Dark Chocolate Is Healthy Chocolate!
How To Melt and Temper Chocolate - Chocolate Substitution Chart - Chocolate Glossary

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Learn about the History of Hot Chocolate - There is a difference between hot cocoa and hot chocolate. The terms are often used interchangeably, but technically they are as different as white chocolate and bittersweet chocolate.

Learn about the history of White Chocolate - The development of milk chocolate by Daniel Peter changed the flavor of chocolate around the world. In 1887, Daniel Peter adopted the original formula for what was to become the first successful milk chocolate in the entire world.

How To Melt and Temper Chocolate - Guidelines For Melting Chocolate.

Chocolate Recipes - Lots of candy, cookies, cakes, pudding & more chocolate recipes.

How To Make Shaving Chocolate
Learn how easy it is to make chocolate shavings.

Chocolate Clay Roses - These delightful chocolate roses can be used as edible decorations for a cake or to create a basket of blooms. This edible clay can be also used as a modeling clay for making other figurines and objects. The soft pliability makes it easy to work with. These chocolate roses are so easy to make that even children enjoy making them.

Dutch-Process Cocoa vs. Unsweetened Cocoa - Learn about the differences between different types of cocoa.

Chocolate Facts & Trivia:

Chocoholic: - n (chocolate + -oholic (as in alcoholic))(1968): a person who craves or compulsively consumes chocolate. - Webster's Dictionary

Did you know that the Aztecs considered all chocolate an aphrodisiac? Because of this, all foods made with chocolate were strictly forbidden to women.

Although chocolate is not an aphrodisiac, chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), a natural substance that is reputed to stimulate the same reaction in the body as falling in love. So - heartbreak and loneliness are great excuses for chocolate gorging!

Chocolate is old-school Viagra. Montezuma reputedly chugged a cup of chocolate before entering his harem, while Casanova called chocolate the "elixir of love" and drank it instead of champagne.

Christopher Columbus is said to have brought back cacao beans to King Ferdinand from his fourth visit to the New World around 1502, but they were overlooked in favor of the many other treasures he had found. Records suggest that he didn't particularly like the Aztec delicacy of "hot chocolate"- a thick cocoa drink laced with ground chiles and dyed red to look like blood - but recognizing its potential he took a load of cocoa beans back to Spain.

The early Spanish explorers thought the primary (if not only) use of chocolate was medicinal. Chocolate drinks were developed in Spain that were seasoned with pepper, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon or mixed with beer or wine. They became such a hit that Spanish society ladies had them served during Mass.

The first attempt at making a solid chocolate product came in the 1700's, when Mexican nuns raised money for their convent by producing and exporting solid chocolate bars.

The first "chocolate box" was introduced by Richard Cadbury in 1868, when he decorated a candy box with a painting of his young daughter holding a kitten in her arms. Cadbury also introduced the first Valentine's Day candy box.

Chocolate Toxicity In Dogs:
Did you know that chocolate can be lethal to dogs. About 2 ounces of milk chocolate can be poisonous to a 10-pound dog. The same holds true for cats and other household pets.

Acne: Chocolate doesn't cause acne. This is just another myth about chocolate that has been disproved by doctors for some time.


It's The Best Medical News In Ages! 
Studies in prestigious scientific journals say dark chocolate is healthy chocolate

Dark Chocolate Bar

Dark Chocolate - not white chocolate or milk chocolate - is good for you. As there is no question that chocolate procures pleasure for those who eat it, you never need to feel guilty again!

If you enjoy dark chocolate, eat a little daily - but make it the dark kind.

Eating 2 ounces (50 grams) a day of plain chocolate with a minimum content of 70% chocolate solids can be beneficial to health, providing protection against heart disease, high blood pressure, and many other health hazards as well as essential trace elements and nutrients such as iron, calcium and potassium, and vitamins A. B1, C, D, and E and it's a lot tastier than boring old vitamin pills too.

