Do you like chocolate? So many do, as it is one of the most widely purchased and consumed delicacies available today. Read more about chocolate and its history.
From the cacao tree comes the base ingredient for chocolate – the cocoa bean. Chocolate has a rich history, steeped in mystery and divine properties, throughout the ages as a delicacy, from the Mayan and Aztec societies, whose elite drank an unsweetened cocoa drink, all the way to the modern-day chocolate confection bar that is so common today.
The cacao tree has pods that contain seeds, and it is these seeds that are used to be crushed or pressed to begin the process of making ‘chocolate’, or sometimes at this stage better known as cocoa. These trees were native to the Americas, especially Central America, and this is where the rich history of chocolate seems to begin, over 2000 years ago. Soon, the Spanish conquistadors came and took the seeds back to their country, and the use of cacao seeds to make chocolate type beverages and foods expanded, until, as it is now, chocolate is available in many forms all over the world.
Chocolate is highly diverse in its uses in modern day cooking. Many of the most popular desserts contain chocolate as either the main ingredient or one of the main flavoring ingredients in the recipe, such as cakes, cookies, sodas, and hot cocoa drinks. Chocolate is even used in many non-dessert items, such as certain moles and soup stocks. While many believe chocolate to be sweet, because of the types of chocolate most commonly eaten in America, anyone who has ever tried Baker’s Chocolate knows that real chocolate, by itself, is actually quite bitter until sweeteners are added to it.
While the use and consumption of chocolate has become more common and widespread, because of its history and difficult processing procedures, chocolate is a delicacy that is prized by many. Expensive and fancy chocolates are given as gifts for special occasions, and chocolate, being the most popular Valentine’s Day gift worldwide, is a symbol of fine taste and the expression of love.
Chocolatiers, the prestigious name given to those who manufacture certain types of chocolate confections, have created chocolate masterpieces that often carry hefty price tags. Today, you can try dark chocolate, light chocolate, white chocolate, milk chocolate… you can sample spiced chocolate and orange chocolate… you can try chocolate with nuts, fruit, crèmes, caramels and more.
In addition to chocolate confections, you can purchase chocolate coffees; chocolate beverages such as chocolate milk, cocoa, and hot chocolate (which are two different things); you can eat chocolate cookies, or chocolate covered or laced cookies; chocolate cake with chocolate frosting is a good treat for any birthday party.
Chocolate fondue is a favorite party activity or a nice idea for a fun after dinner dessert idea. Simply take pieces of cheese, fruits, and breads, and using fondue forks, dip them in an exotic blend of melted chocolate. Yummy!
Chocolate mousses, puddings, and gelatin desserts abound. Of course, there are chocolate covered cherries, raisins, nuts, and even ants! Yes, ants! Our research has even uncovered a delicacy known as – ready for this – chocolate covered grasshoppers! It seems that if you cover something in chocolate, just about anything becomes edible!
With chocolate having once been hailed the ‘food of the gods’, it’s no wonder chocolate is a prized treat. In fact, chocolate was once used as a form of currency in ancient times, prized by the Spanish as ‘black gold.’ It’s no wonder it is such a prized treat today when it has such a rich history.
However, these are not the only reasons chocolate is prized today. Chocolate has been discovered to have natural anti-oxidant properties and contains polyphenols, something that has been shown to possibly protect against heart disease. Chocolate also has been shown to contain caffeine, theobromine, phenylethylamine, magnesium and anandamides. Because of the mild stimulant affect, similar to that of caffeine, that chocolate has been known to cause, it is no wonder that chocolate remains one of the most sought after treats in the world today.
Of course, chocolate has its drawbacks too, because as with any foods, over indulgence can have negative consequences. Modern day chocolate contains sugar and fats, with an average calorie count of about 150 to upwards of 300 calories for one chocolate type candy bar on the shelf. Still, chocolate remains one of the world’s most popular ‘comfort foods.’