History of Chocolate
You can love something without knowing exactly what it is. This definitely applies to chocolate. Millions of people love chocolate, but only a few know where it comes from, how it is made or that it even has a history of its own. However a little knowledge can lead to even greater pleasure.
It is for that reason that we would like to show you a little about the wonderful world of chocolate. A little knowledge can only increase your satisfaction.
Enjoy your reading!
Aztecs Drinking Xocolat
When the Spanish came to Mexico in the 1500s, they found the Aztecs drinking xocolatl and brought the drink back to Europe. With the addition of sugar, cocoa as a drink became highly fashionable with European nobility. It was only in the 20th century that chocolate became available to all.
The Cocoa Tree
The cocoa tree or Theobroma cacao, likes high temperatures and high humidity. It is a long slim tree that can grow to 20 metres but on plantations, they are usually kept down to between 4 and 10 metres.
The seeds inside the cocoa pods have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavour. After fermentation, the beans are dried and roasted. Several more processes turn the bean into the two main components of quality chocolate, cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
In 1890 a Swiss gentleman, Rodolphe Lindt, developed a long grinding process known as conching. This releases acidity and bitterness, leaving just the true chocolate aromas and a smooth creamy product.
To produce chocolates with a shiny finish and a satisfying snap the chocolate is then ‘tempered’.
Filled chocolates are then prepared using traditional moulding and enrobing techniques.
Popular fillings include:
- Praline: Caramelised, finely ground hazelnuts, mixed with milk chocolate.
- Gianduja: Ultra finely ground hazelnuts, sugar and chocolate.
- Truffle: A mixture of chocolate, cocoa butter, sugar and cream powder.
- Fondant: Mixture of various sugars, water and confectioner’s glucose.
- Caramel: Caramelised sugar mixed with fresh cream and butter.
- Ganache: Mixture of chocolate and cream, usually with extra butter.
- Marzipan: Molten sugar mixed with finely ground almonds.