The Best Chocolates in the World

No matter where you grew up, I can guarantee that in a ‘who makes the best chocolate’ debate you will defend your country’s confectionary with tooth and nail (especially tooth). Maybe it’s got something to do with nostalgia – after-school memories of snapping off a piece of chocolate, placing it on your tongue and seeing how long you could let it melt, or scoffing so much chocolate you felt sick and swore you’d never touch it again (as if!). Still, there’s no denying that chocolate varies dramatically depending on where in the world you are. Compare a Hershey’s Kiss with a square of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, or a Neuhaus praline with a Lindt bonbon and you may as well be eating completely different foods. To find out more about these very different sweet treats, join me on a whistle-stop tour of chocolate around the world.

Belgium

Signature chocolate: Neuhaus pralines
Tasting notes: Pralines have a crisp outer shell and a soft centre

belgium-chocolate-shopBelgium has a reputation for chocolate and for good reason – there are over 2,000 chocolateries across the country, many of which still produce their chocolate by hand. The story of Belgian chocolate actually begins with Switzerland-born Jean Neuhaus, who opened an apothecary in Brussels in 1857 selling chocolate-coated medicines. But confectionery was Neuhaus’ real passion and the medicines soon made way for his sweet experiments. Clearly, chocolate ran in the family, as Jean’s grandson would later fill chocolate shells with fresh cream, inventing the praline.

Since 1884, Belgian chocolate has been regulated to contain at least 35% pure cocoa and vegetable fats are strictly forbidden! It is these high standards and a commitment to artisan techniques that makes Belgian chocolate some of the best in the world.

Switzerland

Signature chocolate: Lindt

Tasting notes: Sophisticated, ‘roasted’ flavour thanks to high percentages of cocoa solids.

swiss-chocolateSwitzerland is the home of chocolate as we know it today. When chocolate first reached Europe, it was served as a frothy drink, and early attempts to market solid chocolate were unsuccessful – mainly because the product was so coarse and gritty! Two important things happened in Switzerland to change this: in 1875, after much experimentation, Daniel Peter developed the first milk chocolate recipe using condensed milk (which itself was developed by another famous chocolatier and Peter’s future business partner, Henri Nestlé); then in 1879, Rodolphe Lindt found a way to improve the quality of chocolate using a mixing machine called a ‘conche.’ The mild taste, smooth consistency and melt-in-the-mouth texture of chocolate produced by conching secured the popularity of the chocolate bar, and by the 1920s it had overtaken drinking chocolate completely. Today, Lindt specialises in luxury chocolate in a variety of flavours, not forgetting the famous ‘gold bunny’ that emerges each year around Easter.

United Kingdom

Signature chocolate: Cadbury
Tasting notes: Creamy and sweet with a soft bite

united-kingdom-cadbury-chocolateTo the British, chocolate means one thing and one thing only: Cadbury. The company started life selling tea, coffee and drinking chocolate in the 1820s, and the ‘Cadbury Brothers’ John and Benjamin supplied cocoa to Queen Victoria in the 1850s. But when the company went into decline, John’s sons, Richard and George, made the smart decision to focus on chocolate and introduced a superior quality cocoa to Britain from the Netherlands. In 1905, they developed the wildly popular Dairy Milk, securing Cadbury’s place in history. With a higher milk content than other chocolate bars (still reflected in the ‘glass-and-a-half’ logo), Dairy Milk became known for its creamy taste and quickly became the company’s best-seller. Today, Dairy Milk is sold all around the world. Nerve-tinglingly sweet, the British still can’t get enough of this stuff.

United States

Signature chocolate: Hershey’s

Tasting notes: Malty or sour – produced using a method that is less sensitive to the freshness of the milk.

united-states-hershey-chocolateIn 1900, Milton Hershey made the risky decision to sell his very successful caramel shop to concentrate on chocolate full-time. “Caramels are just a fad, but chocolate is a permanent thing,” he said. The gamble paid off – in 1903, he opened a chocolate factory in his hometown in Pennsylvania, using a top-secret process to produce milk chocolate. Since then, Hershey’s has developed into a chocolate empire with its own amusement park, hockey team and sports stadium!
Much less sweet than European chocolate, many people just don’t ‘get’ Hershey’s. However, America loves it so much that rival companies actually add butyric acid to their recipes, a by-product of the ‘Hershey process’, to mimic the distinctive flavor.

Since 2008, certain Hershey’s products can no longer be considered ‘chocolate’ at all under US Food and Drug Administration rules, since the recipe uses vegetable fat in place of cocoa butter, and eagle-eyed consumers may have noticed the product is now labelled as ‘chocolate-flavoured candy.’ But whatever you call it, Hershey’s has an important place in the American kitchen.
Who makes the best chocolate?

Each of these chocolates (and the many other great varieties from around the world) offer something unique: to me, British chocolate is comforting, American chocolate is great for home-baking, Belgian chocolate makes an impressive gift and Swiss chocolate is pure indulgence. I particularly like the way that Belgian chocolate is still produced by hand in many of the country’s independent chocolateries – however, I have a serious sweet tooth, and for that reason, I will always be a sucker for Cadbury Dairy Milk!

The following two tabs change content below.

5 Responses

  1. Nathan

    Nice post Josh, are you in the UK? Cadbury’s Dairy Milk is my fav too! I’ve never tried Belgium chocolate though, i’ll have to give that a go. I have tried a Lindt bunny – last Easter – that was very nice, but Cadbury’s is still my top choice. Galaxy chocolate is awesome too, it’s made by Mars rather than Cadbury’s. It’s a similar taste – just as sweet – but quite a bit smoother. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should give it a go :)

    I kind of want to taste Hersheys “chocolate flavour candy” too, i’ve never seen Hersheys for sale here in the UK though.

    Reply
    • Josh T

      Thanks Nathan!

      I’m based in the US but have family in the UK. Cadbury is so creamy and satisfying, it’s hard to beat! I haven’t tried Galaxy chocolate but sounds like it could be a close contender. Maybe I will review it soon.

      Hershey’s is in most big stores here in the US. It’s also the #1 chocolate people buy it to make s’mores! It’s on the lower end of the price scale here, but I’m guessing the situation is opposite in Europe. Definitely pick one up if you ever see it!

      Reply
    • Rain

      Hey Nathan! Hershey’s might not be “real” chocolate but it still tastes very good! It still has a chocolatey flavor so it’ll do. lol. So if you ever try it you might like it. But the U.S. actually does have plenty of other chocolatier companies that does produce real chocolate that are also very popular. Just thought I would mention that so that people don’t mistakenly believe that American chocolate is “all” fake! :-O

      Reply
  2. Débora

    I tried all of these chocolates, but I will never eat Cadbury again, it’s terrible. It doesn’t taste as chocolate at all, just like milk with some kind of flavour. By the way, I live in Brazil and I’d say that we have pretty good chocolate’s brands, like Garoto (which was recently bough by Nestlé, from Switzerland) and Kopenhagen (which is quite expensive for Brazilian standards). Both are ways better than Cadbury, though I must admit that Belgian chocolates are the best.

    Reply
  3. Andy

    I lived funnily enough in the countries listed here and I have to agree with Belgian chocolate being on the top!

    Godiva, Neuhaus, Leonidas, Callier (they are experts at chocolate making, its an art there…. you have brands that sell chocolate made exclusively from the finest cocoa beans on the planet)

    Not sure about American chocolate though…. it’s very sweet, mostly chemicals and artificial flavors (America produces quantity, not quality!) I am an American!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Current day month ye@r *