London was the birthplace of solid chocolate, invented in 1674. To the English, we also owe the first clubs for chocolate enthusiasts and especially, the development of the first chocolate bar in 1847.
The British are the sixth consumers of chocolate in the world with an average of 7.6 kg consumed per person per year. They especially appreciate very sweet milk chocolate (they go through 70% of the bars sold in Europe), and prepare a special chocolate powder with caramelised flavour called the “crumb”.
They also appreciate spices (chocolate blocks flavoured with cardamom, ginger, pink pepper) and candied fruit (such as the traditional rhubarb pudding).
At the first communion meal, it is traditional to offer guests a cup of hot chocolate accompanied by bread and butter.
It is also served at breakfast or in a specially made West Indian punch by to accompany ice cream or a good cup of coffee.
AUSTRIA AND GERMANY
Austria gave us a great innovation in pastry- the first recipe for chocolate cake, prepared in 1778.
Austria is therefore at the source of three famous recipes:
– The Sacher Torte: Chocolate gâteau filled with a thin layer of apricot jam and iced with chocolate fondant
– The Imperial Torte : A square composed of thin alternating layers of milk chocolate and almond paste
– The Black Forest : A German classic, made with chocolate, whipped cream, cherries and kirsch.
The Austrians and Germans are also great lovers of chocolate itself, especially chocolate with milk and sugar, which they consume in small bars or individually purchased bite-sized pieces.
The Germans are particularly keen on thick, creamy and very sweet chocolate.
The Belgians particularly love chocolate that is dense in texture, enriched with cream and butter. They consume 8.4 kg of chocolate per year per capita.
It is to Belgium that we owe the invention of the praline in 1912, then the box of chocolates in 1915. Belgian pralines are produced in enormous quantities.
Today, there is a revival of the « authentic taste » in Belgium and chocolatiers are not shy to manufacture and market 70% cocoa chocolate!
The Spaniards, loyal to their traditions and their status as discoverers of chocolate, have a passion for chocolate drinks and spreads.
94% of French people consume chocolate.
70% of people eat chocolate at least once a week.
A third of French people people are real « chocoholics” and treat themselves at least once a day.
Regular users tend to be men, people aged 18 and 34, and executives.
However, housewives, students and junior employees are also avid consumers: chocolate is a popular product.
41% of people eat chocolate alone, 34% with their spouse and 33% with their children. 63% of children aged 4 to 10 years consume a chocolate drink for breakfast and 19% for snacks.
As for the nature of products, chocolate blocks outweigh all others in the current consumption (45%) , followed closely by chocolate bars (35%), up 180% in 10 years, while sweets and bonbons available in boxes or as gifts, are still a minority(17%).
Dark chocolate with high cocoa content (the French like it more and more bitter), sometimes mixed with hazelnuts or almonds, has become a gourmet product. Milk chocolate, which remains the most popular, also advertises the origin of its beans!
The Italians have a more sensual relationship with chocolate and even consider it an aphrodisiac. With the famous chocolate figurines “Gianduja” and the “Nudes”, they combine chocolate and sensuality.
They are Europe’s biggest fans of bitter chocolate, which is often made with hazelnuts or liqueur.
But best-selling Italian chocolate in the world is the little praline Ferrero Rocher. With the bite-sized Mon Cheri and the Nutella chocolate spread, this brand alone is worth 6% of the European market.
As for traditional Tartufo iced truffles, and Baci, chocolate “kisses” filled with cherry or hazelnut, half a billion units are shipped out worldwide every day.
Finally, Neapolitans, these little squares of happiness served with coffee, can now be enjoyed almost everywhere.
In the Nordic countries, chocolate is a staple and everyday food item which does not necessarily signify a festive occasion.
Known for its restorative qualities and energy content, chocolate is the ideal food for the Danes, Swedes and the Finns who want to warm up in the severe Northern winters!
The main contribution of Holland to the art of chocolate stems back to Van Houten, who invented and patented the cocoa powder in 1828. The famous yellow Van Houten box, containing “monk’s robes”-coloured powder and full-bodied flavour, is accessible and enables a democratization of hot chocolate hitherto reserved for the wealthy classes.
Therefore Holland, specialising in cocoa powder, is now particularly known for its solid chocolate.
Preferring quality over fancy designs, the Dutch especially enjoy dark and bitter chocolate high in pure cocoa powder, such as Droste pastilles.
With an annual per capita consumption of 9.4 kg, the Swiss are leading European chocolate charts.
World-renowned for their milk chocolate, they prefer a sweet, creamy flavour, with both bitter and sweet notes.
Switzerland, although it discovered chocolate rather late, is the birthplace of important technical inventions and innovations in three recipes: hazelnut chocolate, milk chocolate and melting chocolate. Milk chocolate and white chocolate especially gave Switzerland its worldwide reputation.
The flavours reflect the image of America as the melting pot of culinary traditions. The most popular chocolate among consumers is strong and grainy variety. Chocolate bars and chocolate chip cookies are universally loved.
The Americans have also coined a term to describe the dependence chocolate – “chocoholic”. Chocolatiers come up with daring ideas: chocolate masks in the likeness of current celebrities and chocolate greeting cards.
Brazil is the fourth largest consumer of chocolate and the fifth producer of cocoa. Brazilians love chocolate and their consumption has been expanding in the past few years.
While half the world drinks coffee, Mexicans are fond of chocolate for breakfast.
Although Mexicans are very familiar with hot cocoa, they also created a great stir in the kitchen by inventing a chilli cocoa sauce to enhance chicken and turkey. A culinary classic of this country.
In Japan, chocolate has only been around for a century, by comparison with more than four centuries in Europe. This probably explains its late peak late in the land of sushi and kimonos.
Regular consumers of chocolate are mostly children and women between 20-30 years old. It is a product that is found mainly in supermarkets (45%) and its consumption which varies depending on the weather and timing.
Thus, the demand for chocolate is particularly great around Valentine’s Day, because tradition dictates that women give chocolate to men. 80% of imported chocolates are intended to be sold for the lovers’ celebration, as well as White Day (March 14).
The Japanese love creamy chocolate that melts in the mouth, especially milk chocolate. They tend to choose their chocolate by the type of milk used rather than the source of cocoa.
As yet, the demand for dark and bitter chocolate is low- the consumption of dark chocolate is only 10% of the total consumption. However, the Japanese begin to appreciate dessert products – more and more restaurants now offer desserts – especially chocolate – which reflects a real change in consumer habits.
The current range is primarily composed of bars and bite-sized sweets. For gifts, the Japanese choose premium artisanal chocolate – in a beautifully-wrapped box!
The Japanese are also adventurous when it comes to chocolate! The White House, the Eiffel Tower and even the Venus de Milo can be eaten in chocolate versions. Love to give? Gifts often hide in chocolate packages: a cruise, a plane ticket, a ring or other, even more unusual items.