To my mind, chocolate and its source material cocoa, is one of those miraculous flavor right up there with vanilla (How does an epiphyte produce such an amazing, subtle aroma?) and saffron (A little earthy, metallic, full, fragrant but not sweet.) Well, coffee gets in there too. And chocolate is one that our friendly biome helps make more tasty.
Seeds from the Cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) are hulled, fermented - using naturally occurring yeast and bacteria - and roasted and then ground, with the cocoa being separated from the cocoa butter (oils.) If the powder is treated to neutralize its acidity, it is known as "Dutch" cocoa.
The Mayans and Aztecs drank chocolate - xocolātl - as early as 1750 BC and the crop is still produced in Mexico and Central and South America. Most of the world's chocolate today comes from West Africa where, sadly child labor continues to be used to harvest and process the crop. A good article here in a recent issue of Fortune magazine, details the intractability of the child labor problem.
This Week's Bake
This is one of my experimental weeks: I am going to make you a chocolate brioche. Brioche is a dough made with flour, sugar, salt, eggs and butter and is the base for breads like Challah and Panettone. It can be, but isn't necessarily sweet (I have been experimenting with a savory brioche that uses olive oil in place of the butter.) This recipe includes cocoa powder and dark chocolate chips and a little chili powder. As always with my breads, is uses sourdough as the leavening agent.
Your Canadian Baker