About Chocolate and Chocolates
This Lens is All About Chocolate and Chocolates
What could be sweeter than chocolate? Don't we all, (or almost all), love chocolate and chocolates? It's our lust for chocolates that makes them such popular gifts, but did you ever stop to ask yourself, "What is chocolate?", or "Where does chocolate come from?", or "How is chocolate made?", or "Who makes chocolate?," or "What is the history of chocolate?".
I don't expect that you've spent a great deal of time thinking about the theory of this subject, but I've taken a little time out to gather together a few chocolatey thoughts and ideas so that I can fudge together one huge article all about chocolate and chocolates.
Come to our Bed and Breakfast,Les Trois Chenes, in France to taste our heavenly, gooey, French chocolate cake. (Recipe below)
What is Chocolate?
Lets start with the basics!
What is chocolate exactly? It's made from the seeds of the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, which means, 'food of the Gods,' and I think those of us who love chocolate can quite see the connection. After that the process of making chocolate is a long and complex one.
Chocolate is made by fermenting cocoa beans to remove any bitterness and then drying and roasting them to expose what is called 'the nib'. Bean nibs are blended to obtain particular flavors and then they are ground up to form a paste. Other ingredients are then added to the paste, or cocoa mass such as sugar, butter and various flavorings which are blended together to make what we now think of as chocolate.
Painting Mat, coffee, cocoa, and tea plant 1902 by Dodd, Mead and Company, public domain image courtesy of Creative Commons
This work by Barbara Walton is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported LicensePlease not that all images, unless otherwise attributed, are the property of Barbara Walton
Where Does Chocolate Come From?
Everything you need to know geographically speaking
Chocolate comes from the wild cocoa trees of the tropical rainforests of Central and South America and was much prized by the Mayan and Aztec people both as a bitter drink and as currency. It was taken from America and back to Europe, along with gold, by the Spanish.
Chocolate Was Discovered in Central America
A History of Chocolate
Did they ever teach you this in school?
How Chocolate Came to Europe
It is thought that it was Christopher Columbus who first brought cocoa beans to Europe between 1502 and 1504 but it was Don Hernn Corts, a Spanish Conquistador, who realised their value when he brought cocoa beans back to Spain in 1528. Slowly but surely the love of chocolate spread across Europe, reaching England in the 1650s.
How the Making of Chocolate Evolved
Chocolate began life as a drink which was made by boiling the pulp from cacao beans so reducing the amount of cocoa butter. Chocolate as a drink became accessible to all when in 1828 Conrad Johannes Van Houten, a Dutchman, devised a dry-press extraction method that enabled him to make chocolate powder that could be dissolved in water.
Solid chocolate as we know and love it now came about in the 19th century.
Go to the York (UK) city of chocolate, and you'll have a few opportunities to see chocolate and fudge being made. This picture was taken at Hotel Chocolate in the centre of York.
The History of Chocolate Links - Find out more about this luscious treat
This sweet history is a treat in itself. Forget school and find out how the bean was discovered, how it was first used, how it was brought to Europe and disseminated across the world. Read about the companies that developed to commercialise the stuff and about what it means to us today.
- Who Invented Chocolate? The Sweet History of Chocolate
A short history of chocolate and so much more
- Discovering Chocolate
Read about Chocolate in America and it's Introduction to Europe
Your Choc Homework - Factual books for adults
The story this confectionery is a fascinating one, touching on exploration, finance, commerce, industrialization and greed of many sorts. Read about the rich history and politics of this most desired food.
The Chocolate Soldier
A great story and a great opera
This is an operetta composed in 1908 by Oscar Straus based on George Bernard Shaw's 1894 play, Arms and the Man. The libretto, in German, was by and Leopold Jacobson and Rudolf Bernauer.
Bernard Shaw was quite a character and when his permission was sought for the opera, he stipulated three things: firstly that Jacobson must not use any of the original dialogue, secondly he could not use and of the character's names and finally he said that the libretto had to be advertised as a parody. Quirkiest of all, Shaw refused payment.
My Choc Recipes - There's only one at the moment but it's a cracker!
I love this recipe. A friend gave it to me and a French woman gave it to her. Now, I run a B&B but I'm an artist and I'm the first to say I'm not a great cook - although I would dearly love to be - so I'm always on the lookout for foolproof recipes that everyone loves. This is one of these.
Quick to mix, economical on the washing up, gooeyly gorgeous and freezes perfectly. What more could you want?
- Moist French Chocolate Cake
Gooey, easy, no fuss and works every time!
The French Have A Sweet Tooth
Every small town in France will have a plethora of confectionery shops. The French love it, and what could be more romantic than chocolates from France?
