What can chocolate be used for?
Most of us are quite content just to eat chocolate and savour its gorgeous taste – that’s if we pause long enough to enjoy its rich flavours along the way. And why not? Melting as it does at near body temperature, chocolate has long been a much sought- after treat to be savoured and made to last – or else gulped down in a few eager bites.
However, have you ever stopped to wonder what chocolate can be used for?
Not only does it taste good but the uses that chocolate has been put to over the years is a testament to not just human ingenuity but the sheer flexibility of the product of the cacao plant, itself.
Hardly a week goes by now, without lifestyle magazines quoting medical study reports into the properties of chocolate for maintaining a healthy cardio-vascular and digestive system and how it can improve our mental state.
But here are some other examples of what chocolate can be used for to tantalise your taste buds ready for when you reach for your next piece of chocolate.
Chocolate as a currency
The Mayans who discovered chocolate used the cocoa beans it is made from as a form of currency. Cocoa beans harvested from the cocoa plant were not only prized in their own right but once dried lent themselves well to be stored. Later, the Aztecs used to levy taxes in the form of cacao beans. Look up how many cacao beans it would take to buy you a rabbit or even a slave.
The use of cocoa butter in skin care products
We don’t just eat chocolate by the ton load, we also use the cocoa butter and its sweet, full bodied aroma as the main ingredient in most skin care products to help our bodies stay moist and smooth. With chocolate lip balm you can ensure that chocolate stays on your lips long after you’ve finished eating it. If you’ve been into a soap shop recently you’ll know that choc a soap sits alongside more traditional flavours.
Chocolate infused perfume
No need for a chocolate fountain when you can have your very own chocolate spray to pop into a handbag. There’s something in the air tonight? Yes, it’s edible chocolate perfume to help create your very own special chocolate atmosphere. Who could resist?
Chocolate spa treatments
And it doesn’t just stop at skin care. The antioxidants in chocolate are also used in spa treatment remedies. Check out therapies which use cocoa-rich treatments ranging from chocolate milk baths and a cocoa bean polish to an hour-long chocolate fondue wrap. Chocolate facepack – share a photo with your friends on Facebook?
Savoury uses of chocolate
Chocolate’s too good to be eaten on its own so manufacturers have been experimenting for decades with the best chocolate related combinations and what foods chocolate especially complements. Cheese is a particular favourite. In 2009 Tesco, introduced the Chocolate Whirl which consisted of strong white stilton and classic Belgian chocolate. Taste buds trembling, anyone?
Chocolate is often added to savour dishes to enhance their flavour. Don’t save chocolate sauce just for strawberries. Try it as an accompaniment to turkey or other game dishes. Add chocolate to red wine sauces when serving red meats or chilli based dishes. Feeling curious? How about getting back to chocolate’s Central American roots by trying your hands and mouth with a traditional recipe from the region?
It’s called Mole Poblano, a classic Mexican dish made with chicken, chili sauce and chocolate.
Chocolate as a drink
For the Mayans, chocolate was a bitter tasting, chilli infused drink, served in foaming frothy cups. Not quite the smooth, soothing cuppa before bed time that hot chocolate is for some today.
When coffee houses first became popular in the 18th century, the properties of drinking chocolate were marketed as decidedly medicinal. Stomach feeling a bit queasy? A quart of drinking chocolate would make you feel better in no time.
And not just make you feel better. For the Aztecs, drinking chocolate gave their warriors enough strength to march into battle on a full stomach.
Fancy a glass of red, madam? Look at the label a little closer and you’ll find that the tasting guide might include a passing reference to hints of chocolate notes.
A drop of the dark stuff, sir? Many stouts and porters are now made with a chocolate flavour for you to enjoy.
Whether you’re eating or drinking it as a dessert, mixing or matching it with a main, or else wearing it to a dinner date – chocolate can be enjoyed in so many different ways. What can chocolate be used for? What are you waiting for?