Understanding Belgian Chocolate's Unique Flavor Profile
Countries have unique chocolate cultural differences and this is reflected in the taste of chocolate made in these countries. Traditionally there are flavor profiles characteristic to each locale.
Unique nuances in flavor are due to where a particular country has a history of sourcing cocoa beans, local ingredients, cultural taste preferences and the national standards set forth in the schools that teach chocolate making. Chocolate lovers world wide know that one of the most famous of chocolate countries producing a unique style of chocolates is Belgium, known for milk chocolate and a classic chocolatier style of making pralines and truffles.
What defines Belgian Chocolate?
Belgium has a long tradition of chocolate making. Belgian chocolate couverture and baking chocolate are characteristically more buttery, medium sweet with medium bitterness.
Filled Belgian chocolates such as truffles and molded pralines are very often in a fanciful shape and filled with butter creams or ganache. The fillings are often times whipped to be lighter and more airy. Chocolatiers think of Belgian chocolates as being in the middle range of flavor profile with not too much of a range in flavor extremes. Belgian milk chocolate for example has a classic milk flavor and not so much fruitiness or sourness you might find in other milk chocolate varieties. Belgian dark chocolate will have a classic fudge like earthy flavor and no sourness, fruitiness or lingering floral flavors usually. The popularity of the Belgian chocolate taste is because it is comforting and forward without too many distractions. This classic taste is derived from the unique African cacao companies in Belgium source as an ingredient. West African cacao, the type Belgian chocolatiers use, is world famous for having a classic cocoa taste. This straightforward taste is the cornerstone of the chocolate. Probably the most famous Belgian chocolates found in the USA come from the chocolatier Neuhaus. Maker of the classic solid chocolate bar and moulded shape Belgian chocolates, Neuhaus chocolatier is the perfect example of traditional European chocolate making.
The Ballotin Box: the original Belgian Chocolate Box
Neuhaus Belgian Chocolatier invented the most famous chocolate box design in 1915. The ballotin box is a rectangular box with gentle sloping sides from a smaller base to a larger top. The box opens with top flaps and is held shut with a sticker or ribbon. It is an easy to carry box, elegant and functional. A memorable design and remarkably sturdy. Ballotin boxes are perfect for holding delicate chocolate pralines; which by the way, were also invented by Neuhaus in 1912. Chocolate pralines are a type of filled chocolates. They have a thin, hard chocolate exterior that with one bite will crack open and discover a soft filled interior of flavored nut pastes or chocolate ganache.
With the immense popularity of pralines throughout Europe, Neuhaus sought to design a functional box that would become the novel and elegant way to present such a gourmet delicacy. The ballotin box quickly became the recognizable Neuhaus trademark.
The most famous of Neuhaus ballotin boxes sold today is the classic chocolate box everyone loves: Neuhaus Belgian Chocolatier
Neuhaus Ballotin Box from 1915:
A Prime Belgian Chocolate Example
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The history of Belgian Chocolate as told by our chocolatier: