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Fine Gourmet Coffee & Chocolate


Coffee & Hand made Chocolates, the perfect partners…

The Synergy of Coffee with Chocolate

Why do we finish off a dinner party or a meal at home or in a restaurant with Coffee and Chocolate?

The obvious synergy of Coffee and Chocolate with human social gatherings is more complex than you might think, smell and taste obviously play a part but it goes deeper than that. Take the dinner party scenario, it’s late, we are feeling the effects of the food and wine, the natural tendency of our bodies is to wind down while we digest our food, we feel relaxed, lethargic and drowsy. But, along come the coffee and chocolates and in a very short time people become more alert and animated, but still relaxed, almost euphoric in fact. The reasons for this seemingly contradictory change in behaviour lie in the natural chemical compositions of both coffee and chocolate.

Coffee is easy to explain, most people know Coffee contains substantial amounts of caffeine which is a natural stimulant, harsh in it’s effects so, you would expect it to wake you up. But keep you relaxed and euphoric at the same time?

Chocolate on the other hand has some real surprises up it’s sleeve. It’s a very complex food which besides a minuscule amount of Caffeine, contains mood changing substances called Phenylethylamine and Serotonin, both of which are also found in the human brain. Phenylethylamine and Serotonin are released into the system by the brain when feelings of physical attraction such as love, lust or passion are present, causing a rise in blood pressure and increased heart rate, inducing that feeling of euphoria and well being so familiar to lovers. Eating Chocolate has the same effect because it also releases Phenylethylamine and Serotonin into the system, actually inducing those same ‘lovers’ feelings of well being, euphoria and of passion or being in love!

So you see, chocolate and coffee really do have a complimentary effect on us, Caffeine in the Coffee livens us up making us more alert and attentive while Chocolate mellows the harsher effects of the Coffee with feelings of well being and euphoria, actually mimicking the experience of physical attraction and love.

This probably explains all that flirting that goes on over the coffee and chocolates, well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

Brewing that perfect cup of gourmet coffee is not so difficult either, just click here, How To Make Fine Coffee and follow the steps…

The History of Chocolate…


Here’s an article written by us here at Aphrodite Chocolates, examining the History of Chocolate…interesting reading for all you chocophiles out there!

EARLY HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE

The earliest record of chocolate was over fifteen hundred years ago in the Central American rain forests, where the tropical mix of high rain fall combined with high year round temperatures and humidity provide the ideal climate for cultivation of the plant from which chocolate is derived, the Cacao Tree.

The Cacao Tree was worshipped by the Mayan civilisation of Central America and Southern Mexico, who believed it to be of divine origin, Cacao is actually a Mayan word meaning “God Food” hence the tree’s modern generic Latin name ‘Theobrama Cacao’ meaning ‘Food of the Gods’. Cacao was corrupted into the more familiar ‘Cocoa’ by the early  European explorers. The Maya brewed a spicy, bitter sweet drink by roasting and pounding the seeds of the Cacao tree (cocoa beans) with maize and Capsicum (Chilli) peppers and letting the mixture ferment. This drink was reserved for use in ceremonies as well as for drinking by the wealthy and religious elite, they also ate a Cacao porridge. 

The Aztecs of central Mexico also prized the beans, but because the Aztec’s lived further north in more arid regions at higher altitudes, where the climate was not suitable for cultivation of the tree, they had to acquire the beans through trade and/or the spoils of war. The Aztecs prized the beans so highly they used them as currency – 100 beans bought a Turkey or a slave – and tribute or Taxes were paid in cocoa beans to Aztec emperors. The Aztecs, like the Mayans, also enjoyed Cacao as a beverage fermented from the raw beans, which again featured prominently in ritual and as a luxury available only to the very wealthy. The Aztecs called this drink Xocolatl; the Spanish conquistadors found this almost impossible to pronounce and so corrupted it to the easier ‘Chocolat’ – the English further changed this to Chocolate.

The Aztec’s regarded chocolate as an aphrodisiac and their Emperor, Montezuma reputedly drank it fifty times a day from a golden goblet and is quoted as saying of Xocolatl:

“The divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food” 

In fact, the Aztec’s prized Xocolatl well above Gold and Silver – so much so, that when Montezuma was defeated by Cortez in 1519 and the victorious ‘conquistadors’searched his palace for the Aztec treasury expecting to find Gold & Silver, all they found were huge quantities of cocoa beans. The Aztec Treasury consisted, not of precious metals, but Cocoa Beans.

CHOCOLATE IN EUROPE

Xocolatl, or Chocolat or Chocolate as it became known, was brought to Europe by Cortez; by this time the conquistadors had learned to make the drink more palatable to European tastes by mixing the ground roasted beans with sugar and vanilla (a practice still continued today), thus offsetting the spicy bitterness of the brew the Aztec’s drank.

