The discovery of America in 1492 was a culinary revolution throughout the Western world, incorporating many products, especially vegetables, unknown until then. Basic products such as corn or potatoes were imported and contributed to the rapid development of the European population, saving millions of inhabitants of the Old World from famine.
In America in some cultures the cocoa was a commodity before the arrival of European settlers. The Aztecs believed the god Quetzalcoatl had taught the cultivation of this plant to their ancestors and, often, the cocoa beans were used as currency in commercial transactions. The powdered residue is raw material from which chocolate is manufactured.
Cooking with chocolate
The possibilities with chocolate are almost endless, from classic partridges with chocolate to more sophisticated dishes of the new cuisine. In the early days, soon after, being brought from America, chocolate was served in classic porcelain chocolate pot with handle in which hot chocolate was blended. This snack was required in Spain and its colonies, a practice that was going to other European countries, who were unaware of this product.
But gradually the chocolate was refined and today there are large chocolate makers, who produce quality chocolates almost artisan productions, such as abound in France, Italy, Spain. But the most famous are the Belgian chocolatiers, producing pralines and chocolates filled with liquor, considered by many as the best in the world.
In the late XIX – early XX century chocolates were already made on a commercial scale, then milk started to be added to chocolate to sell surplus production, especially in many factories in Switzerland.
Chocolate can be a main ingredient, especially when used to make creams and mousses. Its flavor is definitely intense, especially if we use high quality cocoa. This will depend largely on the percentage of cocoa butter that chocolate has, which should be at least 50% to ensure a better result, since the other components are additive, sugar, thickeners and flavorings that do not add much.
A key point when cooking with chocolate is to remember not to overheat it, especially when making sauces or creams. Above 40° chocolate begins to lose its properties and complex aromas, which is best cooked in a water bath keeping it always smooth.
Of course, it is not recommended microwaving, for example, or direct fire, as the areas near the walls of the container will burn which can ruin the flavor of the final mixture.
I recommend you experiment with different mixtures. The chocolate is even more delicious with spices: chili, cloves, pepper, cinnamon, vanilla, etc. It is also amazing with flowers and herbs. Making sauces we can venture to serve a sirloin with spicy chocolate sauce, or wild game, like partridges, ducks, pheasants, but always taking care not to overdo it for the flavor it provides could get prevalent.
Fruit are a delight with a bit of chocolate as well, from a simple fruit fondue or fruit pies, or desserts like pears with chocolate classic, combining well with the acidity of the strawberries and soft fruit, like a light chocolate mousse of red fruits.
These combinations, which seem very exotic, like chocolate with chili pepper or cloves are not anything crazy, in fact, the Aztecs drank cocoa beverages with these spices, yes, quite bitter and strong, and a magical mystic component.
I thought chocolate is connected with ancient gods. It was not very far from reality, now chocolate still is a “divine” food that we reserve for special occasions. How much do you like chocolate?