"Never before has nature concentrated as much wealth of valuable nutrients in such a small space as it did with cocoa beans." A. von Humboldt
THE CHOCOLATE HISTORY it started a long time ago - more than 3000 years ago. Around 1500 BC in the Gulf of Mexico emerges the Olmec civilization. Although very little of their culture has reached us, it is for the first time that the word "kakawa" is introduced.
The ancient Mayans and Aztecs who inhabited Mexico and Central America today were the first people to use cocoa for mass use. The Mayans are the ones who carry the precious wood from the forest to the territories they inhabit. Influential individuals from the tribe (priests, warriors and merchants) prepared a special drink of cocoa, water, corn powder and pimento - carnation. The rest enjoyed only special occasions. The murals and drawings preserved to this day show the important role of brown dust and in the Mayan religious life. During sacred ceremonies, rituals, and sacrifices, the priests offered the cocoa drink as a gift to the gods.
In the 14 century, Mayans and Aztecs began to trade with each other, with cocoa beans as the main commodity in their transactions. They also used the Aztecs as a means of payment. Unlike the Mayans, in whom only the privileged had the pleasure of touching the "food of the gods", in the Aztecs cocoa was accessible to all. Chocolatl was a very popular aroma drink made from powdered cocoa, various spices and honey. The famous Emperor Montezuma drank up to 50 cups of this drink, which gave him great strength and energy.
It was at this time that the legend was born that cocoa seeds had fallen to Earth from Paradise, and its fruits bore wisdom and power.
On the Old Continent, divine pods were only brought in in the 16 century. The main merit for their popularity is the Spanish navigator Hernan Cortez. He experimented with adding cane sugar to the drink and various spices that made his taste even more unique. Chocolate fashion quickly conquers Europe. Because of its high cost, the new temptation is a privilege only for aristocrats who even create a protocol for drinking chocolate. Special silver trays and pretentious porcelain vessels have been made to prove class and prosperity.
With the development of industry, chocolate is becoming more accessible. A variety of ingredients are added to its composition - milk, wine, spices, even beer. Initially, the hot drink was popular mainly with men, but gradually became (and still is) a favorite of children. In 1674, with its use in making sweets and rolls, for the first time, chocolate can be eaten in addition to drinking. The Industrial Revolution of the 19 century made chocolate production much easier and cheaper while also increasing the quality of the finished product. The typical block shape also appears.
In 1828, the Dutchman van Houten created the Hydraulic Press, which began to extract cocoa butter, and from there cocoa powder. 20 years later, the English company JSFRY & Sons mixed this powder with sugar, cocoa butter and milk to get the modern version of chocolate.
In 1897, Rudolph Lind patented the technique of conching. In a sink, chocolate is crushed, crushed and stirred for a long time until it is completely soft and smooth. It is then broken down into special machines that remove moisture, unwanted aromas and acidity. This is how the first fully refined mouth-watering "chocolaté fondant" appears.
A LITTLE MORE ABOUT Cocoa
In botany, the cocoa tree is known as the cocoa theobra - the food of the gods. It grows only in warm and humid climates, in the shade of huge trees, among tropical forests and greenery. It is mainly distributed in the Americas, Australia and some Asian islands.
Cocoa plantations have a limited production area and different varieties: "cryopolo" - gentle, aromatic and bitter, "trinitario" - quality and rich in taste and "foraster" - obtained from the crossing of the two varieties.
The "divine" tree blooms and bears fruit throughout the year, with the main months of harvest being the months of November to January and May to July. Although extremely beautiful, its colors are unattractive to insects as they do not have a particular aroma and taste. This is also the reason why only one in one hundred flowers become fruit.
The cocoa fruit is a yellow-red melon-shaped pods long between 12 and 30 cm. Each of them has between 30 and 50 grains, which is sufficient for about seven chocolates. The harvesting is done by hand and the pods are cut with machetes. The extracted seeds are placed in special boxes or between palm leaves to ferment. If that does not happen, they cannot acquire their characteristic chocolate taste.
After this process, the beans are spread outdoors and dried, mainly in the sun. This is followed by cleaning and baking with continuous control. The next step is grinding with large stones, thus producing the so-called. cocoa solution. It is refined to produce cocoa powder and butter.
