Difference between American and European chocolate

Updated April 17, 2017

If you are a chocolate lover like so many others, you have probably heard the debate about the origins of superior chocolates. In fact, neither European nor American chocolate is superior unless you have your own personal taste preference for one or the other. European chocolate tends toward darker, richer tastes while most American-made chocolate is lighter and sweeter, so simply choose your own favourite to enjoy or try a little bit of each to enjoy a wider variety of delicious chocolate.

Cocoa content

The major difference between American and European chocolate lies in the amount of cocoa solids in each piece. While the United States requires only 10 per cent of cocoa solids, European countries require higher percentages, such as 20 per cent in the United Kingdom. American-made Hershey chocolate bars contain only 11 per cent cocoa solids compared with 23 per cent in British-produced Cadbury Dairy Milk bars, resulting in a significant taste difference. Elsewhere in Europe, it is not uncommon to find chocolate with 40 per cent or more cocoa solids, resulting in a much richer, darker taste than American counterparts.

Sugar content

American-made chocolate is typically much sweeter than European chocolates as a result of the lower cocoa content and a higher sugar content. While Americans favour lighter, sweeter chocolates, particularly milk chocolates, European chocolate is often referred to as bittersweet, especially in comparison due to the lower sugar content.

Fat content

When adding cocoa butter and cream to chocolate, Americans and Europeans differ in both the amount and the fat content. European butter and cream have a higher fat content, resulting in a smoother, richer flavour in the chocolate that results. In addition, they tend to use more cocoa butter in their chocolate, further accentuating the difference in taste.

Cocoa origins

While many chocolatiers keep the origin of their cacao beans tightly under wraps to protect their secret recipes, American chocolate makers tend to use beans from South America, while Europeans, such as those in Great Britain, often use beans from West Africa instead. Different beans result in different flavours, similar to the way coffee beans from different regions differ in taste.

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