"All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt," says a quote by famed cartoonist Charles M. Schulz.
At times a token of love and at others a thoughtful gift, a carefully selected box of chocolates has come to mark the more special moments of our lives.
Teuscher, for one, is a premium Swiss chocolatier that has mastered the art of chocolate-making through a long history of dedication to perfection and luxury.
It has received a myriad of praise over the years, picked as the world's No. 1 chocolate by National Geographic magazine and called "the best all-around chocolatier" by New York Magazine.
Few know that chocolates had never contained champagne in them before Teuscher's invention of the champagne truffle, which has become the prestigious brand's signature item.
The milk champagne truffle ― featuring a creamy centre made of butter, fresh cream and Dom Perignon champagne, surrounded by an outer core of fluffy dark chocolate ganache ― has become an unrivaled favourite of chocolate lovers. Encased in a thimble-shaped, milk-chocolate shell that is daintily dusted with confectioner's sugar, the mixture boasts a richness and depth that connoisseurs call "world's finest," according to the New York Times.
Its counterpart, the dark champagne truffle comprises a less sugary and perhaps a bit more devilish ― but equally exquisite ― dark chocolate filling.
Though many variations of the champagne truffle have been attempted by competing chocolatiers, the exact taste of the original recipe has never been fully replicated by another brand.
The Teuscher tradition started over 80 years ago at a small village in the Swiss Alps with a man named Dolf Teuscher. After searching far and wide for ingredients that could best enhance the taste of cocoa, he experimented with numerous blending techniques to achieve the ideal concoction.
The family legacy now continues with his son, who still follows the original, time-honoured recipes. When asked why he doesn't update the recipes, Teuscher Jr. replies: "Gold is gold from the beginning. It needs no improvement."
Top-quality natural ingredients also contribute to Teuscher's "amazing, divine" flavor, as was once described by Oprah Winfrey. No chemical additives or preservatives are added. Only the finest ingredients are brought together from all over the world, with almonds from Spain, macadamias from Costa Rica and grapes from Greece.
Today, the chocolates are fabricated in small, strictly controlled batches, with each piece carefully crafted by hand. They are shipped every week by plane, directly from the Zurich headquarters to global stores.
"Teuscher is one of the only luxury chocolatiers to ship their products unfrozen at room temperature," thereby better preserving the taste, says Korean operations manager Suh Ji-hyo.
Teuscher chocolates are now gaining acclaim in Korea as luxurious gifts, which may explain why two of the brand's 25 worldwide branches are located in Seoul alone. Ninety of Teuscher's 100 chocolate varieties are available at the Ferrum Tower and Coex Mall stores.
Some popular items include the dark nougat truffle, with its sea salt caramel filling and nutty nougat, and the cacao truffle, whose moderate sweetness and velvety texture make for a mouthful that is at once delicate and rich.
Those seeking a more aromatic experience might favour the lemon truffle, where the citrusy tang of Sicilian lemon elegantly counterbalances the succulent ganache. Others may be partial to the milky vanilla of the white chocolate truffle.
Marzipan pralines, gianduja chocolates and sugar-free desserts are also available at stores. Popular box sets include the 18-piece Assorted Truffle Set, priced at 75,000 won (S$93), or the 12-piece Champagne Truffle Set, priced at 53,000 won.