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Belgian Chocolate at Sochi Olympics

Posted by on Feb 12, 2014 in Belgium, Fun Facts, News | 0 comments

Belgian chocolate makes headlines at the Sochi Olympics.  The Telegraph reported on February 7, 2014 that Belgian chocolate would be exempt from import bands at the Sochi Olympics.  Turns out Olympic athletes are willing to make a fuss over good chocolate.

Click here to read the full story “Belgian chocolates exempted from Sochi import ban after outcry.”


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New Review: Centho Chocolates

Posted by on Mar 5, 2012 in Belgium, Reviews of Chocolate Shops in Belgium | 0 comments

I just posted a review of Centho Chocolates, the place where Origin chocolate (i.e. chocolate from a single geographic source) is king.


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Master Class with Ryan Stevenson

Posted by on Mar 5, 2012 in Belgium | 1 comment

Last week Jessie Lewis and I had the honor of taking a private master class with Belgian Chocolate Master Ryan Stevenson. The theme of the class was how to use one primary ingredient to make several different kinds of chocolates. The primary ingredient we used for this lesson in creating recipes was peanuts. We made peanut ganache, peanut praliné, peanut caramel, and peanut marzipan. To round out the flavors we also made several raspberry fillings from raspberry pâte de fruit to a raspberry caramel.

Ryan Stevenson and Jessie Lewis going through the recipes

We made five different kinds of chocolates with peanuts as the featured ingredient. Here is a look at the peanut marzipan–one of my favorites.

Making peanut marzipan. And to think that most people just associate marzipan with almonds.

Cutting the marzipan on a guitar

The finished peanut marzipan chocolates with a pearl accent. I love accessorizing my chocolates

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Chocolate World – A “Must Visit” for Every Chocolate Enthusiast Visiting Belgium

Posted by on Feb 5, 2012 in Chocolate Shop Reviews, Featured, Reviews of Chocolate Shops in Belgium | 0 comments

My favorite store in Belgium, maybe even my favorite store in all of Europe, is none other than Chocolate World: A cash and carry warehouse of chocolate moulds and chocolate making equipment. Click here for full review

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Cake Decorating with Cindy Alvarez

Posted by on Jan 20, 2012 in Classes in Brussels | 0 comments

I may be a chocolate person at heart, but I love expanding my repertoire of skills even when it doesn’t include chocolate. I recently took a cake icing seminar “The Basics of Buttercream” from Brussel’s resident American-style cake decorating expert Cindy Alvarez. Cindy is a great instructor: patient and incredibly knowledgable on all things cake related. This was the second in a 3-part series of classes on cake decorating. The first class was on making the perfect cake. The second (the one I just took) was on how to ice the cake. And the third installment will be on cake decorating.

I’ve always wondered how professional cake decorators get their cakes to be flat on top, perfectly straight on the side and still be tasty and moist. Now I know. Though I must admit that throughout the experience I kept thinking how a little chocolate ganache here and a few chocolate sprinkles there would make the cake oh so much better.

I took my cake home for Gene as part of his birthday season celebration. In my family a birthday is not just one day, but an entire month. January is my husband Gene’s birthday month, so we’re in full birthday season celebration mode at our house. The cake went well with his collection of birthday cards (one for every day of the month). Gene enjoyed every bite of the cake.

The finished product...better known as "Gene's B-day Cake"

It all starts with making the perfect icing

Cindy demonstrates how to form a dam between layers so the cake will be level.

Look at how nicely the 2-layers fit together.

Cindy demonstrates how to get your cake sides perfectly smooth

Another view of the finished cake: smooth sides and a flat top. All that is missing is some chocolate decorations

I couldn't resist including a photo of Gene's Birthday Season 2012 B-Day Card collection. Look at all those great cards in English, French, and Flemish. The cards will keep coming because his official birthday isn't until next week.

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Grand Place Chocolate Shops

Posted by on Jan 7, 2012 in Chocolate Shop Reviews, Chocolate Tours in Europe | 0 comments

Have you ever wondered just how many chocolate shops are around the Grand Place? I have. This week I decided to find out. After walking down every road, alley and side street, I found 40 shops.You can see my list of shops and a corresponding map by clicking here.I have no doubt that this is the area with the highest concentration of chocolate shops in all of Brussels. It should be noted that some are multiple locations of the same establishment. But still, where else in all of Europe–maybe even the world–can you find so many amazing chocolate shops in one small area.

The map to the right has a link to the live interactive Google Maps version of my Chocolate Grand Place map.

View Chocolate Grand Place – Brussels, Belgium in a larger map
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