- Food and Cooking
History of Chocolates
Cocoa and chocolate are both derived from the cocoa bean which grows in pods on the cocoa tree.
The cocoa tree originated in the Amazon forests but now grows as far apart as West Africa and Malaya.
When the cocoa pods are harvested, the pulp and cocoa beans are scooped out and allowed to ferment. Fermentation is a vital stage in the cocoa and chocolate making process. It develops the chocolate flavor as we know it by removing the astringency of the UN-fermented bean. After this process, the wet mass of beans is dried, usually by being spread out in the sun.
1. The dried cocoa beans are then sorted and cleaned. The beans are then roasted in revolving drums. It is through this roasting that the bean takes on its characteristics flavor and aroma and the shell becomes brittle.
2. These roasted beans are then broken down into small fragrant beans are called “nibs”.
3. The nibs are then ground between steel rollers until the friction and heat of milling gradually reduces it to a thick, dark brown colored liquid called “Chocolate Liquor”. This contains 55% cocoa butter. The mixture is also called “mass” and solidifies on cooling.
This “mass” is the basis of all chocolate and cocoa products. Cocoa is made by extracting some of the cocoa butter from the cocoa mass. Chocolate is made by adding extra cocoa butter and sugar to the ground nibs. In the manufacture of milk chocolate, milk is also added.
Chocolate is high calorie food product and its quality depends on the quality of raw materials used and the care taken during its stages of manufacture. A good chocolate is shiny brown, breaks cleanly and is free of lumps, tiny burst bubbles and white specks. It melts on the tongue and is neither greasy nor sticky.
Chocolate is extensively used in confectionery for numerous cakes, desserts, frosting, sauces etc. It is also used for some lesser known savouries, e.g. the unsweetened variety is used in Mexican cooking.