The first chocolate factories opened in Spain, where the dried fermented beans brought back from the new world by the Spanish treasure fleets were roasted and ground, and by the early 17th century chocolate powder – from which the European version of the drink was made – was being exported to other parts of Europe. The Spanish kept the source of the drink – the beans – a secret for many years, so successfully in fact, that when English buccaneers boarded what they thought was a Spanish ‘Treasure Galleon’ in 1579, only to find it loaded with what appeared to be ‘dried sheep’s droppings’, they burned the whole ship in frustration. If only they had known, chocolate was so expensive at that time, that it was worth it’s weight in Silver (if not Gold). Chocolate was Treasure Indeed!

Within a few years, the Cocoa beverage made from the powder produced in Spain had become popular throughout Europe, in the Spanish Netherlands, Italy, France, Germany and – in about 1520 – it arrived in England.

The first Chocolate House in England opened in London in 1657 followed rapidly by many others. Like the already well established coffee houses, they were used as clubs where the wealthy and business community met to smoke a clay pipe of tobacco, conduct business and socialise over a cup of chocolate.

BACK TO THE AMERICA’S

Events went full circle when English colonists carried chocolate (and coffee) with them to England’s colonies in North America. Destined to become the United States of America and Canada, they are now the worlds largest consumers – by far – of both Chocolate and Coffee, consuming over half of the words total production of chocolate alone.

THE QUAKERS

The Quakers were, and still are, a pacifist religious sect, an offshoot of the Puritans of English Civil War and Pilgrim Fathers fame and a history of chocolate would not be complete without mentioning their part in it. Some of the most famous names in chocolate were Quakers, who for centuries held a virtual monopoly of chocolate making in the English speaking world – Fry, Cadbury and Rowntree are probably the best known.

It’s probably before the time of the English civil war between Parliament and King Charles 1st, that the Quaker’s, who evolved from the Puritans, first began their historic association with Chocolate. Because of their pacifist religion, they were prohibited from many normal business activities, so as an industrious people with a strong belief in the work ethic, they involved themselves in food related businesses and did very well. Baking was a common occupation for them because bread was regarded as the biblical ” Staff Of Life”, and Bakers in England were the first to add chocolate to cakes so it would be a natural progression for them to start making pure chocolate. They were also heavily involved in breakfast cereals but that’s another story!

What is certain is that the Fry, Rowntree and Cadbury families in England, began chocolate making and in fact Joseph Fry of Fry & Sons (founded 1728 in Bristol, England) is credited with producing and selling the worlds first chocolate bar. Fry’s have now all but disappeared (taken over by Cadbury) and Rowntree have merged with Swiss company Nestle, to form the largest chocolate manufacturer in the world. Cadbury have stayed with chocolate production and are now, if not quite the largest, probably one of the best known Chocolate makers in the world.

From their earliest beginnings in business the Quakers were noted for their enlightened treatment of their employees, providing not just employment but everything needed for workers to better themselves such as good housing etc. In fact, Cadbury built a large town for their employees around their factory near Birmingham, England. Complete with libraries, schools, shops and Churches etc, they called it Bourneville. So the next time you see Cadbury’s chocolate with the name Bournville on it you will know where it comes from and what the name relates to.

CHOCOLATE AS WE KNOW IT

The first mention of chocolate being eaten in solid form is in the mid 1600’s when bakers in England began adding cocoa powder to cakes. Then in 1828 a Dutch chemist, Johannes Van Houten, invented a method of extracting the bitter tasting fat or “cocoa butter” from the roasted ground beans; his aim was to make the drink smoother and more palatable, however he unknowingly paved the way for solid chocolate as we know it.

Chocolate as we know it today first appeared in 1847 when Fry & Sons of Bristol, England mixed Sugar with Cocoa Powder and Cocoa Butter (made by the Van Houten process) to produce the first solid chocolate bar then, in 1875, a Swiss manufacturer Daniel Peters found a way to combine (some would say improve, some would say ruin) cocoa powder and cocoa butter with sugar and dried milk powder to produce the first milk chocolate.  

and the rest, is history, Chocolate History….

©2004 – 2015 Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates

If you like this article, why not link to it from your website or blog… Or, if you wish to copy this article you may do so subject to the following conditions:

PERMISSION TO COPY. This article is Copyright of Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates and is protected by international copyright law. You are more than welcome to copy it for personal or non profit, or educational purposes and you have our permission to do so, provided it is copied and re-published in it’s entirety complete with copyright notice and website address. If you wish to copy it for electronic publication on an intranet, website, blog or Newsletter you may do so provided  the article is copied and re-published in it’s entirety with all html, copyright information and hyperlinks intact and unaltered in any way with no redirects. If you wish to copy it for any other purpose please contact us for permission first.contact@aphrodite-chocolates.co.uk

The History Of Easter Eggs


A HISTORY OF EASTER and the EASTER EGG

Delve into the history and origins of the Christian festival of Easter and you come up with a few surprises. For instance, Easter eggs do not owe their origins to Christianity and originally the festival of Easter itself and the giving of Easter gifts had nothing to do with Christianity either. A closer look at the history of both Easter and the Easter Egg reveals a much earlier association with pagan ritual and in particular, the pagan rites of spring, dating back into pre history.

