Chocolate, the pinnacle of sweet indulgence

By admin
05 April 2014

If anyone knows what it feels like to run around all day with barely a minute to yourself, it’s a SuperMom. Why not take a minute to spoil your partner and yourself this Valentine’s Day and indulge in a sweet treat? Go on, you deserve it!

Whether you like getting it as a gift or prefer to drink yours hot or cold, chocolate has been the favourite indulgence of millions of people over the centuries. But where does this wonder-food come from? The earliest record of it being consumed is of the Aztecs in Central Mexico drinking hot chocolate in 1100 AD.

Bitter sweet

Cocoa beans were originally ground into a paste to make drinks. The beans are bitter and the word “chocolate” is said to be derived from the Aztec for “bitter water”. When chocolate was introduced to Europe much later, sugar was used to sweeten these drinks.

Heart-shaped sweetness

The Aztecs ate chocolate as part of their meals, used it in religious rituals and even demanded cocoa beans as a tax when they conquered a city. But in Europe chocolate was a dessert. The first chocolate bar was made in the 1840s in a factory associated with John Cadbury (the surname should be familiar!). Cadbury was also the first to sell chocolate in heart-shaped boxes for Valentine’s Day. But chocolate bars don’t grow on trees. Here’s what the process involves:

The tree

Cocoa trees? start flowering at three to five years old. Before that they’re too young to produce pods. The pods grow on the trunk and branches. The tree produces pods twice a year (20 to 30 pods a year). Only about 450 g of chocolate can be made from the beans in these pods, which can be harvested when it is dark yellow.

Harvest

The pods are harvested by hand and cut open to remove the beans. The beans are placed under large leaves and allowed to ferment. Once fermented, the beans are dried in the sun. Next it is packed in bags and shipped all over the world.

Manufacturing

At the chocolate factory the beans are washed? and sorted according to type and country of origin. Then it is roasted in large ovens. The roasting process makes the shell brittle. The beans are then winnowed to separate the shells from the nibs (the bits of the bean that contain the cocoa solids and cocoa butter). The cocoa nibs are now ground into a paste – which is chocolate in its purest form. Chocolate manufacturers then add ingredients like sugar, condensed milk and cocoa butter to the chocolate paste and mix it in large mixers. The mixture is refined by passing it through rollers, which makes it soft and creamy. Next it is kneaded and churned to make it even softer. Before being poured into molds, it is heated to just the right temperature to make it smooth and shiny.

Enjoy

This delectable product is then sold in millions of stores around the globe and enjoyed – especially on Valentine’s Day.

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