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Chocolate is one of the most famous foods in the world, especially for children. In addition, many gifts are made of chocolate like bunnies and eggs at Easter and hearts on Valentine's Day.
Chocolate is used to produce chocolate milk and hot or cold chocolate, too. Chocolate is produced from seeds of cacao tree.
These seeds were first discovered in Mexico and in the rainforests of Central America. But today, Africa is considered to be the world's top producer of cacao beans. But what do we know about the history of chocolate?
The oldest type of chocolate is Theobroma cacao and comes from Mexico. Cocoa mass was also used in Mesoamerica both as a beverage and as an ingredient in foods. Some people believe that Colombus was the first to import cacao beans in Europe but there are also other theories about it. Others believe that Cortes or the Spaniards have brought it in Europe. Chocolate has always been used, also, as a drink throughout its history. In November 2007, archaeologists found evidence of the oldest known use of cacao at a site in Puerto Escondido, Honduras, dating from about 1100 to 1400 BC.
They found out that cacao was also used as a source of sugars for producing residues alcoholic drinks. The Maya used it to make a frothy and bitter drink. Maya’s hieroglyphs showed that chocolate was also used for ceremonial purposes, in everyday life.
The chocolate residue, which was found in an early ancient Maya pot shows that Maya were drinking chocolate around 400 AD. In other parts of the world, chocolate was consumed flavored with vanilla, chili pepper, and other spices. Some of them were believed to fight fatigue, which could be assigned to the theobromine content. Cacao beans were often used as currency during past times. For example, the Aztecs exchanged one turkey with one hundred cacao beans and one fresh avocado with three beans. In South America and Europe, cocoa has been used to treat diarrhea for hundreds of years. All of the areas that were conquered by the Aztecs that grew cacao beans were ordered to pay them as a tax, or as the Aztecs called it, a tribute.
Until the 16th century, the famous drink was unknown for the European people. When Spain beat Aztecs, chocolate was imported to our continent, too. Within a hundred of years this new drink became so famous in Europe that Spanish used violence to make Mesoamericans to produce cacao. Although cacao’s production became more regular, only few people could enjoy it because it was too expensive. Spanish also began to produce cacao and African workers help them. In England, where the first chocolate house opened in 1657 (in London), only the wealthy people could buy chocolate. In 1689, Hans Sloane, who was a physician, made a milk chocolate drink in Jamaica.
Firstly, this drink was used to treat diseases but then (in 1897) was bought by Cadbury, one of the world’s largest confectionery companies. During the years of the Industrial Revolution, many changes happened generally in food. Concerning chocolate, we could refer to Dutch family's (van Houten) inventions, which included mass production of chocolate bars and other chocolate products. In the 1700s, mechanical mills contributed to chocolate development with making durable chocolate. The appearance of the mills was just the beginning. After that, the development of chocolate progress was continuous and today people are experiencing and consuming chocolate worldwide.Kinds of chocolate
White chocolate is made by cocoa butter, sugar, milk, emulsifier, vanilla and other ingredients. Its off-white color is owed to the absence of non-fat ingredients from the cacao bean. Some people do not call it chocolate because of the lack of cocoa solids. Because of its mild and pleasant flavor can be used to make Chocolate Mousse, Panna Cotta and other desserts. Sweet dark chocolate is similar to semi-sweet chocolate and for this reason we cannot distinguish between them easily (contains often 35-45% cocoa solids) Semi-sweet chocolate is the most common kind of chocolate and we can find it almost everywhere.
It is often used for cakes, cookies and brownies and it can also be used instead of sweet dark chocolate (contains often 40-62% cocoa solids).
Milk chocolate is a sweet chocolate containing 10-20% cocoa solids and more than 12% milk solids. It is rarely used for baking, except for cookies. Dark chocolate is sweetened chocolate with high content of cocoa solids and no or very little milk, containing up to 12% milk solids. Dark chocolate can either be sweet, semi-sweet, bittersweet or unsweetened. Sweet dark chocolate is similar to semi-sweet chocolate and for this reason we cannot distinguish between them easily (contains often 35-45% cocoa solids) Semi-sweet chocolate is the most common kind of chocolate and we can find it almost everywhere. It is often used for cakes, cookies and brownies and it can also be used instead of sweet dark chocolate (contains often 40-62% cocoa solids). Unsweetened chocolate is a bitter chocolate which is only used for baking. The flavor is not good, so it is not suitable for eating. Use it only if a recipe specifies unsweetened chocolate (contains almost 100% cocoa solids, about half of it might be fat). Bittersweet chocolate is a dark sweetened chocolate which contains at least 35% and up to 85% cocoa solids depending on brand. If the content of cocoa solids is high the content of sugar is low, giving a rich, intense and more or less bitter chocolate flavor. Bittersweet chocolate is often used for baking/cooking. Advantages and disadvantages of chocolate Chocolate gives energy and stimulates the human organism. However, it may be harmful for our health when it is over consumed. It may lead to obesity or tooth decay. Hence, logical consuming of chocolate is helpful and leaves us with a pleasant flavor.