Bruges Fine Belgian Chocolates

There are few things more enjoyable than biting into a rich square of decadent chocolate. Admit it, there’s just something about the silky mix of cacao, cream, sugar, and splash of alcohol that sets neurons in the brain sparkling with happiness.

Snapseed-23Being a chocolate lover, I was more than happy to accept an invite from JG Andaya, creator of Bruges Fine Belgian Chocolates, to see how she makes beautiful works of art that taste just as good as they look.

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Chocolatier Extraordinaire JG Andaya

And because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, she’d like to offer my readers a decadent giveaway. Please check below to learn how to join.


Snapseed-22Cat JL: What exactly do you do?

JG Andaya: I make chocolates

How did you become a chocolatier?

I never thought I would be a ‘chocolatier’.  I’ve always been a very proud home cook.  The business was offered to us one day and rest is history.

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Snapseed-20Where did you train?

I took a short course here in Manila in how to handle the chocolate.  I had to learn all the technical stuff…temperature, humidity and the proper way of tempering the chocolate.

Snapseed-19What exactly goes into Belgian chocolates? How are they different from their Swiss, German, or French counterparts? 

For me, it’s the ‘love’ put into each piece.  The Belgians are concerned about the quality of each piece from the environment in which they are stored to the high quality ingredients used for each piece.  In the making of my Black Luxe Collection – it took me months to complete the collection because of one ingredient.  It’s really all or nothing.

Snapseed-18Why the decision to call your brand Bruges?

This was my husband’s idea.  While taking his MBA in the UK, he travelled all over Europe on a motorbike.  He got lost in Bruges for quite sometime and thoroughly enjoyed the place.

Snapseed-17Are your ingredients locally sourced?

Although most of my ingredients are imported, they can all be found here in Manila.

Snapseed-16What’s the hardest part about being a chocolatier?

Apart from keeping the kids out of my ‘chocolate factory’?  *laughs*

I would love to come out with all different kinds of chocolate products but since we sell through the internet, I always have to think about how each product will hold up through shipping in our very warm weather.

Snapseed-13What part of the process did you show me today?

Tempering!  For me, tempering is the most important step.  The temperature of the room, chocolate, as well as the marble slab has to be just right to get excellent results.  Excellent results include the proper shine, the ‘snap’ when you bite into the chocolate and expiration.

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Snapseed-9Tell us a bit about hand painting chocolates, how is it done?

We use very concentrated vibrant food coloring and find the powdered ones to work best along with cocoa butter as a medium.  Again, temperature has to be just right.  The design is hand painted onto the mold prior to the process of moulding each praline.  It’s a tedious process, so if you don’t love what you’re doing, you’ll end up having a bad day…everyday.

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Snapseed-4Can you talk us through a usual day at work?

Let’s just say I have two ‘elves’ that makes each day a bit easier for me – but quality control falls back on me.

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SnapTell us about the types of chocolates Bruges currently makes? 

Most of our chocolates have a couverteur.  We have chosen to make them this way to show the technique of proper tempering – inherent to Belgian Chocolates.  They are also unwrapped to show the same – the shine on each piece is achieved through proper tempering.

Snapseed-15I understand you put quite a bit of alcohol into your chocolates? Can you tell us more about that? What kind of alcohol do you use?

I find that some people are ‘scared’ of alcohol in their chocolates.  Yes, I do push the limit in order to achieve the taste, but really, it’s not much at all because too much alcohol will lead to an awful ganache that cannot be molded.

My best seller is the The Black Luxe Collection: all liquor / all dark

Snapseed-14How do you know how sweet you should make your chocolates?

Everything is really according to taste,  since I don’t care for anything too sweet, I tend to work with dark chocolate more.  You will find that I do have white or milk chocolate products, but somehow I find ways to incorporate dark chocolate in each product – whether it’s the couverteur or the ganache (filling).  As far as taste, balance is very important to me.

How long can your chocolates last?  

6 to 12 months, depending on the product.  However, I don’t store products, everything is made fresh.  It all depends on the customer once they have the chocolates – how fast or how slow they consume the chocolates.  I hear they’re usually wiped out by day 2.

What is the price range of your chocolates? 

They can range from PHP 22o to PHP 1200.

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You’ve just seen how they were made, now try them for yourself. JG Andaya of Bruges is giving away 10 (you read right, TEN) boxes of her special edition Valentine’s chocolates to 10 lucky Cat JL Readers based in the Philippines. This collection contains a romantic blend of passion fruit, Baileys and caramel. Yum.

