Chocolate is without a doubt the world's favourite dessert.
This delicious treat is made from the fruit of cacao trees, which contain cacao beans. The beans are dried and roasted to create cacao. Cacao refers to cacao beans that have not been roasted. Cocoa powder is made of beans that have been roasted. Dark chocolate that is naturally vegan is a healthy antioxidant-rich dessert.
Cacao contains more protein, fibre, magnesium and iron. Cocoa without added sugar is still relatively high in nutrition and is a more affordable option.
Where is chocolate from?
For centuries, people worldwide have been enjoying this fantastic and healthy dessert in different ways - from simple drinks to bars and cakes.
Although it is not precisely clear who invented chocolate, it is believed that Olmecs - ancient Indians from Mexico, used cacao to create their ceremonial drinks. Olmecs never wrote about cocoa, but they passed their know-how to Mayans, who were the first ones to mention chocolate drinks. Chocolate was then available to everyone. They used to drink it during special celebrations and almost with every meal. The Aztecs believed cacao was given to them by their gods, and it was more valuable than gold. They also used cacao beans as currency to exchange for goods and food.
How chocolate arrived to Europe?
We don't really know how cacao arrived in Europe, but for sure, the first country to welcome chocolate was Spain. One story says it was brought by Columbus; another one claims it was brought by Cortes or the Spanish king Philip II. Spain, as well as Italy and France, started importing chocolate in the late 1500s. And it soon became a much-loved and fashionable indulgence in wealthy houses in the European cities.
For all these centuries, chocolate was enjoyed as a drink. The beverage was prepared with the addition of water, and most of the time, it was vegan. Sometimes people used milk to add to it.
Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten discovered a way to treat cacao beans with alkaline salts to make powder cocoa that was easier to mix with water. He also invented the press machine, which separated cocoa butter from roasted cocoa beans. This process made it easy to create cocoa powder and other chocolate products. And this invention made chocolate cheaper and more widely affordable.
First chocolate bar
The first chocolate bar was created by British chocolatier J.S. Fry and Sons in 1847. They created a bar made with sugar, cocoa butter and chocolate liquor.
The first milk chocolate was created by Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter in 1876. He added dried milk powder to chocolate. Later, together with his friend Henri Nestle they started a company, and they brought milk chocolate to the mass market.
In 1879, another Swiss chocolatier, Rudolf Lindt, was trying to make chocolate easier to chew and invented the conching machine to mix chocolate with other ingredients and give it a smooth, creamy consistency.
By the late 19th century and early 20th century, the demand for chocolate grew, and big chocolate companies such as Cadbury, Mars, Nestle and Hershey were promoting and selling a variety of chocolate confections.
Throughout 20 century and now, chocolate has been mass-produced around the world.
Vegan chocolate is better for the planet
Large companies are looking for cheaper ingredients and labour. However, small brands create unique recipes and chocolate products, including lots of vegan chocolate options. You can now easily find vegan chocolate drinks and vegan milk chocolate bars.
Vegan chocolatiers try their best to make chocolate that benefits people, animals and the planet. Many companies care about using the ingredients as pure as possible. They reconsider how they get their cocoa supply and aim to make "fair trade" and sustainable chocolate which they deliver in environmentally friendly packaging. Most of the vegan chocolate brands are also fair trade and sustainable.
Try one (or more!) of these amazing vegan chocolate brands at TheVeganKind Supermarket.