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 History

The origins of chocolate can be traced back to the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilisations in Central America who first enjoyed a much-prized spicy drink called 'chocolatl', made from roasted cocoa beans.The origins of chocolate can be traced back to the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilisations in Central America. 'Theobroma cacao', meaning 'food of the gods', was prized for centuries by the Central American Mayan Indians, who first enjoyed a much-prized spicy drink called 'chocolatl', made from roasted cocoa beans. The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavor

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The Aztecs introduced cocoa to the Spaniards, who took it back to Europe in the 16th century. However it was very expensive, so only the rich could afford it. Chocolate was exclusively for drinking until the early Victorian times when a technique for making solid 'eating' chocolate was devised.
 

The evolution of Chocolate

Today's chocolate production results from process and manufacturing technology improvements made over many years.

The traditional way of manufacturing chocolate is to take the beans  and ferment them after harvesting to remove the bitterness. They are then thoroughly dried. Next they are roasted to expose the inside, which is called the nib. Various bean nibs are blended together to obtain the flavor desired and then ground up. The resulting paste, called cocoa mass  is the heart and soul of chocolate's flavor. The cocoa mass is enhanced with sugar, butter, flavorings and then blended thoroughly.

The first chocolate bars were actually marketed about 1850 by an Englishman, Joseph Fry.  Everyone helped make it what it is today. In the mid 19th century [about 1879] the Swiss chemist, Henri Nestle, & Rodolphe Lindt [also Swiss] developed a process called "conching", a procedure that enhances both texture and flavor. The result was a smooth chocolate, replacing the rough and grainy products made up to then. Swiss chocolate became the world standard for the chocolate bar then and there! 

In 1876 Daniel Peter & Henri Nestle created milk chocolate, by combining chocolate with sweetened condensed milk (an invention of Henri Nestle). This opened up a whole new era of chocolate, chocolate, and more chocolate.

Unsweetened baking chocolate or "bitter chocolate" contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat, and sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids.

Today  chocolate has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world with a vast number of foodstuffs involving chocolate created. 

For more information visit NCA's Chocolate Council