July 28 – National Milk Chocolate Day

Posted on July 28, 2015

I don't know how smart it is to have any sort of chocolate day in July! Us Northern-Hemisphere types often have hot, hot days and warm nights – just the sort of weather that can make a mess of chocolate treats!

But I got to wondering when people first started eating chocolate...

Here's the scoop:

The word cocoa comes from the Spanish word cacao, which comes from the native-Central-American (Nahuatl) word cacahuatl. The cacao tree is native to South and Central America, but the American natives who used parts of the cacao tree for food first used the fleshy fruit to make alcohol. The seeds (beans) found in pods in the middle of the fruit were not the first attraction to the plant.

These are cocoa beans in their pod.

By 1400 or 1500 BCE, various Central- and South-American peoples were roasting the cocoa beans and shucking off their papery skins. They used the chocolate in various ways, and many people even used cocoa beans as a form of money.

You have probably already guessed that cocoa beans from the cacao tree were one of the many foods introduced to Europe and the rest of the world by the Spanish conquistadors. Now, however, about 70% of the world's chocolate is grown in Africa!

Here are some chocolate terms:

cocoa butter is the fatty part of the cocoa bean

cocoa solids are the remaining, nonfat part of the cocoa bean, which is ground into a powder

chocolate liquor is a liquid created by melting cocoa beans; its about half butter and half solids

raw chocolate has never been heated or mixed with other ingredients, and it has never been processed in any way

unsweetened chocolate is pure chocolate liquor mixed with other fats to create a solid; trust me, this is hard to eat!

baking chocolate is unsweetened chocolate; it is often mixed with sugar to make chocolate cookies or cakes

bitter chocolate is also unsweetened chocolate

dark chocolate is created by adding fat and sugar to cocoa; it's yummy

bittersweet chocolate is dark chocolate that only has a little bit of added sugar; sometimes vanilla is added

semi-sweet chocolate is dark chocolate with more added sugar; many chocolate chips fall into this category

sweet chocolate has more sugar even that semi-sweet

couverture is chocolate with a lot of extra cocoa butter

milk chocolate is made by adding milk powder, liquid milk, or condensed milk to chocolate along with sugar and perhaps extra cocoa butter

white chocolate is sugar, milk, and cocoa butter – but no cocoa solids

compound chocolate is made by adding vegetable fats to cocoa

cocoa powder is made by removing nearly all the cocoa butter and grinding the rest of the cocoa bean into powder

modeling chocolate is used to create decorations; it is made by combing melted chocolate with corn syrup or other syrup

  • Check out these amazing things made out of chocolate,

  • Some people have gathered amazing chocolate sculptures on Pinterest pages

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