Should Diabetics Eat Chocolate?

Globally, more than five and a half million tonnes of chocolate are eaten each year in the form of chocolate bars or other confectionery. Much of this consumption takes place in Europe and North America, where a large middle-class population has higher disposable incomes than elsewhere.

The Swiss are the most voracious eaters. In 2012 they consumed 11.9kg per capita. Considering that a regular bar of chocolate contains on average 42.5g of chocolate, this means that each Swiss person consumed the equivalent of 280 bars in one year, more than three-quarters of a bar every day.

The Irish are the next biggest eaters with an average consumption of 9.9kg (232 bars) per person, followed by the UK at 9.5kg per head. People in other West European countries eat between 6 and 9kg per capita. In Canada, consumption is 6.4kg per person per annum. The USA, for once, is not first, with annual consumption of just 5.5kg (129 bars) per capita, less than half the Swiss.

Outside the West and Russia (5.9kg per capita per annum), much less chocolate is eaten. In China, annual consumption is just 1.2kg per capita, while in India it is only 0.7kg per person.

The annual global consumption of chocolate is increasing by an average of 3% a year. This trend looks set to continue. If eating too much chocolate is bad for health, a crisis is plainly looming.

Types of chocolate

Chocolate is made from the seeds of Theobroma cacao, a tropical tree that has been cultivated in Mexico and Central America for at least three thousand years. Today, however, the main growing areas are in West Africa where over 70 percent of the planet’s crop is grown.

The seeds are contained in pods that hang from the cacao tree and the pods are harvested by cutting them free with a machete. The pods are opened and the beans inside, along with the pulp that surrounds them, are removed and placed in piles or bins and allowed to ferment. Cacao seeds have an intensely bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop their chocolaty flavour.

After fermentation, the beans are dried, cleaned and roasted, and the shells are removed to extract the cacao nibs. The nibs are ground and liquefied to create chocolate liquor, pure chocolate in liquid form. The liquor may be further processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Other ingredients, such as sugar, milk or powdered milk and vanilla, are added to produce a range of chocolates of varying degrees of sweetness and taste.

Unsweetened chocolate, also known as bitter or baking chocolate, is pure chocolate liquor. It contains no sugar or other added ingredients, and the pure, ground, roasted chocolate beans impart a strong, deep chocolaty flavour.

For the Chocoholics: All About Chocolate

If you’re like many people, chocolate is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. Often considered the fifth food group, chocolate has inspired one of the most widespread and passionate of people’s love affairs with food. While the taste is nothing short of amazing, our fascination with chocolate since its discovery over 2000 years ago has included other benefits as well. Chocolate has been considered an aphrodisiac, a natural cure for the blues, part of cardiovascular health (more recently), and even a form of currency. With its rich history and particular health and social importance, we at Recipe4Living thought it only right to include a guide to chocolate. Satisfy your curiosity about chocolate’s past, how it’s made, and how you can select, store, and prepare chocolate in your own home.

A Brief History of Chocolate

Mayan Beginnings
Our chocolate obsession actually began many, many centuries ago with the Mayan civilization of Mexico and Central America (250-900 A.D.). But, the Mayan form of chocolate bore hardly any resemblance to what we enjoy today. Most Mayans grew the cacao tree, the source of chocolate, in their backyards, and harvested the seeds, which they then fermented, roasted, and ground. Combined with water and hot chili spices, the ground paste became an unsweetened frothy beverage regularly enjoyed as part of Mayan life.

Aztec and the Sacred Brew
The Aztecs adapted this bitter drink and even considered it the food of the gods. The word chocolate comes from the Aztec word “xocoatl,” meaning bitter drink. While most Mayans could enjoy the drink, chocolate was reserved for royalty, priests, and other members of the highest social class in Aztec culture. Chocolate was such an important part of Aztec society that cacao seeds became a form of currency.

Journey to Europe
When the Spanish, led by Hernando Cortez, conquered Mexico in 1521, they quickly picked up on the importance of chocolate to the Aztecs and started shipping it home. The Spanish added cinnamon, sugar, and other spices to the very expensive import, and kept their chocolate drink a secret enjoyed only by the Spanish nobility for almost 300 years. When Spanish royalty began marrying other Europeans, the word spread quickly and it was soon popular all over Europe, but only for the wealthy. Not until the 18th and 19th century, when sea trade expanded and chocolate began to be mass produced, could most of the middle class afford chocolate. By the late 18th century, chocolate houses were as popular as coffee houses throughout England.

Making Chocolate

Unlike many crops, the pods of the delicate cacao tree must be picked by hand, making the process of creating chocolate a laborious affair. The pods are opened one by one, and the pulp-covered seeds extracted. To reduce bitterness, cacao seeds are fermented for several days (like wine grapes), and then dried. At this point, farmers sell sacks of cacao seeds to corporate buyers, where industrial machines take over. On the factory floor, large machines roast the seeds to release the taste and aroma. The roasted seeds are cracked open to reach the nib or heart, which is then ground into chocolate liquor (not liqueur). This thick liquid, made of cocoa butter and cocoa solids, is manipulated to create the different kinds of chocolate.

