chocolates and cakes

Chocolate

The Chocolate Time Line:

1824: John Cadbury, an English Quaker, begins roasting and grinding chocolate beans to sell in his tea and coffee shop. In 1842 Cadbury's Chocolate Company in England creates the first chocolate bar.

1875: A Swiss chocolate maker, Daniel Peter, mixes Henri Nestle's condensed milk with chocolate and the two men found a company to manufacture the first milk chocolate.

1894: Milton Hershey adds a line of chocolate to his caramel manufacturing business. Soon he invents the Hershey Bar by experimenting with milk chocolate. Hershey's Cocoa appears next.

1896: Leonard Hershfield invents the Tootsie Roll, named after his daughter.

1897: Brownies are first mentioned in print, listed for sale in the Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalogue.

About 1900: A machine called the enrober is invented to replace the task of hand-dipping chocolate.

Hershey's Milk chocolate Bar was invented in 1900.

Reese's Peanut Butter Cups was invented 1923.

Butterfinger was invented in 1923.

Snickers Bar was invented in 1930.

3 Musketeers Bar was invented in 1932.

Kit Kat was invented 1933.

Nestle's Crunch was invented 1938

M&M's were invented in 1940.

About chocolate and cocoa powder:

There is specialty, pure chocolate, generally found in gourmet shops and baking chocolate, found in the grocery store. Pure chocolate can be melted to liquid form, poured into molds to cool, sculpted with and become confections of any shape desired. Baking chocolate is perfect to use in a recipe. Chocolate can be pressed into cocoa powder and used for baking, making ice cream and sorbets. Chocolate chips or chunks can be added to a batter before baking, creating a recipe studded with chocolate throughout.

For best results, be sure to use the type of chocolate and cocoa powder that the recipe calls for, as different varieties will react differently to heat and moisture, plus the taste and texture can change. But, you can substitute one for another if you are aware of how to do it.

Different types of chocolate:

If the bitter chocolate liquor is molded and solidified after the nibs are crushed, ground and tempered, it is called "baking" or dark "unsweetened" chocolate. These are referred to as "pure chocolates". All chocolate types besides "baking" or dark "unsweetened" chocolate are not considered to be "pure" chocolate. In general, the darker the chocolate, the more chocolate liquor it contains -- from 100% in unsweetened chocolate to 10% for milk chocolate. The darkest chocolate will provide the most chocolate flavor.

If not, the crushed nibs continue on in the chocolate-making process and other types of chocolate are made. It's the addition and proportion of ingredients to one another that distinguish one brand of chocolate from another. The proportion of the ingredients for each type of chocolate is regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (USDA).

How chocolate and cocoa powder are made:

To make chocolate and cocoa powder, processors ferment and then roast the cocoa bean, the fruit (or pod) of the tropical tree, Theobroma cocoa, cultivated in tropical climates within 10 to 20 degrees north and south of the Equator and on the Big Island of Hawaii. Like coffee, cocoa does not acquire the richness of its color and the fullness of its flavor until it is roasted. Beans that are going to be used for cocoa powder are roasted longer than those for chocolate because chocolate goes through other processes after roasting that develop flavor.

Once roasted, the beans are cracked and winnowed to expose the cocoa nib, or core. Cracking breaks the nib free of the shell and reduces it to small pieces, allowing the winnowing to blow away the hulls with powerful fans. Sometimes, the nibs are first blended with other chocolate nib varieties of different and type to produce the unique and complex "chocolate recipe" that is the characteristic of each chocolate manufacturer's particular "flavor".

The chocolate nibs are then crushed and ground while hot from roasting by large stone mills into a thick rich-looking "liquor" or "mass" called chocolate liquor, also known as the essence of chocolate.

Chocolate liquor is nonalcoholic, despite its name, containing two components, cocoa solids (50 % to 58 %) and cocoa butter (42 % to 50 %). Cocoa solids are what give it its marvelous and distinct chocolaty flavor and dark color, and cocoa butter contains the fat which is what gives it its smooth, creamy richness.

Storing chocolate:

Well-wrapped, chocolate is best kept at around 68 - 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of a nice pantry or dark cabinet, away from strong odors. Kept at this temperature, chocolate (assuming it isn't covering fruit or other perishables) has a shelf life of about a year. When you freeze chocolate and then thaw it out, it will have a greater tendency to bloom. But, I keep my chocolate frozen all the time.

If chocolate is or improperly tempered, a "bloom" will occur. This is when the cocoa butter separates from the solids. You can see the bloom because it appears as a colored film on the outside of the chocolate. It is harmless and will disappear as soon as it is melted.

Fatbloom - When a thin layer of fat crystals forms on the surface of the chocolate. This will cause the chocolate to lose its gloss and a soft white layer will appear, giving the finished article an unappetizing look. Fat bloom is caused by the recrystallization of the fats and/or a migration of a filling fat to the chocolate layer. Storage at a constant temperature will delay the appearance of it.

Sugarbloom - This is a rough and irregular layer on top of the chocolate. Sugar bloom is caused by condensation (when the chocolate is taken out of the refrigerator). This moisture will dissolve the sugar in the chocolate. When the water evaporates afterwards, the sugar recrystallizes into rough, irregular crystals on the surface. This gives the chocolate an unpleasant look. You can prevent sugar bloom by preventing temperature shocks. When chocolate comes out of a cold room, it should be stored in a warm area long enough before opening the package to keep direct condensation from forming.

Chocolate is sensitive to heat, changes in temperature, and also picks up flavors from other foods, so wrap it well in foil and then again in plastic wrap.

Can chocolate really be good for you:

Recent studies have shown that eating chocolate can be beneficial to your health. Chocolate contains a substance called catechins that could help prevent cancer and heart disease.

Catechins are strong antioxidants which clear away destructive molecules in the body called free radicals. Free radicals damage cells which help trigger heart disease and cancer. A large amount of antioxidants in your diet can help reduce your risk for developing heart disease and cancer.

Cocoa powder and chocolate are good sources of antioxidants. Dark chocolate contains significantly higher amounts than milk chocolate per serving. You can also find catechins in large doses in green tea.

In addition, researchers have discovered that physical and emotional enjoyment from eating chocolate, even in small doses, can enhance immune function for hours afterwards. They believe that life's small pleasures may have a cumulative effect in boosting the immune system over a long period.

The good news is that moderate chocolate consumption offers health benefits. The bad news is that you can't eat whatever you want because too much chocolate can lead to weight gain.