Chocolate is an emotion. Apart from making life sweeter, it has also been used to quell fights between couples, console a wailing child, numb the pain of an injection, and has come in handy in myriad other situations when a frown needed to be turned upside down. Probably nothing else conveys “I love you,” the way a bar of chocolate does. It is hands down the biggest mood lifter and so, despite our skepticism around “International Days” dedicated to this-and-that, we feel that World Chocolate Day – which falls on July 7 – is a befitting homage.
A brief history of chocolate
The modern chocolate bar – as we know it – first came into our repertoire in 1847 when a man named Joseph Fry found a way to make pliable chocolate paste by adding melted cacao butter (the fat you find naturally in cacao beans) to Dutch cocoa – the most sought-after product in baking – which was coincidentally invented a few odd years earlier, in 1828, by a Dutch chemist who extracted cocoa powder from chocolate liquor by removing the natural fat i.e. cacao butter from it. It rose to popularity post 1868, when an English company called Cadbury – which is now used interchangeably with “chocolate” in India – aggressively marketed it, alongside another company, Nestle. And while most of the notable action in the world of chocolate transpired only in the 19th century, modern historians have estimated that chocolate has been around for more than 2000 years, and it’s etymology can be traced back to the Aztec word, xocoatl, which referred to a bitter drink made from cacao beans.
Working with chocolate
Sanjana Patel, co-Founder, creative director and executive chef of La Folie, and a well-known pastry chef who has studied chocolate technology says that chocolate comes to me very easily as a pastry chef. “It's very versatile and creates a great base for varied recipes. Chocolate is a world of its own and to be able to master it, you must understand its characteristics and origins. I love pairing single origin estate chocolate with citrus fruits such as yuzu, lime, mango and passionfruit,” shares Patel.
The chocolatiest tips
- Understanding the role of cocoa percentage and learning how it will lend to the final flavour and texture of the product is important. For example, if you are making a chocolate brownie then, it is best to use a 70 per cent dark chocolate, because a semi sweet or bittersweet chocolate will increase the sugar content, thereby increasing the overall density of the product.
- The next thing to understand is the flavour and origin of your chocolate. Chocolates from African countries, like Ghana, are very nutty and cocoa intense whereas chocolate or cacao from South America and Central America is fruity and floral. Pairing and usage will depend on these factors.
- Chocolate burns very quickly if heated above 55 degree Celsius. Make sure that you don’t overheat your chocolate or expose it to directly heat/open flame and use the bain marie method instead.
- When the fat in a chocolate comes from oil, instead of cocoa butter, it is considered a compound coating and is good for use with ice creams. But chocolate with cocoa butter, aka couverture chocolate, needs to crystallise and be tempered before use, while making chocolate bonbons and pralines or for garnishing on cakes. Even so, couverture chocolate makes delicious cakes and can be melted and used in chocolate cakes instead of cocoa powder.
Celebrate World Chocolate Day with three easy-peasy chocolate recipes at home and make your life sweeter.
1. Belgian Chocolate Truffles
125 gm Cream
350 gm 70% dark chocolate
125 gm Butter
- Warm the cream to Simmer boil and pour the cream onto the dark chocolate.
- Mix with a whisk to make a ganache.
- Once the ganache is at room temperature, add the butter and blend with a hand blender.
- Take a 10 number piping nozzle and pipe the ganache on a silicon mat or baking paper.
- Refrigerate the ganache for 2 hours.
- Remove from the refrigerator and roll the ganache in a dark (or any desired chocolate) and cocoa powder.
Gluten Free Chocolate Fondant with Creme Brûlée Baked Custard
recipethat makes use of humble ingredients like eggs, butter, melted chocolate, flour and sugar, all baked in cute little ramekins and topped with a cocoa powder.
2. Keto Hot Chocolate
60 gm Whipping cream
60 gm Water or brewed coffee
1 gm Stevia
15 gm Natural unsweetened cocoa powder
20 gm 85% Dark chocolate Lindt
2 gm Vanilla extract or cinnamon for spice
- Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Give it a gentle boil and whisk till it thickens.
- Pour in a mug - relax, sip and enjoy!
- Optional: Dust with extra cocoa or shavings of chocolate.
And just in case you want to go for a regular H
ot Chocolate , here's how you can whip up a rich and decadent one at home:
3. Decadent Dark Brownies
165 gm/ 3 nos Eggs
200 gm Castor sugar
170 gm Butter
170 gm 70% Dark chocolate
92 gm All-purpose flour
1.7 gm Baking powder
2 gm Sea salt
105 gm 70% Dark chocolate chips
- Grease the baking mould with butter.
- Sift the flour and baking powder. Mix in the salt & chocolate chips.
- Melt the dark chocolate in a microwave or over a double boiler.
- Melt the butter separately.
- Whisk the eggs with the castor sugar until ribbon consistency. Make sure the eggs are at ambient temperature. Mix in the melted dark chocolate (the chocolate should be at 45c).
- Next, fold in the dry ingredients.
- Add the chocolate chips or can be substituted for chopped walnuts.
- Finally, mix in the melted butter.
- Pour the batter into the mould and bake in a preheated oven at 175c for 25-30 mins.
- Lastly, try and wait for the brownies to cool before you slice and devour them in minutes!
Don't Miss: Fudgy Sea Salt and Chocolate Cookie Shortbread recipethat deserves a spot in your recipe box
Banner image: Bruna Branco on Unsplash; Images: La Folie