Who invented cocoa? Has its preparation changed over the years? And how come we feel so happy when we eat chocolate?
We collected some exciting facts about cocoa and chocolate as well as links to information about cocoa and palm oil!
Suitable for age group: 6-99 years
Especially interesting for: People who are interested in nutrition and like to try out recipes; families and foodies
Preparation time: about 30 minutes
For about 12 servings:
80g butter or margarine
50g nuts, finely chopped or ground
60-80g honey or agave syrup
20g cocoa powder (baking cocoa)
1 pinch of vanilla pulp
For the very brave: some chili
1) Melt butter in a pot or pan and let it cool down briefly. You can also melt the butter in the microwave, but be careful that it doesn't get too hot.
2) Split the vanilla bean with a sharp knife and scrape it out.
Pro-tip: Pick up the scraped vanilla bean and fill the small glass tube in which you bought it with sugar. Wait a few days and you will have your own vanilla sugar. Perfect for cookie season!
3) Put the nuts in a bowl, then add the cocoa powder and the vanilla pulp. Make sure to use baking cocoa.
We used chopped and grated hazelnuts but you can use other types of nuts as well.
4) Add the honey and butter and mix everything using a mixer or fork until it's creamy.
Let it cool down in the refrigerator and your nut-chocolate spread is ready.
Chocolate is made from cocoa beans. They grow mainly in Africa and South America because they like the warm and humid climate (they can't survive temperatures below 16°C, so unfortunately you cannot have a cocoa plantation in your own garden). The cocoa beans are then used to make cocoa powder and chocolate in a complex process.
Humans discovered the potential of cocoa over 3000 years ago. The Olmecs, who lived in the fertile lowlands of the Gulf of Mexico, were among the first to prepare a cocoa drink. The Maya and later the Aztecs took over the cultivation of cocoa. The Maya even believed that the cocoa plant was of divine origin. They celebrated great feasts in honor of the cocoa god Ek Chuah, during which they of course drank cocoa. This drink was called Xocóatl and consisted of water, cocoa, vanilla and chili. If you are up for it, you can try to spice up your nut-chocolate spread with some chili!
The indigenous people of Latin America were so enthusiastic about cocoa that they not only used it as currency (cocoa beans), but also believed it to have health-promoting effects.
Picture: Ek Chuah with name glyph in Codex Dresdensis
© Sylvanus Griswold Morley, (1883–1948), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Today we know that cocoa contains serotonin and dopamine. Both can lead to good mood in our body.
But there are also other substances in cocoa (e.g. polyphenols) that can be good for our cardiovascular system.
And there is still much we do not know about cocoa. One could say that even after more than 3000 years,
the cocoa bean has still not told us all its secrets.
If you cannot imagine a life without chocolate, you are lucky that you were not born before the 16th century. Until then, chocolate was only available as a bitter, frothy drink in Mesoamerica. But how did we get from a bitter drink to the chocolate bars we have today?
© Deanna Pucciarelli, Animation from TED-Ed.
We hear a lot about the impacts of palm oil on forests and endangered species such as the orangutan. But did you know that solutions exist to produce palm oil that does not harm people or nature? Take 5 minutes to find out how it works to help reduce deforestation and biodiversity loss in the tropics.
© WWF International
Created and tested by Sandra Kollmansperger