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Chocolate is a food made from the seeds of a cacao tree and is used in many desserts, cakes, puddings, candies, and ice cream. Chocolate can be in a solid form like a candy bar, semi-liquid like a ganache, or it can be in a liquid form like hot chocolate.
See the fact file below for more information about chocolate or alternatively, you can download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Facts about Chocolate
- Chocolate is a delicious and decadent food made from roasted and ground beans from cacao pods.
- It has many applications and so it comes in a variety of different forms, such as a liquid, solid, or paste, on its own, or as a flavoring agent in other foods.
- Hugely popular today, cacao has a long history of consumption going all the way back to the 11th century BCE.
- Unlike the finished product, which is often sweet, the seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste and must be fermented to develop a rich, chocolatey flavor.
- Bitter chocolate, also called baking chocolate, contains cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions, without added sugar.
- Although the cocoa plant originated in the Americas, it was transported and cultivated in West African countries in the 19th century. West Africa is now the leading producer of cocoa in the 21st century, accounting for some 60% of the world’s cocoa supply.
- The three main varieties of cocoa beans used in chocolate are forastero, criollo, and trinitario.
- Gifts of chocolate molded into different shapes (such as eggs, hearts, and coins) are traditional on certain Western holidays, including Easter and Valentine’s Day.
- Chocolate is used in cold and hot beverages, such as milkshakes and hot chocolate, and in some alcoholic drinks, such as creme de cacao.
- The finest, plain dark chocolate couverture contains at least 70% cocoa (both solids and butter), whereas milk chocolate usually contains up to 50%.
Cacao Plant and Production
The Cacao Plant
- The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) is a small, 4–8 m tall (15–26 ft tall) evergreen tree native to the deep tropical region of the Americas. The scientific name, Theobroma, means “food of the gods”.
- Recent genetic studies suggest the plant originated in the Amazon basin and was gradually transported by humans throughout South and Central America.
- Cacao trees are small, understory trees that need rich, well-drained soils.
- They naturally grow within 20° of either side of the equator because they need about 2000 mm of rainfall a year and temperatures in the range of 21 to 32 °C (70 to 90 °F).
- Cacao trees cannot tolerate a temperature lower than 15 °C (59 °F).
- Cacao trees take 4-5 years to mature enough to yield fruit. They can also live to be 200 years old.
- The fruit, called a cacao pod, is ovoid in shape, 15–30 cm (6–12 in) long, and 8–10 cm (3–4 in) wide, ripening yellow to orange, and weighing about 500 g (1.1 lb) when ripe.
- A cacao tree can produce close to two thousand pods per year.
- Roughly two-thirds of the entire world’s cocoa is produced in West Africa, with 43% sourced from Côte d’Ivoire, where, as of 2007, child labor is a common practice to obtain the product.
- According to the World Cocoa Foundation, in 2007 some 50 million people around the world depended on cocoa as a source of livelihood.
- The Ivory Coast is reportedly the largest producer of cocoa in the world.
Harvesting and Processing
- Cocoa pods are harvested by cutting them from the tree using a machete (a broad blade implement similar to an ax) or by knocking them off the tree using a stick.
- Pods need to be fully ripe, because if the pod is unripe, the beans will have a low cocoa butter content, or sugars in the white pulp will be insufficient for fermentation, resulting in a weak flavor.
- Each pod encases 30 or 40 seeds.
- The beans, with their surrounding pulp, are removed from the pods and placed in piles or bins, allowing access to micro-organisms so fermentation of the pectin-containing material can begin.
- The fermentation process, which takes up to seven days, also produces several flavor precursors, eventually resulting in the familiar chocolate taste.
- After fermentation, the beans must be quickly dried to prevent mold growth.
- Climate and weather permitting, this is done by spreading the beans out in the sun for five to seven days.
- The dried beans are then transported to a chocolate manufacturing facility.
- The beans are cleaned (removing twigs, stones, and other debris), roaster, and graded.
- Then, the shell of each bean is removed to extract the nib.
- Finally, the nibs are ground and liquefied, resulting in pure chocolate in fluid form: chocolate liquor.
- The liquor is then processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
- The process of conching produces cocoa and sugar particles smaller than the tongue can detect and reduces rough edges, hence the smooth feel in the mouth.
- The length of the conching process determines the final smoothness and quality of the chocolate. High-quality chocolate is conched for about 72 hours and lesser grades for about four to six hours.
- The final process is called tempering.
- The uniform sheen and crisp bite of properly processed chocolate are the results of consistently small cocoa butter crystals produced by the tempering process.
- The two main jobs associated with creating chocolate candy are chocolate makers and chocolatiers.
- Chocolate makers use harvested cocoa beans and other ingredients to produce couverture (covering) chocolate.
- Chocolatiers use the finished couverture to make chocolate candies (bars, truffles, etc.).
- Much of the chocolate consumed today is a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter or added vegetable oils, and sugar.
- Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate that additionally contains milk powder or condensed milk.
- White chocolate contains cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, but no cocoa solids.
- Chocolate is one of the most popular food types and flavors in the world, and many foodstuffs involving chocolate exist, namely desserts, cakes, puddings, and cookies.
- Many candies are filled with or coated with sweetened chocolate.
Chocolate and People
- On some cacao plantations, there is a problem with child labor. In Ivory Coast, which is the world’s biggest cocoa producer, it is estimated there are between 12,000 and 200,000 children working on plantations.
- To prevent the exploitation of poor countries and communities, in the 2000s, a fair trade initiative was established to ensure that farmers and communities would benefit more from cocoa, rather than the majority of profits going to a middleman.
- Cocoa was used by the Olmecs and the Aztecs before the Spanish conquest in the 1600s. It was used in a drink that was foamy and bitter – very different from today’s modern hot chocolate.
- Chocolate is a central theme in Roald Dahl’s famous “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”.
- In the early 1900s, Milton Hershey was able to figure out how to mass-produce milk chocolate candy that the everyday person could afford.
This bundle contains 11 ready-to-use Chocolate Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more about Chocolate which is a food made from the seeds of a cacao tree. It is used in many desserts like pudding, cakes, candy, and ice cream. It can be a solid form like a candy bar or it can be in a liquid form like hot chocolate.
Download includes the following worksheets:
- Chocolate Facts
- The Chocolate Tree
- Match the Kinds of Chocolate
- Yummy Treats
- Chocolate Comes to Mind
- Chocolate Brand Search
- Chocolate Fill in the Blanks Scramble
- Chocolate Poem
- How to Make Chocolate
- Decode the Choco-code
- Love, Chocolate
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the biggest chocolate bar?
The Guinness World Record for the largest chocolate bar in the world was set by Thorntons PLC in the United Kingdom on September 07, 2011, and weighed 5792.50 kg (about 12,770 lbs).
How many cacao beans are needed to make a bar of chocolate?
It takes 400 cocoa beans to make one pound of chocolate.
Who created chocolate bars?
The creation of the first modern chocolate bar is credited to Joseph Fry.
What is special about chocolate?
Chocolate has a special melting point. It is the only edible substance that melts at just below body temperature, usually between 30 and 32 degrees Celcius.
What is the most popular chocolate?
Cadbury Creme Eggs are one of the most popular chocolate candies in the world. The company produces up to 1.5 million of their famous creme eggs daily, and over 500 million are made per year.
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Link will appear as Chocolate Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, October 23, 2017
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.