Why Belgian chocolate is the best chocolate in the world

Belgian chocolate

If you are a chocolate lover, you might have wondered which country produces the best chocolate in the world.

Is it Switzerland, France, Italy or Belgium?

While each of these countries has its own style and tradition of making chocolate, many experts and connoisseurs agree that Belgian chocolate is the finest of them all.

But what makes Belgian chocolate so special?

How did it become a symbol of quality and excellence?

And what are some of the best brands and varieties of Belgian chocolate that you should try?

What is the history of Belgian chocolate?

Belgian chocolate has a long and rich history that dates back to the 17th century, when Belgium was under Spanish rule.

At that time, Spain had colonies in South America, where cacao beans were cultivated and used to make a bitter drink called xocolatl. The Spanish brought some of these beans back to Europe, where they were initially reserved for the nobility and the clergy.

However as the demand for chocolate grew, other countries started to import cacao beans and produce their own chocolate.

Belgium was one of the first countries to develop a chocolate industry, thanks to its strategic location and its access to raw materials from its colonies in Africa.

In the 19th century, Belgian chocolatiers invented some of the techniques and innovations that are still used today, such as the praline (a chocolate shell filled with a soft or crunchy center), the ballotin (a box designed to protect the pralines), and the couverture (a high-quality chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa butter).

These inventions made Belgian chocolate more refined, diverse and appealing to consumers around the world.

Belgian chocolate

What are the characteristics of Belgian chocolate?

Belgian chocolate is not just a generic term for any chocolate made in Belgium.

It is a chocolate that follows strict standards and traditions that date back to the 17th century. According to the Belgian law, Belgian chocolate must contain at least 35% cocoa solids and no vegetable fats other than cocoa butter.

This ensures that the chocolate has a pure and intense flavor.

Belgian chocolate is a product that has to meet certain standards and criteria, such as:

  • The use of 100% pure cocoa butter, without any vegetable fats or substitutes.
  • The use of high-quality ingredients, such as natural vanilla, fresh cream, nuts, fruits and spices.
  • The adherence to traditional recipes and methods such as roasting, grinding, conching, tempering and molding.
  • The respect for the origin and traceability of the cacao beans, which are often sourced from fair trade and sustainable farms.
  • The creativity and craftsmanship of many Belgian chocolatiers, who constantly experiment with new flavors, shapes and textures.

These characteristics make Belgian chocolate more aromatic, smooth, creamy and delicious than other types of chocolate.

They also ensure that Belgian chocolate has a long shelf life and does not lose its quality over time.

Belgian chocolate

What are the benefits of Belgian chocolate?

Belgian chocolate is not only delicious, it is also good for you.

Here are some of the benefits of eating Belgian chocolate:

  • It boosts your mood. Chocolate contains chemicals that stimulate the production of endorphins and serotonin in your brain. These are hormones that make you feel happy and relaxed.
  • It improves your health. Chocolate is rich in antioxidants, which protect your cells from damage and aging. It also lowers your blood pressure, improves your blood flow, and reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke.
  • It enhances your brain function. Chocolate improves your cognitive abilities, such as memory, attention, and problem-solving. It also increases your creativity and productivity.
Belgian chocolate

What are some of the best brands and varieties of Belgian chocolate?

Belgium has hundreds of chocolate makers, ranging from small artisanal shops to large industrial factories.

Each one has its own style, specialty and reputation.

Classic brands

Some of the most famous and respected classic brands include:

  • Neuhaus: Founded in 1857 by Jean Neuhaus, a Swiss immigrant who opened a pharmacy in Brussels and started to coat his medicines with chocolate. His grandson Jean Neuhaus Junior later invented the Belgian praline in 1912, which revolutionized the chocolate industry. Neuhaus is known for its elegant and sophisticated pralines, made with premium ingredients and exquisite fillings.
  • Côte d’Or: Founded in 1883 by Charles Neuhaus (Jean’s brother), who chose the name Côte d’Or (meaning Gold Coast) to refer to the source of his cacao beans in Ghana. Côte d’Or is known for its intense and powerful chocolates, made with high percentages of cocoa solids and distinctive flavors, such as hazelnut, coffee, caramel, or chili. Côte d’Or is also famous for its iconic elephant logo and its slogan “Qui sait déguster ne boit plus jamais de chocolat” (meaning “Who knows how to taste never drinks chocolate again”).
  • Godiva: Founded in 1926 by Joseph Draps, who named his company after the legendary Lady Godiva. Godiva is known for its luxurious and indulgent chocolates, made with rich cream, butter, and liqueurs. Godiva is also famous for its gold boxes, wrapped with a satin ribbon and a seal.
  • Leonidas: Founded in 1913 by Leonidas Kestekides, a Greek immigrant who won a bronze medal at the World Fair in Brussels for his chocolate creations. Leonidas is known for its affordable and accessible chocolates, made with fresh ingredients and natural flavors. They created the Manon praline, white chocolate filled with coffee butter cream over a thin layer of Leonidas praliné. Leonidas is also popular for its wide range of products, such as truffles, nougatines, marzipan, orangettes, etc.
Belgian chocolate

Modern brands

Modern day chocolate brand and their creators are:

  • Pierre Marcolini is a renowned Belgian chocolatier who has gained international acclaim for his exceptional chocolate creations. His passion for chocolate blossomed during his training, and he decided to dedicate his life to perfecting the art of chocolate-making. Marcolini’s chocolates are highly sought after due to their exquisite quality and unique flavors. He is considered one of the pioneers of the “bean to bar” process, which involves roasting cocoa beans himself and meticulously selecting suppliers from plantations worldwide. This hands-on approach ensures that every step of the chocolate-making process is carefully controlled, resulting in exceptional taste and texture. Marcolini’s chocolates are known for their refined craftsmanship, innovative recipes, and luxurious presentation. His brand, Maison Pierre Marcolini, offers a wide range of products, including chocolate bars, truffles, cookies, jams, macarons, and pastries. Each creation is meticulously crafted to deliver an unforgettable sensory experience.
  • The Chocolate Line: Dominique Persoone is a renowned Belgian chocolatier known for his innovative creations and dedication to the art of chocolate-making. Born in Belgium, Persoone fell in love with chocolate at a young age and decided to pursue a career in this field. He is recognized for his extraordinary creativity and has developed unique chocolate products such as chocolate lipstick and the “Tree to Bar” expedition store. Persoone’s chocolates are highly sought after due to their exceptional taste, quality and craftsmanship. His shop and brand, The Chocolate Line, in Bruges has received numerous accolades and is considered one of the best chocolatiers in the world. Persoone’s passion for chocolate shines through his presentations worldwide and collaborations with top chefs. His dedication to preserving the essence of chocolate and pushing its boundaries has made him a beloved figure in the industry.

These are just some examples of the many brands and varieties of Belgian chocolate that you can find
and enjoy.

Conclusion

Whether you prefer dark, milk or white chocolate, whether you like plain, filled or flavored chocolate, whether you want to treat yourself or someone else, you will always find a Belgian chocolate that suits your taste and mood.

Belgian chocolate is not just a food: it is an art, a culture, and a passion. It is a product that reflects the skill, the tradition, and the innovation of the Belgian chocolatiers. It is a product that delights the senses, stimulates the mind, and warms the heart.

It is a product that makes people happy.

If you are a chocolate lover, you owe it to yourself to try Belgian chocolate at least once in your life.

You will not regret it. You will discover a new world of flavors, aromas, and sensations. You will understand why Belgian chocolate is the best chocolate in the world.

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aghbennett
aghbennett

Fabulous – informative and interesting . Cheers June

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