Chocolate is native to South America. The Aztecs already had a beverage made of cocoa beans. This frothy chocolate drink was called xocolatl and had a complex taste that was bitter, peppery, and buttery, and that was not appreciated much by the Spanish explorers. Nevertheless, they took some cocoa beans back to Spain, more as a curiosity than as a consumer product.
When the pepper was left out and some sugar was added, cocoa did become a popular drink in Europe. In 1813, Blooker started producing cocoa powder and chocolate in the Netherlands, and in 1828, Casparus van Houten discovered a method to separate the fat from the cocoa mass, which marked the beginning of a more affordable production process resulting in a delicious treat that was available to the public.
Nowadays, everyone knows the sweet treats that are made with cocoa beans. There are three main types of chocolate: plain (or dark), milk and white. Plain chocolate contains at least 35% of cocoa solids. White chocolate is not actually real chocolate, as it does not contain any cocoa mass and is made of cocoa butter enriched with condensed milk or milk powder, and flavouring such as vanilla extract.
How to choose?
Chocolate must have a nice aroma and a beautiful shine. It should not have any white spots.
How to prepare?
Melt your chocolate in a bain-marie. Use chocolate pellets or bars. Break or chop the chocolate into pieces, if necessary, and melt the chocolate in a bain-marie on a low heat. The temperature of the chocolate must not exceed 45 °C. Milk chocolate burns faster, so it helps to add a small knob of butter to prevent burning from happening during the melting process.
Because of its high starch content, cocoa powder is difficult to dissolve in liquid. Cocoa is best dissolved by stirring it into a little cold liquid, such as water or a splash of milk. Adding sugar also makes it easier to dissolve cocoa, as sugar will separate the cocoa’s starch particles. Pouring a hot liquid directly on to the cocoa powder will form lumps that are hard to dissolve by stirring. Once the cocoa is dissolved in cold water or milk, you can add hot milk while stirring.
Chocolate and cocoa are used in countless recipes. Chocolate mousse, chocolate cake, chocolate fondue, chocolate truffles, chocolate bonbons and chocolate brownies are just a few well-known chocolate delicacies. In some countries chocolate also plays an important part in savoury dishes. In Mexico, plain, unsweetened chocolate is added to meat stews. Chocolate is also an important ingredient of mole poblano, a turkey (or chicken) stew containing chillies, almonds, sesame seeds, peanuts and spices.
How to store?
Chocolate must be kept in a cool place.
- 545 kcal,
- 6.5 g protein,
- 34 g fat,
- 50 g carbohydrate, and
- 7 g dietary fibre.
If you’re looking for tasty recipes that have your heart health in mind, be sure to take a look at Flora’s selection of healthy recipes.