Chocolate & Cacao | Chocolate Pictures Photos Images & Fotos { 26 images } Created 15 Mar 2010

Chocolate food pictures, photos & Images. Chocolate has become one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world. Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes have become traditional on certain holidays: chocolate bunnies and eggs are popular on Easter, chocolate coins on Hanukkah, Santa Claus and other holiday symbols on Christmas, and chocolate hearts or chocolate in heart-shaped boxes on Valentine's Day. Chocolate is also used in cold and hot beverages, to produce chocolate milk and hot chocolate.

Chocolate in its solid form was invented in 1847. Joseph Fry & Son discovered a way to mix some of the cocoa butter back into the dutched chocolate, and added sugar, creating a paste that could be moulded. The result was the first modern chocolate bar.

For hundreds of years, the chocolate making process remained unchanged. When the people saw the Industrial Revolution arrive, many changes occurred that brought about the food today in its modern form. A Dutch family's (van Houten) inventions made mass production of shiny, tasty chocolate bars and related products possible. In the 18th century, mechanical mills were created that squeezed out cocoa butter, which in turn helped to create hard, durable chocolate. But, it was not until the arrival of the Industrial Revolution that these mills were put to bigger use. Not long after the revolution cooled down, companies began advertising this new invention to sell many of the chocolate treats we see today. When new machines were produced, people began consuming chocolate worldwide.

Several types of chocolate can be distinguished. Pure, unsweetened chocolate contains primarily cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions. Much of the chocolate consumed today is in the form of sweet chocolate, combining chocolate with sugar. Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk. European rules specify a minimum of 25% total dry cocoa solids for Milk Chocolate. "White chocolate" contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk but no cocoa solids. Chocolate contains alkaloids such as theobromine and phenethylamine, which have some physiological effects in humans, but the presence of theobromine renders it toxic to some animals, such as dogs and cats. It has been linked to serotonin levels in the brain. Dark chocolate has been promoted for its health benefits, as it seems to possess substantial amount of antioxidants that reduce the formation of free radicals.

Dark chocolate is produced by adding fat and sugar to the cacao mixture. The U.S. Government calls this "sweet chocolate", and requires a 15% concentration of chocolate liquor. European rules specify a minimum of 35% cocoa solids. Dark chocolate, with its high cocoa content, is a rich source of epicatechin and gallic acid, which are thought to possess cardioprotective properties.

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