There is so much to love about chocolate, from its satisfying, sweet taste to its wonderful health benefits. Its no wonder, like a love affair, we find ourselves craving and caving in to a delightful chocolaty, delicious, melt-in-your mouth goodness. When we hear the word chocolate, we picture a bar or a box of bonbons or an Easter chocolate bunny. Modern historians estimate that chocolate has been around for about 2,000 years, but recent research suggest that it may be even older as much as 4,000 years. 90% of chocolate’s history was strictly a beverage and sugar had nothing to do with it.

A self proclaimed chocolate educator by the name of Alexandra Leaf, calls chocolate the best-known food that nobody knows anything about.

Chocolate is made from the fruit of cacao trees, native to Central and South America. The Olmecs, one of the earliest civilizations in Latin America were the first to turn the cacao plant into chocolate, they drank it during ritual and used it as medicine. Eventually cocoa beans were used as currency, no one knows for sure when it arrived to Spain, but Hernan Cortes was believed to have discovered it during an expedition to the Americas.

Chocolate quickly became popular among the rich and wealthy, even Catholic monks loved the chocolate and drank it to aid religious practices. It wasn’t until 1828, that the chocolate press was invented that revolutionized chocolate making, and when poured into a mold and it solidified into an edible bar, it was then the modern era of chocolate was born. Today there are many forms of it, milk, dark, sweet, semisweet, couverture, white, ruby, raw, compound, modeling and on and on. I could write a mini book on this subject. Maybe I can explore more and write a continuance on chocolate.

The Recipes

This is irresistible! A cinch to make, if you’re fan of fairy or sponge candy, probably the ingredients are in your pantry and it could be fun! You’ll love this! May bring back memories of childhood times.

Mine Run Candy Prep: 20 min. Cook: 20 min. and cooling Makes 2lbs.

Ingredients:

2 Tsp. butter

1 cup sugar

1 cup dark corn syrup

1 Tbs. vinegar

1 Tsp. Baking soda

1 pkg. (11 ½ oz.) milk chocolate chips

1 Tbs. Shortening

Directions:

1. Line a 13X9 inch pan with foil and grease the foil with butter.

Set aside. In a large heavy saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and vinegar.

Cook and stir over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Bring to boil. Cook without stirring, until a candy thermometer reads 300* (hard-crack stage).

2. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Immediately pour into 13X9 pan. Do not spread the candy. Cool. Gently peel off foil, break candy into pieces.

3. In a microwave, melt chocolate chips and shortening together, stirring until smooth.

Dip candy pieces into chocolate mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Place on waxed paper; let stand until set. Store in an airtight container.

On the Western edge of Lake Huron, between the two peninsulas, visitors flocked to this 4 square mile island for the best fudge in this country, besides its historic landmarks and beautiful scenery, the down town boast 14 fudge shop locations, that produces more than 10,000 pounds daily with dozens of flavors. As special entertainment, you can be enchanted as you walk around and peek through the windows to watch fudge being made.

Just Fudge it, it says, on a shambled piece of paper stuck into one of my cookbooks, the fudge a rich, chocolaty, flavorful delight. A treat you can make at home and take your taste buds on a chocolate trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan! No passport required! Ingredients are listed in steps as you put together your fudge.

Mackinac Fudge Makes 3lbs. (Makes 117 pieces).

1. Line a 13X9 pan with foil; grease foil with 2 tsp. of butter.

2. In a large saucepan, combine 4 cups of sugar, 1 cup of milk and 1 cup of butter. Bring to boil over medium heat. Stirring constantly, then cook for 2 minutes without stirring.

3. Stir in 25 large marshmallows until melted. Add an11.5 oz. pkg of milk chocolate chips, 2 cups semisweet chips, and 2 oz. Unsweetened chopped chocolate: Stir until all is melted. Remove from heat.

4. Stir in 1 tsp. of vanilla extract, mix well then immediately spread in prepared pan. Cool for an hour.

5. Score into 1 inch squares. Refrigerate covered, 3 hours or until firm. Using the foil lift out the fudge. Remove the foil, cut fudge.

Chocolate Decadence cake (from chef John’s cookbook)

Ingredients:

18 oz. Semisweet chocolate, chopped

2/3 unsalted butter

5 large eggs, at room temperature

4 tsp. sugar

4 tsp. Flour

pinch of cayenne pepper

pinch of salt

 

Make cake

1. Preheat oven to 425*. Grease and flour a 9-inch round cake pan.

2. Melt chocolate and butter in a double-boiler over medium heat, stirring frequently and scrapping down sides with a spatula. Remove from heat.

3. Beat together eggs and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and very thick, 5 to 10 minutes. Whisk in flour, cayenne and salt.

4. Stir ¼ of egg mixture into chocolate mix. Then pour chocolate mixture into remaining egg mix; fold in until combined. Pour batter into prepared cake pan.

5. Bake just until barely set, with a jiggle below surface, about 15-16 minutes. Let cool to room temp, cover with foil and chill for at least one hour.

Ingredients for the Raspberry Coulis:

1 c. fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed

2 tbs. sugar

powdered sugar and whipped cream, for garnish

Make the Coulis

6. Blend raspberries and sugar in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove seeds. Garnish cake with powdered sugar, whipped cream and Coulis. Enjoy!

I think, deep down we all crave chocolate in some form or other, whether it’s from a gift box, or a chocolate bar bought at the store counter, or chocolate mint, rocky road or cookies and cream ice cream, I know Mama has a stash of the little ones hidden all over the place, and sometimes she surprises herself finding one. She says it keeps her from eating them all and it makes her smile when she does find one tucked away. Happy Fooding! Happy chocolating!

You can drop me a line at [email protected] You all have been so wonderful sending your love.~It makes me smile.~and the last words belong to~Charles M. Schulz~”All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”~

 

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