Northern France Tourism : official website

Milk, plain, and white chocolate slabs needing a hammer to break them

The origins of chocolate: Delespaul-Havez

In 1848 a chocolate and sweets factory was built in Lille, in the rue Natinale. "Au Parrain généreux". Henri-Victor Delespaul and Emilie Havez were the first in France to popularise chocolate by making it in bars. They sold up in 1893, the factory moved from Lille, and was set up a few kilometres away, in Marcq-en-Baroeul. The original name was retained and the chocolate factory developed other products (biscuits, gingerbread and even pasta). The famous caramel bar "Carambar" was also created there and is still made in Nord-Pas de Calais.

Advertising poster for the Delespaul-Havez brand created in Lille
  • Advertising poster for Delespaul-Havez
  • © Association Firmin Bouisset

Famous chocolate makers

There are several good places to taste good chocolate in Nord-Pas de Calais: Jeanson, based in Lens since 1992, offers chocolate made from 100% natural ingredients and in particular created a lavender flavoured chocolate to support the candidature of the Mining Basin as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Other famous regional brands are Trogneux, in Lille and Arras, and Beussent-Lachelle where you traditionally buy chocolate to be broken with a hammer! Finally, as you wander Le Touquet, you will often hear "How about a Chat Bleu - a Blue Cat"? No worries! It is the famous chocolate factory, established in 1912: The "Chat Bleu"! There are some 70 chocolate flavours to try at shops in Lille, Le Touquet and also in Paris and Quimper.

The big chocolate cats at the Chat Bleu's famous shop
  • The Chat Bleu chocolate factory in Le Touquet has been giving chocolate lovers a treat since 1912
  • © JD. Hestin

From chocolate to pastries is but a short step!

Chocolate is also used a lot in pastries and cream cakes. There is no lack of imagination amongst pastry chefs when it comes to chocolate in the cream cakes that have become the specialities of Nord-Pas de Calais. Who hasn't come across the Merveilleux, the fluffy, melting meringue coated with whipped chocolate cream and covered with plain chocolate chips? Who hasn't come across the Fleur de Lys cake, (the Fleur de Lys is the emblem of the town of Lille), a chocolate mousse on a hazelnut meringue biscuit base? Who hasn't come across the "doigt de Jean Bart", the almond and coffee cream cake coated in milky equatorial Valrhona chocolate , created in 1958 by Jean Vandewalle, the Dunkirk pastry-chef? Now tell us, what do you want for dessert?

Doigt de Jean Bart,an almond and coffee cream cake coated with chocolate
  • Doigt de Jean Bart cakes to be enjoyed in Dunkirk!
  • © Patisserie Aux doigts de Jean Bart

Not so far away is Belgium

The origin of the Belgian Leonidas pralines

In 1910 and 1913, Leonidas Georges Kestekides presented his products at international exhibitions in Brussels and Ghent. He won gold and bronze awards. The history of "Leonidas" pralines began here.

Jeff de Bruges

Its French creator was passionate about chocolate. The cradle of chocolate being Belgium, he created a brand combining the indulgence of Belgian chocolate with the cocoa "chic" of French chocolate!

Preparation

20 min

Difficulty

Average

Cooking

10 min

Cost

Ingredients

For 30 chocolates: 200g dark chocolate ● 200g white chocolate ● 2 teaspoons liquid chicory ● 5 cl half fat cream ● 10g butter

Method

  • Temper the dark chocolate to stop it from blooming: Heat it in a bain-marie to about 50°, then remove it from the bain-marie and allow it to cool to about 27°. Add the butter and finally, put the mixture back in the bain-marie and reheat it to 30/32°C.
  • Using a silicone brush, line the chocolate moulds with the dark chocolate and then place them in the 'fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  • Heat the cream in a saucepan. When it is close to the boiling point, remove it from the heat and add the white chocolate cut in small pieces. Reheat a little so that it melts properly and then add the chicory.
  • Fill the chocolate moulds with the white chocolate/chicory mixture and place in the 'fridge for at least an hour.
  • You can either remove the chocolates directly from the moulds or add a layer of dark chocolate to seal them.
  • Tip: To be sure of success with this recipe, use a cooking thermometer.
The famous chocolate-with-chicory pieces
  • Chocolate-with-chicory pieces
  • © Tourisme Nord-Pas de Calais

The subtle taste of chicory in a chocolate …