Chocolate pie, chocolate mousse, chocolate-covered strawberries and chocolate caramels…did someone say “chocolate?” While we could easily make a list of the most popular desert items from the around the world, there’s a good chance that the majority of them would involve chocolate in some form or another. As a matter of fact, chocolate knows no bounds of enjoyment as people around the globe eat it on anything and everything imaginable as their number one go-to for curing a sweet tooth or craving.
With an average American eating around 12 pounds of chocolate per year and the Swiss averaging around 21 pounds per year, chocolate is a huge deal. But, did you know that there’s an entire industry of chocolates other than those sugary sweet chocolate bars in shiny packages lining grocery store shelves? Did you know that chocolate is actually an art form for many who have more refined palettes and quite a bit more money to spend?
Moving beyond those shiny wrappers and long shelf lives to the luxury side of chocolate, join us as we travel abroad into an industry known for its decadence and high price tags. From truffles and ganache to macaroons, chocolate-covered bacon and even gold, it’s time to put down that candy bar and hold onto your sweet tooth as we take a look at 10 of the finest chocolates in the world!
10 – Chuao Chocolatier
Tasting just like it’s pronounced (“chew WOW”), it’s no wonder why Chuao Chocolatier makes our list as one of the chocolate industry’s finest and tastiest newcomers. Started in 2002 in Southern California by Master Chef Michael Antonsori and his brother Richard, Chuao is named for the village in Venezuela that is home to some of the world’s legendary cacao plantations. Committed to high quality products and honoring their family’s history of chocolatiers, the brothers opened their first store in Encinitas, California where they offered one of the most unique menus in the world.
Now operating two chocolate cafes in San Diego with distribution across the United States, Chuao has expanded their menu to include everything from chocolate bars, truffles and bonbons to drinking chocolate and espressos. With chocolate prices averaging around $79 per pound, Chuao can make anything imaginable from chocolate covered potato chips and bacon to importing the purest chocolate straight from Venezuela. Their trademark chocolate, of course, is their bite-sized packages that offer a quick (and affordable) fix for any chocolate connoisseur.
#9 – Vosges Haut-Chocolat
“Peace, Love and Chocolate.” Founded by Vanderbilt University alum and chocolatier Katrina Markoff, the Chicago-based Vosges-Haut Chocolat was inspired by Markoff’s culinary studies abroad in Paris, Southeast Asia and Australia. Returning home intent to spread “peace, love and chocolate,” Markoff embraced the world’s diverse culinary cultures and set out to create the most unique blends of the finest chocolates using everything from wasabi and sesame seeds to pollen and anise. Wowing the palette with Markoff’s creations, Vosges Haut was born and now features chocolate that is “beautifully presented and made from the finest cacao and spices in the world.”
Recently named as one of the “10 Best Chocolatiers in the World” by National Geographic, Vosges Haut has a variety of flavors and prices with chocolates averaging around $69 per pound. Offering truffles and comfort foods like caramel marshmallows and peanut butter bonbons, their most expensive chocolate is the Balsamico, which is made from a balsamic vinaigrette that has aged for 10 years. As for their most popular sellers, their chocolate covered bacon bars, bacon caramels and bacon pancake mixes are recognized as some of the best in the world. Wait, did someone say bacon?
#8 – Teuscher Chocolates
A veteran in the chocolate industry, Teuscher Chocolates of Switzerland was founded in 1932 by Dolf Teuscher who searched the world for the finest ingredients and spent years perfecting his recipe into what is known today as some of the finest chocolates ever made. Recognized as a master chocolatier over the last 80 years and passing the recipe down from father to son, Teuscher Chocolates has more than a dozen outlets around the globe offering over 200 varieties of delectable treats that appeal to even the most adventurous palettes.
Despite offering an incredible selection of some of the purest dark chocolates, Teuscher is best known for their one-of-a-kind world famous Champagne Truffles that are handmade from Dom Perignon champagne and butter cream surrounded by dark chocolate and ganache. While most of their chocolates average around $75 per pound, Teuscher’s Champagne Truffles are one of the priciest items on the menu (it is champagne, after all!) at $119 for 36 pieces weighing in at 18 ounces. How’s that for being both expensive and classy?
#7 – La Maison du Chocolat
Studying at Switzerland’s international school of chocolate and inspired to “restore chocolate in all its nobility,” Paris native Robert Linxe closed the doors of his catering business and achieved his lifelong dreams when he opened La Maison du Chocolat in 1977. Inventing modern chocolates and ganache with intoxicating flavors and rich ingredients, Linxe became known as the “Sorcerer of Ganache” as his boutique expanded around the globe with locations stretching from New York City to Hong Kong, Tokyo and Kuwait.
Growing the brand thanks to its world famous chocolate éclair that has stood the test of time for over a quarter century, La Maison du Chocolat has continued to expand their product line to include items like specialty truffles, exquisite chocolate bars, flavorful treats and French pastries. Priced around $65 per pound, the price tag may seem high but it is well worth it for a bite into one of Paris’s most irresistible and delightful chocolate creations.
#6 – Richart Intense Valentine Gourmet Chocolates
The French definitely know a thing (or two) about chocolate! Richart La Maison De La Degustation first opened its doors in Lyon, France in 1925 with the intent of offering their customers “the highest level of gustatory pleasure through unique tasting experiences.” How’s that for French upper crust? Taking great pride in having “the most refined and most beautiful chocolates in the world,” Richart Chocolates brings artistry to the chocolate industry with each of the boutiques designed as art galleries offering exquisite displays of their divinest creations!
