|HISTORY OF BELGIAN CHOCOLATES.|
|It was in the year 1912, that chocolate started being given as a gift in Belgium. A Belgian chocolatier created the very first praline. It seemed the gift that
carried the best compliment to the receiver. To make it even more attractive, a packaging called Ballotin was developed and patented for praline.
A new process created by Jean Neuhaus increased its popularity ten-fold. Neuhaus, using a special type of chocolate called "couverteur" as a cold shell,
produced what he called 'pralines'. Not the same as the sugary treats offered in American candy shops, these Belgian chocolate pralines could be filled
with a variety of different flavored nougats or creams, such as coffee, hazelnut, fruit, or even more chocolate. Few other chocolatiers in Neuhaus' day could
duplicate the complex flavors of his pralines. Many of the Belgian chocolate praline companies are still in operation today - Leonidas, Neuhaus, Godiva
and Nirvana are famous for their gourmet pralines. Chocolates originate from the seeds of a cacao tree. This fruit bearing tree has large football-shaped 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 are crushed
to produce cocoa powder, and then squeezed to get the cocoa butter. Next the cocoa powder is mixed with butter. Then the milk powder and sugar is
added to create the chocolate. Each component of the mixture determines the color of the chocolate. In this way we can create different types of chocolate for example: 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. 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. 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. In Belgium, these small chocolate outlets are actually a popular draw for tourists visiting the country even today. Similar to wineries, tours of
Belgian chocolate shops often involve tasting and exclusive souvenirs.