From the Discovery to Development: The Satisfying Sweetness of Chocolate
by guest writer, Samuel Brown
When you think of chocolate what is the first word that comes to your mind? Comforter? Lover? Energizer? Or perhaps you think more about the adjectives that describe the sweet food: rich, creamy or even just, as we have said, sweet. Chocolate is a food that nearly everyone loves. In fact, we are skeptical if a friend or co-worker says, I'm not a big chocolate fan. The reason is because chocolate is such an exquisite food that it appeals to nearly every being we know.
Chocolate didn't start out as the sugary delight we care for today. It actually began as a bitter seed of the cocoa tree. After hundreds of years of taste testing, chocolate was finally developed into the sweet treat we love. Let's learn more about how chocolate was discovered and created.
Columbus didn't discover only the Americas when he travelled the world way back in 1492; he also discovered the cocoa bean. Thrilled by this intriguing seed, Columbus presented his newfound treasure to the Spanish Court. King Ferdinand and his wife, Queen Isabella, bit into the bean ready to be dazzled. Neither, however, cared for the treat due to its peppery, bitter taste. A disheartened Columbus left his discovery at that.
Almost thirty years later in 1519, Hernando Cort& eacute;s travelled to the Americas and also made a rich discovery. Though not the gold he sought, the Aztec natives gave Cort& eacute;s a molten version of the cocoa bean Columbus had discovered years before. The drink was called xocolatl.
Developing the Discovery
Cortés knew that the more bitter drink would not satisfy the sensitive European taste preferences. Twenty years after his discovery, he added vanilla and sugar to his drink creating what we know today as hot chocolate. Cortés presented his revamped drink to the Holy Roman Emperor of the time: Charles V. The Emperor listened patiently to Cortés story while sipping at the sugary sweet brew.
Chocolate Would Never be the Same
Ready to turn discovery into profit and following what the Aztecs were already doing, Cortés used cocoa beans as a trading tool. In order to further enhance his profits he created cocoa plantations in Haiti, Trinidad and even across the Atlantic in West Africa.
Cocoa quickly became a luxury treat that only the wealthy in Spain could afford. It remained that way for up to 100 years.
It wasn't until curious explorers from Austria, Germany and France arrived in Spain in the middle of the 17th century that chocolate spread throughout Europe. By 1606, Italy had also joined the chocolate frenzy, thanks to Antonio Carletti.
London was not far behind the rest of Europe in discovering the benefits of chocolate. By 1650 the luxurious sweet had reached the British Court where men like King Charles and other upper class citizens could afford the new delicacy. Henry Stubbe, a physician of the court, changed the uses of chocolate even more when he discovered the therapeutic values found within chocolate.
The Quakers opened Cadbury and Rowntree factories during the 19th century
By 1819, the Swiss finally join the industry by creating a chocolate factory in Vevey, Switzerland.
It wasn't until 1840 that chocolate bars, figurines and pastilles were developed by the Belgians. At that time, they, too, built their first chocolate factory.
Since then, chocolate has been refined here and there with complimenting ingredients like nuts and fruits added. The once bitter bean evolved into a sweet treat that even the most stubborn person can't refuse.
The Chocolate Ingredient
What is a cookie without chocolate chips? What is a cake without chocolate frosting? Why is it that bakers around the world have adopted chocolate into their baking repertoire? There are five reasons, all of which you carry around with you at all times: your five senses.
The Sight: Who can look at chocolate and not want a bite? When people see chocolate they say, " Doesn't that look delicious?" This happens because chocolate has a visual charm. Because there are so many different shades of chocolate (light for milky chocolate, dark for, well, dark chocolate, etc.) chocolate can satisfy the human mind aesthetically. There are highlights, shadows and mid-tones all within a simple piece of chocolate. Add chocolate decorations and you are going to sell your products by look alone.
The Taste: We've already started a list of words that describe the taste of chocolate and none of them have a bad connotation. This is why chocolate is loved by so many people. The sweetness of chocolate adds to a bland recipe while the slight bitterness enhances sweets in other foodstuffs. Chocolate is therefore a versatile ingredient, suitable for so many recipes.
The Smell: Whether you like the sweet, florally scent or the darker roasted nut aroma chocolate also has an array of smells that entice the nose and cause the mouth to salivate.
The Touch: Texture is an important quality in foods. If you don't like how something feels in your mouth, you won't want to eat it. Chocolate, when made correctly, should have a milky texture - never waxy - that your tongue will love and crave.
The Sound: That's right, chocolate has a sound. Have you ever broken into a chocolate bar? What sound did it make? Likely you heard a beautiful snap that resonated throughout the room and made you smile as you placed that delicious treat on your tongue.
Chocolate has everything needed to satisfy. From satisfying your senses to satisfying your mind (because we can't forget that chocolate is rich in antioxidants which are good for the brain) chocolate has been one of the greatest discoveries of mankind.
From the author ....
SMALL BIO: When I think of chocolate I think of three words: sweet, smooth and luscious. That is because I feel chocolate, both white and dark chocolate, is an essential ingredient to baking. My name is Samuel Brown and I am owner and founder of http://www.mycookiecutters.com/, home of quality cookie cutters and cookie cutter sets . I run the site with my wife, Lisa, who is an avid baker and has changed the way I think about baking forever. Our three kids - Troy, Lydia and Catherine - have grown up loving their mother's baking creations - and I wouldn't have it any other way.