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Know the facts of best chocolate this Christmas

The botanical name for the cocoa tree is “Theobroma cacao” which means “Food of the Gods”. Chocolate has a flavour that combines well with almonds, cashew nuts, hazelnuts and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Fruits like raspberries, oranges and vanilla enhances its flavour. Even coffee taste unique when chocolate is added to it.

The cocoa tree grows in equatorial climates. Some of the best types of chocolates come from South America, Brazil, Africa and India.

Today, let us understand the facts about the best organic chocolates.

  1. Production.

After harvesting, the chocolate beans are fermented to remove the bitterness and develop the flavour content and then dried up. Roasting follows, which exposes the inner section called the nib. Various bean nibs are blended to obtain the desired flavour and ground into paste which is called as the cocoa mass. This paste is enhanced with sugar, cocoa butter and other flavours and passed through a series of blending, to get dry sheets of chocolate.

  1. Different type of chocolates.

Chocolates can be unsweetened, bitter or milk. Except for the milk chocolate, eating and cooking chocolate are made from the cocoa mass mixed with other cocoa solids like cocoa butter, sugar and flavourings.

The final taste of the chocolate depends upon the type, quality, taste, fermentation and the roasting processes etc. The different types of chocolates are listed below:

a.Unsweetened chocolate.

This type of chocolate is also known as the bakers chocolate or cocoa solids. It is largely used by manufacturers and is bitter, grainy and troublesome to melt. Dark chocolates are bitter and good for health.

b. Plain chocolate.

This type of chocolate contains the lowest sugar content. It is a bitter chocolate with around 43% cocoa solids. It is mostly mixed with other ingredients to make the final version of the chocolate.

c.Milk Chocolate.

This contains milk with cocoa solids. Mostly dried milk is used in this preparation. When cooking, it should not be replaced with plain chocolate as it has a lower percentage of cocoa solids and so the flavour of the dish will suffer. Milk chocolate is sensitive to heat and it is often hard to work with.

d.Couverture Chocolate.

The high proportion of cocoa butter in this type of chocolate ensures a glossy appearance and a smooth texture. It is primarily used by professional confectioners to coat and dip chocolates and hence we have the French name “Couverture” which means covering. This chocolate has more cocoa butter content and should be tempered before use. Tempering involves heating and cooling the chocolate to retain its glow after hardening.

e.Cocoa powder.

With only 18% cocoa butter, this is less fatty and un-sweetened than all other chocolates. C.J Van Houten invented the coca press which performs the task of extracting the cocoa butter from the roasted beans. This produces dry cakes of cocoa which are then ground into powder.

f.Drinking chocolate.

This is sweetened product used for a hot drink preparation. It should not be substituted for cocoa powder as the final recipe will not turn out to be good.

3.Methods of chocolate preparation –

There are many methods of preparing homemade chocolates, gourmet chocolates, organic dark chocolates, white chocolates etc. Each type of chocolate making has a different flavouring, blending and other meticulous processes, to get the right taste.

a.Melting chocolate.

Great care needs to be taken while melting chocolates. It burns very easily and makes the flavour bitter. If it is overheated, it becomes hard and granular. Be careful not to let any stray drops of water fall into the chocolate as it will solidify and stiffen the chocolate.Many people add butter and oil while melting, to add richness to it.

  1. Double boiler.

It is one of the most popular methods of melting chocolate. Take a glass bowl (unbreakable-heat proof) and fit in over the saucepan. Take little water in the saucepan and avoid the water touching the bowl. Place the chocolate in the bowl. Bring the water to boil. Keep stirring till the chocolate is completely melted and in good consistency.

  1. Microwave.

Many people are comfortable melting chocolate in the microwave. Break the chocolate into pieces and then place it in the microwave bowl for around 2-3 minutes. You can remove it and stir it to get good consistency.

b.Coating of fruits, nuts and Fondue.

Firm fruits like strawberries, raspberries, banana slices or chopped melons can be dipped in melted chocolate and kept to dry. Almonds, walnuts and other nuts also form a great combination with chocolate. Dip the fruits or nuts into the melted chocolate and turn it around several times for even coating. Dry it on a greased paper on a tray at room temperature. Do not refrigerate it and serve it within an hour. Add a little-melted butter to the chocolate for smoother consistency and richer flavour.

These are some facts which will help you understand to buy or make the best chocolates.

Please read our Chocolate Fudge recipe.

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