Taste your way through some of Belgium's best chocolate
Renowned for being home to some of the best chocolatiers, Belgium is a popular haunt with chocolate lovers from around the world. From creative chocolate connoisseurs in Brussels, to family run businesses in Ghent, Belgium is the home of chocolate innovation. To help get you inspired for your confectionery trip, we've put together a list of the best chocolatiers and chocolate shops in Belgium.
Pierre Marcolini is one of the top chocolatiers in Belgium, and his work is living proof of his talent. Every year, Marcolini travels around the world in search of great quality cocoa beans, often blending different types to create unique flavours in his chocolate. To create the initial chocolate blend, he mixes ground, roasted cocoa beans with cocoa butter, sugar and fresh Tahitian vanilla.
His final creations are the result of perfect flavour composition. Tantalise your taste buds with a Baies Roses, a chocolate filled with bitter ganache, infused with Moroccan pink pepper berries. Or, sample a taste of utter luxury, with the Pierre Marcolini Grand Cru chocolate, which is made with cocoa from Venezuela, Java and Madagascar, and is bursting with ganache laced with vanilla.
Dig into the treats of Pierre Marcolini
Established as a chocolate shop by Jean Neuhaus Junior, in 1857, Neuhaus is one of the oldest chocolate producers in Belgium. If you're interested in trying a couple of the shop's innovative flavours, two popular choices that have been around since 1937 are Bonbon13, a blend of dark and milk chocolate infused with rum, and Astrid, a buttery and crunchy chocolate that was created in honour of Queen Astrid of Belgium.
Nowadays, the shop offers a range of carefully curated boxes, such as the Neuhaus Haute Pâtisserie, a selection of nine different flavoured chocolates designed by nine top pastry chefs, based on their favourite desserts.
Explore the chocolate treats of Neuhaus
Located on Mariastraat, Depla is a famous chocolatier that's been producing high quality treats since 1958. Pol Depla, a member of the Guild of the Bruges Chocolatiers, runs the company, which famously produces artisanal chocolate on site, combining the best cocoa with his own family recipe.
Pol's chocolate shop is renowned for its production of the Brugs Swaentje, or Bruges Swan, a type of swan-shaped chocolate filled with almond praline that's been infused with gruut spices and kletskoppen biscuits. On top of this Belgian delicacy, you'll also have the choice of masterfully crafted chocolate figurines, such as rabbits and dragons.
To see how Pol Depla works, join one of his workshops, where you'll get to watch how he creates these chocolate masterpieces.
How chocolate is made
Positioned in one of the beautiful medieval buildings just around the corner from Depla, Dumon Chocolatier is a well-established shop run by Stephan Dumon, who began his career by creating artisan truffles for nearby pastry chefs in 1992. Dumon was trained as a chef chocolatier at the city's Ter Groene Poorte, a famous catering school, and implements his learnings to create chocolate using the traditional artisan method.
In his shop, you can expect to sample a wide and varied range of chocolate, from green, frog-shaped pralines, to festive figurines and fruit, spice and nut infused chocolate bars. There's plenty of choice, so make sure you treat yourself to a box of whatever they recommend, and enjoy them with a coffee in the shop's café.
Dumon's multi-coloured chocolates
The Chocolate Line
The chocolate-brown exteriors of this charming shop give the impression that even the walls are edible, but sadly, they're not. Owned by Dominique Persoone and Fabienne De Staerke, and open since 1992, The Chocolate Line produces quality chocolate for top chefs, tourists and foodies from across Belgium. From outside the shop, you can watch the chocolatiers hard at work in the kitchen, tempering and moulding delicious treats for you to try.
The Chocolate Line is famous for the interesting flavours they produce, such as the Tequila chocolate that requires you to lick salt from the treat, drink the tequila and eat the chocolate filled with lime infused ganache. Other exciting tastes include Bangkok, a chocolate laced with hints of lemongrass, and Green Tokyo, a chocolate filled with a bitter ganache and Japanese wasabi marzipan.
Hans Burie Chocolatier
At the age of 20, Hans Burie started creating chocolate from his own home, and as his business grew, he was soon able to move to Antwerp and buy his own shop, where he specialised in traditional chocolate making. As of 2000, Hans' son, Lieven Burie, has been running the shop, continuing to create delicious and unusual Belgian delicacies people love. Sample candied orange slices dipped in rich dark chocolate, whipped raspberry-filled chocolates and amazing structures, such as giant chocolate ostriches and snakes.
If you want to learn more about the Burie process of making chocolate, treat yourself and your family to an hour-long behind the scenes session, where you'll get to witness how the pralines are made.
For around 60 years, DelRey has been producing chocolate, macaroons, and celebration cakes, so it's no surprise that they're held in such high regard. With every season, the shop's windows are dotted with themed chocolate creations, from Easter eggs, to glossy red hearts and delicious flower-shaped treats. Inside, the chocolates are even more beautiful, with delights including escargot moulded dark chocolate filled with chestnut purée and whipped with butter and rum, Norwegian candied cherries covered in red-tinted chocolate, and champagne truffles, which you can enjoy in the shop's very own Chocolate Lounge.
DelRey's chocolate and cakes
Chocolaterie Van Hoorebeke
The Van Hoorebeke chocolaterie consists of two shops, which are owned by creator, Luc Van Hoorebeke, and his son, Cedric. The two chocolatiers create artisanal pralines, carefully picking out the cocoa beans they use to create their original chocolate blend. Passers-by can take a sneak peek into their basement workshops, and watch as they create mouth-watering, sweet delights, such as candied orange peel dipped in bitter dark chocolate, and creamy truffles that have been rolled in flakes of milk chocolate.
Quetzal de Chocoladebar
On top of all the chocolate you can eat, Belgium has a big chocolate-drinking culture, which is celebrated in Quetzal de Chocoladebar. Inside, you'll discover myriad warm chocolate milks to choose from, infused with different flavours and spices, such as the Mexican hot chocolate mixed with honey and a piquant spice blend, and the Malabar, which is blended with Arabian cardamom.
In the evening, you can also treat yourself to one of the many 'choctails', such as the Azteca, a mixture of rum, gin and Mexican spices, and a slice of rich, chocolate brownie. The bar also offers pure cocoa shots, for the real lovers of chocolate, as well as indulgent ice cream for your kids.
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