It appears that the regular consumption of cocoa increases blood flow to the brain, thus helping it work faster and stalling neuron degeneration. Just in case we needed more reasons to reach for that chocolate bar.

We don't normally think about it, but it takes a lot of effort for said sweet treat to reach the candy isle, chocolate making is a lengthy and complex process.

The cacao is harvested and the pods are split open to reveal the pulp and the beans inside. The pulp and the beans are left to ferment together for about a week during which the mixture is infused with the pulp's floral and fruity flavor, for a more refined chocolate aroma. After that the beans are separated, spread out to dry and then roasted, shelled and turned into a thick paste called chocolate liqueur.

The term liqueur is somewhat misleading, since it suggests the mixture contains alcohol, which is not the case. This paste looks and smells like chocolate and is the base for all cocoa based products.

The liqueur is cold pressed until all the yellow cocoa butter gets squeezed out and what remains is a powdery disk called "cocoa presscake". Cocoa powder is ground cocoa presscake.

To make fine chocolates a mixture of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla, chocolate liqueur, and milk undergoes a long process of blending, kneading and homogenizing. The warm chocolate is tempered by cooling to precise temperatures until its consistency becomes shiny and smooth. It is then placed into molds to solidify, packaged in pretty wrappers and brought to you to enjoy.

Now that I know how hard it is to make chocolate, I feel even guiltier for not having it more often.

Eat up, to your health!

Author's Bio: 

Main Areas: Garden Writing; Sustainable Gardening; Homegrown Harvest
Published Books: “Terra Two”; “Generations”
Career Focus: Author; Consummate Gardener;
Affiliation: All Year Garden; The Weekly Gardener; Francis Rosenfeld's Blog

I started learning about gardening from my grandfather, at the age of four. Despite his forty years' experience as a natural sciences teacher, it wasn't structured instruction, I just followed him around, constantly asking questions, and he built up on the concepts with each answer.

I started blogging in 2010, to share the joy of growing all things green and the beauty of the garden through the seasons. Two garden blogs were born: and, a periodical that followed it one year later. I wanted to assemble an informal compendium of the things I learned from my grandfather, wonderful books, educational websites, and my own experience, in the hope that other people might use it in their own gardening practice.