It is a sweet, dark colored, roasted and grounded cocoa seeds that is made in the form of a liquid, paste, and used as a flavoring ingredient in other foods. This word is derived from the Spanish word, which in turn is derived from the Classical Nahuatl word Xocolati. Much of the chocolates today are consumed in the form of sweet, a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or added vegetable oils and sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar and milk but no cocoa solids.
At work, watching TV, after lunch – we are frequently seized with the uncontrollable desire for something sweet. At such times, a piece of chocolate is exactly what you need to satisfy your sweet craving. There are numerous approaches to indulge yourself with chocolates. You can decide on pieces of fine chocolate; tasty chunks, hot drink or go for cakes and baked goods. Interestingly, all of these yummy treats originates from one single source: the cocoa tree!
Early uses of Chocolate
It comes from the natural product of ‘The Obroma Cacao Tree’ (colloquially known as the cocoa tree). The cocoa tree belongs to the mallow family and is delicate to the cold. It originally grew only within the Amazon region. It was brought over to Central America by animals. Here, the Olmecs were the primary individuals to utilize it, in 1000 BC. Their relatives, the Mayans and the Aztecs, started to mix cocoa with water. The drinking ones that this created was, in any case, exceptionally distinctive from what we drink nowadays. The sweetened adaptation of hot chocolate was to begin with designed in Europe. For a long time, it remained a luxury item of the Europe. Within the 19th century, however, it became possible to manufacture on an industrial scale, making it available to the wider population in the form of choco bars.
How is chocolate made: From beans to bar
The ovoid-shaped fruits of the cocoa tree are around 15 to 25 centimeters long. To make it, both the pulp and seeds (also known as cocoa beans) are removed from the fruit, laid out on large plant leaves and covered with other leaves. The fermentation process begins within five to six days, whereby the pulp falls apart and the beans start sprouting briefly. Sprouting lets the cocoa beans develop their typical, slightly bitter taste. After this has developed, the bean is dried, roasted and ground until it turns into a viscous brown cocoa paste.
To turn this into chocolate, cocoa butter and sugar are added to the paste, along with, possibly, powdered milk and other ingredients. Finally, it is rolled, heated, poured into a mould and cooled. The paste hardens during the cooling process and results in bars.
Chocolate makes you feel good – in more ways than one!
The ‘feel good factor’ in chocolate is the amino acid tryptophan, which is also a component of the ‘feel good hormone’ serotonin. This hormone has an effect on the brain and can lift a person’s mood instantly. Chocolate to some extent, can sweeten a bad day. So, the next time you feel out of sorts, take some time to really savor this sweet treat.
Antioxidants and more
Did you know? Chocolate contains ingredients that protect the body’s cells. The cocoa in chocolate contains what are known as phytochemicals. They have an antioxidant effect and thus helps protect the cells in your body. Unfortunately, these beneficial effects of antioxidants are minimized by the addition of milk to cocoa. They only come into play with milk-free plain chocolate that has a high percentage of cocoa solids as compared to sweeter varieties. So, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the more cocoa – and thus antioxidants, it contains.
Indulge, but don’t binge!
While no food is inherently good or bad, large amounts of fats and sugar contained in chocolate can lead to excess weight gain, if it is consumed in large quantities on a regular basis. Ideally, chocolate should be enjoyed as a special treat. Anyone eating an essentially varied and balanced diet can happily indulge in the odd sweet treat. The important thing is to keep an eye on quantities. Don’t allow your sweet tooth to take over; instead stick to small pieces.
Relish your Chocolate
To enjoy to the fullest, try this little experiment: think about the piece of chocolate before enjoying it. Smell it. Now let it slide under your tongue and then over to the left and then, the right cheek. Savor the taste. Allow the rest of it to melt slowly in your mouth. You will surely enjoy it.