Saturday, 21 May 2005

Chocolate




The first bar of chocolate was produced in 1847, even though cocoa had been known to the Europeans since 1502. The first chocolate bars were of dark chocolate and consisted mainly of cocoa solids, which made them rather dry and not very pleasant to eat.
All throughout the 1870s, European sales of chocolate were very high. In 1876, a Daniel Peter of Switzerland, invented milk chocolate. He had discovered that adding powdered milk to the chocolate mix made for a wonderfully tasting bar. Until then efforts to add milk in it's liquid form to chocolate, had resulted in the milk going rancid and the consistency of the chocolate not being solid enough. An Englishman called George Page, developed Daniel Peter's work on chocolate even more. However, milk chocolate didn't really become popular until the early 20th century, as people were used to the bitter, intense taste of dark chocolate.
By the 1890s chocolate had become a common purchase and the German, British and American soldiers were supplied with ample bars of it, while on their way to battle. The power of chocolate had arrived!

It is interesting to realise that the perecntage of cocoa solids in chocolate determines not only its taste but also its quality and has become a subject of much debate between chocolate lovers and chocolate snobs. Apparently, the higher the percentage of cocoa solids the more snobby the chocolate becomes (and incidently more bitter too...).
The darkest , most bitter and most coveted by connoiseurs chocolate is the one which contains 70% cocoa solids. I have tried this chocolate and find it disgustingly bitter and the aftertaste it leaves most offensive.
The French, Italian and German chocolate manufacturers claim that any chocolate with a cocoa solids contents of less than 25% is not chocolate. They nearly convinced the EU a few years back, that chocolate from the United Kingdom, which typicaly contains 20% cocoa solids should not be called chocolate by law. They didn't get their way entirely but nevertheless the EU declared that exported U.K. chocolate should be called 'family chocolate'...

White chocolate on the other hand, is characterized by the total absence of cocoa solids and is made with coca butter, milk solids, sugar and vanilla. In US in fact, it is illegal to call it chocolate and manufacturers have to resort to names such as "Chocolate Lover's White Chip" and "Vanilla Chips" in order to sell their product.

5 comments:

Larry Lamb said...

70% - ha! Rococo do a "plus noir que noir" chocolate bar at 99% cocoa solids - they politely ask "if you've tried it before" when you buy it. I like it a lot, but can't each much of it at one go. Good thing, too, given chocolate's tendency to expand to thirty times its volume inside my body.

Available from their shop on the King's Road (where you can try before buying) or the Algerian Coffee shop on Old Compton Street.

Alterior said...

Well, I am not suprised you cannot eat much of it in one go. 99% cocoa solids! That must be so bitter. I don't think it's my kind of thing but I can see that fans of the 70% kind would probably really appreciate that. Very considerate of them to ask customers if they have tried it before. :-)

Geoff Coupe said...

A few weeks back I was in Barcelona and made another pilgrimage to Cacao Sampaka (http://www.cacaosampaka.com) - my idea of heaven. There you can get 100% chocolate - as well as interesting taste experiences such as curry chocolate...

Alterior said...

Sounds like my idea of heaven too! I love chocolate! I have just eaten some chocolate ice cream, lol.. :-)))

Faithmy said...

In the US-we call it white chocolate, as do the manufactures.