Creating a passion for chocolate

2015-12-09 06:00
Photo: supplied Ted Holden and some of the new ‘chocolate experts’ at Athlone Park Primary School.

Photo: supplied Ted Holden and some of the new ‘chocolate experts’ at Athlone Park Primary School.

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FORMER chocolate design and machine manufacturing engineer, Ted Holden, recently gave a talk to Athlone Park Primary pupils and shared his passion and enlightened them about careers in the chocolate industry.

“I believe that each of you will learn and know more about chocolate than other pupils in Amanzimtoti schools, and also your friends and maybe even your mother and father,” Holden said.

“I am going to tell you a little about the history of chocolate, a little about the science and art needed to make it and the culture or the way chocolate should be eaten to really appreciate it,” Holden said.

“About 3 000 years ago, so history tells us, and from what we know, in the upper part of South America lived a group of people called the Mayans. They had cocoa trees there, but there was not a lot of them growing wild in their jungles or dense tropical forests,” Holden said.

“Mayans loved to eat the fruit and collected the beans. It also appears they roasted the beans near their fires and crushed them between stones, keeping the stones warm near their fires.
“They blew the husks off the crushed beans, rolled another warmed stone over the cocoa bean nibs, which slowly turned into a thick liquid, because of the fat in the beans, then they drank the precious liquid.
“They danced around their fires as most of those primitive peoples did and the liquid we now call ‘cocoa liquor’ made them feel good and amorous or in love,” he said. Around 1650 Spanish sailors invaded the area, which now was ruled by people called the Astecs. The invading Spanish were invited to share special meals with the Astec emperor, Montezuma, who treated them with a drink called Xoxatle, which was similar to the drink of the Mayans.

The Spanish also believed, like Montezuma, that the drink made them feel good and took loads of the cocoa fruit and roasted cocoa beans back to Spain and it was not long before there was a great demand for the drink.
It was not until a clever Dutch engineer designed and built a special press that could extract the fat, or better called cocoa butter, that true chocolate was born.
“By adding the cocoa butter to cocoa liquor and sugar, slab chocolate was possible,” said Holden.

All sorts of clever machines and people are needed to take the bean through to making chocolate and there are many jobs and skills needed and careers opportunities [in this field].
These include design and machine manufacturing engineering, food technologists, chemists, marketing and sales managers, representatives, artists to design the packaging and people to make the packets.

Holden then showed pupils how to use their five senses to truly enjoy a piece of chocolate.

“You are now qualified as an expert chocolate taster or connoisseur and remember if you chew it quickly and swallow it quickly you won’t savour the taste,” he said.
- Supplied.

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