Cocoa- This powdered form of chocolate, often used in baking, is made from pulverized cocoa solids with the cocoa butter removed.

Unsweetened Chocolate (Bitter/Baking Chocolate)- This is pure, unaltered chocolate liquor, made of 45% cocoa solids and 55% cocoa butter.

Bittersweet Chocolate (Semi-Sweet)- Sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin, and vanilla are added to chocolate liquor to make this kind of chocolate, which contains at least 35% chocolate liquor. Bittersweet chocolate and sweeter semi-sweet chocolate are used interchangeably in baking.
Couverture- This term is given to bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate varieties of the highest quality. Couverture chocolates contain a higher percentage of chocolate liquor (even 70%).

Chocolate Recipes, You Gotta Love ‘Em!

Chocolate recipes help you create sweets in a great variety of forms and kinds of taste. Chocolate truffles, for example, have the flexibility to be able to be coated in various flavors of chocolate, sprinkled with nuts or flavored using any liqueur or extract. One of my most loved recipes to have or make is the milk chocolate praline truffle. I use a praline liqueur for flavoring the chocolate and then I roll the truffle in some pecan brittle that I have crushed.

Chocolate Truffles make grand gifts for any person at anytime. There are many mixtures of packages that chocolate gifts come in so you ought to be able to find one just right for the event or friend for which you are trying to purchase something.

You have probably heard of the “cacao bean”, or as it is sometimes called the “cocoa bean”, well this is the nut from which chocolate comes. This ‘bean’ or nut is the nut of a particular fruit that grows on a specific tree, originally from the Amazon jungle. Chocolate, long ago, was a symbol of wealth, and luxury.

Chocolate is made from plants, which means it contains many of the health benefits of dark vegetables. These benefits are from flavonoids. The flavonoids of this plant are generally recognized for their antioxidant properties and activities. Chocolate contains the same antioxidant chemicals (phenols) as wine. Many people enjoy drinking wine while eating chocolate.

I have found that in each place or country throughout the world where it is made, it is a distinctly unique product. French and Belgian chocolates have a distinctly different taste from each other, as do Swiss or U.S. chocolates. The best one for you to use will be based on your individual choice and on the recipes you plan to make.

Chocolate recipe lovers everywhere have been viewing the studies showing dark chocolate as having certain health benefits with excitement. These studies have inspired some dietitians to promote chocolate as contributing to a healthy diet. Chocolates should be sampled in order of increasing cocoa content or boldness of flavor, and, even though chocolate is best stored between 61 and 64 degrees, it should always be tasted at room temperature.

Bars that are made with very little flavoring or pure chocolate bars are your best choice. So you don’t need to feel guilty when you enjoy some dark chocolate, because research has shown that you might actually be providing some small service to your health.

All chocolate lovers, when preparing recipes, need to keep in mind that chocolate scorches easily and must be treated gently. When making any chocolate recipe, always melt the chocolate slowly over low heat in a double boiler over simmering water, or in a bowl in the microwave at 50 percent power or on the defrost setting. Chocolate recipes, you gotta love ’em.

There is so much said about what we should and should not eat. One thing that gives chocolate an air of the forbidden is the myth surrounding it, that it tastes so good it must be bad for your health. Chocolate recipes have been used for centuries to make some of the most popular sweet-tasting treats in the world. Chocolate can be healthy – if kept in moderation. Eating too much of the good stuff (as with all good stuff) can lead to obesity, which causes more health problems than all the chocolate recipes in the world could combat. Chocolate lovers however, seem willing to pay the price for their vice.

Chocolate makes a nice treat for your taste buds and is a favorite gift for special occasions. You can form it into various sizes and shapes by pouring it into molds and then cooling it until it becomes solid. These shapes could include hollow shells, solid blocks, chocolate bars or even shells that can be filled with a sugary confection material. Typically when chocolate bars and some other molded items are produced, it is done with a molding process that produces a product having fine surface details as well as a high gloss or shine.

Some of you may find this hard to believe, but research is constantly proving that not only is chocolate one of the healthiest foods you can eat, but is also considered a super food. Chocolate recipes for candy however, create a confection that is loaded with refined sugar. Chances are that these types of chocolate also have a high fat content because these confectionery type items contain a lot of milk fat along with hydrogenated oils. Chocolate can be a trap. It can result in guilt. It is a fabled and much loved food. It causes extreme reactions in people; some people even label themselves chocoholics!

Different Type of Chocolate

It is hard to find someone who doesn’t like chocolates. Many know that chocolate is refined product obtained from cocoa beans but have you ever given a thought to how many chocolate types are there? You will be surprised to know that there are a number of enticing types of chocolates.

