There’s more to Belgian sweets than we Think
Belgium is popularly known by Filipinos and the rest of the world for making the best chocolate treats. Rarely do we see other note-worthy local sweets reaching foreign shores; but that is until you see what Belgian expatriate site xpats.com unearthed from the country’s various regions.
Here are 8 hidden local treats to look out for when you’re in Belgium:
Also known as neus (nose), neuzeke (little nose), chapeau-de-curé or chapeau-de-prêtre (priest’s hat) among Belgians, this is a hard candy with a soft, jelly-like inner core. It comes in many flavours (from classic raspberry to more recent flavors like jenever, ice cream, dessert sauce and cookies) and easily attracts bees, giving it the name cul de bourdon or bumblebee’s bum.
Lierse vlaaike (the tart from Lier City)
This spicy cake comes from a 300-year-old recipe native to the Antwerp region. It uses four spices that was said to have satisfied the royalty. According to writer Felix Timmermans, King Leopold II tasted a sample made by baker Sooike van der Musschen. The baker did not divulge the secret ingredients to the king, but he still received the king’s royal coat of arms that declared him ‘Fournisseur de la Cour or Official royal court supplier.
Unlike Lierse vlaaike, Napoleon bonbons have no direct link to its namesake, the Little Corporal. These hard candies with a sour lemon taste were actually made by an Antwerp baker who was competing against another baker’s chocolate truffles called ‘Caesars’ in 1912. The corporal luckily won over the Roman emperor, and remains a favourite among Antwerp and Benelux residents.
Couques de Dinant (pastry from Dinant)
These hard cookies are honey-based treats that are shaped from hand-carved wood moulds. It’s difficult to enjoy these hard cakes that can break a tooth. But according to legend, the town of Dinant invented the treat in 1466 to ward off starvation during a siege. Some even said the residents used these hard treats as ammunition against their enemies.
These hand-shaped, chocolate-coated almond biscuits come from the legend of the giant Druoon Antigoon. This giant is said to have guarded a bridge on river Scheldt and chopped off the hands of shipmen who couldn’t pay his toll. The young Roman soldier Brabo (where the region Brabant got its name) later slew the giant.
This caramel chew treat derives its name from the word ‘babbelen’ or ‘to have a chat.’ First introduced in the 19th century by a certain ‘Mother Babelutte,’ this treat that comes in long-stick form is popular throughout the Belgian coast for its melts-in-your-mouth softness.
These are pralines with real butter and dark chocolate that were made around the time the Congo was colonised by King Leopold II. It originally had a bright pink filling, mimicking a person’s lips. Today, the white-filling stuffed treat is only available from September to May in Hove.
Gayettes de Charleroi
These dark chocolate truffles with butter cream and other tasty fillings are a tribute to the miners of Charleroi (Wallonia). These treats are also called Gayettes du Pays Noir or coals from Black Coal Country, referring to the region’s primary industry.