Established in 2009, World Chocolate Day marks the supposed anniversary of the day that this iconic dessert made its first entrance into Europe in 1550. All around the world on this date, candy stores, and local suppliers place their best-loved merchandise on sale so that everyone, both young and old, can enjoy a nibble of the stuff.
Chocolate comes from the seed of the Theobroma Cacao tree. Cacao grows in Mexico, Central America, and Northern South America, where it has been cultivated for at least three millennia. However, Africa holds 70% of the growing cacao trees in the world today. The earliest known observation of using cacao seeds is from around 1100 BC. The tree seeds have a very serious, bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavor.
In order to craft a bar of chocolate, seeds from a cacao tree are covered with banana leaves and left to ferment, at which point they are called cocoa beans. Once the cocoa beans have arrived at their processing plant, they are roasted slowly at a low temperature. Then it’s time to separate the shells from the nibs so that the nibs can be ground to a fine powder called cocoa liquor, which is just pure chocolate in rough form.
The cocoa mass is often liquified and molded with or without other ingredients. This is the state where you get chocolate liquor. The chocolate liquor then gets processed into two components – cocoa butter and cocoa solids.
The two products most vital to chocolate production come from this cocoa liquor paste. Cocoa powder is produced and packed for purchase at grocery stores so that we can bake the beloved roasted taste profile into our cakes and cookies, while cocoa butter is produced so that manufacturers can use it as an ingredient in their chocolate bars.
A lot of research into this edible treasure has found that it is a powerful source of antioxidants, plus it helps to improve blood flow, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease. It also increases serotonin and dopamine levels, which helps to boost mood. Many people are advised to eat more dark chocolate as it contains healthier benefits. Tons of treats are made from chocolate – hot chocolate milk, chocolate milk, chocolate cake and brownies, chocolate candy bars, and a lot more we enjoy today.
Dark chocolate, which tastes most like its mother seed, is simply a mixture of cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, and sugar. Milk chocolate includes those three ingredients plus a smattering of milk powder. At this point, chocolatiers can add things like nuts, salts, and syrups to elevate the flavor profile. Once cooled, the mixtures harden into the shapes of their respective molds, are wrapped in paper, and shipped to our favorite stores and candy shops.