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ALL ABOUT CHOCOLATE
BASIC CHOCOLATE TYPES
CANDY THERMOMETER TIP
CHOCOLATE AS AN APHRODISIAC
CHOCOLATE SUBSTITUTION CHART
DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHOCOLATE
HOW TO MELT CHOCOLATE
HOW TO TEMPER CHOCOLATE
LOWERING THE FAT IN CHOCOLATE DESSERTS
MELT CHOCOLATE IN THE MICROVAVE OVEN
STORING AND CARING FOR CHOCOLATE
WHAT IS CHOCOLATE?
CHOCOLATE AS AN APHRODISIAC > Back to Top <
Is it or isn't it? The facts and theories as to the efficacy of chocolate's magical love powers.
The History of the Aztec Viagra
How a horrid-tasting beverage by the name of chocolate is discovered by Cortez and brought back to Spain
Semi-Scientific Poll Results
From the Annals of Improbable Research: the results of a poll on chocolate's efficacy. 54.83% of the males responding said yes, and 50% of the females said yes. On the other hand, a solid 5% of the respondents were concerned with how the chocolate was administered (internally or externally).
Medical Findings on Chocolate's Love Potency
What makes a muddy-brown colored confection a magical love elixir? Medical experts suggest its all chemical. A "love chemical," in fact, called phenylethylamine which is normally present in the brain.
Chocolate Love Paint
Some people like to paint the town red, some lovers prefer to paint it chocolate. With a new kit, containing chocolate body paint (or frosting as they call it), you can do both. The manufacturer even supplies the paint brushes.
XOCHATL: A Recipe for the Original Aztec Viagra(r)
An original, Guide-tested recipe recreating the 16th century beverage used by King Montezuma and served to Cortez (who gagged on it). It tastes like swill when it's cold, even worse when it's warm. Montezuma's harem swore by it. But if it works.....
Latin, French and American Love Potions
South Americans of old had a novel way of utilizing cocoa. The French improved upon it. Now, the Americans have a delicious new way to make chocolate work its magic on your partner.
ALL ABOUT CHOCOLATE > Back to Top <
I have always loved chocolate. I doubt there aren't many people out there who don't share my love. When you love something you want to learn all about it, which is the reason for this series of features. I like to begin at the beginning and to me, that's the history of chocolate. Having a pantry full of different types of chocolates became the inspiration for the second part in this series. Part III will focus on the best ways to cook with chocolate.
Chocolate got its start in North and Central America. Columbus actually carried some cocoa beans back to Spain. It wasn't really known what to do with those beans until Cortez conquered the Aztec Indians of Mexico. He learned about a special drink that acted as an aphrodisiac. The Aztecs called it "cacahuatl" or "gift from the gods". Cortez garnered the process. Large pods from cacao trees were harvested twice a year. The cocoa beans were extracted from these pods. Then the beans were fermented, dried and roasted. Once roasted, they were ground into a fine powder. This powder was then mixed with hot water to make the drink.
When Cortez returned to Spain, he brought back cocoa beans and the cooking process. The chocolate drink the Aztecs drank was bitter and peppery. The Spaniards experimented with the process. They added the cream and sugar, which made it more like what we drink today. The Spaniards kept the drink a national secret for almost 100 years. The drink spread to France when King Louis married a Spanish royal. Part of the bride's trousseau were some cocoa beans to make her favorite breakfast drink.
Chocolate houses opened all over France and were similar to our coffeehouses today. From France, the drink spread to England and then to back to North America. The drink became very popular after the Boston Tea Party when tea was being boycotted.
Another century would pass before the process of making a solid chocolate would be perfected.
CANDY THERMOMETER TIP > Back to Top <
When using a candy thermometer, be sure to test at what temperature water boils at your house on the day you will be making candy. The normal boiling point is 212o F. At your home, your water may boil at 208o F. This means you will need to reduce your candy cooking time by 4 degrees.
