Leonidas: Belgian Chocolate Makers Extraordinaire

Started in 1913 by Greek-Cypriot American confectioner Leonidas Kestekides in Ghent, Leonidas produces real Belgian chocolate that is sold across the globe, with the brand priding itself on freshness, generosity and tradition. There are 350 Leonidas shops in Belgium and over 1,000 stores in around 50 countries, so Leonidas is certainly not a small niche outlet. It does, however, produce a range of delicious mouth-watering chocolates and is enjoyed by celebrities and the general public alike.

Brussels is renowned as “chocolate capital of the world” and the chocolate trade has is truly ingrained, having existed there for well over a century. In 1924 Leonidas opened Patisserie Centrale, a tea-room in Brussels and now the brand is one of the largest in the world.

Smaller, traditional Belgian chocolate makers have been known to be a bit disparaging of brands such as Leonidas because they feel them to be too commercial, but the brand undeniably produces exquisite chocolates and I for one am a Leonidas lover.

Leonidas prides itself on impeccable freshness, producing over 100 varieties of Belgian chocolate with natural ingredients such as fresh butter, fresh cream, milk cream, hazelnuts from Turkey, morello cherries from the Perigord, almonds from Italy. You get the picture! What-is-more under a 2003 European Directive chocolate manufacturers are allowed to use vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter in their chocolates, but Leonidas prides itself on using 100% pure cocoa butter.

All products are exported from Brussels and carefully packaged to ensure the integrity of Leonidas’ chocolate treats.

One of my absolute favourites has to be the Manon butter cream range. The Manon Cafe comprises butter cream, crunchy nougatine, the finest Turkish hazelnuts coated in white chocolate. It’s a best seller and with good cause.

The Louise Blanche is a truly scrumptious white chocolate with Caramel praline and a nutty centre.

Bretagne consists of a dark chocolate shell with a salty butter caramel filling and I’m a sucker for a good caramel so was almost overcome.

I have to say I simply haven’t tried a Leonidas chocolate that left an unpleasant taste on the palate, they’ve all been an absolute triumph, but some of my other favourites are below. You might want to pop to a local Leonidas store and give them a try.

· Lingot – a dark chocolate shell filled with coffee-flavoured buttercream.
· Eve – dark chocolate enrobing a delectably sweet butter-cream.
· Desire – a white chocolate shell with pineapple butter cream.
· Coupe Lait Amande – a flavoursome combination of almond-milk ganache, marzipan, white chocolate and topped with sugar-coated flakes of milk chocolate.
· Truffle au Champagne – milk chocolate ganache with real champagne coated in white chocolate powder – a must for all truffle lovers.

If you’re not sold, the gallery below should give you an idea of the wonderful offerings provided by Leonidas, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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For more information or to purchase Leonidas chocolates see www.leonidas.com.

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