It’s a rare occasion when you find someone who doesn’t like chocolate — but this means more for the rest of us chocolate lovers out there. The United States chocolate store industry generates roughly $895 million in annual revenue, so there’s no telling there are a few fans of the delicious food.
The History The best chocolates don’t just magically appear wrapped and shaped to perfection. The process is a long and arduous one. Chocolate comes from cocoa seeds, which — not surprisingly — grow on cocoa trees. These trees can give to be up to 200 years old, though they only produce quality cocoa beans for only 25 years. Chocolate dates back to around 1900 BCE, where the Mayan and Aztec people of Mesoamerica drank the then quite bitter food.
The Process The bean pods must be picked, the beans extracted and fermented. Next, they are dried, cleaned, and roasted to fully develop their flavor. The beans are then ground and liquefied and are ready to be incorporated with other ingredients such as milk and/or sugar. To make one pound of chocolate, roughly 400 cacao beans are needed.
The Different Types Most chocolate lovers are familiar with the three kinds of chocolate — milk, dark, and white — but some of the best chocolates produced these days are also kosher, vegan, and dairy.
Kosher Chocolate This type of chocolate is produced under the oversight of a rabbinical authority figure who ensures that the chocolate is made according to Jewish dietary law requirements. In general, kosher chocolate producers need to produce their chocolate by only using cocoa butter and no other unnatural product.
Vegan Chocolate In order for chocolate to be vegan, is must not contain any animal content — this means milk chocolate is a no-go for those who are practicing vegans. It may be hard to determine from the ingredients whether or not a certain brand sells raw vegan chocolate, so it is best to pick up the stuff that’s already labeled.
Dairy Chocolate Most luxury chocolates contain dairy products, with the U.S. chocolate manufacturers using about 3.5 million pounds of whole milk every day to make milk chocolate. The milk adds a more creamy texture and often less gritty mouth feel.
The best chocolate shouldn’t be confined to one certain type; branch out and try something new next time you are ordering chocolates online.
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