For us, the ancient rites celebrating the Spring Equinox are most obviously associated with the mysterious Druids and places like Stone Henge, but most ancient races around the world had similar spring festivals to celebrate the rebirth of the year. The Egg, as a symbol of fertility and re-birth, has been associated with these rites from the earliest times.

The Christian Festival Of Easter

In fact, the festival of Easter is a classic example of the early Christian church adapting an existing pagan ritual to suit their own purposes. The Saxon spring festival of Eostre, was named for their goddess of dawn, and when they came to Britain in about the 5th century AD, the festival came with them along with re-birth and fertility rituals involving eggs, chicks and rabbits. When the Saxons converted to Christianity and started to celebrate the death and the resurrection of Christ, it coincided with Eostre, so that’s what the early church in Britain called the celebration, Eostre or Easter in modern English.

The actual date that Easter falls on every year is governed by a fairly complex calculation related to the Spring Equinox. The actual formula is: The first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox is Easter Sunday or Easter Day. This formula was set by Egyptian astronomers in Alexandria in 235ad, and calculated using the same method as the Jews have traditionally used to calculate the feast of the Passover, which occurred at about the same time as the crucifixion.

Early Easter Eggs

As well as adopting the pagan festival of Eostre, the Egg, representing fertility and re-birth in pagan times, was also adopted as part of the Christian Easter festival and it came to represent the ‘resurrection’ or re-birth of Christ after the crucifixion, Some Christians believe it is a symbol of the the stone blocking the Sepulchre being ‘rolled’ away.

In the UK and Europe, the earliest Easter eggs were painted and decorated hen, duck or goose eggs, a practice still carried on in many parts of the world today. As time went by, artificial eggs were made and by the end of the 17th century, manufactured eggs made of various materials were available for purchase at Easter.

Easter eggs continued to evolve through the 18th and into the 19th Century, with hollow cardboard eggs filled with gifts and sumptuously decorated, culminating in the ultimate in Easter eggs, the fabulous Faberge Eggs. Encrusted with jewels, they were made for the Czar’s of Russia by Carl Faberge, a French jeweller, surely these were the ‘ultimate’ Easter gift, to buy even a small one now would make you poorer by several millions of pounds sterling.

The Chocolate Easter Egg

It was at about this time (early 1800’s) that the first chocolate Easter egg appeared in Germany and France and soon spread to the rest of Europe and beyond. The first chocolate eggs were solid soon followed by hollow eggs. Although making hollow eggs at that time was no mean feat, because the easily worked chocolate we use today didn’t exist then, they had to use a paste made from ground roasted Cacao beans.

By the turn of the 19th Century, the discovery of the modern chocolate making process and improved mass manufacturing methods meant that the hollow, moulded Chocolate Easter Egg was fast becoming the Easter Gift of choice in the UK and parts of Europe, and by the 1960’s it was well established worldwide.

How do you make Truffles?


Chocolate Gifts

When I meet people for the first time and tell them what I do, the response is ALWAYS the same – ‘You make chocolates? WOW! I’ve always wanted to do that, but it looks so complicated! I’d never be able to do it!’. My response to that is ALWAYS the same – ‘Yes! You can!’. I firmly believe that everyone has the capability to make, at home and with the minimum of specialist ingredients and fuss, gorgeous chocolates that will make everyone else gasp and say (with the most satisfying degree of envy) ‘Did you really make those!?’

You don’t have to be a trained chef, or even really have any experience in the kitchen to make your own basic chocolate creations, and to prove it to you, I’m going to give you a crash course in the basics of chocolate making :-)

So, your journey towards home chocolate-making demigod status starts with a basic ganache truffle – essentially, a thick, creamy mixture made by using equivalent amounts of double cream to chocolate, then flavoured by whatever method you choose. The fantastic thing about ganache is that you can quite literally flavour it any way you like – if you like things on the tipsy side, add a little of your favourite alcohol; if you prefer things a little more zingy, add some zest and juice to the mix; if nuts float your boat, chop some up and chuck them in – the choices are endless, and entirely yours!

Ultimately, the basic truffle mixture, whilst being smooth, chocolatey and moreish in the extreme, can be altered and enhanced to make it…whatever you want it to be. This is the beauty of chocolate 😉

A basic ganache truffle is absolutely the EASIEST thing in the world to make, with no need for any fancy-pants equipment or ingredients, so you should be able to pull what you need out of your kitchen cupboards.

