When we started this new site of sweetsndesserts, we thought that learning something about the origins of this ever used, world wide known, most loved by everybody ingredient, would be of great interest to anyone.
So here goes our simple tribute to this prestigious cooking element.
Just to hear its name, awakens our senses and desires and one canít but stop and take some time to admire this element, which for centuries has been the confectionersí favourite.
There are different versions of the origins of cacao, but the most widely accepted seems to place it in Mexico.
At present it is cultivated in many other countries.
Theobroma is the name of the tree from which cacao is extracted.
Some large, egg-shaped pods grow from the trunk of this tree.
Inside them there are lots of reddish beans, the cocoa beans, which will, after a long process give origin to cocoa butter and powder.
These beans are extremely bitter.
We are going to explain in the briefest manner, the process through which, chocolate is obtained and produced from these beans.
First, cocoa beans are roasted, peeled and ground. Chocolate liquor is obtained after this step ( ground cocoa bean in a smooth, liquid state).
The second step consists of squeezing this chocolate liquor in a chocolate press and removing its natural acidity and bitterness. In this way, cocoa butter is obtained from them.
The third step in this process consists of separating the solid components from the cocoa butter. These non-fat solids form cocoa powder, which can then be used in the preparation of many products.
Then, finely ground sugar and flavour essences are added to the chocolate liquor which is emulsified in a process that can last up to 3 days, until chocolate is obtained.
There are different types of chocolate, which vary according to the cocoa butter and non-fat cocoa solids contained in it.
WHITE CHOCOLATE contains cocoa butter but does not contain non-fat cocoa solids. It also has sugar, milk solids and flavourings such as vanilla.
DARK CHOCOLATE , also known as SEMI-SWEET or BITTER SWEET CHOCOLATE, is chocolate liquor (at least 35 %) with additional sweeteners and cocoa butter.
MILK CHOCOLATE consists of adding cocoa butter, evaporated milk or condensed milk (10 %), sweeteners and flavourings to chocolate liquor.
LIQUID CHOCOLATE is made with vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter. It was developed for baking and is unsweetened. However, it doesnít deliver the same flavour as regular unsweetened chocolate.
COUVERTURE CHOCOLATE is a professional-quality coating chocolate, that is extremely glossy. It contains a minimum of 32% of cocoa butter. It is found in chocolate-covered fruits, bonbons, Easter eggs, bunnies and fancy chocolate figures.
Its melting process must be carried out carefully, in a double boiler, not allowing any water vapour to pour into the bowl as this would ruin the chocolate.
It is very useful as confectionery-coating because it can form a much thinner shell than regular chocolate.
As we have said, chocolate is an indispensable element in the world cuisine.
This is only the first of a series of articles in which we will keep talking about it and explaining the best procedures to make the best out of it.