1 Leave comment on this post sharing something sweet someone has done for you. This does not have to be a romantic gesture, as long as it’s heart warming we’d like to hear about it. 

2 JG Andaya and I will choose the ten lucky winners by February 11. All boxes will be shipped to my readers courtesy of Island Rose

3 Please expect an email from Bruges asking for your delivery address by February 12. If you don’t respond by February 13, we’ll choose someone else to make sure these wonderful boxes arrive by Valentine’s. 

For more information about Bruges Fine Belgian Chocolates, please check out their:

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Comments

  1. Liana Meyer says:

    My darling niece-in-law – just three years old – insists on helping me do things throughout my day – such as making tea or using her toy magic wand to “turn me into a princess like her”, She even drew a picture for me to give to my family back home. Adorable. Melts my heart every day. :)

  2. One Saturday morning in December 2013, I found out Ikea Singapore was having a sale on the Raskog cart that I have been coveting months before. I immediately iMessaged my hubby, who’s based in Sg, to go to Ikea as in “NOW” and get me one. He asked me how on earth can he bring it home on Christmas since his baggage allowance is full. Nevertheless, he bought it and used his “free” baggage allowance just for my Raskog cart. He even assembled it himself for me. I’m a spoiled wife! ;)

  3. I moved to Australia from California to follow the love of my life…when we came back to visit Cali for Christmas I bought myself 2 boxes of Godiva chocolates and let him know these were my favorites. I could never find them in melbourne but day I was having a bad day and he surprised me with a box of Godiva chocolates! Every time I was feeling homesick he’d magically make these appear and would change my mood instantly! He never told me where he got them until I was in the city and I was having a bad day and he knew and as fate would have it, I bumped into my husband in David jones buying me a box of Godiva! Chocolate makes the world go ’round!

    • You story made me miss Australia. I love how you moved home to be with your love. I hope you both had a wonderful Valentine’s. Thank you for joining this contest. :)

  4. Giselle Jose says:

    When I was in high school, I was in a long distance relationship with a guy whose family migrated to the States. One day, he messaged me to ask, “Pink or red?” Thinking it was just a random question, I said “Pink!”and didn’t think much of it. Hours later, his dad arrived on my doorstep to deliver a bouquet of pink roses :)

  5. I would like to share this box of chocolates with my youngest brother, the sweet tooth.

    Out of the four us, my brother is the sweetest. He doesnt mind giving out random hugs or saying i love you over the phone even when he’s out with friends.

    He recently had to borrow my laptop for something and a few days later I found this on my notes ” Ate, in fairness, you’re one of the few girls I know with a clean desktop :)” Its might seem like a little thing but it definitely made me smile and lifted my mood that day. Just one of the many thoughtful things my littlest brother does just because :)

  6. On our wedding day, I was pleasantly surprised when my husband recited his wedding vows. He knew how much I love anything with dark chocolate — so he included buying me dark chocolates and ice cream in his vows. Whenever we find ourselves in a challenging situations nowadays, we both put our heads together and share dark chocolates :)

  7. My then fiance – now husband, included buying me dark chocolates and ice cream in his wedding vows. He knew these are my feel-good-food. Whenever we find ourselves in a challenging situation, and need to put our heads together, he would always make the effort to go to Chocolatier in Jupiter, Makati – even though we live in Greenhills, San Juan.

  8. T’was August 30, 2012, My husband went home all the way from UAE, he planned a surprise birthday party for me. He talked to my friends, my dad, and my relatives about it. I had no Idea everyone was preparing for my party. Just as i thought that it was going to be another ordinary day, when I went home, opened the lights, Everyone there shouted “surprise!”. That was unforgettable, I saw everyone’s effort, the house was beautifully decorated for me, food was overflowing and my love ones gathered to surprise me and celebrate with me. That was the sweetest thing! :)

    • You have a very sweet husband. I hope you both had a lovely Valentine’s Day celebration. Thank you for sharing this story. :)

  9. Faye Karen Go says:

    My youngest daughter, Kylie, has the best appetite among my 3 girls. After every meal, she always asks for Popsicle ( twin popsies) cut in two – one for herself and the other one she says is ” for mommy”.

  10. Randy Bustamante says:

    Back in early 2006, I led an immersion trip for Boston College undergrads to an orphanage in Uganda. On the last day of the two-week service trip, we secretly bought two goats to give to the children as a farewell gift they could play with and raise, and it was a joy to see their surprise. Because we had all become emaciated from the scant food that did not include any meat, the orphanage community offered to throw us a simple farewell party that night. There was a bonfire and music and singing and dancing– and food. They had roasted the two goats for us as a surprise going-away meal-gift, Through our tears and laughter, goat meat had never tasted so sweet.

