Chocolate is the best treat in the world and a fantastic mood booster. I'm one of those people who absolutely love chocolate and can't imagine life without it.
Belgian chocolate is a recognized world leader, and their premium chocolate established itself as a global standard of excellent quality.
In Belgium, you can find many specialized boutiques where you may buy high-quality handmade chocolate.
With new and modern technology, we have a wide assortment of chocolate, but still, the greatest and most traditional chocolate is always dark. The quality of chocolate depends on the amount of cocoa in it. The higher the percentage of cocoa, the better the product.
There is a quote, which I really agree with:
Why is chocolate so special? And Why is Belgian chocolate so favorite?
Let's find out.
Historically, chocolate has been cultivated in Central and South America since the 14th century, just like cocoa trees.
In ancient times, the Mayans and Aztecs mixed ground cocoa beans with hot peppers and water.
The drink had a bitter, spicy, foamy taste and was served cold.
In Europe, chocolate and vanilla came with the Spanish conquistadors.
Conquistador and explorer Hernán Cortes organized an expedition to Mexico that led to the collapse of the Aztec Empire.
During the conquest, Cortes discovered cocoa beans and brought them to Spain in 1528.
Cortes also noted that the Aztecs traded cocoa beans for gold, which motivated him to establish cocoa plantations in Mexico, Trinidad, Haiti, and other Caribbean countries.
In France and Flanders, chocolate appeared thanks to Anne of Austria, Infanta of Spain, and Portugal, and quickly gained popularity. However, by the beginning of the 17th century, this beverage in Europe had changed from being cold and bitter to being hot and sweet.
Later, a similar product was introduced by the Cadbury Brothers company, who also created a special recipe for a delicious treat by drizzling fruit marmalade with chocolate.
In 1815, a resident of Amsterdam, talented chemist Konrad Johann Van Houten, learned how to press oil from cocoa beans and discovered a possible way to produce high-quality chocolate. This discovery helped to create solid chocolate, which gradually replaced liquid chocolate.
In 1875–1876, Daniel Peter, a Swiss chocolatier, was the first who successfully combine powdered milk with other ingredients and created the first milk chocolate.
His business partner, Henri Nestle, quickly established the production of this product right away.
After 4 more years, another Swiss chocolatier and inventor, Rodolphe Lint, was the first who invented the conching machine and master the quality of chocolate.
These innovations allowed Swiss confectioners to dominate the chocolate market for a very long time.
The peak of the industry occurred in the middle of the 19th century when confectionery companies improved both the recipe and the methods of manufacturing.
In 1885, Belgian King Leopold II colonized the Congo and bought fields with cocoa trees. As a result, this action opened permanent access to cocoa beans for Belgium.
In the middle of the 19th century, the Brussels pharmacist, with Italian roots Jean Neuhaus, started selling his own chocolate recipe product in his private pharmacy.
He started coating medication in chocolate to make them more manageable. Soon licorice, guimauves (marshmallows), and dark chocolate tablets began to appear on the store display as delicious treats.
Later, with the development of craftsmanship, chocolate was used to glaze candies and sweets.
In 1857, Jean Neuhaus launched the first shop in the heart of Brussels at the Royals Galeries Saint-Hubert.
After Neuhaus's death, the family business passed to his son Neuhaus Jr., who founded the Neuhaus chocolate factory.
In 1912, his grandson, Jean Neuhaus II, created the first bonbons or pralines with chocolate filling.
Later, when his wife Louise Agostini, noticed that the pralines were being crushed inside the paper bags, she and her husband invented the ballotin, a gift-wrapped box.
In 1912, the well-known Belgian pralines made their successful debut. The new dessert recipes feature a delicate cream filling containing caramel, nuts, vanilla, marzipan, salted caramel, coffee, cream liqueur, cherry, a chocolate mixture, or premium, orange-flavored liqueur Cointreau.
Today, the internationally recognized Belgian chocolatier Neuhaus produces and sells premium chocolates, truffles, cookies, ice cream, chocolate bars, bonbons, confectionery, and hot chocolate that are incredibly popular all over the world.
The individually wrapped, bite-sized Neuhaus Carrés, a symbol of the Belgium chocolate tradition, provide the ideal present for chocolate lovers.
In 2017, Bloomberg Pursuits ranked chocolate truffles as the World's Best Truffles.
Nougatine Caprice, which is hand-filled with Madagascar vanilla cream topped with dark chocolate, and the artisan nougatine, Tentation, made with Arabica coffee ganache, were first displayed at Expo 58 in 1958.
Today, there are more than 1,500 Neuhaus stores worldwide. All Neuhaus products are still manufactured in the small town of Vlezenbeek, close to Brussels, and exported all over the world.
In every city, you can find dozens of charming family-run chocolate and praline shops, handcrafted from 200-hundred-year-old recipes and using original vintage equipment.
Belgian chocolate is very much appreciated and is very expensive. Truly high-quality chocolate contains 100% pure cocoa butter.
The top Belgian manufacturers mark their products with the “AMBAO” quality label, which means “cocoa” in the Swahili native language widely spoken in Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique.
The chocolate is still manufactured in Belgium, is 100% UTZ Certified, and contains 100% natural ingredients.
So, this is how the finest chocolate in the world was born, inspiring countless chocolatiers and winning the hearts of chocolate lovers.
If you sincerely love chocolate or are just a curious reader, I heartily welcome you to visit my blog next week. My upcoming post “The most expensive chocolate in the world.” will be published the following Wednesday.
According to statistics provided by the Swiss confectionery company Lindt, only 6 countries in the world consume more chocolate.
Swiss. Every year, people eat 8.8 kilograms of chocolate per person.
Austria – 8.1 kg
Germany and Ireland – 7.9 kg
Great Britain – 7.6 kg
Sweden – 6.6
Estonia – 6.5 kg per person per year
In the USA – 4.4 kg per year, France – 4.3, Japan – 1.2 and China – 0.1 kg.
The United States is the largest chocolate market in the world with annual sales of chocolate products totaling €17 billion.
World Chocolate Day is celebrated on July 7th, and this is a fantastic reason to enjoy chocolate because it is one of the most delicious and popular treats.
In this Historical and Cultural walking tour, you will discover Brussels main touristical sites and taste Brussels best waffle and even have a Belgian chocolate tasting. When the tour ends, I will recommend you the best museums, restaurants and bars to spend you time!