For a country with such a storied history in chocolate, Switzerland has little to show for new players in the cacao game—that is until Niklaus Blumer and Pascal Wirth decided to follow their passion for dark chocolate and the time-honored Swiss chocolate-making process, and establish Idilio Origins. After receiving several awards from the Academy of Chocolate and two gold medals in the International Chocolate Awards, the Basel-based chocolatiers have proven their products worthy to critics and consumers alike. Through the meticulous sourcing of cacao beans coupled with the Swiss method of long conche production—during which the cocoa particles are massaged and evenly spread throughout the chocolate–Idilio is setting itself apart.
Sometimes inspiration comes from rivalry and for Idilio Origins, it came from their chocolate-producing neighbors. "Swiss chocolate had a good reputation, but Italian and French companies had much better cacao and were able to create better dark chocolate," says Wirth. The duo kept the traditional Swiss long conche method, that is more time-consuming and requires smaller batches and decided to find better cacao themselves. "We discovered that, as with top-class wines, the terroir is crucial for the distinctive flavor of the fruit," Wirth explains. By developing close personal relationships with farmers, Idilio Origins can source the exact character of bean they are looking for.
When CH staff tasted selected bars, it became evident that the Idilio Origins team's hard work paid off. Each bar boasts a bean from a particular farm, with its own variable soil types and weather and thus offers an original flavor palate. Meanwhile the long conche process gives the chocolate a noticeable robust brightness of flavor that balances out the strength; rendering the chocolate void of even a trace of the overly bitter flavor that plagues some dark chocolates.
Idilio Origins chocolate bars start at $14 and are available at finer chocolate stockists worldwide, including online at Formaggio Kitchen.
Images by Hans Aschim