There are a number of dates throughout the year that celebrate chocolate. But World Chocolate Day during the summer is as good a reason as any to celebrate all things cocoa.
World Chocolate Day: The history of chocolate begins in Mesoamerica, a cultural area in the Americas and one of the six world-wide sites where independent ancient civilisations began. Fermented beverages made from chocolate date back to 350BC. And cacao seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency. When cacao arrived in Europe in the 16th century, sugar was added and this aphrodisiacal foodstuff became popular throughout society. In the 20th century, chocolate was considered an essential ration for US soldiers at war.
Whether you’re a fan of intense dark chocolate, or channelling your inner Milky Bar Kid, it’s not the time to criticise others for their choice. Instead, it’s a time to indulge in your chosen indulgence.
For something a little different to chocolate ice cream, chocolate cake or chocolate biscuits, why not try our strange pairings that prove the chocolate is a truly versatile treat.
For the perfect sweet/salty combination in cakes, try adding parmesan and dark chocolate. The salty parmesan is a perfect foil to the bitter-sweet chocolate.
Pep up your apple crumble by trying a different topping. Add quinoa flakes to your crumble mix, along with a liberal helping of cocoa or grated chocolate.
Not likely to be part of the standard Full English Breakfast, nevertheless bacon and chocolate are a good match for each other. Bacon is regularly paired with maple syrup, so we know the sweet/salty combination works well. Make sure bacon is crispy for added crunch, and enjoy how the saltiness intensifies the flavour of the chocolate.
Soft herbs like basil and mint work very well with chocolate. Woody herbs like rosemary are suited to both dark and milk chocolates.
Soft fruits are often paired with chocolate such as strawberries, but tomatoes work too, as do olive pieces.
Chilli and chocolate was first paired more than 2000 years ago by the Mayans, and with good reason. Chilli contains capsaicin, a chemical that helps release endorphins. Chocolate stimulates serotonin in the brain, a natural chemical which triggers heightened sensitivity and a sense of euphoria. When they are eaten together the two combine to produce a natural “high”. This explains why chilli chocolate is so popular.
If you enjoy chocolate, then don’t forget to make sure World Chocolate Day is in your diaries for later this year.