On Tuesday I gave out a speech about my favourite confectionary in the world which is Dark Chocolate. And I throught maybe you may want to read it too...
I believe the best confectionary in the world is dark chocolate. It tastes fantastic and is always there when you have had a rubbish day. It also has a rich history, let me convince you...
Firstly the Aztec’s had a special but unprouncable name which referred to a bitter drink made from cacao beans. ‘Theobroma Cacao’, a Latin name for the cacao tree translates as ‘food of the gods’ and 9/10 mythological gods can’t be wrong!
Not only was cacao a food but it could also be used as a currency. For several centuries in premodern Latin America. For example one bean could buy Tamale (a starchy dough wrapped in a banana leaf) whereas 100 beans could buy a live turkey hen.
Dark chocolate has a darker side to its history! Chocolate was used a lot in Aztec rituals, mostly for sacrifice. Some sacrifice victims who were two scared to give themselves to the gods would be given a gourd of chocolate with abit of blood from the last victims to cheer them up. A Malteeser would have been just as good!
But your problem wondering what about sweetened chocolate? Well I was just getting to that in my own good chocolaty time!
Legend has it the Aztec king Montezuma and his tribe welcome the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes with a massive banquet which included a chocolate drink. The explorer described it as ‘a bitter drink for pigs’ but when it was mixed with a bit of cane sugar or honey, well you can imagine how popular it was when it was taken to Spain!
In the 1700s, chocolate was the height of fashion, throughout Europe people believed it to have nutrious, medical and even desirable properties (wink to the audience). A rumour was believed that Casanova was very fond of the stuff!
In 1828, a Dutch chemist found a way to make powdered chocolate by removing about half of the natural fat (this is known as cocoa butter) from chocolate liquor. He pulverised the remains and handled the mixture very carefully with alkaline salts to take away the bitter taste. His product was known as ‘Dutch Cocoa’ and this soon led to the remarkable creation of solid chocolate! Halleluiah!
The chocolate bar was created by Joseph Fry. In 1847, he discovered that chocolate could be moldable by adding cacao butter back into the Dutch cocoa. What a load of faffing around!
By 1868 a little company called Cadburys was formed, the company began to market boxes of chocolate candies in England. Milk chocolate hit the market a few years later pioneered by another name that may ring a bell – Nestle.
But dark chocolate came first and will forever be the best!