Chocolate demystified – part 1

“In your other post you said that you promised to write about cocoa butter. Butter, I get, cocoa, I get too, but cocoa butter? Why mix cocoa and butter? I don’t think that this kind of spread could compete with Nutella or more importantly real chocolate. You know? The one you find in good chocolate bars or transformed into confections?”

I see, with you we have to start from scratch!

Chocolate as you know it – the kind we buy and eat – does not grow on trees wrapped in foil. Chocolate is in fact made out of cocoa beans, the seeds of a cacao pod, which grows on trees (”Theobroma Cacao”).

“Ooooh, so one could say that chocolate is made out of a fruit? Does the “five a day” rule apply?”

If you were not constantly thinking about food for your cravings, you might actually learn something.

Where does chocolate come from?

  • Cacao trees grow in warm, humid regions near the equator. The trees often grow in the shade of banana trees. The conditions are best up to 20° north and south of the equator.
  • The fruit (“pod”) is harvested twice a year even though harvesting year round would be possible. Look at the picture below. One can see pods and blossoms and buds on the tree at the same time. It constantly blooms and creates fruits, isn’t that neat?


  • The fruit contains pulp and 20-60 cocoa beans. At first people only ate the pulp and threw the beans away. The beans were exposed to the sun and fermented – a much better flavor developed and started the worldwide popularity of chocolate.


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Tiny red beauty

There I was: I had just promised Arfi of HomeMadeS to write a post about cocoa butter and working with it. I was very excited about this and felt a bit like a kid in the candy store. What kind of pictures would I have to take to showcase this gorgeous ingredient that shines more in ones mouth than anywhere else? How can I put the vast information available in one post? And on my mind went…

But: Yesterday I had finally found the raspberries I was looking for. I wanted to take pictures for a breakfast blogging event. As flavor can not be published in a blog I needed gorgeous specimens to visually convince potential readers of trying the recipe. Trust me – a taste test would have convinced you in a heartbeat! My friend A. was hooked after the first spoon full. The main theme will be yet another granola in the blogging world – eventually.

I had my project well prepared, pulled a few extra props out of the basement, set the camera to autopilot (just kidding) and started.

Then I fell in love…


I can practically hear my husband taking a very deep breath while reading this even though he is thousands of miles away right now – in Munich, Germany. Don’t worry – no danger for you anywhere! I fell in love with one of the raspberries or rather a few of them and started taking close up pictures and playing around with lights and our (fairly new) Canon 40D. I flipped the mirror back and forth, adjusted all kinds of different things that I just hoped would all go back to default settings once the camera is switched off again as I have no clue how to undo them (another, even deeper breath from my husband right now ;-) ). See? You should not have left me alone with our your gadgets! Now I just wonder – whom will he check on first when returning next week? The kids, me, or maybe the camera? Oooh, should I mention that I intend to also work on something on his computer? Maybe not, or he will cut his business trip short. Then again…


So, before I can move on to more important things I just had to show you my new love(s). Unfortunately writing their obituaries would be more appropriate already – they barely made it through the photo shoot.

Dear raspberries – you were as yummy as you looked – Thank you!