With Christmas nearly upon us, the subject of chocolate is high in our thoughts!
The Food of the Gods
Chocolate is made from the fruit of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao). The botanical name of the cacao tree is derived from the Greek theos, meaning ‘god’ and broma, meaning ‘food’, hence chocolate is ‘the food of the gods’.
St Nicholas & Chocolate Coins
The tradition of giving coins to children at Christmas is thought to have been started by Saint Nicholas (15 March 270 – 06 December 343), the bishop of Myra in Lycia; modern day Turkey. Legend has it that Saint Nicholas was an incredibly shy person who wanted to give money anonymously to help the poor children of Myra. One night, he climbed on a roof and threw a purse of money down a chimney, which conveniently landed in a pair of stockings (what are the chances!) that a little girl had hung up to dry by the fire. Today we give chocolate coins to children as a reminder of Saint Nicholas;
6th December is St Nicholas’s day.
The Different Types of Chocolate
Cacao beans are roasted, then crushed, to release the internal nib from the shells. The nibs are then ground into a thick brown liquid called cocoa mass. The cocoa mass is then separated into cocoa solids (powder) and cocoa butter.
- Dark or bitter chocolate contains mainly cocoa solids
- Sweet chocolate is a combination of cocoa solids, cocoa butter (or other fat) and sugar
- Milk chocolate is sweet chocolate plus milk powder or condensed milk
- White chocolate is made cocoa butter, sugar, and milk, but no cocoa solids
The Most Expensive Chocolate in the World
Le Chocolate Box is considered to be the world’s most expensive chocolates, albeit due to a technicality. While it does contain a wealth of chocolates from Lake Forest Confections, the high price tag is primarily due to the included necklaces, bracelets, rings, and other jewellery from Simon Jewellers. While impressively rich, Le Chocolate Box was mainly a promotional stunt, and you cannot find it for sale today at any price. Still, it remains the undisputed king of high-priced sweets at $1.5 million for one box.