Belgian Chocolates, Understanding the Jargon - A bite-size guide for beginners
I adore chocolates. All chocolates. Well, except for the brandy flavoured ones and Turkish Delight, but I'm assured that that is quite normal.
In fact, I used to consider myself something of a chocolate expert. That was, until I started checking out the small leaflets that come with our packs of real Belgian chocolates. You know, the ones that tell you what flavour and type the chocolates are.
That was when I realised just how little I actually knew about chocolate - beyond the fact that it tastes great and is wonderful for making you feel better when you're down in the dumps.
But the Belgian chocolate names, like ganache, fondant and mendicant, meant very little to me. Most of it sounded like jargon that just left me puzzled.
I thought it might be time to become chocolate savvy. So, with a little professional help - which of course involved eating lots of chocolate, all in the name of research - I've compiled a glossary of the most common terms used in the chocolate industry.
After all we should all know what we're eating, and how to pronounce it, shouldn't we?
- Bouchon - (BOO-shon) French for cork - often used to name distinctive champagne cork-shaped chocolates.
- Croquant - (croc-ant) caramelised sugar with chopped roasted hazelnuts and/or almonds
- Caramel - (ca-ram-el) caramelised sugar mixed with fresh cream and butter.
- Eau de vie - (OH de VEE) fruit brandy.
- Feuilletine - (fo-yer-TEEN) a praline texture with small pieces of oven baked pancakes (crepes dentelles).
- Fondant - (FON-dernt) a mixture of sugar, water and glucose used in the production of creamy textured confectionery and chocolates - can also be a covering paste.
- Fresh cream - in Belgian chocolate terms this is usually whipped fresh cream with added butter and glucose.
- Ganache - (ger-NASH) a mixture of chocolate and cream, with a relatively smooth texture. Created when a 19th Century apprentice knocked some cream into a tub of chocolate. His boss called him "un ganache" - an imbecile! (one for the pub quiz team)
- Gianduja - (jon-DOO-yah) a blend of chocolate, very finely ground hazelnuts and sugar with a silky smooth texture - typically much smoother than a praline.
- Kastanjes - (kas-TAN-ya) Chestnut-shaped chocolate.
- Mendiant - (MON-dee-on) This literally means "beggars" in French. Piped discs of solid chocolate studded with fruit and nuts.
- Nougat - (NOO-gar) mixture of whisked egg white, boiled sugar, nuts and candied fruit
- Pates de fruit - (PAT der froo-EE) pure fruit pastilles.
- Praline (PRAH-leen) paste of crushed hazelnuts/almonds, caramelised sugar and chocolate.
- Truffle - (TRU-full) often handmade from ganache and chocolate mass, cream and a little butter, shaped into a round ball or piped into a peak - soft yielding texture
- Tuile (TWEEL) curved chocolate pieces containing chopped caramelised almonds - literally "roof titles" in French.
- Marzipan - Molten sugar mixed with finely ground almonds.
So there you are. Now we can all impress our friends at dinner parties with the correct pronunciation and description of the Belgian chocolates we hand around. Are you salivating yet?
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