  • A 1 1/2-ounce square of chocolate may have as many cancer-fighting antioxidants as a 5-ounce glass of red wine.

  • About 50% of all food cravings are for chocolate, far more than cravings for "something sweet" (16%), salty foods (12%), baked goods (11%), and fruit (4%). Some people go so far as saying they are addicted to chocolate. But that's no license to go on a chocolate binge. Eating more dark chocolate can help lower blood pressure. Remember, you do have to balance the extra calories by eating less of other things.

  • What is it that makes chocolate so irresistible? A large part of chocolate's allure, of course, lies in the taste - a deliciously rich concoction that satisfies the most intense craving.  But several chemical reactions are also at work. For one thing, chocolate stimulates the secretion of endorphins, producing a pleasurable sensation similar to the "runner's high" a jogger feels after running several miles. The question arises: Why is chocolate such a powerful food? And what makes it the most commonly craved food? (About 40% of women and 15% of men report chocolate cravings.)

  • A new study by market research publisher Packaged Facts titled Market Trends: The U.S. Market for Gourmet Chocolate reports that the higher cocoa, lower sugar content and antioxidant properties of premium dark chocolate are making it a more attractive treat for health-conscious Americans, especially those counting carbs. The potential health benefits of premium dark chocolate versus higher sugar, higher fat mass-market counterparts are causing consumers to reevaluate their attitudes toward the gourmet chocolate market.

A word of caution: Not all chocolate is heart healthy. White chocolate, which a Harvard researcher points out is "not really chocolate at all," and milk chocolate may expand the hips rather than help blood flow. And none of the instant cocoa mixes in the local grocery store contain the flavonoids that improve blood vessel function.

Short History of Chocolate

Aztec Indian legend held that cacao seeds had been brought from Paradise and that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cacao tree. Because of a spelling error, probably by English traders long ago, the cacao beans became know as the cocoa beans.

The Spanish general, Hernando Cortes, landed in Mexico in 1519. The Aztecs believed he was the reincarnation of one of their lost gods. They honored him by serving him an unusual drink, presented in a cup of pure gold. This unusual drink was called "chocolatl" by the Aztecs.

When Cortes returned to Spain, he took the cocoa bean with him and there is was mixed with sugar and vanilla. this sweet drink became fashionable and soon there were chocolate houses in all the capitals of Europe.

A delicate tree, cacao is only grown in rain forests in the tropics, usually on large plantations, where it must be protected from wind and intense sunlight. The tree is harvested twice a year.

Chocolate was invented in 1876 by a Swiss chocolatier, Daniel Peter (1836-1919) of Vevey, Geneva. Daniel Peter successfully combined chocolate with powdered milk to produce the first milk chocolate. Today, the finest chocolate is still made in Switzerland, and the consumption of milk chocolate far outweighs that of plain chocolate.

Chocolate was introduced to the United States in 1765 when John Hanan brought cocoa beans from the West Indies into Dorchester, Massachusetts, to refine them with the help of Dr. James Baker. The first chocolate factory in the country was established there.


Chocolate Glossary

square of chocolateUnsweetened Chocolate:
It is also called baking, plain or bitter chocolate. Since no sugar has been added to the chocolate it has a strong, bitter taste that is used in cooking and baking but is never eaten out of hand. 

Bittersweet Chocolate:
Still dark, but a little sweeter than unsweetened. It is unsweetened chocolate to which sugar, more cocoa butter, lecithin, and vanilla has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate but the two are interchangeable in baking. Bittersweet has become the sophisticated choice of chefs. It contains a high percentage (up to 75%) of cocoa solids, and little (or no) added sugar. 

Semisweet Chocolate:
Slightly sweetened during processing, and most often used in frostings, sauces, fillings, and mousses. They are interchangeable in most recipes. The favorite of most home bakers. It contains a high percentage (up to 75%) of cocoa solids, and little (or no) added sugar.

