WIIAT IS CHOCOLATEPIt 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 ischocolate?To best answer this question we should start at the very beginning. Etymologists trace theorigin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drinkbrewed from cacao beans. Many historians have estimated that chocolate has been aroundfor about 2000 years, but recent research suggests that it may be even older.
ln Novemberof 2AA7 , anthropologists from the University of Pennsylvania announced the discovery ofcacao 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 fermentedinto an alcoholic beverage of the time. Chocolate was introduced to the Western world as afashionable drink believed to have nutritious and medicinal properties.
All of that changedwhen, in 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate by removingabout half the naturalfat (cacao butter) from chocolate liquor, pulverizing what remainedand treating the mixture with alkaline salts to cut the bitter taste. His product became knownas “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 1847discovered that he could make a mouldable chocolate paste by adding melted €€o butterback into Dutch cocoa.The cocoa “beans” that form the basis of chocolate are actually seeds from the fruit of theTheobroma cacao, a tropical tree whose name means “food of the Gods” in Greek. Thistree grows primarily in tropical areas near the Equator. The seeds grow inside a pod-likefruit and are covered with a juicy white pulp. Cacao seeds are harvested by hand becausemachines could injure the trees. Workers remove the pods, which are orange in colourwhen they are ripe, and open them with a machete.
The seeds are placed in largeformation trays that are stacked and covered in banana leaves, where they are left for twoto seven days. Fermentation produces the flavour and aroma of chocolate. This alsodestroys the seed’s embryo, preventing unwanted germination, and causes the white pulpto fall away from the seeds. Workers dry the beans by placing them on sunny platformsand turning them several times a day. The beans are then shipped to factories all over theworld, 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 andremoves hulls. The remaining part of the bean is called the nib.
The nibs are ground downunder a series of rollers. This process results in a thick paste called chocolate liquor. On itsown, the chocolate liquor is dry and gritty.
lt can be combined with other ingredients likesugar, vanilla and lecithin to make it more palatable, and kneaded for days to improve thetexture. At this stage, the type of chocolate being produced is determined.Page 1 of 10TYPES OT’CHOCOLATE:The main types of chocolate include unsweetened, bittersweet, semisweet, dark, milk, andwhite 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 aminimum of 10% chocolate liquor, though higher quality milk chocolates often contain asmuch as 30-40% cocoa. The rest is comprised of sugar and sometimes vanilla oremulsifiers. Milk chocolate is softer in texture and melts more easily than darker chocolatesbecause of the added dairy, and it’s generally sweeter and less bitter.Dark chocolate: Contains chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, lecithin, sugar and vanilla. lt isoften differentiated into two categories: bittersweet and semisweet.
A chocolate that is atIeast 35% chocolate liquor may be called either semisweet or bittersweet. While sometimessemisweet chocolate has more added sugar than bittersweet, there isn’t a technicaldifference. Very dark chocolate can be as high as 80Yo, but that much cacao mass canmake the chocolate very bitter and brittle, which many find unpleasant to eat. Some darkchocolate is very fruity while others are mellow and smooth, but this is more a function ofthe sourcing and processing of the beans than the percentage.
White chocolate: This is technically not one of the types of chocolate because it does notcontain any chocolate liquor. lt’s effectively pure cocoa butter and sugar. Often there’sadded vanilla. lt must contain at least 2Ao/o cocaa butter and 14o/o milk. This makes it verysweet 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 cocoasolids and cocoa butter without any added sugar. lt’s really bitter and not good for eating onits own. lt’s used almost exclusively in cooking and baking, particularly in cases where arecipe uses a lot of sugar and doesn’t benefit from the extra sugar of sweetened chocolate.
Page 2 of 10IS DARI( CHOCOLIITD IIEITLTIIIER TIIIiT MILI(CIIOCOLATEPEating a little bit of chocolate could boost your brain health, lower your cholesterol, reduceyour diabetes risk, and fight inflammation throughout your body. The antioxidant-packedsweet may also improve the elasticity of your skin, leaving you looking younger. The thingis, not all chocolates are created equal.
To get the health benefits chocolate provides, youreally have to know which chocolate bar offers the most amount of nutrients and the leastamount of fat and sugar.Although milk chocolate may taste great, it’s not nearly as good for you as dark chocolateis. This is because milk chocolate contains less of the original cocoa bean than darkchocolate does. Although milk chocolate does contain cocoa solids, it’s often diluted withthe addition of milk solids, sugar, and cream. Since milk chocolate does contain somecocoa solids though, it is not completely void of all nutrition; however, the nutritional qualityis minimal in comparison with dark chocolate, which typically has more of the original cocoapresent. This is impoftant because the more cocoa that is present, the higher the nutritionalquality. Cocoa, which is used to make both milk and dark chocolate, contains flavonoidswhich act as antioxidants in the body. The higher the concentration of cocoa in thechocolate, the higher the number of flavonoids present in the chocolate.