    • Thank you again for taking the time to share your amusing story, Randy! I hope you enjoyed the chocolates as much as the goat’s meat.

  11. When I was pregnant, I always felt really, really hot. So my husband would point all the fans at the bed, and then go to sleep beside me, wrapped up in a fluffy blanket. Also, I had a problem with my wrist, and I had to keep it wrapped in a bandage (which I hated doing), and one night I forgot to put the bandage on, and woke up to my husband carefully wrapping my wrist :)

  12. The sweetest thing someone has ever done for me was to actually write a book entitled The Book of Pam. It was from my then very new boyfriend and my now husband. Even after our 10 years together, I think he’s yet to top this DIY gift. It’s a simple gift, bound in black linen paper over a pad of orange sheets. It’s more like a children’s book, really.

    The contents include the typical sweet stuff like “Pam is Maze: you can get lost for hours and still have a blast [accompanied by a drawing of a labyrinth], to the very simple truths like, “Pam is Mountain: tough and challenging [accompanied by a Mt. Everest illustration]. Then there are also the funny ones like, “Pam is Bruce Lee Movie: action packed! [accompanied by an illustration of a man kicking another man's face]. The best ones I like, however, are the really ego-boosting kinds like, “Pam is Fuel: the catalyst,” or “Pam is a Catch: best damn catch in author’s humble opinion.”

    This 50-page book with 50 descriptions of what I am to the author gathers dust in our library most of the time, but once in a while I take it out and read it again. I can tell you that when I do, I still get the same feeling as the first time I read it. :)

  13. I will never forget this – There’s this street kid selling rags who I saw at the intersection. When he knocked on my car window offering his stuff, I said, “Next time!” A week or so after, there he was again and he remembered me! He said, “Ma’m sabi niyo dati next time!” So, I bought some rags and then he said, “Thank you po. Ingat po!” It really made me smile and I wished him well. When he walked away, guess what was written at the back of his shirt? “Child of God” I can’t describe the feeling until now.

  14. I remember my ex-girlfriend attended to me and took care of me while I was sick for around three days. She took days off from work just to take care of me and help keep my house kempt and clean. She didn’t know how to cook at all but tried to Google some great recipes to feed me. `We got to spend some precious time together and too bad to say, but those were the days that I truly enjoyed my sick days! Oh how i miss her!

  15. On my 17th birthday, everything was a blur – my mom died 11 days before; it was my first week in college; I was in a new dormitory away from home. I declared it to be the saddest birthday ever before it even started. My Dad and siblings drove for 3 hours to pick me up just so we can have dinner and celebrate. When I got back to my dormitory my new found acquaintances surprised me, enough for me to cry. When I entered the door, everyone ran from different places and shouted “Happy Birthday!”. There were balloons, sweet messages and cakes everywhere and everyone in the building was singing and wishing me a happy birthday. I was touched by their sincerity and effort to make me happy and their kindness to pull that party off. That was by far one of the sweetest and kindest things anyone has ever done for me, considering I just met them. My birthday wasn’t so sad after all thanks to these wonderful ladies!

    • This story made my smile. It was one of my favorites. Thank you for sharing such a personal part of your life. I hope you enjoyed the chocolates. :)

  16. When we go to the gym, my boyfriend would always choose a club (out of the chain of gym clubs) where there’s a yoga class for me to join. More often than not, my class takes longer than his gym routine. But he’d patiently wait, taking out the book he brought along to kill time. And I would always ask him to take a photograph of me doing the silliest yoga poses. He’d just shake his head but gives in to my pestering. :)

    • Too cute. I love when couples do something just for each other’s happiness. You have a wonderful boyfriend and I hope your Valentine’s Day this year was special. :)

  17. Last year, our Cebu-based Mom had a terrible heart attack and was rushed to the ICU. And since my sisters and I live and work in Manila, our friends in Cebu rushed to her aid. They took care of her and stayed with her until we arrived in Cebu two days later. We love our Mom very much and that episode really scared us.

    We will always be grateful to our friends who love our Mom as much as we do and who were there for her (and for us) when it truly, truly mattered.

    • I always believe that friends are family too. Thank you for sharing your family’s story. I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.

