Chocolate Grows on Trees, The Science of Good Chocolate, and other notes for chocoholics and food nerds

A good piece of chocolate is like a good piece of music. It contains something memorable that stays on your mind for the entire day…Most of us don’t recognize this nuance because we grew up on confections characterized by sweetness and one dominant chocolatey note—consistency we expect when reaching for a Hershey’s or a handful of M&M’s.

from The Science of Good Chocolate, Simran Sethi, Smithsonianmag.com, October 18, 2018

Cacao Pod being harvested. While chocolate is a $130 global business dominated by “Big Chocolate,” the workers who grow, harvest, and process the raw cacao make less than $2 a day.. Photo Credit: Pixabay on Pexels.com

A few years back, I blogged about chocolate because I had started a Dove direct sales business.

[Remember I have both pedestrian and gourmet foodie tastes.]

In a direct sales home business, it is (mostly) early acolytes that make any money. Oh and extreme hustlers and in some cases, con men.

I’m neither, so unsurprisingly, the blog nor the business lasted long.

Still, there was an upside:. New stuff to learn. YAY!

And I delved into learning as much as I could about chocolate, which for me, is as exciting as eating it.

It’s how I learned that chocolate (premium and pedestrian) starts as cacao. No, a raw cacao pod is not as appealing to look at as a Dove Chocolate Martini. But they are a great conversation starter. And when you’re trying to to sell folks high-priced Dove DISCOVERIES or recruit bodies to join your “consultants” team (known as becoming part of your “downline” in direct sales/multi-media marketing lingo), a good conversation starter comes in handy.

Photo from “Chocolate Live Tree” Etsy Seller. $39.99, free shipping. Sure, lots of positive reviews but “Where in the USA would a cacao tree grow and produce pods (seeds)?”

I learned that terrior, applied to chocolate, just like wine (which the Science of Food article touches about). Like in wine, terrior imparts chocolate’s tasting notes and contributes to it’s complexity. Terroir is a topic that both chocoholics and food nerds will bend your ear talking about.

To ready chocolate for the chocolate-covered strawberries I made for tasting parties, I learned how to temper chocolate (though truth be told, I was neither elegant nor very fast at it). Serious Eats has a good discussion on the science behind tempering chocolate, if you’d like to become better than me at it.

We learned why you don’t want the chocolate you’re melting (double boiler method, not microwave) to get wet. It seizes. Not good. And while we were taught that chocolate that seizes is unusable as in throw it away, this post at the Spruce Eats, says seized chocolate can be salvaged.

Premium French brand Valrhona couverture chocolate. Others include Guittard, Barry Callebaut, , Godiva, and Chicago’s Vosges-Haut Chocolat/ Photo credit: Vahrhona

Btw, the chocolate you’re melting and tempering is called couverture chocolate.

At the time I was blogging and trying to make a business in chocolate, most foodies were eating good chocolate from fair trade countries and buying high-priced chocolate from bean-to-bar makers like consumer + media darlings like the Mast Brothers who in the end got busted for selling bad chocolate. Turns out those $10 chocolate bars were “remelted chocolate.”

Now that I’m back at it (both the blogging and business selling specialty foods including chocolate), fair trade and the Mast Brothers are “in” again.

Products include a bar featuring the trendy “Oak Milk.” Oak Chocolate Ingredients: Organic Cocoa Beans, Organic Cocoa Butter, Organic Oats, Organic Brown Sugar, Organic Maple Sugar, Organic Vanilla. 50% cocoa content. No remelted chocolate this time, cross fingers..

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