Chocolate history

Chocolate has a very long tradition. Mayans had been used to drinking thick chocolate with honey or chili peppers. Aztecs, like the Mayans, enjoyed different types of chocolate. Moreover they used cacao beans as a currency.

There is no clear evidence when cacao products came to Europe. For sure we know that from the late 1500s chocolate was enjoyed by the Spanish court.In the following year cacao products spread through Europe. The demand for chocolate was high.

Colonizers opened plantations in the Americas to produce cacao beans. Main workforce on these plantations were slaves. It was dark time of the chocolate history.

Europeans were not satisfied with the traditional Aztec chocolate recipe. They started making their own versions of hot chocolate with sugar and other popular additives. For years chocolate was a luxury product available only for the rich.

Milk chocolade is born.

The game was changed by Duch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten in 1828. He invented a way to make powdered chocolate. He used alkaline salts to make it. The process is called "Dutching".

He also patented inexpensive method for pressing the fat from roasted cocoa beans. The center of the bean, known as the "nib", contains an average of 54 percent cocoa butter, which is a natural fat. Van Houten's machine – a hydraulic press – reduced the cocoa butter content by nearly half. This created a "cake" that could be pulverized into cocoa powder, which was to become the basis of all chocolate products.

The introduction of cocoa powder not only made creating chocolate drinks much easier, but also made it possible to combine the powder with sugar and then remix it with cocoa butter to create a solid, already closely resembling today's eating chocolate.

In 1838 the patent expired, enabling others to produce cocoa powder and build on Van Houten's success, experimenting to make new chocolate products. In 1847 English chocolate maker J. S. Fry & Sons produced arguably the first chocolate bar.

The other breakthrough was made probably by Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter. He is believed to be the first who added dried milk powder to chocolate to create milk chocolate in 1876. A few years later he created the Nestle Company with his friend Henri Nestle. They brought milk chocolate to the masses.

How does the production process looks like?

Harvesting. There are two parts of harvesting. Removing ripe pods from the trees and opening them to extort the wet beans.

Fermentation. Raw cocoa beans have a bitter and undesirable taste. Fermentation transforms this bitterness, making it a more complex precursor to the cocoa flavor known for us. Fermentation occurs when the pulp surrounding the cacao bean is converted into alcohol. This process is carried out with the help of bacteria and natural yeast present in cocoa beans. The beans are left warm and humid to ferment for about seven days. After that, the beans are dried quickly to prevent mold growth.

Sampling & testing. When the selected cocoa beans arrive at the production facility, they go through a very extensive sampling and testing process. Cocoa bean samples are examined by experts before being processed. After the tests are completed and the manufacturer has accepted the delivery, the grains are cleaned to remove any contamination.

Roasting. Typically the cocoa beans are processed using a dry roasting method. Dried cocoa beans have the chocolate-like taste.

After roasting, the husk is removed from the beans and the inner nib is elicited. Grinding of the nibs are made in two steps.

Pre-grinding. Nibs are transformed to cocoa liquor by impact mills (e.g. beater blade mills).

Fine grinding. Cocoa liquor is fine ground in agitated ball mill. The required fineness depends on how dark the chocolade and cocoa content should be.

The liquor can be further processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

  • A dark brown paste that is made of cocoa particles suspended in cocoa butter. The liquor is then processed in press to extract the cocoa butter.
  • The next step is mixing in gigant mixer. Liquor is now mixed with sugar and milk. For plain bars cocoa butter is used instead of milk.
  • Conching. The mixture undergoes a refining process to improve the texture and then the product is conched (a surface scraping mixer and agitator are mixing the chocolate in temperature from 49*C to 82*C. It can take from 6 up to 70 hours of mixing).
  • Tempering is heating and cooling chocolate to stabilize it for making candies and confections—gives chocolate a smooth and glossy finish, keeps it from easily melting on fingers and makes your parents angry.

Finally chocolate can be molded, cooled and packed.

Which chocolate type do you prefer?

Dark chocolate is produced by adding fat and sugar to the cacao mixture. European rules specify a minimum of 35% cocoa solids. A higher amount of cocoa solids indicates more bitterness. Semisweet chocolate is dark chocolate with low sugar content. Bittersweet chocolate is chocolate liquor to which some sugar (typically a third), more cocoa butter and vanilla are added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are interchangeable in baking.

Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that also contains milk powder or condensed milk. In the UK and Ireland, milk chocolate must contain a minimum of 20% total dry cocoa solids; in the rest of the European Union, the minimum is 25%

White chocolate, although similar in texture to that of milk and dark chocolate, does not contain any cocoa solids that impart a dark color. In 2002, the US Food and Drug Administration established a standard for white chocolate as the "common or usual name of products made from cacao fat (i.e., cocoa butter), milk solids, nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners, and other safe and suitable ingredients, but containing no nonfat cacao solids

Unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate liquor, also known as bitter or baking chocolate. It is unadulterated chocolate: the pure, ground, roasted chocolate beans impart a strong, deep chocolate flavor. It is typically used in baking or other products to which sugar and other ingredients are added. Raw chocolate, often referred to as raw cacao, is always dark and a minimum of 75% cacao.

Can I recommend you a partner to grind your cacao beens? Ask Triangular.