  18. Fatima J. Placido says:

    I can’t imagine a better way to spend my 18th birthday. It was my debut two years ago. I decided to celebrate it at the orphanage, but we’re not a super spender family with hundreds of thousands to donate, just a little thought to share a little happiness with those little fellas :)
    Sharing what you have to others without asking any in return, that’s what we came for. But it all turned that they’re the ones who helped us, these little fellas made me realize and made me feel contented on what I have and I think that’s the best thing ever done for me. I met the most amazing kids who changed my life. The enthusiasm and outlook they have on life makes you want to work as hard as possible to help them. They are the most amazing young people. Not only were the kids amazing, but the priest, sisters/nuns and staffs also.
    I celebrated my 18th birthday with the kids, and it was the best time I have ever spent. They made it ten times more special than it would have been, that’s the sweetest thing!! I miss and love the kids and the experience. :) Thanks to my family :)

    • What a wonderful way to spend your 18th birthday. While other girls have elaborate debuts, you decided to share your gifts with others. Your parents must be very proud of you. :)

  19. My 3 year old son always gives me a flower he picked around the neighborhood after playing outside with his cousin and the neighborhood kids. He’d present the flower wiyh a big grin on his face. I’ll never get tired of this sweet gesture, ever! Hope he never outgrows it!

  20. Four years ago I was a victim of an attempted robbery/modus operandi. Driving to work, a random guy stepped in front of my car and threw a large rock at my window which hit me straight on the jaw. I had the good sense to drive away so nothing was taken from me but I didn’t look pretty. I had cuts all over my face and neck from the shattered glass, I was badly bruised and I got 6 stitches on my jaw. As soon as he heard, my then boyfriend of 3 months, rushed to my side and nursed me back to health. He’s in the BPO industry working on a midshift so that meant losing precious hours of sleep in the morning but every single day, he dressed my wound and drove me to work. I was really traumatized for a while and would get anxious every time pedestrians got near the car but he lovingly held my hand each time and assured me that everything will be alright. That early, I knew he was a keeper! We will be celebrating our second wedding anniversary this year and he is still as nurturing to me (and our baby!) He is the sweetest! <3

    • I’m so sorry to hear that you had to go through this. Thank you for sharing such a personal story from your life. Your boyfriend (now husband) sounds like a wonderful man. I hope your little family had a wonderful Valentine’s!

  21. Godday Bastigue says:

    Hi Cat, I just wanna share something that my colleagues did for me. Last January 23 was my last day at the office, my home for the last 5 years. For every important moment of my life (from my engagement, getting hitched and then having a baby) they were there for me. – throwing all these parties/celebrations no matter how simple it is and making me feel so special. Our team ALWAYS do this to EVERY colleague who is having a special moment in his/her life YET they never fail to SURPRISE me on how they do all these surprise gatherings! It’s like you know it’s coming but it will still sweep you off your feet kinda thing. :) So for a change, I decided that on my last day of work, I’ll surprise them instead – I organize a simple gathering but.. lo and behold! They did it again! The best thing about that day is that I get to bring home a treasure that I get to keep for eternity.. A pinboard full of post its – containing beautiful messages from everyone whose been a part of my life for the last 5 years! Ain’t that the sweetest?! :)

  22. Sweetness for me was when my husband, who was my boyfriend then would endure three hours of rush hour traffic (in a manual transmission car) from the South to visit me in QC, every single day just to see me. He did that for almost two years before we got married. I feel so blessed as no one has ever done that for me. Love him to bits and pieces!

  23. Hi, Cat! I was on bed rest from March 2013 until my delivery on May 17, 2013 because I was polyhydramnois. For the whole duration of my bed rest, my eldest son, who was 4 years old at that time, stayed with me almost every day. He was not able to take up summer classes because I could not accompany him. He assisted me with the littlest of things: massages my legs, get a magazine/book for me, assist his yaya to prepare food for me. He told me “I will take care of you, Mom, and baby when he comes out” almost always :) True to his word, when his baby brother came out, he’s a great little helper! He assists when it’s time to change nappy, helps prepare baby’s clothes /things during bath time, and he just loves to hug and kiss baby. Sometimes he gets jealous but most of the time, he’s a loving big brother! I’m grateful to God for my two boys. Kuya is growing to be like his Dad, who fetched me (when we were still dating) from an officemate’s house one stormy Friday, even if he has a fever. Hopefully, baby will be as sweet and thoughtful as his kuya and Dad. :)

  24. Ianthe Arboleda says:

    One afternoon, i tried teaching my 3 yr old niece how to spell by typing words on google search and waiting for funny/ interesting results. After several words, she asked me to close my eyes. When she told me to open them, on the search engine was typed, “i love you very much tita”. Her very first written sentence. Now she’s an eight year old blogger wannabe who refers to Cat as catjuan :) i’m planning to present the precious chocolate to her with this anecdote :)

    • That’s too cute! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story. I’m sure your niece is going to become a great blogger, especially with an aunt as cool as you! :)

  25. Marisse Ortega says:

    My sister and I always had this odd relationship.. I sometimes feel that it was a love hate relationship.. Often times we argue, and being 4years younger, i get so mad when she treats me like a 5 year old (im 28!). She tells me what i should wear, what make up to put on and every little detail on things i do always get noticed..

