Chocolates are liked by almost everyone in this world. You will hardly find people who so not like chocolates. Chocolates as a means of giving gifts can strengthen bonds, to remind friends, family, and colleagues that they are an important part of our lives. As a number of gifts giving days are increasing day by day, the art of giving chocolates is also increasing day by day. Most popular today are the gourmet chocolates. You can virtually gift all these chocolates on any day such as Mother's Day, Birthdays, Wedding Gifts, and Valentine's Day or for any other special occasion.
Gourmet chocolates are a grand delicacy for any gift chocolate lover, and you can easily find them almost anywhere whether online or from gift shops. Everybody knows about the person who yearns for chocolate. You can see the satisfaction and contentment on the face of your loved ones, if you present their chocolates on their favorite or important day.
Evolution of Chocolate Gifts: There have been a number of instances when many people to their loved ones gave these chocolates. Here are some of the great people who presented chocolates to their loved ones.
• Before giftchocolate, what existed in the market was the Aztec drink xocoatl. This was a mixture of water, spices and ground cacao beans. Historically, Aztecs used beans as a form of currency and for payment of tribute to their kings. It was an Indian chef who really started the art of giving chocolate gifts to an American king. He presented the gift basket full cocoa beans to Christopher Columbus. However, Columbus did not know what to do with the beans. After that Indian chef, the Aztec King Montezuma presented Cortez and his conquistadors with gifts of cocoa beans. It is a well-known historical fact that Aztecs preferred the beans above gold. This happened earlier in the 10th century.
After Montezuma, Spanish Princess Anna of Austria gifted the cocoa beans to her new husband, King Louis XIII, in 1616. The drink became so popular after that it became a fashion to drink such drinks. Soon it spread to all Italy and later to Austria. It also became popular in Louis court.
• After spreading to Italy and Austria for gifting purposes, it was the turn of Casanova to use the chocolates for expressing his romantic feelings. He used chocolates as gifts to his loved interests.
• Cadbury first developed a truly species and ready to be eaten chocolate. It introduced chocolate boxes in 1765 when cocoa beans were brought to Dorchester, Massachusetts from the West Indies. Since then, the fashion of chocolate gifts boxes has been in existence. Today whenever we plan to gift chocolates, first we think of chocolate boxes.
• The year 1835 saw the emergence of chocolate cakes. In 1835 the master pastry chef to Emperor Franz Joseph gifted first Imperial Torte, a five-layered chocolate cake with five layers of almond paste, to the Empress. Since then the chocolate cakes have been in existence.
• Subsequent uses of chocolates saw the Queen Victoria gifting molded chocolates to her British troops as a means of New Year gift. These troops were at that time fighting for the Boer war in South Africa in 1900.
• In addition, during World War II some American soldiers became quite well known to European children. They gifted these children 4-ounce chocolate bars.
• Modern chocolatiers produce the finest gourmet and hand-made chocolates in history, many elegantly boxed for gift giving.
Types of Chocolates that you can gift:
• Couverture: The top most quality for chocolates is the Couverture quality. The recipe includes very high percentages of pure cocoa butter, normally a 32-39%. The higher percentage of cocoa butter, combined with the processing, gives the chocolate more sheen, firmer snap when broken, and a creamy mellow flavor. This butter gives it an instant excellent flavor. Must be tempered before use to stabilize the cocoa butter. You can also use it for making special recipes. However, be extra cautious as to not to substitute this type of chocolate with other types of chocolates as this will alter the recipe altogether.
White Chocolate: White chocolates are made of cocoa butter, sugar, milk, emulsifier, vanilla and sometimes other flavorings. These chocolates do not contain any non-fat ingredients from the cacao bean. This is what gives them the natural off-white color or ivory colored. This chocolate is rich and creamy. Although called as a chocolate, yet some countries do not prefer to call it as chocolate as there are not much cocoa solids and liquor present inside them. This type of chocolate melts very easily on low heat and thus it has a mild and pleasant flavor that can be used to make Chocolate Mousse, Panna Cotta and other desserts.
• Milk Chocolate: Milk chocolate contains chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, vanilla, milk solids, and lecithin. This variety is a sweet chocolate with 10-20% cocoa solids that includes cocoa and cocoa butter and more than 12% milk solids. This variety is never used for baking, except for cookies. The quality of milk chocolates varies from brand to brand. The high quality contains high percentages of cocoa liquor. They are eaten in the form of candy bars form and also used in pastries, candies, and confectionaries.
• Dark Chocolate: dark chocolates contain very high-sweetened chocolate as well as high content of cocoa solids and no or very little milk. Additionally, it may contain up to 12% milk solids. These types can be sweet, semi-sweet, bittersweet or unsweetened. If a recipe specifies 'dark chocolate' you should first try semi-sweet dark chocolate. Dark chocolates can be a very good means for lowering blood pressure.
• Sweet Dark Chocolate: Sweet dark and semi sweet chocolates can be thought of as similar in respect that their tastes are almost similar. It is not always possible to distinguish between the flavor of sweet and semi-sweet chocolate. The sweet dark chocolates and semi sweet chocolates can be used interchangeable if one is not available if you are making a recipe with them. Sweet dark chocolates contain often 35-45% cocoa solids.
• Semi-sweet Chocolate: This type of chocolate is very old and was used traditionally also. This can be found out in any leading chocolate shop and is easily available. This type of chocolate is most commonly used for making cakes, cookies and brownies. As told earlier, this can be used as substitute for sweet dark chocolate. It has a good, sweet flavor. Contains often 40-62% cocoa solids.
• Bittersweet Chocolate: Another variety of chocolates is the bittersweet chocolates that contain at least 35% cocoa solids. Their qualities also differ. Some good quality bittersweet chocolates contain 50% to 85% cocoa solids depending on brand. Usually, in these chocolates if the content of cocoa solids is high, the content of sugar is low, giving a rich, intense and more or less bitter chocolate flavor. Bittersweet chocolate is often used for baking/cooking. There is no substitute for these kinds of chocolates. If a recipe specifies bittersweet chocolate do not substitute with semi-sweet or sweet chocolate. Be cautious in buying these kinds of chocolates, as there is varieties in these chocolates contain very large amounts of cocoa solids, and some of them have quite bitter taste.
• Truffles: Truffle chocolate is named after its visual similarity to the French mushroom-like fungus of the same name. These types are most common and have become synonymous for luxurious gift giving. It gives a rich sweet mouth watering taste. Truffles are made in a wide variety of tastes. In many chocolate houses the Chocolatier's finest ingredients are reserved for the truffle.