How chocolate is made into a flowchart maker

Chocolate: this is how you recognize good quality

Status: 07.12.2020 11:12 a.m.

It's a long way from cocoa beans to chocolate. What is the difference between dark and white chocolate and which types are suitable for coating baked goods? Interesting facts about chocolate.

Bars of chocolate and bars, pralines and biscuits: German citizens consume almost six kilograms of chocolate-containing products per capita per year. The most important ingredient is cocoa. It grows in the tropical regions of Africa, Southeast Asia and Central and South America. Immediately after harvesting, the cocoa pods are opened, the beans are removed by hand and fermented - a fermentation process in which they turn brown and develop the first preliminary stages of the later aromatic substances. Then the beans dry in the sun for one to two weeks. This is where they develop their aroma.

Elaborate processing into chocolate and cocoa powder

Cocoa has an intense, distinctly bitter taste.

Further processing usually does not take place in the country of cultivation, but in Europe or North America. The cocoa beans are cleaned, roasted, peeled, broken into small pieces and ground. This creates a tough mass with a high percentage of fat. To make chocolate, manufacturers mix and knead the cocoa mass with additional cocoa butter as well as with sugar and - depending on the variety - with milk. Then they roll out the chocolate mass very thinly. The mass is then heated and stirred for several hours. This so-called conching gives the chocolate its fine taste and allows the bitter substances to escape. Chocolate bars, pralines or chocolate bars can be made from the finished mass.

Another process is required for the production of cocoa powder: For this, the viscous cocoa mass is pressed under high pressure and thus separated into the liquid cocoa butter and the solid cocoa press cake. The cocoa powder is made from the press cake.

History of cocoa: from heavenly gifts to mass-produced goods

Around 3,500 years ago, the peoples of Central America made the drink "Xocoatl" from roasted and ground cocoa beans. For them, cocoa was a gift from the feathered sky, earth and wind god "Quetzalcoatl".

With the conquest of America, the cocoa bean came to Europe. The Spaniards mixed the slightly bitter cocoa bean powder with milk and sugar, and cocoa became a popular hot drink among wealthy Europeans. From the 19th century, modern machine production made this luxury item affordable for the common people. The first solid chocolate came on the market in 1848. Today chocolate bars are mass-produced.

The different types of chocolate

Chocolate is not just chocolate - depending on the cocoa content, it tastes from strong and tart to very sweet. The different varieties at a glance:

  • bitter chocolate has a particularly high cocoa content of 70 percent and more; dark chocolate is around 55 percent. It contains little or no milk and has a firm consistency. The higher the cocoa content, the stronger and more bitter the dark chocolate tastes.
  • Whole milk or milk chocolate contains milk or milk powder in addition to cocoa mass. It contains a lot of sugar and is sweeter and richer in calories than dark chocolate. Their consistency is softer and creamier. If possible, it should not be stored at temperatures above 20 degrees, otherwise it will begin to melt, lose its aroma and develop whitish spots. Milk chocolate is the most popular type of chocolate in Germany.
  • White chocolate Strictly speaking, it is not chocolate because it does not contain cocoa, but only cocoa butter, the light yellow color of which is characteristic of white chocolate. Other ingredients are sugar, milk and flavorings such as vanilla. Their very sweet taste is particularly popular with children.
  • Couverture differs from chocolate bars in that it has a higher proportion of cocoa butter. As a result, it flows well and has a nice shine - ideal for decorating pastries or chocolates. It works as follows: It is best to melt the couverture in a water bath, do not boil the water, as steam can clump the couverture. Do not heat dark couverture over 45 degrees, white chocolate over 40 degrees, otherwise it will lose its shine.

Recognize good quality

The quality of chocolate can already be seen from the list of ingredients: the fewer ingredients the chocolate contains and the higher the cocoa content, the higher the quality of the product. The use of fine cocoa varieties and long, gentle processing of the cocoa beans (conching) can justify a higher price.

That's how long chocolate lasts

It is best to store chocolate at temperatures around 18 to 20 degrees. At higher temperatures it can "sweat": Then cocoa butter leaks out and forms a thin white film on the board. The chocolate is therefore not bad, but the quality deteriorates. Because of its higher cocoa content, dark chocolate begins to "sweat" later than light chocolate. It therefore has a longer shelf life - up to a year and a half.

Dark chocolate is healthier

Dark chocolate contains less sugar and calories than light chocolate.

Chocolate is not exactly a healthy food, especially because it usually contains a lot of sugar and is therefore very high in calories. But it also has its good sides: The beans contain magnesium and iron as well as secondary plant substances that act as antioxidants. They can protect our cells from cancer.

Research has shown that cocoa also has a positive effect on insulin levels, blood counts and bone structure, and it lowers blood pressure. However, milk blocks the healthy antioxidants and thus destroys the beneficial effects of cocoa.

Dark chocolate is better from a nutritional point of view than whole milk chocolate or white chocolate, which contains no cocoa at all. At the same time, it is lower in calories and contains more minerals.

Enjoy chocolate in moderation

Nutritionists advise conscious use of chocolate. If we feel an appetite for chocolate, we should eat a piece or two - smell it first, then suck it and enjoy it. In the case of varieties with a high cocoa content, it is usually easier to keep things moderate: the taste is very intense, so that the appetite is often satisfied after just one or two pieces.

Serotonin and tryptophan: does chocolate make you happy?

It is often said that chocolate contains happiness hormones or stimulates their production in the body. The cocoa bean contains serotonin, but the happiness hormone cannot cross the blood-brain barrier into the brain. And only there can serotonin unfold its mood-enhancing effect.

However, chocolate contains the serotonin precursor tryptophan. This substance can theoretically get into the brain. It is not known whether it actually makes you feel happy. What makes many happy, however, is the combination of sweetness and fat.

Pay attention to seals when buying

Fairly traded cocoa is supposed to secure a decent livelihood for farmers in the countries of origin.

Around 70 percent of the cocoa harvested worldwide today comes from West Africa - and is often produced there under ecologically and socially questionable conditions, in some cases even through child labor. It is therefore advisable to take a closer look when buying chocolate or cocoa and to fall back on certified goods with quality seals such as Fairtrade, Naturland fair, Hand in Hand as well as UTZ and Rainforest Alliance.

Recipes with chocolate

Cakes, desserts or delicious pastries: chocolate is not only delicious, it can also be used in many ways in the kitchen. Our recipe ideas. more

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Market | 07.12.2020 | 8:15 pm