Asian Chocolate: Meet 17 of Asia’s Top Chocolate Producers
The Swiss are known for their chocolate. The Belgians too. And the French are among the best chocolate makers in the world. But the beans that these bars and candies come from don’t grow in any of those places, but rather far west, south, or, increasingly, east.
Native to Central America, cocoa, or cocoa bean, has its roots in Mexico. And when it was first introduced to Europe in the 16th century by the Spaniards, it was consumed as a drink, originally mixed with chili according to Mexican custom. Later it was flavored with vanilla and other sweet spices like cinnamon. Italy then adopted the chocolate drink and it spread to northern Europe, adopted by the wealthy for its alleged medicinal and therapeutic qualities and even its aphrodisiac effect.
The chocolate bar came later – in the middle of the 19th century – attributed to Joseph Fry who combined cocoa powder and sugar into a paste that was pressed into a bar. These bars are now somewhat ubiquitous, although the quality varies from substandard examples where the percentage of actual cocoa is often less than a third, to hand-produced artisan examples, many of which are from Asia.
Indonesia is the third largest producer of cocoa beans in the world, and although for many other countries in Asia, chocolate production is an infant industry, especially as domestic demand has so far been low, there is growing interest, as the growing number of high-end producers attest to this. The proximity of chocolate makers to cocoa bean producers allows for quality control, which also contributes to the notoriety of the emerging chocolate scene in Asia. Local chocolatiers can source the finest beans, enabling the production of the region’s award-winning chocolate.
Here, Tatler Dining shines a light on the brands behind Asia’s most exciting and creative chocolates – bars and candies that evoke the flavors of the place where they’re made, express the terroir of the local beans, and in many cases, contribute to more sustainable cocoa. the region’s agricultural industry.
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