Belgian vs. Swiss chocolate….I know what you’re thinking, does it really matter? Chocolate is chocolate after all! However, it turns out that there really is a difference when it comes to what is produced by these two chocolate powerhouses. But first a little history about chocolate….we have the Aztecs to thank for figuring out that chocolate was consumable as well as owing Spain some gratitude for her conquistadores bringing it to Europe. Spain kept the secret of this magical elixir secret for many years. Interestingly enough, other European countries such as France, England and Italy next adopted this treat getting into the chocolate culture much sooner than the two countries which have become the most strongly associated with it.
Although Switzerland is synonymous today with chocolate, there was a time when it was banned there because it had a reputation as being an aphrodisiac. Also, chocolate was only available in cocoa or liquid form until the late 19th century. It was the Swiss who came up with the idea to add cocoa butter back into the chocolate and the method to do so, as well as being the creators of milk chocolate. However, it was the Belgians who invented the praline and chocolate truffles with all their various exotic fillings.
- Beans – In order to find its own chocolate supply, Belgium acquired the Congo, this gave the country easy access to the cocoa fields there and they still source their beans mainly from Africa. Switzerland sources beans not just from Africa, but from South America as well.
- Texture – Swiss chocolate has a smoother texture. Rudolph Lindt invented the process of conching, refining the texture of chocolate by warming it and then grinding it between rollers. This is in contrast to other chocolatiers who use artificial emulsifiers to create a smooth chocolate.
- Storage – Most chocolate companies received their chocolate in solid form. The chocolate must then be reheated to use it. Belgian companies often receive their chocolate in heated tanker trucks, which since the chocolate has not cooled after the tempering process; it keeps more of the flavors and aromas.
- Milk vs. Dark – The Swiss are masters of milk chocolate; over 80% of the chocolate consumed in the country is milk chocolate. When Swiss milk chocolate is compared to milk chocolate from other countries, the Swiss chocolate is creamier due to its higher milk content and it contains less cocoa and more sugar. By contrast, those who prefer dark chocolate, appreciate the higher cocoa content of Belgian chocolate.
- Chocolate consumption – The Swiss hold the record here, it is said that each person eats the equivalent of one chocolate bar per day! However, the Belgians are right behind them enjoying an average of 24 pounds per year.
Now you’ve been educated about the differences between Swiss and Belgian chocolate. However when it comes to concluding which is better, there really is only one way to decide, isn’t there?