Happy National Chocolate Day!

Chocolate, Chocolate Candy, Truffle.What a time of revelry and yummy-gooey deliciousness. Big Candy knew what it was doing when they put this important holiday right next to Halloween. Now we can have a whole cocoa bender until November comes around.

Created by the National Confectioners Association, National Chocolate Day is observed annually on October 28th.  As a testament to chocolate’s popularity, there are more than two dozen chocolate-related holidays (how could you forget National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day on May 15th or National Chocolate Milkshake Day on September 12th?), and National Chocolate Day celebrates all things chocolate.  As a super popular flavor, chocolate is well deserving of its own day of honor and celebration.

How is Chocolate Made?

chocolate pralinesChocolate was first cultivated about 3,000 years ago by the Mayas and Incas. They used to drink a cocoa-like beverage and even used cocoa beans as currency.

Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree.  Cacao, which has been cultivated for at least three millennia, is grown in Mexico, Central America and Northern South America.  The earliest known documentation of using cacao seeds is from around 1100 BC.  The cacao tree seeds have a very intense, bitter taste that must be fermented to develop the flavor.

Once the seeds have been fermented, the beans are dried, cleaned and roasted.  After roasting, the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs.  The cacao nibs are then ground into cocoa mass, which is pure chocolate in rough form.   The cocoa mass is usually liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients. At this point in the process, it is called chocolate liquor.  The chocolate liquor may then be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Chocolate is GOOD for you!

Chocolate has nutrients in it that can help protect the heart. They are called flavinols and they can help increase the blood flow to your heart. And dark chocolate can help raise good cholesterol levels while lowering the bad cholesterol. It also has fiber and anti-oxidants.

Get chocolate-y!

chocolate-cupcakesGo out to your favorite restaurant and indulge in a delicious chocolate dessert or try one of these recipes at home:

Chocolate Lasagna
Fudge
No Bake Chocolate Oat Bars

If you are a pet owner, be careful during this time of celebration. Chocolate is toxic to pets. This is one time that it’s extra important not to share with our four-footed friends.

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