December 9, 2023

Oft portrayed as the ideal destination for chocolate enthusiasts, Belgium has numerous master chocolatiers, chocolate shops, dedicated chocolate celebrations, and museums. Thousands of online articles explain why Belgian chocolate is the best, distinct from the rest, and that you shouldn’t be a person without it. However, is there truth to all the hype? Are there any specific quality standards to make Belgian chocolate memorable? What is the reason why Belgium began to be renowned for chocolates in the very first place? Is it good for companies to market Belgian chocolatiers at such a high cost?

Are Belgian chocolate the best chocolate on the planet?

Food magazines have fabricated their definitions of Belgian chocolate for a long time based on unsubstantiated assertions. If you search “What is Belgian chocolate?” You will not receive an official, definitive, widely regarded answer. Why? Because there aren’t any specifications for quality, production standards, or particular ingredient that defines Belgian chocolate. The absence of a clear definition is apparent when one considers the distinctive characteristics commonly assigned to Belgian chocolate are attributed to any chocolate:

All chocolates can be crushed up to 15-18 microns to create smoothness. All you need is the proper equipment; you don’t have to reside in Belgium or be a Belgian chocolatier to get it.

“Belgian chocolate has a high cocoa content.”

First, the amount of cocoa in chocolate products does not necessarily indicate good quality. Dark chocolate can be produced using low-cost, bulk, and flavorless cacao beans. The cocoa content informs us about the quantity (how many cacao beans) but not the quality (what type) of cacao). The second reason is that any chocolate maker can create chocolate with an extremely high cocoa content without needing Belgian chocolate. Dark chocolate is available all over the world, and how can this make sense? In addition, the majority of available Belgian chocolate contains low levels of cocoa and is made up of milk. Belgian truffles, pralines, flavored chocolate bars, and couverture are made from different kinds of chocolate, ranging from dark to sweet and white milk. The recipe requires a specific type of chocolate. If we were required to meet the guidelines above and follow this recipe, then Belgian chocolatiers ought to be barred from using white and milk chocolate.

”┬áBelgian chocolate includes only high-quality ingredients.”

It’s a simple claim if there isn’t any specific standard to determine the quality. Are you able to determine the source of the raw material? Unique organoleptic properties? Different processing techniques? Any chocolate company could claim the same thing. Without evidence to back this assertion, they’re unsubstantiated marketing phrases.

However, how can we, as savvy consumers in 2022, not mistake this country’s origin as an indication of quality? If you’re not going to claim that every wine produced in Italy will be worth the cost or that every cheese produced in France is perfect, It makes no sense to adore Belgian chocolate simply because it’s built in Belgium. These are old myths that, particularly in our world of globalization, should not exist. “Japanese technology,” “Italian clothing,” and “German cars” are marketing stereotypes that exploit our ignorance and naivety about the intricate supply chains that have evolved in recent years. Did you know that even Italian cheeses with the Certification that it is a Protected Origin are made with imported German milk? and that the next Volkswagen is likely to be┬áproduced in China?

Belgium was a chocolate-loving country in 1912, thanks to the development of the praline

Similar to Switzerland like Switzerland, Belgium has become famous for its chocolate due to the innovative inventions that were made in the country. It was in 1912 that Belgian chocolatier Jean Neuhaus created the chocolate praline, an edible bonbon with a smooth, hard chocolate shell that, after a single bite, could break open to reveal a creamy chocolate filling.

For the first time in the history of chocolate, it was possible to contain a range of flavorful nougats and creams, like coffee, hazelnut fruit, or additional chocolate. This innovation had a domino-like effect, encouraging all chocolatiers throughout the country to replicate the chocolate praline and develop new ideas for the ingredients. Belgium was officially admitted to the world-famous chocolate walls. Pralines can be found throughout the world and aren’t confined to Belgium any longer. Pralines are now more of a method than a distinct product and don’t necessarily mean using premium ingredients.

Other factors are also contributing to the popularity of Belgian chocolate. Belgium is home to Callebaut and Belcolade, among the largest chocolate makers worldwide that, support thousands of pastry schools and dessert experts each year. Numerous well-known chocolate brands are Belgian: Godiva, Neuhaus, and Leonidas are just a few of the chocolatiers famous for their luxurious retail stores. Small chocolate labs that employed artisanal techniques have grown into franchises with hundreds of stores across the globe, where quality has disappeared.

There are also chocolate museums, such as The Brussels Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate and The Belgian Chocolate Village, events like The Salon du Chocolat in Brussels, and numerous chocolate tours organized nationwide.

All of these factors contribute to Belgium’s image as Europe’s chocolate capital. But none of these, from the creation of the praline to the numerous chocolate museums, define standards of quality or criteria for the chocolate they produce or justify the alleged quality of Belgian chocolate compared to chocolate made in other countries.

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