Dark chocolatecontains two to three times more beneficialflavonoids than milk chocolate. Flavonoids mayhelp to lower blood pressure, decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lower blood clotrisk, 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 containsmore monounsaturated fatty acids, fewer carbs, half the amount of sugar, four times theamount of fibre, more than four times the amount of iron, three times the amount ofmagnesium, twice the potassium, less cholesterol and a lot more theobromine than milkchocolate.
At the end of the day, chocolate should be consumed in moderation. Dark chocolatevarieties that contain at least 65% cacao would be most beneficial to one’s health.Page 3 of 10ADYANTAGE S AND DI SADVANTAGES OT’CHOCOLATE:Chocolate is good for many reasons. Besides the previously mentioned benefits, it tastesamazing and can be applied to many different flavours to also add many unique andtasteful combinations. lt is easily available, comes in different varieties, is reasonablypriced, and widely used. On the negative side, chocolate can be high in sugar, fat and lowin nutrients.
Here is a closer look at the advantages and disadvantages of chocolate:ADVANTAGES:r lt lowers cholesterol.o Flavonoids in dark chocolate may keep your blood vessels flexible and free of plaquer 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.DISADVANTAGES: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 riskof heart disease.
r Chocolate is one of the most popular sources of caffeine, which can create a milddependence.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 byoverconsumption.
Page 4 of 10HOW SHOI}LD ONE MEI,T CHOCOLATDPChocolate can be melted in a variety of ways. No matter how one chooses to do it, it’simportant to never let a drop of water touch the chocolate. Water can cause the chocolateto seize and creates rigid lumps. The only solution to this is to add a lot more liquid until thechocolate is saturated and becomes a syrup. Seized chocolate can’t be tempered or usedas pure chocolate. Most people prefer to temper chocolate as opposed to simply melting itbecause the chocolate will harden with a glossy, crisp finish.
I will discuss both simplemethods 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 thechocolate into chunks and shards with a serrated knife, Doing this will make it easier tomelt.Method 1: Microwave- Place the chocolate in a wide, shallow bowl and put it in themicrowave. Heat it on medium high for about one minute to start with. Remove from themicrowave and stir. Repeat heating at shorter intervals, fifteen to twenty seconds, stirring inbetween, 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) ofwater.
Cover the top with a tightly fitting, heat-proof bowl. Make sure that the steam cannotescape. Also, check to make sure the surface of the water doesn’t touch the bottom of thebowl. Allow the chocolate to melt in the bowl, stirring occasionally, until it’s completelymelted. 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 theformation of stable beta crystals in the melted chocolate. Stirring is very important, to keepthe smallest beta crystals possible in suspension.
At that point, the chocolate must be cooled to 27″C while being stirred continuously. lf thereare any chunks in the bowl of chocolate, gently warm it to melt the remaining chunks. Onecan do this over warm water, or even with a hair dryer.
lf the chocolate is too warm, addsome more chunks, a few at a time, while stirring to cool to the correct workingtemperature.After cooling, the chocolate is kept at its working temperature for dipping, pouring,spreading, or piping.Page 5 of 10The 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 orwhite to remove all existing cocoa butter crystals. Pour 112 to 213 of the melted chocolateonto a clean and absolutely dry marble slab or parchment paper. lt’s then spread back andforth with a metal spatula until it begins to thicken. As this happens, it begins to take on apaste-like consistency and dull colour as the beta crystals begin to form. This mass is thenadded back to the remaining melted chocolate to seed and cool it, stirring constantly. Afterthe chocolate is brought to temper, it’s maintained at working temperature of between 30’to 32’C.YIIHNT nAI(trS PEOPLE I(EEP OlT COMI1TG BACI(r’OBIIOREPStudies have shown that every ten years or so, a typical adult eats their own body weight inchocolate! With typical chocolate consumption ranging from about Skg a year in the UnitedStates to 9.
5 kg a year in Switzerland. Throughout our lives we learn that chocolate ispositive. Family, friends and the media make this clear.
ln February, the month of cupid andchocolate, 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 orsimply the way it makes one feel?Scientists have been trying to understand the chemistry of chocolate for years. Althoughthere are several hundred different chemicals in a typical slab, a handful of them seem tobe more important than others in making chocolate taste so good. Among the mostimportant are stimulants including theobromine, phenylethylamine, and caffeine (in verysmall amounts). According to professor of psychology and neuroscience, Dr Amy JoStavnezer, these stimulants are not the main reason people crave chocolate. Elegantexperiments in which the components of chocolate were separated out indicated that justingesting the chemicals in chocolate without the mouth-feel and taste does not decreasecraving.
ln other words, the experience of eating chocolate has a lot more to do with whypeople can’t get enough of it.When you take chocolate out of its wrapper and put a bit in your mouth without biting, youwill 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 stimulatesfeelings of pleasure. When people eat chocolate a certain feel good neurotransmitter calleddopamineisreIeasedinparticularregionsofthebrain.Page 5 of 10