CHOCOLATE SUBSTITUTION CHART > Back to Top <
1 ounce sweet cooking chocolate semisweet
1 ounce unsweetened chocolate and 4 teaspoons sugar
Chocolate, semisweet chips, melted
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, 2 tablespoons shortening
and 1/2 cup sugar
1 ounce or square
3 tablespoons cocoa and 1 tablespoon fat
LOWERING THE FAT IN CHOCOLATE DESSERTS > Back to Top <
Use unsweetened cocoa, with just one gram of fat per tablespoon, in place of baking chocolate for chocolate flavor with less fat--in some recipes.
Replace some of the oil or shortening with fruit purees--apple, prune, or
banana. Purees also add moisture to recipes.
Use a reduced-fat spread in place of some of the stick margarine or butter. You may need to adjust the recipe to compensate for additional water contained in the spread.
Use reduced-fat or nonfat dairy products--milk, yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese whenever possible.
MELT CHOCOLATE IN THE MICROVAVE OVEN > Back to Top <
Chocolate that is overheated may scorch, lose flavor and turn coarse and grainy. Here's a good tip for melting chocolate in your microwave:
Place coarsely chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe container and microwave at MEDIUM (50 percent power) for 1-1/2 to 4 minutes, until the chocolate turns shiny. Between each minute remove chocolate from the microwave and stir. repeat until completely melted. Because of their milk proteins, they need to be stirred sooner than dark chocolate. (If overheated, these chocolates may become grainy.)
HOW TO MELT CHOCOLATE > Back to Top <
Microwave: Place unwrapped chocolate in a microwave-safe dish. Heat until melted (about 1 to 2 minutes for one chocolate square). Add 10 seconds per extra square.
Double Boiler: Place unwrapped chocolate in top pan. Melt over hot water. Stir for 10 to 12 minutes until melted.
Saucepan: Place unwrapped chocolate in pan. Melt over very low heat. Stir constantly.
Moisture can cause chocolate to become stiff and lumpy.
Add 1 teaspoon of shortening for each ounce of chocolate.
Stir chocolate until smooth again.
STORING AND CARING FOR CHOCOLATE > Back to Top <
It's a lot easier to keep chocolate on hand now that we have central heat and air conditioning. Even so, you should store your chocolate tightly-wrapped in a cool dry place. Preferably the temperature should get no higher than 75o F in the summer and no lower than 60o F in the winter. (This may mean changing storage locations with the seasons.) If absolutely necessary, during the summer, chocolate can be stored in the refrigerator. However, be sure it's double-wrapped and in a plastic zipper-type bag (with all the air pressed out). The important thing here is that the chocolate not be allowed to absorb odors from other foods.
According to the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company, dark chocolate actually improves with age, like a fine wine, if stored in an airtight container at 60-65o F. I have been known to keep chocolate for several years by reusing cookie tins just for this purpose...and by hiding those tins from my family.
STORING CANDY > Back to Top <
Valentine's Day is a great time to say "I love you" with candy. Some candies can be made in advance. When you are storing your treats store them in an airtight container in a cool dry place. Most candy, if stored correctly, will keep for 2 to 3 weeks.
Remember to store hard and soft candies separately. Use waxed paper between each layer of candy. Caramels and fudge can be frozen for up to a year if properly stored.
HOW TO TEMPER CHOCOLATE > Back to Top <
The experts at Ghirardelli explain tempering as follows, "Tempering is a method of heating and cooling chocolate for coating or dipping with chocolate. Proper tempering results in chocolate that has a smooth and glossy finish. The tempered chocolate will have a crisp snap and won't melt on your fingers as easily as improperly tempered chocolate. Properly tempered chocolate is also great for molding candies because the candies will release out of the molds more easily and still retain a glossy finish".
And they have come up with two easy methods to do it:
Grate or chop desired amount of chocolate. Place two-thirds of the chocolate in the top pan of a double boiler. Heat over hot, not boiling, water, stirring constantly, until chocolate reaches 110 to 115o F. Place the top pan of the double boiler on a towel. Cool to 95 to 100o F. Add the remaining one-third of chocolate to that top pan, stirring until melted. The chocolate is now ready to be used for molding candies, coating or dipping.
