On average, Americans wolf down 12 pounds of this sweet stuff each year. How much do you know about how your favorite chocolaty treat goes from bean to bar? Sink your teeth into this quiz to find out.
What a lovely vintage … of beans? There are three main varieties of cocoa beans (Forastero, Criollo and Trinitario), but their flavors and intensities differ depending on where they’re grown.
Can you say "chocolat"? Although cacao beans originated in South America, the number-one producer of them today is the Cote d’Ivoire in Africa.
Cacao beans are plucked by hand, the pods carefully cut from the tree and split open to remove the beans.
It's hard to imagine today, but sugar wasn’t added to chocolate until it reached Europe in the 1500s. And it wasn’t eaten in bar form for a few hundred years after that.
After meeting Aztec emperor Montezuma II in 1519, explorer Hernando Cortes reported that he drank nothing but chocolate with his meals, out of a golden goblet.
Kind of a trick question. There is some evidence that eating very dark chocolate may lower the risk of some diseases, but it’s not carte blanche to chow down on the good stuff.
Flavonoids also pop up in many other plants, including tea, citrus fruits, berries and red wine.
Sometimes, a chocolate is just a chocolate. Chocolate contains a chemical called phenethylamine that causes feelings of euphoria. Unfortunately, it’s broken down in the body before it can reach the brain.
Close, but no cigar (or rather, chocolate bar). Although this initially seemed to be the case, the daily-chocolate-eating women in the study were also younger than the others, and libidos tend to drop as women age.
Known as “bloom”, it's the bane of chocolatiers -- and chocolate lovers -- everywhere. It probably wasn’t stored properly and it may not taste the same, but your chocolate's still fine to eat.
It depends on what you mean by “really chocolate." White chocolate doesn’t contain any cocoa solids, but it does have a base of cocoa butter.
It depends on where the chocolate is sold, though. For example, dark chocolate sold in the European Union must contain a minimum of 35 percent cocoa solids.
While dark chocolate can have cacao as its sole ingredient, it usually includes many others. Making chocolate also involves much, much more than just crushing up some cacao beans!
While it’s a complicated (and expensive, if you want it to be high quality) venture to make your own chocolate, it can be done.
Chocolatiers create delicious candies and confections using pre-made chocolate; chocolate makers make chocolate from cacao beans and other ingredients.
We still don’t quite understand what happens during conching, a necessary step in the production of chocolate that involves agitating chocolate liquor for hours.
You wouldn't want to confuse these two! Chocolate liqueur is an alcoholic beverage, usually made with vodka. Chocolate liquor is pure, liquid chocolate.
The original conche machine was invented by Rodolphe Lindt in 1879 and looked like the shell of a sea snail called a conch (or conche).
Temper, temper. Chocolate has to be tempered. Without this process, the chocolate isn’t glossy, doesn’t last as long and doesn’t have that nice snap when you bite it.
Left to cool at room temperature, the cocoa butter crystalizes into different sizes. Tempering makes the crystals small and uniform, resulting in smooth chocolate.