Thank you for visiting our blog!

This concludes our class project, although you will likely see additional posts on this site going forward.  We hope that you have enjoyed learning about the cultivation, manufacturing, market forms and versatility of chocolate as much as we have.  We also hope that you enjoy the recipes and wine pairings we have recommended.  Whether you are an avid home baker or an aspiring chef like us, we want our research to inspire you to keep learning about the fascinating world of chocolate.  We especially appreciate all the comments and “likes” we received from people around the world.  That was a very nice surprise.  Thank you for visiting, and we encourage you to surf our site now and then.

-Jacqueline, Anique and Monoara

My Bibliography

Here are some of the many great weblinks I relied upon for my research and photographs.  These are the ones that weren’t linked to specific blog posts.  Please feel free to take a peek!

http://www.facts-about-chocolate.com/types-of-chocolate/

http://www.chocolatealchemy.com/index.php

http://www.enotes.com/chocolate-reference/chocolate

http://www.streetdirectory.com/food_editorials/snacks/chocolates/organic_chocolate_a_trip_along_the_assembly_line.html

http://www.chocomolds.com/chocolate/chocolateinstr.php

http://www.worldcocoafoundation.org/learn-about-cocoa/tree-to-table/how-chocolate-is-made.asp

http://versatilekitchen.blogspot.ca/2011/05/dutch-processed-cocoa-vs-natural-cocoa.html

http://www.ohcf.us/photos.html

http://www.nileguide.com/destination/blog/toronto/2012/02/01/best-candy-shops-in-toronto/

The True Cost of Chocolate

What is the real cost of cocoa cultivation and production?  A human one.  The difficulty in making a living from cocoa farming has led to an increase in child labour, and even slave labour, especially on the Ivory Coast.  On top of this, the work is very physical, and farmers are only paid a fraction of the value of their work, and their product.  They often have no access to outside information that would be useful to them in determining their worth.  Because they are so poor, they have no access to conventional lines of credit.  One bout of bad weather can eradicate an entire crop, and there is no government or other insurance.  However, the cost of their hard labour is definitely passed on to us, the consumers.  There is little competition in the cocoa industry, and the labour in intensive.  Now you know why chocolate is so expensive!

Cacao Farmers in Ghana

What, you ask, is Canada doing to end this injustice?
FLO is an international system, of which Canada is a member, that sets standards defining what Fair Trade products are, and provides a way of determining whether those standards have been met. The intent is to both bring clarity about Fair Trade and instill confidence in the public that it is not about empty promises.

Click here to read more about FLO’s mandate:

http://fairtrade.ca/en/about-fairtrade/fairtrade-international-flo (in general)

http://fairtrade.ca/en/products/cocoa (about chocolate)

Thanks to Fairtrade International (FLO):
  • The minimum guaranteed price is paid directly to the producer co-op. The minimum floor price is currently US$2000/metric ton (MT) for conventional cocoa beans and US$2300/MT for organic cocoa beans. When the world market price exceeds Fair Trade, the market price plus the premium is paid to producers.
  • A Fairtrade premium of US$200/MT is included in the purchase price. It is used by cooperatives for social and economic investments such as education, health services, processing equipment, and loans to members.
  • Environmental standards restrict the use of agrochemicals and encourage sustainability.
  • Pre-harvest lines of credit, of up to 60% of the purchase price, are given to  cooperatives if requested.
  • No forced labour of any kind, including child labour, is permitted.

If you want to learn more about the physical and financial perils of cacao farming and the free trade movement, then I suggest watching a documentary that was recently aired on TVO (TV Ontario) called Semisweet: Life in Chocolate.  It was a real eye-opener.

http://docstudio.tvo.org/story/semisweet-life-chocolate

The above link takes you to TVO’s website, which contains more information on this documentary, as well as a link to the  “Choco-locate” app.  This app helps you track down chocolate by your preferences.  You can review and rate the chocolate you love to eat.  It also reveals more about the stories of the people and places chronicled in the documentary:   fair trade chocolatiers in Northern Canada, the massive Hershey operation in Pennsylvania, farmers and child labourers on plantations in West Africa and a chocolatier in Paris, France.

“Semisweet: Life in Chocolate takes us from the hyper commercial world of Hershey to the frozen lakes of Northern Canada, from the busy streets of Paris to the heat of the forests of West Africa as we follow the unique journeys of people whose lives have been transformed by chocolate.”

