Chocoholics! Your prayers have been answered. Swiss chocolates (and other Swiss treats) have their own holiday, and The Swiss Bakery is throwing the party.
The "Swissmas" party will include live music, Samichlaus (otherwise known as Santa Claus), wine tastings, and an abundance of homemade foods like cookies, fondue, and ice cream. Visit the bakery's location in Springfield to join in the festivities on Saturday, December 11 between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Personally, I couldn't wait until Saturday to taste what The Swiss Bakery has to offer. I visited their original location in Burke, where I got to preview the bakery's delectable treats.
Laurie Weber, who owns the bakeries with her husband, Reto, showed me around the store, which features countless imported groceries and freshly prepared treats like ice cream, breads, sweets, mocha lattes, sandwiches, and salads.
I began my gourmet sampling the way all meals should begin—with dessert first. My single scoop of Swiss Chocolate Ice Cream ($1.95) was just big enough to satisfy a cool craving, but no larger. One spoonful filled my mouth with rich, milk chocolaty flavor. It was remarkably smooth on my tongue with an almost chewy consistency that I had never experienced before.
Excitedly I moved on to the cookies, starting with the Snowflake Fondant Cookie ($2.25). I was struck by its elegant decoration. The snowflake-shaped sugar cookie was glazed in pale white icing, with an arctic blue snowflake piped on top. A sprinkling of large, sparkling sugar crystals brought the cookie to life.
The icing crunched when I bit into it and the cookie dissolved into my mouth. It tasted buttery and floury, just like the Christmas cookies my grandmother used to make when I was growing up.
After devouring the cookie I tried the Almond Nougat ($0.32/ea). The little golden cube was made of soft nougat and closely layered, thinly sliced almonds. The textures played with my tongue as I enjoyed the earthy nuts and sweet rich nougat that tasted like honey and brown sugar.
Next were the Biberli ($0.32/ea). These were bite size pieces of marzipan wrapped in a ribbon of gingerbread cookie. They tasted good, but the gingerbread was so hard that I was a little afraid that I would chip my tooth.
Fortunately the Maple Pecan Cookies ($0.32/ea) were much easier to eat. They were simple, earthy and mildly sweet.
Possibly the best of them all was the Raspberry Thumbprints ($0.32/ea). The small glazed cookies with raspberry topping already looked delicious, but they tasted even better than I had imagined. The topping burst with the taste of fresh raspberries. It was gooey, sweet, and mildly tart. The cookie itself was soft and its almond flavor was a natural compliment for the raspberry. I found it remarkable that such a small cookie could do so much to my taste buds.
With the cookies gone I moved on to the larger deserts, the first of which was a Pumpkin Cheesecake ($4.50). The individual-sized, glossy, orange cake was crowned with a small, dark piece of chocolate lace.
Normally I am not a fan of flavored cheesecakes because usually they either taste too much like cheesecake and not enough like their namesake flavor, or they taste too much like their namesake flavor and not enough like cheesecake. I was pleasantly surprised to find that this cake was perfectly balanced. I could distinctly taste the pumpkin and spices and I could still taste the cheesecake. It was very rich and had an airy, whipped texture.
Instead of a graham cracker crust underneath, there was a gingerbread cookie crust. It was almost perfect. The only problem I had with it was that it was very difficult to eat. The beautiful, glossy, outer layer was gummy and sticky and consequently stuck to my fork every time I tried to scoop up a bite. Otherwise I enjoyed it.
The last of the deserts was the Tiramisu ($4.50). A perfectly round pillar of mascarpone rum mousse and espresso soaked ladyfingers towered before me, crowned in paper thin chocolate shavings. A white chocolate triangle patterned with espresso bean print stuck proudly into the air. The moist, creamy dessert was soft enough to eat with a spoon. It was truly decadent.
With the tiramisu finished, the dessert course was over, but I was excited to try the Laugen Cheese ($1.50). It was a large roll made from pretzel dough and covered with melted Swiss cheese. The salty pairing was simple and powerful. Even though I was starting to feel full, I knew with one bite of that I could have eaten ten more of them.
My final item was the Tarragon Chicken Salad ($5.00). The first thing I noticed was that the texture of the chicken was that of actual chicken meat, and not of the sticks of chicken that are commonly found in prepackaged chicken Caesar salads at the grocery store. A generous helping of green onions provided the initial flavor kick before giving way to creamy earthy flavors. Bitter lettuce, sweet grapes, and a juicy strawberry framed the salad in its container. I found it to be very satisfying.
It is clear to me that the Webers are very talented at their craft. Their talent, experience, and attention to detail make The Swiss Bakery an ideal place to shop for all things decadent.
To see more of what The Swiss Bakery has to offer, visit www.TheSwissBakery.com.
The Swiss Bakery and Pastry Shop
9536 Old Keene Mill Road
Burke, Virginia 22015