WIIAT IS CHOCOLATEP
It is said that coffee makes it possible to get out of bed, but chocolate makes it worthwhile.
This heavenly delight has been enjoyed by many for well over a century, but what exactly is
To best answer this question we should start at the very beginning. Etymologists trace the
origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drink
brewed from cacao beans. Many historians have estimated that chocolate has been around
for about 2000 years, but recent research suggests that it may be even older. ln November
of 2AA7 , anthropologists from the University of Pennsylvania announced the discovery of
cacao residue on pottery excavated in Honduras that could date back as far as 1400 B.C.E.
It appears that the sweet pulp of the cacao fruit, which surrounds the beans, was fermented
into an alcoholic beverage of the time. Chocolate was introduced to the Western world as a
fashionable drink believed to have nutritious and medicinal properties. All of that changed
when, in 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate by removing
about half the naturalfat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor, pulverizing what remained
and treating the mixture with alkaline salts to cut the bitter taste. His product became known
as “Dutch cocoa,” and it soon led to the creation of solid chocolate.
The creation of the first modern chocolate bar is credited to Joseph Fry, who in 1847
discovered that he could make a mouldable chocolate paste by adding melted €€o butter
back into Dutch cocoa.
The cocoa “beans” that form the basis of chocolate are actually seeds from the fruit of the
Theobroma cacao, a tropical tree whose name means “food of the Gods” in Greek. This
tree grows primarily in tropical areas near the Equator. The seeds grow inside a pod-like
fruit and are covered with a juicy white pulp. Cacao seeds are harvested by hand because
machines could injure the trees. Workers remove the pods, which are orange in colour
when they are ripe, and open them with a machete. The seeds are placed in large
formation trays that are stacked and covered in banana leaves, where they are left for two
to seven days. Fermentation produces the flavour and aroma of chocolate. This also
destroys the seed’s embryo, preventing unwanted germination, and causes the white pulp
to fall away from the seeds. Workers dry the beans by placing them on sunny platforms
and turning them several times a day. The beans are then shipped to factories all over the
world, where manufacturers inspect and clean them. They are then roasted in large,
rotating ovens. Roasted beans go into a winnowing machine, which cracks the beans and
removes hulls. The remaining part of the bean is called the nib. The nibs are ground down
under a series of rollers. This process results in a thick paste called chocolate liquor. On its
own, the chocolate liquor is dry and gritty. lt can be combined with other ingredients like
sugar, vanilla and lecithin to make it more palatable, and kneaded for days to improve the
texture. At this stage, the type of chocolate being produced is determined.
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The main types of chocolate include unsweetened, bittersweet, semisweet, dark, milk, and
white chocolate, the rest is up to the manufacturer which can at times get a bit confusing.
Below is a more detailed list of the different types of chocolate:
Milk chocolate: As the name implies, it contains at least 12o/o milk and must contain a
minimum of 10% chocolate liquor, though higher quality milk chocolates often contain as
much as 30-40% cocoa. The rest is comprised of sugar and sometimes vanilla or
emulsifiers. Milk chocolate is softer in texture and melts more easily than darker chocolates
because of the added dairy, and it’s generally sweeter and less bitter.
Dark chocolate: Contains chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, lecithin, sugar and vanilla. lt is
often differentiated into two categories: bittersweet and semisweet. A chocolate that is at
Ieast 35% chocolate liquor may be called either semisweet or bittersweet. While sometimes
semisweet chocolate has more added sugar than bittersweet, there isn’t a technical
difference. Very dark chocolate can be as high as 80Yo, but that much cacao mass can
make the chocolate very bitter and brittle, which many find unpleasant to eat. Some dark
chocolate is very fruity while others are mellow and smooth, but this is more a function of
the sourcing and processing of the beans than the percentage.
White chocolate: This is technically not one of the types of chocolate because it does not
contain any chocolate liquor. lt’s effectively pure cocoa butter and sugar. Often there’s
added vanilla. lt must contain at least 2Ao/o cocaa butter and 14o/o milk. This makes it very
sweet and creamy but also devoid of all the fruity and bitter complexity of regular chocolate.
