Chocolate (Encyclopedia of Food & Culture)
CHOCOLATE. Chocolate is the name applied to the variety of products manufactured from the seeds of the tropical tree Theobroma cacao L. The Swedish naturalist Carl Von Linné (1707778), known as Linnaeus, gave the tree the attribution theobroma or "food of the gods," taken from the Greek. When adjoined to cacao, the indigenous Mixe-Zoquean term for the plant, the name is symbolic of the social, religious, and economic importance of chocolate in both New and Old World cultures. Yet while it was revered, it was also reviled, an ambivalence that attends chocolate even in the twenty-first century. Among all the fruits of tropical and subtropical America, why would this one elicit so much passion?
The Plant and Its History
The geographic origin of T. cacao is obscure. While most texts place its origin in either the Amazon or Orinoco River basins of northern South America, it is equally likely that a separate variety originated in Mesoamerica, perhaps in the Lacandón rainforest of the Mexican state of Chiapas. It has been hypothesized that wild T. cacao was broadly distributed in Central and South America and that at some time trees in the isthmus died out, leaving a northern variety and a southern variety to develop independently. The fruit of criollo, the northern variety, is characterized by elongated, deeply ridged yellow to red pods containing ivory or pale purple seeds, while forastero, the southern variety, is characterized by more ovoid, smooth, melon-like green or yellow pods with pale to deep purple seeds. The pigmented substances and related compounds in the cacao seeds impart bitter and astringent qualities to the chocolate. Hence the forastero variety has a robust flavor, while the delicate, "fine" flavor of the criollo is generally considered of superior quality. In the early twenty-first century, greater than 80 percent of commercial cacao was forastero, since this variety is hardier and more productive.
The word "cacao" seems to have come to the Maya from the Olmec, who inhabited the lowlands of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico between about 1500 and 400 B.C.E. and who probably first domesticated the tree. The Izapan culture that bridged the Olmec and the Classic Maya (25000 C.E.) likely planted the criollo plantations of Xoconochco (Soconusco) on the Pacific coastal plains of Chiapas, later a prize possession of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire. While this suggests that cacao was an important crop to the Olmec and the Izapan, it is not known to what extent chocolate was an icon food. The pre-Classic Quiché Maya of the Guatemala highlands apparently did not hold it in exceeding high regard for it is mentioned only in passing in the sacred Popol Vuh or "Book of Counsel." But sometime before 250 C.E. this changed. Chocolate appears in Classic Maya iconography, where the glyph symbolizing cacao adorns ritual burial vases. Classic Maya, particularly the wealthy, imbibed cacao in betrothal and marriage ceremonies, reminiscent of the modern use of expensive French champagne. However, the ritual use of cacao reached its height during the time of the Aztec (Mexica) Empire between 1300 and 1521 C.E.
Cacao was both an elite drink and coinage among the post-Classic Maya and the Aztecs. Chocolate was considered a drink for warriors and nobles and had ritual significance as a symbol of human blood. Since cacao could not be grown in the Valley of Mexico, the site of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán, it had to be imported from either the conquered lands in Xoconochco or obtained by trade from the Maya of the Yucatán, which gave chocolate an exotic quality. It has been oft repeated that Motecuhzoma Xocoyotzin (the familiar "Montezuma") drank fifty flagons of chocolate a day, most especially before entering his harem, but the account of the conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo says of those fifty large mugs, "he would drink a little" (Dillinger et al., 2000, p. 2058S). While cacao was an integral part of the beliefs and practices of the ruling Aztec elite, the image they held of it was not wholly positive. This warning is part of one Aztec tale: "You have become old, you have become tired because of the chocolate you drink and because of the foods you eat" (Coe and Coe, 1996, p. 80). The exuberance of the puritanical Aztecs for chocolate may have been tempered by its association with the luxury-loving Maya of the warm lands to the south. This north-south conflict was repeated in Europe.
