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Chocolate

Chocolate is a sweet treat that has been known for thousands of years. Today, chocolate is made from cocoa mass and cocoa butter (from roasted cocoa beans), and sugar; in the case of milk chocolate, milk components are also added to the mix.

Chocolate is a sweet treat that has been known for thousands of years. Today, chocolate is made from cocoa mass and cocoa butter (from roasted cocoa beans), and sugar; in the case of milk chocolate, milk components are also added to the mix.

Please note! A sweet is only allowed to be referred to as chocolate if it has been made of cocoa butter, and it can contain up to 5% of other vegetable fat (and even that must have identical properties to cocoa butter).

Originally, chocolate was a cold drink made from roasted, ground and frothed cocoa mass, without any sugar, which is why its creators, the Aztecs in CentralAmerica, referred to it as xocolatl (bitterwater).

Chocolate became known in Europe followingthe voyages of Columbus to America, and after the Spaniard Cortez conquered Mexico in the early 16th century. Solid chocolate as we know it was first manufactured by Joseph Fry ofthe Fry & Sonscompanyin the middle of the 19th century. In 1875, the Swiss Daniel Peter added milk to chocolate, thereby creating milk chocolate.

In Estonia, one of the first renowned chocolate manufacturers was Georg Stude’s company in Tallinn during the second half of the 19th century, the predecessor of Kalevconfectionery company.

The main types of chocolate

Nowadays, there are several types of chocolate available in shops. The differences between the types start with the country of origin of the cocoa beans, and they are even more pronounced depending on the production method and recipe used to make the chocolate.

Dark chocolate

The cocoa content in dark chocolate can even be over 90%. This type of chocolate is the most beneficial to your health, mainly thanks to its high cocoa content!

Dark chocolate mainly consists of cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar and lecithin. The depth of the colour of the chocolate and the bitterness of its flavour depend on the ratio of cocoa mass tosugar. Semi-sweet dark chocolate with a cocoa content of up to 50% is usually used in pastries.

Milk chocolate

In milk chocolate, some of the dry cocoa mass has been substituted with milk components, which gives a sweeter flavour, lighter colour and softer structure to the chocolate. As it is extremely heat-sensitive, using milk chocolate in desserts that require heat-processing is more complex. It is also great for making decorationsas a nice alternative to dark chocolate,in terms ofits aroma, flavour and colour.

White chocolate

The manufacturing process and ingredients of white chocolate are similar to that of ordinary chocolate, with one important exception: no cocoa mass or powder is used in white chocolate. The only cocoa product in white chocolate is cocoa butter. That is why white chocolate is sweeter than other types of chocolate, and is also great for making desserts. Compared to regular chocolate, it contains a lot more milk. However, melting white chocolate requires extra care: heating it too quickly may cause it to become grainy, or even to burn.

How is chocolate useful?

Scientists have researched the characteristics of chocolate extensively and proved that many of these elements are indeed beneficial for our health. Meanwhile, we must not forget that it is particularly dark chocolate, i.e. chocolate with a high cocoa content, which is most useful. It is also important to eat chocolate in moderation – just like any other food.

Essentially, it can be said that chocolate contains ingredients thathelp to prevent several diseases, while also making you feel good and at peace with yourself and the world, making your mood better and reducing stress. That is especially true for women, which is why they are particularly prone to the charms of chocolate. The invigorating and energising effect of chocolate has also been noted and it is a great source of energy, so it is great for anyone experiencing psychological or physical exertion.

The following list is a more serious and thorough overview of the beneficial characteristics of chocolate:

1. Cocoa butter, one of the main ingredients of chocolate, contains a lot of stearic acid, which is why eating chocolate does not increase blood cholesterol levels or the risk of cardiovascular disease.

2. Chocolate contains antioxidants (flavonols), which protect the heart and the cardiovascular system. They are also beneficial for the immune system, and potentially preventing cancer.

3. Chocolate contains important nutrients: iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, copperand Vitamin B.

4. Eating chocolate makes you feel good, as it releases the “happiness hormones” – endorphins.

5. Chocolate has a slightly invigorating effect thanks to the theobromine it contains.

6. Chocolate contains serotonin, which is a natural “antidepressant”.

7. Recent studies have also proved that chocolate does not cause acne or tooth decay.

8. Chocolate does not cause hyperactive behaviour or hyperactivity related to attention deficit disorder in children. The scientific literature on this topic indicates that no study about children has established a link between hyperactive behaviour and consuming chocolate.

Why does chocolate sometimes turn “grey”?

When it comes to chocolate treats, it is good to know two important aspects: any changes in temperature should only occur very slowly with these products, and they must also be protected from excess humidity.

When chocolate products are moved from a cool room to somewhere humid and/or warm, the chocolate structure will change very quickly, and a dull greyish layer will also appear on the surface of the chocolate. It is as if the sweet is “blooming”.

Consumers are often worried and afraid that it is mould, but that is not the case. Depending on the specific situation, it is only the crystallisation of sugar or cocoa butter on the surface of the chocolate. It is not a health hazard, but it does greatly affect the appearance of the product, making you less likely to indulge in it.

In order to keep chocolate products looking and tasting great, it is a good idea to store them at a temperature that is as even as possible. For short-term storage, an ordinary room temperature of 18‒20°Cand relative humidity of up to 60% work well. For long-term storage (in warehouses, shops), the ideal storage temperature would be 16‒18°C, with relative humidity of up to 50%.

Chocolate products that have melted after long-term storage in a warm room should never be placed in a fridge in the hope of recovering the nice appearance of the chocolate. Even if a product has been accidentally left in a place that is too cold or too warm, getting it back to normal temperature should only happen slowly and calmly.

Chocolate should also be protected from direct light and heat.

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