Hey there! Today we are here to discuss one of my favorite subjects: Chocolate.
I dont think there is probably anyone that doesn’t know what chocolate is. It’s a staple in the American diet. It dates back to Central America in the 15th and 16th century.
“Cultivation, use, and cultural elaboration of cacao were early and extensive in Mesoamerica, to which the cacao tree is native. When pollinated, the seed of the cacao tree eventually forms a kind of sheath, or ear, 20″ long, hanging from the branches. Within the sheath are 30 to 40 brownish-red almond-shaped beans embedded in a sweet viscous pulp. While the beans themselves are bitter due to the alkaloids within them, the sweet pulp may have been the first element consumed by humans. Evidence suggests that it may have been fermented and served as an alcoholic beverage as early as 1400 BC. By 1400, the Aztec empire took over a sizable part of Mesoamerica. They were not able to grow cacao themselves, but were forced to import it. All of the areas that were conquered by the Aztecs that grew cacao beans were ordered to pay them as a tax, or as the Aztecs called it, a “tribute”. The cacao bean became a form of currency. The Spanish conquistadors left records of the value of the cacao bean, noting for instance that 100 beans could purchase a canoe filled with fresh water or a turkey hen. The Aztecs associated cacao with the god Quetzacoatl, whom they believed had been condemned by the other gods for sharing chocolate with humans. Unlike the Maya of Yucatán, the Aztecs drank chocolate cold. It was consumed for a variety of purposes, as an aphrodisiac or as a treat for men after banquets, and it was also included in the rations of Aztec soldiers.
Pueblo people, who lived in an area that is now the U.S. Southwest, imported cacao from Mesoamerican cultures in southern Mexico or Central America between 900 and 1400. They used it in a common beverage consumed by everyone in their society.” (Wikipedia)
Pretty interesting huh? There’s SO much information and history concerning chocolate that if I included it, you’d be reading forever today! Lets cover the differences between types of chocolate, shall we?
Milk Chocolate: Probably the most popular and most recognized type of chocolate available in the market. It is made by blending solid chocolate with milk, milk powder or condensed milk. Must contain a minimum of 10% cocoa solids.
Dark Chocolate: Created by blending cocoa, fat and sugar. Dark chocolate is semisweet, whereas extra dark is considered bittersweet, with little or no sweetening. Think baker’s chocolate blocks. Generally 70% to 99% cocoa solids.
White chocolate: made with cocoa butter, milk and sugar. It contains no cocoa solids.
So how do you use these different chocolates? Easy: Any way you please and to your personal tastes! One of my favorite things to do is to use bitter or semi sweet to make a flourless chocolate cake. Its fudgy, creamy and rich, three of my favorite things! Here is the recipe:
Flourless Chocolate Cake
24oz Semisweet or Bittersweet Chocolate Chips (Any brand, 1 entire bag)
1 stick of butter, unsalted
1 cup sugar, granulated
6 whole eggs
3/4 cup of water
Yield: 12 pieces
Combine chocolate chips, butter, sugar and water in a heat proof bowl, over a simmering pan of water, creating a water bath. Allow to melt. Stir to combine.
Remove from heat. Whisk in eggs until mixture combines to a smooth batter.
Pour into an 8” round cake pan lined with parchment and sprayed with cooking spray. Place inside a 10” round cake pan and place in the oven, preheated to 350 degrees. Fill the larger pan with water, creating a water bath like how you would bake a cheesecake.
Allow to bake for 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Remove from the oven.
Place in the refrigerator to cool overnight.
When ready to serve, run a knife under hot water, dry and run around the cake in the pan. Flip onto serving plate. Remove parchment. Top with sifted cocoa powder. Serve accompanied with whipped cream if you’d prefer.
The good thing about this cake is that it can be made with whatever chocolate is your preference. White, dark or milk chocolate. It’s very versatile. It’s perfect for a special occasion or just because. It’s very rich so try to pace yourself.
Until next time, Happy Baking!