29 April 2012


Chocolate is produced from the seeds of Cacao tree. Cocoa beans are very bitter in taste so it has to be fermented to develop the flavor.

After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and then roasted, and the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The nibs are then ground to cocoa mass, pure chocolate in rough form. Because this cocoa mass usually is liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor also may be further processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar mix is your chocolate.
Types of Chocolates :

Dark chocolate : Bitter or Unsweetened baking chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Dark chocolate is produced by adding fat and sugar to the cacao mixture. Dark chocolate, with its high cocoa content, is a rich source of epicatechin and gallic acid, which are thought to possess cardioprotective properties.

Sweet chocolate : Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of combining cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat, and sugar. sweet chocolate requires about  15 to 35 % concentration of chocolate liquor or cocoa solids.

White Chocolate : Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids. White chocolate does not contain any theobromine, meaning it can be consumed by animals. It is usually not used for cooking purpose.

Cocoa solids contain alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine, which have physiological effects on the body. It has been linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Some research found that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure.  The presence of theobromine renders chocolate toxic to some animals, especially dogs and cats.

Types of Cocoa beans :

The three main varieties of cacao beans used in chocolate are criollo, forastero, and trinitario.
Representing just five percent of all cocoa beans grown, criollo is the rarest and most expensive cocoa on the market, and is native to Central America, the Caribbean islands and the northern tier of South American states. Criollos are particularly difficult to grow, as they are vulnerable to a variety of environmental threats and produce low yields of cocoa per tree. The flavor of criollo is described as delicate yet complex, low in classic chocolate flavor, but rich in "secondary" notes of long duration. Yes it is the most expensive cocoa bean.
The most commonly grown bean is forastero, a large group of wild and cultivated cacaos, most likely native to the Amazon basin. The African cocoa crop is entirely of the forastero variety. The source of most chocolate marketed, forastero cocoas are typically strong in classic "chocolate" flavor, but have a short duration and are unsupported by secondary flavors, producing "quite bland" chocolate.
Trinitario is a natural hybrid of criollo and forastero. Trinitario originated in Trinidad after an introduction of forastero to the local criollo crop. Nearly all cacao produced over the past five decades is of the forastero or lower-grade trinitario varieties. 

Making of Chocolate :

Cocoa beans Processing :

Cacao pods are harvested by cutting the pods from the tree using a machete, or by knocking them off the tree using a stick. The beans with their surrounding pulp are removed from the pods and placed in piles or bins, allowing access to microorganisms so that fermentation of the pectin-containing material can begin. The fermentation process, which takes up to seven days, also produces several flavor precursors, eventually resulting in the familiar chocolate taste.
It is important to harvest the pods when they are fully ripe because if the pod is unripe, the beans will have low cocoa butter content, or there will be insufficient sugars in the white pulp for fermentation, resulting in a weak flavor. After fermentation, the beans must be quickly dried to prevent mold growth. Climate and weather permitting, this is done by spreading the beans out in the sun from five to seven days.
 The dried beans are then transported to a chocolate manufacturing facility. The beans are cleaned (removing twigs, stones, and other debris), roasted, and graded. Next, the shell of each bean is removed to extract the nib. Finally, the nibs are ground and liquefied, resulting in pure chocolate in fluid form: chocolate liquor. The liquor can be further processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Blending :

Chocolate liquor is blended with the cocoa butter in varying quantities to make different types of chocolate or couvertures. The basic blends of ingredients for the various types of chocolate (in order of highest quantity of cocoa liquor first), are as follows:
Usually, an emulsifying agent, such as soy lecithin, is added, though a few manufacturers prefer to exclude this ingredient for purity reasons and sometimes at the cost of a perfectly smooth texture. Some manufacturers are now using an artificial emulsifier derived from castor oil that allows them to reduce the amount of cocoa butter while maintaining the same mouthfeel.
The texture is also heavily influenced by processing, specifically conching. The more expensive chocolate tends to be processed longer and thus have a smoother texture and mouthfeel, regardless of whether emulsifying agents are added.
Producers of high quality, small batch chocolate argue that mass production produces bad quality chocolate. Some mass-produced chocolate contains much less cocoa (as low as 7% in many cases), and fats other than cocoa butter. Vegetable oils and artificial vanilla flavor are often used in cheaper chocolate to mask poorly fermented and/or roasted beans.
In 2007, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association in the United States lobbied the Food and Drug Administration to change the legal definition of chocolate to let them substitute partially hydrogenated vegetable oils for cocoa butter, in addition to using artificial sweeteners and milk substitutes. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do not allow a product to be referred to as "chocolate" if the product contains any of these ingredients. 

Conching :

The penultimate process is called conching. A conche is a container filled with metal beads, which act as grinders. The refined and blended chocolate mass is kept in a liquid state by frictional heat. Chocolate prior to conching has an uneven and gritty texture. The conching process produces cocoa and sugar particles smaller than the tongue can detect, hence the smooth feel in the mouth. The length of the conching process determines the final smoothness and quality of the chocolate. High-quality chocolate is conched for about 72 hours, lesser grades about four to six hours. After the process is complete, the chocolate mass is stored in tanks heated to approximately 45–50 °C (113–122 °F) until final processing.

