Whether you like it sweet and creamy or dark and robust, chocolate is undoubtedly one of the most beloved treats across the globe. Luckily, we don’t have to sail across the seas just for a bite of the richest and most delectable cacao confections. In this day and age, many great varieties are available online, and it only takes a few taps on your smartphone to have a sinful box delivered right to your doorstep.
Thousands of chocolate varieties are produced in each continent, but some brands stand out from the rest. This article is your golden ticket to find out the best chocolates in the world even Willy Wonka would approve. So read on, because you’re in for one sweet, gooey treat.
A Brief Background on Chocolate
The origin of chocolate dates back to 450 BC when Aztecs in Southern Mexico made bitter drinks out of fermented cacao mixed with corn puree and spices. Back then, the seeds of cacao were so valuable, people used them as a currency.
Explorers who traveled to the Americas brought cacao home to Europe in the 16th century. There, they prepared it with added sugar and served it as a special treat only for the ruling classes. Today, most of the world’s cocoa supply comes from Western Africa, including Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Nigeria.
What was initially a bitter drink now comes in bars or molded shapes. It has also become a staple addition to various sweet treats such as chocolate cake, cookies, and ice cream.
What Makes for a Good Chocolate?
We all have different preferences for chocolate. But what factors are at play when it comes to producing a great confection?
The amount of cocoa solids in the product is one of the main elements to consider. The standard amounts are 30 percent for milk chocolate and 45 percent for dark. Some of the best chocolates have cocoa solids up to over 70 percent.
Want a no-brainer test about whether the chocolate you have is of good quality? Put it in your mouth. No, seriously. Chocolate milk should melt in your mouth a few seconds after you put it in. Dark chocolate, on the other hand, has a higher melting point, so it might take a few more seconds to turn to goo. However, some low-quality brands include a lot of additives that cause the product to stay solid even in warm temperatures.
Best Chocolate Brands in the World and Where to Find Them
Here are some of the best chocolates in the world that would delight both aspiring confection connoisseurs and regular chocoholics craving for their cocoa fix.
Valrhona (Tain L’Hermitage, France)
This chocolate venture has been making indulgent creations since 1922. Their founder Albéric Guironnet aimed to offer artisan-quality treats with balanced and complex flavors. They have mastered chocolate-making enough to build their own school in 1989 called L’École Valrhona, with branches in its hometown as well as in Paris-Versailles, New York City, and Tokyo. Some of their unique lines include their Grand Cru bars. This includes Alpaco 66 percent, Abinao 85 percent, Jivara 40 percent, and Tanariva 33 percent.
Leonidas (Brussels, Belgium)
Bearing the same name as the Spartan king, this chocolatier has been slaying for more than a century. The company, however, isn’t named after the Greek warrior, but its founder, Greek-American Leonidas Kestekides. Up to this day, it continues to produce great quality chocolate worldwide. One of their best offerings is the Tablette Noir bar. With 70 percent cocoa, it’s a huge hit among purists and dark chocolate lovers. In the same vein, their box of Belgian truffles is a treat too hard to resist.
Vosges Haut-Chocolat (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
This US-based firm is owned by Katrina Markoff, who takes pride in fusing flowers and spices into her chocolate offerings. If you’re looking for a gift for someone who loves unique chocolate flavors, a box of their truffles will surely be a lovely treat. Some of their unique flavors include Balsamico, made from balsamic vinegar from Modena, and Black Pearl, which has ginger, wasabi, and Matcha. They also have Cheddar and Apple Chocolate Bar, Dulce de Leche Chocolate Bar, and Turmeric Ginger Chocolate Bar.
Lindt & Sprungli (Kilchberg, Switzerland)
This Swiss company started its roots in 1845, back when it was still Sprüngli & Son. The business joined forces with Rodolphe Lindt, the inventor of the conching method. Many still viewed chocolate to be a drink when the company started, and they were one of the ventures that first turned it into candy. Today, the brands under the company include Lindt, Ghirardelli, and Russel Stover. Their Lindt Creation Dessert Gift Ballotin includes flavors like creme brulee, meringue, and millefeuille.
Scharffen Berger (Robinson, Illinois)
Before Hershey acquired it, the company was a collab between two chocolatiers. They combed over a hundred and fifty cacao farms around the world to find the best beans for their product. Despite their limited varieties, they take pride in offering chocolate “with the soul of fine wine.” Some of their chocolate flavors are 41% Extra Rich Milk Chocolate Bar, 62% Semisweet Dark Chocolate Bar, 70% Bittersweet Dark Chocolate Bar, and 82% Extra Dark Chocolate Bar.
Godiva Chocolatier (New York City, USA)
Though the company first came to the business in Brussels, Belgium in 1926, it now has its headquarters in the Big Apple. The company has done so well in making delectable creations that they appointed the brand as an official chocolatier to the Royal Court of Belgium in 1968. Their Signature Truffle Gift Box includes mouthwatering pieces like Aztec Spice, Salted Almond, and Creme Brulee Truffle.
Teuscher (Zurich, Switzerland)
Founded in the Swiss Alps over 80 years ago, this company committed itself to produce good quality chocolates. Today, they make it a point to source the finest cocoa, fruits, marzipan, nuts, and other components they use for their products. Some of their famous offerings include champagne truffles. They also have chocolate bars that come in a variety of flavors, including pepper, chili, and mandarin.
Richart (Lyon, France)
In business since 1925, this brand is managed by third-gen Richarts who pledged to continue the brand’s legacy. The shop is a go-to for people searching for gourmet chocolates and other treats like French Macarons. They offer what is called the Initiation box, which contains 36 chocolate squares and 49 filled chocolates. Their wide range of flavors includes tangy yuzu, warm licorice, lemon thyme, walnut, exotic curry, and deep neroli.
Jacques Torres Chocolate (New York City, USA)
You might know Jacques Torres from his appearances in TV shows including Chocolate with Jacques Torres, Nailed it!, and Next Great Baker. This world-renowned chef started his culinary career in France before moving to the US, where he worked at top restaurants. Soon after opening his shop in Dumbo, his business grew and he opened branches in Soho-Hudson, Upper West Side, Rockefeller Center, and Midtown. You can also buy his products at Grand Central Terminal, where he has two shops. One of their famous boxes, Jacques’ Choice, features yummy flavors, including PB & J, Chai Tea, Earl Grey, and Golden Espresso.
The Hershey Company (Hershey, PA)
Founded by Milton Hershey in 1894, the company became the leading chocolate company in the US. According to stats, Hershey’s products account for five out of the ten leading chocolate candy brands in the US in 2017. Their best-selling products include Hershey’s Bar, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Hershey’s Kisses, and Hershey’s Nuggets. The business has become so big, they even launched a Hershey’s Chocolate World a ttraction.