Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Lowdown On Chocolate

The Lowdown On Chocolate.
Chocolate is simply irresistible: Milk chocolate, orange-flavored chocolate, almond or cashew chocolate, you name it! The credit for enjoying a bite of chocolates incredible taste should go to the Aztecs and the Mayans, the original chocolate discoverers. We owe them for introducing these magnificent plants called cacao trees, And the story about chocolate continues... 

How It all Started
The Aztecs and Mayans created a drink made from the beans of the cacao tree. They called the beverage cocoatl. In 1528, the conquering Spanish brought the concoction known as chocolate (cho-co-LAH-tay) back to Spain. In 1615, chocolat (sho-co-LAH) debuted at a royal wedding in France. From there, it made its way to England as chocolata.

Chocolate drinking reached across the Channel to Great Britain, where in 1657 the first of many renowned English Chocolate Houses cropped up. Manual production of chocolate by small shops soon made way for mass production by bigger stores.

Aiding the transition was the development of the steam engine, which automated cocoa grinding. By 1730, chocolate prices became affordable to all. Then in 1876, Daniel Peter, a Swiss chocolate maker, figured out how to add milk to the chocolate and thus created another mouth¬watering favorite - milk chocolate. In the United States, the chocolate boom was more pronounced than in any other country. Production took off at record rates, starting with the nation's first chocolate factory in pre-Revolutionary New England in 1765.

What people do with it?
By 1200 cacao became a key commodity for that vast trade empire of the Aztec people not only as a luxury drink, but also as money an offering to the gods, and tribute to rulers. It is reported that Napoleon carried chocolate with him on his military campaigns, and always ate it when he needed quick energy. During world war II, the U.S government recognized chocolate’s role in boosting the nourishment and group spirit of the Allied Armed Forces, so much so that it allocated.

How it affects our health
Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine (PEA), a natural substance that is reputed to stimulate the same reaction in the body as falling in love. Hence, heartbreak and loneliness are great excuses for chocolate overindulgence. Phenyl ethylamine also increases the activity of neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) in parts of the brain that control our ability to pay attention and stay alert.

Eating chocolate neither causes nor aggravates acne. Two studies one by the Pennsylvania school of medicine and another by the U.S. Naval Academy-showed that eating chocolate (or not eating it) did not produce any significant change in the acne conditions of the study’s participants.

Chocolate also has not been proven to cause cavities or tooth decay. In fact, there are indications that the cocoa butter in the chocolate that the cocoa butter in the chocolate coats the teeth and may help protect them by preventing plaque from forming. The sugar in chocolate does contribute to cavities, but more that the sugar in any other food. 

Today, the U.S Army’s rations contain chocolate bars and chocolate candies, and chocolate has been taken into space as part of the diet of U.S astronauts.
On Valentine’s Day, Japanese girls give chocolate to boys, while it’s the others way around on white day (March 14th). This tradition started as marketing tool for chocolate companies in Japan.

What forms it takes
  • Unsweetened Chocolate is pure chocolate liquor, also known as bitter or baking chocolate. It is grounded roasted chocolate beans with no other added ingredients.
  • Dark Chocolate is a term used for chocolate , that contains a minimum of 43% cocoa according to European norms. A 70% cocoa chocolate is considered quite dark, while 85% and even 88% cocoa dark chocolates have become quite popular for dark chocolate lovers.
  • Couverture or Coating Chocolate is a term used for cocoa butter rich in chocolate of the highest quality. This chocolate also contains a high percentage of chocolate liquor (sometimes more than 70 percent) besides cocoa butter. It is very fluid when melted and has an excellent flavor.
  • Bittersweet Chocolate is chocolate liquor (or unsweetened chocolate) to which sugar, more cocoa butter, lecithin, and vanilla have been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate. Sweet Chocolate is not as common today as it once was years ago. It was developed by the American chocolate manufacturer, Baker's Chocolate.
  • White Chocolate isn't really considered chocolate at all due to the absence of chocolate liquor. It's called white chocolate because it contains cocoa butter. Cocoa Powder is made by pulverizing the chocolate beans and removing nearly all their cocoa butter. Natural cocoa is light in color and somewhat acidic with a strong chocolate flavor.