Today we are going to talk about everyone’s beloved food, chocolate! Have you ever wondered how much is it worth? No, I am not asking you to go back in time and calculate the money you have spent on every chocolate bar you ever consumed. I am asking you to go back in time and visualize yourself in 1500’s when chocolate was used as a currency by the Aztecs and Mayas. Cacao was considered a gift from god in those times. Due to the climatic issues, the Aztecs could not grow cacao so they started trading it with Maya people, which increased the value of cacao even more for them. Back in the day a turkey egg would be worth three cacao beans. Chocolate was also consumed but not in bars like today. The Aztecs and the Maya usually drank it hot or cold with froth.
But where does the chocolate come from?
The plant originally came from the northwest Amazon. But that is about the tree, what about how it gets to the shelves? The first time I ever saw a real cacao pod and tasted, it was in France at the Valrhona chocolate factory. The mucilage (the white pulp), as gross as it seems in pictures, it is actually very fascinating in real life. It tasted somewhat like melon or honey… Honestly, I don’t know, it was a whole new plethora of flavours, but that flavour is definitely not chocolate. There is a lot of science that goes into the intricate process of chocolate making from winnowing, fermenting, and drying to roasting, for it to be the delightful bar as we know it.
After getting to Europe, milk was added to hot cacao. But turning chocolate into a solid was a challenge. One of the biggest breakthroughs took place in the 1820s, when a Dutchman came up with a process for really pressing chocolate. And Voila! There you have it! Our first chocolate bar in the year 1847.
In the mid-1800s, powdered milk was added to chocolate since real milk goes bad very quickly. Henri Nestle took up this initiative in Switzerland, followed by the next big game changer that was conching invented by Rudolf Lindt in 1870s. This is when chocolate categorically developed as the chocolate we know today. Conching includes kneading and smoothing the chocolate to further refine the texture. It is also believed to be an important phase in developing the flavour of chocolate. The flavour is also dependent on the pace, time and temperature of the conching process. Also, conching is the final stage in the processing of bulk chocolate. An alternative to conching is the method of emulsification that serves this very same purpose.
Snap, snap. Wake up, let’s come back to reality. Enough of too much of technicalities and history. After all it’s the chocolate today in infinite souls we rever that matters. I have always loved chocolate. And I am sure, I am just one of the millions of besotted fans of one of the biggest community of fans all across the world. For me, chocolate has always been the go to friend on bad days, on great days and obviously the answer to every celebration. Bonbons, chocolate bars, hot chocolate, powder, spread etc. chocolate in any form is simply every dream come true. At times I really wish Aladdin’s genie snaps and create my own Mr. Wonka’s Chocolate Factory!!
What’s your chocolate dream, do share and let’s give command to the universe!