What is Chocolate

Chocolate - Food of the Gods

The origins of chocolate can be traced back to the ancient Mayan and Aztec civilisations in Central America. 'Theobroma cacao', meaning 'food of the gods', was prized for centuries by the Central American Mayan Indians, who first enjoyed a much-prized spicy drink called 'chocolatl', made from roasted cocoa beans.

The Aztecs introduced cocoa to the Spaniards, who took it back to Europe in the 16th century. However it was very expensive, so only the rich could afford it. Chocolate was exclusively for drinking until the early Victorian times when a technique for making solid 'eating' chocolate was devised.

Map of Central America
Cocoa Bean

Throughout its history, whether as a cocoa drinking chocolate or confectionery treat, chocolate has always been much sought after. Modern chocolate manufacturing allowed more people to buy chocolate and Cadbury's were among the first popular products.

The flavour of chocolate differs depending on the ingredients used and how it is prepared. Real chocolate is made from cocoa and its ingredients include cocoa butter (an expensive part of the cocoa bean) and, in some cases, up to 5% vegetable fat. Compound chocolate will have less cocoa and/or more than 5% vegetable fat than real chocolate and therefore doesn't have the same fine qualities.

Cocoa powder and chocolate are made from the dried seeds that are found in pods on the cacao tree. Chocolate production is a complex process that begins with the harvesting of cocoa trees.