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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Chocolate >>  Cocoa Chocolate

Cocoa Chocolate

Fine cocoa results in fine chocolates. The pleasure of devouring a chocolate is a personal experience and the credit must go to cocoa as much as to the chocolatier. Cocoa tree or Theobroma cacao is principally grown in the central and South America, West Africa and Asia. It must be noted that cocoa is largely produced by developing countries for the consumption of industrialized countries. The cocoa tree is a tropical plant and requires hot -rainy climate to grow.
Temperatures ranging from 21 to 32 degree centigrade and rainfall between 1150 to 2500 mm per year are ideal for cocoa plantation. The cocoa beans are later processed to derive cocoa liquor, cocoa butter and cocoa powder. Three varieties of cocoa are commonly grown globally and Forastero is the top variety that accounts for 90% of the cocoa beans produced globally.

Uses of Cocoa: Production of chocolate is one of the top uses for which cocoa beans are cultivated. Other intermediate products such as cocoa butter and cocoa powder also have a global market. Cocoa powder is also used to flavor biscuits, dairy drinks, ice cream and cakes. Chocolate milk or hot chocolate requires cocoa powder. Cocoa butter also has significant use in soap and cosmetics. Cocoa butter is commonly used as home remedies for dry lips, wounds and burns. Cocoa butter is regarded for its antiseptic and diuretic properties.

Processing Cocoa:  Chocolate making and Cocoa processing are two different processes. Cocoa processing implies the conversion of cocoa beans into different form such as cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, cocoa cakes and cocoa powder. Chocolate making requires refining and blending cocoa intermediates such as cocoa liquor and cocoa powder with other ingredients such as milk and sugar. Cocoa beans are roasted and then ground into paste to derive cocoa liquor. The cocoa liquor is further processed to derive cocoa butter and use of hydraulic presses help derive cocoa cakes from cocoa liquor. The cocoa cakes are commonly used by the baking and confectionery fraternity.

Health Benefits of Cocoa: Cocoa contains antioxidants known as polyphenols which may boost levels of HDL or good cholesterol. Cocoa and other dark chocolate products are also known sources of concentrated flavonoids. Intake of flavonoids can improve blood vessel function and minimize  risk of heart ailments. It is important to note that cocoa per se can benefit heart functioning but when mixed with milk or sugar can increase the risk of heart problems. The health benefits of cocoa are limited to raw cocoa and dark chocolate as level of flavonoids recede with cooking. Processed chocolate mixed with various ingredients such as milk, corn syrup, dairy cream can reduce the health benefits of cocoa.  Cocoa butter is used to moisturize skin, burns and wounds. Cocoa butter also helps reduce wrinkles around the eyes, mouth and neck area. Applying cocoa butter also helps prevent stretch marks. Cocoa butter recipe is a simple recipe that includes ingredients such as sweet almond oil, essential oil and cocoa butter. This can be made and used at home.

Drawbacks of cocoa intake: chocolates are calorie rich and therefore do not qualify as health foods. Also, certain ingredients in a chocolate have addictive properties. The stimulating properties such as caffeine and sugar elevate mood levels and can initiate addiction. Intake of chocolate is also known to cause migraine headaches. Chocolate also must be avoided by those having active or recurring herpes infections. High intake of chocolates can have drastic effects on health. Moderate intake is the best way to enjoy the chocolate and stay away from the disadvantages.

Recipes: Cocoa and chocolate offer a wide variety of recipe options. Cocoa is used to make cocoa chocolate cakes, cocoa dark chocolate, cocoa chocolate chip cookies, hot chocolate and chocolate brownies. The list can be endless.

Some all time favorite chocolate recipes are:

Cocoa chocolate cake: The chocolate cake cannot be absent in an array of cake presentations. Many prefer the chocolate cake for more than one reason. A simple chocolate cake recipe can be made in twenty minutes and include ingredients such as:
• Cocoa powder ( 2tbsp)
• All purpose flour (1 Cup)
• Baking Powder (1 Tsp)
• Soda Bi-Carbonate (half Teaspoon)
• Condensed milk ( half Tin)
• Melted Butter ( half cup)
• Vanilla Essence ( 1 Tsp)

The cocoa powder is sifted with the flour, soda bicarbonate and baking powder. All other ingredients are mixed with the flour and combined with half cup water. The mixture must be whisked well. Preheat the oven at 180°C (360°F). Pour the mixture in a greased baking tin and bake for twenty minutes. Test the cake after twenty minutes with a knife or fork. The fork or knife must come clean after inserting it into the cake. Remove from oven and leave it to cool.

Cocoa chocolate recipe: Chocolate and cocoa cookies are an all time favorite among kids and adults. This recipe includes other ingredients such as eggs, granulated sugar, vanilla, chopped walnuts, all purpose flour, unsalted butter and semi sweet chocolate bits. This simple recipe yields tasty chocolate chip cookies.

• 2 Eggs
• ¾ Cup granulated sugar
• ¾ Cup light brown sugar
• 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
• 1 Cup unsalted butter
• 2 ¼ Cup all purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 1 ½ cup chocolate chips
• 1 Cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans ( optional)

The oven must be preheated to 190°C (375°F). Use a electric or hand mixer to beat the butter until creamy.  After both white and brown sugar is added, it must be beaten until the mixture is fluffy. Beat the eggs one at a time and finally add the vanilla. In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Now add this mixture to the egg, butter mixture, slowly adding the chocolate chips and nuts. Refrigerate the dough after mixing well all the ingredients. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes. Put two spoons of dough on the baking sheet for each cookie and bake in the oven for twelve to fourteen minutes. Cool on a wire rack.
Submitted on January 16, 2014