Cocoa and Chocolate

The cacao tree (Theobroma cacao) is native to Mexico. Although successfully cultivated between the twentieth parallels of latitude, its industry is chiefly confined to Mexico, South America, and the West Indies. Cocoa and chocolate are both prepared from seeds of the cocoa bean. The bean pod is from seven to ten inches long, and three to four and one-half inches in diameter. Each pod contains from twenty to forty seeds, imbedded in mucilaginous material. Cocoa beans are dried previous to importation. Like coffee, they need roasting to develop flavor. After roasting, outer covering of bean is removed; this covering makes what is known as cocoa shells, which have little nutritive value. The beans are broken and sold as cocoa nibs.

The various preparations of cocoa on the market are made from ground cocoa nibs, from which, by means of hydraulic pressure, a large amount of fat is expressed, leaving a solid cake. This in turn is pulverized and mixed with sugar, and frequently a small amount of corn-starch or arrowroot. To some preparations cinnamon or vanilla is added. Broma contains both arrowroot and cinnamon.

Chocolate is made from cocoa nibs, but contains a much larger proportion of fat than cocoa preparations. Bitter, sweet, or flavored chocolate is always sold in cakes.

The fat obtained from cocoa bean is cocoa butter, which gives to cocoa its principal nutrient.

Cocoa and chocolate differ from tea and coffee inasmuch as they contain nutriment as well as stimulant. Theobromine, the active principle, is almost identical with theine and caffeine in its composition and effects.

Many people who abstain from the use of tea and coffee find cocoa indispensable. Not only is it valuable for its own nutriment, but for the large amount of milk added to it. Cocoa may well be placed in the dietary of a child after his third year, while chocolate should be avoided as a beverage, but may be given as a confection. Invalids and those of weak digestion can take cocoa where chocolate would prove too rich.

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