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In search of the chocolate makers of Lausanne this Easter

Pauline, the culinary explorer
Pauline, the culinary explorer
March 24, 2021

As a chocolate addict since my childhood I have often spent my birthday weekend on the hunt for Easter eggs. As the years went by, I no longer looked for the chocolates in the garden, but went straight to the chocolate makers themselves! Because who said that Easter chocolates were only for children? This year I had the chance to go and meet the chocolate makers of Lausanne to discover what they have in store for us for this Easter’s celebrations. This year more than ever, I want to treat myself and my loved ones to some delicious chocolate creations that will give us all a little respite, while supporting local businesses. Come with me on my chocolate tour!

1. Maison Buet

Rue Grand-Saint-Jean 6, 1003 Lausanne and Rue Haldimand 11, 1003 Lausanne

Everyone in Lausanne knows about Maison Buet In their two shops Anita, Laurent and their 28 employees have won the hearts of the people of Lausanne over the past 20 years. The two young-at-heart enthusiasts have always been passionate about their job and take great pleasure in conceiving and making new chocolate creations every year to enchant their customers’ taste buds and make them dream. After discussing and mulling over a theme for their Easter creation, Anita takes her pen and draws what they have imagined and then leaves Laurent to search his workshop for moulds, tools and tricks to bring these chocolate creations to life. After a tough year for everyone, they decided to put the spotlight on local artisans, which means you will be able to taste products from a cheesemaker, market gardener, cook and talented butcher. Each piece requires a great deal of work to assemble the chocolate pieces and all their little marzipan accessories.  These characters, available in 52% dark chocolate or 36% milk chocolate, will, I’m sure, be appreciated by young and old alike. You will also find their delicious pralines filling eggs that are handcrafted, right down to the ribbon and traditionally tied by hand. Such passion for detail delights their adoring customers.

2. Nessi

Avenue du Temple 65, 1012 Lausanne

Welcome to Nicolas Nessi, chocolatier and pastry chef for more than 30 years in La Sallaz and winner of the Lausanne Chocolatier Prize in 2014. After so many years spent perfecting his techniques in his workshop, he doesn’t even smell the delicious chocolate fragrance in his workshop anymore (but the smell filled my nostrils). Passionate about chocolate and its origin, he selects them according to his personal taste and has even visited a cocoa farm in Costa Rica to really learn about where his products come from. He passes this know-how onto his apprentices, who are also the talented individuals behind the little rabbits with sunglasses. Since mid-January, the whole team has been busy preparing sublime and delicious creations which are available in two varieties of dark chocolate: SamBirano 68% (Madagascar) and Macaraibo (Venezuala) 65%. Milk chocolate lovers can choose between SamBirano 32% (Madagascar) or Rio Huimbi (Ecuador) 42%. This year’s novelty: the “Piou Piou” too sweet! Once again this year look out for their funny bunnies, like Paf the rabbit, a character posing with his backside in the air. Something which will surely make the whole family laugh during the egg hunt.

3. L’Espace Chocolat

Av. Frédéric-César-de-la-Harpe 27, 1007 Lausanne

Created almost 25 years ago in Lausanne, the Espace Chocolat is an institution. Christophe and Sonja took the time to share their passion for chocolate with me. A very close-knit team of six people, like a family, manages two shops: one in Lausanne and one in Yverdon. For several years now, they have been using the bean-to-bar technique, in this case the bean (which later becomes the bar) originates in Cameroon. This allows them to tweak the aromas and flavours with precision. A unique skill. For Easter, you can find moulded milk, dark or white chocolates that are “almost” too cute to eat, like this cute bunny with its dummy! In addition, this year they have once again come up with some sublime creations made of 40% milk chocolate, such as this sheep and this newly-hatched chick. If you like their pralines, they also have beautiful 62% dark chocolate shells that will be filled with freshly made pralines. The perfect gift for your mother-in-law and you’ll be sure to earn some brownie points ;). Christophe is impatiently waiting for things to return to normal so he can welcome you back to his workshop and share his passion and knowledge with all chocolate addicts like me.

4. Noz

Rue Marterey 11, 1005 Lausanne

Nicolas Noz has been passionate about pastry and chocolate making since he was a child, just as his great-grandfather and grandfather were. It’s already been 30 years since Nicolas and his wife Anne-Lise opened their shop in Lausanne and they are now well supported by a dozen employees who they consider to be one big family.  They both have a love for art which is once again reflected in their Easter creations. Three sublime egg variations (just as precious as those of Fabergé) embellish their display case, which has been decorated with great taste by Anne-Lise. You will find three egg variations: a decoration inspired by the works of Mondrian, golden shells which create a solar atmosphere and finally marbled eggs.  Such handmade artistic precision that it makes you forget the key ingredient: the chocolate, a top-of-the-range product that is chosen with care. In addition to the delicious chocolate, these little eggs are accompanied by a wooden rack handmade in Morocco, a place dear to the heart of Anne-Lise, who personalises her chocolate creations every year with an accessory that will remain as a souvenir after tasting the chocolate, like a double gift. For the youngest, funny chocolate characters are already available in the shop, such as Scrat perched on his egg, the cat-rabbit or this rabbit with its mouth wide open. One thing is certain, the eggs will look and taste delicious!

