Belgian Chocolates

by Eddy Van Damme on December 29, 2009

hazelnut chocolates

If you stand still and think about all the specialized topics a pastry chef has to know in order to be functional in a pastry kitchen, it is quite amazing. One has to know several highly specialized fields such as frozen desserts, wedding and decorated cakes, entremets -tortes, laminated dough, tarts and pies, breakfast goods, cookies and certainly the subject of chocolate.

The field of chocolate was my first love in the pastry shop. The utmost precision and endless possibilities chocolate has to offer, was and still is, very intriguing to me. The way the flavor of a certain filling changes whether it is enrobed in white, milk or dark chocolate nearly touches the discipline of alchemy. To me, Belgian chocolatiers have mastered the balance between the filling and the enrobing better than anyone else.   Different flavor nuances should be detected between the filling or center and the enrobing chocolate. If the filling is made with bitter chocolate and the coating is bitter chocolate as well, than it can become very difficult to make this type of confection taste better than a pure piece of chocolate. After all, there is something to be said for consuming a piece of excellent chocolate, tasting the fine traces of distinct flavors can be nothing short of amazing.

hazelnut chocolates

chocolate center

Getting it all together!

The Gianduja filling or center of the chocolate has to be made 24 hours before the centers are to be dipped. Fillings need to slowly set at a cool room temperature of 68-70°F (18-20°C). When chocolates are made in a sanitary environment there is no reason to run to a refrigerator with the filling. In fact, it is not smart to place a filling in a refrigerator to speed up the setting process. Once a filling is removed from the refrigerator, condensation hits the surface which will be trapped underneath the chocolate enrobing. This is precisely the area where mold will grow first. Secondly, anytime a filling is removed from a refrigerator and dipped into chocolate, the cooling of the chocolate will be too fast and reduce the sheen on the confection significantly. Making your chocolates seem old and dull.

dipping chocolates in couverture

chocolate couverture

chocolates in couverture chocolate

chocolates dipped in couverture chocolate

chocolates with transfer sheet

Gianduja Chocolates

Yield: 2 lb 8 oz (1200 g)

12 oz (12 oz) Hazelnuts, blanched 360 g
12 oz (12 oz) Milk chocolate (38-40% cocoa) 360 g
1 lb 8 oz (1 lb 8 oz) Semi sweet chocolate (54-56% cocoa mass) 1200 g
  1. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and place in a 350°F 180°C oven until the hearts of the hazelnuts are golden and fragrant, about 14-18 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
  2. If the chocolate is in a block, chop into walnut half size pieces, if in large chips leave as is. Place the milk chocolate and hazelnuts in a food processor and mix until a semi smooth mixture is obtained.
  3. Either pour the Gianduja into a candy ruler frame of 9 x 9 inches (22.5 cm x 22.5 cm) or in a plastic food film lined baking pan of 9 x 9 inch (22.5 cm x 22.5 cm).
  4. Cover and let set in a cool room of 68-70 F (18-20C) for 24 hours. Do not place in a refrigerator!
  5. Cut into ¾ inch x ¾ inch ( 2 cm x 2 cm)
  6. Temper the semi sweet chocolate as shown on this site and dip the centers. If desired place a plastic patterned sheet on the chocolates as soon as they are dipped.
  7. Remove the plastic after a minimum of 4 hours to obtain the best sheen.
  8. Store at room temperature for consuming. Leftover chocolate from dipping can be stored well sealed at room temperature and used later.

21 comments on “Belgian Chocolates

  1. Just as always-STUNNING!
    Can’t wait to try.
    Thanks Chef Eddie.

  2. Jennifer on said:

    OMG I can’t wait to make these this weekend. Everything I have made from this site has been the best.

  3. Chef Eddy,
    Thank you for all the pictures, they are an enormous help. Will make these for Valentine.
    Paula V.

  4. Chef Eddy,
    Your pictures tell the story. We are big fans of yours.
    Justin Williams

  5. Thanks for sharing! I love the On Baking book.

  6. Hilary Adams on said:

    These look simply amazing, Chef Eddy!

  7. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Thank you Lenny!

  8. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Thank you Hilary.

  9. Diana Wallace on said:

    Delicious and fabulous as always!

  10. Échte Belgische pralines, die zien er zeer smakelijk uit :).

  11. I am not professionally trained, but have made my own truffles and hand dipped chocolates for years, now – but have never come across a site as easy to read, understand, so thoroughly informative, and with as many photos that really enable understanding. Thank you SO much!
    I actually came across your site in EGullet through the macaron section – as I am on the quest to create the French Macaron. I have only used the French technique, but am going to try yours as it looks very straightforward, and I believe I can do it. I noticed you did not mention leaving the eggwhites out for a few days to age, nor did you mention leaving the shells to set before baking – and I assme that was on purpose – so, I will let you know how it goes. I ordered some violette flavouring and am looking forward to attempting a violette filling of some sort, I will start with that!
    Many thanks,

  12. sudha on said:

    Hi Chef Eddy,

    First let me thank you for the info on the usage of Sugar Fondant and Glucose.

    Your recipe is awesome and the pictures fantastic.

    I tried the recipe and the result was very good both visually and in taste.

    Thank you

  13. irma m on said:

    this looks wonderful and easy, i need to try this at home. 🙂

  14. What! Chocolate again… Well this one has an interesting design… Yeah…

  15. I’ve used transfer sheets, but I’ve never tried the plastic patterned sheets. Where did you find them?

  16. MARIANNE MCGOWAN on said:

    Hi again,

    Can you reuse the plastic transfers?

    Thanks for a great web page

  17. Victoria Bishop on said:

    Where can you get the transfer papers from. (not just the textured ones but the colored ones also)

  18. Mayra Bernabe on said:

    Very brilliant I love your usage of hazelnut in this recipe it goes so well with the chocolate. And the decoration is stunning.I love the way you explain how different chocolates can change in taste when enrobevwith another type of chocolate.

  19. ghizlane on said:

    Hi chef
    yesterday i made this recipe with a simple change instead of la pate de noisettes i used le praline , it was really really nice oh no extremely delicious , thank you soooooooo much

  20. Nicholas Pringle on said:

    My Fiance’ loves chocolate and I think this is something she will love. I will have to make sure I follow everything to a T. Thanks for the recipe.

  21. Joy Arriola on said:

    I had never made Belgian Chocolate before but they fun to do and look good to eat.

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