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Gourmet Chocolate

Chocolate has gone a long distance from being a bitter drink in the Aztec civilization to today being a specialized gourmet field where now there are specialized single origin gourmet chocolate bars. It has travelled through many states to get here.
The name chocolate came from Aztecs and has origins in the word ‘cacahuatl’ or ‘xocolatl’ which means bitter drink.  Chocolate has been around for centuries now. Its first historical record is of 1100BC. The history of chocolate is just as rich as the chocolate itself. The Spaniards introduced the world to the drink, after discovering the cacao bean in Africa, where it had its colonies.  Cacao beans were used as a treatment for diarrhea and fatigue in the South American civilizations.
The beans were also used as a currency.

Eventually each European nation found a niche in the chocolate industry that they specialized in. The Swiss created milk chocolate. Belgium created pralines. Italy created delicious cocoa. It was also in Europe that the original bitter drink was seasoned with milk, sugar and vanilla and made into a decadent drink. This delicious drink, which became a luxury for the Europeans, was brought to America by Christopher Columbus. Chocolate all over the world is manufactured from cocoa beans that are only grown in Africa. Each region that specializes in chocolate making has added its own nuance to chocolate making. Europeans are known for their high grade and tasty handmade chocolates.

Today is an immensely popular confection and flavor used in many other baked goods and foods. Chocolate consumption in the world is roughly $20 billion annually and rapidly rising. There are so many types of chocolates today -handmade, bars, chips, cooking chocolate– all catering to the immense market there is for chocolate. Gourmet chocolate is a rapidly developing niche business of chocolate catering to the higher end of consumers.

There are many kinds of chocolates available today and each of these chocolates are even available in the gourmet chocolate so that if you were going to make a rich cake with bittersweet chocolate, now you can use gourmet bittersweet chocolate. The thing about gourmet chocolate is that it is largely handmade and in small batches to retain its unique taste.
Gourmet chocolate has become very big now. You get gourmet chocolate truffles, gourmet chocolate candy, gourmet chocolate cake, gourmet chocolate chip cookies and even gourmet chocolate covered strawberries and apples. Gourmet chocolate bars are bars you can custom order online with ingredients of your choice, including grade of chocolate and size of the bars.

Gourmet chocolate gifts and gift basket are readily available online today making gourmet chocolate much more accessible to everyone. Even recipes to make gourmet chocolate are usually available online. Today even hoteliers and chocolatiers prefer gourmet baking chocolate and gourmet dark chocolate to make their delicious baked goods like gourmet chocolate cakes and cupcakes.

Gourmet chocolate is available in small milk chocolate chips to large blocks of completely unsweetened chocolate. There is raw chocolate is chocolate that is not heated or mixed with anything.  Then comes compound chocolate is when vegetable fats are mixed with cocoa. There is unsweetened or bitter chocolate which is all bitter and used in cooking on a professional level. It is also the solid form of chocolate liqueur as it has a deep, strong chocolate flavor.

Dark chocolate is the most common form used in cooking. It is also called plain chocolate or black chocolate. The percentage of cocoa decided how bitter this chocolate will be. Dark chocolate with a concentration of even up to 90 per cent of cocoa is available. Dark chocolate is also available in bittersweet, semi sweet and couverture. You can also find milk chocolate, white chocolate, cocoa and other forms like cacao nibs, chocolate liqueur and cocoa butter, other forms of chocolate that are used.

Gourmet chocolate has an elite following. Like any other gourmet ingredient there are clubs and favorite brands and tasting sessions. There are rules that you need to follow if you want to discover gourmet chocolate. There are many classes and courses that teach you to appreciate chocolate so that you do not get lost in the big yet small world of gourmet chocolate. Gourmet chocolates come in limited editions, in hand painted boxes, in made-to-order flavors, just as you order them. It can be a scarily snobbish world if you aren’t sure what to pick. Today there are even chocolate tours to the smaller chocolate factories, which are important holiday activities. This just goes to show how important chocolate is becoming.

You should taste and smell the chocolate you want to use before you actually decide which brand you like and would like to favor. The chocolate should have a snap to it. It should also smell strongly of chocolate. Many gourmet chocolate makes give you a choice of which chocolate and how much cocoa percentage you would like.

Chocolate, like wine, is known to have subtle flavors like citrus notes, berry, coffee, floral and wine undertones which are showcased when you taste the chocolate. That is why it is important to taste the chocolate before you buy it. Single origin chocolates are also another breed of gourmet chocolates where chocolate carries a taste of the soil the cocoa beans were grown in. This makes chocolate from every single region and plantation different.

Gourmet chocolates are becoming big enough for the big candy makers to look into it. Recently the confectionary giant Hershey’s has started marketing designer chocolate maker Scharffen Berger’s chocolates to its vast customer base. Some of the popular brand names to purchase gourmet chocolate from are Ghirardelli, Callebaut, Lindt, Green & Black, Valrhona,  Godiva ,Vosges, Lake Champlain and many more smaller niche chocolate makers who are available online. The best way to make you recipes gourmet recipes is to use first class quality of ingredients. For gourmet chocolate cupcakes, for instance, in its recipe, you would use richer, high grade handmade bitter sweet chocolate instead of regular chocolate chips; you would use butter instead of a replacement; flavored sugar instead of regular sugar and so on.
Submitted on January 16, 2014