The higher quality solution makes the chocolate itself. The cocoa mass is mixed and broken at about 80о whole days. Add sugar, cocoa butter (for more smoothness), vanilla, milk and stabilize with soy lecithin. To make it smooth and glossy, the chocolate is tempering. Otherwise, crystals and grains are formed in it, and the cocoa butter is separated as a cream on the surface. Tempering is repeated warming and cooling. In this way, the final product stabilizes, becomes more durable and pleasantly melts in the mouth. After this process, the chocolate mixture is shaped like candy, a block or some other dessert.
Cocoa - useful or harmful
Aside from its incredible taste and aroma, the main culprit to love so much is its chemical composition!
According to experts, cocoa butter unlocks in our brains a substance similar to opium and releases the hormones serotonin and endorphin, giving a strong sense of happiness and enjoyment. The alkaloid contained in theobromine acts as a refreshing, but very gentle, effect. It has little effect on the nervous system and has a beneficial effect on the respiratory system. That is why cocoa and chocolate are great solutions for active physical or mental activity.
Chocolate contains active substances from the group of methylxanthines - caffeine and theophylline, due to its tonic effect. Unlike coffee, the amount of caffeine here is low and does not lead to insomnia and over-excitement.
The beneficial effect of cocoa on the cardiovascular system has been strongly demonstrated. This is because of the polyphenols it contains, also known for its antioxidant properties. They help cells in the body deal with harmful free radicals. Consumption of foods rich in polyphenols (fruits, vegetables, cocoa, green tea, red wine) prevent, in addition to cardiovascular disease, also degenerative damage and some cancers. They also inhibit the development of bacteria in the oral cavity that are the main cause of caries.
Cocoa butter contains a large amount of stearic acid (up to 70%), which significantly lowers blood cholesterol levels; as well as flavonoids that block plaque deposition on the walls of blood vessels and thus protect against heart attacks and strokes.
Chocolate is a good source of a number of minerals: potassium, magnesium, copper and iron, which have an extremely beneficial effect on the whole body.
Depending on the percentage of cocoa contained in it, chocolate is divided into several main groups:
NON-sweet (with 85-100% cocoa content)
This is the purest form of chocolate. Due to its rather bitter taste, it is mainly used in cooking in the preparation of sweets and biscuits, giving them an intense cocoa taste.
BITTER-SWEET (with 65-80% cocoa content)
This type of chocolate is suitable for both direct consumption and as an additive to various types of pastry. Along with unsweetened, this is among the healthiest types of chocolate.
(POLU) SWEET (with 35-60% cocoa content)
It has a higher sugar content and less cocoa bean content.
MILK (with 10-20% cocoa content)
Although it has the least useful qualities, it is the most popular and favorite chocolate of all. Despite its name, it is most often prepared with milk powder, not genuine milk.
WHITE (with 0% cocoa content)
The only reason to call it chocolate is the content of about 20% cocoa butter in it. Its other ingredients are usually sugar, vanilla and powdered milk, but not cocoa.
MOST UNUSUAL CHOCOLATES
Camel milk chocolate
The product of Al Nassma in the United Arab Emirates is based mainly on traditional Oriental sweets. It is much healthier than other chocolate because it contains significantly less fat and is even suitable for diabetics.
Chocolate for weight loss
Spanish giant Cocoa Bio is fulfilling the dream of many women with the new chocolate brand Lola. It comes in the form of candy and tastes no different from traditional chocolate. The only thing unusual is its color - greenish-gray, which is due to the algae contained in it.
Chocolate on postage stamps
Being one of the symbols of the country, Belgium launches a series of cocoa-flavored postage stamps. They are made with pictures of different chocolate specialties - liquid chocolate, chocolate bars, granulated chocolate, chocolate candies and blocks. A thin layer of cocoa butter is placed on the back of the special technology brand, which gives it a chocolatey, sticky taste.
The most expensive chocolate
854 Dollars Per Half Kg - That's Really Big! The most delicious and expensive chocolate in the world is Noka. It is composed of only high quality cocoa from the best regions - Venezuela, Ecuador and Cote Divoire.
After ten years of research and experimentation, Mondelez International has managed to create chocolate that does not melt even at 40о heat.
After all that is left to do besides enjoying another block of chocolate - black and bitter, with orange slices or milky - you decide! And remember that a chocolate-free life is a life where something is missing!