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Your Guide to Gourmet Chocolate

Your Guide to Gourmet Chocolate

Chocolate comes in all shapes and sizes, varying degrees of colour and sweetness, and very different levels of production quality.  If you have a discerning palate you probably have some level of appreciation for gourmet chocolate and it’s higher quality of manufacturing practices and ingredient standards.

A big difference between specialty made gourmet chocolate and your typical run of the mill candy bar is the level of care and attention to detail that goes into it.  Gourmet chocolate isn’t something you pop into your mouth and chew like an Oh Henry, it’s meant to be savored.  At the higher price you’re paying for its more complicated production process, you’ll want to take the time to fully enjoy this type of chocolate.

Gourmet chocolate can come in many forms and manufacturers sometimes get very creative with it.  From pralines, to truffles, to bars, even to gourmet hot chocolates, a lot can be done with chocolate.  Additional flavouring such as vanilla, orange, mint, and raspberry may be added.  Or possibly dried fruits and nuts like cranberries, pecans, hazelnuts, or pistachios could be used.

Other variations to the average bar of chocolate people have grown used to include chocolate covered cherries and strawberries, and an array of different styles of fudge.  Because of the level of specialty and exclusivity, gourmet chocolate can make great gifts for birthdays, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, and Christmas.  Gift baskets that feature an assortment of gourmet chocolates or include suitable additions such as coffees, wines, and cheeses is going to be a hit for any recipient, especially a chocoholic.

Gourmet chocolate is often handmade rather than mass produced or is subjected to more involved conching and tempering processes than average chocolate.  This can have a costly effect on its price, but the extra creaminess and perfect texture that is achieved is often worth the extra money.

Usually made with less chemicals and additives than other chocolate, gourmet chocolate can be much better for you.  The higher the cocoa percentage that’s used, the more nutrients you get from the chocolate.  Gourmet chocolatiers often produce chocolate with high amounts of cocoa rich chocolate liquor so you know you’ll be getting the most out of you chocolate.

The possibilities are endless when it come to great chocolate, so if you plan on exploring the delectable world of gourmet chocolate, take a moment to appreciate the subtleties between the different types and allow yourself to experience the superior consistencies and texture that come with well made chocolate.  Even the pickiest chocolate lovers would be hard pressed to turn down most gourmet made chocolates.

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What’s the Significance of Giving Chocolate on Valentine’s Day?

valentine's day chocolate

Giving gifts to your significant other on Valentine’s Day is a widely practiced custom, but why is the act of giving chocolate so popular?  Is it the unique melt-in-your-mouth taste?  Or perhaps the use as a possible erotic stimulant?  Whatever the reason for giving, chocolate consistently dominates the Valentine’s Day tradition year after year.

History of Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac

Chocolate has been considered a potent aphrodisiac by many for a long time.  Mayan emperors would drink chocolate as a way to satisfy the appetites within their harems while French courtesans would feed it to their lovers to encourage stamina and arousal.  As a ritualistic component to Mayan marriage ceremonies, the couples would feed each other chocolate in anticipation of their wedding night.

Pleasure Stimulating Chemicals to Give Love a Chance

The naturally occurring chemicals in chocolate may be exactly the thing to put your Valentine in the mood for love.  The theobromine and caffeine found in chocolate can increase your heartbeat and act as a stimulant.  Phenylehtylamine can simulate the effects of love while serotonin can elicit a sense of well-being.  The idea of giving the object of your desire such a potentially mood altering potion would makes chocolate seem like the only Valentine’s Day choice!

Nutritional Properties for a Healthy Heart

Pure dark chocolate is rich with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.  The effects the antioxidants can have on your heart include increased blood circulation, reduced cholesterol levels, and lowered risks of stroke and heart attack.  The magnesium, iron, and vitamin B found in chocolate can also help in preventing illness.  Whether this is a conscious reason lovers give chocolate as a gift or not, it’s certainly a thoughtful way to show you care.  Of course, to enjoy the nutritional benefits of chocolate, it should be consumed only in proper moderation.

Chocolate on the Valentine’s Day Market

For most of the year it’s women who tend to buy chocolate on a regular basis, however when Valentine’s Day rolls around the percentage of men purchasing chocolate jumps to around 75%.  Anyone who does any shopping during the Valentine’s Day season can’t help but notice the overwhelming varieties of chocolate available at that time.  Candy sales go up when love is in the air, so be it the encouragement of lustful desires or just the gesture of giving your sweet something sweet, chocolate at Valentine’s Day is a tradition that has yet to fail love-struck shoppers everywhere.

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Drinking Chocolate – Not Your Average Powdered Cocoa

Drinking Chocolate – Not Your Average Powdered Cocoa

When people think of hot chocolate what comes to mind is usually the powdered cocoa, powdered milk, and sugar mixes that comes in tins or individual packets. Sometimes they’ll even come with those little dehydrated marshmallows everyone loves. Connoisseurs may prefer the gourmet brands which can give you a lovely rich and creamy cup of cocoa. However that’s not the only way to enjoy your chocolate in the form of a drink… How about drinking a cup of chocolate that was made from solid chunks?

Cocoa beans have provided us with an enormously versatile and tasty ingredient. Having started out as a spicy and bitter beverage in Mayan and Aztec history, then moving onto a sweeter one in Spain and the rest of Europe, the chocolate drink has evolved throughout the ages. Originally the beans were fermented, roasted, and ground, then the drink was brewed and spices were added. However, melting down blocks of chocolate has become another option to get your hot chocolate fix.

Using smooth, solid chocolate pieces to make your cup of hot cocoa may be a welcome change to the hot chocolate beverage you’re used to. Melting down your chocolate and heating it with whole milk, water, and sugar will give you a new outlook on an old drink you’ve always enjoyed.

Once you’ve got the melted chocolaty drink base ready, you can add unsweetened cocoa powder, vanilla, cinnamon, or any number of flavoured syrups to customize it to your tastes. Milk will tone down the intensity of the strong chocolate taste so use as little or as much as suits your palate.

Get creative with your chocolate concoction! Zest it up with some orange peel garnishing or try it spicy like the Mayans and Aztecs drank it. Adding different liqueurs could give it the extra kick you’re looking for as well. Any block of chocolate can be melted down so if you have a favourite type you love to eat, try it as a drink!

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