Monday, January 21, 2013

A Taste of Colombia with a Twist of Swiss Tradition

Imagine the tropical flavours of Colombia combined with Swiss-style chocolate.  Well imagine no more because Astor, a Colombian chocolate brand, makes that precise range of chocolate bars.

So how does a Colombian chocolatier make Swiss chocolate? Well, way back in 1930 in Medellin, Colombia, a Swiss couple, Enrique Baer and Anny Gipppe, opened a tearoom called Astor. With seven other locations still open today, its mission is to develop, produce and market bakery products, ice cream, confectionery and more (ref).  So with a strong influence of Swiss tradition in chocolate-making, the company now makes a range of chocolate bars in Colombia.

So how did I learn about chocolate in Colombia? Astor chocolate has made its way to Canada! I was introduced to Astor's chocolate bars at the Toronto Luxury Chocolate Show last Fall by FLO Trading, a Toronto company that imports and distributes gourmet Latin American products to the Canadian market, including the Astor line of chocolate bars.

Although many of Astor's confections are based on Swiss tradition and recipes, they combine chocolate with fruit and ingredients native to Colombia to create interesting flavour combinations.  For example, the "Milk Chocolate with Physalis" bar is one such combination.

You might be asking yourself: What exactly is physalis? "I asked myself the same question when I first read the label of the chocolate bar. As it turns out, Physalis fruit are a significant export product for Colombia" (ref: Wikipedia) and are native to warm temperatures and subtropical climates. They look like small orange tomatoes enclosed in paper husks. These are also often called groundcherries.

This is Physalis.
The photo originated from

In Astor's milk chocolate, these dried physalis have a very strong, tart flavour, much in the way that raspberry or cranberry flavours can offer an explosion of sour flavour in chocolate.  But the taste and texture is similar to a mix of dried fig and cranberry. It definitely offsets the sweetness of the milk chocolate. And it certainly offers a taste of Colombia.

I also tried Astor's White Chocolate and Coffee bar, which was a nice combination of not-too-sweet white chocolate couverture with crunchy ground and whole coffee beans. With 32% cocoa solids (i.e. cocoa butter), it was quite good.

I purchased two other chocolate bars by Astor that I have not yet tried, a 59% Dark Chocolate with Feuilletine bar and a 59% Dark Chocolate with Almond and Sun Dried Banana. Certainly the Feuilletine reminds me of a Swiss chocolate combination and the Sun Dried Banana adds a nice Colombian tropical touch. However, I will not eat these two chocolate bars. Instead, I will share them with some lucky readers! Follow this blog on Twitter or 'Like' it on Facebook or become a blog 'Follower' (on the right side of this screen) by January 31, 2013 in order to enter the contest to win these two chocolate bars.

More on Astor (Colombia)...
For more information on Astor's products and particularly their range of chocolate bars, visit:

Astor the American Brand...
You may be confused by this information if you have heard of an Astor Chocolate before. In fact, there is another Astor Chocolate, the family-owned business that was established in New York in 1950 and uses Belgian chocolate to make their confections. They are very different from the Astor-branded chocolate from Colombia; although they sell some chocolate bars under the brand, they also market a huge range of chocolate gift items and confections.

More on Colombian Chocolate...
The only other Colombian chocolate that I have tried, which was very tasty, was Chocolate Santander's 65% single origin Colombian chocolate bar. The beans are of Trinitario and Criollo variety (unlike the inferior-tasting Forastero beans which are used in mass-produced chocolate) and the chocolate is made with environmentally friendly techniques.

1 comment:

  1. If you love chocolate then you should attend the biggest show about it, me and my friends will be there and I'm sure it will be awesome.