So much chocolate, so little time

Wednesday, April 4, 2001 at 1:00am

Is chocolate your passion? Since few people abstain, you probably allow yourself the sweet indulgence of chocolate in many forms.

It may be hard to pinpoint when your love for chocolate began. It might have been those childhood chocolate marshmallow sundaes made with velvety, deeply chocolate Purity ice cream sparsely scattered with divine little ice particles. Or possibly, it could have been just a Hershey bar, which, in my opinion, is the king and queen of chocolate bars. Cakes, pies, candies, tortes, syrups, cookies, bars, puddings, ice creams, whatever way you enjoy it, there is no substitute for the real thing.

Probably no need to convince you of its virtues, but are you aware of what it takes to make eating and cooking chocolate?

The vast variety of chocolate products we enjoy today evolved over a long period of time. Our knowledge of the tropical cocoa bean dates back to the 16th century when the beans were used for currency and medicinal purposes to bolster the weak and rickety. They were made into an unsweetened, bitter drink called tchocolcatl, which was consumed for its restorative properties. The concoction was favored for aphrodisiac effects and as nourishment to relieve hunger during fasts.

The Spaniards first discovered chocolate, a derivative of the bean. When Europeans colonized Mexico, they cultivated cocoa plantations. Sugar cane was also a Mexican crop, and some ingenious person mixed cocoa with sugar and vanilla, giving birth to one of the world

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