Everybody loves chocolates – be it dark, white, or with nuts. You have, at least once in your life, tasted some form of chocolate. A bite is sure to make anyone become instantly addicted to its taste and the rush it gives the body. But where does chocolate come from? And how does it become the chocolate bars that everyone loves?
Gathering the Cacao
You need cacao seeds to make what we know as chocolate. Cacao seeds have to be roasted and ground. Many experts believe that chocolate was first created in 1900 BC by the Olmecs, a Mesoamerican civilization that preceded the Aztecs. In its purest form, chocolate is bitter since cacao seeds have an intensely bitter taste.
Processing the Cacao
Roasting and grounding are the simplest ways to turn cacao seeds into chocolate. The seeds are fermented first to develop flavor. After some time, the beans are collected and dried under the sun.
Once dried, they are roasted, which makes it easier to remove the shell. The remaining parts are called the nibs, and these are ground to a fine mass. This is then liquefied and stored in drum heaters to temper its viscosity and make transportation easier.
The chocolate liquor, the liquid form of the processed cacao, is then transported to a refrigerated storage area where it is then processed to become either a cocoa bar or cocoa butter.
Types of Chocolate
Chocolates are generally divided into three groups: white chocolate, milk chocolate, and dark chocolate. As the name implies, the white chocolate is creamy in color. It is predominantly sweet and does not contain any cocoa solids. Its white color comes from 20% cocoa butter combined with 14% milk and 55% sugar. But it still contains cocoa bits, so it is still classified as chocolate.
Milk chocolate, on the other hand, gets its brownish color from the cocoa solids. It is the “middle of the road” between dark chocolate, which has a distinct bitterness, and the sweet white chocolate. It can be used in baking or can be eaten on its own. As opposed to the white chocolate, milk chocolate is made up of 10% chocolate liquor combined with 12% milk. This gives it a creamier texture and a taste that is neither too sweet nor bitter.
Dark chocolate is considered to be the closest to chocolate purity of them all a sit contains 50% chocolate liquor combined with sugar, giving it a richer brown color compared to the milk chocolate. It can be a bit bitter, depending on the percentage of chocolate liquor used. Because many professionals preach about its health benefits, dark chocolate has grown in popularity over the last few years.
Other notable types of chocolate would include the ruby chocolate, which has a pink-red hue, the extra dark chocolate, made up of 70% or more cocoa content, and the cocoa powder, which is made up of 100% cocoa.
But whatever kind of chocolate you love to eat, we owe it to the ancient Mesoamericans who found a way to make a healthy and addictive food out of the cacao plant.