Starting with a pound of broken chocolate, melt two-thirds of the chocolate over indirect heat, such as in the top pan of a double boiler. Melt just until the chocolate is liquid and smooth (At 110 to 115o F). When it is smooth, add the remaining one-third of broken chocolate and heat again until the entire chocolate becomes smooth. Pour the chocolate onto a marble or laminate surface. Using a spatula, scrape and stir the chocolate across the surface to smooth and cool it. When the chocolate is cooled to 80 to 82o F, return the chocolate to the top pan of the double boiler. Place over hot, not boiling, water. Heat and stir constantly, until it reaches 87 to 91o F. Remove the top pan of the double boiler. The chocolate is now ready to be used for molding candies, coating or dipping.
CHOCOLATE TEST > Back to Top <
Did You Know?
How many 3 to 5-letter words can you find in "Bittersweet" in 22 minutes or less?
Don't peek at the answers!!
If you come up with more words, please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHOCOLATE SUBSTITUTIONS > Back to Top <
Chocolate substitutions are easy! Here's a list of them - keep in mind that chocolate chips and chocolate squares are inter-changable.
One cup of chips = 6 ounces; if melting the chocolate, chips and squares are interchangeable.
1 ounce = 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate + 4 teaspoons sugar
OR 1 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa + 4 teaspoons sugar + 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
(may leave a powdery taste, but makes product moister and more flavorful.)
Unsweetened Chocolate = Bitter Chocolate = Baking Chocolate
One cup of chips = 6 ounces; if melting the chocolate, chips and squares are interchangeable.
cocoa (One ounce unsweetened chocolate = 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa + 1 tablespoons unsalted butter or margarine or vegetable oil. Using cocoa may leave a powdery taste, but it usually makes the product
moister and more flavorful.)
OR 3 tablespoons carob powder + 2 tablespoons water + 1 tablespoon butter or margarine or vegetable oil (lower oven temperature by 25 degrees)
One cup of chips = 6 ounces; if melting the chocolate, chips and squares are interchangeable. Squares can be chopped up to make chips for cookies.
Semi-sweet chocolate chips are commonly used to make chocolate chip cookies. Mint-flavored semi-sweet chips are also available.
Bittersweet Chocolate (very similar, but bittersweet chocolate usually has more chocolate liquor.)
OR 1 ounce = 1 ounce unsweetened baking chocolate + 1 tablespoon sugar
OR 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa + 1 tablespoon sugar + 1 tsp unsalted butter or vegetable oil (may leave a powdery taste, but makes product moister and more flavorful.)
OR 1 tablespoon peanut butter chips
OR white chocolate (especially in chocolate chip cookies; more delicate flavor, burns more easily, contains more sugar)
OR milk chocolate
This is sweet chocolate with milk added. It's mostly eaten out of hand, but many cookie makers use milk chocolate chips instead of semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Sweet Chocolate OR Semi-Sweet Chocolate
1 tablet = 3.1 ounces
Notes: You can buy boxes containing large tablets of this in the Mexican foods aisle of larger supermarkets. Ibarra is a well-respected brand. Mexican chocolate is flavored with sugar and cinnamon, and used to make hot chocolate and mole sauce.
1 ounce = 1 ounce Semi-Sweet Chocolate + 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
OR (in mole sauces) Cocoa Powder (Substitute 1 tablespoon cocoa powder for every ounce of Mexican chocolate called for in the recipe.)
German Chocolate = German Sweet Chocolate = Sweet Baking
Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Not as dark and sweet as German chocolate, but very similar.)
OR Bittersweet Chocolate
Cocoa (Powder) = unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup Cocoa Powder = 1 ounce
Notes: Most recipes for baked goods that call for cocoa intend for you to use natural cocoa = American cocoa = regular cocoa =
Non-alkalized cocoa, which is more acidic than Dutched cocoa.
Don't confuse cocoa powder, which is bitter, with instant cocoa mixes, which are sweetened.
