Chocolate Facts #1
So what is chocolate you ask? Chocolate is the final product that comes from the seeds of a cacao tree. They must be fermented, dried, cleaned then roasted before their outer shell is removed. The resulting cacao nibs are mashed into a "cocoa mass". This mass is made into a liquid before molding into the solid edible form and is referred to as chocolate liquor. By removing the fats from the liquor you produce two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The chocolate you consume in candy bars and other gourmet chocolates is a proportioned combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. Without the sugar the chocolate would be very bitter. The amount of sugar determines the kind of chocolate we call it like bitter sweet or semi-sweet, both commonly referred to as dark chocolate. Milk chocolate contains a higher portion of sugar than dark chocolate plus an added milk product like powder of condensed milk.
(references for these chocolate facts found at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate)
Chocolate Facts #2
If it's white and not brown, then is white chocolate really chocolate? What are the ingredients of white chocolate? Did you ever think about this? White chocolate is not considered true chocolate by many chocolatiers. In order to be considered chocolate it must contain cocoa solids and it does not. It actually is the result of separating the cocoa solids from the fatty contents of the cacao bean during the chocolate making process. It contains a heavy portion of cocoa butter instead. In order to save on production costs some chocolate companies substitute part of the cocoa butter with other less expensive vegetable fats. In fact there are guidelines for using the label white chocolate. According to the FDA in order to label a product white chocolate it must contain "a minimum of 20 percent cocoa butter, a minimum of 14 percent of total milk solids, a minimum of 3.5 percent milkfat, and a maximum of 55 percent nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners". The FDA does , however, allow for substitute ingredients to be used in the production of white chocolate.
Chocolate Facts #3
Since white chocolate isn't really chocolate instead mostly cocoa butter, what does that mean? Cocoa butter is the edible vegetable oil separated from the cocoa solids of cacao beans. These beans are fermented, roasted and their outer shells are removed. In order to achieve this vegetable oil the chocolate liquor is ground.
Chocolate Facts #4
The world production of cacao occurs around the equator in a belt that stretches roughly 20 degrees north and south from it. There are three main regions: Africa, Asia/Oceania and the Americas. Cacao trees are not all the same, however. Forastero is a lower quality, but easier to grow, stronger, thus meaning you can produce more of it. Forastero is what is mostly grown in two of the three regions in Africa and Asia/Oceania. In the America the highest quality of cacao makes up the majority of production called Criollo. Although better quality it is more difficult to grow and is more vulnerable to diseases and pests, and smaller yield of plants is produced. World production is comprised of the following breakdown by region:
the Americas: 10%
(references to book Discover Chocolate, by author Clay Gordon, www.discoverchocolate.com)
Chocolate Facts #5 (ok, more like chocolate recommendations)
There are many places to buy candy gifts for your special people. Find specialty chocolates, gourmet filled chocolates, truffles and have them delivered right to the recipients home or office.
The site is not a manufacturer instead they are drop shippers for many different manufacturers. This means the recipient enjoys the pleasure of a fresh product. They have a great truffles selection, gourmet chocolates, gift baskest and artisan chocolates.
They specialize in Belgian chocolate both for baking and eating and have a good selection of truffles.
Ships to the UK and Europe great site for superior, gourmet chocolates. Unique gifts, truffles and novelties for chocoholics.
Search through hard-to-find chocolates. Website is run by a chocolate critic, a huge fan of chocolate Clay Gordon who has traveled the world in search of "the world's best chocolate". He knows his stuff.