THE EQUIPMENT

  • Mixing Bowls.
  • Plastic Spatulas.
  • Saucepans
  • Microwave: to melt chocolate – I can hear many shouts here telling me that you’re NEVER supposed to use a microwave for melting chocolate! ‘Use a bain-marie otherwise it’ll burn!’, I hear you shout, but in my (quite extensive) experience I have NEVER used a double boiler to melt chocolate. Ever. As long as you use medium-high power max, and blast it on 20 second bursts, giving it a good stir in-between blasts, it’ll be fine. Believe me.

THE INGREDIENTS

  • Double/Whipping Cream.
  • Chocolate – Dark, Milk or White, dependent on the truffle – please, please use the BEST quality chocolate you can find for the ganache itself, and DON’T, whatever you do, use cooking chocolate. The resulting truffle will taste and look horrific!
  • Whatever flavourings you intend to put into the truffle.

THE FINISHING TOUCHES

There are number of ways in which to finish your truffles – coating the completed balls of amazingness in high quality cocoa powder, rolling them in crushed nuts – or you can make them look REALLY awesome and dip them in melted chocolate, which will give you a finish similar to those truffles that you’d buy from an artisan chocolatier; the entire truffle will be coated by chocolate, thus ‘enrobing’ the soft centre. Personally, I believe that an enrobed truffle is, quite simply, the best. They not only look amazing, but the contrast between the crunch of the hardened chocolate exterior with the smooth flowing interior really is hard to beat. If you choose to do this (and I highly recommend that you do!) then you’ll need the following:

  • Fork: for dipping the chocolates.
  • Wire tray: for putting the enrobed chocolates on to dry – a cooling rack would be perfect.
  • Chocolate to enrobe the finished truffle balls –  this merits further discussion, as there are different ways to do this:

Professionally enrobed chocolates are coated with tempered chocolate – this is chocolate that has been heated then cooled to specific temperatures, thus changing the structure of the molecules within the chocolate, making it easier to work with and enabling it to dry to a high shine. Tempering chocolate manually can be a tricky business, because actually getting it to temper in the first place takes practice, while keeping it in temper takes ALOT of practice.

So! With this in mind, it may be politic NOT to temper the chocolate that you’ll be enrobing your truffles with! In which case, you now have two options remaining:

  • The first is to simply use melted chocolate to dip the truffles in – it won’t have the high shine reminiscent of high-quality, artisan chocolates but, hey, how many people do you know who can make their own chocolates complete with a chocolate shell? You’ll be utterly AWESOME for making them in the first place, so who cares if they’re a bit less shiny than professional ones!
  • The second option here is to use coating ‘chocolate’, which is a kind of artificial chocolate substitute – made with natural ingredients though! – that will give the appearance, and to some extent, the flavour of  tempered chocolate, without taking 4 hours and 30 attempts to get right. If you choose to go this route then search on google for coating chocolate to buy and you’ll find it – it costs about £4.99 for 500g.

If anyone really does have a burning desire to learn how to temper chocolate then let me know and I’ll devote another post to it 😀

The truffles themselves really are the work of moments, involving heating the cream, mixing it with the chocolate and flavourings, and leaving it to cool before rolling small amounts into balls and re-cooling them. If you then choose to just encase them in crushed nuts, or cocoa powder, then they’ll be finished in no time. If, however, you choose to enrobe them in chocolate, coating or otherwise, then it’ll take a little more time, but not obscenely so.

So!! How do you make truffles? That’s how! Super easy, super quick!! Go on…give it a try 😉

Lia x

©2004 – 2015 Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates

If you like this article, why not link to it from your website or blog… Or, if you wish to copy this article you may do so subject to the following conditions:

PERMISSION TO COPY. This article is Copyright of Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates and is protected by international copyright law. You are more than welcome to copy it for personal or non profit, or educational purposes and you have our permission to do so, provided it is copied and re-published in it’s entirety complete with copyright notice and website address. If you wish to copy it for electronic publication on an intranet, website, blog or Newsletter you may do so provided  the article is copied and re-published in it’s entirety with all html, copyright information and hyperlinks intact and unaltered in any way with no redirects. If you wish to copy it for any other purpose please contact us for permission first.contact@aphrodite-chocolates.co.uk

 

Chocolate… an Aphrodisiac?


So, it’s approaching that time of year when we all go love crazy…yes, it’s almost Valentines Day! But, I hear you shout, what to buy for that special someone!? The traditional old standby of flowers are always appealing, but do they really pack them same punch when it comes to creating that loving atmosphere, as the scientifically proven, love-inducing fever created by chocolate? I think not!! Want to know why? Then read on 😀

 

Handmade Chocolates

Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac

The reputation of chocolate as an aphrodisiac originated in South America over fifteen hundred years ago, where cacao was believed to have both mystical and aphrodisiac qualities within the Mayan and Aztec cultures. The Aztec emperor Montezuma is reputed to have drunk fifty golden goblets of chocolate each day in order to enhance his sexual prowess, understandable when you consider that he had 600 wives to keep happy, so when the Conquistadors discovered chocolate and introduced it to Europe, it was natural that they continued to associate it with passion. The observed effects of chocolate on human behaviour reinforced the belief, and it is these effects that have ensured the lasting place within almost all modern cultures of chocolate.