Storage and Shelf Life of Chocolate

  • Store chocolate in a cool, dry place in its original wrapping or in foil.
  • Avoid the refrigerator.  Moisture and condensation are not kind to chocolate, and if not properly wrapped, chocolate can absorb refrigerator odours.
  • Milk and white chocolates will keep for about six to twelve months, whereas darker varieties can keep for one to several years.
  • Over time, white or gray “clouds” or “blooms” develop on the surface.  As long as the blooms are not too advanced, the chocolate is still edible, and the blooms will disappear upon melting.  This just means that the cocoa butter (fat) has separated.  As you can see from the photo, bloomed chocolate assumes a somewhat mottled appearance, and it sometimes also develops white or gray streaks.  The streaking is usually due to improper storage.
  • If the bloom is too advanced, then my advice is to throw it out. The texture gets too crumbly, which makes the chocolate unpleasant to eat.

Other Professional Chocolate Products

Chocolate Extract – this is usually made with vodka or some other type of alcohol, much in the same way vanilla extract is made.  It can be added to all sorts of goods such as brownies, cakes, ice creams and terrines to add some extra chocolatey flavour.  A little bit goes a long way, so it is more affordable for certain commercial bakers to use rather than good-quality unsweetened chocolate.  The flavour of chocolate extract compliments vanilla, coffee and other flavourings, and if you make your own, it can really enhance some of your mixed drinks.

In his blog, David Leibovitz describes a fabulous chocolate extract made by an American company called Star Kay White.

“Their chocolate extract is made without heat to avoid ameliorating the true flavor: the beans are soaked in alcohol, then removed. What’s left is a deep-dark brown elixir of highly-concentrated pure chocolate flavor and aroma. If you take the cap off and give it a sniff, the scent of pure chocolate will blow you away.”

Click here for the full article and link to Star Kay White’s website:

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2008/11/chocolate-extract/

Chocolate Oil – this oil is made with both natural and artificial flavours.  I would personally only order the natural version, if at all.  Chocolate oil is highly concentrated and unsweetened.  It is often used by caterers to enhance the flavour and viscosity of chocolate used in chocolate fountains.  It is also used by some commercial bakers in candy, fudge, dipping, baked and specialty confections.

Grocery store versions are usually diluted with large amounts of alcohol and/or water, whereas some specialty companies sell more pure and natural versions.  In the case of natural versions, you only need 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of oil per pound of chocolate, and a 1-ounce  bottle will flavor up to 25 pounds of chocolate.  Not a bad bang for your buck.

Believe it or not, chocolate oil is even used in fractionated (semi-solid or solid) form as a perfume and skin lotion!  This product, which I found online, can be mixed with rose petal oil and used as either one.  Unbelievable.

Fudge Paste – this is a thick, hard, unsweetened paste derived from raw chocolate (and additives), which usually comes in a large pail.  It is mixed with icing sugar and small amount of water until it is runny enough to dip things into, or to pain with.  It is typically used top commercial donuts, éclairs and cream puffs.  It is a much more affordable product than couverture, which is what I would prefer to use.

Compound Chocolate

  • Compound chocolate is less-expensive non-chocolate product replacement made from a combination of cocoa, vegetable fat, and sweeteners.  It is also referred to as “compound coating”, “summer coating” or “chocolatey coating” when used as a candy coating.  It can be bought in blocks or as wafers.
  • Compound chocolate is most often used in lower-grade candy bars.  Less-expensive hard vegetable and tropical oils are added in place of cocoa butter.  Coconut oil and palm oil are the two most common oils found in this product.  Neither is particularly healthy, to boot.
  • However, on the upside, not only is this product cheaper, but tempering is not required.  It is simply warmed to between 3 °C and 5 °C above the coating’s melting point.

Couverture

  • Couverture is sold in either blocks or wafers/pellets.  It is used for dipping, coating, molding and garnishing.  It works really well in mousses, cakes, puddings, etc. as well.
  • Couverture is very high quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter (must be 32-39 percent).  The total percentage of combined cocoa butter plus cocoa solids must be at least 54 percent.  The remainder is sugar, possibly some soy lecithin, and up to 1 percent vanilla.
  • The high cocoa butter content, combined with proper tempering, gives chocolate more sheen, a firmer “snap” and a creamy, mellow flavour.  It is packaged both tempered and untempered.