Belgian chocolate is buttery, melt-in-the-mouth chocolate with a unique silky texture blended with its medium sweet and bitter taste.
In this article, we will delve into some interesting and unknown facts about Belgian chocolates, but before that, let us recap the history of this chocolate.
1. Historical Check on Belgian Chocolate
Before the introduction of chocolate in European countries, it had a long history dating back to the 17th century when Spanish explorers carried cocoa beans from South America to Europe. Chocolate was first introduced in France in the 16th century.
However, Cocoa was a luxury drink among the Spanish nobility that governed Belgium at the time. It was not until the second part of the nineteenth century, when Belgian King Leopold II populated the Congo, that chocolate became available among ordinary people.
Each locality has a different chocolate culture, depending on the cultural taste preference, the local ingredients available, or the standard the government sets.
As a result, Cocoa farming began to transfer from the Americas to West Africa during the age of European imperialism, providing a perfect location for cocoa production and sufficient slave labor.
The history of Belgian chocolate goes back to 1635 when the abbot of Baudeloo Abbey in Ghent bought some chocolate. The chocolatiers in Belgium developed specialized machines to powder and mix the beans.
Belgian chocolates filled with buttercream or ganache, such as truffles and molded pralines, are frequently in a creative shape. The fillings are usually whisked to make them lighter and airier.
According to chocolatiers, Belgian chocolates are in the middle of the flavor spectrum, with slight variations in flavor extremes. For example, Belgian milk chocolate has a traditional flavor with less fruitiness or sourness than other milk chocolate.
2. Brands of Belgian Chocolate in Belgium
Belgium has more than 300 chocolate shops with many top Belgian chocolate brands.
Neuhaus Chocolates is one of the oldest chocolate brands in Belgium. They offer classic yet innovative and delicious chocolates. In the 1850s, Jean Neuhaus opened an apothecary store in Brussels, Belgium.
Jean started coating the drug with a thin layer of chocolate to make his medicines less bitter and intrigue the patients. In 1912, his grandson Jean Neuhaus Jr. filled chocolate with delicious fillings in the form of pralines instead of medicine.
His wife, Louise Agostini, created an innovative, elegant gift box for these delicacies. The classic and sleek box came to name as the Ballotin box soon caught on-trend and became a signature chocolate tradition. A patent was taken for the Ballotin box.
In Belgium, the composition of chocolate is strictly regulated by law. The process of mixing, refining, tempering, and conching is complete in Belgium to make Belgian chocolate.
Traditional pralines are still available in the Neuhaus Belgian chocolate range. It has also extended to include chocolate bars, BonBons, candy, individually wrapped chocolate squares named Carres, and hot chocolate. They also make truffles out of chocolate.
Lady Godiva is well known in the Middle Ages for riding through the streets of Coventry, England, naked, with only her hair covering her modesty. This brave and bold soul succumbed to an unreasonable request to reduce the taxes.
Thus, the famous luxury Belgian chocolate business is an official chocolatier to the Royal Court of Belgium. A certified royal warrant holder since 1968, Godiva has established its role as an ambassador of high-quality Belgian chocolate in the country.
Godiva’s signature chocolate truffles feature a variety of white, dark, and milk chocolate. They are widespread in over 100 countries with over 600 boutiques.
Guylian chocolate brand was established in 1958 by Guy Foubert. They are best known for their seashell-shaped chocolate with hazelnut praline filling, first in 1967. The roasted hazelnuts are mixed with cocoa butter to funnel the roast hazelnut praline into the chocolate shells.
Guylian comes from the first name of its founder and the middle part of his wife’s name, Liliane. Lotte Confectionery, a South Korean firm, now owns the brand.
The Guinness world record for the most giant chocolate Easter egg was set in 2011. The sculpture was 10.39 meters tall, had a circumference of 19.6 meters at its widest point, and weighed 7,200 kilograms.
It was mixed by twenty-six Guylian chocolatiers using 50,000 seashell bars’ worth of Guylian chocolate over eight days. Over the years, Guylian has introduced new flavors, including Raspberry, Orange, Cardamom, Pineapple with caramel, and Mocha.
2.4. Côte d’Or
It was begun in 1883 by Charles Neuhaus. The name refers to the former name of what is now Ghana, the source of many of the world’s cocoa beans.
Its emblem is an ode to the country of Ghana as well, based on a Ghanaian stamp with images of an elephant, palm tree, and pyramids. Côte d’Or offers an assortment of chocolates available in individual wrappers in Belgian supermarkets.
Due to this, the signature products are toffee filled with rich dark chocolate named Chokotoff, plain milk chocolate, Milk Chocolate with Hazelnuts, Dark chocolate, and Les Bouchées.
This Old-World chocolatier is famous for crafting delicious and decadent chocolate that has stood the test of time.
Here, the establishment gave and purchased many times. At present, it is by American multinational confectionery Mondelez International.
2.5. Mary Delluc Chocolate
Mary Delluc Chocolate launched her first chocolate shop in 1919 in the streets of Brussels. Miss Mary Sweethearts made a name for herself in an industry dominated by males by relying on her unique recipes and exceptional chocolate.
For this reason, chocolate was awarded the Belgian Royal Warrant in 1942, and she is one of only four Belgian chocolatiers to receive this honor. Mary Chocolates is now one of the most well-known Belgian chocolate brands worldwide.
3. 4 Irresistible Facts About Belgian Chocolate: You Need to Know
The most awaited! Let us know the four facts about Belgian chocolate:
- Firstly, Belgium produces over 220,000 tons of chocolate yearly, making it one of the largest chocolate exporters in the world.
- Secondly, chocolatiers are famous for their meticulous craftsmanship, proper selection of high-quality cocoa beans, and using traditional techniques to form exquisite chocolate delicacies.
- Thirdly, the country’s long-standing chocolate tradition dates back to the 19th century, with the formation of the praline, a chocolate shell filled with a soft center, by Belgian chocolatier Jean Neuhaus.
- Finally, this chocolate is famous for its smooth texture, rich flavor, and high cocoa content, sometimes exceeding 70%, making it a preferred choice for chocolate connoisseurs worldwide.
4. Which is Better, Swiss or Belgium?
In short, Swiss chocolates are next to the most famous chocolates, and the techniques involved are more or less the same. But Swiss chocolates are more creamy and smoother than Belgium chocolates, as they are typically made from milk; the highlight is Swiss milk, and Belgium chocolates have a higher cocoa content.
Most importantly, Belgian dark chocolate of the highest quality is relatively healthy. Swiss chocolates are mostly chocolate bars, whereas Belgian chocolates are a sophistication of pralines and truffles.
Which is better is a personal preference. Both chocolates are enjoyable, globally accepted, and famous worldwide.
5. Key Takeaways
In summary, this Belgian chocolate, widespread in Europe, has managed to outshine the chocolate industry with pure integrity and consistency. An extra effort has taken the chocolates to a different level of passion.
As a result, the city of Brussels also had an important role in globalizing chocolate, and Brussels was an international hub with the European Union and NATO headquarters.
International travelers found Belgian chocolate a perfect gift for their friends and family. For this reason, Mary Chocolatier, a shop in Brussels, was awarded the Belgian Royal Warrant in 1942.