Now comes the time to talk about something really good – chocolate. Poor Ola has no idea yet, how delicious tastes she is missing. Belgium somehow became a spectialist in matters of chocoate since when the coca came first to Europe in 16th century and its chocolatiers became masters in this art of producing sweet pralines. It’s a paradise for those – like Ola’s mom – ready to give up everything for chocolate.
Passing on and on the Bruges’ shop windows full of chocolate from white to dark, with nuts or without, plain or decorative pralines we decided to visit local musem of chocolate to find out what is the story of this delicious sweetmeat.
When we got on the first floor we saw small glass cases filled with some stuffed animals and archeological finds. So it’s this kind of place… Further it was even worse, there were some dishes and more archeological items displayed. All that accompanied by white and brown boards in three languages: Dutch, Frech and Englich. Yawning of boredom we decided to focus on the story. Maybe we will find out something interesting…
So the origin of cocoa is Central and South America. We have always associated cacao with some little beans, only here we realised how it grows. So those little beans are hidden in an oval-shaped orange pods growing on the trees. The shells are quite big because they are upi to 30 cm long nad can weigh even 0,5 kg.
The process of chocolate production is in fact way more complicated than this name would suggest. Before being used for chocolate making, cocoa beans have to be fermented. This necessary step brings up their flavour. Leter on they are dried, roasted and cleaned. Such prepared beans are ground into a paste which is supplemented with sugar, powdered milk and cocoa butter. That’s still not the end of the procedure. Next steps involve refining (proces of cleaning from unwanted color or smell) and conching which means heatig and blending to elliminate any wrong aromas still left. The requested texture is obtained by adding different amounts of cocoa butter or lecithin.
Visiting the museum we got some practical information too. We have always known that dark chocolate is the most healthy and beneficial for people but have never wondered why. Now we know: ingridients of each type of choloate are different. White chocolate for example contains: 29,5% of cocoa butter, 25% of powdered milk and 45% of sugar! While dark consists of: 67,5% of cocoa paste, 7% of cocoa butter and only 25% of sugar. The difference of sugar content is significant. To compare, milk chocolate is made of: in 10% of coca paste, in 20% of powdered milk, in 24,5% of cocoa powder and again in 45% of sugar. So now you know – having to choose any type chocolate always reach for the dark one.
Today the biggets producers of cocoa are African countries like Ivory Coast and Ghana.
These are all basic information about cocoa and chocolate you need to know. So if you thought about taking your little one to the museum to find out something about chocolate make sure to have a stroller or something because surely he or she will fall asleep. If you were worried that your baby after visiting museum will want nothing but chocolate for dinner, don’t. There is nothing, maybe beside the giftshop, that will make him or her think only about this best sweet ever.