Italy has been widely-renowned for its quality chocolate products for hundreds of years. Spanish explorer Cortez first brought cocoa beans to Spain in 1528. By 1579, it had gained the attention of the Roman church and was recognizable in Italy. This gave the Italians a distinct advantage of modern chocaltiers; the bean didn’t become widely-known in the United States for another 200 years, giving the Italian plenty of time to perfect their confections. Still, conching, the method to smooth chocolate, wasn’t even invented until 1879 in Switzerland.
Italian chocolatiers are well-known for producing rich, full-bodied chocolate flavors. Dark Italian chocolate is deep, with smooth undertones and low bitterness. Italian chocolate also includes a delightful type known as gianduja, which is infused with a large measure of hazelnut paste, as much as 30% of the chocolate. This is mixed with a sweet chocolate to create a decadent Italian confection.
Italians are known to be a romantic and expressive people, so it’s not surprising that the Italian chocolatiers reinforce this cultural identity in their creations. There are quite a few recognizable chocolatiers that create quality Italian chocolates and confections for the public at large.
Cafferel has been making fine Italian chocolate since 1826. The company was founded in Turin, Italy and is known for using only the finest ingredients. All the cocoa beans used by Cafferel are selected from the finest cacao plantations and designated as the top grade beans in the industry.
Besides the quality of the ingredients, the other secret to Cafferel’s success is the recipes the company uses. When Signor Cafferel first founded the chocolate factory, secret recipes were developed that remain proprietary to this day. Cafferel chocolates are considered so decadent that a 1-pound bag can sell for as much as $50.
Guido Gobino is another Turin chocolatier that gets attention. In fact, since the 2006 Olympics were held in the area, the chocolatier is world-renowned. Gobino creates a full palette of chocolates, including gianduja flavors. Since he is a young player in the game, having inherited the family business in 1995, it’s not surprising that Gobino really taps into the emotional and tourist factor in his company, offering chocolate tasting experiences as one of his signature events.
The Amedei chocolate company is another relatively new player to the field of Italian chocolates. The company wasn’t even founded until 1990. However, this doesn’t mean that Amedei chocolate aren’t highly competitive. The process of making Amedei chocolate is very hands-on. In fact, Allessio, one of the founders, personally selects the beans used in production. Amedei is considered an artisan brand of Italian chocolate.
Venchi is an old Italian chocolatier, with at least 150 years of experience creating fine chocolate confections. Venchi is sometimes used interchangeably with the chocolate brand Cuba, as the companies merged in 2000. Venchi creates a unique niche in chocolate, offering sculpted and hand-decorated chocolates for customers. The chocolate eggs accented with sugared flowers are probably one of the most recognizable products from this chocolatier.
We also have a more comprehensive list of chocolate makers in Italy.