Saturday, September 1, 2012


Up until recently, Godiva was the sole luxury chocolate located at the Queens Center Mall in Elmhurst.   Now there is a new house on the main floor...or shall I say Neuhaus.  Gold boxes aren't the seller at this kiosk, but rather the quality of these Belgian chocolates.
"Neuhaus is the world famous manufacturer of luxury Belgian chocolates and delicious biscuits. The company was founded in Brussels in 1857 by Jean Neuhaus, a Swiss immigrant, who opened his first store in the Galeries St.-Hubert. In 1912, his grandson, Jean Neuhaus II, invented the chocolate bonbon or 'praline'. Three years later, Jean's wife continued the innovation with the 'ballotin' packaging, created to protect the pralines while presenting them beautifully to the recipient.

Today, Neuhaus is more popular than ever and has over 1000 selling points in 40 countries. All Neuhaus delicacies are still made in Vlezenbeek, Belgium (near Brussels), and are exported worldwide."

The word "praline" has more than one meaning.  In the southern US states, we picture a creamy sugar coated patty of nuts.  Europeans (mainly Belgians) grind sugar coated nuts into a powder to use for candy, cakes and these Belgian chocolates.  When I am able to shop for "praline paste" I expect hazelnuts.  

That is the history lesson in a to speak. As for the chocolates, there are several categories such as Les Irresistibles, a traditional artisan nougatine, hand-filled with ingredients like ganache with hazelnuts. Manons, named by Suzanne Neuhaus, a fan of opera is one specialty.  "Creme Fraiche" or "Fresh Cream" gets whipped up with tasty ingredients to include vanilla, coffee or as example, Diane, with chocolate mousse on a gianduja base.

Gianduja is a blend of hazelnuts, sugar and chocolates. Try the Pagode that adds a coffee ganache.  Ganache, for those who may not be chocoholics, is the basic combination of chocolate melted into cream. As a chocolate category you can expect a piece like Criollo 70%, that uses an intense dark chocolate or Grand Place, that combines a filling of dark chocolate ganache with a subtle Indian spice.

Truffles, not the mushroom, takes the filling and enrobes it in a thin layer of either dark, milk or white chocolate: classic, dark, coffee, cappuccino and speculoos, just to name a few.  It's always great to combine chocolate with fruits.  Yes, they have the candied orange peel dipped in chocolate.  The best and most unusual is the Cerisette as they take a whole cherry (pit and stem), macerate it in alcohol and then dip it in dark chocolate. A syrup made from real, authentic brandied liqueur is used in their Liqueur category.

One other category (there are still a few more) that I want to mention is the Marzipan the uses 50% almonds from Faro in Portugal. A specialty is the Troika, marzipan and ganache, coated with a sugar glaze.

Neuhaus creations are available in a wide selection of elegant boxes, one of which is called a "Ballotin", designed in 1912 for the pralines.  If you are a true lover of Nutella, get their much more sophisticated version of this hazelnut spread.  Forget the bread...just nurse a spoonful. 

Mark Griffiths is the Manager of this location and is quite helpful in helping choose your delights. 

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