Chocolate making is an art in Belgium
Fun Facts About Chocolate in Belgium and Switzerland
Explore these chocolate worlds of pure imagination
Hands up - who's a chocoholic? It's ok, it's Easter time and you're allowed to be.
Fun Chocolate Facts about Belgium
Belgium is home to more chocolate factories than any other country on earth, it's known as the ‘chocolate capital of the world’.
Belgium got its famous reputation when King Leopold II started harvesting cocoa crops in the late 19th century in the Congo. While the ingredients are imported to Belgium, it’s the production within the country that is special. Law requires chocolate to be 35% pure cocoa and to not include vegetable based, artificial or palm oil based fats - if they do so they can’t be labelled as Belgian chocolate.
There are over 2,000 chocolatiers in Belgium and they produce some 172,000 tonnes annually, enough for 22kg per Belgian (however they export most of it). Brussels airport is the biggest chocolate retailer in the world.
Pralines. Belgian pralines consist of a chocolate shell with a softer, sometimes liquid, filling, traditionally made of different combinations of hazelnut, almonds, sugar, syrup and often milk-based pastes. Also known as ‘soft centre chocolates’, ‘fondants’ and ‘chocolate bonbons’. First created in 1912 by chocolatier Jean Neuhaus II, pralines can be shaped like seashells, fish, diamonds.
Truffles. Most commonly in the form of a flaky or smooth chocolate ball or traditionally a truffle-shaped lump, Belgian chocolate truffles are sometimes in encrusted form containing wafers or coated in a high-quality cocoa powder. Inside is a soft ganache of liquid, or fruit, nut or coffee.
. This chocolate retailer has over 1500 shops in 50 countries. They also invented the chocolate gift box to prevent damage.
. One of the highest producing, widespread chocolate retailers in the world, with 350 shops in Belgium and 1250 shops in 50 countries. They charge about 25 Euros for a kilo of chocolate.
. Founded in 1926 in Brussels, this retailer has annual sales of $500m. The brand was named after an 11th century noblewoman who rode naked (covered only by her long hair) through Coventry to protest the oppressive tax imposed by her husband on his tenants. Her figure is the company logo.
. French for Gold Coast, the former name of Ghana and where they get most of their cocoa beans. The company was founded in 1883 and feeds 600m products to Belgians annually. 1.3 million small chocolate bars and 2 million bonbons are produced daily.
. The Chocolate Museum in Bruges. Inside you can watch chocolate being made and understand the health benefits of chocolate.
Fun Chocolate Facts about Switzerland
. David Sprüngli-Schwarz and his daughter, Anna Burleson, owned a small confectionery shop in the old town of Zürich in 1845. Up until 1879, chocolate was mostly consumed as a drink – it looked and tasted nothing like the sweet, silky bars we have today. Modern edible chocolate was developed from a process called conching, invented by Rodolphe Lindt. The technique involves blending cacao over the course of hours or even days to reach the perfect flavour and consistency.
. A Swiss transnational food and beverage company headquartered in Vevey, Vaud, Switzerland. It is the largest food company in the world measured by revenues and have 29 brands making over a billion dollars annually. One of its big brands is Kit Kat, which is renowned for its strange flavours. Kit Kat flavours include green tea, soy sauce, cherry blossom, sake, crème brulee and ginger ale. These flavours are mainly released in Japan, where the rough translation of Kit Kat means 'good luck'.
Cows and cowbells
. The Swiss absolutely love their milk because it's essential to produce their first class cheese and chocolate. As such, they worship their cows. Swiss cows are placed on different grazing grounds of mountains during summer which affects the kinds of cheese and chocolate that can be produced depending on their food intake. To make the cows happier they are provided bells which are said to relax the animals and make the cheese taste nicer. At the end of the summer, the cow who has produced the most milk is given the largest bell and taken through town in a parade.
. Ovaltine in England & other parts of the world it is a hot (or cold) malt or chocolate drink mixture & was invented in Bern, Switzerland. Described as a delicious and nutritious morning drink to be mixed with milk, it is full of vitamins, provides energy with no added sugar (only in Switzerland) & can be used to flavour muesli. Similar to Milo which is a popular Australian milk additive.
Discover Belgium and Switzerland on our walking and cycling tours
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