In American English usage, "cacao" refers to the tree and its dried seeds prior to further processing; "cocoa" refers to the partially defatted, roasted, and ground cacao seeds; and "chocolate" refers to a food prepared from roasted cacao seeds. Although not leguminous, the cacao seeds are often referred to as "beans." The composition of the edible cotyledon or "nib" is by weight approximately 55 percent fat; 30 percent carbohydrates, half of which is dietary fiber; 10 percent protein; and a host of minor nutrients. This breakdown provides a key to the basis for chocolate's status as a luxury food.
Cacao seeds, numbering twenty to forty, develop within a thick-hulled pod surrounded by a white, sweet, mucilaginous pulp that, with the potential to be fermented into ethanol, could have been what first attracted Homo sapiens. Wild cacao is dispersed by primates, who consume the sweet pulp and discard the bitter seed. Cupuaçu, a product made from the pulp of the fruit of Theobroma grandiflorum, a relative of T. cacao, is consumed by peoples of the Amazon. The preparation of cacao seeds for chocolate making begins with a fermentation step that at one point generates ethanol, which may explain why chocolate has at times been described as intoxicating. A "wine" produced from the liquid expressed from the cacao pulp is consumed in the Yucatán. It is speculative but possible that consumption of the cacao seeds was an afterthought, as the bitter flavor of the seeds is an acquired taste.
Fermentation is required for the characteristic chocolate flavor to develop when the seeds are roasted. The mucilaginous pulp surrounding the seeds is fermented to ethanol, then progressively to acetic and lactic acids, which facilitates its removal. The acid and heat generated during fermentation kill the seed embryo, preventing germination and allowing enzymatic changes that generate flavor precursors and reduce bitterness and astringency. Following fermentation, the seeds are dried, preferably in the sun, to a final moisture content of about 7.5 percent. In this form, the seeds are transported from the country of origin to the major chocolate manufacturing regions.
For the Maya and the modern American alike, the conversion of the fermented and dried cacao to chocolate involves three major operations: roasting, winnowing, and grinding. Just as with meat, roasting cacao generates complex aromas appealing to the human sense of smell. Winnowing is the removal of the inedible shell surrounding the nib. Grinding, which the Maya accomplished by hand using a metate and for which later processors have used a variety of mechanical mills, liberates the cacao fat (cacao "butter") from within the plant cells, extracts the aroma, and permits easy suspension of the cacao in beverages.
The quantity of protein in cacao is significant, and the amino acid composition, while limited in lysine and methionine, can be considered good for a protein of plant origin. However, unlike the leguminous beans that complement maize nutritionally, the digestibility of cocoa proteins is only about 16 to 17 percent. Therefore the proteins of cacao have little practical nutritional value.
The nitrogenous compounds of cacao include both proteins (80 percent) and the methylxanthines theobromine and caffeine, which are present in chocolate liquor (ground cacao nibs) at levels of about 1.22 percent and 0.21 percent respectively. They are both central nervous system stimulants, diuretics, and smooth muscle relaxants, although theobromine tends to be less so than
While wild game, including deer, peccaries, monkeys, tapir, birds, reptiles, and smaller mammals, were abundant in the New World, the only domesticated animals routinely used for meat were the dog and the ocellated turkey (Meleagris ocellata). Muscle foods were not ordinary fare for the indigenous inhabitants of Mesoamerica, and "when the meat-eating Europeans arrived, they described Maya life as perpetual Lent" (Coe, 1994, p. 153). Perhaps just as significant, this lack of large domesticated livestock meant the Maya had no source of butter, lard, or tallow. Fats and oils have been sought for cooking, lighting, and medicine since the earliest times. Hence some of the earliest domesticated plant species in the Old World were the almond (Prunus amygdalus) and the olive (Oleo europea). Perhaps the well-documented Maya distaste for the fat of European animals resulted from Maya familiarity with the preeminent fat, cacao butter.
