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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Luxury chocolates

Chocolate is made from cocoa pods grown on the Theobroma cacao tree, a small evergreen native to the tropical regions of South America. It was so highly prized it was called ? God?s food? The secret to the best quality chocolate is in its amount of cocoa solids (a mixture of cocoa mass and cocoa butter).

The cocoa bean develops its aroma during fermentation and gives the beans their familiar chocolate taste. The fruit pulp containing the cocoa beans is poured into a fermenting tub or placed between banana leaves. Fermentation begins at 100 -120°F.

After harvesting the cacao pods (which contain the cacao beans) the pods are crushed and left to ferment and dry for about six days. Then the beans are removed from the pods and left to further dry. Quality chocolate demands this slow drying process.

Some chocolate manufacturers prefer to buy beans; others opt for chocolate mass. The beans are heated to 70 C and pressed to extract the cocoa butter (48-51 percent), which is clarified, becoming yellow and clear. At this stage, lecithin is added to make the mass malleable.

After blending, the cocoa beans are roasted. It is the process of roasting the cocoa beans that brings out the chocolate flavor and aroma (I can tell you from personal experience that this process also produces one of the most lovely aromas my nose has ever smelled).

Next the cocoa beans are shelled, and the pieces of seeds (called nibs) are then ground until a chocolate liquor is produced. Extra cocoa butter is then added (when producing cocoa or sweet ground chocolate it is removed). he extra cocoa butter increases the delicacy of the chocolate, and is largely responsible for its flavor.

First you will discover the differences in colour as different beans produce finished chocolate with varying colours from rich reds and coppers to dark browns. This is not a sign of quality and a common myth that the darker chocolate is somehow a better chocolate is certainly not the case.

A premuim quality 62% cocoa chocolate is crafted from the finest Ghanaian cocoa beans to produce a medium bittersweet chocolate. The largest suppliers are African countries, although the best (Criollo) cocoa beans originate in Ecuador. Forastero beans are flat and mostly used for chocolate drinks, violet-coloured Amelonado is bitter and of superior taste.

Some chocolate is best for eating, and some for cooking. Some types, like couverture chocolate, can be used for baking, eating or coating candies. This is usually considered the highest quality chocolate, and it has a high percentage of cocoa butter, making it smooth and easily tempered.

Flavanol antioxidants occur naturally in some plant-based foods, such as tea, grapes, blueberries, cranberries and cocoa beans. Cocoa beans are the basic ingredient of all chocolate products. Interestingly, it is one of the most concentrated natural sources of flavanol.

Semisweet or Bittersweet - Here, the chocolate liquor has been combined with sweetener, cocoa butter, and often vanilla. This is often known as dark chocolate and contains at least 35% chocolate liquor (or "cocoa"). Most good quality chocolate has around 50-60%.

Couverture is a special kind of chocolate. Couverture chocolate has more cocoa butter than normal chocolate, anywhere from 34% to 39% for a really good brand. This type of high quality chocolate is used as a coating for things like chocolate truffles.

Strictly speaking, chocolate is any product 100% based on cocoa solid and/or cocoa fat. Because it is used in a vast number of by-products, any change in the cost of making it has a huge impact on the industry. Adding ingredients is an aspect of the taste.

please visit our website http://gifts-chocolate.net for further information about chocolate guide and tips

Posted by: Gourmet Grocery Online AT 07:29 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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