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Cacao: The Word From Inside The Big Three

Cacao: The Word From Inside The Big Three

Many of us happily eat our Chocolate.com chocolate in a blissful stupor, not at all wondering about things like the cacao plant, the cacao bean, or cacao trees, for heaven's sake. But others are driven to find out the mysteries of their chocolate mouthful down to every last detail.

So it is to the latter group that this article is dedicated. And thus, here unfolds this agricultural tale. Your beloved chocolate all starts with the cacao plant, whose original name is translated "food of the gods." And did those gods ever know the matter of which they spoke!

A little cacao plant will grow into big cacao trees in a moist and tropical climate, and each tree will produce 60 to 70 pods. After about 6 months of maturation, each pod will yield 20 to 40 soon-to-be-coveted white cacao beans. Fermenting for a few days will give them their brown color and that fabulous chocolate flavor. Then they are dried and their new life in the world begins.

Where will they go? What will they do? What will they be when they grow up? Cue the organ music . . .

  • If they are cleaned, roasted and ground into a thick, dark-colored, hardened paste they will become baking chocolate.

  • If this cacao paste is heated to an extremely high temperature under very high pressure, cocoa butter is extracted and the cake-like solid that's left is ground and becomes cocoa powder.

  • To make chocolate candy, cocoa butter is blended with the paste, along with sweeteners and other ingredients the chef may choose.

  • White chocolate is simply cocoa butter without the cacao paste.

  • Here's the scoop on the fakes: Some candy makers use fats, such as vegetable oil instead of real cocoa butter. But they can't call their product chocolate, so they call it confectionery coating. Beware.

    Now you know everything that's fit to print about the Big Three of Chocolate; the cacao bean, the cacao plant and cacao trees too. So perhaps you can be called a "Certified Chocolatologist." A "Chocofessor?" A "Chocotor?" Well maybe just a "Chocolate Eater" will do.


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