Unsweetened chocolate: ls basically unadulterated chocolate liquor, so a mix of cocoa
solids and cocoa butter without any added sugar. lt’s really bitter and not good for eating on
its own. lt’s used almost exclusively in cooking and baking, particularly in cases where a
recipe uses a lot of sugar and doesn’t benefit from the extra sugar of sweetened chocolate.
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IS DARI( CHOCOLIITD IIEITLTIIIER TIIIiT MILI(
Eating a little bit of chocolate could boost your brain health, lower your cholesterol, reduce
your diabetes risk, and fight inflammation throughout your body. The antioxidant-packed
sweet may also improve the elasticity of your skin, leaving you looking younger. The thing
is, not all chocolates are created equal. To get the health benefits chocolate provides, you
really have to know which chocolate bar offers the most amount of nutrients and the least
amount of fat and sugar.
Although milk chocolate may taste great, it’s not nearly as good for you as dark chocolate
is. This is because milk chocolate contains less of the original cocoa bean than dark
chocolate does. Although milk chocolate does contain cocoa solids, it’s often diluted with
the addition of milk solids, sugar, and cream. Since milk chocolate does contain some
cocoa solids though, it is not completely void of all nutrition; however, the nutritional quality
is minimal in comparison with dark chocolate, which typically has more of the original cocoa
present. This is impoftant because the more cocoa that is present, the higher the nutritional
quality. Cocoa, which is used to make both milk and dark chocolate, contains flavonoids
which act as antioxidants in the body. The higher the concentration of cocoa in the
chocolate, the higher the number of flavonoids present in the chocolate. Dark chocolate
contains two to three times more beneficialflavonoids than milk chocolate. Flavonoids may
help to lower blood pressure, decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lower blood clot
risk, improve cognitive performance and improve mood.
When comparing some of the more important health concerns such as the amount of sugar,
carbs, fibre, iron, magnesium, cholesterol and so forth, dark chocolate comes out tops.
Although milk chocolate contains less calories and saturated fat, dark chocolate contains
more monounsaturated fatty acids, fewer carbs, half the amount of sugar, four times the
amount of fibre, more than four times the amount of iron, three times the amount of
magnesium, twice the potassium, less cholesterol and a lot more theobromine than milk
At the end of the day, chocolate should be consumed in moderation. Dark chocolate
varieties that contain at least 65% cacao would be most beneficial to one’s health.
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ADYANTAGE S AND DI SADVANTAGES OT’
Chocolate is good for many reasons. Besides the previously mentioned benefits, it tastes
amazing and can be applied to many different flavours to also add many unique and
tasteful combinations. lt is easily available, comes in different varieties, is reasonably
priced, and widely used. On the negative side, chocolate can be high in sugar, fat and low
in nutrients. Here is a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of chocolate:
r lt lowers cholesterol.
o Flavonoids in dark chocolate may keep your blood vessels flexible and free of plaque
r Produces Anti-oxidants in the body, good for preventing premature aging.
o Promotes good digestion.
r lmproves mood and cognitive performance.
o Lowers your risk for certain cancers, including skin cancer.
o Prevents the clumping of blood platelets which results in blood clots.
r Lowers blood pressure.
o Among the disadvantages of eating chocolate is the fact that not only is it high in total fat,
but high in saturated fat, which can increase your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.
r The high sugar content in chocolate can promote tooth decay, and may increase your risk
of heart disease.
r Chocolate is one of the most popular sources of caffeine, which can create a mild
o lt also contains vasoactive amines that lead to migraine problems.
r lt’s low in Vitamins and Minerals.
o Many of the protective effects that chocolate may offer might be mitigated by
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HOW SHOI}LD ONE MEI,T CHOCOLATDP
Chocolate can be melted in a variety of ways. No matter how one chooses to do it, it’s
important to never let a drop of water touch the chocolate. Water can cause the chocolate
to seize and creates rigid lumps. The only solution to this is to add a lot more liquid until the
chocolate is saturated and becomes a syrup. Seized chocolate can’t be tempered or used
as pure chocolate. Most people prefer to temper chocolate as opposed to simply melting it
because the chocolate will harden with a glossy, crisp finish. I will discuss both simple
methods to melt chocolate as well as tempering methods.
