For chocoholics, chocolate is not optional, it’s mandatory.
The alluring taste of chocolate has impassioned countless chocolate lovers to make chocolate a daily “must-have”. The power chocolate has over humankind dates back to its discovery over 2000 years ago.
Chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac, a sure treatment for the blues, a part of cardiovascular well-being (antioxidants anyone?), and even as a medium of exchange. With chocolate’s wealthy historical past, explicit goodness, and social significance, Choclapedia thought it proper to incorporate some chocolate historicity.
As devout chocoholics we are happy to go on endlessly about chocolate’s past, the way it’s made, how it is used in the culinary world, the best places to buy chocolate, and the role chocolate plays at our house.
But we especially would love any chocolate lover to have a Channel here at Choclapedia. As a channel owner you can write about chocolate, sell chocolate concoctions, and watch hundreds of chocolate related tutorials. We even added tools that help you monetize your passion, not only for the types of chocolate described below but for many more.
Humanity’s chocolate obsession started centuries in the past with the Mayan civilization of Mexico and Central America (250-900 A.D.). The Mayan type of chocolate, however, bore scant resemblance to what we enjoy today. Mayans had backyard cacao trees (from which chocolate is derived). They harvested, fermented, and roasted the seeds before grinding them. Mixed the ground seeds with water and chili spices, this paste like substance grew to become an unsweetened frothy beverage often loved as a part of Mayan life.
Aztec’s Sacred Brew
“Chocolate” comes from the Aztec phrase “xocoatl,” (translates to “bitter drink”). The Aztecs improved on this Mayan bitter drink assigning it “food of the gods” status. Whereas many Mayans would likely have enjoyed this “chocolate” concoction, it was typically reserved for royalty, religious leaders, and different members of the elevated Aztec social class. Chocolate was such a necessary part of Aztec society that cacao seeds grew to become a type of money.
When Hernando Cortes, the Spanish Conquistador, conquered Mexico in 1521, the Spaniards embraced Aztecs’ chocolate and began transporting it to Spain. The Spanish added cinnamon, sugar, and different spices. The Spanish Aristocracy kept this costly import a secret from the general population for nearly 300 years. When Spanish royalty started marrying different Europeans, they could no longer keep their “chocolate secret” and it was quickly adopted throughout Europe. Albeit, still just for the rich. Most non-elites could not afford chocolate until the seventeen and eighteen hundreds when sea commerce expanded and chocolate started to be mass-produced. By the late 18th century England, chocolate shops had become as popular as espresso houses.
The pods of the cacao tree are fragile to the point where it is best to pick them by hand. This contributes to the laborious nature of making chocolate. The pods are opened one after the other, and the pulp-covered seeds extracted. To scale back bitterness, cacao seeds are fermented for many days (like grapes for wine), after which they are dried.
Then farmers fill sacks with cacao seeds and companies with industrial machines purchase and process them. In the process of roasting in massive machinery, chocolate aromatics can be detected blocks away. The roasted seeds are cracked open to expose the nib or heart, which is ground into chocolate liquor. This thick, chocolate liquid, manufactured from cocoa butter and cocoa solids, is processed to create great varieties of chocolate.
Cocoa: a powdered type of chocolate, typically utilized in baking, is made from pulverized cocoa solids with the cocoa butter eliminated.
Unsweetened Chocolate (Bitter/Baking Chocolate): that is pure, unaltered chocolate liquor, manufactured from 45% cocoa solids and 55% cocoa butter.
Bittersweet Chocolate (Semi-Candy): sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin, and vanilla are added to chocolate liquor to make this familiar type of chocolate. It incorporates a minimum of 35% chocolate liquor. Bittersweet chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate are used interchangeably in baking.
Couverture: this is applied to the highest quality bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate usually containing 32 to 39 percent cocoa butter.
Darkish Chocolate (Additionally Referred to as Candy Chocolate by U.S. Authorities): no milk is added on this type of chocolate, which incorporates between 15% and 35% chocolate liquor. Darkish chocolate is lighter in chocolate taste than bittersweet and semi-sweet though it’s darkish in appearance.
Milk Chocolate: this favorite type of chocolate incorporates milk or milk solids and 10% to 25% chocolate liquor. Milk chocolate is smoother, sweeter, and the bitterness associated with darker chocolate is substantially mitigated.
White Chocolate: since white chocolate incorporates no cocoa solids, it is not likely chocolate in any respect. White “chocolate” is made of cocoa butter, vanilla, milk, and sugar. It might not be chocolate, nevertheless, it’s scrumptious.
Chocolate is Truthfully Good for You!