German Chocolate:
Dark, but sweeter than semisweet. German chocolate is the predecessor to bittersweet. It has no connection to Germany; it was developed by a man named German.

Milk Chocolate or Sweet Chocolate:
Candy bar chocolate. Chocolate to which whole and/or skim milk powder has been added. Rarely used in cooking because the protein in the added milk solids interferes with the texture of the baked products. It contains approximately 20 percent cocoa solids.

White Chocolate:
Many people might argue that white chocolate is not really chocolate. It is made from sweetened cocoa butter mixed with milk solids, sometimes with vanilla added. Since cocoa butter is derived from the cocoa bean, then we can only conclude that real white chocolate is indeed chocolate.

A term generally used to describe high-quality chocolate used by professional bakers in confectionery and baked products. The word means "to cover" or "to coat." It has more cocoa butter than regular chocolate. It's specially formulated for dipping and coating things like truffles. Chocolate of this quality is often compared to tasting fine wine because subtleties in taste are often apparent, especially when you taste a variety of semisweet and bittersweet couvertures with different percentages of sugar and chocolate liquor.


How Chocolate Is Made

Cacao trees with podsCacao trees are often interplanted with tall shade trees to protect them from direct sunlight. Pods grow on the trunks and larger branches of the trees and take five to six months to ripen. Fruit on the higher branches are harvested with blades on long handles and lower branches are cut with machetes.

The pods are cut open with machetes to reveal between 20 to 40 beans each, surrounded by a mass of stickly, white pulp. Traditionally, this was done immediately after harvest; today, pods are sometimes first stored whole for a few days to prime them for fermentation.

Fermenting begins when the beans come into contact with the air. Here, a worker uses a stick to gauge the depth of the mass in a vara, or measuring box, to determine the wage of the harvester, before transferring it to the fermentation bin. During fermentation, the pulp disintegrates, producing steamy heat and a pervasive, yeasty, sour smell. It is at this point that the beans first develop thier complex characteristics.

Drying of the beans after fermentation is done on slatted wooden trays in the open air. The beans are spread out evenly and raked periodically so that they dry uniformly. As the beans dry, their colors deepen, turning them into a carpet of sepia, umber, and mocha.

Aeration of the dried beans during storage is important to prevent the formation of mold. A worker tosses beans with a shovel to expose them evenly to the air.

Grading of the beans is done mechanically at the larger farms; smaller producers do it by hand. From baskets, the dried beans are transferred to burlap bags and transported to local selling stations, where they may be bought by large companies for export.

Arriving at the chocolate mills, the beans undergo a thorough cleaning, followed by the roasting which brings out the particular flavor of each variety. Throughout this process, a constant and exact temperature must be maintained. Correct roasting is exceedingly important since under-roasting leaves a raw taste and over-roasting results in a high pungent or even burnt flavor.

Now comes the cooling, shelling, and winnowing, from which the cocoa beans emerge cleaned and ready for blending. This important process requires expert knowledge and skill. Not only must the beans be selected which will produce the best chocolate flavor, but uniformity of blend must be preserved year in and year out.

After the blending, the cocoa beans are milled or slowly ground between great heated millstones. Under heat and tremendous pressure, the cocoa butter melts and mixes with other parts of the beans forming the ruddy chocolate liquor. The fragrant chocolate odor is now noticeable.

The liquor is then treated according to the product to be made. For unsweetened chocolate, the liquor is poured into molds and cooled rapidly in refrigerating rooms. Then the cacao emeres in familiar form, as bars of chocolate, ready to be wrapped and sold.

Storing Chocolate

Keep the chocolate in a cool, dry place. Chocolate is best kept at around 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, the temperature of a pantry or dark cabinet. It has a shelf life of approximately one year. The normal air conditioned room provides adequate protection.

Freezing chocolate is not recommended; when you freeze it and then thaw it out, it will have a greater tendency to bloom. NOTE: Bloom is the white, filmy reside that can develop on chocolate. This usually happens when the chocolate is stored in a warm place, but can happen when you freeze it.

