International Chocolate Day: chocolate workshops to channel your inner Chocolatier
You can eat a box of chocolates purchased from the store. Or you can make your own chocolates and know you’ve earned every right to devour every last bit of those goodies. Interested? Luckily, the chocolate masters are more than willing to show you how. And which masters are we talking about? Why, the Belgians of course.
Belgium is celebrated worldwide for its orgasmically delicious chocolates. It has been tagged more than once as the chocolate capital of the world with the Swiss protesting in the background. Since the nineteenth century, Belgium has been reigning in the international chocolate scene largely because it was here that the famous praline was invented. Who can resist those delectable chocolate shells filled with sweet, creamy surprise? Tough on the outside, soft on the inside. Pretty much like the Belgians themselves.
About two thousand chocolatiers all over Belgium are now living up to the country’s confectionary legacy, each with their own tricks for concocting mind-blowing delicacies. The good news is that some of them open their doors not just to buyers but also to those who want to discover the chocolate maker’s craft. In Brussels, you will find a few chocolatiers that still offer workshops regularly. But if you want to make sure it will be worth your while, just browse through this list of workshop venues that we’ve vetted for your sweet benefit.
1. Concept Chocolate
Concept Chocolate specialises in making personalised, handmade chocolates for individual clients and companies. And that’s something participants will learn at the workshop, how to prepare chocolates with a personal touch. After an introduction to the chocolaterie and the world of cocoa, participants are taught some tricks of the trade from crafting customised chocolates to making traditional pralines. After the experimentations, participants can begin sampling their creations and the various products of Concept Chocolate. All this takes place as the chocolaterie’s artisans work in the background visible to participants at all times. Store owner and chocolatier Maxime Pliester facilitates the workshop himself. And he will not only teach you how to make chocolates, but also how to savor them like a connoisseur.
Concept Chocolate, formerly known as Chocolaterie Duval has been in the chocolate industry for more than 17 years. All its products are handmade and traditionally produced with 100 percent cocoa butter. Aside from making and selling chocolates, the place is envisioned to be a venue for learning. From workshops, Concept Chocolate will eventually offer intensive courses for those who want to take the craft more seriously.
Where: Rue des Chardons 19, 1030 Brussels (+32 2 242 94 66)
When: public workshops on Saturdays 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., private workshops by arrangement
How much: €30 per head for public workshops
2. Laurent Gerbaud
Laurent Gerbaud makes chocolates the way Picasso works a canvas. Like mixing pigments on a palette, Gerbaud combines chocolate with carefully selected fruits, nuts, and spices to cook up products that are in themselves a work of art. His workshops will take you on an artistic journey from decorating chocolate bars with fruits to educating your palate on the joys and intricacies of selected cocoa varieties. And before you leave, you get a free tasting of Laurent Gerbaud’s crème de la crème.
The innovations of Laurent Gerbaud embody a fusion of eastern and western tastes. He once lived in China where he discovered the enchanting flavors of Asia. Since then, he has been experimenting with different blends to come up with out-of-the-box confections. Gerbaud’s chocolates are served in delicatessens and tea rooms in Brussels, Paris, London, and other European cities.
Where: Rue Ravenstein 2D, 1000 Brussels (+32 2 511 16 02)
When: public workshops on Saturdays 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, private workshops by arrangement
How much: €35 for public workshops
A workshop at Zaabär will introduce you to the wonderful world of spicy chocolates. That is after all the hallmark of Zaabär. Aside from spicy chocolates, participants will learn the basics of making truffles and mendiants. They also get a chance to experiment with some of the distinct spices that define the Zaabär brand.
Zaabär has been producing spicy chocolates since 2007. It was created by François-Jean Decarpentrie and named after the Spices Bazaar of Istanbul. The chocolate factory cum spice shop provides a place where chocoholics can get a taste of classic Belgian chocolates infused with the best spices from all over the world.
Where: Chaussée de Charleroi 125, 1060 Brussels (+32 2 533 95 80)
When: public workshops on Wednesdays (only on school holidays) and Saturdays 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., private
workshops by arrangement
How much: €25 for public workshops
4. Choco-Story Brussels
Choco-Story Brussels is a museum where you will find practically everything you need to know about cocoa and choco. Although it doesn’t have a chocolaterie, the museum organises group workshops which include a tour of the museum, a demonstration of how to make pralines, chocolate tasting, and of course, some playtime for conjuring up your own chocolates.
Where: Rue de la tête d’Or 9-11, 1000 Bruxelles (+32 2 514 20 48)
When: by arrangement, 2 hours
How much: €250/group of 10 people (+€15 per extra person)
It’s worth mentioning that when you attend a workshop, you will be working mostly with chocolate that has been prepared and melted. So you can expect none of the technical work involved in making chocolate from cocoa beans. What you can definitely expect is a chance to explore your creativity in designing chocolates and finding your own style of modifying their taste. That’s the way the chocolatiers do it. They get their supply of generic or plain chocolate from factories that process cocoa beans. And then like magic, they transform the generic into something novel and artistic based on their imagination.