Tempering :

The final process is called tempering. Uncontrolled crystallization of cocoa butter typically results in crystals of varying size, some or all large enough to be clearly seen with the naked eye. This causes the surface of the chocolate to appear mottled and matte, and causes the chocolate to crumble rather than snap when broken. The uniform sheen and crisp bite of properly processed chocolate are the result of consistently small cocoa butter crystals produced by the tempering process.

The fats in cocoa butter can crystallize in six different forms (polymorphous crystallization). The primary purpose of tempering is to assure that only the best form is present. The six different crystal forms have different properties and the process in temperature controlled.
Two classic ways of manually tempering chocolate are:
  • Working the molten chocolate on a heat-absorbing surface, such as a stone slab, until thickening indicates the presence of sufficient crystal "seeds"; the chocolate is then gently warmed to working temperature.
  • Stirring solid chocolate into molten chocolate to "inoculate" the liquid chocolate with crystals (this method uses the already formed crystals of the solid chocolate to "seed" the molten chocolate).

Storage :

Some people who purchase chocolate off the store shelf can be disappointed when they see whitish spots on the dark chocolate part. This is called chocolate bloom and is not an indication of chocolate gone bad. Instead, this is just an indication that sugar and/or fat has separated due to poor storage.

Chocolate is very sensitive to temperature and humidity. Ideal storage temperatures are between 15 and 17 °C (59 and 63 °F), with a relative humidity of less than 50%. Various types of "blooming" effects can occur if chocolate is stored or served improperly. Fat bloom is caused by storage temperature fluctuating or exceeding 24 C while sugar bloom is caused by temperature below 15 C or excess humidity. To distinguish between different types of bloom, one can rub the surface of the chocolate lightly, and if the bloom disappears, it is fat bloom. One can get rid of bloom by re-tempering the chocolate or using it for anything that requires melting the chocolate.
Chocolate is generally stored away from other foods, as it can absorb different aromas. Ideally, chocolates are packed or wrapped, and placed in proper storage with the correct humidity and temperature. Additionally, chocolate is frequently stored in a dark place or protected from light by wrapping paper.
If refrigerated or frozen without containment, chocolate can absorb enough moisture to cause a whitish discoloration, the result of fat or sugar crystals rising to the surface. Moving chocolate from one temperature extreme to another, such as from a refrigerator on a hot day, can result in an oily texture. Although visually unappealing, chocolate suffering from bloom is perfectly safe for consumption.

 Potential health effects of chocolates :

Obesity risk :

The major concern that nutritionists have is that even though eating dark chocolate may not affect serum cholesterol, blood pressure or LDL oxidation, it is not known whether it affects certain biomarkers of cardiovascular disease. Furthermore, the amount needed to have this effect would provide a relatively large quantity of calories, which, if unused, would promote weight gain. Obesity is a significant risk factor for many diseases, including cardiovascular disease.

Acne :

There is a popular belief that the consumption of chocolate can cause acne. This belief is not supported by scientific studies. Various studies point not to chocolate, but to the high glycemic nature of certain foods, like sugar, corn syrup, and other simple carbohydrates, as a cause of acne. Chocolate itself has a low glycemic index. Other dietary causes of acne cannot be excluded yet, but more rigorous research is suggested.

Good Effects :

ü  Cacao, the source of chocolate, contains antibacterial agents that fight tooth decay. However, chocolate with a high sugar content will negate this benefit. Dark chocolate contains significantly higher amounts of cacao and lower amounts of sugar than white chocolate, making it more healthful.
ü  The smell of chocolate may increase theta brain waves, resulting in relaxation.
ü  Chocolate contains phenyl ethylamine, a mild mood elevator.
ü  The cocoa butter in chocolate contains oleic acid, a mono-unsaturated fat which can raise good cholesterol.
ü  Men who eat chocolate regularly live on average one year longer than those who don’t.
ü  The flavanoids in chocolate help keep blood vessels elastic.
ü  Chocolate increases antioxidant levels in the blood.
ü  The carbohydrates in chocolate raise serotonin levels in the brain, resulting in a sense of well-being.

Bad Effects :

Ö Chocolate may contribute to lower bone density.
Ö Chocolate can trigger headaches in migraine sufferers.
Ö Milk chocolate is high in calories, saturated fat and sugar.
Ö Chocolate is a danger to pets (chocolate contains a stimulant called theobromine, which animals are unable to digest).                                         
Ö Dark chocolate may increase your changes of having kidney stones. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, dark chocolate has oxalates in it. This can cause an increase in urinary oxalate excretion, which can increase your risk of forming kidney stones. If you are predisposed to kidney stone formation or if you have had a kidney stone in the past, then it is important for you to avoid oxalate consumption in its various forms, including dark chocolate.

Here are a few things chocolate Will Not do:
Chocolate Won’t :
§  Cause acne.
§  Make you nervous or irritable: cacao contains the stimulants caffeine and bromine, but not in significant amounts in chocolate bars and nibs.
§  Turn you into an addict: chocolate is not addictive.
§  Raise your cholesterol: chocolate contains stearic acid, a neutral fat which doesn’t raise bad cholesterol.

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