Belgium is now considered to be the best chocolate maker in the world, and is known as the capital of chocolate after inventing the praline in 1912. How Belgian factories produce their chocolate is, apparently, different from the way chocolate factories in the Middle East, for example, do it. So what is the story behind that?
A quick flashback to the history of chocolate
For many centuries, if not millennia, chocolate has been pleasing both men and women. Old civilizations like the Mayans and the Aztecs used to produce chocolate beverages, the first original form of chocolate. The first record of its use dates from 1500 B.C, at the time of the Olmecs, the major Mexican civilization back then. Central and South America were the most familiar to chocolate, as since then and until today, cocoa beans are mostly cultivated there.
In the 16th century, and with the start of the sailings between South America and Europe, Spain introduced chocolate for the first time to the rest of Europe. At the end of the 18th century, the first form of solid chocolate gets invented in Turin, and factories in Europe started their own productions.
Today and since the 18th century, Belgium became the leading chocolate producer in the world. This popularity increased ever since 1912 when Jean Neuhaus introduced a new version of chocolate production called “couverteur” as a cold shell for “pralines”. Belgian pralines could be filled with nougats or creams like coffee, hazelnut, fruit and even, more chocolate.
How Belgium became the best chocolate maker
The Old World method is the reason why Belgium is still excelling in making chocolate. Even with the industrial revolution, Belgian chocolate makers refused to adopt the factory line process and still produce chocolate by hand in small workshops using original equipment. Throughout the years, families kept on passing down this method and the recipes from generation to generation, making it a tradition and, thus, included chocolate into their culture. It has proven effective that the quality maintains its high level when the production process follows the tradition and becomes a culture in a specific country. The same thing applies to Germany and sausages, Italy and pasta and many others.
What also made a big difference between the Belgian chocolate and other productions is the raw material used. Chocolate factories in Belgium got their “couverteur” in heated tanker trucks, keeping it hot and preserving its strong aroma. In fact, getting supplies in solid form would force the factory to reheat the ingredients to start the production process, which causes a change in the taste and a decrease in the quality. In addition, Belgian factories still use 100% cocoa butter and not its commercial substitute. The real butter allows the chocolate to melt at the perfect temperature, while its replacement increases the melting point. Also, chocolate makers in Belgium maintained the usage of natural ingredients instead of artificial and cheaper ones to cut down on the production cost.
In conclusion, Belgian chocolate is considered to be the most expensive type of chocolate due to the authentic process of using fine natural raw materials. We, at Crystal Chocolatier, follow the Belgian method by getting our “couverteur” heated, promising our customers the best experience with our wide set of flavors. While many factories switched to the commercial chocolate, we kept on producing homemade chocolate with real cocoa and natural ingredients.