This photograph was taken in Saint Junien, the second main town in Limousin after Limoges. Although it's quite small it has quite a few shops confectionery shops like this - one day I'll do a hunt and count them.
Take a quick look at the picture below - the Delice. The bread lady in her van comes around to our village regularly and this is one of the cakes that she always has. It's one of our favourites. I buy one occasionally and share it with my son - half is quite enough - it's just so rich that more than half would be greedy.
The French have a sweet tooth and, of course they love food and cooking so France is definitely the place to come for a chocoholic.
Image: Cyrano Chocolate Shop, Saint Junien, Limousin France
My Favourite French Cake 'Chocolat Delice'
Take a Tasty Shopping Break in France
What could be a more romantic gift?
Why not come and sample French chocolat yourelf, have a wonderful trip and let us do all the work? Stay in our guest house or self-catering vacation cottage. We are about fifty minutes from Limoges and Angouleme - a bit further from Perigeuex so you would have three cities to comb for guilty pleasures.
Contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
St Valentine's Day
Sweet love and romance
Well, chocolate was expensive, delectable, said to be an aphrodisiac and rather indulgent - what better combination of factors for the perfect Valentine's Day gift? It was Cadbury who first put the new chocolate candy into a heart-shaped box for Valentine's Day and perhaps it was this that set the scene.
We all know that women love chocolate, or most of us anyway, and it is an interesting fact that seventy five percent of it is bought by women annually but just before Valentine's Day the same percentage is bought by men.
Easter, Easter Eggs and Chocolate Eggs
A little about eggs and Easter
As children we loved to receive Easter eggs but chocolate eggs are a recent invention.
Originally Easter is linked with eggs because of the season, and also because of the imagery: eggs stand for new life and rebirth. Hens eggs used to be decorated or stained, rolled and eaten at Easter.
Easter eggs of the sweet variety first appeared in Europe in the early 19th century being manufactured in France and Germany. At first the eggs were often solid, and the production of the hollow choc eggs were made by hand where molds were lined individually with paste.
Every year at Les Trois Chenes we have an Easter egg hunt, and these eggs we hid in the garden amongst the violets in a real bird's nest. I thought it made a charming picture.
Chocolate And Easter Links
Learn more about the story of Easter, the religious meanings and the place of eggs in the celebration. See how the role of eggs has changed over the years. The story of Easter is fascinating.
- The Story of Easter and Easter Eggs
Find out about Cadbury's Easter Eggs
Is Chocolate Good For You?
A little of what you fancy does you good!
Cacao is a vegetable. Funny, I never think of that! At the moment good, dark chocolate is said to be good for us and these are some of the health benefits cited:
- It is an antioxidant which protects the body from aging. (I like this one!)
- It helps to lower blood pressure
- It is thought to balance some hormones
- It keeps the heart running smoothly
-It reduces the bad cholesterol
- It contains serotonin which acts as an anti-depressant
- It 's a stimulant
- It's said to be an aphrodisiac (see below)
- And finally, we love it and a little of what you fancy does you good!
Chocolate Makes You Fat
True or false?
Does it make you fat? Current thought seems to go along with the theory that two thirds of the fat in chocolate is not harmful, so 'only' about one third of fat in dark chocolate is bad for you. Having said that, it is high in calories and still high in fat so little and not so often is the rule, and be sure that you eat good quality dark choc only.
Sorry about that!
Chocolate and Health - Medical Facts and Fiction
Well, one minute it makes us fat, gives us high cholesterol, makes children hyper-active and gives teenagers spots. The next thing we hear is that it is good for you. What are we to believe? (What we want to of course!) Read more here :
- Nutrition and Chocolate
What are the benefits of eating chocolate?
Is Chocolate an Aphrodisiac?
And what is an aphrodisiac anyway?
An aphrodisiac is something that is supposed to increase libido, desire or performance. The word comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Chocolate is often given as a gift from one sweetheart to another, usually from man to woman, so obviously there is some hope that it will work its charms, but is there any proof that chocolate affects the body chemically to increase libido?
The finger has been pointed at a chemical called phenylethylamine which has been found in chocolate is said to be an aphrodisiac and there is some evidence that when it is released in the brain it might influence sexual attraction and arousal. This compound is, however, quickly degraded by the enzyme MAO and so it is not thought that it can actually have much influence. Sigh! (See Wikipedia for more information)
However, the powers of the mind are supreme, and anyone who waves a gorgeous box of chocs under my nose has passed test No. 1. "If chocolate be the food of love, eat on ....3
Image: Aphrodite by soham_pablo Courtesy of Flickr
How To Make a Chocolate Love Potion
It really works!
