Facts about Chocolate

16 facts about Chocolate

A delicacy not only for a sweet tooth

Chocolate is one of the most popular foods and flavors in the world. It was already known 4000 thousand years ago. The ancient inhabitants of today's Mexico believed it descended from the god Quetzalcoatl and attributed miraculous properties to it. They consumed it as a drink during religious rituals and used it as medicine. It came to Europe thanks to the Spaniards in the 16th century and was initially only introduced to wealthy courts. With the Industrial Revolution, when the chocolate press was invented in 1828, it started gaining popularity. Today, almost no one can do without it.
Chocolate is a confectionery containing cocoa (cocoa mass, cocoa butter, cocoa powder), sugar, and other additives (like milk, which is added to milk chocolate).
Directive 2000/36/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23rd June defines chocolate as the product obtained from cocoa products and sugars which contains not less than 35% total dry cocoa solids, including not less than 14% dry non-fat cocoa solids.
To make chocolate products from cocoa beans, they have to go a long way.
The freshly harvested cocoa beans have an intense, sour-bitter taste. For this reason, some South American tribes initially harvested the cocoa fruit not for the seeds they contained, but for the sweet pulp surrounding them, and looked for a way to use the seeds as well. Over many centuries, the processing of cocoa beans has been perfected, to finally develop into a multi-stage method of obtaining the raw material from them that meets the intended expectations.
The process consists of several steps.
The first stage takes place in plantations, where the fruit, cut in half, ferments in special tanks. The process lasts three to six days, during which the sugars in the flesh surrounding the grains are broken down into alcohol and then acetic acid. At the end of this stage, the beans contain about 60% of water, so they are dried.
The next step is roasting cocoa beans.
In this process, the seeds are stripped of excess water and a large amount of acidic substances, which improve their flavor. Roasting is preceded by sorting the grains in terms of size. The crushed grains are also separated, thanks to which the seeds are evenly heated.
In the next stage, cocoa nibs (cocoa mass) are prepared.
For this purpose, the seeds are placed in special machines where the shells and sprouts are separated from the kernels. Then, acquired cocoa nibs are separated from the shells by using a system of sieves with different mesh diameters.
The cocoa nibs, mainly the seeds, are ground into cocoa mass, also known as cocoa crumbs or cocoa liquor.
Cocoa mass produces cocoa butter containing about 55% fat and cocoa powder containing about 25% fat. Cocoa liquor is a key semi-finished product in the chocolate production process. The high quality of chocolate can be recognized by the cocoa liquor and cocoa butter content - this is known as the "cocoa content".
Before it is properly pressed, the cocoa mass is matured by heating it and mixing it in special tanks.
Pressing takes place in hydraulic presses. After the fat has been separated, the so-called cocoa cake is then used to make cocoa powder (commonly known as cocoa, which is used to make drinks).
The cocoa mass is mixed with cocoa butter in such proportions that the resulting product contains about 30% fat.
This stage also requires adding sugar. All this mass goes to the heated conchs, where it is intensively mixed. Thanks to conching, the chocolate loses excess bitterness, becomes milder in taste, and gains a smooth consistency. The process of conching takes 72 hours on average, and may even last up to a week. Depending on the type of chocolate, flavorings such as vanilla may be added in the last stage of conching.
The next stage is tempering the chocolate.
Tempering the chocolate involves slow heating, followed by slowly cooling the mass. Basically, it means the initial crystallization of the cocoa fat in the chocolate. Tempering makes the chocolate crisp and shiny when cooled.
There are several basic types of chocolate, depending on the cocoa liquor content and, since 2017, also the cocoa variety from which it was made.
These types include

  •  dark chocolate - consists of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar. It contains at least 70% cocoa liquor products and should be prepared at a temperature of 31.1-32.7 ° C;
  • plain chocolate - consists of cocoa liquor, sugar, lecithin, and other additives. It contains between 50-70% cocoa mass and is more delicate than dark chocolate;
  • milk chocolate - its cocoa content does not exceed 50%, it contains milk or milk powder and vanilla;
  • white chocolate - created in 1930, does not contain cocoa powder, and the content of cocoa butter in the best chocolates of this type is no more than 33%;
  • ruby chocolate - is made from ruby cocoa beans, sugar, and milk. It is natural, with no artificial colors or flavors. It was invented in 2017 after 13 years of work and released in 2018.

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