Friday, February 5, 2010

Chocolate Friday - Solid Chocolate

A Pressing Matter

Things began to change when, in 1828, a Dutch chemist named Coenraad Johannes Van Houten invented a hydraulic press that could remove fatty cocoa butter from the ground cacao beans, leaving behind a solid "cake" that could then be ground into a fine powder -what we know as cocoa powder. Then he treated it with alkaline salts to prevent if from separating when added to hot water.

Drinking chocolate was changed forever. As anthropologists Sophie and Michael Coe write in The True History of Chocolate,
In the year 1828, the age-old, thick and foamy drink was dethroned by easily prepared, more easily digestible cocoa. Van Houten's invention of the defatting and alkalizing processes made possible the large-scale manufacture of cheap chocolate for the masses, in both powdered and solid form.

Passing the Bar

The next great change came in 1847, when an English chocolate maker names Francis Fry figured out a way to combine cocoa powder and sugar with melted cocoa butter (instead of the usual warm water) to create a chocolate paste that could be pressed into molds and formed into solid shapes. It was the world's first eating chocolate, which the firm sold under the sophisticated-sounding French name Chocolat Delicieux a Manger ("Delicious Chocolate for Eating").

Then in 1867, a Swiss chemist named Henri Nestle discovered how to make powdered milk through evaporation. In 1879, after several years of collaborating with Nestle, Swiss chocolate maker Daniel Peter finally figured our how to add Nestle's powdered milk to his chocolate, creating the world's first milk chocolate.

That same year, another Swiss Chocolate maker, Rudolphe Lindt, invented a process he called "conching." Until then, chocolate was much coarser and grittier than it is today, kind of like granulated sugar. Lindt's conching process crushed chocolate paste beneath huge granite rollers for more than 72 hours, at which point the particles became so tiny and smooth that the resulting chocolate literally melts in your mouth - the first chocolate to do that. Lindt's invention so vastly imporoved the texture of chocolate that conching quickly became a universal process and coarse, gritty chocolate became a thing of the past.

~ taken from Uncle John's Supremely Satisfying Bathroom Reader

And now a question: what's your favorite candy bar? Mine is a toss up between Reese's and Butterfinger. I just love the chocolate/peanut butter combination.

A recipe with chocolate? Sure. In fact, here's one where you can use your favorite candy bar.

Candy Bar Cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate covered candy bar, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.

2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3. In large bowl using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed and until mixture looks fluffy and smooth, about 30 seconds.

4. Blend in egg and vanilla extract to butter mixture. (Stop the mixer and scrape bowl with rubber spatula once during this mixing.)

5. Decrease speed to low and add flour mixture, mixing just until flour is incorporated.

6. Gently mix in candy bar pieces.

7. Drop batter by large tablespoons on baking sheets. Bake for approximately 8 minutes, watching to prevent burning.

8. Remove while warm to prevent sticking and cool on wire racks.


And head over to Lisa's for more chocolate. (Psst...she had Nutella recipes today. Yum!).

Until next time...


A Joyful Chaos said...

I like all things chocolate so I really enjoyed this post. My favorite candy bar is Snickers but I'll eat any as long as they not coated in white chocolate. Not a fan of that at all.

The recipe you shared sounds yummy. Thank-you!

I am blessed! said...

You really take loving chocolate to a whole new level!! Hey, thanks for the books. I'm looking forward to reading them!

I gave you an award on my blog today. Thanks for spreading sunshine my way!


He & Me + 3 said...

My favorite candy bar is snickers...but I love Reese's too. YUM Gotta have chocolate and peanuts or PB.

He & Me + 3 said...

If you get a chance to stop by, I am having a giveaway at my blog & the 5 moms blog today.

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Love knowing that candy bar info! And yummmm to those cookies! Hmmm...I have a hard time choosing a favorite candy bar - I love Reese's, 3 Musketeers, and Milky Way just to name a few! :)

ButterYum said...

I must run to the kitchen and hit my chocolate stash!


Country Gal said...

Favorite candy bar? Dark chocolate Dove bars - i could live on them! This recipe looks great - a perfect way to use up the left-over Christmas candy from the kids stockings...not that we have any or anything! ;)

Sheila said...

Nutrageous! It's got everything. :)