Cacao butter is unique among natural fats. Its constituent fatty acids are principally the medium-chain saturated fatty palmitic acid and stearic acid and the monounsaturated oleic acid, so cacao butter exhibits a remarkable
As in other fats, the caloric content of cocoa butter is high. Chocolate liquor contains approximately 520 kilocalories per 100 grams, 460 of which are from fat. The 1878 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica refers to "Cocoa, or more properly Cacao," as "a valuable dietary substance" and points out that, while only infusions are made from coffee and tea, leaving large portions of their total weights unconsumed, the entire substance of the cacao seed is utilized. Henry Stubbe, in The Indian Nectar, or, a Discourse Concerning Chocolata [sic] (1662), reported that both English soldiers and Indian women in Jamaica sustained themselves for long periods by eating only chocolate yet did not exhibit a decline in strength. The nutritional qualities of chocolate have been praised by numerous authors since the sixteenth century, and some people have called it a complete food, like bread or milk, containing as much nourishment as a pound of beef. While this helped the Hershey Chocolate Company earn the Army-Navy E award for the Ration D, it caused much consternation within the Catholic Church. Twice the residents of Chiapas consulted Pope Gregory XIII on the question of whether or not drinking chocolate broke the ecclesiastical fast, and both times he responded that it did not because it was a drink. So while coffee and tea can only be regarded as stimulant in effect, a cup of cacao is nutritive in value.
In preconquest Mesoamerica, cacao was an ingredient of a wide variety of drinks, gruels, and porridges, to which were added a great diversity of other flavorings, notably vanilla (Vanilla planifolia), chilli pepper (Capsicum annum), and "ear flower" (Cymbopetalum penduliflorum). It is likely that some of these concoctions were served hot and others cold. The simplest chocolate drink consisted of adding ground cacao and flavorings to water and agitating the mixture by beating or by pouring the liquid from one vessel to another to raise a foam, which was considered the best part of the drink and a sign of quality. During preparation the foam was reserved, then it was added back before serving. While the Maya added indigenous plants to augment the foam, modern consumers have replaced it altogether with whipped cream or marshmallow. The ground cacao was often ameliorated with ground maize or ceiba seed (Ceiba pentandra), though not in the most elite drinks. The bitter taste of most chocolate drinks was not immediately appealing to the European palate. Notable among the ingredients Europeans added to their chocolate are sugar and milk.
From at least the time of the Aztecs, people have been ambivalent about chocolate. Wolfgang Schivelbusch portrayed this ambivalence as a contest between diametrically opposed cultures: capitalist, middle-class, Protestant northern Europe versus aristocratic, Catholic southern Europe. Chocolate was a status symbol of the ancien régime, while coffee appealed to the bourgeois intellect. That chocolate became a status symbol in Europe had much to do with its richness, rarity, and exotic origins. As a status symbol, drinking chocolate vanished with the ancien régime. Cocoa became a breakfast drink for women and children; what formerly symbolized power and glory was now in the hands of the disenfranchised in middle-class society. However, at the same time, solid eating chocolate gained new significance as a luxury in its own right. Once again prestige followed the fat.
While the calories provided by chocolate may have been advantageous to a solider on the march, the idle European nobility found it exceedingly fattening and disagreeable at times to the stomach. In search of a better beverage, Coenraad Van Houten in 1828 developed a means of partially defatting cacao using a mechanical press, an invention that had unanticipated consequences.
The development of solid eating chocolate was evolutionary. Chocolate liquor is solid below 85°F (30°C); formed into small pellets or wafers, it was issued to Aztec warriors on campaign. It was an obvious step to add spices and maize to the cacao during grinding and then form the mixture into cakes. These tablets could later be dispersed into water to prepare a beverage. Seventeenth-century texts mention "eating" as well as drinking chocolate, and recipes for solid confections containing cacao appeared in the eighteenth century. In the 1820s, Goethe wrote of chocolate, "Enjoy this whenever it suits your mood, Not as a drink, but a much loved food" (Morton and Morton, 1986, p. 67). But it was the surplus cacao butter resulting from Van Houten's invention that accelerated the trend toward solid chocolate confections.
