Another month and yet another Universal Yums box to review. This month we’re embarking on a journey to the European country of Belgium who are widely known for their decadent chocolate, waffles, and of course, beer. Once under the rule of the Netherlands, Belgium broke free from that in 1830 and became their own separate nation. They created their own culture and made their country a place that was distinctively their own. Though Belgium is quite a small country in size, it makes up for with their delicious snacks, stunning architecture, and unique culture. Let’s hop right into all of these chocolates and waffles that we have to try this month.
Read also ‘Universal Yums | September Box‘ to learn about the treats we tasted from Pakistan last month.
Forum Speculoos Cookies
Loved dearly by Belgians, these cookies are also popular across other countries such as the Netherlands, Asia, and Germany. Perfect for this time of year when the temperatures are dropping and Christmas is right around the corner, the Speculoos cookies are flavored heavily with nutmeg, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Though the cookies are eaten pretty much all year round, they are most popular around Saint Nicholas’ Day which is celebrated on the 6th of December in Belgium. Children who have been good throughout the year are often gifted with these cookies during this holiday.
Since I’m not a huge fan of anything flavored with cinnamon, I wasn’t too sure about theses cookies when I first read the description but upon trying them they’re actually really good. I found them to taste very similar to gingerbread cookies and they reminded me a lot of Christmas time.
Black Pepper & Sea Salt Chips + Plain Sea Salt Crisps
Though originally thought to have been invented by the French, French fries were actually invented and created in Belgium. They were hugely popular during the first World War and are still loved by many today and potatoes are considered to be a huge part of Belgian cuisine. Playing on this popularity, the company who makes these chips have upheld the highest standards when making their potato snacks and have been adored by many for years. The crops of potatoes used to make these chips are carefully chosen and examined before being made into chips. In this month’s box we were lucky enough to try not only one but two different flavors of these popular snacks.
Though these are similar to chips that we can find here in Canada, I’m still a fan of these. Both of the kinds have the perfect amount of seasoning on them without being too overpowering or overwhelming. Though in the description for the black pepper chips it is claimed that they are quite peppery, I found that to actually be the opposite as the pepper wasn’t as prominent as in some other pepper flavored chips that I’ve tried. Other than that though, these were a big hit.
A Belgian snack box wouldn’t be complete without at least one Belgian waffle and the one that we’re trying today is the Picnic Suikerwafel. If you were to go into any breakfast restaurant, there is a high chance that they would have Belgian waffles on the menu. Though we have been tricked into thinking they are the real thing, we’ve been fooled as for the most part the Belgian waffles that are served around here are the Americanized version of the real thing. Instead of using pancake batter to make the waffles (which is what Americans normally use) in Belgium they are made with something called ‘liege’ batter which makes the waffles have a more dense center while remaining crispy on the outside. Waffles are also normally eaten without any toppings or maple syrup in Belgium.
I was so excited to try this when I first saw it in the box and when I finally did try it I was a bit disappointed to say the least. Though it is still really good, I think I prefer the more Americanized version of waffles that we have around here. Without putting any toppings or syrup on it, I found that it was a bit too dry for my liking and the consistency was pretty flaky and kind of similar to the texture of a croissant.
Crème Brûlèe White Chocolate
Widely popular in French cuisine since the late 1600’s, creme brulee was first made for royals to enjoy. This decadent dessert consists of a creamy, thick vanilla custard that is topped with sugar and then set on fire to create a charred and crispy coating. Now coat that in a thick layer of Belgian white chocolate and you have probably one of the best tasting chocolate treats out there.
First things first, I’m actually not a huge fan of regular milk chocolate but anything with white chocolate is seriously my weakness. I was so excited to try this and when I finally got my Universal Yums box in the mail it was the first thing that I ate. To say the least, it was hands down one of my favorite snacks I’ve gotten so far from any other previous boxes. Though it was pretty sweet it wasn’t too over powering and it had the perfect hint of the burnt flavoring of the creme brulee.
Noble Pesto Cheese Biscuits
Made from 100% gouda cheese from the Netherlands and seasoned with a pesto spread reminiscent of Italian cuisine, these Noble biscuits are the perfect treat for just about everyone. As soon as you pop one of these biscuits in your mouth they instantly melt and leave you wanting more.