5. Durig

Avenue d’Ouchy 15, 1006 Lausanne and Rue Mercerie 3, 1003 Lausanne

Here we are at Durig, which offers its customers certified organic and fair trade chocolates. Dan Durig himself considers these values to be a guarantee of quality. The other ingredients are purchased locally and, if possible, organically. Their chocolate is neither too sweet nor too fatty. Their new product this year is Ruby chocolate bunnies, a pink chocolate that tastes like white chocolate but with a hint of acidity and a note of red fruit, which makes it lighter than white chocolate in my opinion. It will be no easy task hiding this bunny in the garden though, because one thing’s for sure: it’s eye-catching. Added to this are their classic milk-hazelnut moulded chocolates and their large eggs with mischievous smiles, which are filled with a homemade frying mixture in white, milk and dark chocolate. Their creations are available in 42% milk or 68% dark chocolate (Peru and Santo Domingo). Special feature: their chocolate chickens and fish are like fondue: half and half! Something to delight the most indecisive!

6. Chalet Chocolat

Chemin des Lentillières 5C, 1023 Crissier

Passionate about chocolate since she was a little girl, Stéphanie trained and worked with the great Tristan Carbonatto before opening her own chocolate shop in 2018. In her cute little shop located in Crissier, this Easter you will find sweet creations, with big eyes and a face ready to be devoured. A big fan of Piedmont hazelnuts, she can’t help but put them everywhere, like on the noses of their bunnies, which are made of a coated hazelnut. The team works with several suppliers (all Swiss) and the beans come from several countries (Ghana, the Caribbean, Ecuador, Venezuela). Their Easter creations are unique because they are entirely handmade at the team’s discretion, drawing on age-old expertise that they want to keep alive. This year, the team of women has created fine bunnies that come in four different chocolates: white, milk, dark 52% and dark Grand Cru 72% Arriba (FairTrade). When it comes to their little eggs, they have dared to use less traditional Easter flavours, but ones which are just as explosive. You will find 52% dark chocolate eggs with wild berries, milk chocolate and Chaï spices, and white chocolate stracciatella.  To brighten up this gloomy period and transport us to distant shores this spring, Lisa and Stéphanie have also created a chocolate alpaca in XL size (1.5kg), which will delight even the greediest among us.

7. Manuel

Rue de Bourg 28, 1003 Lausanne

Located in the Rue du Bourg, Manuel’s shop has been around since 2017, but the origin of the brand dates back to 1845. Six generations of confectioners, pastry chefs and caterers have succeeded one another, with Alexandre and Christine now at the helm. Manuel chocolates are made and prepared according to traditional recipes in their laboratory in Crissier. This year, for Easter, you can sample their rabbit family made up of Maman Tina, Papa Tino, Gus, Nino and Speedy (all available in 38% milk or 52% dark chocolate). Their friend Croque Carotte made of orange-tinted milk chocolate will delight everyone with his funny face! Fans of their pralines and truffles will also be happy to find their shells filled with these precious chocolates, such as the “Mascotte” with a shell made of dark chocolate containing nougat and crunchy caramel. And finally, for some sweet treats to nibble on, you will find their little quail eggs made with, for example, a subtle coulis of Kalamansi (a small Asian citrus fruit), a creation that helped the Manuel team to win the Rallye du Chocolat prize.

8. Fleur de Chocolat

Can’t make it to the centre of Lausanne to buy your Easter chocolates? No problem, you’re sure to have a Fleur de pain shop near you. In 2015, the brand integrated a range of chocolates created by a renowned Swiss master chocolatier, which you can find in all their shops. For Easter, they are offering four handcrafted creations made with delicious 35% milk or dark chocolate and available in two sizes. Their classic bunny “Firmin le Lapin” will be accompanied this year by a chocolate shell filled with almond rochers and praline eggs. Milk chocolate lovers can adopt Bibi the chick or enjoy their huge “gourmet eggs”, filled with milk and dark almond rochers. The youngest member of the family is Gaston the sheep. It is impossible not to fall for this cute little guy made of 64% pure dark chocolate from Madagascar. Nothing stops us from adopting the whole family, right?

9. Jacot

Rue Centrale 6, 1003 Lausanne

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Jacot brand, the Lausanne boutique opened its doors in 2019. The family-run business was founded in Noiraigue in 1949 and now consists of four boutiques (Noiraigue, Marin, Neuchâtel and Lausanne) with production still on the original site. For Easter, you will find moulded chocolates with original flavours such as their collection of Chinese chocolates available in classic milk and dark, but also in dark-raspberry and milk-caramel fleur de sel chocolate. Their large rabbits with huge ears are particularly crunchy thanks to the puffed rice chocolate contained within them. Finally, this year’s creation is the “Facettes” egg, a sublime egg made of 64% dark chocolate and caramelised cocoa beans which sparkles thanks to the gold powder delicately deposited on its surface. It will be perfect for lovers of intense grand cru chocolate!

10. Blondel

Rue de Bourg 5, 1003 Lausanne

It was in 1850 that the Blondel brand was born in the Place Saint François in Lausanne and 40 years later it moved to the Rue de Bourg where it has remained ever since. In 1953, the chocolate maker Alain Frayssac inherited the Blondel know-how, which he passed on by word of mouth to the Polli family, including current shop manager Luc, in 2001. In 2019, the chocolate factory was restored, with the aim of keeping the original Blondel spirit, to the extent that even part of the counter from the time was preserved. For Easter this year, the respect for tradition is also reflected in their chocolates. Every colour of these beautiful handcrafted moulded chocolates is delicately detailed with a brush.  Blondel is known for the variety of sheets called “au marteau” or “with a hammer”, but also for their delicious pralines and rustic truffles, which you can discover this Easter inside delicious chocolate-almond or chocolate-nougatine shells (milk 32% or dark 48%). The team is keen to keep up its traditional know-how, right down to the decoration of the shells, whose bows are still all made by hand to add a festive touch to their creations. It will be difficult not to give in to temptation before Easter!

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