The word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which was used to indicate a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. “Theobroma cacao” is the Latin name for the cacao tree, which means “food of the gods.”
Modern historians estimate that chocolate has been around for about 4,000 years. Chocolate’s history began in Mesoamerica, present Mexico. There, the Olmec – the earliest major civilization in Mexico – were the first to make chocolate out of the cacao plant. Centuries later, the Mayans started praising chocolate as the drink of the gods. The Aztecs were the first to use cocoa beans as currency. This civilization believed that chocolate was a gift from the god Quetzalcoatl.
There are contrasting ideas about when chocolate made its first appearance in Europe. But one fact is sure: Chocolate firstly arrived in Spain. Some legends say that it was brought there in 1528 by explorer Hernán Cortés. In that period, the Spanish started serving cocoa as a drink mixed with sugar and honey. In a very short time, chocolate became popular among the rich and wealthy of Spain. Chocolate made its appearance in France around 1615, when French King Louis XIII married Anne of Austria, daughter of Spanish King Phillip III. To celebrate their union, she brought samples of chocolate to the royal courts of France. Soon, the trend of chocolate spread through Europe and became very popular among European royals and upper classes. Throughout the years, chocolate production acquired different forms and techniques. Two countries in particular really mastered this art: Switzerland and Belgium. Their chocolate bars and pralines have been exported around the globe since the beginning of the 20th century.
But what’s the best chocolate? The Swiss or the Belgian? Well… It depends on your preferences… Do you like creamy milk chocolate? Then go for the Swiss one. Do you prefer a bitter taste or a perfectly handcrafted praline? Then, opt for a Belgian chocolate brand! There are many other differences between Swiss and Belgian chocolate. Keep reading!
1. Swiss chocolate
Swiss chocolate has usually a smoother texture and it is normally made with milk. It’s the Swiss Daniel Peter of Vevey that invented milk chocolate back in 1875. But Swiss chocolate owes its prestige and fine texture to another famous chocolatier: Rudolph Lindt, founder of Lindt Chocolate. In 1879, Lindt became the first chocolate maker to implement the process of conching in the production of chocolate. During the conching process, chocolate is continuously mixed at a very high temperature to refine the flavor and texture of the mass. The outcome is a smoother, sweeter, and creamier product. Lindt also came up with the idea to add cocoa butter back into the chocolate mass, which gives the chocolate a smooth and velvety texture. With its silky texture, Swiss chocolate reached every corner of the world and Swiss brands – such as Lindt, Nestlé, and Teuscher – became famous all over the globe.
2. Belgian chocolate
Although we owe the Swiss many huge advances in the production of chocolate, when it comes to truffles and pralines the Belgians are one step ahead. Belgian chocolatiers perfectly know how to create the tastiest praline, pairing chocolate with exotic flavors and experimenting sophisticated fillings and fancy toppings. While Swiss chocolate is creamier and made with milk, Belgian chocolate is quite dark and bitter. Indeed, Belgian chocolatiers normally use a higher cocoa content in the production of chocolate, which occurs naturally in dark chocolate. Some worldwide famous Belgian chocolate brands are Côte d’Or, Neuhaus, Leonidas, Godiva, and Debailleul.
So what’s better? Swiss smooth and silky chocolate or Belgian pralines with exotic fillings? The truth is that we can’t really tell!