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Chocolate comes from a tree. Mmm, trees. Of course, there's a ton of steps in between you're going to want to understand. ...
That's where Food Science expert Dr. Kiki comes in.
Tags:dr. kiki sanford,food science,how chocolate is made,kitchen science
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Hi. I’m Dr. Kiki Sanford. And today on Food Science, we’re eating chocolate.
Chocoholic? Chocolate addict? You might almost think that chocolate is some kind of a terrible drug with the way we talk about it, but it’s just chocolate. Good, rich, delicious, chocolate.
Chocolate as we know it comes from a Cocoa Tree, Theobroma Cacao. Theobroma translates from Greek into “Food of the Gods”. The cocoa pods are harvested from the trees and the cocoa beans that are contained within them are removed and fermented which gives the beans their flavor. And then the beans get dried, roasted and shelled. Finally, the cocoa nib is removed from the bean and ground into a paste known as chocolate liquor. Then the chocolate liquor gets separated into relatively equal amounts of cocoa powder and cocoa butter, or fat.
This is the part we like. Cocoa butter and chocolate liquor are mixed with sugar and sometimes vanilla to make dark chocolate. Milk is added to make milk chocolate. And to create white chocolate, the chocolate liquor gets removed completely which according to me hardly counts as chocolate. And I’m a trusted source of course, right?
The FDA doesn’t allow products to be chocolate if they contained partially hydrogenated oils instead of cocoa butter, artificial sweeteners or milk substitutes. However, some chocolates pass the bar with only 47% cocoa. It’s ridiculous. Fine chocolates will tell you how much cocoa they contain, more is better. I like more.
Most of us eat chocolate just because it tastes so darn good. Did you know that in the United States, chocolate consumption exceeds 12 pounds per person per year? You may have heard that chocolate is fattening or promotes tooth decay. But let’s look to history to tell us a little bit more about the potential of chocolate and what a history it is. Chocolate has been in use by humans for more than 3000 years. First used by people in Meso-America, European explorers brought chocolate recipes back home with them. Chocolate’s first use was medicinal. Aztecs would mix chocolate with spices and then drink it. Its first purpose may have been to mask the taste of unpleasant medicines but it probably still didn’t taste very good. It wasn’t until the 19th century that recipes began to include sugar, thanks to the European sweet tooth.
Chocolate has been used overtime to aide digestion, aide weight gain, cure dysentery, reduce fevers, help liver and kidney disorders as an intoxicant, to increase fertility, aide breast feeding, as an aphrodisiac, has a stimulant to treat toothaches, cure hangovers, treat tuberculosis, hemorrhoids, syphilis and parasites among other things. There may have been many uses, but did it really work? There are more than 300 potentially active chemicals in chocolate. With that many to choose from, some things got to have an effect on us, right? The first culprit is sugar which is not part of cocoa does have a stimulant and addictive effect. It’s also probably responsible for much of the weight gain and tooth decay that’s blamed on chocolate. In fact, cocoa butter might actually coat the teeth and protect them from sugary damage.
The healthiest kind of chocolate is dark because it doesn’t contain milk or as much sugar as other kinds of chocolates. But there could be a healthier reason for the temptation of chocolates, at least in women. Research suggests that the magnesium in chocolates might explain premenstrual cravings and pregnant women might crave it for its iron. Cocoa is also full of antioxidant phenolic compounds which help keep fats from clogging your arteries so chocolate might be good for fighting high blood pressure. Chocolate does contain stimulant molecules, caffeine and theobromine, both of which are found in coffee and tea so it’s no joke that that late night desert or a cup of hot cocoa might actually keep you up all night long. It might even affect your mood. The magnesium in it is known to lift spirits. It also contains tryptophan which increases serotonin levels leading to a happier frame of mind.
And if that doesn’t do that trick, there’s a compound called Anandamide which binds to the same receptors in the brain as THC. That’s the active ingredient in marijuana. Anandamide is produced naturally in the brain but it’s normally broken down very quickly. But chocolate also contains special compounds that protect Anandamide and keep it from breaking down. So chocolate itself insures that good chocolate feeling will last a little longer. Now, the problem with all this is that none of the chemicals found in chocolate are there in very large quantities so no one really knows if the amounts we eat are sufficient to actually do anything.
Is chocolate really the food of the Gods? And will it cure all our human ills? It’s yet to be seen. But remember, it’s not just food. It’s chocolate with science.