Carob Powder (Most cookbooks call for carob to be substituted for cocoa measure for measure, but since carob has a milder flavor, you might want to use more. Carob powder tends to lump, so mix it into a paste first with a bit of liquid. It also burns more easily than cocoa powder, so reduce the oven temperature by
OR Unsweetened Baking Chocolate (One ounce of unsweetened baking
chocolate = 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon butter.)
Chocolate Chips = Chocolate Morsels
M&M candies OR nuts OR carob chips OR chocolate-covered raisins
OR butterscotch chips OR peanut butter chips
Carob = St. John's bread = honey locust = locust bean
Notes: Carob is sometimes used as a substitute by those unfortunates who are allergic to chocolate, since its flavor is vaguely similar. It's available as raw pods, chips, and either as toasted or untoasted powder (toasting helps bring out the flavor). Look for it in health food stores.
cocoa powder (Most cookbooks call for cocoa to be substituted for carob measure for measure, but since cocoa has a stronger flavor, you might want to use less. Cocoa powder has more fat than carob powder, and some caffeine. Since carob burns more easily than cocoa, the recipe may call for a lower oven temperature than is necessary with cocoa powder.)
Semi-Sweet Chocolate (Very similar, but bittersweet chocolate usually has more chocolate liquor. To make semisweet chocolate more like bittersweet chocolate, add some cocoa powder to it.)
BASIC CHOCOLATE TYPES > Back to Top <
Milk Chocolate: In the U.S. must contain a minimum of 10 percent of chocolate liquor and 12 percent whole milk. It is made up of cocoa butter, milk, sweeteners and flavorings that are added to chocolate liquor.
Dark Chocolate: In the U.S. must contain a minimum of 35 percent chocolate liquor and an average fat content of 27 percent. It is also known as bitter chocolate. It is made up of chocolate liquor and additional sweeteners and cocoa butter.
White Chocolate: Made up of cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids, and flavorings like vanilla. It does not contain any non-fat cocoa solids. Cocoa butter can be substituted with vegetable oil to make imitation white chocolate.
Sweet Chocolate: In the U.S. must contain a minimum of 15 percent chocolate liquor. It is mainly used for decorating and contains more sweeteners than semi-sweet chocolate. It has a fat content similar to that of semi-sweet chocolate.
Drinking Chocolate: A mixture of cocoa and sugar that is mixed with warm milk or water to form a drink.
Fudge: A combination of cream, butter and sugar cooked together. Chocolate and nuts are added to produce different flavors and types of fudge. The texture can vary from smooth to grainy. When cooled, it is cut into squares and served.
Chocolate Liquor: Produced from the cocoa bean. The center of the cocoa bean, known as the nib, is heated and then ground in to a smooth liquid state. This is then cooled and molded into blocks. This chocolate liquor contains roughly 53 percent cocoa butter. From this all chocolate is made.
Couverture: Chocolate made up of a minimum of 32 percent cocoa butter. Due to the higher percentage of cocoa butter, this chocolate is easy to work with and is used to create the thin glossy chocolate coating on fruit dipped in chocolate or in fancy chocolate preparation. Do not confuse with "Coating" chocolate that comes in wafers.
Ganache: A mixture of chocolate and cream. The proportions can be varied depending upon the consistency that is required. It is used for layering chocolate cake, as well as in many other types of confectionery.
Cocoa cake: Produced when the cocoa butter is extracted from the chocolate liquor using hydraulic presses. The hard dry cakes are then ground and sifted to produce cocoa powder.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF CHOCOLATE > Back to Top <
Depending on what is added to (or removed from) the chocolate liquor, different flavors and varieties of chocolate are produced. Each has a different chemical make-up, the differences are not solely in the taste. Be sure, therefore, to use the kind the recipe calls for, as different varieties will react differently to heat and moisture.
* Unsweetened or Baking chocolate is simply cooled, hardened chocolate liquor. It is used primarily as an ingredient in recipes, or as a garnish.
