It is already Chapter 7 among the countless sweet tastes from Belgium. The new chapter takes place in Antwerp, the center of design in Belgium. Living up to the reputation, this week’s sweetling from Antwerp is an artisanal product. Called to be the Antwerpse Handjes, these traditional quality sweets come as both chocolates and biscuits.
Antwerpse Handjes, or Antwerp hands, are biscuits and/or little chocolates in the shape of a hand. Usually made out of a dough consisting of butter, sugar, eggs, flour and slivered almonds or milk chocolate itself, they symbolize the legend behind the city.
Antwerp is referred as Antwerpen in Flemmish and the name comes from the word “hand werpen” which means hand throwing. According to the legend, Antwerp was once under the rule of a mythical giant named Druon Antigoon. Guarding a bridge on the River Scheldt, this cruel giant collected a certain toll from the ones who wanted to pass the river by the bridge. If any of them refused, he cut one of their hands off and threw it into the river. One day Druon Antigoon was finally challenged by a Roman soldier, Brabo. After winning the duel, Brabo actually cut Antigoon’s hand and threw it into the very same river.
Once a symbol to a brutal mythical story, today the hands of Antwerp symbolize sweetness and culinary quality. In 1934, Jos Hacker won the contest of the Royal Society of Master Confectioners of Antwerp. The winning design by Hacker was indeed the Antwerpse handjes.
Since 1934, these sweets in the shape of hands can be found as either biscuits or chocolates at any of the bakeries in Antwerp.
‘Til the next sweet stop.