This is a love potion made the special ingredient, Chambord, a black raspberry liqueur. Chambord began life in the the Chateau de Chambord, situated in the Loire Valley of France during the late 17th century. Supposedly introduced to Louis XIV during one of his visits.
It's made from natural ingredients: cognac, red and black raspberries, vanilla, citrus peel and honey - pop it in an exquisite little bottle straight out of a potions lesson from Harry Potter and 'Bob's Your Uncle'.
This Faberge Bottle is Perfect For Your Love Potion - Your love will fall in love with you
Yes, I'm sure that love potions really work! Well they're fun anyway and why not mix up a potion and then give it a try. I would administer a little of this love potion, but then I might back it up by wrapping up this lovely little bottle, perhaps team it up with a big box of chocs and tying the whole thing up with a big red ribbon.
If that doesn't work try a few bunches of roses.
Cosmetics and Beauty Products With a Hint of ....
Pamper your body
And the beauty of this is that there is not a calorie in sight! So long as you don't eat it of course. One of my favourite shops for the most gorgeously decadent 'edible' cosmetics is Lush and there you'll find an erotic pandora's box of luxury that will make you feel that you're good enough to eat.
Nourish Your Face and Body - And they say that beauty is just skin deep!
Of course it isn't. You are sweet inside but wouldn't it be nice to be just as tasty from the outside? One way to look great is to smile and I think that these cocoa cosmetics would put a smile onto anyone's face! What a lovely, funny gift to receive. Bath jello soap, fizzy mint cupcakes for the bath, lickable lipgloss - all cocoa-flavoured and totally delectable.
Fizzy, minty and fun in the bath. I'd love a cupcake bath bomb!
This will have you licking your gorgeous, tasty, glossy lips with delight.
Chocolate Stories for Children
Children will love these gooey tales
Children love chocolate but they definitely can have too much of a good thing. Too much sugar can make children hyper-active, (now disputed), and lead to diabetes, not to mention weight gain and bad teeth, so why not give them books about chocolate?
These gorgeous, gooey stories that will entrance them and delight them giving them a love of reading that will last them all their lives. Chocolate Childrens Books for Easter
And Sweet Calorie-Free Stories for Adults
You'll just lap them up
Gorge yourself on these tasty books and indulge in a pleasure that won't make you fat.
Chocolate by Joanna Harris - A book about France, the Church, sensuality and magic
You'll be delighted and entranced by this wonderful, magical book about a woman and her daughter who set up a chocolate shop in a small French town and fight the church, and win the hearts of the local people. Full of warmth, humor and romance, no wonder it was snapped up by the film-makers!
In the film the hero was Johnny Depp and I love to think of him as I read the book. It is a great read, full of symbolism, very French and rich in content. Not hard, it's also a great page-turner.
Chocolate, Sin and the Catholic Church
The sinfulness of the pleasuress of the flesh
After people had discovered chocolate it was no wonder that they developed a taste for it, but, in the 16th and 17th centuries it was so popular that it scrutinised by the church and by 1660 chocolate had, along with wine, been classified as a drink. The Catholic Church then declared that it was therefore a sin to consumed chocolate during lent.
Of course, the sinfulness of chocolate in the eyes of the church and the pleasure that people derived from it was what Joanna Harris' book, 'Chocolat', was all about.
AChocolate Film for Adults
What are chocolate diamonds? - A girl's best friend!
We all know that diamonds are a girl's best friend and girls love chocolate, but what exactly are chocolate diamonds? The simple answer is that chocolate diamonds are just one of the many colours of diamonds other than the previously most prized white. Coloured diamonds are now becoming more popular and the brown diamonds are called - chocolate!
Fun Choc Facts
- Over $1billion of chocolate is purchased for Valentine's Day
- The pods of the tree are about the size of a football
- The first chocolate bars were marketed about 1850 by an Englishman, Joseph Fry
- Manufacturing of chocolate in the USA started in 1765 by John Hannon, an Irishman
- John Cadbury made the first Cadbury Easter Eggs in 1875
-In Japan it's the women who give the chocolate to men on Valentine's Day
York is the 'City of Chocolate'
What is the link between cacao and the city of York?
Rowntrees and Terry's both made chocolate in York where I was brought up in with the sickly sweet smell of the the stuff and the smell from the sugar beet factories when the wind blew in a certain direction.
Terry's, famed for its chocolate oranges amongst other iconic products, is now closed and awaiting conversion into flats (I think). Rowntrees has suffered take-overs and has a rocky history but the factory, at least, is still there.
Today York is still a city of confectionery. You'll find Hotel Chocolate, Lush, Thornton's and Kitchen Fudge Shop amongst many others, selling chocolate products today. Take the 'Chocolate and Sweety' walk, as I did, and discover this sweet history in York.