Chocolate as a food source is extremely complex – so complex that scientists are only now beginning to unlock its myriad of secrets. Among its many constituents, chocolate has been found to contain the substances Phenylethylamine and Serotonin, both of which are mood lifting agents. Both occur naturally in the brain and are released into the nervous system when we are feeling happy – they are also released when we are experiencing feelings of love, passion and lust. This causes a rapid mood change, a rise in blood pressure, increasing the heart rate and inducing those feelings of well-being and euphoria that are usually associated with love and lust.

This phenomenon has been scientifically observed and recorded, so it isn’t unreasonable to suppose that it was these observed physical effects that gave rise to the belief of ancient civilisations like the Mayans and Aztec’s that chocolate enhanced sexual prowess, particularly when you consider that chocolate gives an immediate and substantial energy boost, thus increasing sexual stamina. Additionally, both of these substance are mildly addictive which could give us an additional explanation of why cacao was as revered as it was.

Recent research has suggested that women are more susceptible to the effects of Phenylethylamine and Serotonin than men; however, Casanova was said to have consumed vast quantities of chocolate for its aphrodisiac qualities, so perhaps this is not quite true!?

Lia x

©2004 – 2015 Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates

If you like this article, why not link to it from your website or blog… Or, if you wish to copy this article you may do so subject to the following conditions:

PERMISSION TO COPY. This article is Copyright of Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates and is protected by international copyright law. You are more than welcome to copy it for personal or non profit, or educational purposes and you have our permission to do so, provided it is copied and re-published in it’s entirety complete with copyright notice and website address. If you wish to copy it for electronic publication on an intranet, website, blog or Newsletter you may do so provided  the article is copied and re-published in it’s entirety with all html, copyright information and hyperlinks intact and unaltered in any way with no redirects. If you wish to copy it for any other purpose please contact us for permission first.contact@aphrodite-chocolates.co.uk

 

How Chocolate Is Made


Chocolate is made from the cocoa bean, found in pods (illustrated above) growing from the trunk and lower branches of the Cacao Tree, Latin name ‘Theobroma Cacao’ meaning “food of the gods”.

CHOCOLATE AS WE KNOW IT

Chocolate as we know it today was largely made possible by three events:

  • In 1828, Dutch chemist Johannes Van Houten, invented a method of extracting the fat or “cocoa butter” from ground cocoa beans. The resulting ‘cocoa’ powder was much less bitter tasting and, when combined with sugar or honey, made a drink much more palatable to our taste.
  • This process known as the Van Houten process made it possible for Fry & Sons of Bristol, England to manufacture and sell the first solid chocolate bar in 1847.
  • In 1875 a Swiss manufacturer, Daniel Peters also used the Van Houten process to successfully combine chocolate with powdered milk to produce the first milk chocolate.

HOW CHOCOLATE IS MADE

Producing chocolate is a time consuming and complicated process, but we have endeavoured to provide a simplified guide which we hope you will find easy to understand:

  • The first step is the harvesting of the cocoa pods containing the cocoa beans.
  • The Pods are crushed and the beans and surrounding pulp extracted and fermented naturally for about six days in either open heaps or boxes after which the beans are dried.
  • The finest chocolate is produced when the drying process is done naturally by the sun for 7 days or more.
  • Accelerated or artificial drying is quicker, but produces inferior quality chocolate, mainly used in mass produced products and cake coverings.
  • The next process is shared with coffee in that the beans are first graded, then roasted. Roasting times depend on the type and size of the beans, like coffee this can also affect the final flavour of the chocolate.
  • Light Crushing separates the kernel or ‘Nib’ from the shell or husk (like shelling a nut), the husk is then separated or ‘winnowed’ out and discarded.
  • At this stage most manufacturers put the Cocoa Nibs through an alkalisation process to help develop flavour and colour. However, some purists producing the finest chocolate prefer to rely on the quality of the beans and natural processing to produce the best colour and flavour.
  • The nibs, which are very high in fat or cocoa butter, are then finely milled and liquefy in the heat produced by the milling process to produce cocoa liquor. When cocoa liquor, otherwise known as cocoa mass, is allowed to cool and solidify.
  • At this point the manufacturing process splits according to the final product. If the end product is chocolate, some of the cocoa liquor is reserved, the rest is pressed to extract the cocoa butter leaving a solid residue called press cake. Press cake is usually kibbled or finely ground to produce the product known to consumers as Cocoa Powder.

