Chocolate is loved by almost everyone, at almost any age and form. Over hundreds of years, it has turned from a bitter medicine into a sweet dessert. Today, modern chocolatiers continue to experiment with chocolate and change the classic composition according to the requirements of the time - for example, reducing the amount of sugar in the dessert. Let's learn more about what makes real chocolate, what a dessert
Chocolate is loved by almost everyone, at almost any age and form. Over hundreds of years, it has turned from a bitter medicine into a sweet dessert . Today, modern chocolatiers continue to experiment with chocolate and change the classic composition according to the requirements of the time - for example, reducing the amount of sugar in dessert . Let's learn more about what makes real chocolate , how a mass-market dessert differs from a craft one, and why dark chocolate is simply an extraordinary food, but by 2050 it may not be.
The basis of chocolate is cocoa - a type of evergreen tree from the Theobroma genus. From the Latin language, the word "theobroma" is translated as "food of the gods" (theos - god, broma - food). Chocolate trees are very heat-loving because they only grow near the equator in humid tropical forests where there is a lot of sun and rainfall. Flowers appear right on the trunk of the tree, and after pollination by insects - fruits. As soon as the fruits ripen, they are cut, opened and the white slimy seeds are removed, which will later become cocoa beans .
Thousands of years ago, beans were dried in the sun, where they acquired a brownish-red color. Oddly enough, today this stage takes place in the same way. After drying , cocoa beans were ground and added to water. It was the first version of cocoa - a bitter fortifying drink with foam. It was not very similar to the cocoa we are used to drinking today . During the Middle Ages in Europe, cocoa powder was considered a cure for indigestion, coughs and colds. Then sugar cane or honey, spices (chili pepper, cinnamon, etc.) were added to it, ahead of the trend for today's popular spicy cocoa in fashionable coffee shops.
The processing of cocoa beans has developed independently in different parts of the world for thousands of years. But everything changed in 1828, when Dutch inventor and businessman Casparus van Houten patented an inexpensive method of extracting oil from roasted cocoa beans using a hydraulic press . Thanks to this technology, it was possible to separate the cocoa oil from the powder. The second product became the basis of all chocolate products, including cocoa-based chocolate drinks . And the appearance of cocoa oil was the first step towards the creation of solid chocolate .
In 1838, his patent expired, and this gave the opportunity to other market players to develop their chocolate production . Later, Casparus van Houten's son, Konrad, a Dutch chemist and chocolate maker , invented the treatment of cocoa mass with alkaline salts to remove the bitter taste and make cocoa solids more soluble in water.
In 1875, Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter created milk chocolate by adding powdered milk to the chocolate paste.
Beans grow only in the tropics, for example, in Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Brazil, Indonesia. The taste and aroma of beans have different shades depending on the region of cultivation. On the cocoa beans are subjected to long and complex processing. First, fruits with seeds are removed from the tree by hand, cocoa beans are extracted from them together with fruit pulp, then they are subjected to fermentation for 5-7 days and further drying under the natural rays of the sun, as a result of which the fresh seeds acquire a dark gray-purple color - brown color. It is after all these manipulations that cocoa beans are sent to other parts of the world to make chocolate.
The taste of beans is not only responsible for their variety, but also the terroir - a combination of climatic and soil factors with the peculiarities of the temperature regime and air humidity indicators. The depth of fermentation also affects the taste of chocolate .
The main ingredients for chocolate production are cocoa butter , grated cocoa , fresh or dry milk and sugar. Brazilian oil is considered to be the mildest oil with a light floral taste, others have stronger and brighter flavors. In the production of chocolate , a separate variety of cocoa beans or a blend of several can be used. As a flavoring agent, you can choose almost anything, for example, Japanese matcha tea, freeze-dried berries, nuts, spices, and much more, for which imagination is enough.
It all depends on whether the manufacturer buys ready-made raw materials or does everything himself. If the ingredients are already prepared, first combine all the ingredients in a special dish according to the recipe. The chocolate mass is kneaded, after which it enters the conveyor and is poured into silicone molds heated to the required temperature. Then the filled forms are sent to a refrigerator for gradual cooling. Ready, fragrant and shiny forms appear on the conveyor and are sent for automatic wrapping and packaging. In automated production, the entire process of making and packing the dessert takes about 45 minutes.
Real chocolate is not only the use of appropriate recipes and ingredients, but also compliance with the technological stages of production. One of them is the mandatory conching of the chocolate mass. This technological process consists in long-term and intensive mixing of the chocolate mass at a certain temperature. Thanks to this, excess bitterness and acidity disappear, and chocolate acquires a noble taste. Also the tempering process, when the chocolate mass is gradually heated and cooled. And the high degree of grinding of the chocolate mass is one of the most important criteria by which one can conclude about the high quality of chocolate . Fine grinding affects the organoleptic properties of chocolate , contributes to the full disclosure of the aroma and taste of the chocolate mass.
Any chocolate is a product of cocoa bean processing . According to the standards, chocolate is a confectionery product obtained on the basis of cocoa products and sugar, the composition of which is not less than 35% of the total dry residue of cocoa products, including not less than 18% of cocoa butter and not less than 14% of dry fat remaining cocoa products. Chocolate differs in the ratio of cocoa and cocoa butter , as there is bitter, dark, milk and white chocolate .
The composition of bitter chocolate should be at least 55% of the total dry residue of cocoa products and at least 33% of cocoa oil . Dark chocolate should contain at least 40% of the total dry residue of cocoa products, including at least 20% of cocoa butter .
The difference between dark and bitter chocolate is in the amount of cocoa : bitter has more of it, and therefore it has a darker color.
