I wasn’t looking to find chocolate. It found me. My husband, now my boyfriend, said he loved chocolate early in our relationship. It was the 1990s. I delighted him with homemade chocolatey goodness. (I used Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s OG recipe.) He gave me heart-shaped boxes from the drugstore of chocolates for Valentine’s Day. This brought us more laughs than savors. He loved my cooking and I loved his silly romanticism. As I grew to know chocolate more, I realized that it is not just a holiday treat.
Simran Sethi, journalist, and author of Chocolate, Wine, and Bread: The Slow Loss Of Foods We Love,, agrees. She says that fully understanding chocolate is like going “black and white” to Technicolor. “Chocolate can be a very intimate product. It’s something we reach out to when we are sad, to express our love or to bring us joy. It’s a great place to start when you want to know more about the origins of products we love.
Every bar of chocolate or spoonful of cocoa powder has a story behind it. It all begins with Theobroma cocoa trees that are native to the Americas. They are currently cultivated worldwide in a tropical zone of 20 degrees north and South of the Equator. The tree’s scientific title speaks to its high value in Mesoamerica. Theobroma literally means “food for the gods” in Greek, while cacao refers to the Mayan name for the tree. Sethi says that hand-harvesting the football-shaped cacao pods with machetes is dangerous and hard work. Each pod contains approximately 40 cream-colored beans. The process of turning beans into chocolate requires a variety of complex activities, including fermentation, drying, roasting, and winnowing. Chocolate is not only difficult to make, it is also extremely precious. According to Michael Laiskonis (pâtiser and chocolate consultant), each tree yields only a few pounds of beans per year, which is sufficient to make about 25 bars of 70% cacao chocolate.
Amy Guittard, Guittard Chocolate Company, suggests that you choose chocolates with high cacao percentages when choosing chocolates to cook with. This is a company that produces delicious chocolates for cooking, eating, and drinking. (See”
Amy Guittard, Guittard Chocolate Company, suggests that you choose chocolates with high cacao percentages when choosing chocolates to use in cooking. (See When to Use Chocolate Chips or Baking Chocolate or Cocoa Powder to find out more). The cacao percentage is an indication of how much chocolate is made from cocoa beans. Chocolate that contains a greater percentage of cacao will taste more intense and sweeter. Consuming good chocolate with higher cacao content is a small, but effective way to help farmers. About 7% of the chocolate revenue goes directly to farmers. The more cacao you consume, then the better it is for those who grow the beans.
Even chocolates with high cacao percentages can vary in their intensity and sweetness depending on what is added to the cacao portion of the bars (which may include cocoa butter or other types of cocoa solids), and what the producer adds to the non-cacao section (which might contain sugars, milk, and stabilizers such as lecithins). To really understand what you are working with, you must taste the chocolate after you have determined the desired percentage. I have come to see chocolate as people. They are complex and need to be understood and appreciated for their inherent superpowers.
This collection of recipes will help you to get your attention during the season of love. Baking chocolate is a fluid and easy way to enrobe each kernel of Black or Tan Chocolate Popcorn. Give a large bowl to those you love. When you need a strong chocolate flavor that stands out against other ingredients, the unsweetened cocoa powder works well. You can use it in many dishes such as Cocoa Spiced Steaks with Red Wine Chocolate Sauce. It is also the star of Indulgent hot chocolate. Dark brown sugar and coconut milk combine to bring out the tropical flavors of cacao in this delicious pot de crème. Enjoy a warm midnight snack of Chocolate-Cherry Focaccia or a delicious Toasted Chocolate Hazelnut Sandwiches. These recipes are full of delicious culinary discoveries, as well as a potential romance.
Fair chocolate is good chocolate
The production, processing, and sale of cacao are fraught with inequality and environmental destruction. The world’s 70% of cocoa beans are produced in West Africa. Yet, cacao farmers in Ghana make just $1 per day and those in Cote d’Ivoire make about 78 cents per day – both well below the $2.15 per-day threshold set by the World Bank for extreme poverty. Numerous efforts have been made to highlight child labor in chocolate supply chains, including a case brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2021. The inequalities are addressed by chocolate companies at different levels, including certifications and fair-trade statements that can be seen by consumers.
Stephen Beaumier is the cofounder of White Label Chocolate, Santa Cruz, California. He uses a direct-trade model. He says, “We want to treat all our suppliers with kindness and respect. That starts with learning as much about the origins of cacao and who is processing it.” White Label pays a premium to quality beans as part of a pilot program to establish a fund to reward top-performing farmers with school fees and equipment.
Amy Guittard is the chief marketing officer. She is part of the fifth generation that runs Guittard’s family-owned businesses. The multipronged Cultivate Better Cocoa initiatives include agroforestry, farms, and communities abroad. They also cover stateside manufacturing and packaging. She says that long-term sustainability for cacao-growing communities can be achieved through collective knowledge and engagement.
If you are worried about the bittersweet chocolate supply chain, WNWN Food Labs offers an alternative chocolate made with fermented barley or carob. It’s better than the carob confections of the 1970s and is primarily sold in the United Kingdom. Ahrum Pak, Johnny Drain, and their founders plan to expand the business to the U.S. by 2024.
Toasted Chocolate-Hazelnut Sandwiches
These delicious melted chocolate sandwiches are rich in buttery golden brown, with crunchy hazelnuts and fruity preserves.
Black and Tan Chocolate Popcorn
This sweet recipe teaches you how to melt chocolate and enrobe popcorn, pretzels, chips, and other foods.