It is late at night and you have been sleeping soundly for hours. Then, suddenly, a strange sound wakes you with a start. You begin to wonder, “Is there someone in the house? Do I need to grab a baseball bat and explore?”
Finally, you work up the courage and head downstairs, ready to take on the intruder. After a thorough search, you discover the culprit. You cat has simply knocked over a few pots and pans. You breathe a sigh of relief and start to head back upstairs to bed.
Then another thought hits you. After all, you are in the kitchen already, so why not have a delicious midnight snack?
For the most part, midnight snacks come in two categories: salty or sweet. Nobody is getting up and having a banana for a snack in the middle of the night. Nope, you are either having a bowl of salty chips, decadent ice cream, or a delicious and filling candy bar.
Candy bars are a fantastic snack that many of us take for granted. Half the time we just grab them on an impulse while waiting in line at the grocery store. We never consider, however, just how much time and effort goes into making such a handy and convenient treat.
The chocolate that you find in the store is the product of an incredibly long and complicated refining process. This process starts off bean pods that come from a tree called the Theobroma cacao. Aztec and Mayan cultures had a great respect for this food, and the name literally translates to “food of the gods.”
The Chocolate-Making Process
To start the process of making chocolate you must first harvest the cacao pods. These pods grow all over the tree, so to get them down you must chop them down with machetes by hand. But you can’t just ship the pods out as-is from the tree. You must first split them open. This reveals the cocoa bean that lies inside.
After that, you must scrape at the beans and the sweet pulp that surrounds them. From there the pods are left to ferment for approximately two to eight days in baskets. This important step helps to mellow out the flavor of the beans. If you didn’t do that, they would be far too bitter to enjoy.
If you like a higher-quality chocolate bar, then you are probably eating something where the beans were left to ferment for much longer. This results in a fruity and floral flavor. Once finished fermenting, the cocoa harvesters spread them all out into one single layer. They then allow the cocoa to dry out completely in direct sunlight.
From there the beans are packaged and shipped out to the…