European vs. American Chocolate: What's the Difference?

  There is great debate on European versus American chocolates: is one better than the other? However there is no debate. Neither European nor American chocolate can be considered better, it’s really just a matter of taste preference.  

To distinguish between American and European chocolates, there are four major differences you will find. One is the cocoa content. The United States requires a lesser percentage cacao in their chocolates, ten percent to be exact, while in Europe anything considered “chocolate” is twenty percent or higher. For example, if you were to compare a Hershey bar made in America versus a Cadbury Dairy Milk bar made in Europe, you would find a significant taste difference. That’s because those Cadbury milk bars contain 23 percent cacao in comparison to the American-made Hershey bars, which contain only eleven percent cacao, resulting in a much darker, richer taste in the Cadbury bar.  

The second major difference is sugar content. As a result of American-made chocolate having lesser percentage cacao, there is a higher sugar content. That’s why Americans are usually known for their lighter, sweeter milk chocolates while Europeans consider their chocolates to be almost bitter as a result of the low sugar content.

Fat content is another distinguisher between American and European chocolates. When adding cocoa butter and cream to their chocolates, Americans and Europeans differ in both the amount and the fat content. European chocolates, with their smoother, richer flavor, use European butter and cream, which has a higher fat content. To accentuate the smoothness of the chocolates, Europe also uses more cocoa butter, further accentuating the difference in taste.  

Finally, there is a difference between where Europe and America get their cocoa beans. American chocolatiers tend to use beans from South America, while Europeans, such as those in Great Britain, often use beans from West Africa instead. Different beans do result in different flavors, so depending on your palette one type of bean may taste better to you than another.  

Thus, there really is no debate between whether American or European chocolate is better; it is really only a matter of preference. American chocolates are lighter and sweeter; using a smaller variety of ingredients like caramel, almonds, peanuts, and chocolate cream. European chocolate, in comparison, is darker and richer. Its ingredients could be anything from fruits, nuts, spices, and herbs, to caramels, ganaches and more. It’s up to you to decide which you like better!

Want to try out our European and American chocolates?  Or maybe explore them in a Virtual Chocolate Tasting?  We got you covered!

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  • As an American who has emigrated to Ireland, I agree that some American Chocolate can be “cheap”, but I have also had “cheap” European chocolate. Quality doesn’t have a border, but the original Cacao was from South America and the U.S. still uses South American beans which I have found to not cause migraines, while my experience with quality European, African sourced, chocolate triggers a migraine. I still love my chocolate, and thank goodness for painkillers, because for taste there are pluses to chocolate from either side of the ocean.

    Jamie ODonoghue
  • American chocolate is fine. Stop trying to be pretentious, it was designed to be as appealing as possible. Chocolate from other countries tastes bitter and dull. I’m sorry, but what is the appeal to eating what tastes like coffee powder?

  • Another article based on dated and misleading information. Why not write an article on why American wine is inferior to European wine? Oh that is right because Americans proved once and for all that American wine is in fact far superior. So please stop comparing American Hershey’s chocolate (our poorest quality) to the very best in Europe. Cheap chocolate comes out of Europe too but no one counts the crap sent out the Aldi and the like, that taste like novelty chocolate toothpaste and has the same consistency. Compare the best American chocolate to the very best European chocolate in a blind taste test and watch the Europeans go apoplectic demanding their score cards back like they did in the Judgment of Paris. (Compare the best European chocolate sold in grocery stores to the best US chocolate sold in grocery stores and you will find the same.) In ‘76 said it was a fluke that we won, till it happened and again year after year. Finally everyone conceded, American wine is far better. There is no comparison. Except the Europeans can’t bring themselves to say it so we all call it “California wine” rather than American wine. Face it, we have better wine, better food including chocolate and even better skiing. Even our bread has caught up to an exceeded the over-baked loaves of French bread sold in Paris bakeries and all over France. I actually read that French bakers are trying to “educate” (more like re-eduate) the French that French bread is supposed to be burned but even the French are resisting that lesson and want a lighter loaf so they can reheat it at home without it turning to stone. I have had them all- married an airline pilot. Been there eaten that. Our “Take and Bake” baguette (kind in the paper bag with the cellophane window) from The Piggly Wiggly is better than the break your healthy American teeth and wound those pink gums rock hard burned baguette at Boulangerie Utopie in Paris. Who knows I haven’t been in years, maybe the French are finally doing what American consumers who refused to be “re-educated” demanded – a lighter loaf you can heat up at home. I get so tired of hearing Europeans trash the USA. It is like their hobby.


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