and pralines (caramelized almonds in dark, anyone?). The FrischSchoggi (fresh chocolate) line, to be eaten within four weeks of preparation, is a special crowd pleaser. But save room for the newest creation: the light, crisp Maclair — a hunk of chocolate topped with ganache, butter cream, and a delicate macaroon in various flavors, from passion fruit and vanilla bourbon to hazelnut and raspberry. You can watch master chocolatier Adrian Muller fashion custom confections at the back of the store. Please don’t drool. Bahnhofstrasse 106
Lovers of alcohol-spiked chocolate get their kicks at another family-run Zurich institution, Confiserie Honold. Open since 1905, it created the world’s first cherry kirsch baton nearly a century ago. Ready for a Margarita or Caipirinha truffle? How about handmade truffles flavored with cognac, gin, whisky, champagne, sabayon, Grand Marnier, Baileys, and even absinthe? Among the 40 types of confections, Lotti’s Best is a winner—a crunchy tonka bean-flavored nougat enveloped in 65% Venezuelan criollo and milk chocolate sprinkled with fleur de sel. Like Sprüngli, there’s an attached indoor café, or sit at open-air tables out front to sample some of Honold’s delectable pastries and cakes, including crisp Straumann Hüppen chocolate cream-filled wafers that are a favorite in Zurich. Wash them down with a cup of rich hot chocolate infused with—what else—Baileys or rum. Rennweg 53
A modern, minimalist hole-in-the-wall on a narrow cobblestoned side street in Old Town, Max Chocolatier might have been inspired by a child, Max König (the owner’s chocoholic young son), but this boy’s Willy Wonka fantasy is no mass-produced chocolate factory. Rather, the atelier hand-makes each delectable morsel with ethically sourced ingredients and no chemicals, preservatives, or palm oil. It even creates limited editions of one, customized with personal stamps or photos. “When you make something with heart,” explains shop manager Javier Francisco Tamborino,“it makes customers happy.” Max Chocolatier approaches chocolate like fine coffee roasters approach their own beans: it sources single-origin bars based on grand cru from Bolivia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Indonesia, Madagascar, and Venezuela. It shines for creative flavors, too: mirabelle flowers and rosemary; mountain pepper and roasted sesame; candied rose petals, hazelnuts, coconut and passion fruit; and—this is Switzerland—caramel with alpine hay, cassis, and violets. And Max’s fave? The himbeer branchli—a cigar-shaped wonder of raspberry jelly, sweet hazelnut gianduja spread and short crust pastry enrobed in 68% dark chocolate. Top that, Willy! Schlüsselgasse 12
Vollenweider may be the world’s only chocolate shop to name its confections for famous operas, thanks to its opera-loving owner and the shop’s location near the Zurich Opera House. There’s Cosi Fan Tutte (with hazelnuts), Der Rosenkavalier (rose water ganache), Romeo and Juliet (heart-shaped raspberry), Orpheus (hazelnut praline), Fidelio (caramel ganache), Carmen (chocolate mousse), and a dozen others. But those aren’t the only high notes at this family-run business, now in its third generation. Its store, all black marble and crystal accents, showcases chocolates in wildly different shapes. Hankering for a Louis Vuitton handbag made out of black gold? It has it. Want a pair of high heels? You bet. How about a space shuttle to remind you that Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier never flew into space with NASA without packing his Vollenweider? Yes, indeed. The workshop also makes macaroons in wildly different flavors, such as licorice, wasabi, and matcha tea. Be sure to try the fruity-flavored ruby chocolate, made from the ruby cocoa bean—the newest taste sensation since white chocolate made its debut some 80 years ago. Or splurge on the shop’s most expensive bar: 72% dark chocolate with 22-karat gold for a whopping $19. “We try to be innovative,” says clerk Michelle Ruoss. “People are fascinated by what we do.” Theaterstrasse 1