Chocolate and confectionery
Born in the kingdom of the Mayas, chocolate journeyed a long way before conquering Europe and later discovering - in Wallonia - chocolate makers of genius. In 1912 Jean NEUHAUS invented the « praline », as we call the now celebrated chocolate sold in trays, to the great delight of gourmands everywhere. The best selected raw materials, the finesse of the blend and the savoir-faire and creativity of the Walloon chocolate makers have turned chocolate making into a flourishing industry.
Originally from South America, the cocoa bean gave birth to « chacau haa », a delicious drink reserved for the gods and lords of the kingdom. If Christopher Columbus discovered cocoa beans on his fourth voyage in 1502, he failed to mention it, and we had to wait until 1519 and a report from Hernando Cortes to Carlos V for the first reference to the precious bean. Then began its (sweet) conquest of the world. Sailors, merchants and travellers spread the good news - and the beans - to every port in Europe. Was it pure hazard that the century of light (18th) was also that of chocolate. But is wasn't until the 19th century that the phase of small-scale, almost secretive, manufacture came to an end. In 1840, BERWAERTS manufactured lozenges, bars and figurines of chocolate, followed soon after by such chocolate makers as DELANNOY in Tournai and NEUHAUS in Brussels. In the 20th century the consumption of chocolate finally came within reach of the masses. In 1905, fifty chocolate makers were already forging a reputation for Walloon chocolate beyond its borders. Today, Jean NEUHAUS, who invented the « praline » in 1912, would surely have been delighted to know that dozens of new small-scale chocolate manufacturers have started up over the past 20 years...
But what was the reason for the success of chocolate from Wallonia? Quality and creativity. The quality of the ingredients: selected beans, natural flavours, using exclusively butter and cocoa butter (and not some of the other fats tolerated today), perfect blending and cooking. Whether dark, milk or white, in bars, pralines or figurines, the chocolate from our regions has an incomparably deep and generous flavour. Building on hard-earned knowledge and traditions, Walloon chocolate makers are today experimenting with new recipes, original presentations and audacious combinations.
Although our German, French and English neighbours are our most avid fans, Walloon chocolate is also enjoyed in the United States, Canada and Japan. The big names are everywhere synonymous with luxury and refinement. They are found at Amman airport in Jordan and in the first class section of reknown airway-companies. The incomparable richness and generosity of these irresistible delicacies delight connoisseurs throughout the world.