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: almost 3 years ago

Belgian chocolate, chocolate in Belgium Chocolate fashion?

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
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

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...
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

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!
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 ©
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

Trappist beer meets whisky, Chimay Grande Réserve Fermentée en Barriques 2018
At the BeerLovers’ Café just behind Liège’s City Hall we get together to taste the limited edition Chimay Grande Réserve Fermentée en Barriques 2018, a Trappist beer aged in whisky barrels. ... [ read more ]
Palm and Rodenbach - now under the banner of Swinkels Family Brewers
LIESHOUT/STEENHUFFEL - Since 2016 the Palm, De Hoorn and Rodenbach breweries have been owned by Bavaria, a Dutch-based brewer. Two years after the takeover, Bavaria has been re-named Swinkels Family ... [ read more ]
The Brewers Of Europe Forum 2018
BRUSSELS - To be authentic is not a competition and neither is it a fashionable attitude. You either are an authentic brewer or you are not. You are driven, you make great beers that have a soul, you ... [ read more ]
Zythos 2018. Watch out… there’s some heritage about!
LEUVEN - 12,500 fans made their way to Leuven for what was already the 15th edition of the Zythos beer festival. Many fans travelled a long way to get to Belgium. They flocked here from many European ... [ read more ]
Showcasing the Belgian art of living, Horecatel 2018
MARCHE-EN-FAMENNE - “Their cuisine is on a par with that of the French and the portions are generous...” When people discuss the Belgian art of living, it won’t be long before the term ‘Burgundian’ ... [ read more ]


You must be logged in to leave a comment



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 ]

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 ]

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 ]


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.