Belgian Must-try #2 of 4: Chocolate

Aside from Belgian beer, another must-try in Belgium is, of course, the world famous Belgian chocolate. It is sold all over the world, but buying and eating it in Belgium makes it more “Belgian” :)

Here is a conversation I had with a Leonidas staff in Brussels:

Me: Hi! Where are your plain dark Belgian chocolates? Those which have no filling at all.

Leonidas staff: Oh, if you want Belgian chocolates, expect almost all of them to have a filling inside. That’s what a Belgian chocolate is, basically.

This building near the Grand Place in Brussels houses various chocolate stores

Leonidas store front

Then she introduced me to all their displayed pralines. Pralines or Belgian chocolates are chocolates with soft fondant centers. She emphasized that pralines are different from praliné (pra-lee-nay). Pralinés refer to the common praline filling in Europe composed of hazelnuts ground into paste. Belgian chocolates (pralines) on the other hand are not limited to the traditional praline filling, and may use liquor, butter, marzipan, or even chocolates with a different blend that contrasts with the outer shell. Seafood pralines, those shaped like fish or seashells are popular with tourists and are sold all over Belgium.

Pralines displayed at Leonidas, a famous Belgian chocolate store

Both the chocolate bar and praline are inventions of the Belgian chocolate industry. Since 1884, law has regulated the composition of Belgian chocolates. To maintain the excellent quality of the chocolates so that they don/t contain low-quality fats, a minimum cocoa level of 35% was imposed.

Another mouth-watering chocolate product

Many small chocolate outlets are prevalent in Belgium, and this is because of the numerous firms that produce chocolates by hand laboriously. These shops are also popular with tourists. Big and famous chocolate companies such as Guylian strictly follow traditional recipes, even secret recipes, for their products as well.

Hand-made chocolates are popular in Belgium

Still, I found my plain dark chocolate bar :)

Coming Soon: Belgian must-try #3 of 4: Belgian Fries


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