The Divine World of Chocolate

There are four basic food groups: plain chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate and white chocolate
                -Jill Shavis

Godvia, Ghirardelli, Lindt….these names alone, are powerful enough to have a foodie opening their wallet for a sweet treat.   Chocolate is divine no matter if presented in gourmet candies, decadent cookies, or rich desserts.     The lure of chocolate is so powerful that a picture on page can be salivating and walking into a chocolate shop with shelves of confectionary sweets is like heaven on earth.    Whose childhood doesn’t have lovely memories of their first Cadbury Easter bunny or foiled covered chocolate eggs stacked in your personal basket.  No lover could go wrong with presenting a box of “aphrodisiac” gourmet chocolates to, at least, pleasure the tastebuds.  And is there anything more sexier than a bite of the an amazing piece of chocolate paired with a favorite wine?   Even doctors give the nod to dark chocolate, eaten in moderation,  touted for its health benefits, as it contains the greatest percentage of flavonoids, a type of phytochemical found in the cacao bean.

Any child who grew up in the Metro Detroit area prior to the 1970s will have a shared connection to the Sanders Chocolate Shoppe that was located in the heart of downtown Detroit, celebrated for its hot fudge ice cream sundae.   I can still remember drooling at the counterperson carefully drizzling fudge over a scoop of ice cream almost as performance art to the eyes of children who couldn’t wait to dig in with a spoon.  It was huge deal when my Mother brought home a box of Sanders Turtles consisting of chocolate, caramel and pecans… even the unwrapping of the plastic off the box was a ceremonial act for my brother and I.  The anticipation of smelling, let alone tasting those candies was to die for.

When talking about the craftsmanship of chocolate, the process begins with the cacoa bean that is harvested in tropical countries around the Equator’s hot and humid climate, the best environment for the growing  cacoa trees.  70% of the world’s beans are produced on family farms in the West African countries of the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon followed by the countries of Indonesia, Brazil and Ecuador.

Once beans are harvested (picked with machetes only, fermented, dried, cleaned and packed) the beans are sold to exporters who  in turn sell to be processed at grinding companies where the beans are crushed, shells are removed, roasted and finally ground in cocoa liquor – used to manufacture chocolate or further processed for cocoa butter and cocoa powder.  The roasting process is where the magic of developing the color and flavor into the variety of tastes especially fine chocolate.

Chocolatiers are persons or companies who make confectionery from chocolate as oppose to chocolate makers who are the manufactures the cocoa bean into chocolate.  Chocolatiers, are trained through apprenticeships as pastry or confectionary chefs in restaurants or culinary schools.   A master chocolatier, understands the physical and chemical characteristics to perfect the art of working with chocolate.  World Master Chocolatiers earn their titles in annual global competitions judging their design and sculpture skills.

If you’re in the market for the best of the best in all things chocolate for an upcoming lovers’ holiday, or wanting to curb your indulgent sweet tooth, Business Insider rated the best companies to purchase online: -AJ

·         Best Belgian gourmet: Neuhaus Chocolates

·         Best French gourmet: Michel Cluizel Chocolates

·         Best French high-end: La Maison du Chocolat

·         Best exotic gourmet: Vosges Haut-Chocolat

·         Best gift set: Max Brenner Chocolate Desire Gift Set

·         Best gourmet bar: K+M

·         Best berries: Shari’s Berries

·         Best affordable Swiss: Lindt Chocolates

·         Best Mexican chocolate: Taza

·         Best affordable Belgian: Godiva Chocolates

·         Best affordable bars: Green & Black’s

·         Best over-the-top gourmet gift box: Jacques Torres

Share your thoughts on Chocolate here in the comment section or on Twitter!

Blog Content Source

Make chocolate fair – https://makechocolatefair.org/

Business Insider – https://www.businessinsider.com/best-chocolate

Hat Tip to the chocolate photographers from Pixabay and Unsplash

2092512 – chocolate and strawberries, Joanna Kosinski – raspberries and chocolate, dghchocolatier – cocoa farmer drying beans, Nawalescape – chocolate candies – header

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