Chocolate is a “feel good” food and people are quite passionate about it. The true chocoholic gets a pleasant feeling by just thinking about chocolate. If you are a chocoholic and happen to visit Belgium in Europe, you are sure to love Brussels, the ultimate chocolate nirvana. It all started with Jean Neuhaus who created praline for the first time over a hundred and fifty years ago. Since then, Belgium has been famed for making the best chocolates in the world, especially, in the capital city of Belgium and the center of European Union, Brussels.
Around 6 million tourists visit Brussels every year and no one ever leaves without a box of chocolates. The city conducts chocolate tours; the tourists are acquainted with the history of chocolate, manufacturing of pralines and taste the divine food in the best shops. The tours usually begin with a visit to the Het Museum van Cacao en Chocolade or Le Musée du Cacao et du Chocolat or Museum of Cocoa and Chocolate.
So grab a cup of hot cocoa or a chocolate bar while we take you through the nine best chocolate shops in Brussels.
Galeries Royales St. Hubert is the oldest shopping arcade in Europe, covered with an iron and glass roof and is 200 meters long. Royal St. Hubert Galleries consist of three galleries: the Galerie du Roi (the King's Gallery), the Galeries de la Reine (the Queen's Gallery) and the Galerie des Princes (the Princes' Gallery). There are several chocolate shops including Neuhaus, renowned for the best chocolates and pralines.
The Sablon neighbourhood houses the most popular chocolate makers in Belgium. Pierre Marcolini, one of the renowned chocolate makers has a unique way of making chocolate. He purchases raw cocoa beans from the local producers and makes chocolate in his workshop. The chocolates bought at his shop mention the origin of the cacao beans, as he considers a great chocolate is just like wine and its origin is important. The chocolates are expensive and they are worth it. In winters, don’t forget to indulge in a hot chocolate cup at Marcolini. It is out of the world.
The Royal Family loves the chocolates of Wittamer. The Wittamers were the first one to sell chocolate at their 100 years old modern bakery in Sablon. The shop was conferred with the title of Certified Royal Warrant Holder of Belgium after designing the wedding cake of King Philippe & Queen Mathilde. It is famous for its innovative chocolate flavors like pepper pralines and gold cricket pralines.
Would you not call it a miracle if you come across Belgian chocolates that are gluten-free, hydrogenated fat free, organic and sugar-free? The miracle is Belvas which is the first of its kind organic chocolate shop in Northern Europe. The manufacturing process saves a lot on energy resources. The shop uses a system that collects the heat from air-conditioning and then transforms the heat into hot water to melt the chocolate. The taste is divine too. “Carré Caramel” and Brut de Noir” (70% cocoa) are two of most liked flavors with an authentic taste. People with gluten allergies must pay a visit.
Laurent Gerbaud is yet another chocolate innovator who combines chocolate, spices and fruits to make delicious chocolates. His prominent flavors include candied orange peels coated with chocolate named as “orangettes, Shangaï oranges, kumquat and ginger covered in chocolate originating from unprocessed cacao beans from Madagascar of Ecuador. The tea-room is quite impressive which serves hot chocolate, Lait Russe, Comptoir Florian teas, Brussels beers, ganache and various sorbets. Laurent Gerbaud also compares chocolate tasting to wine tasting and ensures the aroma of chocolate lingers in every candy. The chocolate couverture is prepared by Domori.
Recently opened in September 2014, the Belgian Chocolate Village is the largest museum in Belgium dedicated to chocolate. It is located near the Basilica of Sacred Heart in Koekelberg. The museum has a tasting room, a tropical greenhouse to develop pepper, vanilla and cacao beans, a gift shop and the manufacturing unit.
Frédéric Blondeel is a wonderland of delicious ice-cream, pralines and chocolate truffles. Frédéric Blondeels is a world renowned praline chocolate maker. The chocolates combine the rarest and the most unconventional flavors like cardamom and blackcurrant or cloves and raspberry. The shop also sells sea-horse or starfish shaped pralines.
Jean-Philippe Darcis is the “créateur de bonheur” or happiness maker. His shop is famous for Macarons, Chocolates, Ganaches and Pastries. The Belgian Owl is the best which is a milk chocolate praline flavored with the Belgian whisky.
Jean Galler is famous for his chocolate bars in 22 flavors with white, black or milk chocolate as the base. Manon which is a white chocolate filled with coffee mousse and hazelnuts is the top seller while Praliné Noir and Café Liégeois are equally delectable with a strong chocolate flavor.