Cocoa powder is unsweetened powder of cocoa beans slightly defatted. The powder renders an intense chocolate taste. This is available in two varieties; one is Dutch processed which is alkalized and other is natural variety. The powder is light brown and has a pronounced flavor. The alkalized variety is milder, less acidic, and darker in color.

Unsweetened chocolate is called as ‘bitter’ and is pure chocolate liquor obtained from ground cocoa beans. This has quite a bitter taste and is usually used for cooking purposes. Since cocoa is rich in cocoa solids and cocoa butter this unsweetened chocolate gives a deep flavor to baked goods. This is used as the base ingredient to prepare all other forms of chocolate except the white chocolate.

Dark chocolate contains sugar, vanilla, cocoa butter, lecithin which is an emulsifier along with chocolate liquor. No milk solids are ever added in the dark chocolate. The darkness of dark chocolate depends upon the cocoa percentage in it which may vary from 30% to 70%.

Bittersweet chocolates and semi sweet chocolates belong to the category of dark chocolates. As defined by the Food and Drug Administration department, bittersweet chocolate should contain at least 35% of cocoa solids. Most of the bittersweet bars contain 50% chocolate liquor. These types of chocolates have a bitter flavor than sweet dark and semi sweet chocolates. Since the amount of sugar is not regulated by FDA the sweetness may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. Semi sweet chocolates also contain at least 35% of cocoa solids but are sweeter than the bitter sweet chocolates.

Sweet dark chocolate is dark in the sense that it does not contain milk solids. This chocolate contains a high percentage of sugar which gives it a much sweeter taste than other types of chocolates. Many available brands of sweet dark chocolates contain 20 to 40 percent of cocoa solids.

One of the most popular chocolate types is milk chocolate that contains condensed milk or dry milk solids along with the chocolate liquor. These milk solids may constitute up to 12 percent of chocolate. These are typically much sweeter with light color and a mild chocolate taste.

The class of white chocolates derives its name from the ingredient cocoa butter in it. This chocolate does not contain any other product other than cocoa butter. This is the reason why this chocolate has a mild chocolate flavor, has a vanilla taste, and a lighter color.

Couverture chocolates and related chocolate types are used by confectioners and are rich in cocoa butter and cocoa liquor percentage which contribute to the high price of this chocolate. These chocolates are smooth and melt quickly.

Gianduja chocolates are made from the chocolate and the nut paste. These are used for flavoring milk or dark chocolates. Candy coating chocolates are candy products and contain a little amount of cocoa. There are lots of chocolate types to enjoy and suitable for various occasions. All of these assortments of chocolates are very interesting and are bound to add flavor to your life.

Homemade Chocolate

It is easy to make impressive and delicious homemade chocolates for family and friends at Easter or anytime. You can purchase Easter chocolate molds at most specialty or discount stores and a wide variety of chocolate at your local supermarket. With a bit of time and patience you will soon be turning out gorgeous homemade chocolates.

Types of Chocolate

Dark chocolate contains cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, sugar and vanilla. It is stronger and richer than milk or white chocolate and is usually the preferred choice for cooking.

Milk chocolate contains the same ingredients as dark chocolate but has added milk solids. It is sweeter, creamier, softer in texture and less intense than dark chocolate.

White chocolate doesn’t contain cocoa solids, only cocoa butter blended with sugar, milk solids and flavourings, such as vanilla. It is rich, creamy and sweeter than milk chocolate.

Eating chocolate – dark, milk and white – can be used for cooking. Dark varieties include bitter, semi-sweet and sweet. Bitter chocolate has up to 80% cocoa liquor and butter with a minimal amount of sugar. Sweet chocolate has a higher proportion of sugar and vanilla to cocoa butter.

Good-quality cooking chocolate can be found in the baking aisle of supermarkets. It is similar in taste to eating chocolate, but a small amount of cocoa butter has been replaced with vegetable fat to make it easier to melt, able to set without tempering. Cheaper than normal eating chocolate.

Compound chocolate is sold in blocks or buttons and can be found in the baking aisle of supermarkets. The cocoa butter has been replaced with vegetable fat or oil, making it easier to melt and to set at room temperature without tempering. It lacks the flavour and texture of other chocolates, but is perfect for kids’ cooking.

Melting Chocolate

Chocolate can be melted in several different ways including on the stove, in the microwave or in the oven.

Stove Top – put chocolate in a clean, dry, heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure no water or steam enters the bowl of chocolate, or it the chocolate could seize. Stir constantly over medium to low heat until the chocolate has melted.

Microwave – put chocolate in a clean, dry, microwave-safe bowl. Cook for 1 minute on medium/high then stir. Cook for another 30 seconds then stir again, continue until chocolate has all melted.

Stove – preheat oven to 160 C. Put chocolate in a clean, dry, heatproof bowl. Turn oven off then place the bowl in the oven for 10 minutes minutes. Remove and stir, then place back in oven if required for several minutes, remove and stir again.