All About Chocolate

The origin of chili is a matter of great debate and there are many out there that have attempted to chronicle the history. For me it's not so much about where it came from or when, it's about what I will put into my next pot. Many lay claims to originating the stew we now know as chili. There seems to be no doubt that chili was a staple during times when meat was in short supply and the cook’s creativity was challenged. That challenge is alive an well today.

One of the most popular foods in the world, chocolate comes in many forms. From dark chocolate to milk and white chocolate, this delicacy blends well with almost every flavor -- caramel, peanut butter, mint, raspberry, cherry, orange, coffee, and nuts. You can drink it, eat it, sip it, and chew it. Whether you bake it into a cake or brownies, mix it with coffee for a mocha, or eat chocolates straight out of the box, it's one of the finest treats you'll find.

All chocolate is made with seeds of the cacao tree, generally using a blend of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. People have been drinking hot chocolate for thousands of years, but it wasn't until the 1800s that companies started producing the hard chocolate treats we're used to today. Pure chocolate (or baking chocolate) contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter, but no sugar. Sweetened chocolate includes sugar, milk chocolate has sugar and powdered milk, and white chocolate includes cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids. Semi-sweet, as the name suggests, has less sugar than milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has been tauted for its health benefits because of the antioxidants it contains that reduce the formation of free radicals.

Cacao is originally from South America, where it's been cultivated since 1100 BC. Today, two-thirds of all the cacao produced in the world is grown in Africa, mainly in the Ivory Coast. The industry is dominated by three companies, Barry Callebaut, Cargill, and Archer Daniels Midland Company, chocolate producers that distribute cocoa butter to all the various chocolate makers. Chocolate includes a small amount of caffeine.

Get your fill of this sweet delicacy with these recipes from


Decadent Chocolate Fudge

Fudgy Brownies

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

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