been called the food of the Gods. The craving for chocolate is physical, arising out of
the desire for its uniquely dark, slightly bitter, rich taste. But the craving is also
emotional for chocolate symbolizes, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality,
gratification and love.
chocolate may not actually be a true aphrodisiac it does contain theobromine, a mild
relative of caffeine and magnesium, a component found in some tranquilizers, so it has the
unique ability to simultaneously both pick you up and calm you down. In addition, it's
said eating chocolate releases a chemical in your body similar to that which is produced
when you're in love.
Despite the fact
we've been consuming chocolate in copious quantities since the nineteenth century
(although the Aztec emperor Montezuma was drinking it -- about 50 goblets a day --
centuries earlier) Americans don't win the prize for highest world wide chocolate
consumption. No that distinction goes to the Swiss whose per capita consumption is a
whopping 19 pounds a year. The Swiss are followed by the citizens of Norway, the United
Kingdom, Belgium/Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden
-- and then the U.S.A. where every man, woman and child is said to munch down 9 pounds a
Chocolate is the
most popular dessert flavoring around. But as you'll discover it's a long way from cocoa
bean to chocolate bar. Chocolate is made from beans that grow inside the pods of the cacao
trees, which flourish in hot, rainy climates within 20 degrees of the equator. Cocoa
beans, as they are known in the United States, don't develop their distinctive chocolate
color, flavor and aroma until they have been fermented, dried and carefully roasted to
precise temperatures. The roasted beans are then shelled and cracked into small pieces
called nibs. The nibs are then ground, producing a thick, semi-fluid mixture called
chocolate liquor, the primary ingredient in all forms of chocolate, except white
chocolate is so delicate to work with many cooks often find they have a problem melting it
properly. Keep in mind that chocolate naturally melts just below body temperature, so
applying direct heat, say atop a stove is apt to scotch it. Instead utilize a double
boiler and melt it slowly in a heatproof bowl or pot set above a pan of simmering water,
being careful both to stir frequently and make sure none of the water below or the
condensation from the steam created leaches into the chocolate. You can also use a
microwave oven to melt chocolate with good results, just be sure you stop it frequently to
stir it. Generally when the chocolate appears melted about two-thirds of the way through,
remove it from the microwave oven and continue to stir it until smooth. The residual heat
contained in the melted chocolate will work to help melt the rest.
The Difference in
Chocolate is pure
chocolate liquor, also known as bitter or baking chocolate. It's unadulterated chocolate:
ground roasted chocolate beans with no other added ingredients imparts a strong, deep
chocolate flavor in all the sweets you add it to. With the addition of sugar however it's
used as the base for American style layer cakes, brownies, frostings and cookies.
or Coating Chocolate is a term used
for cocoa butter rich chocolates of the highest quality. Popular brands of couverture used
by professional pastry chefs and often sold in gourmet and specialty food stores include:
Valrhona, Callabaut, Lindt, and Schraffen-Berger. These chocolates contain a high
percentage of chocolate liquor (sometimes more than 70 percent) as well as cocoa butter,
at least 32-39%, are very fluid when melted and have an excellent flavor. In fact,
chocolate of this quality is often compared to tasting fine wine because subtleties in
taste are often apparent, especially when you taste a variety of semisweet and bittersweet
couvertures with different percentages of sugar and chocolate liquor.
Chocolate is chocolate
liquor (or unsweetened chocolate) to which sugar, more cocoa butter, lecithin, and vanilla
has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate but the two are
interchangeable in baking. The best quality bittersweet and semisweet chocolate is
produced as couverture and many brands now print the percentage of chocolate liquor it
contains on the package. The rule is the higher the percentage of liquor the more
bittersweet the chocolate will be. Generally Europeans favor bittersweet chocolate and
Americans opt for semisweet chocolate which has more sugar than bittersweet chocolate.
Chocolate is not as
common today as it once was years ago. Developed by the American chocolate manufacturer,
Baker's Chocolate, it is called for in a few recipes and can be found in most
Chocolate isn't really
considered chocolate at all due to the absence of chocolate liquor. Quality white
chocolate however always contains cocoa butter. Be wary if you find white chocolate made
with vegetable shortening and/or labeled "confectioners' coating" which pales in
comparison -- taste wise -- to real white chocolate. And be especially careful when
melting white chocolate which is particularly fragile.
Powder, there are two
types of unsweetened baking cocoa available: natural cocoa (like the sort produced by
Hershey's and Nestle) and Dutch-process cocoa (such as the Hershey's European Style Cocoa
and the Droste brand). Both are made by pulverizing, partially defatted chocolate liquor
(unsweetened chocolate) removing nearly all their cocoa butter. Natural cocoa is light in
color and somewhat acidic with a strong chocolate flavor. In baking use natural cocoa in
recipes which call for baking soda (because it's an alkali). Combining the two creates a
leavening action that allows the batter to rise during baking. Dutch-process cocoa has
been processed with alkali to neutralize it's natural acidity so it's darker often with a
reddish cast. Dutch cocoa is slightly milder in taste and deeper in color than natural
cocoa. Use Dutch cocoa in recipes that call for baking powder as it's leavener. I also
prefer to use Dutch process in recipes like truffles and tiramisu where the taste of the
unsweetened cocoa powder plays an important role.
Chocolate Time Line
1824: John Cadbury, an English Quaker, begins roasting and grinding
chocolate beans to sell in his tea and coffee shop. In 1842 Cadbury's Chocolate Company in
England creates the first chocolate bar.
1875: A Swiss
chocolate maker, Daniel Peter, mixes Henri Nestle's con- densed milk with chocolate and
the two men found a company to manufacture the first milk chocolate.
Hershey adds a line of chocolate to his caramel manufacturing business. Soon he invents
the Hershey Bar by experimenting with milk chocolate. Hershey's Cocoa appears next.
Hershfield invents the Tootsie Roll, named after his daughter.
are first mentioned in print, listed for sale in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogue.
About 1900: A
machine called the enrober is invented to replace the task of hand-dipping chocolate.
Mars invents the Snickers Bar.
introduces semisweet chocolate morsels.
1940: The Mars
company invents M&M's for soldiers going to World War II.