Here are two easy and simple methods of melting chocolate:
Before melting the chocolate, one needs to prep it first. This can be done by cutting the
chocolate into chunks and shards with a serrated knife, Doing this will make it easier to
Method 1: Microwave- Place the chocolate in a wide, shallow bowl and put it in the
microwave. Heat it on medium high for about one minute to start with. Remove from the
microwave and stir. Repeat heating at shorter intervals, fifteen to twenty seconds, stirring in
between, untilthe chocolate is completely melted and has a smooth consistency.
Method 2: Melting over the Stove- Heat a small pot with several centimetres (low level) of
water. Cover the top with a tightly fitting, heat-proof bowl. Make sure that the steam cannot
escape. Also, check to make sure the surface of the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the
bowl. Allow the chocolate to melt in the bowl, stirring occasionally, until it’s completely
melted. Remove from the heat and stir to make sure it’s a smooth consistency.
Here are ways in which one can temper chocolate:
The Seeding method:
ln this method, chocolate is melted, then more chocolate is chopped and added to “seed”
the melted chocolate. The stable crystals in the chopped chocolate encourage the
formation of stable beta crystals in the melted chocolate. Stirring is very important, to keep
the smallest beta crystals possible in suspension.
At that point, the chocolate must be cooled to 27″C while being stirred continuously. lf there
are any chunks in the bowl of chocolate, gently warm it to melt the remaining chunks. One
can do this over warm water, or even with a hair dryer. lf the chocolate is too warm, add
some more chunks, a few at a time, while stirring to cool to the correct working
After cooling, the chocolate is kept at its working temperature for dipping, pouring,
spreading, or piping.
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The Tabling method:
This is a quicker method of tempering and is used for relatively small amounts of chocolate.
To temper chocolate by tabling, melt the chocolate to 50″C for dark and 40″C for milk or
white to remove all existing cocoa butter crystals. Pour 112 to 213 of the melted chocolate
onto a clean and absolutely dry marble slab or parchment paper. lt’s then spread back and
forth with a metal spatula until it begins to thicken. As this happens, it begins to take on a
paste-like consistency and dull colour as the beta crystals begin to form. This mass is then
added back to the remaining melted chocolate to seed and cool it, stirring constantly. After
the chocolate is brought to temper, it’s maintained at working temperature of between 30′
YIIHNT nAI(trS PEOPLE I(EEP OlT COMI1TG BACI(
Studies have shown that every ten years or so, a typical adult eats their own body weight in
chocolate! With typical chocolate consumption ranging from about Skg a year in the United
States to 9.5 kg a year in Switzerland. Throughout our lives we learn that chocolate is
positive. Family, friends and the media make this clear. ln February, the month of cupid and
chocolate, we are given a clear message (especially women) that chocolate signifies love.
So, what exactly keeps people coming back for more? ls it the nutritional value, the taste or
simply the way it makes one feel?
Scientists have been trying to understand the chemistry of chocolate for years. Although
there are several hundred different chemicals in a typical slab, a handful of them seem to
be more important than others in making chocolate taste so good. Among the most
important are stimulants including theobromine, phenylethylamine, and caffeine (in very
small amounts). According to professor of psychology and neuroscience, Dr Amy Jo
Stavnezer, these stimulants are not the main reason people crave chocolate. Elegant
experiments in which the components of chocolate were separated out indicated that just
ingesting the chemicals in chocolate without the mouth-feel and taste does not decrease
craving. ln other words, the experience of eating chocolate has a lot more to do with why
people can’t get enough of it.
When you take chocolate out of its wrapper and put a bit in your mouth without biting, you
will notice that it rapidly melts on your tongue, leaving a lingering sensation of smoothness.
Special touch receptors on our tongues detect this textural change, which then stimulates
feelings of pleasure. When people eat chocolate a certain feel good neurotransmitter called
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