Key Facts About Chocolate

History and Timeline

The Maya Indians are believed to be the first to grow cocoa beans as a domestic crop from 1500 BC -300 BC. They called it xocoatl ( sho-KWA-til) . The Maya traded with the Aztecs around 1200 AD. They called it cacahuati ( ca-ca-WAH-tel) meaning warm or bitter liquid. The Aztecs flavored it with local spices, including Chile, cinnamon, musk, pepper and vanilla and thickened it with cornmeal; then frothed it in a bowl with a molinillo ( moh-lin-ee-oh), a wooden stirring stick.

The cacao seeds could be used as money for shopping at the market to purchase food, clothes, and even kitchen tools.

  • In 1492 Christopher Columbus was said to have brought back the cocoa bean to King Ferdinand from his 4th visit to the new world, but they were over looked in favor of the many other treasures he had found.
  • In 1527 or 1528 Cortez conquers the Aztec empire and brings cocoa beans, equipment and recipes for preparing chocolate from Mexico to the Spanish court of King Charles. It is greeted with excitement, but is heavily taxed so only the rich can afford it.
  • By 1657 the first chocolate house opened in London by a Frenchman.
  • In 1672, while Daniel Peter is given credit for inventing milk chocolate 200 years from now, Sir Hans Sloane is using milk in drinking his chocolate.
  • In 1674 eating solid chocolate is introduced in the form of pastilles.
  • In1728 Fry sets up the first chocolate factory in Bristol, England using hydraulic machinery to process and grind the cocoa beans.
  • In 1755 chocolate returns to America.
  • In 1765 Irish chocolate-maker John Hanan imports coca beans into Dorchester, Massachusetts, to refine them with America doctor James Baker. They build America’s first chocolate mill and by 1780 the mill is making BAKER’S chocolate.
  • In 1847 Francis Fry discovers a way to mix some of the cocoa butter back into the cocoa powder and the ads sugar creating a paste that can be molded.
  • In 1849 the Cadbury brothers are selling a similar product 2 years later.
  • In 1859 Milton Hershey sells his first Hershey bar in Pennsylvania.
  • In 1861 Richard Cadbury creates the first known heart shaped candy box for valentines.
  • In 1868 John Cadbury mass markets the first boxes of chocolate candies.
  • In 1879 Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle form The Nestle Company.
  • In 1926 Joseph Draps starts the Godiva Company.
  • In 1930 Nestle makes the first white chocolate.
  • In 1932 World War two rationings include chocolate.
  • In 1990 annual world consumption of cocoa beans is approximately 600,000 tons .
  • In 2000, the cote d’ivoire is the world largest exporter of cocoa beans-1.4 million tons. The Netherlands both imports and grinds the most cocoa. Some is made into chocolate the remainder is processed into couverture and cocoa powder and exported to other countries which make their own chocolate from it.

Chocolate Processing

There are three main varieties of cacao beans used in chocolate. They are criollo, forastero, and trinitario. Criollo is the rarest and most expensive cocoa on the market and is native to Central America, the Caribbean islands and the northern tier of South American states. Criollo represents only five percent of all cocoa beans grown. The most commonly grown bean is forastero, native to the Amazon basin. The African cocoa crop consists entirely of the Forastero variety. Trinitario is a natural hybrid if Criollo and Forastero. Trinitario originated in Trinidad after an introduction of Forastero to the local Criollo crop.

After the cocoa pods are harvested they are fermented. After fermentation the beans are dried in the sun from five to seven days. A cocoa pod contains about 30-50 almond sized seeds, enough to make about 7 milk chocolate bars. Once the beans are dry, they are transported to a manufacturing facility were they are cleaned, roasted and graded. Next, the shells are removed to extract the nib. Finally, the nibs are grounded and liquefied, resulting in pure chocolate in fluid form: chocolate liquor. The chocolate liquor can be further processed into two components: cocoa solids and coca butter.

