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Let's Talk About Chocolate

April 21, 2022

Let's Talk About Chocolate

Where does chocolate come from? 

Chocolate has a history as far back as around 4,000 years ago in ancient Mesoamerica (modern day Mexico) where the first cacao plants were found. The ancient Maya and Aztecs used it to make beverages and as a medicinal drink. Today, it’s a food product made from roasted and ground cacao pods and responsible for an estimated  £3.8 billion in the UK each year. The first modern form of chocolate bar is credited to Joseph Fry in 1847. He discovered that by merging Dutch cocoa and cacao butter, he could create a chocolate paste which could be moulded. By 1868, a little company called Cadbury was marketing  boxes of chocolate in England.  In 2010 Bluebasil started making chocolate brownies to sell in gift boxes, delivered UK wide. 

How is chocolate made? 

The process of creating the chocolate we know and love today, starts with the seeds of the cacao tree. These seeds have a very bitter and intense taste and must be fermented to develop their flavour. After the fermentation process, the beans are dried, cleaned and then roasted. When the shell is removed, the cocoa nibs are exposed which are ground into a cocoa mass. This is an unadulterated form of chocolate. A chocolate liquor is created by heating the cocoa mass. If cooled, this can be processed into two components; cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Although cocoa originated in the Americas, West African countries (particularly the Ivory Coast and Ghana) are the leading producers of cocoa in the 21st century, accounting for some 60% of the world cocoa supply. 

What is the difference between dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate? 

Bitter chocolate (commonly referred to as baking chocolate) which we use to create Bluebasil chocolate brownie base, contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate in a common chocolate bar, is made from a sweet chocolate which is a combination of coca solids, cocoa butter or added vegetable oils and sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar and milk - but no cocoa solids. 

Some fun facts about chocolate

  • The scientific name for the tree that chocolate originates from is Theobroma cacao which means “Food of the Gods”. 
  • Chocolate was once used as currency by the Aztecs
  • Cacao trees can live to be 200 years old but cocoa beans are only viable for 25 years of their lifespan
  • The ‘Fry & Sons’ shop first created an ‘eating’ chocolate in 1847
  • The smell of chocolate increases the theta brain waves which triggers relaxation. 
  • Dark chocolate is a powerful source of antioxidant and may improve the function of the brain. 
  • Chocolate arrived in Europe sometime in the 16th Century 
  • July 7th is National Chocolate Day and International Chocolate Day September 13th

Today, chocolate is one of the most popular food types in the world. We still drink it like the Aztecs,  but it’s mostly consumed in sweet treats. We consume it in desserts, chocolate brownies, chocolate biscuits and cookies, cakes, pastries, bars and sweets. We eat it solid or on foods coated in it, drizzled with it, moulded and it’s popular as a tradition for holidays such as Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and Hanukkah.