Friday, November 1, 2013

Chocolate - Oh How We Love It

With Halloween a distant twenty-four hour memory, how can the mind not turn to chocolate?

Theobroma cacao --A barbarous concoction or noxious drug? Delicious indulgence or cause of migraines? Aphrodisiac or tonic?

The journey of the magical cacao bean and its chocolate byproduct begins, some say, in 200 B.C. Worshiped as an idol my Myan Indians over 2,000 years ago, the bitter seeds of the cacao bean have been transformed into sweet chocolate. The Spanish conquest of Central America introduced chocolate to Europe, where it first became the stimulating drink of kings and aristocrats. Industrialization in the 19th and 20th century made chocolate a food for the masses.

When first brought to the U.S. in 1765, it was available only as cocoa or liquid.

Sixty years later, a Dutch chemist invented a cocoa press that enabled confectioners to make the first chocolate candy. World War I made chocolate popular with the returning soldiers and The Hershey Chocolate Company finally mass produced a quality chocolate bar at a price affordable on public street corners. While it may have stayed available to the masses, it has often been revived as a "luxury item" and graces many a gift basket.

One can not get too much of a good thing for a bar with a higher concentration of cocoa is often bitter to the taste.

Godiva, Lindt, and Ghirardelli are three popular well-known makers of the gourmet product. But throughout the country, there are smaller companies producing quality chocolates to meet the many different needs of chocolate lovers everywhere.

We've, over the years, have heard of California-based Bodega Fudge and Chocolates and Adams Place located in Washington state. Kosher chocolates are not out of the question. The end product is not only for Jewish consumers. They are sought after by others, which include vegetarians and those who buy for various allergy and health reasons. Nor are claims to using a copper kettle process.

While the shelf life of chocolates can be four to six months without refrigeration or up to one year when refrigerated.

A major enemy of chocolates is heat. During the summer months, companies that ship chocolate often rely on two or three day air with frozen jellpacks to keep the chocolate cool.

So let that Halloween chocolate melt in your mouth. The cherry cordials don't come until Christmas.

Ps, Don't forget that this blog has a page two, top of the page tab, where one can read Author Dona' Berg's last excerpt of a yet to be published novel by the three-time winner in the 2013 Dixie Kane Memorial Contest. See details below in October 4 blog post.


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