Oh chocolate, how we love you

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Unknown-1It’s fair to say that a considerably large proportion of the population would say that they really quite enjoy chocolate. Although cocoa originated in the Americas, today Western Africa produces almost two-thirds of the world’s cocoa, with Côte d’Ivoire growing almost half of it. It comes in all shapes and sizes (quite literally) and ranges from plain to filled, with the most common types being milk, dark and white chocolate.

Originally prepared as a drink, the cocoa bean ventured across to Europe via Spain, where it was still drunk but with the addition of honey to counteract the bitterness. In 1828 Dutch chemist Coenraad Van Houten was able to remove half the natural fat (cocoa butter) from chocolate liquid, making chocolate both cheaper to produce and more consistent in quality, and introducing the modern era of chocolate. Within 20 years it had been discovered how to make chocolate moldable (by adding melted cocoa butter back to the mix), and within 40 years milk chocolate was invented through the addition of powdered milk.

UnknownBy the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, brands that we are still familiar with like Cadburys, Nestle and Hershey’s were starting to mass produce chocolate for an open-armed market.

To get from bean to chocolate box takes a while, as cocoa beans must be harvested and processed, blended with amongst other things sugar, cocoa butter and some flavourings like vanilla, conching and tempering.

Each chocolatiere has their own secret recipes to adapt the chocolate to their fans, and Cadburys is the world’s largest manufacturer. Everyone has their own particular favourite type of chocolate – mine being praline filled chocolate (especially  Hotel Chocolat dizzy pralines, which I can eat far too many of in one go). I also love a square or three of Galaxy.

Chocolate02My colleagues at the magazine also shared their favourites:

  • Claire Farmer: I’m a huge fan of really dark chocolate (Lindt 90%) because when I have a flare up there’s not much food that I can eat so a tiny piece of that gives me a little lift.
  • Laura Seaton: I love hotel chocolat chilli chocolate but to be honest any of their dark chocolates without alcohol are always welcome in my belly!
  • Chelsea Williams: I like continentals from thorntons and morrisons dark chocolate!
  • Serena Mahabir D’Cruze: I can only eat dark chocolate but Lindt still can’t be beat!!!
  • Izzie Anderton: I love Pink Champagne Truffles from Hotel Chocolat. I am also rather partial to plain chocolate Bounty bars.
  • Olivia Spencer: My favourite chocolate is a snickers bar because it’s ridiculously sweet and I LOVE caramel.
  • Erika Holt: I love Cadbury and Hotel Chocolat – I can only eat some of them because of my Coeliacs but I adore how creamy and smooth the chocolate is. Yummy!

What’s your favourite chocolate bar and why?

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I like my food - cooking, being cooked for, shopping for food, eating food. Love it all! Read more at http://itsnoteasybeinggreedy.com/

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