The addition of cacao butter to chocolate liquor made it possible to add more sugar to balance the bitterness of the cacao while still producing a thin paste that could be cast into a mold or used as a coating. Solid eating chocolate became an object of trade in the mid-1800s. However, these early products were coarse and gritty. Rudolph Lindt is credited with the 1879 invention of the conch that by grinding the sugar exceedingly fine and homogenizing the mixture creates a smooth and creamy textured chocolate with enhanced flavor and aroma. This "fondant" chocolate became a world standard.
Chocolate has been lauded for its purported medicinal value. Greater than one hundred medicinal uses for chocolate have been reported, and the majority fall into three main categories: 1) to aid emaciated patients in gaining weight; 2) to stimulate the nervous systems of apathetic, exhausted, or feeble individuals; and 3) to improve digestion, stimulate the kidneys (diuretic), and improve bowel function (Dillinger et al., 2000, p. 2057S). These uses can be explained either by cacao's caloric content or by the presence of methylxanthines. In the late twentieth century, attention focused on a class of compounds, phytonutrients, that tend to have antioxidant properties and are said to lower the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease. Among these phytonutrients are the polyphenols, in particular the catechins, which have demonstrated physiological antioxident properties. Pigment cells in the cacao seed, especially in the forastero variety, are rich in these compounds, which may mean redemption for the lowly cousin of the criollo.
Chocolate has long been called an aphrodisiac, a quality that entered into the debate over whether or not it could be consumed by Catholics during Lent, and references to its stimulation of the sexual appetite are numerous. Like other luxury items, chocolate is a symbol of excess wealth, but the association of chocolate and eroticism may not be entirely iconographic in nature. While no specific chemical compounds have yet been identified that could account for either chocolate's supposed addictive or aphrodisiac properties, debate continues on its physiological and psychological effects. Chocolate has become an essential ingredient in the act of seduction. It could be that the melting of the cacao butter in chocolate is symbolic of the melting of the heart and the breakdown of sexual resistance.
Bailleux, Nathalie, et al. The Book of Chocolate. Paris: Flammarion, 1995.
Beckett, S. T., ed. Industrial Chocolate Manufacture and Use. 3rd edition. Oxford: Blackwell Science, 1999.
Coe, Sophie D. America's First Cuisines. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.
Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996.
Dand, Robin. The International Cocoa Trade. 2nd edition. Cambridge, U.K.: Woodhead Publishing, 1999.
Dillinger, Teresa L., Patricia Barriga, Sylvia Escárcega, Martha Jimenez, Diana Salazar Lowe, and Louis E. Grivetti. "Food of the Gods: Cure for Humanity? A Cultural History of the Medicinal and Ritual Use of Chocolate." Journal of Nutrition 130 (2000): 2057S072S.
Drewnowski, Adam, and Carmen Gomez-Carneros. "Bitter Taste, Phytonutrients, and the Consumer: A Review." American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 72 (2000): 1424435.
Girard, Sylvie. "Les vertus aphrodisiaques du chocolat [The aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate]." Cahiers Sexol. Clin. 11 (1985): 602.
Knight, Ian, ed. Chocolate and Cocoa, Health and Nutrition. Oxford: Blackwell Science, 1999.
Morton, Marcia, and Frederic Morton. Chocolate: An Illustrated History. New York: Crown Publishers, 1986.
Schivelbusch, Wolfgang. Tastes of Paradise: A Social History of Spices, Stimulants, and Intoxicants. Translated from the German by David Jacobson. New York: Pantheon Books, 1992.
Gregory R. Ziegler
Chocolate (How Products are Made)
Chocolate, in all of its varied forms (candy bars, cocoa, cakes, cookies, coating for other candies and fruits) is probably America's favorite confection. With an annual per capita consumption of around 14 pounds (6 kilograms) per person, chocolate is as ubiquitous as a non-essential food can be.
