How many times have you stared at those exquisitely crafted sea shells poking out from a box? The color, the shape and the details often make one wonder whether it is truly something edible or is it just a show-piece.
But do you know the history behind Belgian chocolates? Do you know that most Belgian chocolates are handcrafted? Do you know how many tons of chocolates are exported from Belgium every year? If you do not, then go ahead and read about some of the interesting facts about chocolate, how did it all start and what is it today?
Chocolates were discovered as early as the 15th century, drank as a bitter concoction and considered to be a cure for diseases (Yeah! Wish chocolates could cure ailments; no body would have shied away from medicines).
At one point of time cocoa was considered sacred.
In old days cocoa seeds were roasted, grinded, mixed with spices and made into a bitter drink. It is said that only the affluent could afford it.
Many used cocoa seeds to buy gold in those days.
Adding sugar to the erstwhile bitter drink was an amendment that came from the European nobles, laying the path that eventually took the confectionary world by storm.
Chocolate was introduced to the Belgians in the early 1900s. What they made out of it is now history.
The uniqueness in Belgian chocolates is in the creation of "praline". Praline is the chocolate shell filled with soft milk chocolate that melts in the mouth. The praline was then given the shape of shells, which was hand-crafted to reach perfection.
The praline being very soft, packaging was introduced for the chocolate shells which came to be known as "ballotin". So these special chocolates came to be known as "ballotin de praline". The wonderful chocolate, the eye-catching packaging made these chocolates great gifts since then.
Even today many chocolate makers create the pralines by hand in Belgium.
Belgium produces over 170 thousand tons of chocolates every year.
Today Belgian chocolates may have nut covers, liqueur filling, dark chocolate filling, and crispy shells.
If you are traveling to Belgium, know that there are a number of chocolate events that take place through out the year. From sampling chocolates for free to getting valuable insight into the manufacturing process, Belgium has over the years become a chocolate connoisseurs' heaven.
The most important ingredient that makes Belgian chocolates so delightful is the careful selection of the cocoa beans, which are the finest in the world. Often the cocoa seeds are still hand picked as the legend goes.
The remaining ingredients are also chosen with great care.
Today Belgian chocolate industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. Available in almost everywhere all over the world, some authentic Belgium chocolates and some not so much so, if you are a chocolate lover then getting to know the darker side of life; the Belgian chocolate is a must.
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