September 13, 2010

International Chocolate Day

Created by candy maker associations, this holiday inspires restaurants and bakeries to have special menu items or promotions—but all of us can celebrate it! Whether you prefer your chocolate dark, white or milk, grab a hunk of chocolate, or a cup of cocoa, or a bowl of chocolate chunk brownie-bits ice cream, or... Well, I could go on and on, but you get the idea:

Eat some chocolate today!

Did you know...?

In Yerevan, Armenia, the world's largest chocolate bar has been created. Certified last Saturday by the Guinness Book of World Records, the 4,410-kilogram bar (or 9,702 pounds!) was made by Grand Candy factory. Its dimensions are 560 centimeters by 275 centimeters, and it is 25 centimeters thick. (That's about 18 feet by 9 feet, and 10 inches thick.) It will be divided up and passed out for free in October.

White chocolate contains cocoa butter, along with milk and sugar, but it doesn't have cocoa solids. The more familiar brown forms of chocolate (including dark, semi-sweet, unsweetened, and milk chocolate) contains cocoa solids and varying amounts of cocoa butter.

Chocolate can lower blood pressure and is linked to serotonin levels in the brain, which is why it can be a feel-good food. However, one alkaloid in chocolate, theobromine, makes it poisonous for some animals, including dogs and cats.

The English word chocolate comes from the Spanish word chocolate (spelled the same way but pronounced differently). Where did the Spanish word come from? Scholars aren't sure, but it probably came from a Maya word or a Nahuatl word. (The latter is the language spoken by the Aztecs.) Certainly the world got chocolate from Central and South America, where cacao has been grown and used at least since 1100 BC (or BCE).

About 75% of the world's cacao bean (chocolate) supply is grown in West Africa.

Here are some kid-friendly chocolate recipes! 

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