The first documented reference to chocolate goes back more than ten thousand years before the birth of Jesus. In Central America, it seems most of the cultures there made a bitter drink from chocolate. In fact, the Aztecs called the drink, literally, bitter water.
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Chocolate comes from cocoa, which comes from the seeds/beans of the cocoa tree. They are extremely bitter and must be fermented before they actually taste like chocolate. The beans are dried and roasted and the shell is removed. You then have the cacao nibs which eventually produce the product we all know as chocolate, but only after a liquefied form of the nibs is broken down into cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The dark chocolate we all know and love comes from the cocoa solids, a small amount of cocoa butter, and added sugar. Milk chocolate has either powdered milk or condensed milk added. White chocolate has cocoa solids, milk, and sugar but no cocoa solids.
Interestingly enough, in Central America, as chocolate got sweeter and sweeter, it also hotter and hotter with the addition of cayenne pepper. Many Mexican recipes call for a spicy chocolate, the most famous being Chicken Mole. We found an authentic recipe (that we made slightly healthier) but no one, not even the volunteers at this site, will ever put in all the work needed to make this recipe. So, instead of posting it, here’s a link to buy mole on the web: Mole.
Cacao trees are found in tropical rainforests, in both Central America and in the West Indies. How it got to Africa and the Ivory Coast I’m not sure, but today the jungles of the Ivory Coast provide 43% of the world’s cocoa. George Carlin once said that environmentalists renamed jungles to rainforests because nobody wanted to save a jungle. Harvesting jungles will save them. The Cacao tree is one of the most important plants in this world, and I’ll show you why.
But there is a problem with the chocolate industry. At last count (2002) there were 284,000 children working on cocoa farms in hazardous and inhumane conditions. Many of these children had been sold into slavery by their families, creating quick income while leaving one less mouth to feed.
From Treehugger.com we found:
The U.S. chocolate industry has faced multiple deadlines requiring new protocol, and yet little has changed. Under pressure from Congress, in the Harken-Engel Protocol, the U.S. chocolate industry agreed to voluntarily take steps to end child slavery on cocoa farms by July of 2005. This deadline has since passed, and the chocolate industry has failed to comply with the terms of this agreement.
There is only one way to make sure that your chocolate does not support child slavery, buy Fair Trade chocolate. If everyone purchased Fair Trade chocolate, we could end the practice of using children completely.
You need to know this though, about the Fair Trade and Organic labeling. They both cost a lot of money for companies, because they must be inspected repeatedly. In Peru, the chocolate there has never been grown with the use of chemicals. Therefore their costs of maintaining their organic certification isn’t that expensive. Now they have never used slave labor in their fields, because the villagers all benefit from the cacao industry. But to get a “fair trade” certification, requiring repeated inspections from the pickers to the cookers to the packers to the shippers is very costly. I’ve interviewed distributors who’ve told me that the price of raw cacao would increase dramatically if they paid for certification.
I have purchased their cacao products simply because they are slavery-free, but without any certification. And their workers enjoy a much better standard of living than employees of Hershey’s.
Hershey’s, the Great American Chocolate Company, fired 75,000 workers and moved their offices to Mexico where they can pay their workers a lot less than American workers. In fact, the wages are so small that many Mexicans would still rather cross the borders to find better jobs in the US.
Refusing to buy from Hershey’s, Mars, Nestles and the rest will send a message to the industry.
One very sad point I must make right now is that there are NO Baking Chocolates that are labeled Fair Trade. In this case, choose organic. Or you can make your own baking chocolate. At the end of this piece, we will link you to a few chocolate recipes. One of them is a recipe for dark chocolate that you can use as baking chocolate.
Besides being fair trade, you have to choose a chocolate that is healthy for you since so many chocolates are filled with refined sugar or fructose, trans fats, and artificial flavors and colors.
Good chocolate contains a bit of fat too, so these little bites are high in calorie content, and you can’t just pig out on them and think you’re doing your body good.
So here are the rules:
And once again, we get all our chocolate supplies (cacao butter, cacao powder) from Simply the Best because they are fair trade or slavery-free, organic, and the highest quality.
Why it is Impossible to Sweeten Chocolate (how to make baking chocolate)
Keto Chocolate (we’ve discovered a way to “hold in” the sweetener)
Keto Chocolate Omega Bars (this was the first way we found to hold in the sweeteners)
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