Milk chocolate is made on the basis of cocoa products, sugar, milk and/or its processing products, which contains at least 25% of the total dry residue of cocoa products, at least 2.5% of dry defatted residue of cocoa products, at least 12% milk solids and/or its processing products, not less than 2.5% of milk fat and not less than 25% of total fat.
This is a confectionery product obtained on the basis of cocoa oil , milk and/or its processing products and sugar, the composition of which includes not less than 20% of cocoa oil and not less than 14% of milk solids and/or its processing products, including not less than 3.5% milk fat. Another is sugar. There is no cocoa powder in this chocolate .
French chocolatier and sculptor, world champion in chocolate art and founder of the chocolate brand Patrick Roger believes that real chocolate consists of only 4 ingredients: cocoa beans , cocoa butter , sugar and love. What definitely should not be in the dessert : vegetable fats, flavorings, sugar substitutes. Many modern brands that have replaced sugar with analogues or vegetable syrups with a low glycemic index are ready to argue with the last statement.
True craft chocolate differs from mass-market chocolate at almost every stage. Local producers usually only work with small artisanal farms that can ensure proper quality. There are no additives in the right chocolate , only natural ingredients. Cocoa - beans are fermented during the production of fine (higher grade) cocoa , as this stage is crucial. It allows you to develop various shades of cocoa aromas . Fermentation is carried out (as in wine production) by bacteria and natural microorganisms present in the plantation environment. If not for this step, then chocolatewould not have fruity, floral and other aromas. This is the stage that allows you to get an aromatic bouquet of chocolate .
Such chocolate is made according to the technology "from cocoa bean to bar". The manufacturer carefully selects cocoa beans , cleans, grinds them, grinds them with sugar using special equipment, pours them into molds and packs them. A characteristic feature of this dessert is the use of aromatic varieties of cocoa beans . Such beans are a terroir product that has a unique ability to absorb aromas from the land, air and water of the area where it grows. For example, the taste of chocolate made from cocoa beans from Madagascar will be noticeably different fromchocolate from cocoa beans from Venezuela. Manufacturers of bean-to-bar chocolate most often make dark, 70% chocolate , since it is this that maximally emphasizes the natural taste of cocoa beans . And no additives except cocoa beans and sugar.
Among the advantages of such a dessert , first of all, you can highlight the taste - diverse and unique. While chocolate from the mass market is often just bitter or sweet, bean-to-bar can be berry, fruity, nutty, without excessive bitterness. The second feature is the clean composition, which only contains cocoa beans and sugar. Some manufacturers add cocoa butter or lecithin to improve the fluidity of the chocolate to pour it into molds. The dessert does not contain any flavorings, cocoa butter substitutes, or other ingredients unnecessary for high-quality chocolate . The third advantage is ethics chocolate _ Chocolate for the mass market is often made from cheap African cocoa beans , where slave labor, including child labor, is still used on plantations . Bean-to-bar producers usually work directly with farmers or through a trusted intermediary, paying a fairer price for the cocoa beans and the farmer's labor. They are more interested in quality cocoa processing and do not choose quantity over quality. Such plantations provide decent working conditions. Of course, all these factors affect the price of chocolate .
Chocolate , a naturally fermented product, is rich in flavanols (a type of polyphenol, a powerful antioxidant that prevents cell damage caused by free radicals). Research has shown that the flavanols in cocoa help fight the symptoms of cognitive aging and improve insulin sensitivity, cardiovascular function, blood flow to the brain, and even athletic performance. And chocolate is one of the richest natural sources of magnesium, which takes part in the transmission of neuromuscular impulses, regulates the metabolism of muscle, heart and nerve tissues.
And, unfortunately, he is not the only one. Due to climate change, the temperature of the planet is rising. The last decade was generally the warmest in 125 thousand years. The average global temperature from 2015 to 2019 increased by 1.1 degrees compared to the pre-industrial period and by 0.2 degrees compared to the previous 5 years. This means not only that winters will now be warmer, but also that in warm countries where cocoa beans grow , the climate will become even hotter and drier. Cocoacan only grow within about 20 degrees north and south of the equator. The world's leading producers are Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and Indonesia, where, according to forecasts, temperatures will rise by 2.1 degrees by 2050 and suitable cropland will shrink significantly. However, the problem is not only in the heat, but also in insufficient humidity. High temperatures increase the stress caused by low rainfall. This critically affects cocoa trees .
In the event of a worst-case scenario, scientists have some ideas for saving cocoa beans . One of the tree adaptation strategies is to provide cocoa growers with selectively bred seeds that have good drought tolerance. Plant DNA can be changed using gene editing technology. New seedlings will be able to adapt to a hotter and drier climate. However, despite the development of technology and the capabilities of scientists, the fact remains unchanged: anthropogenic influence is destroying the planet. A threat to ecosystems is a threat to humanity, and there is not much left before a food crisis.
When choosing chocolate , check the package: it should not indicate that the cocoa is treated with alkali (usually this information can be found in the list of ingredients immediately after the word cocoa ). This is a Dutch technology, this processing significantly reduces the content of cocoa phytonutrients, replacing useful nutrients with empty calories.
If you want to get the maximum benefit from chocolate , then choose bitter chocolate containing at least 70% cocoa . The amount of sugar in store-bought chocolate can vary greatly. It is better to put a dessert with a minimum of sugar and a maximum of cocoa in the basket . Leave the milk and white chocolate in case of a strong desire for something very sweet, because the main ingredient there is definitely sugar.
If possible, choose chocolate with international Organic or FairTrade certification. This is almost always a guarantee that the cocoa was grown ethically.
Eat the chocolate right away. The fresher it is, the tastier it is. It is in the recently produced dessert that its aromatic and taste properties are fully revealed.
You can make chocolate at home. This will help you avoid inappropriate ingredients and use only what you want.