“Food of the gods”

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It’s sophisticated, silky and sublime. It’s scrumptious; it’s soothing; some say it’s downright sinful! It’s chocolate! No other “taste sensation” has caught and held America’s appetite attention quite the way the flavor of chocolate has.

After all, what could be more intriguing than something so prized that it was once used as currency for trade? Something so indulgent that it was once practically banned by the Catholic church, and so luscious that it was once considered an extraordinary “gift of paradise”, reserved only for the delight of an Aztec king?

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How chocolate is made

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The process of making cocoa and chocolate involves delicate proportions and accurate timing. Here’s how chocolate is made…

The Cacao tree originated in the hot, rainy climate of the Amazon and Orinoco River basins of Equador and Brazil, and is now also cultivated in Africa, Hawaii and Indonesia. All Cacao is grown within 20° of the equator, and needs 60” of rainfall, fertile soil, the shade of the rain forest canopy, and temperatures above 50° F to thrive. The three main varieties of Cacao trees are the scarce Criollo, which yields the highest-quality bean; the Trinitario, prized for its good flavor; and the Forastero, which grows a more astringent bean and compromises about 90% of the Cacao crop. The best beans are grown in the Brazilian state of Bahia and in the West African country of Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast).

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How the Dutch “Dutched” Cocoa

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“Dutched” cocoa takes its name from Holland, the country of its origin. In 1828 Coenraad Van Houten developed the “Dutching” process to reduce the acidity that develops during the fermentation stage of chocolate production. His Dutched cocoa (also called “alkalized” or “European-style” cocoa) was smoother, richer, and darker in color than unprocessed “natural” cocoa, and quickly became the standard for fine European cocoas.

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Legend of Quetzalcoatl

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Shrouded in the midst of time there once was a Garden of Life in all its perfection. From within this Garden, the Gods held court in luxurious abundance. From the Garden the minor Gods set forth to rule the sea, air, sun, and streams. Mortal man also lived in this Garden of plenty until driven out in anger by the Gods for attempting to become one like the Gods themselves.

However, Quetzalcoatl, God of the air, thought the punishment too harsh, and brought to the people, in their exile, the seeds of “quachahuatl,” or cacao tree—the “Food of the gods”.

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Chocolate chunk cookie story

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It was over half a century ago at a little country Inn, in New England, that a clever cook first combined hand-cut chunks of chocolate with plain cookie dough intending to create an easy, all-chocolate cookie.

But the stubborn, rough-cut pieces of chocolate didn’t melt throughout the dough as she had hoped. Instead, her experiment yielded a new taste discovery that was the beginning of this country’s most-loved, cookie-jar classic: a fragrant, vanilla cookie, chock-full of melt-in-your-mouth chunks of rich, real chocolate! Warm and chewy, fresh from the oven, the cookies created a sensation. Soon, nearly everyone was trying to recreate the exciting chunky cookie recipe!

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