Chocolate lovers, rejoice: The Dallas Chocolate Conference & Festival is happening on Saturday. It sounds very important, and very tasty. (Technically, it’s in Addison at the Addison Conference Centre.)
“Think” host Krys Boyd explored this delicious topic on Thursday's program. If you missed it, listen here.
So that you are up to speed on this very important subject, study up on all things chocolate. Join us on a decadent, delicious tour of what's called the "food of the gods":
One of Krys' guests was Adrienne Newman, aka Madame Cocoa, who dazzled (and drizzled) us with her chocolate expertise. She teaches a “Chocolate 101” class at University of Texas at Austin. (Sounds like a tough gig.) Newman is the mistress of ceremonies and presenter for the Dallas Chocolate Conference.
OK, so if you have a chocolate bar within reach, this will be a good time to grab it. Or chocolate mousse. Or chocolate cake. Or a chocolate chip cookie. Or chocolate ice cream.
1. The history: For a very long time, chocolate was a beverage, not a candy bar. Smithsonian Magazine reports: "Etymologists trace the origin of the word 'chocolate' to the Aztec word 'xocoatl,' which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means 'food of the gods.' Many modern historians have estimated that chocolate has been around for about 2,000 years, but recent research suggests that it may be even older."
2. Chocolate is magical: Again, Smithsonian Magazine reports: "Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, or even divine, properties, suitable for use in the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death. According to Chloe Doutre-Roussel's book The Chocolate Connoisseur, Aztec sacrifice victims who felt too melancholy to join in ritual dancing before their death were often given a gourd of chocolate (tinged with the blood of previous victims) to cheer them up."
3. Chocolate in the U.S.: Chocolate first arrived in the U.S. in 1765 with the establishment of the first chocolate factory in Massachusetts Bay Colony.
4. Ooh, Ghirardelli: Domingo Ghirardelli establishes his first chocolate factory in San Francisco – way back in 1852.
5. And a shout-out to Hershey: The Hershey Chocolate Company got in the chocolate business in 1894. According to Hershey: "Using chocolate-making equipment purchased at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, Milton Hershey’s Lancaster Caramel Company produced baking chocolate, cocoa and sweet chocolate coatings for the parent company’s caramels. But things changed with the hiring of William Murrie to sell the excess product to other confectioners. Murrie was so successful a salesman that the Hershey Chocolate Company quickly turned into a viable concern on its own. Milton Hershey became even more convinced that his future in the candy business lay in chocolate, not caramels."
6. Chocolate – a health food?: Don’t take our word for it. The Cleveland Clinic chimes in. “Chocolate has gotten a lot of media coverage in recent years because it's believed that it may help protect your cardiovascular system,” the clinic says on its website. “The reasoning being that the cocoa bean is rich in a class of plant nutrients called flavonoids.” But only certain types of chocolate are healthy. And, of course, you’ve gotta eat it in moderation.
7. That’s a lot of candy bars: Bloomberg reports that chocolate sales will rise 6.2 percent to a record $117 billion next year, researcher Euromonitor International Ltd. estimates. Demand for cocoa beans will jump 3 percent to 5 percent in 2013-14. But the cost of cocoa beans has soared since the start of the year, signaling a rise in the price of chocolate for consumers, the BBC reports.
8. Say what?: Check out Ghirardelli’s Chocopedia.
9. Want to attend Saturday’s chocolate convention? Click here for more details. The Chocolate Conference kicks off at 10 a.m. with the Chocolatiers’ Roundtable, “a free-flowing panel discussion with all participating chocolatiers.” There’s also the Chocolate Festival, “a room of wall-to-wall chocolate where attendees can choose to sample chocolates from over 15 chocolatiers and chocolate makers.”
10. Want a list of Dallas chocolatiers? Of course you do. (You're welcome.)
11. The best chocolate in Dallas? D Magazine investigates.
12. A truly sweet little black dress: Some dresses are made of chocolate. We have proof.
13. Some chocolatey goodness via an old-school video: And let’s wrap things up (for now) with a look back at a classic chocolate mousse recipe with the late, great Julia Child, the doyenne of cooking. Bon appetit!
“This is the perfect chocolate mousse!” Julia squealed. “Smooth, light, creamy. And it’s only eggs, sugar, butter and chocolate. The secret is how you combine them. Learn how when we do Mousse au Chocolat today on ‘The French Chef!’”