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Basically Bitter

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Hey, Bittersweet Lovers!

Today is Bittersweet Chocolate Day! This is a day we haven’t featured on our Blog until now. I have, however, written about Milk Chocolate Day, Hot Cocoa Day, Chocolate Ice Cream Day, Chocolate Cake Day, and a number of other chocolatey posts in the past. We’ve previously covered that it was the Mayans who were the first people to try eating the pulp and spitting the bitter beans out as they watched the monkeys do.

Now let’s go more into where the bean comes from and how bittersweet chocolate is created.

The Chocolate Tree
Growing in Mexico, Central America, and Northern South America is the tropical Theobroma Cacao Tree which creates the seed from which we get chocolate. People have sampled cacao seeds for the last 3000 years. The cacao tree seed has an intensely bitter taste but, over time, people came to realize that the seeds that’d been lying in the sun had lost some of its bitterness. That’s because they’d been fermented.

A Bittersweet Process
After fermentation, the seeds are dried, cleaned, and roasted. The shells are removed then leaving just the cacao nibs from within. These nibs are ground up to make a hunk of cocoa—pure chocolate in its roughest form. This hunk of chocolate usually goes on to be liquefied and then molded to make what’s called chocolate liquor. To make Bittersweet chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla is added to a chocolate liquor. It may have sugar added to it, but it’s hardly a sweet treat.

So what’s it good for? Bittersweet chocolate is often used for baking in which more sugar gets added to it. But I thought it’d be interesting to better understand the source of chocolate and the process by which it becomes a chocolate product you can recognize in a grocery store. It’s quite a process! Enjoy Bittersweet Chocolate Day! Happy baking and, as always, thanks for reading!


- John

Posted in Random Thoughts


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