There are many holidays throughout the year where chocolate is celebrated – Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, and Christmas. But for a true dessert lover, this sweet delicacy is important all year long. That’s why we’ve found the top six places every chocolate lover needs to visit. Why not let your love of this sweet treat dictate your next destination? Whether you like dark, milk, or the truffle variety – we’re sure each of these places will delight you.
Many people consider Belgium to produce some of the best – or the best – chocolate globally. In fact, Brussels has been named the “Chocolate Capital of the World” – and it’s easy to understand why. Not only does Belgium produce amazing, decadent desserts, but Brussels has more chocolatiers per square foot than anywhere else in the world.
While in Belgium, make sure to visit the Musee de Cacao et du Chocolat. This famous museum includes a tour and an opportunity to watch chefs make fresh Belgian Belgian pralines.
Many tourists tend to flock to the well-known chocolatiers in Belgium, like the Godiva shops. And, while there is nothing wrong with that, we can’t recommend the small local chocolatiers enough. You have to visit Chocolaterie Mary in Brussels. This small shop was opened in 1919 by Mary Delluc and in 1949 was given the Belgian Royal Warrant honor by King Leopold the II. Mary is only one of four chocolatiers to have received this honor in Belgium.
The Swiss’ specialty is milk chocolate; over 80% of the chocolate consumed in the country is milk. Swiss chocolate is known for being smooth and creamy, primarily because it typically contains more milk and sugar and lower levels of cocoa.
If you’re in Switzerland, we recommend visiting the country’s most famous chocolatier – Cailler. This chocolatier is over 200 years old, making some of the best treats you’ve ever had. You can visit the factory to tour the museum, participate in workshops, and enjoy some tastings.
Ecuador is known for producing dark, smooth chocolate. The country uses the Arriba cocoa plant out of the Amazon rainforests, which has an earthy and aromatic appeal. Chocolate is a part of Ecuador’s history, with the country being the world’s largest exporter of cocoa until the start of the 20th century.
Part of the reason Ecuador’s chocolate is so unique is thanks to the Arriba beans. These beans come in very different shapes and sizes, so the flavors can be drastically different. This all comes together to produce a complex piece of chocolate that is different from the next.
Don’t forget to visit the famous chocolatier Kallari. This chocolatier makes impressive treats that are now sold in Whole Foods across the US. Additionally, Kallari has a fascinating story of being one of the few cocoa farmers handling their own marketing and production!
Italy is known for rich, innovative chocolates. In the north of Italy, it’s popular to include fruits and nuts in chocolates. However, the South has a different approach, typically adding flavors like lemon and liquor. If you’re in Tuscany, you can visit what is known as “The Chocolate Valley.” This triangle ranges from Montecatini, Pisa, and Florence and has dozens of small factories and boutique chocolatiers.
When in Italy, you absolutely have to get to a Venchi Chocolate store. This chocolatier has been in operation since 1878 and uses 100% natural ingredients with little sugar. Venchi is one of Italy’s most famous chocolate brands, perhaps only passed by Ferrero Rocher.
Mexican chocolate is like no other, made with cocoa nibs, sugar, and cinnamon. Occasionally, different flavors will be added, such as vanilla or nutmeg.
Mexico is credited with having the very first chocolatiers. Ancient Mesoamericans may have been producing chocolate as early as 1100 BC. And the traditions have stuck around. Mexico loves everything cocoa – as a dessert, a drink (hot chocolate), and even a flavor profile in savory dishes.
If you find yourself in Oaxaca, take a visit to Chocolate Mayordomo. This family-run business opened in 1956 and produces fantastic cocoa treats with the perfect blend of sweet and bitter. Mayordomo’s secret blend is cocoa, cinnamon, almonds, and sugar. The almonds add a nutty flavoring that also helps to smooth out the richness of the chocolate.
Well, it would be strange to talk about chocolate and not have France on the list. French cuisine is all about indulgent flavors in small amounts. Which perfectly describes chocolate!
And you won’t have any trouble finding local, delicious chocolate here. For example, Paris alone is home to over 300 chocolatier shops. The French specialty is rich, decadent dark chocolate. The streets are full of small boutique chocolatiers that make the desserts in front of you to larger, international brands.
Luckily for you, a trip to Paris means you can go on a chocolate tour. Make sure to find a tour that includes Debauve & Gallais. This was the first chocolate shop to open in Paris, back in 1818, and is still there today!
So, which cocoa destination are you off to first?