Geert Vercruysse is a Belgian chocolatier & patissier based in Kortrijk, close to the French border. I’ve known about him for a while, but got to meet him recently at a Chocolate & Love tasting. Geert brought along a selection of his chocolates to try which went down very well.
Last week he was back in the country, so I invited him to be a judge at the Academy of Chocolate Awards and he was kind enough to bring a box of his creations just for me.
Geert has a passion for chocolate and particularly enjoys seeking out new and exciting single origin chocolate that he can match to his flavours. Rather than limiting himself to one or two chocolate manufacturers, he has committed to finding the best chocolate in the world, and creating his filled chocolates to complement the natural flavours present in the chocolate itself.
To me, this just seems to be the right way to approach making fresh chocolates, but that’s all theory. How well does this approach work in practice?
The flavours here are actually quite conservative and typically Belgian – the difference is that they’re so well executed.
The first chocolate I tried was the marzipan pictured above. Marzipan chocolate may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I particularly enjoyed this one. The flavours aren’t too strong, and the deliciously light marzipan and thin chocolate shell just melt away.
Many of Geert’s chocolates feature two layers, and my next chocolate was a Madagascan ganache with a thin layer of praline. I was surprised that the natural fruity notes in the Madagascan chocolate clearly came through here, and really brought the chocolate to life.
And that’s the case with all the chocolates I tried. A lot of thought has gone into the combinations, all of which work wonderfully together.
But while there’s a lot of attention to detail in flavour choice, there’s nothing unusual or challenging here. While the top London chocolatiers might be experimenting with more exotic fruits, spices, teas and more, Geert’s approach is more traditional, with emphasis on quality first.
I’m sure that having spent a lot of time exploring the best of London’s chocolate shops recently, he’ll be experimenting with more unusual flavours very soon. I can’t wait to see what happens when some of that British creativity is combined with Geert’s constant quest to find the best chocolate to match the flavours inside.
As it was, I loved this selection of chocolates, but I know I’d love them even more if there were some more exotic flavours. That’s partly personal taste though, and what appeals to me might not appeal to chocolate buyers in Belgium.
What I find most exciting though is Geert’s passion to try new chocolate, and the fact that a top Belgian chocolatier is coming to London to seek out new flavours and inspiration. Equally, I think there are many British chocolatiers who could learn from his methodical approach to seeking out the best chocolate for his creations.
Unfortunately, you can’t buy these online (fresh chocolates don’t cope with long distance travel very well), but if you can’t make it to Belgium, you will be able to sample some of Geert’s chocolates at the Chocolate and Love stall at the Southbank Chocolate Festival which runs 8th – 11th April.