    As a kid,I remember her telling me that she hated me so much for being a brat little sister, calling her names and disrespecting her.. Years and years have passed and we kept growing apart.. Almost 26 years of my life.. We were sisters, but it seemed like we were casual friends..

    She doesnt know how much it broke my heart.. I was a child who didnt think before speaking.. And growing up, and honestly,i never recall things she’d tell me about how badly i verbaly abused her..

    She seemed closer to friends.. We fought phyisically. Imagine that, it was a total disaster.. It came to a point where i wouldnt want to accept things that came from her, just because i dint want to feel like i owed her. I was really stubborn. How i grew up around her hate really pushed me away, and i learned to do the same..

    Till one day, out of no where, around 2012, she came home, hugged me tight and told me that she loves me. She said sorry for everything.. I cried so hard! Being maldita, i had a hard time saying im sorry too.. I saw my sister burst in to tears. i couldnt belive what was happenning! But because of all the genuine love and affection i felt, i mumbled that i love her too and how sorry i am for all the hurt i caused.. WE NEVER HUGGED NOR SAID I LOVE YOU TO EACH OTHER! So imagine how shocked i was!! I never thought it would feel so amazing! it was bliss!

    So now, i can say;
    Being accepted and loved as a sister, (after sooooo many years) was one of the biggest and greatest gesture i have recieved..
    I can now proudly say that MY sister is the best and that i am lucky, no! not lucky, I am blessed, to have such a beautiful relationship with her.. ❤

  26. Denise Nolasco says:

    My 11 year old son has a normally reserved personality. He is sweet and gentle but isn’t prone to exuberant bouts of affection.

    One evening, I noticed that he had changed his cover photo in Facebook to one of the two of us which was taken at a diner in Universal Studios in Singapore.

    Touched by the gesture, I shared his cover photo and made a quip about how ‘he must love me a little bit, after all….’

    The next day, I was stunned to see a comment from my son in reply to what I had said which read, ‘What do you mean a little? A lot!’

    To have my none too expressive child post something like this made me melt.

    He loves chocolates, and how I would love to have one of those beautiful boxes to gift him with, and tell him that it was his words which hastened me into joining this contest.

  27. Anna Dominique Marasigan says:

    I was dating this guy who I’ve known for 4 years but before that, we were more acquaintances than friends. When I got back from Australia after studying there for more than a year, we started talking and we’ve been inseparable since our first date. Barely 2 months into our dating, I had an event which required me to get fresh flowers from Dangwa on the same day as my event. After I vented out my frustations, he OFFERED to wake up at 3am (he lives in Fairview), buy the flowers from Dangwa, then drop it off at my office in Makati. Mind you, he was still working at Eastwood. I told him I wouldn’t ask him to do that. And he replied by saying “I know you wouldn’t ask that’s why I’m offering to do it”. And lo and behold, I went to work with flowers in the office for my event. I didn’t even have to remind him to wake up. He just did it.

    I couldn’t let him go after that. He’s my boyfriend now and he continues to be the sweetest guy ever. I’m really lucky :)

  28. When I was young, I often got confused with the fairytales. I seriously thought Goldilocks was the one who followed the footsteps {IKR??}. For my birthday, my guy got me a huge, limited edition book of Grimm’s Fairytales and actually read it to me, so I will not forget :)

  29. Thank you so much, Cat, for such a great post with lovely photos! Thanks also to your readers for sharing their wonderful stories! This was fun – hope we can do this again! <3

  30. 5, 993 miles away. 6 hours time difference. No matter how his day went, tiring (for the most part) or not, he at all times wait for me so as we can strive to always connect through Skype date every night for me and morning for him. We try to always celebrate togetherness because distance and time won’t keep us apart. And being a part of an increasing number of couples worldwide that are coping with long distance relationships, we want to be a yet another proof that it is merely just a myth and though most people don’t believe that it won’t work, we are not like those most people… Because love can endure all things through God and with God.

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