Chocolate is a serious business...
Chocolate comes from the cacao tree, a native of tropical parts of the Americas. Chocolate consumption began some 3000 years ago in Mexico and other parts of Central America, mainly as a drink, though solid chocolate was sometimes added to food recipes. One of the Spanish conquerors of Mexico describes dining with the Aztec emperor:
"After the hot dishes had been removed, every kind of fruit which the country produced was set on the table; of which, however, Moctezuma ate very little. Every now and then a golden pitcher was handed to him filled with a kind of liquor made from the cacao, which is of a very exciting nature..."
Cacao beans were greatly prized by the Aztecs, who even used them as currency; three beans could buy you a fresh avocado in Mexico City. Following the conquest of Mexico the Guatemalan Indians surrendered too when the Spanish commander threatened to destroy their cacao trees if they didn't submit!
Chocolate then became a popular drink at the Spanish court in Madrid and later at the French court. In Britain it was imported from Jamaica but enjoyed only by the rich until the coming of industrialisation. Around the turn of the 19th century Italians, Dutch and Swiss were working on the production of solid chocolate. The first eating chocolate as we now know it was made by Joseph Fry of Bristol in 1847, closely followed by the Cadbury brothers in Birmingham. In Switzerland Daniel Peter made milk chocolate, with the assistance of a certain Mr Nestlé, and a Mr Lindt developed techniques for making the smooth chocolate we know today. Using this to produce filled "chocolates" became a speciality of the Belgians. As the 19th century ended French settlers imported cacao trees into West Africa, especially Cote d'Ivoire, and it is from there that most chocolate originates today, though there is still significant production of high-grade cacao beans in Latin America and also in Asia.
Fine chocolate is made by a long and complex process involving careful temperature control at each stage. In addition to its finer flavour it is smoother and has a different "feel" in the mouth. Cheaper chocolate can be made by cutting down on the processing time, and also by "cheating", by introducing partially hydrogenated fats as opposed to the fats naturally present in the cacao beans.
Maxwells Chocolates always use the finest Belgian chocolate made from ethically-sourced cacao beans from the tropical rain forests of Cote d'Ivoire, Latin America and Asia. Temperature control is managed by the latest Italian machines and our chocolates are hand made under the guidance of our Master Chocolatier. Fillings involve a range of natural ingredients sourced from Britain and around the World.
The results are remarkable, and should be tried...