Cocoa trees originated in South America's river valleys, and, by the seventh century A.D., the Mayan Indians had brought them north into Mexico. In addition to the Mayans, many other Central American Indians, including the Aztecs and the Toltecs, seem to have cultivated cocoa trees, and the words "chocolate" and "cocoa" both derive from the Aztec language. When Cortez, Pizarro, and other Spanish explorers arrived in Central America in the fifteenth century, they noted that cocoa beans were used as currency and that the upper class of the native populations drank cacahuatl, a frothy beverage consisting of roasted cocoa beans blended with red pepper, vanilla, and water.
While the Spanish initially found the bitter flavor of unsweetened cacahuatl unpalatable, they gradually introduced modifications that rendered the drink more appealing to the European palate. Grinding sugar, cinnamon, cloves, anise, almonds, hazelnuts, vanilla, orange-flower water, and musk with dried cocoa beans, they heated the mixture to create a paste (as with many popular recipes today, variations were common). They then smoothed this paste on the broad, flat leaves of the plantain tree, let it harden, and removed the resulting slabs of chocolate. To make chocalatl, the direct ancestor of our hot chocolate, they dissolved these tablets in hot water and a thin corn broth. They then stirred the liquid until it frothed, perhaps to distribute the fats from the chocolate paste evenly (cocoa beans comprise more than fifty percent cocoa butter by weight). By the mid-seventeenth century, an English missionary reported that only members of Mexico's lower classes still drank cacahuatl in its original form.
When missionaries and explorers returned to Spain with the drink, they encountered resistance from the powerful Catholic Church, which argued that the beverage, contaminated by its heathen origins, was bound to corrupt Christians who drank it. But the praise of returning conquistadorsortez himself designated chocalatl as "the divine drink that builds up resistance and fights fatigue"vershadowed the church's dour prophecies, and hot chocolate became an immediate success in Spain. Near the end of the sixteenth century, the country built the first chocolate factories, in which cocoa beans were ground into a paste that could later be mixed with water. Within seventy years the drink was prized throughout Europe, its spread furthered by a radical drop in the price of sugar between 1640 and 1680 (the increased availability of the sweetener enhanced the popularity of coffee as well).
Chocolate consumption soon extended to England, where the drink was served in "chocolate houses," upscale versions of the coffee houses that had sprung up in London during the 1600s. In the mid-seventeenth century, milk chocolate was invented by an Englishman, Sir Hans Sloane, who had lived on the island of Jamaica for many years, observing the Jamaicans' extensive use of chocolate. A naturalist and personal physician to Queen Anne, Sloane had previously considered the cocoa bean's high fat content a problem, but, after observing how young Jamaicans seemed to thrive on both cocoa products and milk, he began to advocate dissolving chocolate tablets in milk rather than water.
The first Europeans to drink chocolate, the Spaniards were also the first to consume it in solid form. Although several naturalists and physicians who had traveled extensively in the Americas had noted that some Indians ate solid chocolate lozenges, many Europeans believed that consuming chocolate in this form would create internal obstructions. As this conviction gradually diminished, cook-books began to include recipes for chocolate candy. However, a typical eighteenth-century hard chocolate differed substantially from modern chocolate confections. Back then, chocolate candy consisted solely of chocolate paste and sugar held together with plant gums. In addition to being unappealing on its own, the coarse, crumbly texture of this product reduced its ability to hold sugar. Primitive hard chocolate, not surprisingly, was nowhere near as popular as today's improved varieties.
These textural problems were solved in 1828, when a Dutch chocolate maker named Conrad van Houten invented a screw press that could be used to squeeze most of the butter out of cocoa beans. Van Houten's press contributed to the refinement of chocolate by permitting the separation of cocoa beans into cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Dissolved in hot liquid, the powder created a beverage far more palatable than previous chocolate drinks, which were much like blocks of unsweetened baker's chocolate melted in fluid. Blended with regular ground cocoa beans, the cocoa butter made chocolate paste smoother and easier to blend with sugar. Less than twenty years later, an English company introduced the first commercially prepared hard chocolate. In 1876 a Swiss candy maker named Daniel Peter further refined chocolate production, using the dried milk recently invented by the Nestle company to make solid milk chocolate. In 1913 Jules Sechaud, a countryman of Peter's, developed a technique for making chocolate shells filled with other confections. Well before the first World War, chocolate had become one of the most popular confections, though it was still quite expensive.
