The history of Belgian Chocolate
From pre colombian cultures to Neuhaus and Godiva
In 1519 Hernan Cortes receives chocolate from the Azteques and imports it in Spain ten years after. The ports of Antwerp, Bruges and the city of Gent are then part of Spain possessions and become the centers of the importation of chocolate : this is the start of the Belgian chocolate.
In the XVII th century, the chocolate becomes a rage amongst the rich people in Brussels.
In 1910 the production of chocolate becomes industrial and the belgian techniques (selection, blend, moulding, torrefaction) are state–of-the-art. Neuhaus and Godiva start there. The colonisation of the Congo also allows Belgium to get the cacoa from Africa, more tasty then cacao from America.
In 1212 Neuhaus creates the first « praline » i.e. the small sophisticate chocolate pieces of today.
In 1936 Jacques creates the " bâton " (stick) more democratic and easy to break in small parts.
Where to buy chocolate in Brussels
Besides those, there are also interesting, less touristic, artisanal and creators’ boutiques.
The most traditional (and exquisite) is Mary, on Royale Street. This old company from the XIX th Century is « Fournisseur de la Cour » i.e. supplier of the royal family. The style of the waiters is typically belgian chic, very courteous and… royal.
Also try Frederik Blondeel just down the Grand Sablon. It’s inventive, tasty, surprising and refined. You can also have a seat and taste a drinkable chocolate or a tea.
If you like bitter and spicy chocolate try Laurent Gerbeaud, 2 rue Ravenstein (down the Sablon).
Just visit also the small Musée du Chocolat, not far from the Grand-Place and Manneken Pis. There you will taste some chocolates, assist a demonstration of processing of « pralines », test your recognition of different types of chocolates.
How to get there
You can find all the boutiques we mention at the Grand Sablon, 15’ by direct tram from Brugman Court. (lien). The tramway stops on Brugmann Avenue, 5’ walk from the appartement.
Mary rue Royale tram 92 on Brugmann avenue, direction Basilique, « Royale » stop.
Frederik Blondeel, rue de la Paille 32. Tram 92, « Petit Sablon » stop.
Laurent Gerbeaud, 2 rue Ravenstein. Tram 92, « Petit Sablon » stop.
Marcolini place du Grand Sablon. Tram 92, « Petit Sablon » stop
Wittamer Grand Sablon. Tram 92, « Petit Sablon » stop
Neuhaus Grand Sablon. Tram 92, « Petit Sablon » stop
Musée du Chocolat
9-11 rue de la Tête d’Or 100 Bruxelles. Tram 4, stop at « Bourse ».
Chocolate for daily use
Our favourite daily chocolate : Côte d’Or, in every supermarket.
Try also Galler.
Belgians also use chocolate in pastries and in the famous « mousse au chocolat » ,
Recipe of Pierre Marcolini's mousse au chocolat
200g chocolate containing 70% cocoa
5 egg yolks
50 g unsalted butter
10 egg whites
60 g caster sugar
18 cl of fresh cream.
Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.
Add the butter. Smooth the mixture.
Separate the eggs. Blanch the yolks in a bowl ( beating a hand whisk ) and pour it on your first preparation. Set aside.
Beat the cream with an electric mixer at ¾ in a second bowl. In the third bowl, beat the egg whites with the sugar.
Whisk to mix the contents of the first two bowls.
Pour a first part.
Add to this the egg whites and mix with a spatula from the bottom up.
Pour into a bowl. Shoot everything and let cool a few hours!