Spice up your life by taking a dip into chocolate's rich history
scoundrel, Casanova, was said to have preferred chocolate to champagne
as an aphrodisiac. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt.
Maybe he chose chocolate for its restorative powers after a night
of partying. In his day, it was common to begin the day with a cup
Among the great
technical advances of the 19th century were two wonderful developments
in terms of chocolate. The first came in 1828 when the process for
making cocoa was patented by C. J. van Houten. Then, in 1847, an
English company combined cocoa butter, chocolate liquor and sugar
to make a chocolate fit for eating plain. By the end of the 19th
century, chocolate was something schoolchildren drank.
begins as yellow fruit pods dangling from the trunk and main branches
of the tropical cacao tree. Each pod contains about 40 almond-sized
cocoa beans. After the pods ripen, the beans are placed in the sun
for several days to dry and ferment. They are then cleaned, dried,
cured and roasted to develop flavor and reduce bitterness. Then
they are crushed to release the nib. The nibs are then shipped to
chocolate manufacturers where they are roasted, then crushed again
into a thick paste known as chocolate liquor.
liquor contains about 53 percent fat, which is known as cocoa butter.
The chocolate liquor is further refined into the forms ready for
If you are
interested in melting chocolate for your uses, remember two simple
rules. First, the chocolate should not exceed a temperature of 120
degrees or there will be some flavor loss. And most importantly,
water must never come into contact with the chocolate. If water
does come into contact with the chocolate, it will seize. If seizing
does occur, the addition of fat, such as shortening or cocoa butter
will somewhat restore the chocolate to a workable condition.
available in many forms and varieties for many uses. White chocolate
is not chocolate at all, but a man-made product that does not contain
any chocolate solids or chocolate liquor. The finest white chocolates
may contain cocoa butter with other ingredients. Chocolate is high
in calories and fats. It does contain small amounts of vitamin A
and some trace minerals. All chocolates should be stored at a cool,
consistent temperature, away from strong odors and moisture.
Try the following
chocolate recipes and spice up your life.
1/3 c. sugar
2 strips lemon
24 dried apricots
2 oz. bittersweet
chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 T. chopped
Line a baking
sheet with wax paper and place a wire rack on top; set aside. In
a small saucepan, combine sugar, lemon zest, cinnamon stick and
one cup of water; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for three minutes. Add apricots
and gently simmer just until tender, six to eight minutes. With
a slotted spoon, transfer the apricots to the rack. Let cool completely.
In a small metal bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water,
melt chocolate. Dip half of a poached apricot in the chocolate,
letting the excess drip off. Sprinkle some chopped pistachios over
the chocolate half and return the apricot to the rack. Repeat with
the remaining apricots. Refrigerate until the chocolate has set,
about 20 minutes. Store in an airtight container, with wax paper
between each layer, in the refrigerator for up to one week.
3/4 c. semisweet
chocolate chips, melted
1 pkg. extra-firm
1/4 t. salt
3 large egg
1/4 c. water
or cocoa (optional)
and tofu in a food processor or blender, and process two minutes
or until smooth. Place salt and egg whites in a medium bowl, and
beat with a mixer at high speed until stiff peaks form. Combine
sugar and water in a small saucepan, bring to a boil. Cook, without
stirring, until candy thermometer register 238 degrees. Pour the
hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over the egg whites, beating at
high speed. Gently stir one-fourth of meringue into the tofu mixture;
gently fold in remaining meringue. Spoon a half of a cup of mousse
into each of the eight, six ounce custard cups. Cover and chill
for at least four hours. Garnish with whipped topping and grated
chocolate, if desired.
3/4 c. sugar,
divided into 4 oz. and 2 oz.1/4 t. salt
6 eggs, separated
2 t. vanilla
2 graham cracker
Mix the gelatin
in a small amount of water, according to package directions to soften
and set aside. Combine the milk and chocolate in a heavy saucepan
and warm over low heat until the chocolate melts. Add four ounces
of the sugar, the salt and the egg yolks. Continue cooking, stirring
constantly, until the mixture thickens. Remove from the heat and
add the gelatin, stirring until completely dissolved. Pour the mixture
into a bowl and chill until very thick.
Whip the egg
whites to soft peaks. Add the vanilla and the remaining sugar and
whip to stiff peaks. Fold the whites into the chocolate. Mound the
chiffon into the pie shells and chill for several hours before serving.
Garnish with the whipped cream and chocolate shavings as desired.
Chef Pam Lewis
is lead instructor of Southern Miss Gulf Coast Culinary Arts Academy.
For information on the
Culinary Arts Academy, call (228) 214-3240. For recipe/story requests,
culinary questions or
Chef Pam at email@example.com or write to her at
Chef Pam Lewis,
Culinary Arts Academy
of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast
730 East Beach