Hershey Foods, one of a number of American chocolate-making companies founded during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, made chocolate more affordable and available. Today the most famouslthough not the largesthocolate producer in the United States, the company was founded by Milton Hershey, who invested the fortune he'd amassed making caramels in a Pennsylvania chocolate factory. Hershey had first become fascinated by chocolate at the 1893 Chicago World's Columbian Exposition, where one of leading attractions was a 2,200-pound (998.8 kilograms), ten-foot (3.05 meters) tall chocolate statue of Germania, the symbol of the Stollwerck chocolate company in Germany (Germania was housed in a 38-foot [11.58 meters] Renaissance temple, also constructed entirely of chocolate). When he turned to chocolate making, Hershey decided to use the same fresh milk that had made his caramels so flavorful. He also dedicated himself to utilizing mass production techniques that would enable him to sell large quantities of chocolate, individually wrapped and affordably priced. For decades after Hershey began manufacturing them in 1904, Hershey bars cost only a nickel.
Another company, M&M/Mars, has branched out to produce dozens of non-chocolate products, thus making the company four times as large as Hershey Foods, despite the fact that the latter firm remains synonymous with chocolate in the eyes of many American consumers. Yet since its founding in 1922, M&M/Mars has produced many of the country's most enduringly popular chocolate confections. M&M/Mars' success began with the Milky Way bar, which was cheaper to produce than pure chocolate because its malt flavor derived from nougat, a mixture of egg whites and corn syrup. The Snickers and Three Musketeers bars, both of which also featured cost-cutting nougat centers, soon followed, and during the 1930s soldiers fighting in the Spanish Civil War suggested the M&M. To prevent the chocolate candy they carried in their pockets from melting, these soldiers had protected it with a sugary coating that the Mars company adapted to create its most popular product.
Although other ingredients are added, most notably sugar or other sweeteners, flavoring agents, and sometimes potassium carbonate (the agent used to make so-called dutch cocoa), cocoa beans are the primary component of chocolate.
Cocoa trees are evergreens that do best within 20 degrees of the equator, at altitudes of between 100 (30.48 centimeters) and 1,000 (304.8 centimeters) feet above sea level. Native to South and Central America, the trees are currently grown on commercial plantations in such places as Malaysia, Brazil, Ecuador, and West Africa. West Africa currently produces nearly three quarters of the world's 75,000 ton annual cocoa bean crop, while Brazil is the largest producer in the Western Hemisphere.
Because they are relatively delicate, the trees can be harmed by full sun, fungi, and insect pests. To minimize such damage, they are usually planted with other trees such as rubber or banana. The other crops afford protection from the sun and provide plantation owners with an alternative income if the cocoa trees fail.
The pods, the fruit of the cocoa tree, are 6-10 inches (15.24-25.4 centimeters) long and 3-4 inches (7.62-10.16 centimeters) in diameter. Most trees bear only about 30 to 40 pods, each of which contains between 20 and 40 inch-long (2.54 centimeters) beans in a gummy liquid. The pods ripen in three to four months, and, because of the even climate in which the trees grow, they ripen continually throughout the year. However, the greatest number of pods are harvested between May and December.
Of the 30 to 40 pods on a typical cacao tree, no more than half will be mature at any given time. Only the mature fruits can be harvested, as only they will produce top quality ingredients. After being cut from the trees with machetes or knives mounted on poles (the trees are too delicate to be climbed), mature pods are opened on the plantation with a large knife or machete. The beans inside are then manually removed.