* Semi-sweet chocolate is also used primarily in recipes. It has extra cocoa butter and sugar added. Sweet cooking chocolate is basically the same, with more sugar for taste.
* Milk chocolate is chocolate liquor with extra cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla added. This is the most popular form for chocolate. It is primarily an eating chocolate.
* Cocoa is chocolate liquor with much of the cocoa butter removed, creating a fine powder. It can pick up moisture and odors from other products, so you should keep cocoa in a cool, dry place, tightly covered.
* White chocolate is somewhat of a misnomer. In the United States, in order to be legally called 'chocolate' a product must contain cocoa solids. White chocolate does not contain these solids, which leaves it a smooth ivory or beige color. Real white chocolate is primarily cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla. There are some products on the market that call themselves white chocolate, but are made with vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter. Check the label to avoid these cheap imitations. White chocolate is the most fragile form of chocolate; pay close attention to it while heating or melting it.
WHAT IS CHOCOLATE > Back to Top <
Let's first go to Webster's, and what do we find - "processed ground and roasted cocoa beans." But we are not going to stop there, are we? To the millions of lovers, chocolate goes much further. It is an aroma, it is a flavor, it is a texture, and most importantly, it is our lives!!! And we accept no substitutes. Like Carob. What is Carob but the mashed fruit of a Mediterranean pine tree? Some may wish to consume a pine tree, but for most, only the real thing will do. By the way, Americans consumed on average 11.6 pounds of chocolate in 1996. Not enough, let's get to work.
First brought to Europe in 1528 by the Spaniards, who learned about chocolate from the Aztecs, chocolate was, at that time, simply a bitter, spicy drink. And, to be quite frank, not very much fun. Well, enter the Spanish, who first warmed the mixture then added sugar cane. Enter the chemists, who ground, processed, and stirred the beans while adding milk and more cocoa butter. And presto, you now have those tasty morsels of chocolate, which Linnaeus so appropriately named Theobroma - "food of the gods." So, we may not be gods, but bring on the food!
We've somehow gotten ahead of ourselves. Let's get back to basics and answer the following questions: What (really) is chocolate? How did it get where it is today? And, most importantly, why do so many of us love it to death?
In order to produce the chocolate of today, one must first start with fermented cacao beans, which are roasted, shelled, and shattered into nibs or large fragments. The nibs are then crushed and heated between large milling wheels or disks. The result is a thick, dark brown paste which goes by the trade name of Chocolate Liquor. This Chocolate Liquor, which does not have any alcoholic content, forms the basis of most, if not all, chocolate products. Equally important, it is at this point where the additives and/or further processing will be the main determinate of the type, quality, and flavor of the chocolate product to come.
When put into heavy metal canisters and subjected to a large amount of pressure, the Chocolate Liquor can be separated into its two major components: cocoa butter, a beautiful amber-colored oil, and cocoa powder. The next step is to combine some of the extra cocoa butter with Chocolate Liquor and sugar. The mixture is then stirred or conched in large vats for up to 72 hours. What are the results? What have we produced? Nothing more than a velvet-smooth blend (or chocolate as we know it today) that can be filled, flavored, decorated, or shaped into the most beautiful of morsels, which we so eagerly place into our mouths and thus melt away our concerns of the day. And why not? We've earned it!
Here are some more tidbits of information which will help you better understand some of the finer points of chocolate:
Why does chocolate melt in our mouths?
Chocolate remains in a solid state very close to its melting temperature of approximately 80 degrees. Thus, when we plop it into our warm mouths, it quickly reaches its melting point.
What determines the quality of chocolate?
Many factors: the quality of the cacao bean, the amount of cocoa butter added to the Chocolate Liquor, the length of time it is conched (4 to 72 hours or longer), and the list continues.
What is white chocolate?
Cocoa butter, sugar, and milk solids make up white chocolate. This raises the question that without any Chocolate Liquor, is it really chocolate?
What is Dutch chocolate?
Some time ago, a Dutch chemist discovered that processing Chocolate Liquor with alkali tended to increase the chocolate flavor, reduce its bitterness, and darken the chocolate. Today, most chocolates are processed with alkali.
