Trivia for Those Who Have a Passionate Love Affair with Chocolate
Information about the history of chocolate and how the process of making it has evolved over the years.
Chocolate remains one of the world’s favorite treats. It comes in an amazing array of shapes and forms and there is an endless demand for it. Here are some interesting facts about how chocolate became so desirable.
Ancient Aztec and Maya civilizations were the first to recognize the potency of chocolate and used it to celebrate the harvest of the cacao beans. They brewed it into a hot, spicy drink and believed it gave them wisdom, enlightenment and sexual prowess. Only men in the ruling and religious classes were allowed to drink the chocolate.
In the 16th century, the Spanish crushed the Aztec empire and took home the Aztec methods of extracting undiluted unsweetened liquor from fermented cacao beans. They sweetened the drink with honey and sugar and for years it remained a rich man’s drink.
In the 17th century, chocolate became popular across Europe. It was still sold only as a drink and as it attracted high import duties, was enjoyed by the rich. In due course, chocolate drinking houses opened and these became popular meeting places. Around 1700, the English started adding milk, so making the drink less bitter.
The first chocolate bars were produced in the mid 1800s and were probably unpalatable by today’s standards. A couple of decades later, machinery was created that made extraction of cocoa butter easier. This resulted in eating-chocolate more like the type available today.
Some of the men who worked on formulating eating chocolate have been immortalized by their brands. Famous names include Henri Nestle, Rodolphe Lindt, Jean Tobler and John Cadbury.
What is Chocolate made of?
The main ingredients are cacao beans that have been processed into chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter and milk. Flavorings such as vanilla or extra ingredients such as fruit and nuts may also be added at various stages of the process.
How does it become Smooth and Glossy?
Once the ingredients have been combined, the mixture is run through a machine that mixes, mashes, swirls and aerates the chocolate. This process can take a few hours for cheaper chocolates and up to six days for the more expensive ones. The chocolate is then tempered by letting it cool and then reheating it several times. This gives chocolate the gloss that makes it look so good and also helps it to melt properly.
American chocolate manufacturers use about 1.5 billion pounds of milk each year. This is surpassed only by the cheese and ice cream manufacturers.
Chocolate manufacturers currently use 40% of the world’s almonds and 20% of the world’s peanuts.
Chocolate has over 500 flavor components. This is double the amount found in strawberry and vanilla.
Chocolate is here to stay and while certain flavors and brands have become classics, the chocolate experts are forever trying new recipes and techniques. The results of their efforts are often seen at Christmas and Easter when chocolate is the perfect gift.