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What Is Chocolate?

Chocolates covered in coconut flakes.
Chocolate and nut confections.
Chocolate.
Cocoa butter is used to make chocolate.
Cocoa beans are fermented before being roasted and ground into a powder to cut down on the natural bitterness of the bean.
A conche machine is used to remove grittiness from chocolate.
Chocolate can be used to make decadent cakes.
Some varieties of chocolate, such as milk chocolate and white chocolate, have cow's milk added.
Belgian chocolate truffles.
Chocolate is made from the cacao bean.
Article Details
  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 24 June 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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Chocolate is a confection made from cacao beans, the seeds of the cacao plant. There are a large number of products made from it on the market, from powdered cocoa for making drinks to white chocolate, and most markets carry a cross-section of confections for their customers. In addition to being available at general markets and grocery stores, chocolate can also be purchased from specialty companies which make luxury and distinctive confections.

Making chocolate is a time consuming process. Cacao plants are grown on plantations in South America, where the plant is native, and in parts of Africa. There are actually several varieties of cacao plant, all of which produce chocolates with slightly different flavors, and the flavor is also impacted by where the plant it grown, how it is handled after harvest, and how it is processed. Companies invest a great deal of money in developing ideal blends of cacao beans to create the flavors their consumers are used to.

Cacao beans grow in large pods which are harvested once they ripen and then allowed to ferment. Initially, the cacao beans are extremely bitter; the fermentation process softens the bitterness, allowing producers to move on the next steps, roasting and hulling. Roasting helps to develop the flavor of the beans, while shelling exposes the cacao nibs, the portion of the bean which has all the flavor.

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Once cacao nibs are extracted, they must be ground into a substance known as chocolate liquor. This liquor isn't something you'd want to eat: it is extremely fatty, thanks to the cocoa butter it contains, and it is gritty and bitter. This liquid is then pressed to create what is known as press cake, a substance consisting primarily of cocoa solids, while the cocoa butter is allowed to drain away.

Once press cake has been created, producers have a number of options. To make cocoa, they can squeeze the press cake even more to isolate the cocoa solids before allowing it to dry and then pulverizing it. They can also blend some of the cocoa butter back in, along with sugar and other ingredients, to produce eating chocolate, which is subjected to a process called conching to create a smooth, creamy confection without any traces of grittiness. Eating varieties can also be adulterated with milk, creating milk chocolate, and the level of sweetness can vary widely. For white chocolate, cocoa butter is mixed with vanilla and milk.

The history of chocolate is almost as interesting as the confection itself. In its native South America, it was prepared in drinks reserved for royalty and high ranking members of society. When European explorers visited, they were introduced to chocolate, and upon bringing the food back to Europe, it became a big hit. Eventually, Europeans started experimenting, adding sugar and other ingredients and ultimately developing a process which would allow them to make bars in addition to drinks. With the development of bar chocolate, confectioners realized that it had a wide range of possibilities, from candy bar coating to truffles, and the once rare luxury turned into an extremely profitable global industry.

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Discuss this Article

anon330502
Post 8

I don't think it is correct to say that chocolate is a confection. Chocolate can be made into a confection, however, by itself, chocolate is no more a confection than is sugar cane, coconut, dates, cherries, etc.

anon123622
Post 7

what is couverture chocolate?

anon104502
Post 6

I am doing a project about chocolate. It has to be engaging for a group of 13 year olds. What other information could I include?

BoatHugger
Post 5

@purplespark: Milk chocolate was created around 1899, again by Milton Hershey. His first endeavor was the Lancaster Caramel Company, where milk was used to make caramel. In 1899, he came up with what is called the “Hershey process”. He built a milk-processing plant and it was a huge success in his creation of milk chocolate.

The first milk chocolate that Hershey introduced was the yummy bell-shaped, foil wrapped candies we know as the Hershey Kiss. They used to be individually wrapped by hand in foil until a machine was created to wrap them.

PurpleSpark
Post 4

How long has milk chocolate been around?

calabama71
Post 3

@cmsmith10: Dark chocolate, which is also known as plain chocolate, is made by adding sugar and fat to cacao. It has no milk in it. It is often used in cooking. In Europe, the “rules” specify that it has to have a minimum of 35% cocoa solids to be called dark chocolate. Semisweet chocolate is a dark chocolate with half of the sugar.

Milk chocolate is made with milk in the form of milk powder, condensed milk or liquid milk. The U.S. requires a 10% concentration of chocolate liquor for milk chocolate.

Milk chocolate was invented by Milton S. Hershey and is significantly cheaper to produce than other chocolates.

cmsmith10
Post 2

What is the difference in dark chocolate and milk chocolate?

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