What is confectionery coating?
First of all, it's not chocolate. After the Chocolate Liquor has been separated into cocoa powder and cocoa butter, the manufacturer will add a partially hydrogenated vegetable oil to the cocoa powder. This produces a chocolate-like coating with some of the characteristics similar to chocolate with no cocoa butter. Why do manufacturers do this? Cocoa butter is expensive and vegetable oil has a higher melting point than cocoa butter. By the way, this higher melting point causes a waxy feeling in our mouths similar to overcooked pasta sticking between our teeth. In other words, it does not melt in our mouths.
CHOCOLATE: THE AZTEC VIAGRA(r) > Back to Top <
If it weren't for Montezuma's harem, there would be no chocolate as we know it today. No chocolate-filled croissants prized by French school children for their morning break...no après-ski hot cocoa sipped before a chalet's roaring fireplace...no slices of whipped-cream topped, Viennese sachertorte to tempt tourists (and challenge their arteries). And, unbelievable as it may seem, no Hershey bars.
For its first 1000 years, chocolate was strictly a New World beverage, sort of a juice made from the crushed and fermented seeds of cacao trees. Christopher Columbus brought it back to Europe in 1514 but not as a foodstuff. Instead the seeds, more commonly known as cacao beans, were displayed at the court of King Ferdinand of Spain as an example of Indian coinage--money that literally grew on trees. It seems that just off the Yucatan coast of Mexico, Columbus had intercepted an Indian canoe which was filled with dark brown, almond-shaped cacao beans.
From the Indians, Columbus learned that one could buy anything with these beans--food, clothing, slaves, women, even gold. It is not illogical then to assume that when Fernando Cortez embarked from Spain five years later on his conquest of Mexico, he either had some of these "coins" in his possession or quickly acquired them.
The Aztecs believed that cacao beans had been brought from Paradise on a beam of the Morning Star by the god Quetzalcoatl, and that wisdom and power came from eating the fruit of the cacao tree. Mistaking these white-skinned Conquistadors as the prophesized living gods, the Aztecs showered the Spaniards with cacao beans, which the Spaniards just as quickly traded for gold.
At a banquet held in Cortez's honor as the living incarnation of Quetzalcoatl, he was offered a golden goblet filled with the purest xochotl. Like the rawest, naive tourist, he gulped and gulped and gulped. One can imagine his eyes bulging, his face contorting, his stomach threatening to rebel. The drink was horrific. Thick and fatty and foamy and ever so bitter and the dregs on the bottom were even worse. It is inconceivable that chocolate could taste so bad. Then there's the after-taste which lingers on and on and on. It is a miracle that he finished the drink and even more miraculous that he didn't immediately retch afterwards. (See the xochotl recipe recreation and try it if you dare.)
For most Europeans, drinking chocolate Aztec-style was an acquired taste. One missionary said of it, "Loathsome to such as are not acquainted with it, having a scum or froth that is very unpleasant to taste."
Either Cortez had the strongest stomach imaginable or the keenest
appreciation that he and his men were greatly outnumbered, for he drank it all,
every drop of it. The Aztecs must have been impressed by his deed, for they
customarily consumed only the foamy part of the drink.
In a marvelous example of transliteration, the Aztec name for this drink, xocoatl meaning "foamy-water," became changed to chocolatl, or "bitter-water".
Later one Spaniard confided to his diary that this bitter beverage was "better to be tossed out to pigs than drunk by men." He and his fellow Conquistadors soon changed their minds when they discovered that Montezuma had assembled a harem purportedly as numerous as that of any Chinese emperor or Moslem sultan. To satisfy these women he reportedly consumed 50 cups of chocolatl a day.
That chocolate was an aphrodisiac par excellence was readily believed by Cortez, for, as he wrote in a letter to Charles V of Spain, "it builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits man to walk for a whole day without food". What he didn't document was how well the drink fortified a man to work all night as Montezuma did.