The retained Cocoa Liquor and/or solid Cocoa Mass is blended with Chocolate Butter and other ingredients to produce the various types of chocolate as follows:

BLENDING

Cocoa Liquor or Cocoa Mass is blended back with cocoa butter in varying quantities to make different types of chocolate. The finest plain or dark chocolate should contain 70% Cocoa or more, whereas the best Milk Chocolate contains 30% or more Cocoa and the best White Chocolate contains 30% or more Cocoa Butter. In addition most chocolate contains a sweetener, usually sugar, this is because without some kind of sweetener, chocolate would be so bitter as to be virtually inedible. The other most commonly added ingredients are natural Vanilla for flavour (artificial Vanilla or ‘Vanillin’ is often added to mass produced chocolate because it’s cheaper), and Lethicin (usually made from Soya) as an emulsifier. The basic blends that we use provide a good illustration:

Our Plain Dark Chocolate contains:

  • 70%+ Cocoa solids (cocoa mass and cocoa butter), 29% sugar, vegetable Lethicin and Vanilla.

Our Milk Chocolate contains:

  • 40% Cocoa Solids (cocoa butter and cocoa mass), 37% sugar, 20% whole milk powder, Lactose, vegetable Lethicin and Vanilla.

Our White Chocolate contains:

  • 49% sugar, 33% cocoa butter, 18% whole dried milk and whey powder, vegetable Lethicin and Vanilla.

Different manufacturers use different variations of the above formulas.

Inferior and/or mass produced chocolate generally contains much less cocoa solids, (as low as 7% in some cases), with most or all of the chocolate butter replaced by vegetable oil or other fat. In fact, the low or virtually non-existent cocoa content of these “Brand Name” and other chocolate products means that strictly speaking, they should not really be classed as chocolate at all, as they are really chocolate flavoured sweets.

REFINING AND CONCHING

The blended Chocolate then goes through a refining process involving heavy rollers, this grinds down and blends the particles to smooth and improve the texture.

Mostly, but not always, this is followed by the penultimate process called ìconchingî, a conch is a type of container in which the refined and blended chocolate mass is continually kneaded and further smoothed, the fractional heat produced by this process keeps the chocolate liquid. The length of time given to the conching process determines the final smoothness and quality of chocolate. The finest chocolate is conched for a minimum of a week. After the process is completed the chocolate is stored in heated tanks at about 46∞c (115∞f), ready for the final process called Tempering.

TEMPERING

Because cocoa butter exhibits a  or unstable (polymorphous) crystal structure, the chocolate must go through a very precise cycle of heating and cooling to encourage the stable crystal formation needed to produce the desirable properties for good tasty chocolate. This final process is called Tempering.

This is the method we use, first, we melt the chocolate at about 46∞c (115∞f), the chocolate is then cooled to between 29∞c (84∞f) and 31∞c (88∞f) and warmed up again to between 30∞c (86∞f) and 32∞c (90∞f), it can then be held ‘in temper’ at this temperature for use as required.

The chocolate is now ready for use as coverture, for coating chocolates, chocolate biscuits and other coated products, or poured into moulds and cooled for sale as the finished product such as solid chocolate barsBut every time it is allowed to harden and is re-melted it will have to be re-tempered again.

Well tempered chocolate has a good shiny gloss, a snappy or brittle bite and a smooth tender melt on the tongue, coating the palate with long lasting flavour and generally tasting wonderful.

Note: One of the reasons that mass producers replace chocolate butter with vegetable oil (or other fat) is that they don’t then have to worry about tempering the resulting concoction. An added bonus (as far as they are concerned) is that vegetable oil is much cheaper than chocolate butter, but it’s addition results in a vastly inferior product that is most definitely not real chocolate.

MASS PRODUCED CHOCOLATE

The average cocoa solids content of these mass produced products is generally less than 20% by volume. The principle ingredients of commercial mass produced chocolate are not cocoa solids, but sugar, powdered milk and sundry artificial and other additives, in addition chocolate butter is substituted with saturated fats and vegetable fats, (usually hydrogenated vegetable oil or HVO). These are the dietary villains responsible for chocolate’s undeserved reputation as being fattening, tooth-decaying and generally unhealthy.

But all’s not doom and gloom, we are becoming more discerning in our tastes, with demand for high quality, high cocoa content dark chocolate products increasing year on year. Real chocolate, containing at least 70% cocoa solids for plain chocolate and much less sugar than the typical mass produced “brand name” product, is much healthier by far – see Chocolate – Health Benefits. for more on this.

WHO LOVES CHOCOLATE?

It’s a well established fact that most people love chocolate, last year (2001) chocolate lovers in the UK alone, spent over £4 billion ($7.5 billion) on well over half a million metric tons of chocolate products (including biscuits etc)!

U.S. Consumers spent more than $10 billion (£4Ω billion) and ate 2.8 billion pounds (1.3 billion kilo’s) of chocolate alone (not including coated biscuits etc), representing about half of the world’s entire chocolate production (2001).