Still entwined with pulp from the pods, the seeds are piled on the ground, where they are allowed to heat beneath the sun for several days (some plantations also dry the beans mechanically, if necessary). Enzymes from the pulp combine with wild, airborne yeasts to cause a small amount of fermentation that will make the final product even more appetizing. During the fermenting process, the beans reach a temperature of about 125 degrees Fahrenheit (51 degrees Celsius). This kills the embryos, preventing the beans from sprouting while in transit; it also stimulates decomposition of the beans' cell walls. Once the beans have sufficiently fermented, they will be stripped of the remaining pulp and dried. Next, they are graded and bagged in sacks weighing from 130 to 200 pounds (59.02-90.8 kilograms). They will then be stored until they are inspected, after which they will be shipped to an auction to be sold to chocolate makers.
The Manufacturing Process
Roasting, hulling, and crushing the beans
- 1 Once a company has received a shipment of cocoa beans at its processing plant, the beans are roasted, first on screens and then in revolving cylinders through which heated air is blown. Over a period of 30 minutes to 2 hours, the moisture in the beans is reduced from about seven percent to about one percent. The roasting process triggers a browning reaction, in which more than 300 different chemicals present in the cocoa beans interact. The beans now begin to develop the rich flavor we associate with chocolate.
- 2 Roasting also causes the shells to open and break away from the nibs (the meat of the bean). This separation process can be completed by blowing air across the beans as they go through a giant winnowing machine called a cracker and fanner, which loosens the hulls from the beans without crushing them. The hulls, now separated from the nibs, are usually sold as either mulch or fertilizer. They are also sometimes used as a commercial boiler fuel.
- 3 Next, the roasted nibs undergo broyage, a process of crushing that takes place in a grinder made of revolving granite blocks. The design of the grinder may vary, but most resemble old-fashioned flour mills. The final product of this grinding process, made up of small particles of the nib suspended in oil, is a thick syrup known as chocolate liquor.
Image Pop-UpIn chocolate manufacture, the cocoa beans are first roasted, during which the bean shells break away from their center (the nibs). Next, the nibs undergo broyage, a crushing process that takes place in a grinder with revolving granite blocks. The following step, refining, further grinds the particles and makes the chocolate mass smoother. The mass is then conched, or ground and agitated in a huge open vats. During this process, which can take from 3 hours to 3 days, other ingredients such as sugar and vanilla can be added. The mass is then poured into molds of the desired shape, cooled, cut, and wrapped.
- 4 The next step is refining, during which the liquor is further ground between sets of revolving metal drums. Each successive rolling is faster than the preceding one because the liquor is becoming smoother and flows easier. The ultimate goal is to reduce the size of the particles in the liquor to about .001 inch (.00254 centimeters).
Making cocoa powder
- 5 If the chocolate being produced is to be cocoa powder, from which hot chocolate and baking mixes are made, the chocolate liquor may be dutched, a process so-named because it was invented by the Dutch chocolate maker Conrad van Houten. In the dutching process, the liquor is treated with an alkaline solution, usually potassium carbonate, that raises its pH from 5.5 to 7 or 8. This increase darkens the color of the cocoa, renders its flavor more mild, and reduces the tendency of the nib particles to form clumps in the liquor. The powder that eventually ensues is called dutch cocoa.
- 6 The next step in making cocoa powder is defatting the chocolate liquor, or removing large amounts of butter from it. This is done by further compressing the liquor between rollers, until about half of the fat from its cocoa beans has been released. The resulting solid material, commonly called press cake, is then broken, chopped, or crushed before being sifted to produce cocoa powder. When additives such as sugar or other sweeteners have been blended, this cocoa powder becomes a modern version of chocalatl.
Making chocolate candy
- 7 If the chocolate being produced is to become candy, the press cake is remixed with some of the removed cocoa butter. The restored cocoa butter is necessary for texture and consistency, and different types of chocolate require different amounts of cocoa butter.
- 8 The mixture now undergoes a process known as conching, in which it is continuously turned and ground in a huge open vat. The process's name derives from older vats, which resembled large conch shells. The conching process can last from between three hours to three days (more time is not necessarily better, however). This is the most important step in making chocolate. The speed and temperature of the mixing are critical in determining the quality of the final product.