Needless to say, after the fall of Techochtitlan (now Mexico City) to the Spaniards, they appropriated Montezuma's royal treasure (nothing was said about his harem). And a large part of that treasury was made up of cacao beans. Thus, when Cortez sailed for Spain in 1528, he brought with him compartments filled with cacao beans plus instructions as to how to turn them into a potable drink with amazing properties and potencies.
Which brings up certain questions, all dependent on the size of an Aztec cup or goblet. For example, 50 (8-ounce) cups would be the equivalent of 12-1/2 quarts of fluid. That's a powerful lot of liquid to absorb and, to put it bluntly, eliminate. One wonders how Montezuma found time for his harem between ruling the kingdom, acting as chief priest and purging himself of all that chocolate.
Even if the Aztec cup were the equivalent of the English teacup (5 ounces) or the French demitasse (2-1/2 ounces), which would be nearly 2 gallons and 4 quarts respectively, one still has to wonder what there was about his harem that he required that amount of fortifying.
One can only conclude those women must have been insatiable. Thank goodness. Otherwise we might still be without chocolate.
CHOCOLATE APHRODISIAC REPORT > Back to Top <
Is chocolate an aphrodisiac? Does it matter if you are male or female? Does race have anything to do with it? Here are the results of last month's AIR Poll on the matter.
54.83% of the males responding said yes, and 50% of the females said yes. One correspondent asserted it was so potent that it even worked when he was alone, while a second mentioned the sequelae use of stimulating fetal movements (obviously she was not alone in the purest sense). On the other hand, a solid 5% of the respondents were concerned with how the chocolate was administered (internally or externally), including one woman whose male companion obtained and experimented with chocolate body paint.
A number of people were concerned with the source of the chocolate. Without going into name brands (and ignoring the person who reported having Hershey's kisses in both ears), Swiss chocolate beat American chocolate 100% by those concerned (though in fairness we must mention that the aforementioned body paint was French).
The question of dark and bittersweet versus light (or milk chocolate) was raised by many with the dark side coming out ahead five to two. Related to this were single votes each for "grande light-chocolate nonfat no-whip mocha," green M&M's, cheesecake and keeping the lights on (this was not from the body paint people).
The matter of white chocolate was gone into, and emerged from.
Finally, there is the issue of race. We have no information on this except for the report of a single individual who has assured us wholeheartedly and (we believe) in all sincerity that chocolate is indeed an aphrodisiac.
IS CHOCOLATE AN APHRODISIAC? > Back to Top <
On romantic occasions, often the most popular choice for gift giving among star-struck lovers is a box of chocolates-but have you ever wondered why?
For so long, chocolates have been the popular as the ideal gift for lovers for seemingly no apparent reason. Even the ancient Aztecs and Mayans (circa 600 AD) of South America relished it much until the collapse of their culture.
In recent times, however, chocolate connoisseurs are beginning to understand the secret behind the amorous inclination we have for such brown sweets. Two doctors from the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Donald Klein and Michael Leibowitz, made a theory suggesting that chocolate contains a particular chemical called phenylethylamine (better known as the "love chemical"), which is also present in the brain.
Phenylethylamine, an amphetamine-like substance, is the chemical produced in the brain of people who are evidently in the state of love. Love struck persons produce more of this chemical than people who are not. Initially, Dr. Klein and Dr. Leibowitz joked about the idea of chocolate being an arbiter for people who are in love. They then tried to prove their theory but were unable to finish their experiments. Later, however, other scientists followed suit but were also unsuccessful to find out if chocolate really had any love-potion abilities. One study revealed that intake of chocolate did not actually increase the level of phenylethylamine in the body, thus ruling out chocolate as responsible for that certain wonderful high.
By nature, however, phenylethylamine is a naturally-occuring trace chemical known to release a certain kind of dopamine in the "pleasure-centers" of the brain. Unfortunately, one of the metabolites phenylethylamine produces also causes a person to become unusually restive. Overproduction of this chemical is found in people suffering from paranoid schizophrenia.