The average U.S. citizen eats over 12 lbs (5.45kg) of chocolate products annually, but British and the Swiss top the league, with the Swiss consuming a staggering 22lbs (11kg) per person per year. Unfortunately the bulk of the money spent by the average Briton and American is wasted on mass produced low chocolate, high fat, high sugar products.

On the other hand, the Swiss spend their money far more wisely on very high quality chocolate, as anyone who has tasted Swiss chocolate will testify, but you don’t have to go to Switzerland to get good Chocolate!

Aphrodite chocolates are made from only the finest quality, high cocoa chocolate:

  • 70%+ cocoa solids for plain Dark Chocolate

  • 40%+ cocoa solids for Milk Chocolate

  • 33%+ chocolate butter for White Chocolate

and finest natural ingredients with little or no added sugar.

Handmade Chocolates

The most amazing Chocolate and Lime Lava Cakes….


Hello people! To celebrate the launch of our new Aphrodite Chocolates website, I decided to put a recipe here on the blog. I was considering putting up a recipe for a Chocolate and Lime truffle, but then I thought – why truffle when you can cake?

Picture, if you will, a small, deeply flavoured, mouthwateringly rich truffle. Encased in the darkest of chocolate, nestles a rich, creamy, delight with deep rivers of chocolatey flavour that undulates across your tongue while zinging your taste buds with the tang of lime. Is that picture clear in your mind? Now envisage it the size of a cake. Is your mouth watering yet? Yes? Then lets stop tantalising ourselves with the idea and get on to the reality….

This is a recipe that I’ve used on countless occasions – the richness of the dark chocolate, countered by the sharp tang of the lime is, quite frankly, heavenly. And what’s more, its amazingly simple and easy to make 😀 These bad boys can be made in advance and refrigerated in their little pots until you want to cook them, although I wouldn’t advise leaving them for longer than 6 hours as this can make the finished cakes a little tough.

Ingredients

350g high quality dark chocolate – it MUST be of the highest quality….the higher the quality of the chocolate, the better the end result will be 😉

150g caster sugar

50g unsalted butter

50g plain flour

4 large eggs, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Finely grated zest of 1 1/2 limes

6 individual pudding moulds

Method

Firstly, prepare your pudding moulds – butter the bottom of each of the moulds – don’t butter the sides of the mould, as this will prevent the cake batter from adhering to the sides of the tin during baking which will inhibit the cake rising. Put them on a sheet of parchment paper and draw around the base, then remove the moulds, cut out the circles and press one into the base of each tin – the parchment will stick to the buttered bottom.

Melt the chocolate – use a microwave for this, just blast the chocolate on medium power for 30 seconds at a time and stir well in between. Be careful not to overheat, as the chocolate will burn if you do. Put the melted chocolate aside to cool for a few minutes. Cream together the butter and sugar, mixing until it’s light and fluffy, then add the eggs gradually and then the vanilla extract. Once combined, add the flour and mix until smooth, then add the melted chocolate and lime zest and combine until it’s smooth, glossy and gorgeous.

Divide the mixture between the 6 moulds. At this point you can refrigerate the moulds until you want to use them, or cook them immediately. Preheat the oven to 200C and put in a baking sheet at the same time – using a preheated baking sheet will help the outer part of the cakes cook evenly and quickly. When the oven is at temperature put your little pots of awesome onto the hot baking tray and slide them into the oven. Bake for 12 minutes if cooking immediately, or 14 minutes if they’re coming straight from the fridge. Make sure you use a timer!! If you cook them for even a minute too long then the inside will be more sponge then lava – still lovely but less truffley and unctuous! You’ll know that they’re ready when the top looks cooked, but there are still little areas with volcanic chocolate breaking through the surface.

They must be served immediately from the oven – run a knife around the inside of the mould to loosen the sides and turn them out onto plates. Accompany with extra thick double cream (my personal favourite), or anything else that makes your mouth water, and, well, eat <3

Lia x

©2004 – 2015 Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates

If you like this recipe, why not link to it from your website or blog… Or, if you wish to copy this article you may do so subject to the following conditions:

PERMISSION TO COPY. This article is Copyright of Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates and is protected by international copyright law. You are more than welcome to copy it for personal or non profit, or educational purposes and you have our permission to do so, provided it is copied and re-published in it’s entirety complete with copyright notice and website address. If you wish to copy it for electronic publication on an intranet, website, blog or Newsletter you may do so provided  the article is copied and re-published in it’s entirety with all html, copyright information and hyperlinks intact and unaltered in any way with no redirects. If you wish to copy it for any other purpose please contact us for permission first.contact@aphrodite-chocolates.co.uk

Cooking Chocolate

Welcome to Aphrodite Chocolates!!


 

Aphrodite Chocolates, a family-run business, have specialised in creating the finest of Artisan chocolates since 1997. From the heart of the Derbyshire countryside, we handmake each and every one of our beautiful and luxurious chocolate creations – from innovative and unusual chocolate collections, to the more traditional of flavours; from Easter eggs filled with handpicked selections of our scrumptious chocolates, to chocolate covered figs filled with spiced rum mousse – we’ve tried it all!

