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Those who follow me know that chocolate is one of my great loves. So I can tell you a little bit about what it all looks like from a historical point of view and a little bit about the science that is there.
Spanish conquerors of Latin America found the natives of this area enjoying a drink made from the cocoa beans. The Maya made chocolate as a drink with water and the addition of chili peppers, and they got the foam on the drink by pouring the drink from one bowl to another.
The Spaniards liked the smell of the drink, but not the taste because it was bitter to them. So they came up with the idea to add sugar to the drink and - the rest is history. The Olmecs, Mayans and Aztecs knew about chocolate, and the Aztec deity Quetzalcoatl was associated with chocolate. According to Aztec legend, this deity gave chocolate to humans.
Chocolate is a solid mixture, consisting of cocoa, cocoa butter ("cocoa parts"), milk, sugar, emulsifiers such as lecithin and possibly some other components. Highly priced dark chocolates have a lower proportion of milk and sugar, while the amount of cocoa parts ranges from 60 to even over 90%, although some of the most common dark chocolates on the market are those of 72%, 75% and 85% cocoa parts. Milk chocolate has only about 30% cocoa parts.
Theobroma cacao is the scientific name of the cocoa plant that bears the fruit from which cocoa is made. The name "theobroma" itself comes from the ancient Greek language, namely the words θεός (theos), meaning "god, deity", and βρῶμα (broma), meaning "food". So, cocoa and chocolate are "food of the gods", which is quite close to the truth, if we take into account the fact that chocolate makes us happier because it causes increased secretion of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter of happiness. Cocoa is a native plant for the tropics of Central and South America, but it is also cultivated in Africa, especially in Tanzania, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria, and cocoa production in these countries exceeds production in the areas where cocoa originates.
image source : Google image
One of the interesting things about cocoa is that its flowers grow directly on the tree, and not, as we usually expect, on the stems on the branches. This phenomenon is called cauliflower. The plant itself belongs to the mallow family (Malvaceae) and its closest relatives are marshmallow, black and nutmeg and hibiscus. The fruit is a type of pod that contains cocoa beans. These grains were used as a currency in pre-Colombian civilizations.
Cocoa flowers, source: World Cocoa foundation
Cocoa cells have 10 pairs of chromosomes, or 20 chromosomes, and the genome has 28,798 genes, which is more than the number of genes in the human genome (about 23,000). Many of these genes encode proteins required for the synthesis of a number of non-protein compounds that include terpenes, flavonoids, theobromine, and a number of other substances such as polyphenols. Theobromine itself is an alkaloid, and the closest in composition is caffeine. Theobromine is a heterocycle, which means that there are not only carbon atoms in the ring structure, but also nitrogen atoms. Both caffeine and theobromine belong to xanthines, a type of alkaloid that are derivatives of xanthic acid, and essentially belong to purine bases, close to adenine and guanine, compounds that represent the "letters" of the genetic code. Theobromine stimulates the heart, but is also responsible for the aphrodisiac properties of chocolate. It is toxic to those animals that metabolize this substance more slowly and harder, such as dogs and cats, with the difference that cats are less likely to have problems with theobromine poisoning because they do not have receptors for sweets and therefore are not "eager" for chocolate. sweet.
image source: Google image
The aromas of chocolate also contribute a lot to the ingredients of cocoa butter because butter, otherwise a mixture of different fatty acids, melts at our body temperature and thus actually helps aromatic substances to come into contact with taste receptors. Also, some of these fatty acids themselves contribute to creating a unique chocolate flavor. Butter consists mainly of palmitic, stearic and oleic acids and some linoleic, arachidonic and some other fatty acids in small percentages. Cocoa butter is obtained after fermentation and roasting of cocoa beans. The change in the ratio of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids is reflected at the melting point of chocolate: a higher percentage of unsaturated fatty acids in the composition will also affect the lowering of the melting point of chocolate. Higher quality chocolates do not melt so easily: the amount of saturated fatty acids will raise the melting point and these chocolates will melt only in the mouth, which is a desirable feature. On average, a bar of chocolate contains 350-540 kcal, depending on the type of chocolate.