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The Origins of Chocolate

Date Added: December 21, 2012 03:18:23 PM

Mouth-watering chocolate delicacies are the favourites of kids and adults alike. Someone with sweet tooth will most often look for chocolate products, regardless of whether these are made from real chocolate or compound chocolate. Chocolates can come in the form of bonbons, bars, cakes and beverages. Apart from being used as sweet treats, these saccharine delights are also being used as ingredients or as trimmings for certain dishes. They are also being used as flavouring for liquor. Countries that are known for producing great chocolates include South America, Germany, Switzerland and Spain. However, belgian chocolate is still widely regarded as the cream of the crop.

Where Chocolates Originated

History claims that the first chocolate plant was grown by Olmec Indians from the lowlands of Eastern Mexico between 1500 and 300 BC. Eventually, it became popular not only among the ancient South American people but among other cultures outside of South America as well. In fact, cocoa beans were used as trading currency during that time. The famous Christopher Columbus was credited for introducing chocolate in Europe in the early 1500s. However, another colonist by the name of Hernando Cortez was the first to grow cocoa beans in the European continent.

A single cacao tree can yield almost 2,000 pods annually. These pods enclose a gummy white pulp, which could contain approximately 30 or 40 seedlings. The mush is both sweet and sharp-tasting which can be consumed raw or mixed in drinks. Ironically, the seeds are not sweet, but very sour. These seeds are first subjected to certain processing techniques to generate products, such as real chocolate and compound chocolate. Real chocolate is the purest form of chocolate.

Processing of Chocolate Products Cacao seeds that have ripened and have been scraped from the pods are made to go through a drying and fermentation process. This procedure is very essential since it is responsible for giving the appropriate taste to chocolates. Beans are fermented from a minimum of two days to one week at a temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit. These beans will then be placed on cane mats to help them dry and to get rid of excessive moisture content.

Once dried, cacao beans are transported to the global markets, where they will undergo more processes, such as roasting and grounding. The roasting process allows the removal of the cacao shells, producing cacao nibs that are then grounded until they form into chocolate liquor. The liquor will then be used as ingredient for developing products, such as cocoa butter, cocoa solids or a combination of both, produced in different proportions.

In turn, cocoa butter, cocoa solids and their combinations are used as ingredients for producing other types of chocolate products, such as bitter chocolate, sweet chocolates, milk chocolates, white chocolates and many more. Bitter chocolates are the unsweetened combination of cocoa butter and cocoa solids while sweetened chocolates are a combination of cocoa butter, cocoa solids, fat, sugar and other ingredients. Milk chocolates are made from a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter and powdered milk or condensed milk. White chocolate is created much like the milk chocolate except that it does not contain cocoa solids.