Using Unsweetened Cocoa

There are two styles of cocoa - natural and "dutched." The difference is an additional processing step. Natural cocoa is mildly acidic. Dutched cocoa has been alkalized (so its supposed to be smoother, less bitter and more soluble).

Rule of Thumb: Dutch process is alkalized and cocoa such as Hershey's cocoa is non-alkalized. If your recipe calls for Dutch process cocoa and you don't have any and you want to use Hershey cocoa, add a smidge of baking soda to even out the alkalinity and keep the cake from being coarse and dry.  And vice versa - if you are baking a cake and it calls for regular cocoa and all you have is Dutch-processed cocoa, just leave out any baking soda in the recipe.


Chocolate Substitution Chart

chocolate barNeed a quick substitution for chocolate? Here are some chocolate substitutions, but remember not always do they work as well as the original recipe ingredient:

Chocolate, Bittersweet:

  • Substitute 1 (1-ounce) square semi-sweet baking chocolate for 1 (1-ounce) square bittersweet baking chocolate.

  • Bittersweet and semisweet chocolate may be used interchangeably in recipes, but there may be slight differences in flavor and texture.

Chocolate, Semi-Sweet:

  • 3 tablespoons chocolate chips for every 1-ounce semi-sweet baking chocolate.

  • 1-ounce) bittersweet baking chocolate for every 1-ounce semi-sweet bittersweet baking chocolate.

  • 1-ounce unsweetened baking chocolate and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar for every 1-ounce semi-sweet baking chocolate.

  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 3 tablespoons sugar and 1 tablespoon butter, margarine or shortening for every 1 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate.

  • 3 level tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder with 1 tablespoons unsalted butter or shortening, plus 3 tablespoons sugar.

Chocolate Chips, Semi-Sweet:

  • 6 ounces semi-sweet baking chocolate (chopped) for every 1 cup (6 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate chips.

  • 1-ounce sweet baking chocolate for every 1-ounce chocolate chips.

  • 1-ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1 tablespoons sugar for every 1-ounce chocolate chips

Chocolate, Sweet Baking (German's):

  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, 4 teaspoons sugar, and 1 tablespoon butter, shortening or vegetable oil for every 1-ounce German's sweet baking chocolate.

  • 1 ounce dark sweet chocolate for every 1 ounce German's sweet baking chocolate.

Chocolate, Unsweetened:

  • 3 level tablespoons unsweetened cocoa and 1 tablespoon butter, margarine or shortening for every 1-ounce unsweetened baking chocolate.

  • 3 level tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa plus 1 tablespoon shortening, butter, or oil for every 1-ounce unsweetened baking chocolate.

  • 1/2 cup (3 ounces) chocolate chips or morsels (unsweetened) - cut sugar by 1/4 cup and shortening by 1 tablespoon in your recipe.

Cocoa, Unsweetened:

  • Substitute equal amount of Dutch-processed cocoa for unsweetened cocoa. Leave out any baking soda called for in the recipe.

  • 3 tablespoon carob powder plus 2 tablespoons water for every 1-ounce unsweetened cocoa.

  • Do not substitute instant cocoa mix for unsweetened cocoa in any recipe.

Chocolate, White:

  • Substitute 1-ounce milk chocolate or white chocolate chips for every 1-ounce white chocolate. (Color and flavor will vary.)

Dutch-Process Cocoa:

  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder plus a pinch (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda for every 1-ounce Dutch-Process Cocoa.

  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate plus 1/8 teaspoon baking soda (reduce fat in recipe by 1 tablespoon).

  • 3 tablespoons carob powder for every 1-ounce Dutch Process Cocoa.

Mexican Chocolate:

  • 1 ounce semi-sweet chocolate and 1/2 teaspoon ground Mexican cinnamon for every 1-ounce Mexican Chocolate.

Do not substitute chocolate syrup for melted chocolate in any recipe.


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