Belgian chocolate: A short but sweet history
Whenever you hear about the beautiful country that is Belgium, so many things pop into your mind! From the stunning medieval architecture, or their historic port, world-renowned fashion industry or the famous Belgian beer! Nevertheless, Belgium has a far more delicious association for those of us with a sweet tooth!
Chocolate from Belgium is like Spain’s Paella or Italy’s pizza! World-renowned for being the best of the best from that region. There is no other place in the world where chocolate is most reputable or celebrated as in Belgium. Furthermore, tourists from far and wide favour the chocolate over anything else, yielding thousands of euros every year with their quality and taste!
The chocolate industry in Belgium started long ago in the 17th century when Spanish settler’s introduced chocolate to the wealthy Belgians. These chocolate treats soon became very popular and by the 19th century, chocolate making became a key industry in Belgium! Now, if you travel to Belgium you can find chocolatiers even in the most remote towns and villages. To this day Belgium pride themselves on the ingenious craftsmanship of their chocolate creations.
You will find certain elements of Belgian chocolate that makes it different from any other! Belgian chocolate usually has a finer structure compared to other chocolate; this is generally because there is a higher cacao content in Belgian chocolate. Additionally, the cocoa beans used are of higher quality.
As the chocolate industry is so large in Belgium this also means that it is also very diverse! Belgian chocolatiers are renowned for being especially creative in their designs. There is nowhere else in the world that you’ll find the range of variety, colours, flavours or innovation of chocolate as you can in Belgium. Way back now in 2007, the ‘Code of Belgian Chocolate’ came into effect. Essentially, this is a code found on your chocolate products that guarantee your chocolate is definitely from Belgium. Belgium chocolate is sought after all over the world, renowned for its high quality and expertise. Additionally, it should be noted that the largest chocolate factory in the world can be found in Wieze, Belgium.
Their innovation of chocolate isn’t the only thing Belgium is famous for in the chocolate world! A man named Jean Neuhaus moved to a pharmacy/sweet shop in Brussels. It was from here that his son (also named Jean) started getting more creative with the medicines and chocolate. In 1912, Jean came up with the idea of dipping certain medicines into the chocolate to make it easier to swallow. It was here that the praline was born! Pralines are now used for all sorts of chocolate combinations! These low melting chocolates are found at the highest end of the luxury scale of Belgian chocolates and are a favourite for many chocolatiers in Belgian.
There aren’t many countries that have been in the chocolate business for over a century, but once you try Belgian chocolate you’ll understand why!