Made from the cocoa bean, which is a fruit grown on Cacao trees, a majority of which are grown in West Africa. It takes 400 cocoa beans to make a pound (Approx. 0.5kg) of chocolate and each cacao tree produces 2,500 beans.
It has long been revered as a luxury for The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank 50 cups of cacao a day from a golden chalice and Spanish royalty would give cakes of cacao as part of their dowries. (Source: https://candyusa.com/story-of-chocolate/fun-facts-about-chocolate/)
But how does Cocoa become the humble chocolate bar?According to Hotel Chocolat, there is a long process that involves roasting, shell removal, grinding, separating the butter from the cocoa, adding the chocolate liquor, and finally tempering the chocolate to create smooth shiny bars.
Is chocolate good for you?One of the benefits of dark chocolate is that it is high in antioxidants and flavanols. A study showed that the cocoa bean could be considered a “Super fruit” and offer many health benefits. (This applies to dark chocolate; milk chocolate contains higher levels of sugar). There have also been studies that suggest dark chocolate is good for your mental health and wellbeing. Dark chocolate can potentially prevent the decline of your again cognitive brain and tastes delicious!
Chocolate in recipesChocolate is a great, versatile ingredient to use in any recipe, add milk chocolate to brownies, cakes and icing, it can be made into intricate designs for decorating cakes and used in truffles (Visit our truffle workshop to find out more!), it can even be used in savoury dishes, for example, they are a great addition to a spicy Mexican chilli, they add a little body and depth to the overall flavour, you can make a cacao nib rub for the BBQ and even add it to a sauce called Picada and smother your roasted veggies in it.When you are using chocolate in recipes make sure you are using high quality chocolate bars with over 60% solid (cocoa content) otherwise your recipes aren’t going to taste very nice.Chocolate makes a great base for any drink too, from cocktails to the luxurious hot chocolate.