- Who invented chocolate?
- What is the best way to store chocolate?
- Is white chocolate made without cocoa?
- Where did the praline get its name from?
- Is it true that left over Father Christmases are melted down to make Easter Bunnies at the start of January?
- Who is more popular – the Easter Bunny or Father Christmas?
Who invented chocolate?
It is considered an established fact that cocoa was already known as a food and natural stimulant to native Americans 1000 years before America was ever discovered by the Europeans. Regarded as a gift from “Quetzalcoatl” – the feathered god of the wind – cocoa beans were highly valued by the Toltecs. In the 12th century, the Toltecs were overthrown by the Aztecs, who gladly adopted the Toltec cocoa culture and even used the seeds of the cocoa pod as a means of payment.
Since Columbus, who landed in central America in 1502, had shown little interest in cocoa, it was left to Hernando Cortez to return to Europe with the first cocoa after his conquest of the Aztec Empire.
However, the unsweetened cocoa preparations so loved by the Aztecs did not exactly please the palate of the Europeans since their taste was very accurately described by its Aztec name “xocoatl” – a combination of the words “xococ” (meaning sour, bitter, spicy) and “atl” (meaning water). Not until honey or cane sugar was added did cocoa products begin their triumphant progress throughout the world. And so, over the course of time, Aztec xocoatl developed into what we today call chocolate.
What is the best way to store chocolate?
In a cool, dry, dark and odourless environment: this simple formula best describes how to store chocolate properly.
For chocolate to retain its tastiness for long periods of time, it should not be exposed to any severe temperature fluctuations. A storage temperature of 12 to 18°C is the optimum ambient temperature for chocolate. Under no circumstances should chocolate be stored in the fridge or freezer, for then it begins to crumble and loses its glossy finish. Nor does chocolate like moisture, which may cause white streaks (so-called fat bloom) on the surface of the chocolate. Although this does not affect the taste, it does not exactly look nice.
White chocolate in particular is odour-sensitive. Hence chocolate should never be stored close to strong-smelling foods. Otherwise chocolate might pick up the smell of cheese, sausage, or fish.
If chocolate is exposed to air and light, this causes a so-called oxidation of its fats. This causes a strong change in taste and an unpleasant smell. To avoid oxidation, chocolate should be stored in a dark place and in an airtight container.
Is white chocolate made without cocoa?
No, chocolate cannot be made without at least some cocoa. However, white chocolate is made of only cocoa butter and not the cocoa powder. To give chocolate its eponymous “white” colour, the dark cocoa powder is extracted from the cocoa mass. Milk and sugar make up the other ingredients of white chocolate.
Where did the praline get its name from?
The Count of Plessis-Praslin, a Marshal of France serving under Louis XIV in the 17th century, had a German cook who served his master caramelised almonds. The cook simply named them after his employer, turning Praslin into praliné. The name was later passed on to chocolate in the course of the 19th century.
Is it true that left over Father Christmases are melted down to make Easter Bunnies at the start of January?
No, Father Christmases are not melted down to make Easter Bunnies. No matter how many tall stories are repeated by “inventive” tellers of tales. Producers of Father Christmases and Easter Bunnies always manufacture their seasonal articles from freshly made chocolate mass. Anything else would simply not meet the quality standards.
Who is more popular – the Easter Bunny or Father Christmas?
The Easter Bunny has now overtaken Father Christmas. Nowadays around 57% of all hollow chocolate figures are Easter Bunnies and about 43% are Father Christmases.