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Category: Chocolate & Sweets Facts & History

  1. How much sugar is in chocolate?

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    How much sugar is in chocolate?

     Are you sweet enough?

     “Sugar, Sugar”, sang The Archies, “You are my candy girl, whoa-oh, you got me wantin' you.”

     Well, as it turns out sugar isn’t wanted any more. At least not in the same quantities.

    This week, the media was full of reports that the Swiss food giant, Nestle, announcing that it has made a scientific breakthrough that can sharply cut the sugar in its chocolate. The company, which makes Kitkat and Aero, says its researchers have found a way to structure sugar differently, so that it uses 40% less.

    It claims this can be done without affecting the taste.

    Nestle says it is patenting the findings, and it would start using the new sugar across its range from 2018. Its scientists altered the structure of sugar so that it dissolves more quickly. This fools the taste buds, with the effect of raising the sweetness, claims Nestle.

    But is this no more than a bitter sweet pill to swallow? Are the big manufactures just sugar coating the message? Nestle’s announcement, welcome to most people though it is, just got me thinking about what actually goes into a high street bar of chocolate in the first place? For me, it raised more questions than answers.

  2. Who discovered hot chocolate?

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    When do you drink Hot Chocolate? As a warm, comforting cup on a cold winter’s evening or as an afternoon treat with marshmallows on top, with friends after shopping perhaps? Whenever you drink hot chocolate and for whatever reason, I sure you feel better just from enjoying the rich, hot taste and savouring the relaxing feeling it often brings.

    But do you ever think about who discovered hot chocolate? Or how the drink in your hands and taste in your mouth has changed a lot since it was first discovered?

    The first uses of hot chocolate drink

    It was always thought hot chocolate was first discovered and drank by the Mayan peoples of what is now Central America over 500BC. But recent research in the last year or so now puts the discovery of hot chocolate making back to at least 2,500BC and the Olmecs civilisation in Mexico.

    What we now regard as a hot, smooth and sweet beverage, would then have been much more of a cold, spicy and rougher tasting concoction.

    But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Chocolate itself comes from the seeds or beans inside the pods of the cocoa plant. The beans themselves were often dried and so highly prized that they were stored and used as a form of currency.

  3. The Ultimate List of Chocolate Bars

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    Cocoa & Heart Chocolate Bars

    This week we've decided to challenge ourself to a chocolate bar knowledge quiz. We didn't score badly at all, but the problem is that when you spend your days educating people in eating good quality chocolate, you really don't eat that many mainstream chocolate bars. So, we thought we should really find out more about traditional chocolate bars. Whilst I still prefer my own handmade chocolate bars on most days, there is a time and place when only Twix will do! Each week, we are challenging ourself to find out more about popular chocolate bars, bring you their rich history and describe the taste too. 

    We'll update this blog post with more information, photos and history from the wonderful chocolate world!

    Magdalena & Nick

  4. Is chocolate vegan?

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    Is chocolate vegan?

    Is chocolate vegan?

    It’s a question that we’re increasingly asked, here at Cocoa & Heart. Whether by interested students on one of our chocolate courses wanting to know a little more about the chocolate we’re using or by people wanting to buy some of our high-quality chocolate bars or truffles.

    Chocolate comes from a plant and more specifically the pod of the cocao tree. So, in that sense, it could be said to start off life as vegan friendly. However, in the complex and time-consuming process of taking the raw beans and converting them to something like the chocolate we see on supermarket shelves (see our earlier blogs), a variety of additives are mixed in with the chocolate. These include sugar, milk and milkfats, to name just three.

    At this stage it’s probably worth making the distinction between good quality and lesser quality chocolate in terms of the ingredients that they are likely to contain. This is crucial for determining whether the type of chocolate you’re considering buying will be vegan friendly or not.

  5. What is white chocolate made of ?

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    What is White Chocolate made of_

    As Chocolatiers, we’re used to being asked all manner of questions about our favourite type of confectionary in all its different shapes and forms. But one of the most asked questions concerns colour. And then it’s usually closely followed up with another question about content. Guessed it yet? Yes, people often ask us: 'What is white chocolate made of?'

    First shown 1961, Nestle’s fair faced, whiter than white Milky Bar Kid was a familiar face on our tv screens for over two decades. Riding into the Wild West, he sang of ‘the creamiest milk, the whitest bars, that’s the goodness that’s in milky bars.’ Many of us grew up with the catchphrase ‘the milky bars are on me’ ringing in our ears.

  6. Chocolates in the 1980s

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    Chocolates in the 1980s

    The 1980s was the decade that I grew up – from starting my teenage years at secondary school in the East Midlands to ending up working in the city – of London.  It was the Thatcherite era – of selling off big public assets, like state utilities (selling out to some people). More people started to buy shares as privatisation took hold and council house owners were suddenly able to buy their own homes.

    What’s this got to do with chocolates I hear you ask. Well, everything. As an impressionable teenager, in my oversized school uniform and undone tie, I was as keen to follow the mood of the nation and earn a quick buck for myself as the next city gent in his red braces and smart pin stripe suit.

  7. How to taste chocolate

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    How to taste chocolate like an expert

    The title of this blog post might sound a bit strange. I mean how complicated or difficult could it be to taste chocolate? You just munch on it, and that it! About 25 years ago I would have thought the same, but after working with chocolate for the last two decades, I will let you on a secret!

    Chocolate has so many subtle flavours, and the taste develops as you taste it, and it certainly matters how you ‘chomp’ on it! So, let me share with you how to taste chocolate like an expert.