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Chocolate Facts 101
By: Sophie Beck

When you are in the market for chocolate, you will wind up doing a lot of research through consumer magazines, products reviews and the Internet in order to get the best information and chocolate facts. Knowing what to look for in the highest quality will make your choice a lot easier.

Dark chocolates are made without milk as an additive. Milk chocolate is made with milk powder or condensed milk added. White chocolates are a confection based on cocoa butter without the cocoa solids. Unsweetened is pure chocolate liquor, also known as bitter or baking chocolate. Couverture is a term used for chocolates rich in cocoa butter. Bittersweet is chocolate liquor to which some sugar, more cocoa butter, vanilla and sometimes lecithin has been added. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate. Compound chocolate is the technical term for a confection combining cocoa with vegetable fat, usually tropical fats and/or hydrogenated fats, as a replacement for cocoa butter.

Cocoa powder. There are two types of unsweetened baking cocoa available: natural cocoa and Dutch-process cocoa. Both are made by pulverizing partially de-fatted chocolate liquor and removing nearly all the cocoa butter. Natural cocoa is commonly used in recipes while Dutch-process cocoa is frequently used for drinks. Chocolate is a product based on cocoa solid and/or cocoa fat.

Chocolates contain phenylethylamine which is a mild mood elevator and anti-depressant. It happens to be the same chemical that produces the love or happiness feeling in our brains. It also contains a very small amount of caffeine. It is also considered an aphrodisiac. Very much like red wines, fruits, teas and vegetables, cocoa seeds contain important antioxidants called flavonoids, and has been linked to cardiovascular health. Dark chocolates contain about twice as many antioxidants as the milk chocolates do. Not everything that tastes good is bad for you and chocolates is definitely one of them. While chocolates and cocoa butter contain both saturated and unsaturated fat, but unlike many saturated fats the stearic acid in chocolates is a neutral fat and does not raise your bad cholesterol levels.

Proper storage and care is important and here is a short but very important list to ensure you will be enjoying every last bite. Store in a cool, dry place at approximately 65-70 degrees F. It can and will absorb aromas and odors of other foods stored around it and should be kept in mind when storing. For the most part the shelf life is around 1 year if stored properly. Do not store in the refrigerator, the moisture from the refrigerator will effect both the appearance and texture. The same is true with storing in high heat, this will cause a "bloom" effect which will not affect the taste but it definitely affects the appearance.

So, there you have it. Now that you have been given at least the basic information, the next step is up to you. Take these chocolate facts and make use of them, if your a chocoholic or know one these tips will benefit you for a lifetime.

Sophie Beck writes for We have additional chocolate facts complete information and excellent resources for finding and enjoying some of the best chocolates from around the world. Stop by and take a view through chocolate colored glasses!

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