No.1 travel guide for Belgium; dedicated to Belgian beer and food culture.

An ode to the Belgian chocolatier


Email  •  Print

Author: Erik Verdonck / Published: 2014-07-03 10:41:15 +0200 / Last Updated: over 1 year ago

Belgian chocolate, chocolate in Belgium Chocolate fashion?
© BeerTourism.com


ANTWERP - Belgium and chocolate, a long-standing marriage like no other. Belgian chocolate is a mark of quality. If Belgium does have an image abroad, it is one of culinary enjoyment. Belgian Chocolate Chocolate mouse
© BeerTourism.com
Classics such as beer, chocolate, chicory, sprouts and the famous Belgian (not French!) ‘frites/frieten/fries’ spring to mind immediately.

For many years Leonidas has been selling ‘freshly made Belgian chocolate’ made in Brussels, as this is the city where the praline was born.

Leonidas now has a presence in around forty countries with fourteen hundred stores (1.400!), half of which are in Belgium and France.

All stores offer a standard assortment as well as products tailored to the local marketplace. Prices vary from circa €24 per kilo in Belgium to as much as €120 (!) in Japan, where pralines are worth their weight in gold.

The Belgian master chocolatiers safeguard the quality of their products and develop new ones too, finding their inspiration in fashion and design...Belgian chocolate is characterised by the use of 100% cocoa butter, hence its rich and full taste. It will come as no suprise to learn that chocolate consumption in Belgium is high, with the average Belgian enjoying between four and ten kilograms each per year.


Belgian Chocolate Manual choclate labour
© BeerTourism.com


Without grain

Admittedly, we did not invent either chocolate or beer. However, throughout the years, we have never stopped tinkering with quality and thus we have developed our own signature, Belgian Chocolate, chocolate in Belgium A constant flow...
© BeerTourism.com
ranging from committed niche players who experiment with surprising aromas, flavours, shapes or colours which you would not immediately associate with chocolate, up to the large chocolate producers.

Luc Jansen allows me ‘a look under the bonnet’. Luc is in charge of training for chocolatiers, both from Belgium and abroad, and is based in his brand new International Chocolate Training Centre in Antwerp.

Luc’s background is on the technical side and he has years of experience in chocolate making. He explains that both time and temperature are crucial factors in roasting the cocoa bean.

During the 'conching' process chocolate dough is kneaded for hours on end at high temperatures, so any acidic elements will evaporate, resulting in a balanced taste.

It is also typical of Belgian chocolate that it is ground and flattened (rolled out or 'gewalst') to a very high standard, so there are no discernible grains. All of this determines the chocolate’s taste and quality. However, there are not many chocolatiers left in Belgium who produce their own chocolate.

There are large producers such as Barry Callebaut and Belcolade who supply the desired basic ingredients, using the exact recipe that was specified by the chocolatier themselves.


Belgian Chocolate A true chocolate piece of art
© BeerTourism.com


From artisan to artist

The niche players fire up the market with an explosion of creativity and spectacle. Above all, they are the market movers who are in the news and thus raise the profile of Belgian chocolate Belgian Chocolate Olé Olé!
© BeerTourism.com
in general. Also, the large players have succeeded in democratising the praline, once the preserve of a small elite.

“We have tasted many varieties and so we have grown more demanding. We look for a pure authentic taste and appreciate the craft of the chocolatier,” is Luc Jansen’s opinion.

His colleague, a former production manager with Burie in Antwerp and now known as a chocolate sculptor, adds to this: “We have developed the praline culture with an endless variety of fillings. Also, we create our own set pieces. Imagine famous buildings, animals, busts of famous people, all made out of chocolate”.

Just like Belgian beer, Belgian chocolate is a reference point all over the world. Also, it makes the perfect gift for a Belgian and the perfect souvenir for visitors from abroad. It is therefore unsurprising that chocolate sells very well at the national airport, just like in the cities of Brussels and Bruges. Bram is addressing ten trainee chocolatiers: “I am now going to teach you the basic rules of molding (shaping). Belgian Chocolate © BeerTourism.com
Practice as much as you can and you will develop and eye for the thickness of the chocolate and the right processing temperature."

"Keep your tools clean! Once you have filled the mold, finish it off with the knife as soon as possible!”.

As is often the case, it is harder than it looks. Luc is now demonstrating how you table, or temper, the chocolate without using machines.

He is using a spatula to work with the molten chocolate on a granite slate. “Ideal to test the chocolate or if you are working with small quantities”, he explains. The air in the atelier has a fragrance of chocolate. There are far worse things in life.


Recent Blog Posts

Something's brewing at Brasserie des Carrières
BASECLES - You may not have heard of this little village, halfway between Tournai and Mons. Its former quarries are now filled with water where the black marble that adorns Cologne Cathedral was once ... [ read more ]
Brouwerij Huyghe, the Pink Elephant marches on
MELLE - Alain De Laet, CEO and owner of Brouwerij Huyghe, is a firm believer in the power of the Belgian beer brand around the world. The success of the brewery speaks for itself, with Huyghe ... [ read more ]
Durobor, a touch of glass
SOIGNIES - Belgians drink their beer from the correct glass. An abbey beer tastes so much better from a traditional chalice, a pils beer from a pils glass... Only in Belgium, will you come across such ... [ read more ]
Westmalle, a shining beacon of Trappist beer...
WESTMALLE - Time appears to stand still in a Trappist abbey like Westmalle. However, appearances can be deceptive - even here the latest technologies are quietly creeping in. The abbey has an up-to-da ... [ read more ]
Val-Dieu, celebrating 800 years of Belgian beer culture
VAL-DIEU - Those monks certainly picked some beautiful spots for their abbeys. The rumble of the busy motorway lies far behind me as I swap the flat northern Belgian landscape for the gently rolling ... [ read more ]

Comments


You must be logged in to leave a comment


SHARE:
 



BLOG

POSTS
Black Gold - Barista Chocolate Quad

INGELMUNSTER - Espresso, cappuccino, ristretto… We have become familiar with the rich and varied Italian coffee culture. We order a coffee to warm us up, to give us a boost or to finish off a meal. ... [ more ]

Golden rules for combining beer with food

The golden rules for combining beer with food are just the same as those used when matching a menu with wine. Time for a brief introduction we thought. The two archetypal types of dishes: fish, which is fresh and sour... [ more ]

Bush beer pairing at Le Château du Mylord

ELLEZELLES - As many as 34 years ago Jean-Baptiste Thomaes, at the ripe young age of 22, set up the prestigious establishment of Le Château du Mylord in Ellezelles, a village close to Ronse and Oudenaarde. ... [ more ]

Kasteel_barista_225

More Beer

Kasteel Barista Chocolate Quad is the successor to Kasteel Winter, a seasonal beer that has been discontinued. Barista is a dark degustation beer that can be enjoyed all year long ... [ more ]

Beer Tourism Newsletter Signup

Enter your name and email address on the right and click "SignUp" to join.

Name:
Email:
TWITTER
    FACEBOOK