• Deborah Kade

Maison Cailler, the Swiss Chocolate Factory Broc Fabrique, Switzerland

Michael's plane was three hours late last night getting to the Zürich Airport due to weather in London and in Switzerland. At that late hour, most trains going to Bern and then onto Interlaken only run once an hour. It was 1:30 AM on Sunday before we reached Sunny Days.

I had booked our annual chocolate making class for Sunday afternoon. Sometimes on the weekend, they do maintenance on the train tracks. We usually can take trains to reach Broc Fabrique but today we had to take two buses and two trains to reach our destination. It was quite an adventure taking the buses on steep mountainsides with hairpin turn after hairpin turn after hairpin turn, ........ Scenery was breathtaking, though!!!

Before class started, we took the tour. It is the Swiss version of a "walking through Disneyland mini ride".

Everyone has a headset to listen to the narrative. It really is quite informative.

Experience with all your senses the secrets around the origins and manufacturing of Cailler chocolate.

The journey begins with Aztec cocoa ceremonies and takes you through to today’s chocolate innovations. The interactive audiovisual tour shows the history and the various phases of the Cailler chocolate production in an entertaining way.

Touch roasted cocoa beans and follow your nose towards the irresistible scent of freshly made chocolate.

Sniff vanilla beans.

This is a Branch chocolate production line. You see the whole process and at the end of the line you sample a piece.

The chocolate tasting will titillate your taste buds with the aromas of exquisite cocoa, fresh Alpine milk and the best ingredients.

There is a tasting room where you may eat as much as you want. You just can not take any out of the tasting room. In a case, a chocolate or a box of chocolates and the ingredients are displayed . Then, there is a sampling tray or two to try.

As like a Disneyland ride, the tour ends in the retail shop.

Michael and I did not purchase our normal 200 bars. We will come back another day when we can take a train directly here and not have to switch to buses.

At the Atelier du Chocolat, both young and old can create their own chocolate works of art with Cailler's chocolatièrs.

Our instructor for the class today was Patrick. He had an assistant whom helped and also did all the cleaning.

Today, we made Femina pralines. We all prepared together the three different fillings we could use in our chocolates.

There were eleven of us in class. Patrick would give the instruction and explanations for each step. Today he gave the instructions in German, French and English. After his demonstration, we would go back to our stations and complete the step.

At the end of class we took home 36 pralines we had made. We took 24 pralines home in two ribbon boxes and the other 12 in a plastic bag with gold tie. Michael and I took a similar class last year and our tempering of chocolate skills vastly improved this year.

We also received a diploma and the recipe. We could also take home our hat and apron,too. I have quite a collection starting. It has been only the last few years they have included the hat and apron as a gift to take home. Will have to have people over to our house for a class.

The Cailler chocolate making class is always a favorite thing for me to do when we are in Switzerland. We have taken three different classes on truffles (mold, hand rolled, wine), one on lava cakes, a chocolate marble cake and now two praline classes (ganache and now with chopped nuts). I think I may also have forgotten a class.

Michael and I have taken classes with all three of Cailler's expert chocolate masters. In the workshops, one produces fine chocolates and experiments with bitter and sweet tastes and receives insight into the world of tempering, conching, and of the ganache.

Geraldine Maras has been head chocolatière at Maison Cailler since 2014. Previously, her chocolate-making career had taken her to all sorts of exotic places, for example from the Caribbean to Antarctica on board the MS Hanseatic cruise ship. She also worked in Sydney and Bangkok, training young chocolatiers. In 2015, Geraldine won the title of Confectioner of the Year at the Swiss Chocolate Masters. That same year, in the international confectioners’ competition at the World Chocolate Masters, she finished in the top ten, as the only female chocolatièr.

Geraldine’s all-time favorite since her very first visit to the bakery: the chocolate Gugelhopf cake

Thomas Mair has chocolate-making in his genes. As a child, Thomas loved helping his father in the family bakery. After working for a few years as a confectioner in Switzerland, he went to live in America in 1996. Thomas opened his own patisserie, and later began teaching at Virginia College in Birmingham, Alabama. In the US, he was awarded the title of Certified Executive Pastry Chef by the American Culinary Federation, and also won silver and bronze awards in various competitions.

Thomas has worked at the Phoenician Resort in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Since 2014, he has been part of the chocolatier team at Maison Cailler.

Thomas’s favourite chocolate: the unmistakable Fémina praline in the blue-and-white wrapper

Geraldine and Thomas won a bronze medal last year for this creation. We had talked with Thomas last year and he told us he and Geraldine would be entering this competition.

Confectioner Patrick Schneider’s love of chocolate has taken him all over the world. He has worked as a patissier in a 5-star hotel in Bermuda and as head pastelero in Mexico, and complemented his chocolate-making experience with American chocolate expertise in the US. Back in his homeland, Patrick ran the largest patisserie in La-Chaux-de-Fonds for 20 years. His interest in different cultures brought him to Maison Cailler at the beginning of 2015, where he introduces students from all over the world to the chocolatier’s sweet trade at the Atelier du Chocolat.

Patrick’s favorite recipe: sorbet with exquisite cocoa and fresh fruits

Once we came back to Interlaken, we met up by Max and Kathi from Germany. They are on a camping trip which will take them from Germany to Italy. They are staying two nights at a camping site in Ringgenberg which is a tiny village close by Interlaken. On the way down to Italy, they decided to swing by for a visit with us. Went for a late dinner at Città Veccchia and caught up on the news in our lives. On Monday we will go up to the mountains and walk.


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