Image: Terry's Factory York
Learn More About The British Confectionery Story - And the City of York and its Sweet History in books from Amazon
Delightfully illustrated and clearly written this is a delight to read.
Having been brought up in York, it's fascinating to read about the development of the Chocolate industry in this historic city.
Chocolate, trials and newspapers!Read about how Cadbury sued the London Standard, when accusated of using slave-grown cocoa.
The City of York and Confectionery Links
- York, City of Chocolate - the Story of Cravens, Rowntrees and Terrys in the Chocolate Industry UK
The City of York, England, has a long, rich relationship with chocolate.
- York Chocolate Festival
29 March - 1 April 2013 The York Chocolate Festival programme includes chocolate dinners, workshops, tastings, lectures, Easter Egg hunts and demonstrations from the region's premier chocolatiers.
- Yorks Chocolate Story
Explore the rich story of chocolate and confectionery in the City of York. Here chocolate come to life and you can hear generations of chocolate secrets, explore how chocolate is made from. 8 for adults though - bit pricy? (And that is the book-ahead
Cadbury and Chocolate
We join them both as they travel from their homes to the Bournville club to meet and compare their memories of the place, the people and a working life long gone.
- Swimming Through Chocolate BBC RAdio 4
This is the story of two Cadbury workers, Gladys Jones and Sir Adrian Cadbury. Of course when I say workers, these two people had very different roles to play in the great, chocolate giant, Cadbury. In this radio programme, they are brought together
The French Have a Choc Log at Christmas - In French it's La Bche de Nol
The French Bche de Nol is basically a swiss roll with a chocolate-flavoured buttercream topping, (not one of my French favourites I'm afraid. I'll try to remember to photograph a chocolat delice, which is one of my favourites). this is a very simple log, but they are often wonderfully decorated with meringue mushrooms, berries, icing sugar for snow. Notice the little axe on this cake.
The Christmas log seems to have it's origins in pre-Christian northern Europe, when hard logs or even whole trees were brought into the home, the large end put into the fire. A symbol of warmth and well-being.
There are several flowers that I've come across that either smell of chocolate, are chocolate coloured or have some other chocolate connection. I'm going to collect a few links together here. In the meantime here is a list of:
Chocolate scented flowers: Carolina Allspice (Family Calycanthaceae, Genus Calycanthus floridus); Chocolate Vine (Akebia Quinata) - chocolate coloured and scented; Oncidium Orchid 'Sharry Baby'
Chocolate coloured flowers: Columbine 'Chocolate Soldier' (Aquilegia); Rudbeckia 'Chocolate Orange'; Cosmos bipinnatus 'Chocolate' - also chocolate scented; Alcea rosea Nigra (Hollyhock); Sunflower 'Moulin Rouge' (Helianthus); Foxglove 'Milk Chocolate' (Digitalis parviflora); Sweet William 'Sooty' (Dianthus barbatus); Berlandiera lyrata (Chocolate Flower) and Penstemon whippleanus 'Chocolate Drop'; Viola 'Velour Frosted Chocolate; Scabiosa 'Ace of Spades ; Nasturtium 'Black Velvet'; Snap Dragon 'Black Prince';
Chocolate coloured vegetables These are chocolate coloured, but, sadly perhaps, not chocolate flavoured. Chocolate Sweet Corn; Chocolate Cherry Tomatoes; Chocolate Peppers
Image: Berlandiera Lyrata from an article The Chocolate Flower - Information and Photos by Oceansnsunsets
Heston Blumenthal Cooks Choc. - You've never seen anything like it!
18th January 2012 Channel 4 Heston Blumenthal tackles chocolate in How to Cook Like Heston. Find cookbooks by Heston and other celebrity chefs in 101 Cookbooks by UK Celebrity Chefs
- How to Cook Like Heston On Channel 4 TV
Truffles, hot chocolate with a twist, exploding chocolate cake and super-freeze chocolate decoration sculpture!
Is Cacao Production Facing a Crisis? - Sheila Dillon explores 'the trouble with chocolate'
This programme explores the production, the supply chains, the manufacture and the retailing of chocolate. The world of cacao is changing. Child labour is being reduced and so are the sizes of our bars. Find out how, and why.
- The Trouble With Chocolate
BBC Radio 4 explores why chocolate is in trouble.
Luscious Cacao Links
Where in the World Am I? - And what do I do
Apart from writing for Squidoo, I run a B&B, painting holidays and a holiday cottage in Limousin, a hidden part of South West France. Why not discover this well-kept French secret? Limousin is lovely, quiet, rural and undiscovered.
Have a look at my website for more details: www.lestroischenes.com or email me at email@example.com