Chocolate is a very popular
Cocoa beans were first
discovered in southern Mexico and are actually the beans of a bright orange to
brown colored pod. The pods are harvested; split open and the beans are removed
and left to ferment, to help develop the chocolate flavor. They are then
roasted, crushed and have their husks removed. At this point, the nibs, as the
crushed cocoa beans are called, are then processed by chocolate companies around
the world into the different chocolates we know today.
There are many forms of
chocolate on the market today:
- Cocoa powder- Alkalized
cocoa (or dutch process) has a stronger chocolate flavor. used in baking,
making candies, beverages.
- Powdered or ground
chocolate- this chocolate is ground from semi-sweet chocolate w/low cocoa
butter content. Cocoa butter is the fat in cocoa beans. It is best used for
flavoring whipped cream or as a beverage mix.
- Baking chocolate- comes in 1 oz squares in semisweet and unsweetened
- Couverture chocolate-
the name means covering. This type of chocolate can be used for candy
making and baking but because of its high cocoa butter content, it is used
mostly for molding and dipping.
- Eating chocolate- the
most commonly found chocolate, though may contain vanillin- an artificial
vanilla flavor and lecithin which is a soy-based emulsifying agent that
helps the keep the chocolate mixture from separating in the manufacturing
process. A good imported chocolate bar will not have these additives
- Compound coatings-
these are not really chocolate, but chocolate flavored products is which the
cocoa butter is replaced with hard vegetable fats. Some mistake compound
coatings for white chocolate because of the package labeling, but it isnít.
We know them as candy melts. Because the little disks come is assorted
colors, they are popular for candy mold making. They are an inferior
substitute for chocolate.
- White chocolate-
quality white chocolate isnít really chocolate, according to the FDA,
because it doesnít contain chocolate liquor, which is what gives it the
biter intense chocolate flavor (and color) to dark and milk
chocolates. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar,
lecithin and vanilla. Cocoa butter is the fat from cocoa beans, extracted
from the cocoa beans during the process of making chocolate and cocoa
powder. Cocoa butter has very little 'chocolate' flavor. The cocoa butter
gives chocolate the ability to remain solid at room temperature, yet melt
easily in the mouth.
Cocoa butter is one of the most stable fats known, containing natural
antioxidants that prevent rancidity and give it a storage life of 2 to 5
years. It is used for its smooth texture in foods (including chocolate) and
in cosmetics and soaps.
For those who love chocolate and nuts together try this
Chunky Nut Chocolates
1 Ĺ # chocolate
2 ĺ c nuts of choice,
1 ĺ c rice crispy cereal
optional ingredients: Ĺ #
raisings, 1 c mini marshmallows
Melt chocolate in the
microwave on the defrost setting, stirring every 2 minutes until just melted.
Stir in rest of ingredients. Evenly spread in a 13x9 inch pan and chill for 30
minutes before cutting into squares or drop by tablespoons onto a parchment
covered sheet pan and chill for 15 minutes before serving. Yields 30 pieces.
For those who love sweets, but need to watch what they eat
try this light, crisp treat:
3 egg whites at room
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/8 tsp salt
ĺ c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c mini chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 300
degrees. Line 2 cookie sheet pans with parchment paper
Beat the egg whites, cream
of tartar and salt until soft peaks begin to form. Slowly pour the sugar in and
continue whipping until the mixture forms stiff, shiny peaks.
Gently fold the vanilla and
chocolate chips (is using) into the egg whites.
Use a pastry bag with a
1-inch opening and pipe 1-inch round kisses of meringue onto the parchment lined
cookie sheet pans. A kiss is a swirl of meringue with a peaked tip. If you
donít have a pastry bag, dollop tablespoons of meringue onto the parchment and
call them meringue rocks or hugs.
Bake the meringues for 25
minutes, rotate the sheet pan 180 degrees and bake up to 25 more minutes until
the meringues are light tan and firm to the touch. Cool completely. They will
become crisp as they cool. Can store for more than a month in an air tight