Moreover, further studies showed that chocolate was mildly addictive, due mainly to its caffeine content. It also contains small quantities of the chemical anandamide, and endogenous cannabinoid found also in the brain. Aside from these chemicals, chocolate also has a substantial amount of tryptophan, an important amino acid that controls the production of the mood-modulating serotonin.
Probably the most distinctive "side-effect" of eating chocolate is that it releases endorphines, the body's own endogenous opiates. The production of endorphins consequently give chocolate addicts that co-called "inner glow" about them (which explains why many chocolate lovers seem to be so gloriously alive).
To top it all, however, science has yet to prove chocolate's efficacy as an aphrodisiac. While some doctors say that phenylethylamine in chocolate is just a mild love-chemical, the debate is still ongoing and it is still too early if chocolate really is the lovers' delight. Then again, maybe giving your special someone a box of chocolates wouldn't hurt a bit, maybe even beneficial. It's worth a try.
XOCOLATL (PRONOUNCED "SHOCO-LATLE"): THE AZTEC
VIAGRA(r) > Back to Top <
I conned my unsuspecting, definitely non-Viagra(r) needing husband into taking a sip of this concoction. It wasn't hard as it looks disarmingly delicious. His reaction was instantaneous: Oops, plop, bring the mop! I warn you, if it tastes bad cold, it's even worse warm. One swallow, and you'll have the greatest respect for both Montezuma who drank 50 cups daily and Cortez who managed to get one cup down. However, one does have to wonder: If chocolate was so energy-restoring, how did the latter manage to conquer the former?
Part one: to restore the cocoa butter to the chocolate
2 ounces baking or unsweetened chocolate
6 ounces vegetable shortening, such as Crisco
4 ounces boiling water
pinch of chili powder (optional)
pinch of achiote (optional) -improves the color
Melt chocolate in a double-boiler over boiling water or in two or more 30-second zaps in a microwave on full power, stirring between each; then set aside. Combine in blender at medium speed the shortening (at room temperature) and boiling water. Add melted chocolate. Continue to blend until it doubles in volume and grows somewhat cool. Cool completely at room temperature.
Part two: to make the drink
Reheat in the microwave or in the top of a double boiler until it is a liquid again. Taste if you dare, it's that awful hot-do so within range of the kitchen sink. Now, beat, either in a blender or with egg beater, until it begins to froth. (The Aztecs would have poured the mixture back and forth, bartender-like, between cups until it lathered up. You can imagine how long that would take.) Taste. If it's too awful, you might want to add a pinch of chili powder. If you have achiote on hand, add a pinch of that. If nothing improves the taste, don't worry, most people feel the same way. It is, as they say, an acquired taste. Yield: 8 ounces that can probably serve at least 8 people.
To read more about this drink and the man who felt the need to drink 50 cups of it before facing his harem, you might want to read the story of Chocolate: The Aztec Aphrodisiac
Viva Los Latinos! Vive Les Français! > Back to Top <
And 3 cheers for the Americans! We did the other two
During the time of the Mayans and Aztecs, Indians from South America covered their erogenous zones with cocoa in order to "make their kisses even more pleasant". Those adventurous French agreed. (In European works from the 16th and 17th century chocolate is also considered as the "food of Venus". Louis Lémery, author of the "Traité des Aliments" (Treaty of Food) in 1702, affirmed that "its properties are such that they stimulate love's ardour".
But the French went beyond cocoa and painted their lover's bodies with melted chocolate. (A word to the wise if you decide to do the same: first, French chocolate seems to work best...and second, if you don't want to cool your lover's ardor, be sure the stuff is not too damn hot.)
But the Americans took the "heat" out of the chocolate and came up with a new product: body painting in chocolate, strawberry, and--what else?--passion fruit, of course. With two paint brushes, for twice the participation. A "tasteful" invitation for a little good clean fun.
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adj: meaning simultaneously bitter and sweet; very much like but not identical to semi-sweet
*IRS, while an acronym is just too big to ignore
SHALOM FROM SPIKE & JAMIE
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