THE ORIGIN OF CHOCOLATE
The word “chocolate” comes from the Aztec word cacahuatl, which, at the time, meant a cocoa-based beverage. Native of Latin America has come to us through the Spanish chocolate adaptation; It spread throughout Europe and became so pleasing to justify the name Theobroma, or “Food of God”.
The origins of chocolate are associated with the Maya period; this population was probably the first to cultivate the cacao tree. It has ancient origins and is presumed to be already present more than 6000 years ago in the Area of Rio of Amazon and Orinoco.
After the Maya also the Aztecs began the cultivation of cocoa, and later the production of chocolate. In America the chocolate was consumed as a beverage, called xocoatl, often flavored with vanilla, chili and pepper. In the pre – Colombian period cocoa beans were used as currency.
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In 1500 Christopher Columbus, and Cortez later discovered the cocoa plant in Latin America. Christopher Columbus was the first European to taste it and appreciate its properties. In 1519 Hernan Cortez introduced the cocoa bean in Europe. Throughout the sixteenth century the chocolate remained an exclusive product of Spain, country who increased the crops year by year. Over the XVII century chocolate became a common luxury among the nobles of Europe; in the Eighteenth century the first “coffee shops” appeared in Venice; certainly they were also” shops of chocolate”. Milk chocolate was invented by the Swiss Daniel Peter in 1875, after 8 years of experimentations. The Gianduja was an invention of some maitres chocolatiers of Turin who mixed chocolate with Hazelnuts from Piedmont. The first chocolate bars dated back to 1847 and were invented by the owner of the store Fry and Sons in Bristol, England.
In the XX century, thanks to the collapse of the price of cocoa and sugar, the abolition of government taxes and the liberalization of the cocoa trade, many workshops rapidly spread around. Chocolate became, in a short time, even a consumable food from the middle class. It was with the industrialization of chocolate production that the so called “food of God” transformed into a sweet pleasure for everyone.
Criollo (cocoa Theobroma cacao). It is the finest cocoa, the finest and rarest in circulation. His name is of Spanish and Portuguese origin and means “indigenous.” It is mainly found in the Northern part of South and Central America. The chocolate obtained is aromatic and delicate; it tastes sweet and contains only little fat.
Trinitarian. It is a hybrid obtained by mixing the two previous varieties, delicate flavor, but easy to work, and used mainly in the pastry. Widely distributed across the Equator, it owes its name to the Island of Trinidad, where he is said to have found the first cocoa tree.
Forastero (Theobroma cacao sphaerocarpum). 90% of the chocolate on the market comes from the seeds of this variety and its plantation is easy to grow. It is widely used, thanks to the robustness of the plant and its productivity, and is now used to produce the vast majority of the chocolate on the market all over the world. Its cultivation is widespread in Africa and Brazil ans South east Asia. its taste is strong and intense.
FROM COCOA TO CHOCOLATE
COLLECTION OF FRUITS
It is manual and done at different times depending on the places of production. With a knife blade curved sickle type anchored to a pole, wallets severed the stalk. A machete instead is used to open the fruit: the fruit is opened across the board and the seeds extracted manually.
It consists of removing the cocoa beans from their pods along with its pulp. It is then placed in wooden boxes and exposed to microorganisms present in the environment that decompose the pulp and subsequently activates the physical and biochemical processes responsible for the development of the precursors of the aroma and flavors present in the chocolate.
It is a gradual process, essential to ensure a good flavor, which is directly executed by the grower. The beans are exposed to the sun for several days to reduce their water content from 55% to 7% and to erase some of the natural acids present in the cocoa.
The cocoa beans are roasted in the production plant, with a process in which the cocoa grit is exposed to a very high temperature which develops the taste, the aroma and flavor of the final product, the chocolate. At this point, the sensory properties can be modified, strengthened and defined.
It’s the process that ensures the right consistency of the chocolate, grainy nor viscous. Thanks to the refining process the particle size of the chocolate is reduced, nullifying the feeling of grittiness. The refining machines, on which the cocoa paste passes through, allow to reduce all the solid particles to a size of 16-20 thousandths of a millimeter.
It is the final step that completes the chocolate manufacturing process. This procedure has the aim to make the water excess and the unpredictable acids evaporate, to make the mixture less bitter and to acquire homogeneity and balance. The ingredients are mixed for several hours in big tanks in order to create a perfect blended mixture that turns, at the end, a wonderful consistent and aromatic fluid.