Chocolate comes from the fermented, roasted, and ground beans of the cacao or cocoa tree. The word "Chocolate" comes from the Nahualt language of the Aztecs. The Nahualt word xocolatl means bitter water. The pre-Columbian peoples of the Americans drank chocolate mixed with vanilla, chile pepper, and achiote. Europeans sweetened it by adding sugar and milk and removing the chile pepper. They later created a process to make solid chocolate creating the modern chocolate bar. Although cocoa is originally from the Americas, today Western Africa produces almost two-thirds of the world´s cocoa, with Côte d´Ivoire growing almost half of it. Today, it is one of the most popular and recognizable flavors in the world.
A Short History of Chocolate
Chocolate is made from the seed of the cacao tree, a tree native to lowland areas of South America. Cacao was used as far back in history as 1100 BC. Although historical evidence shows the Mayans used the cacao bean prior to this, most of the popular credit is given to the Aztec civilizations. Cacao played an important role in the Aztec society, serving both as a drink and as currency. Columbus originally observed the natives scrambling to pick up the seeds when they spilled without realizing their value to them. The drink “xocolatl” or “bitter water” was consumed by the Aztec elite society. According to legend the Aztec ruler Montezuma consumed up to fifty cups of chocolate a day. Perhaps the myth of chocolate was born when Europeans first observed Montezuma drinking xocolatl prior to visiting his concubine.
Although Columbus actually was the first to bring cacao back to Spain, it wasn’t until Cortez returned to Spain with cacao beans that Europeans first started consuming it. Unlike the people of South America, Europeans found the drink bitter and sweetened it with sugar. Within 100 years the secrets of cacao had spread throughout Europe and chocolate was a favorite in the royal courts of Europe.
In 1828 the Dutch chemist Van Houten invented a press to extract the cocoa butter from the roasted ground beans leading to the invention of the chocolate bar. When Daniel Peters developed a technique to incorporate condensed milk into the chocolate and was able to maintain a stable product milk chocolate was born. At around the same time in the United States, Milton Hershey used fresh whole milk.
History is sprinkled with anecdotes relating to chocolate and its various uses. In addition to Montezuma’s use of cacao as an aphrodisiac, the great Italian lover Cassanova allegedly used chocolate for the same reason. Reportedly he actually preferred chocolate to champagne. At one stage, chocolate was marketed as a medicine both in the United States and in Europe.
Check out these gorgeous pics the lovely bride and groom's friends snapped of our chocolates in beautiful 4 piece favor boxes (customized with monograms and the date of the wedding) as well as the chocolates set into a beautiful spread on the tables of the wedding reception. This whole wedding was done so beautifully and our custom compartes chocolates for wedding favors were a special added touch that complimented everything! Check out the pics and please call us at 310.826.3380 for inquiries on favor boxes we can put together for your next event!
Grammy-winner Faith Evans and Compartes Chocolatier have teamed up to donate 5,000 boxes of our chocolate Love Nuts directly to the shelters housing victims of the Japanese earthquake & tsunami. Compartes Japan staff have begun delivering the chocolates as a symbol of hope, love and sweetness to the survivors providing them a little bit of sweet sustenance in the form of these delicious chocolates. Faith Evans is proud to be able to give this gift to the people of Japan in an effort to help the victims of the devastating tsunami and earthquake disaster. Follow @Compartes on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/compartes for updates on our efforts.
For a grand opening of new branches, City National Bank customized our delicious organic Sea Salt + Caramel chocolates! Handmade in our Los Angeles chocolate factory and personally delivered to the City National Bank event, Compartes unique, high-quality gourmet chocolates are truly the perfect corporate branded gift!
Here's a formula for sensational skin: cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, and . . . chocolate?
I know this sounds a little weird, ok, a lot weird, but these are some awesome brownies. And anyway, it's not like I'm pouring PBR into my brownie mix. The trick is in using a dark, malty beer you like that already has some desserty characteristics. Toasty, bready, toffee, coffee, chocolate flavors come to mind, and you can go a little crazy with the possibilities (could you imagine coffee porter brownies??). I chose to use the Bruery's Rugbrod, a toasty, spicy, Christmas-y Danish Rye ale that gave the brownies a lightness belied by their fudginess. It sounds contradictory, fudgy yet light, but the bubbles appear to be working their magic. To put an exclamation point on the spiciness I added a pinch of cayenne and cinnamon, just for a hint lingering in the background, and lightly sprinkled halved walnuts on top for their toasty, nutty goodness. I love how rustic the scattered walnuts look on top of the brownies, plus they add a lovely crunch. Enjoy! PS - Compartes makes seasonal beer chocolate truffles too!
We all know how much energy children have, but wait till you bring them to Compartes Chocolatier to dip their own chocolate! Yes, that’s right, last weekend at Compartes Chocolatier, more than twenty children came to dip their own chocolates… it was not as messy as it sounds!
Entering in little groups they first each gave their name which was written down and attached to their own tray. They then received a guided tour of the factory containing some of the original Compartes equipment from 1950…
… and then came the fun! Into the Magic Room, laid out on plates were marshmallows, Oreo cookies, Graham Crackers and Pretzels...
Choosing five pieces each, the children dipped their selections into the kettles of milk and dark chocolate, laid each piece out on their tray, then with a bit of effort (waiting for chocolate to dry is as exciting as it is difficult, at any age!) tried their patience outside with fun and games.
Twenty minutes later and finally dry, they collected their very own hand-dipped confections and sat down to enjoy the deliciousness and satisfaction. We were left with some very happy children!!
Does this sound like something you are interested in doing for your children? Please drop in to our store, call or email us for more information on planning your own chocolate-covered party!