Chocolate has been used throughout its 250 year history mostly as a beverage. During the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and up to the nineteenth century, various other uses of chocolate came into play. Chocolate started to be used in dessert and cake products and even chocolate treats as we primarily know today, such as candy bars and whole chocolate bars.
Cocoa beans were first discovered by an ancient Mexican civilization know as the Olmec. The cocoa beans were passed on through many ancient Mexican civilizations, finally being used by the Aztecs. It was the Aztec civilization that incorporated the use of the Metatea, a grinding stone base with a hammer-like grinder used to grind the roasted cocoa beans into cocoa liquid paste. Cocoa bean was a popular trade. They even used cocoa beans as currency, religious rituals and gifts.
During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, the use of chocolate had spread throughout most of the European countries, such as France, Italy and Spain, mostly by traders and missionaries.
In the nineteenth century, we saw the development of chocolate as we well know today. Cocoa powered was mixed with alkali which gave cocoa a stronger color and a smoother flavor, which that same process is still used today.
Candy bars, as we know today, first appeared in Great Britain in early to mid nineteenth century. Swiss chocolatier Rudolph Lint invented the process of conching, which gives the chocolate a creamier taste and texture. Other chocolatiers and technicians discovered use of milk base products and powder to mix into the chocolate base.
Today chocolate desserts, cakes, chocolate covered strawberries and candies are by far a crucial part of everyday lifestyles. From the cocoa pounded on a slab stone block to the big enormous factories that exist today, cocoa and the products it produces have come a long way. The future is deliciously bright and will hold many new and interesting by-products as the centuries role on.
Where does Chocolate Come from?
All chocolate grows on trees. There is about 20 species of chocolate all derived from the genus of theobroma. The tree was originated in south Mexico and grows mostly south of the equator in such continents as south America & the south seas which are rich in cocoa plants.
There is three variations of theobroma cacao (coco plant): Forastero, a robust plant with light chocolate; Criollo, a strong plant with strong quality chocolate; and Trinitario a cross between the two.
The beans which are received from the plant are placed on the ground for fermentation. After the beans are fermented in the ground at 110 degrees, they are placed in the sun to dry out. The beans then are roasted and once they become dry, the husk is removed and the bean is broken down into smaller piece, which are usually purchased by chocolate factories to make chocolate.
Chocolate then is taken by the factories and then process by grinding them as either whole or roasted pieces. A liquid substance is derived from smashing the pieces and used as whole unsweetened chocolate by the factories.
HOW CHOCOLATE IS MANUFACTURED
The process of making chocolate begins with either beans or nibs. The first step is to crush them into chocolate liquor. From the chocolate liquor a press of natural fat is extracted leaving what is called a "cake". The cake then can be more hard-pressed into a powder material. Cocoa can be treated with an alkali during this process otherwise know as Dutch or alkalized cocoa. For manufacturers of other types of chocolate, additives such as sugar, vanilla and milk extract are added. This process is called conching, where all the ingredients are mixed together and processed.
There are many different types of Chocolate. Here are a few examples.
Baking Chocolate: These chocolate are usually found in the supermarket and it comes in either semisweet or unsweetened variety.
Cocoa Powder: Powered cocoa is usually used in making candies and baking and also consumed as a beverage, such as a hot chocolate drink.
Eating Chocolate: Plain bars of chocolate are you usually found in supermarkets in mostly sweet or semisweet.
Couverture Chocolate: This type of chocolate is high in cocoa butter content which is primarily used in melting the chocolate into molds for dipping. Chocolate covered strawberries are a favorite.
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