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One of the most commonly used and loved ingredients in the culinary world is chocolate. Whether it is a sweet or savoury dish, chocolate can be used in several ways making it an amazingly versatile ingredient. Over the years there have been so many dishes that chocolate has made better, it is hard not to be completely fall in love with it. Also considering that today 7th of July is World Chocolate Day it is only fitting that we explore the world of chocolate and learn some more than interesting facts about this beloved treat.

You might know that, chocolate is a mood enhancer, brain booster, heart friendly and aphrodisiacbut did you know about the chocolate flavoured stamps in Belgium or about the time when cocoa pods were used as currency? Sounds interesting, isn’t it?

Well, there’s more in store for you! Read on…

 

The currency tale

It was probably chocolate; rather hot chocolate that caused the Aztecs, who couldn’t grow their own cocoa, to invade the Mayans, who had plenty of this treasured bean. These nibs then became a luxury currency and were even collected as tax from the Mayans. The real deal was however – xocolate – the bitter drink that they made by mixing roasted, crushed cocoa pods with water, chilli and cornmeal. This concoction was poured back and forth between cups till a dense froth was formed on top. Today, we call it hot chocolate.

 

Not so dog-friendly

You probably already know chocolates are a great ingredient for your brain, heart, skin and even libido. All thanks to this compound called theobromine. But, this same chocolate compound that is so good for humans is almost fatal for dogs. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine like humans can. Even small bits of chocolate can make your fury friends really sick. So, the next time you think of chocolate as a ‘good boy’ treat remember it is definitely off limits.

 

Belgium is the best

Belgium chocolate is so good, it can literally be used as a standard measure of how good a piece of chocolate really is. It is probably because, unlike most of the chocolate in the world, Belgium chocolate is not mass produced. If you ever go to Belgium, a chocolate tasting has to be on the cards. Or at least try and get your hands on one of the 50000 Willy Wonkastyle postage stamps that Belgium released in 2013. These stamps smell and taste like chocolate and come in 5 fabulous flavours! Talk about sending a sweet message!

 

Melt-in-the-mouth!

The melting point of chocolate is around 35?, which is pretty close to the temperature of the human body and this why a piece of chocolate melts in your mouth. This is not the only thing about melting chocolate we are telling you. Did you know that microwave cooking was invented accidentally by Percy LeBaron Spencer when a chocolate bar melted in his pocket while he was standing in front of an active magnetron?

 

Did you say dark chocolate?

White chocolate isn’t really a chocolate as it does not contain cacao solids but just some amount of cocoa butter. On the other hand, dark chocolate has huge amounts of cacao and less quantity of sugar as compared to the other chocolates. No wonder dark chocolate has an array of health benefits and is considered healthier than its counterparts. Research says that a 1.6-ounce bar of dark chocolate every day is good for you. Now, you can grab that piece of dark chocolate guilt-free!

 

Cacao trees are no joke!

Cacao trees are almost immortal as they can live for more than 200 years! But the yield is not for more than 25 years in their entire life. Growing a cacao tree is no layman’s job. It might take up to one year to create about 10 chocolate bars for a cacao tree. In Africa, the average size of a cacao farm is about 7 hectares which equals to almost 5-6 football fields. Also, cacao might contain more than 600 flavour compounds. ‘Taste all the cacao flavours once’ – add this to your bucket list immediately!


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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.