Not surprisingly, you’ll find the Batz neuchâtelois in the French-speaking canton of Neuchâtel. This chocolate specialty gets its name from an ancient form of currency in this region. Here are 10 facts about this Swiss treat that comes in a triangular box with a retro design.
1. Created in 1948 – The local society of Patrons Confiseurs-Patissiers-Glaciers inaugurated the Batz neuchâtelois to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the historic March 1st revolution. in 1848, a people from this region united to overthrow the rule of a Prussian King and establish a democratic form of government for the canton.
2. An ancient coin – Chocolate-makers in Neuchâtel designed the commemorative chocolates after the Batz, a coin minted in this region from 1589 to 1810. According to text on the box of chocolates, this historic currency was in circulation from the late 16th century until the mid-19th century.
3. Milk and dark chocolate – The Batz come in two flavors – milk chocolate or dark chocolate. These chocolates have a couverture shell with a chocolate praline filling made with almonds and hazelnuts. The ingredients for the chocolates include the following: sugar, hazelnuts, cocoa butter, cocoa (6%), almonds, skimmed milk powder, butterfat, soy lecithin and vanilla.
4. Swiss Pralines: Pralines in the US generally refer to a sweet treat made with nuts, often pecans, boiled in sugar until it makes a brown, crisp candy. In Switzerland, Pralines like the Batz have a chocolate shell with a smooth, creamy chocolate and ground nut filling.
5. A special box – You can purchase these round chocolates in a triangular box with red and white stripes modeled after an ancient version of the canton’s flag. In the center of the of the box is an illustration of the coin.
6. Federal currency law: In 1850, a federal law in Switzerland effectively abolished the Batz by establishing the franc as the national currency. According to the Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse, the remaining coins were taken out of circulation and melted down or kept by coin collectors. You can see examples of these coins via the online collection of the Musée d’art et d’histoire de Neuchâtel.
7. When to enjoy them: A traditional time to serve these chocolates in the canton of Neuchâtel is with a coffee at the end of a meal.
8. Re-releasing the Batz: To celebrate the 1000th anniversary of the Ville de Neuchâtel, a limited edition of Batz coins made of bronze were sold to the public and entered into circulation in the city in 2011. At the time, these 5-batz coins carried a value of 10 francs. It was only accepted as a form of payment at retailers during the Millennium celebrations, from March 1 to September, 2011.
9. Who makes them: Only members of the Association des Artisans Boulangers-Pâtissiers-Confiseurs of the canton of Neuchâtel are authorized to make Batz neuchâtelois.
10. Where to find them: In the old city center of Neuchatel, three confiseurs still make and sell these pralines: Chocolaterie Walder, Wodey-Suchard, and Confiserie Schmid. You can find them throughout the year at these shops.