Swiss Chocolate Pioneers: Francois-Louis Cailler and Chocolate Ginger Pear Fudge Cake

Map of Switzerland

The middle of the 19th century brought great changes to the country of Switzerland. Science and entrepreneurs came together at an opportune time – to make Swiss chocolate. Swiss chocolate makers were responsible for some of the greatest achievements in the world of chocolate between 1830 and 1870. What came out of this “Chocolate Renaissance”? The chocolate bar, chocolate fondant, milk chocolate, and the melangeur (A machine used in chocolate manufacture for mixing chocolate liquor with sugar and cocoa butter. Also known as a paste mixer.) Many of these techniques are still used today. So who were these Swiss chocolate pioneers? The were Francois-Louis Cailler, Charles-Amedee Kohler, Daniel Peter, Heinrich Nestle and Rudolph Lindt. Today we will be learning about Francois-Louis Cailler.

Francois-Louis Cailler

Francois-Louis Cailler has been dubbed the father of the modern chocolate factory and of the chocolate bar. Two very nice titles to have! Cailler is rumored to have studied the art of chocolate making at Cafferal Chocolates in Italy. He started his small chocolate business at the age of 23 in En Copet, Switzerland. Prior to Cailler putting up shop, both French and Italian handmade chocolates were quite easily available. Cailler, however, thought he could bring current advancements into the chocolate world and make high quality chocolates on a large scale by machine.

Milk Chocolate Bar (Relative of the chocolate block)

It is thought that Cailler was also the first chocolate maker to produce chocolate in individual serving blocks. Hence, the birth of the chocolate bar. Prior to this time, chocolate was sold in the Italian style which meant cutting how much the customer wanted from a long roll of chocolate right in the store. Cailler also experiment with many flavors in chocolate by adding vanilla, cinnamon and other spices to his couverture, something that was never previously done. Cailler was also a pioneer in selling his chocolate outside of Switzerland and well as in the country, also a new concept. His chocolate loving customers included Charles Maurice de Talleyrand who was a diplomat to King Louis XVI of France.

Cailler Chocolate Bar Advertisement

Cailler passed down his skills to his sons and grandsons who continued the chocolate making business through the turn of the 20th century. Cailler’s grandson, Alexandre Cailler worked with his uncle, Daniel Peter, who was the husband of his Aunt Fanny to continue the traditions Francois-Louis Cailler started. Together they marketed Cailler milk chocolate to the world. The chocolate business became so large that Cailler employed 1,300 Swiss workers at their peak of success. Alexandre followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and also studied chocolate making in Italy to broadened his chocolate making skills.

Chocolate Ginger Pear Fudge Cake

Serves 12

3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon yeast (or use flour with yeast incorporated)
3 ripe pears
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, shredded (or ginger powder)
unsalted butter for baking dish
Optional: Powdered Sugar to decorate,a side of whipped cream or ice cream (ginger ice cream would be fantastic!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter baking dish (I use a 3” deep souffle pan or a 9” x 9” metal pan.). Peel pears. Cut into thick slices. Place slices, going from the center to the edges, on bottom of baking dish. It should look like a multi-tipped star or you can simply do rows. Combine flour, yeast, ginger, and cocoa powder. Stir. In another bowl mix the butter and sugar until it is smooth. Stir in 2 eggs, one at a time into butter cream. Slowly add flour mixture. Stir until well blended. Pour batter into baking dish over pears. Bake for about 30 minutes.

Check to see if it is cooked by inserting the blade of a knife. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, continue baking until finished.
Turn off the oven, leave cake inside, with oven door open, for 10 minutes. Sprinkle top with powdered sugar and serve slightly warm or cold.

(You can scoop the cake out of the pan or try inverting it so it will fall out with the pears on top.  Make sure you butter the pan generously if you want to do this.  When cake has cooled, run a knife around the sides. Place a plate on top of the pan and flip it over. Gentle tap on the bottom until the cake comes out of the pan.)

Chocolate Ginger Pear Fudge Cake

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