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Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Belgian chocolate generally does refer to chocolate that’s been produced in Belgium. In many quarters, this chocolate is referred to as the best in the world. Belgian chocolate is therefore internationally known and does date back to the 17th Century. It is worth mentioning that even though the cacao beans as well as other ingredients used to make chocolate such as sugar may be imported from other countries, the actual production of the chocolate must be done in Belgium for it to be considered as being Belgian chocolate.
It is also worth noting that the composition of this Belgian Chocolate is not only left to chocolate producers but has been regulated by law for centuries; since 1884. In this regard, manufacturers are expected to ensure that they use a minimum level of 35% pure cocoa, thus preventing instances of adulteration of Belgian chocolate with low quality fats from dubious sources. Further to this, the usage of palm oil or vegetable based fats which have been known to raise the melting point of the chocolate has been banned in any chocolate which is labeled as Belgian. The strict adherence to well known traditional manufacturing styles and techniques such as the production of chocolate by hand which is quite tedious and time consuming ,all form part of Belgian secrets of chocolate making. This does also explain the overall prevalence of numerous independent and small sized chocolate outlets all over the country which are usually loved and frequented by locals and tourists in equal measure.
There are several varieties of Belgian chocolate readily available in the market. Pralines are by far the most distinct Belgian chocolates which provide unmatched chocolate purity and a wealth of flavor for all chocolate lovers. For the uninitiated, Pralines refers to caramelised almonds or hazelnuts which have been ground into a paste. In 1912, Jean Neuhaus hit upon the idea of making some hollow candy which has been molded from rich chocolate and then injected with a cream or nutty center; he then called it chocolate praline. To market this chocolate, a new container was invented and patented in 1920 with the help of Jean’s wife, Louise and called the Ballotin; the familiar rectangular, flat box we all associate Belgian chocolate praline with.
Belgian truffles are also quite popular, they are usually in the form of a smooth chocolate ball, truffle shaped lump or a smooth chocolate ball. They may at times be in an encrusted form coated in high quality cocoa powder or contain wafers inside. Special truffles can contain coffee ganache, nut or fruit. They usually have a short shelf life due to the ganache and require refrigeration. Apart from the aforementioned, there are also lots of luxury, hand finished examples of valentine day hearts, eggs, figurines and animals made by chocolatiers in Belgium; these usually peak in demand during special holidays such as Christmas, Easter as well as valentine’s
It is not in doubt that chocolate does play a very important role in the Belgian economy. The country does produce 172,000 tonnes, mostly for export. With over 2,000 chocolatiers dotting the country, Belgian chocolate does have a global reach and appeal; they can be found in village shops, market stands as well town center shops and leading malls all over the world. Some of the leading brands or names in the Belgian chocolate industry include Godiva, Café Tasse, Gudrun, Galler, Cavalier, Dolfin , Cote d’or (This was originally founded by Neuhaus), Guylian, Leonidas as well as Neuhaus to mention but a few