Watched the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” starring Johnny Depp with my girlfriend. Teenage Willy runs away from home to escape his father’s overbearing rule. His father was a famous dentist. So he did not let his son eat chocolate for fear of tooth decay. Willy leaves home and becomes one of the people who eat and drink, and his love for chocolate grows. Later he himself became the owner of a huge chocolate factory. His factory workers were some of the people of an American jungle who considered the chocolate cocoa bean equivalent to a god. At one time he realized who will take over the responsibility of his valuable factory in his absence? For that purpose he released 5 tickets from his factory filled with chocolate. One of the 5 people who get this ticket will be given a valuable prize ie ownership of his factory which is implied. The picture left a deep impression on us.
Day by day chocolate has become one of the most popular foods and fragrances in the world. Chocolate is always a sweet treat. A huge number of foods are created around chocolate every day. Especially sweet desserts, cakes, puddings, mousses, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, etc. There are many candies that are coated with sweet chocolate. Again, solid chocolate bars and candy bars are also coated with chocolate. They are eaten as snacks. There are various types of gifts made of chocolate like Eggs, Hearts, Coins, etc. which are associated with the traditional customs of Western countries. Some of the western traditions are Easter Eggs, Valentine’s Day Chocolates, Hanukkah etc. Chocolate is also used in making cold and hot drinks. Like hot chocolate, chocolate milk and crème de cacao etc.
This cocoa tree has the most magical and extraordinary powers in the world. The scientific name is Theobroma cacao. The genus name Theobroma is believed to mean “food of the gods”. Theos means god and broma means food. There are many trees in the genus Theobroma. Only the Theobroma cacao fruit or bean is used to make chocolate. The plant was first named by Carolus Linnaeus who is known as the father of modern taxonomy and classification of plants. His classic book Systema Naturae was published in series in 1700. At that time the Theobroma cacao plant was not used much. It is also believed that the name of this tree is quite coincidental.
The word cacao (Kakaw, cacao) is found in Maya scripts many years before the birth of Christ. The Maya civilization believed that mountain gods invented cacao. The Maya celebrated their annual festival to honor their cocoa god Ek Chuah. At that time it was religiously believed that only men could consume this drink. This drink was believed to be poisonous to women and children.
The use of chocolate drinks began in Mexico, North America. Chocolate drinks have been documented in ancient Mexico as far back as 1900 BC. Most ancient Americans consumed chocolate beverages. The Spanish were first entertained with chocolate drinks at a meeting held in Mexico in 1519. It was in Europe that the concept of chocolate was first created. Cocoa beans were then imported into Spain along with other agricultural foodstuffs. Within 100 years, chocolate spread to France, England and other countries of Western Europe. As the demand for the chocolate drink increased, France began to cultivate cacao in the Caribbean islands. Spain, on the other hand, started farming in its colonies of Venezuela and the Philippines.
Theobroma cacao tree is also called cacao tree or cocoa tree. Cacao trees are usually small. 4 to 8 meters tall. Evergreen tree. A member of the Malvaceae family. It is native to the deep tropical regions of America. The flowers of the cacao tree are borne in clusters on the trunk of the tree or on the old branches of the tree. It is called cauliflower. The flowers are small, 1-2 cm in diameter. Burti is pink in color. Cocoa flowers are pollinated by a type of tiny fly. The fruit is called a cocoa pod. The fruit is oval, 15 to 30 cm long and 8 to 10 cm wide. Cocoa pods turn yellow to orange when ripe. Each pod contains 20 to 60 seeds. These seeds are called cocoa beans. The seeds of this fruit are the main ingredient in making chocolate. In some countries this pulp is used to make refreshing juice, smoothies, jelly, and nata etc. This continued till the 21st century. Then in America the fermented pulp is distilled to make an alcoholic drink. Each seed contains 40-50% fat which is used to make cocoa butter. This fruit contains a caffeine-like stimulant called theobromine.
Cocoa trees are quite liberal in terms of water requirements. Where the rainfall is 45 to 200 inches, the cocoa tree can grow comfortably. Areas with less rainfall can also grow cacao but require irrigation to maintain adequate moisture. Cocoa plants are very sensitive to temperature, humidity and water availability. Without these three things in proper quantity, the growth of this plant is stunted. Wind movement also affects plants. The branches of this tree are soft so the branches can easily break if the wind speed increases. Their fruits are also damaged by strong winds. To avoid this damage they build windbreaks. Just as the aroma of wine depends on when the grapes are harvested, the aroma of chocolate depends on when they are harvested. For example, whether the harvest is in autumn or spring. Their flavor depends on soil nutrients, rainfall and sunlight.
Theobroma cacao is widely distributed from the southern coast of Mexico to the Amazon basin. In 2016, cocoa beans were cultivated on 25,96,660 acres worldwide. Cocoa beans were usually cultivated by large agro-industrial companies and small farmers. Most cocoa beans come from millions of small farmers. Cocoa trees bear fruit when the tree is 4 to 5 years old. A mature tree usually produces 6,000 flowers a year. 1,200 seeds i.e. 40 fruits are required to make 1 kg of cocoa paste. Cocoa beans are roasted and then ground into a powder to make this brownie from the cacao plant. It is prepared in various ways, such as used as a liquid, paste and block. Cocoa bean paste can also be used to flavor other foods.
In the past chocolatiers noted that three major groups prepared cocoa and made chocolate at the same time: Forastero, Criollo and Trinitario. Criollo group makes the most expensive and rare chocolates. They prepare only 10% chocolate. Their chocolate is less bitter and has a good aroma. 80% of chocolate is made from Forastero Group’s cocoa beans. Although cocoa was invented in North America, African countries have recently taken the lead in cocoa cultivation and production. Since 2000, West Africa has produced two-thirds of the world’s cocoa. In 2016, the world production was 4.5 tons.
The seeds of the cacao plant have a bitter taste and must go through a process of decomposition or fermentation to get their aroma. The cocoa beans are then dried, cleaned and roasted.
The outer shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. Chocolate in its very plain state or the state before anything is mixed with cocoa beans is called cocoa nibs. These are then ground into powder to prepare cocoa mass. After the cocoa mass is heated and liquefied, it is called chocolate liquor. The liquor is cooled and processed in two ways, cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Baked chocolate called bitter chocolate or bitter chocolate contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions but without sugar. Most of the chocolate we eat is sweet chocolate. Contains cocoa solids, cocoa butter, vegetable oil, and sugar. Milk chocolate contains powdered milk and condensed milk in addition to the usual ingredients. White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar and milk. It does not contain cocoa solids.
Cocoa butter is also called theobroma oil. Cocoa butter is a light yellow edible vegetable fat obtained from cocoa beans. It is used in making chocolate, some ointments, cosmetics and medicines. Cocoa butter contains cocoa flavor and fragrance. More acceptable for their melting point which is just below human body temperature.
Most of the cocoa bean manufacturers make chocolates like Hershey, Nestlé and Mars etc. who buy cocoa beans from various sources. Preparation of chocolate goes through various steps, such as harvesting of fruits, fermentation of cocoa pulp, drying and harvesting etc. Steam roasting at high temperature is considered to be a better method than oven roasting cocoa beans because this method produces roasted cocoa beans of the same quality in much less time. Wherever the cocoa bean is born, however chocolate and other cocoa-products are prepared, there are consumers all over the world who continue to enjoy chocolate and other cocoa-products with great pleasure, with utmost satisfaction.