The Not So Sweet History of Belgian Chocolate
How It All Began
It all started with Leopold II of Belgium in the year 1885 when he colonized Congo. It was a territory eighty-six times bigger than his country. Leopold II was the very first one to commit genocide during the 20th Century.
The chocolate industry first took off during the 1880’s, supported by getting hold of the Belgian Congo that has aided an easy way in to Africa’s cocoa grounds. The truth is that it is very hard to imagine that the Belgian Chocolates’ history may be that far from being sweet.
There was an estimated 10 million Africans that passed away under the orders of Leopold II. Despite of the war that was happening, Belgians were able to maintain the cocoa importing connections. On the other hand, the Belgian contribution in the chocolate industry is the introduction of their chocolate product which is the praline. It was created and expanded by a Swiss family in Brussels, the Neuhaus family in 1912. The praline was the very first butter cream-filled bite sized chocolate. It was either filled with nuts or cream or coated with milk or milk chocolate or filled also with a very good quality of dark chocolate.
In the year 1912, chocolate started as a gift in Belgium. A Belgian chocolatier created the very first praline, a chocolate that absolutely complied to the gift career it was building. Not later on, a packaging called Ballotin was developed and patented for praline. At that moment the pralines in Ballotin were the most desired gift in every chance somebody has to give someone something as a present.
Chocolates start with the seeds of a cacao tree. A fruit bearing tree that has large football-shaped like pods, in which the seeds are contained. The cacao tree was first discovered in the United States but now can be grown in many countries near the Equator. These pods are gathered and the seeds are then dried in the sun. After drying, they undergo roasting. When the beans are roasted, they will now be crushed to produce cocoa powder, and then squeezed to get the cocoa butter.
When the powder is ready, it will be mixed with butter. Adding the milk powder and sugar creates chocolate. Each component of the mixture determines the color of the chocolate. Therefore creating different kinds of chocolate like black or the dark chocolate that can be made with up to seventy percent of cocoa in the mixture; milk chocolate containing more milk powder than the others, and of course the white chocolate that does not contain cocoa but cocoa butter only mixed with milk and sugar only.
Did you know that if not most, all the pralines during those times were hand made? Presently chocolates are considered as an energy giving food because of its very high content of sugar and calorie. Another fact about chocolate is that it is also considered as one of the many sexual stimulant foods. In fact, aside from being an exceptional energy booster, one of the Aztec emperors drank chocolate to have access to women. It is also known to be use as an anti-depressant. It is known to contain a substance called “pheryletylanine” that has a positive effect in the event of a nervous depression but not only that, there is something in chocolates that gives anyone a lighter mood every time it is drank.