Blues be Gone: chocolate incorporates phenylethylamine, which is a modest mood elevator/anti-depressant. It’s the identical chemical our mind produces when we feel love or happiness.
Chocolate incorporates different stimulants to “increase” positive feelings, equivalent to caffeine, in very small quantities. One ounce of milk chocolate is equivalent in caffeine to a cup of decaffeinated coffee. This mild impact on the body has kept chocolate from being considered addictive (although you and I might take issue with that prognosis).
Some think of chocolate, especially with certain additives, to be an aphrodisiac. Some historical accounts claim the Mayans and Aztecs believed the pairing of chocolate with chilies had this effect.
Cocoa seeds include necessary antioxidants known as flavonoids similar to those found in red wine, some teas, fruits, and greens. Time takes a toll on our cells and tissue. Research has shown these antioxidants abate this damage. The latest research indicates the flavonoids in chocolate help regulate hormones vital to cardiovascular well-being. Additionally, they may have immunoregulatory benefits.
Darkish chocolate: with higher concentrations of cocoa liquor (compared to milk chocolate), is thought to be better for your health. It has about twice as many antioxidants as a bar of milk chocolate.
Simply because it tastes good doesn’t equate to it being deleterious to your health. Consuming chocolate is not going to increase your cholesterol like many other foods. Chocolate and cocoa butter each comprise saturated and unsaturated fats. However, in contrast to many saturated fats, the stearic acid in chocolate is “neutral fat”.
Neutral fat doesn’t increase dangerous levels of LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff). The unsaturated fat in chocolate, oleic acid, is identical to olive oil fats. Which some researchers claim increases HDL cholesterol (the good stuff).
Storage: Chocolate ought to be kept in a cool, dry place at roughly 65-70 levels F. It shouldn’t be refrigerated. The moisture present in a fridge will alter the chocolate’s texture, look, and (potentially) taste. Excessive temperatures will trigger a “bloom” or “cloud” on the chocolate.
This bloom “supposedly” doesn’t affect the taste or freshness of the chocolate, just the eye appeal. But, since so many of us “eat with our eyes”, the “perceived” taste could be less than optimal.
The chemical definition of what happens is, the cold triggers a “meltdown” of the cocoa butter and the cocoa butter migrates to the chocolate’s surface.
Isolation: Chocolate tends to soak up the odors of many things around it. That’s one more reason to refrain from keeping chocolate in the refrigerator. Chocolate should not be stored with onions or garlic. Such an ill-advised practice will negatively affect the taste of chocolate.
Take care to ensure chocolate storage containers and all utensils used in preparing chocolate cakes, cookies, brownies, chocolate drinks, and anything containing chocolate as an ingredient is clean.
Chocolate Shelf Life: Most chocolate will remain fresh enough for consumption for twelve months if handled correctly. Darker chocolate varieties stay usable the longest. Chocolate-filled candies store well for about a month.
Moisture and Chocolate: Most chocolate recipes do not instruct us to mix chocolate with water because they do not mix well. Water hardens the feel and consistency of chocolate. This precept is especially important to be mindful of when melting chocolate. Never put a lid on the bowl or pan when melting chocolate, the resulting steam will land on the chocolate, hardening it.
A lightweight cloth material could be used as a cover (if you must cover it) provided the cloth material is porous enough to allow most of the steam to escape.
Melting: Chocolate is very sensitive to high temperatures and must be melted slowly under low heat. Too much heat too soon will transform chocolate into an unappetizing lump good only for discarding. A double boiler or a small heat-proof bowl set into a small pan can be used to melt chocolate but, in either case, never let the water come in contact with what is holding the chocolate.
Be aware, chocolate, like most foods will continue to react to the heat after you remove the pan from the source of heat. Take this into consideration to avoid overcooking chocolate.
Unsweetened chocolate liquefies readily when melted. However sweetened chocolate needs to be regularly stirred during the melting process.
Chocolate Dipping: Chocolate flavored coating consists of cocoa and vegetable oil, instead of cocoa butter. Thus, they are simpler for dipping but the loss of that chocolate taste and flavor is noticeable. It’s just not chocolate but a dipped soft-serve cone is certainly very satisfying on a hot summer’s night.
Cooking with Chocolate: Thinning chocolate with butter should only be attempted when you are unable to purchase chocolate with a higher percentage of butterfat. They are not the same kind of fat.
Finally, when mixing completely different types of chocolate like bittersweet and milk chocolate, using the same brand will generally give better results. The ingredients used by different companies for chocolate types bearing the same name, can vary greatly. On the other hand, mixing brands might just give you a pleasant surprise. Do you feel lucky?
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