Chocolate liquor is blended with the cocoa butter in varying quantities to make different types of chocolate. The basic blend of ingredients for various types of chocolate (in order of highest quantity of cocoa liquor first), are as follows:

  • Dark chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, and sometimes vanilla.
  • Milk chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa liquor, milk or milk powder, and vanilla.
  • White chocolate: sugar, cocoa butter, milk or milk powder, and vanilla.

The finest, plain dark chocolate contains at least 70% cocoa (both solids and butter), where milk usually contains up to 50%. And high-quality white chocolate contains only about 35% cocoa. Some mass produced chocolate contains much less cocoa (as low as 7% in many cases) and fats other than cocoa butter. Vegetable oils and artificial vanilla flavor are often used in cheaper chocolate to mask poorly fermented and/or roasted beans.

Kegg’s Candies cocoa content is 31% for our dark chocolate and 21% for our milk chocolate.

Couverture chocolate is a very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter ( 32-39%).  The higher percentage of coca butter, combined with the processing, gives the chocolate a more sheen, firmer “snap” when broken, and a creamy mellow flavor.

In 2007, the Chocolate Manufacturers Association in the United States, whose members include Hershey, Nestle, and Archer Daniels Midland, lobbied the Food and Drug Administration to change the legal definition of chocolate to let them substitute partially hydrogenated vegetable oils for cocoa butter in addition to using artificial sweeteners and milk substitutes. Currently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not allow a product to be referred to as “chocolate” if the product contains any of these ingredients.

The next step in processing chocolate is called conching. A conche is a container filled with metal beads, which acts as grinders. The refined and blended chocolate mass is kept in a liquid state by frictional heat. Chocolate prior to conching has an uneven and gritty texture. The conching process produces cocoa and sugar particles smaller than the tongue can detect, hence the smooth feel in the mouth. The length of the conching process determines the final smoothness and quality of the chocolate. High-quality chocolate is conched for about 72 hours, lesser grades about 4-6 hours. After the process is complete, the chocolate is stored in tanks at 113-122 degrees until final processing.

Tempering Chocolate

The final process to preparing chocolate for use is called tempering. The fats in coca butter can crystallize in six different forms. The six different crystal forms have different properties.

  1. 63 degrees Soft, crumbly, melts too easily.
  2. 70 degrees Soft, crumbly, melts too easily.
  3. 79 degrees Firm, poor snap, melts too easily.
  4. 82 degrees Firm, good snap, melts too easily.
  5. 93 degrees Glossy, firm best snap, melts near body temperature.
  6. 97 degrees Hard, takes weeks to form.

To properly temper Chocolate it is heated to 113-120 degrees. This melts all 6 forms of crystals. Next, the chocolate is cooled to about 81-83 degrees. At this temperature the chocolate is agitated to create many small crystal “seeds”. The chocolate is than heated to about 88-89 degrees to eliminate any type of crystals. Beyond this temperature point any excessive heating of chocolate will destroy the temper and you will have to start over.

There are three ways of manually tempering chocolate:

  1. Working the molten chocolate on a heat absorbing surface such as a stone or marble slab.
  2. Stirring solid chocolate into molten chocolate and using seed.
  3. Chocolate tempering machines with manual or computer controls.

The storage of chocolate is very important. It is sensitive to temperature and humidity. Ideal storage should be between 59 and 63 degrees and stored away from other foods since it absorbs different aromas.

Chocolate Moulding

Chocolate is formed into chocolate shapes made by pouring tempered chocolate into moulds and allowing it to set to create a hollow or solid piece of chocolate. Filling the mould by hand works best when using a squeeze bottle or piping bag. Larger production operations use automated metering pumps to measure and fill the moulds.

Once the mould is full it is important to scrape the excess chocolate of the top of the mould using a spatula and be sure to gently tap the mould on your table to remove air bubbles.

Place the mould in the refrigerator for setup and cooling. You will know it is ready to come out by checking the bottom of the mould. You will see the chocolate begin to pull away from the mold. Gently flip your mould over and the chocolate should drop right out. It should be nice and shiny in appearance.

Remember chocolate and water are not friends. Any moisture will ruin your chocolate and if it is very humid outside you may have problems trying to mould your chocolate.