- 9 Another crucial aspect of conching is the time and rate at which other ingredients are added. The ingredients added during conching determine what type of chocolate is produced: sweet chocolate consists of chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, and vanilla; milk chocolate contains sweet chocolate with powdered whole milk or whole liquid milk.
- 10 At the end of the conching process, the chocolate is poured into molds, cooled, cut, and wrapped.
Proportions of ingredients and even some aspects of processing are carefully guarded secrets, although certain guidelines were set by the 1944 Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Law, as well as more recent laws and regulations. For example, milk chocolate must contain a minimum of 12 percent milk solids and 10 percent chocolate liquor. Sweet chocolate, which contains no milk solids, must contain at least fifteen percent chocolate liquor. The major companies, however, have a reputation for enforcing strict quality and cleanliness standards. Milton Hershey zealously insisted upon fresh ingredients, and the Mars company boasts that its factory floors harbor fewer bacteria than the average kitchen sink. Moreover, slight imperfections are often enough to prompt the rejection of entire batches of candy.
Although concerns about the high fat and caloric content of chocolate have reduced per capita consumption in the United States from over twenty pounds (9.08 kilograms) per year to around fourteen (6.36 kilograms), chocolate remains the most popular type of confection. In addition, several psychiatrists have recently speculated that, because the substance contains phenylethylamine, a natural stimulant, depressed people may resort to chocolate binges in an unknowing attempt to raise their spirits and adjust their body chemistry. Others have speculated that the substance exerts an amorous effect. Despite reduced levels of consumption and regardless of whether or not one endorses the various theories about its effects, chocolate seems guaranteed to remain what it has been throughout the twentieth century: a perennial American favorite.
Where To Learn More
Chocolate Manufacturers' Association of the U.S.A. The Story of Chocolate.
Hirsch, Sylvia Balser and Morton Gill Clark. A Salute to Chocolate. Hawthorn Books, 1968.
O'Neill, Catherine. Let's Visit a Chocolate Factory. Troll Associates, 1988.
Cavendish, Richard. "The Sweet Smell of Success," History Today. July, 1990, pp. 2-3.
"From Xocoatl to Chocolate Bars," Consumer Reports. November, 1986, pp. 696-701.
Galvin, Ruth Mehrtens. "Sybaritic to Some, Sinful to Others, but How Sweet it Is!" Smithsonian. February, 1986, pp. 54-64.
Marshall, Lydia and Ethel Weinberg. "A Fine Romance," Cosmopolitan. February, 1989, pp. 52-4.
i>Lawrence H. Berlow
Chocolate (Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior)
An ingredient of many popular treatsandies, sweets, baked goods, soft drinks, hot drinks, ice cream, and other frozen desserts. It is prepared, often as a paste, from the roasted crushed seeds (called cocoa beans) of the small South American cacao tree called Theobroma cacao (this is not the shrub known as the COCA PLANT, which produces COCAINE, Erythroxylon coca).
The cacao tree has small yellowish flowers, followed by fleshy yellow pods with many seeds. The dried, partly fermented fatty seeds are used to make the paste, which is mixed with sugar to produce
Chocolate produces a mild stimulating effect caused by the THEOBROMINE and CAFFEINE it contains. Both are ALKALOIDS of the chemical class called xanthines. Theobromine in high doses has many effects on the body, and it is possible to become addicted to some xanthines, such as caffeine. Nevertheless, some people are so attracted to the flavor that compulsive or obsessive use has resulted in the newly coined term chocoholic. Some scientists are researching the phenylethylamine in chocolate as the factor that encourages compulsive chocolate ingestion.
SERAFIN, W. E. (1996). Drugs used in the treatment of asthma. In J. G. Hardman et al. (Eds.), The Pharmacological Basis of Therapeutics, 9th ed. (pp. 659-682). New York: McGraw-Hill.
MICHAEL J. KUHAR