This past weekend we paid a visit to The Amsterdam Chocolate Festival. The festival documented an array of chocolates made using cocoa from around the world.
Products, for example soaps, made using cocoa butter, were also on show. There are so many different chocolates available at the moment and this gives one the opportunity to be able taste and understand the differences and nuances that can be found in chocolates from different countries.
What is chocolate and how is it made?
Chocolate is a typically sweet, usually brown, food preparation of Theobroma cacao seeds, roasted and ground, often flavored, as with vanilla. It is made in the form of a liquid, paste or in a block or used as a flavouring ingredient in other sweet foods. Cacao has been cultivated by many cultures for at least three millennia in Mesoamerica. The earliest evidence of use traces to the Mokaya (Mexico and Guatemala), with evidence of chocolate beverages dating back to 1900 BC. In fact, the majority of Mesoamerican people made chocolate beverages, including the Maya and Aztecs, who made it into a beverage known as xocolātl, a Nahuatl word meaning “bitter water”. The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop the flavour.
After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shell is removed to produce cacao nibs, which are then ground to cocoa mass, pure chocolate in rough form. Because the cocoa mass is usually liquefied before being molded with or without other ingredients, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor also may be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Unsweetened baking chocolate (bitter chocolate) contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat, and sugar. 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.
For more information on the festival visit Amsterdam Chocolate Festival.
A great magazine available for the coffee and chocolate industry is Koffietcoao.