Chocolates

Chocolates

Chocolates are everyone's favorite treat, and there is more to them than we know. Americans spend $21 Billion on chocolates every year, paying up to $55 for a single bar.

Premium chocolates grew 19 % in 2018, while handcrafted 'bean-to-bar' chocolate producers are now more than 250 in number.

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Authentic chocolate makers are like fine chefs and are obsessed about the texture, character and ethical origins of their beans.

Mainstream industrial chocolate makers buy all the beans, good or bad, in bulk, as they are mixing it with so many other ingredients and flavors, that the consumer won't get to know the difference of the beans.

Creating Chocolate
  • Cacao (or Cocoa) beans are the seeds that grow in the cacao tree, which are plucked, roasted and separated.
  • The 'nibs' from the beans (part solids and part butter) are ground and made into a paste, which is then again grounded with sugar and some other ingredients.
  • The industrial chocolates include several ingredients like vegetable oils, corn syrup, and artificial vanilla.

Cacao farmers, who grow any kind of cacao and sell to industrial chocolate makers, have no incentive to grow quality beans.

Many cacao farmers live below the poverty line.

Direct trade of beans is a way to buy outside the regular system, and the farmers get paid more due to supplying select beans of better quality.

Chocolatiers take pre-made chocolate, melt it and combine it with a host of ingredients, turning it into delicacies.

The best Chocolatiers buy from superb bean-to-bar chocolate makers.
Chocolatiers do not make raw chocolate, but chocolate products, with bean-to-bar chocolate makers providing the authentic raw material.

The handcrafted chocolate market was re-ignited after 150 years by Mr. John Scharffenberger, and Robert Steinberg. The only other craft chocolate maker at that time, Guittard, had lost the art of making fine chocolates and had to change their production methods after tasting Scharffen Berger's chocolate.

  • Cacao (cocoa) percentage is the quantity of ground-up beans that is present in the chocolate bar.
  • Milk chocolates have 10 to 30 % cacao, while dark chocolates have 35 to 55 %
  • White chocolates generally have 20 % beans(butter only)
  • More cacao doesn't necessarily mean it is more bitter, as cacao butter isn't bitter and has a smooth texture, while cacao solids are bitter.

There is a dark side to chocolate making, with children working in hazardous conditions in cacao farms.

Widespread destruction of forests (deforestation) is also a grave concern.

Big Chocolate companies work behind the scenes to lobby and squash any laws that work against their interests.

Single-Origin chocolate refers to the region or area from where the beans have been sourced, lending them a distinct flavor and taste.

Example: Fine Latin American chocolate tastes differently than West African chocolates.

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Savoring Chocolate: Taste
  • Take a bite of your chocolate and have your tongue spread the melting chocolate all over your palate and notice the feeling of what we can compare to a symphony.
  • The front notes, middle notes, and the afternotes of the chocolate will liven your experience.
  • Some chocolates may lead with acidity and follow with fruitiness and earthier tones.
  • The only way to build your chocolate savoring skills is to buy more chocolate and keep on tasting.

How To Savor Chocolate Like A Cocoa Expert : Life Kit

npr.org

Vanilla is anything but plain

Vanilla as an ingredient is a wondrous thing, ambrosial, floral, warm, and sophisticated.

It’s an essential ingredient, adding not just flavor, but also body and soul into a dish,” says Francis Ang, a San Francisco-based pastry chef.

It is integral to so many foods, adding familiarity to everything from ice cream to sugar cookies.

it’s a luxury good in its own right, the result of a wildly time and labor-intensive harvest that must be done almost entirely by hand.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Vanilla

eater.com

"Healthy: Dark Chocolate

Mars Inc. - the company that has brought us M&M's or Snickers - sponsored 140 peer-reviewed scientific papers starting from the 80s. Mars controlled the research agenda and only funded the positive research, to push chocolate bars as nutritious. 

Dark chocolate is now a health food. Here's how that happened.

vox.com

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