Chocolate – From bean to bar.

There is nothing better than a friend unless it is a friend with chocolate.” – Charles Dickens

Love chocolate

Everyone does. Well everyone except me and a few other people on planet earth. According to worldwide statistics around one billion people are probably eating chocolate today. Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, consumed 50 goblets of chocolate every day. I stand pale in comparison to his consumption. I am that oddball that isn’t the least bit excited about chocolate. 

One of the rare occasions, when I am truly interested in eating it, is when my husband comes home with a tiny box of chocolates called Royce from Japan. These champagne-filled liqueur bites of delight are something I pout over in case someone has eaten my share. And guess what I hate champagne! So let me just say these are exceptional. Packed in a special freezer bag they have to be eaten within a day or two. Though honestly, it doesn’t last that long in this home especially with everyone being so worried about that expiry date;). They melt in your mouth, as all good quality chocolates should, and are oh so delicious. It has even converted an unenthusiastic chocolate consumer like me. Well, partially.

From bean to bar.

Chocolate or actually, cocoa originates from the Americas and tends to grow 20-30 degrees north or south of the equator around the world. This is the reason why some of the best chocolate comes from places like the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Ecuador, and Venezuela. 

The cocoa pod grows on a fruit tree called the Theobroma cocoa tree. Within this baseball like pod lie the beans that are removed when the pod matures. These beans go into wooden boxes and are allowed to ferment for approximately four to five days or longer depending on the temperature. This is because the beans have a very intense, bitter taste, they must be fermented to develop flavor. After this, they are left to fully dry in the sun. These are then loaded in sacks and shipped off to countries where they are treated. 

Chocolatiers then roast these beans at low temperatures for long periods to help extract the best flavour possible. The beans are then put in a machine called a Winnower that cracks them separating the outer shell from the inner nibs. The cacao nibs are then ground into cocoa mass, which is pure chocolate in a rough state. The cocoa mass is liquefied. This is called chocolate liquor and it gets processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Cocoa solids are then molded with or without other ingredients.

Now every time you do pop some chocolate into your mouth just remember how long it takes to make it and that it takes about 400 beans to make a single pound of chocolate.

Food of the Gods.

Chocolate is very popular and much loved. So popular that it is celebrated on two days in the year. July 7th is World Chocolate Day and October 28th is National Chocolate Day. 

So here’s the good news about chocolate. Rich in nutrients and high in antioxidants, dark chocolate is the winner here. Made up of 70 percent cocoa or more it is good for your mind and body. It is said to relieve stress, improve memory and blood flow, lower blood pressure, boost energy, a natural antidepressant, and helps you focus longer. It releases a pleasure hormone in your brain similar to that same fuzzy feeling you feel when you are in love. It helps reduce the build-up of plaque and prevents tooth decay. Chocolate contains over 600 flavor compounds, which give off its distinct aroma. It is no wonder we humans find it irresistible.

It has been loved for over 2,500 years. The Aztecs loved it so much that they believed their god of wisdom, bestowed it upon them. They even used it as currency. 

The chocolate mix.

Here is a breakdown of what ingredients go into making various types of chocolate.

Dark chocolate 

chocolate liquor 35%-80% ( cocoa butter and solids)+vanilla +lecithin*+ sugar.

Milk chocolate

10-40% Chocolate liquor+12% milk/ milk powder+ sugar +vanilla or emulsifiers.

White chocolate (no cocoa solids).

20% Cocoa butter +14% milk cream or milk solids + sugar+ vanilla +lecithin.

Not chocolate, chocolate .

What do I mean? These contain loads of sugar, in some cases cocoa powder or food coloring, additives, and milk powder with no cocoa butter.

Cocoa butter is sadly replaced by a stable fat. Why? Cocoa butter is an unstable fat. This is why chocolate is tempered. It is the very thing that makes chocolate delicious, melt in the mouth, and smooth on your tongue. 

When purchasing chocolate  always reach out for quality product. Flip that chocolate bar or pack. Make it a habit to look at the ingredients list. If it mentions words like additives, tastes like, food colour, etc, please do not pick it up. Besides feeding your family something that is not of the optimum quality you are supporting people that bring lower-end food products into the market just for profit and zero nutritional value. In turn, you affect not only your health but also the environment while putting your local chocolatier out of business. 

Chocolate mousse.

3 eggs

1/2 cup full fat cream

40 g caster sugar

125 g dark chocolate 

10 g unsalted butter

-Separate the eggs from the yolks and allow it to come to room temperature.

-Whisk the yolks. 

-Melt the chocolate in a microwave  in short 30 second bursts or optionally use the Bain Marie method and let it cool. Make sure you stir it in between with a spatula if using the microwave.

-Beat the cream to a stiff peak.

-Add sugar to the whites and beat until you have firm peaks.

– Gently fold the yolks into the cream until just mixed.

– Add the warm(not hot) chocolate to the cream and yolks until just mixed.

– Add a quarter of your beaten whites into the chocolate mix. Fold again till just mixed.

– Now add the remaining chocolate mix into the white mix ( yes there’s a lot of mixing going on here;) using the same gentle folding technique with the spatula.

– Divide this into 4 serving bowls ,cups or glasses of your choice. 

– Place them in the fridge to set overnight.

-Garnish with a thin layer or dollop of whipped cream and some grated, shaved or dusted Chocolate. 

*Chocolate is the only edible substance to melt around 93° F, just below the human body temperature. That’s why chocolate melts so easily on your tongue.

*Lecithin is a bonding and liquifying agent

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