Chocolate is everyone’s guilty pleasure, and why shouldn’t it be? Incredibly diverse in flavors and styles, decadent or light, to be consumed in its pure form or in a baked good, chocolate is one of the greatest gastronomical discoveries in humankind (except for cheese, but we’ll save that for another day). For us, a huge part of travel is enjoying the food that different countries have to offer, and chocolate is an excellent way to understand the various manufacturing methods and preferred flavor profiles. Because it’s true, it’s now very easy to find Snickers and Mars bars all over the world, but you have to travel to experience a genuinely great bite of chocolate.
For example, where are you doing to find the best halvah filled chocolate but the Levantine region? Extremely common in Israel and Lebanon, the honey-scented treat is often seen as an accompaniment to chocolate. You can also find chocolate flavored halvah, though this is far from our favorite as it can be quite heavy.
A more well-known chocolate destination is Mexico. Our friends south of the border have a very different approach to the luxurious treat. The quality of the cocoa beans is quite high, being primarily imported from Columbia. Chili flavors are quite common in chocolate bars, which adds a really nice kick to the silky smooth dark chocolate. A really popular beverage remains Mexican style hot chocolate. Unlike the sprinkling of cinnamon that sometimes tops evening hot cocoa here in the United States, the smoky spice is heavily mixed in with the cocoa, which brings a beautifully warming flavor to bring light to the darkest of places.
Of course, we couldn’t have an article about chocolate around the world without mentioning our friends in Belgium and Switzerland. Chocolate in that part of Europe (with a nod to Germany and the United Kingdom) is very much deserving of all the hype. You will never find better milk chocolate than in the chocolatiers shops in the small Brussels alleys, where you get treated like royalty just for walking through the door. Let yourself be tempted by the overwhelming arrays of sweets, from rustic truffles to ornately decorated ganaches. The Swiss, on the other hand, have a different approach to chocolate. They typically have a much higher cocoa content than that of their Belgian cousins, leading to a richer (and perhaps less binge-worthy) product. Incidentally, one of the most popular fillings of Swiss chocolate has a fascinating historical origin. During Nazi Germany, there was a significant shortage of milk, sugar, and cocoa. Not surprisingly, the Swiss chocolatiers were desperate for a solution, so they started to bulk out their chocolate bars with hazelnuts. Though there is no such shortage today, the tradition has remained.
And finally, we can find amazing chocolates in our own backyard. Chocolate in the United States is a very common treat, and for decades have we looked to our friends across the pond and south of the border for excellence. But at this point, enough American chocolatiers have traveled around the world to bring back the great traditions. They have now been adapted to the notoriously sweet American palate, but the quality remains, and we should be proud of our accomplishments in the world of chocolate.