Anything with pesto and cheese is a win in my book and these biscuits were no different. They are very cheesy with hints here and there of the pesto and they have a very similar texture to a cheese puff. They’re also pretty similar tasting to goldfish crackers.
The Belgian Seashells
Exclusively made and found in Belgium, these Belgian seashell chocolates are the perfect cheat day treat. They were first created in 1958 by a young couple who were looking for a way to make chocolate that would be unique and stand out from the rest. The wife designed the pattern of the chocolates and swirled milk, dark, and white chocolate together to make the design and the husband created a special process for making the hazelnut filling. The chocolate seashells grew in popularity and remain one of Belgium’s best sellers to this day.
While we have something similar to this here in Canada, they’re nowhere near as good as these ones. I’m not really a huge fan of chocolate but these seashell chocolates were really good and creamy with just the right amount of hazelnut flavoring.
This scrumptious treat known as nougat can be found virtually everywhere, especially throughout Europe. With each different country comes a different recipe for making the nougat with variations ranging from Italian nougat filled with hazelnuts to the hard and crunchy nougat known as turron from Spain. Since this month we are visiting the country of Belgium we will be trying their version of this sweet treat that can’t be found anywhere else, a strawberry nougat mixed with almonds.
Though this wasn’t my favorite thing from the box it wasn’t the worst thing either. The flavoring of strawberries and almonds mixed together was quite good and tasted similar to a strawberry flavored wafer cookie.
Trefin Vienna Bonbons
Belgium is so well known for their chocolate that we hear less about the popular candies that the country also has. Founded in 1929, the Trefin candy company has become Belgium’s most famous candy confectioner and has grown into a massive brand. Their most popular candies and the ones that we will be trying this month are the fruit filled Vienna candies. Theses hard candies have a softer, chewier center that is bursting with either orange, raspberry, plum, or lemon and lime flavoring.
Though there isn’t much to say about these candies as they’re pretty self explanatory, they’re actually really good. My favorite flavors was definitely the raspberry one.
Hamlet Praline Bar
When chocolate was first brought to Belgium in the 1600’s, it was drunk as hot chocolate and only those in the upper class would consume it since it was so pricey. It wasn’t until the chocolate praline was invented that people started to consume chocolate in a more solid form. Though the word praline in Belgium means a chocolate with a soft center and outer chocolate shell, this particular praline bar refers more so to the flavoring. The Hamlet praline bar is filled with a chocolate paste and finely ground hazelnuts with an outer chocolate shell.
Since I’m really not a fan of dark chocolate I just kind of knew that I wasn’t going to like this one, and though I didn’t like the exterior, the hazelnut filling was pretty good. I also found that it tasted pretty similar to a Ferrero Rocher chocolate.
Hamlet Buttercream Truffles
Hailing from the same company that made the praline bar we just talked about, these cocoa dusted truffles are simply to die for. These Hershey kisses looking chocolates are made with a decadent dark chocolate shell filled with a creamy, light buttercream filling. Since so much of the economy in Belgium relies on chocolate, manufacturers take it very seriously so you know that these truffles are of the highest quality possible.
Again with the fact that I don’t like dark chocolate these weren’t my favorite. I really liked the buttercream filling though but the chocolate on the outside was too overpowering. These would definitely be so much better if they were coated with white chocolate or even milk chocolate.
Caramelized Biscuit Milk Chocolate Bar
We’ve heard a lot of good things about Belgian chocolate so far and here is yet another super popular and delicious chocolate bar for us to enjoy this time combining not one but two of Belgium’s favorite snacks. We talked earlier about the Christmas cookies known as Speculoos and this chocolate bar perfectly combines those cookies with some rich milk chocolate to make for the perfect snack.
Though I wasn’t a huge fan of this chocolate bar, it was something really different than anything I’ve ever tasted before. Since there are the Speculoos cookies inside of the chocolate bar, it tasted basically just like a chocolate covered gingerbread cookie.
There you have it, another month in the bag and another month of trying delicious snacks from around the world. Be sure to check out the previous months of Universal Yums when we visited Colombia as well as Pakistan.
Stick around for November’s box when we will be off on a journey to the vibrant country of Turkey, the land of Turkish delight and other yummy snacks.