Happy Chocolate Day 2023: History of Chocolate & All You Need To Know
Chocolate Day 2023: Valentine's week has reached its third day, which is celebrated as Chocolate Day. Chocolate Day is celebrated on 9 February. On this day we gift chocolates to dear and near ones and offer chocolates to colleagues, friends, etc. Nowadays chocolates come in several flavors.
The history of chocolate dates back to the ancient Mayans and even earlier to the ancient Olmecs of southern Mexico. Do you know earlier chocolate was a bitter beverage, not a sweet, edible treat?
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History of Chocolate
Chocolate has a 4000-year history that began in ancient Mesoamerica, present-day Mexico. First cacao plants were found here from which chocolate was made. Let us tell you that in Latin America there was a civilization named Olmec that turned the cacao plant into chocolate. During rituals, they drank chocolate and also used it as medicine.
After centuries, the Mayans praised chocolate as the drink of the gods. Mayan chocolate was not sweet but made up of roasted ground cacao seeds mixed with chilies, water, and cornmeal. They poured this mixture from one pot to another and create a thick foamy mixture known as "xocolatl" which is "bitter water".
By the 15th century, the Aztecs started using cocoa beans as currency. According to them, chocolate was a gift from the god named Quetzalcoatl, and drank it as a refreshing beverage, an aphrodisiac, and even to prepare for war.
There is no evidence of how chocolate reached Spain but it is considered that Legend Hernan Cortes 1528 brought chocolate to his homeland. It is believed that Cortes discovered chocolate during an expedition to America. He was searching for gold and instead of it, he found a cup of cocoa given to him by the emperor Aztec.
When Cortes returned home, he introduced cocoa seeds to the Spanish people. Here, Spanish mix chocolate drinks with sugar and honey to sweeten the naturally bitter taste. Soon it became popular among the rich and wealthy. Even Catholic monks loved chocolate drinks to aid religious practices.
How chocolate reached Europe?
The King of French named Louis XIII married Anne of Austria who is the daughter of Spanish King Phillip III. In the celebration, she brought samples of chocolate to the royal courts of France. Soon, chocolate reached Britain at special "chocolate houses". The trend of chocolate spread in Europe and several nations. They then started planting cacao and its plantation increased along the equator.
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It remained popular in the European aristocracy. For health benefits, royals and the upper classes consumed chocolate. At that time chocolate was produced by hand, which was a slow and laborious process. But with the Industrial Revolution situations and methods changed.
The invention of the chocolate press revolutionized chocolate making in 1828. This device squeezes cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans and generates a fine cocoa powder. This powder was then mixed with liquids and poured into a mold, where it solidified into an edible bar of chocolate. Like this, the modern era of chocolate was born.
Chocolate is prepared from the fruit of cacao trees, which are native to Central and South America. These fruits are known as pods and each pod contains around 40 cacao beans. The beans are dried and roasted to form cocoa beans.
Some interesting facts about Chocolate
As we know there are various types of flavors in chocolates that are produced by varying the quantities of the different ingredients.
- Daniel Peter, a Swiss confectioner, in 1875, developed the first solid milk chocolate using condensed milk, which had been invented by Henri Nestle.
- In the United Kingdom, Cadbury is the leading brand of milk chocolate.
- Dark chocolate is known as "plain chocolate" that is produced by using a high percentage of cocoa with cocoa butter containing fat instead of milk. There are dark milk chocolates also and several degrees of hybrids.
- Dark chocolate is termed as semisweet and bittersweet consisting of some amount of added sugar and is traditionally used in the United States.
- High-quality dark chocolate is known as Couverture chocolate. It has a high percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter and is precisely tempered. This chocolate is used by professionals for dipping, coating, molding, and garnishing. In French 'Couverture' means 'covering'. Popular brands of Couverture chocolate are Valrhona, Scharffen Berger, Callebaut, and Guittard.
- White chocolate is made up of sugar, milk, and cocoa butter, without using cocoa solids.
- Barry Callebaut created a type of chocolate known as Ruby chocolate. It is said it was in a process of development since 2004 and was released to the public in 2017. It is made from Ruby cocoa beans and consists of red distinct colors and different flavors. It tastes 'sweet and sour'.
- Raw chocolate is unprocessed chocolate that is not heated or mixed with other ingredients.
- Compound chocolate is formed by combining cocoa with other vegetable fat, usually tropical fats or hydrogenated fats, as a replacement for cocoa butter.
- Modelling chocolate is a combination of melted chocolate, corn syrup, glucose syrup, or golden syrup. It is used by cake bakers to decorate cakes and pastries.
- After extracting almost all the cocoa butter, cocoa powder is formed which is used to add flavor in baking and in making chocolate drinks.
Now, you may have come to know about the origin of chocolate, how is it made and some facts related to types of chocolates.