Unsurprisingly, Richart’s creations come with astronomical price tags with their most famous product (and undoubtedly one of the most expensive) being the $80 Intense Valentine Love Collection. The perfect gift of romance, the collection features over 40 chocolates nestled around a heart-shaped pastry filled with decadent caramel, lime and lemon. Perhaps too pretty to eat, Richart also has a large selection of gourmet chocolates and French macaroons that are sure to cure even the sweetest of cravings!
#5 – NOKA Chocolate’s Vintages Collection
Breaking the mold of chocolates in terms of their business model, Noka Vintages took a different approach to selling their chocolates when the former Texas-based chocolatier teamed up with retail giant Neiman Marcus to grow their brand. Instead of opening dozens of locations worldwide, Noka sold their specialty gourmet gift packets filled with exotic chocolates from places like Trinidad, Venezuela, the Ivory Coast and Ecuador either directly through their website or in the popular department store.
Known for their simple but delectable recipes and gorgeous packaging, Noka turned heads once again in 2006 when Forbes magazine recognized them for having one of the most expensive chocolates in the world. Their Vintages Collection took the honor with a price tag of $854 for one pound of 48 chocolates packaged in a beautiful black and white box. Definitely a sweet tooth investment to say the least, Noka’s high-priced chocolates didn’t exactly fly off the shelves and led them to close their doors in 2011 leaving traces of their famed chocolates only to be found on the internet.
#4 – Debauve & Gallais Chocolate’s Le Livre
Perhaps the oldest chocolatier on our list is Debauve & Gallais, which was founded in 1800 by Paris native Sulpice Debauve who worked as a chemist for clients like Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. Passed on from one generation to the next for over two centuries, Debauve & Gallais is currently operated by Madame Paule Cuvelier who took over the reins in 1989. Continuing to grow an already large following, the company is known to have some of the highest clientele such as actors, politicians and business moguls from around the world.
In 2000, Debauve & Gallais took their chocolates up a notch when they introduced their most expensive and refined chocolate to date in the Le Livre collection. Commemorating the company’s 200th anniversary, Le Livre was filled with 35 handmade creamy ganaches and pralines packaged in a leather encyclopedia-shaped box trimmed in gold. Meant to celebrate the company and their commitment to chocolate excellence, the luxurious Le Livre came with a $550 price tag which turns out to be over $15 per chocolate. Needless to say, these aren’t your everyday chocolate kisses!
#3 – DeLafee Gold Chocolate
Inspired to unite Switzerland’s beloved traditions of chocolate and gold, Sebastien Jeanneret did exactly that in 2004 when he opened deLafee of Switzerland in Neuchatel. While most chocolatiers settle on making unforgettable and intoxicating chocolates, that wasn’t enough at deLafee as Jeanneret and his team set out to combine every product with pure 24 karat gold. Now sold in over 50 countries, deLafee has established itself as one of the finest luxury chocolatiers in the world thanks to their unique chocolate textures, high quality ingredients and gold reputation.
While Debauve & Gallais offered over 30 handmade chocolates in their Le Livre collection, deLafee upped the ante when they released the Gold Collection featuring their specialty gold flakes made entirely of chocolate. With only eight gold flakes in the box, customers willing to fork over $331.50 for the collection also received a rare gold coin from the Swiss national bank dated in the early 20th century. A real bang for your buck if you ask us, there’s nothing like spending a small fortune to cure your sweet tooth and getting a souvenir as well!
#2 – La Madeline au Truffle
From his small apartment kitchen in Connecticut to the industrial kitchen at his House of Knipschildt, Denmark native Fritz Knipschildt has proven himself as a world-renowned chocolate artisan known for his fresh and adventurous recipes. Spending the last 13 years coming up with the most creative and over-the-top chocolates to satisfy every palette imaginable, the award-winning Knipschildt has taken his latest creation to television, La Madeline au Truffle, which was once recognized as the most expensive chocolate in the entire world.
Using 70 percent Valrhona dark chocolate, Knipschildt combines cream, sugar and vanilla to create a ganache base for the La Madeline before surrounding it with a truffle and yet another layer of Valrhona dark chocolate. Dusted with cocoa powder, the truffle is then gently placed on a bed of sugar pearls and wrapped in a silver box. With only a one-week shelf life and a $250 price tag, this handmade truffle is definitely an experience to savor as long as possible since one pound will set you back a whopping $2,500.
#1 – To’ak Chocolate Rain Harvest 2014
When eating chocolate becomes a memorable and life-changing experience, it’s likely that you’ve become a chocolate connoisseur. If that’s the case, then you’re in for a real treat with To’ak Chocolate who first launched their unforgettable chocolate experience in 2007 as a rainforest conservation project in Ecuador under the leadership of Jerry Toth. First starting the project by cultivating cacao trees, Toth made chocolate in a bamboo house without electricity. Taking his creations worldwide, To’ak’s finest chocolates were soon born.
Wholly dependent on Ecuador’s rainy season, To’ak chocolates are some of the most expensive and rarest in the world with their 2014 harvest coming in at the top of our list. During the season’s cacao harvest, 574 chocolate bars were created from 81 percent dark Ecuadorian chocolate. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Marketed as luxury chocolate with a $260 price tag, the bars are individually packaged in elm wood boxes that are engraved with a limited edition number and come with a book about the chocolate and the region. Now that’s a real chocolate experience!