On our website you can find our beautiful, contemporary boxes, crammed full of our chocolate delights, decorated with our bespoke Aphrodite ribbon. Are you more of a vintage wine lover? Don’t worry! We have something for you too – our chocolate gift hampers; a bottle of Vintage Claret from an Artisan winemaker, packed into a presentation box, along with two handpicked boxes of our amazing chocolates. Prefer something with a little more fizz? Try our Prosecco and chocolates hamper instead!

Whether it’s a chocolate gift for that someone special, something to curl up on the sofa with, or a specialised and individual order – we have that perfect something waiting for you….

Lia x

banner-cooking-chocolate

The Health Benefits of Chocolate


It’s the run up to Christmas and if (like me!) you’ll be spending the vast majority of the next month or so eating your way through the Christmas chocolate selection, then (like me!) you’ll probably be feeling slightly podgy, slightly sick, and slightly GUILTY about all the chocolate you’ve managed to cram in! This element of guilt about eating chocolate is something that’s probably familiar to most of us – everything in the media today tells us that eating chocolate is nothing but BAD! That it raises cholesterol, contributes to the obesity epidemic, and is an unhealthy choice as a ‘treat’ food. What isn’t made more clear is that it isn’t the base content of chocolate, cocoa solids, that are unhealthy, but the saturated fats, sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oils contained within some of the chocolates available to buy out there that are the truly unhealthy parts.

Good quality, high cocoa solid chocolate actually has health benefits (huzzah!!)! Want to know what they are? Read on :-)

THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF CHOCOLATE

Chocolate that is high in cocoa solids (70% or more) is now recognised as having many qualities that are beneficial to health:

  • Chocolate contains essential trace elements and nutrients such as iron, calcium and potassium, and vitamins A, B1, C, D, and E.
  • Cocoa is also the highest natural source for Magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is linked with hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, joint problems and pre-menstrual tension (PMT or PMS).

There are benefits in Chocolate for both men and women:

  • The high Magnesium content of Chocolate is beneficial for the Cardiovascular System and hypertension.
  • It’s a pre-menstrual drop in progesterone levels which is responsible for the violent mood swings familiar to so many women (and their families), adding magnesium to a sufferers diet has been proved to increase pre-menstrual progesterone levels, thus helping alleviate the symptoms.
  • The trace elements and vitamins contained within chocolate assist in providing the body with the essential nutrition that it needs to function healthily and effectively.

WHAT IS THE HEALTHIEST CHOCOLATE?

In essence, the higher the cocoa solids (and the lower the additives, such as sugar, oils and additional fats), the better for you it is. With this in mind, dark chocolate products containing a minimum of 70% or more cocoa solids are the healthiest way to satisfy a craving for chocolate, without consuming too much sugar or saturated fat. Not mad keen on plain dark chocolate?

At Aphrodite Chocolates we make our chocolates using 70% cocoa solid couverture, mixed with natural ingredients, such as fruit purees and juices or nuts, meaning that you can get your sweeter chocolate hit with little or no added sugars, oils or fats. If you’re more of a milk chocolate lover, our milk selections are made with 55% cocoa solids, so it’s still fairly good news for the health conscious out there! For all you white chocolate lovers out there, the bad news is that this is by the unhealthiest chocolate! Our white chocolates are made from 35% cocoa solids, so whilst it’s not the best chocolate to go for it still has some of those all important health benefits!

Chocolate lovers go wrong by choosing cheap (& not so cheap!) chocolates, low in chocolate solids and high in additional sugars and fats. It is these that are disastrous for health and teeth – NOT chocolate!

If you love chocolates and want to continue enjoying them without feeling guilty for doing so then follow these simple steps:

  • DO try to ensure that the chocolate you buy contains the highest % of cocoa solids.
  • DO try to ensure that the filled chocolates you buy are made using natural ingredients and NO added sugars!

Lastly, and most importantly – remember to ENJOY every mouthful!!

Lia x

©2004 – 2015 Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates

If you like this article, why not link to it from your website or blog… Or, if you wish to copy this article you may do so subject to the following conditions:

PERMISSION TO COPY. This article is Copyright of Aphrodite Handmade Chocolates and is protected by international copyright law. You are more than welcome to copy it for personal or non profit, or educational purposes and you have our permission to do so, provided it is copied and re-published in it’s entirety complete with copyright notice and website address. If you wish to copy it for electronic publication on an intranet, website, blog or Newsletter you may do so provided  the article is copied and re-published in it’s entirety with all html, copyright information and hyperlinks intact and unaltered in any way with no redirects. If you wish to copy it for any other purpose please contact us for permission first.contact@aphrodite-chocolates.co.uk

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