Enjoy this journey into that lovely indulgence known as chocolate.
I like chocolate. In my wedding vows, I reminded my husband-to-be to remember I like dark chocolate. (He’s a fan of milk chocolate.) I have a roundup of gluten-free chocolate recipes (most also dairy-and-grain-free) below with photos of two that I made – fudge that became peanut butter truffles and peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. But first, I’m a history geek so I’ve written a short history of chocolate. Skip this is you don’t share my passion for where things came from and when.
A (Very) Brief History of Chocolate*
On July 1, 1907, the Kiss was born. Chocolate genius Milton S. Hershey’s invention came on the heels of his Milk Chocolate Bar which was first produced in 1900, bringing inexpensive milk chocolate to the average American. When he created the Kiss, Americans truly fell in love.
Chocolate has a long history which began thousands of years ago when the cacao tree was discovered in South America. The pods of the tree have seeds that are turned into chocolate; by about 600 B.C. both the Maya and Aztec had learned to grind the seeds and mix them with other flavorings such as chile to create a bitter chocolate beverage. The prized cacao seeds became money for the Aztecs.
When the Spanish came to South America and took some of the seeds back with them in 1544, the rest of the world learned of the wonder of chocolate and wanted more. To meet demand, the native peoples became slave laborers for growing the cacao. In Spain only the wealthy and church leaders could afford this new drink. A new twist was given to the bitter beverage by heating it and adding sugar and spices such as cinnamon.
A hundred years later, chocolate was the fashionable new thing throughout the courts in Europe, with milk and sugar added to the beverage. In France in the early 1600′s, it was actually decreed that only royalty could consume chocolate, but in England anyone who could afford it could drink it, and chocolate houses sprung up to serve the beverage. Crops were now grown in other locations such as Sri Lanka, Ceylon, and Java.
The Industrial Revolution resulted in new machines that could make a smoother chocolate which was shaped into a bar, but this wasn’t milk chocolate – yet. The 1800s were a time of great change in chocolate. This less expensive and creamier chocolate could now be used in cakes and pastries, plus in 1875 milk chocolate was born when condensed milk was added to chocolate. Chocolate was still a luxury item only enjoyed by the wealthy.
Fast forward to Milton Hershey, the owner of the successful Lancaster Caramel Company. At the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, he learned about German chocolate making equipment and bought some for his plant, hoping to make a chocolate covering for his caramels. He discovered the secret of making a less expensive milk chocolate, one that the masses could enjoy, and the Milk Chocolate Bar we know today was created. Mr. Goodbar was introduced in 1925 and chocolate chips in 1928. (What would the world be like without chocolate chips?) But even a man like Milton Hershey didn’t always have success with his inventions. Most of us have never heard of Hershey’s Sweethearts and Silvertops.
Other companies also entered the chocolate arena. The Baby Ruth candy bar first appeared in 1920 and was named for President Grover Cleveland’s daughter. Reeses Peanut Butter Cups were created by H.B. Reese in 1928 with Hershey supplying the chocolate. In 1956, Hershey bought the company. Mounds and the Milky Way bar were both first sold in 1923.
The chocolate industry uses more than 300 million pounds of peanuts each year. That’s a lot of Snickers Bars (which were introduced in 1930.)
In recent years dark chocolate has been discovered to have healthy antioxidants and has become a popular trend with familiar candy bars morphing into a dark chocolate version. Another trend is the popularity of more expensive chocolates such as Godiva, a company founded in Belgium in 1926. Americans on average consume more than eleven pounds of chocolate per year.
*Of the candy mentioned, Milky Way bars definitely have gluten, the others are possibly gluten-free but always, always, always do your own research into whether or not a product is safe for your diet.
I’m sharing chocolate recipes I favorited during the recent chocolate frenzy (a.k.a. Valentine’s Day). I’ve made a yummy two of these. If you make either of these or any of the others, please post and let everyone know how they came out. I’ll do the same as I give them a shot.
First, I made:
This fudge wasn’t quite sweet enough for me (and I don’t have a very sweet tooth) but I had added a handful of chopped pecans, and they can produce an almost bitter taste. I drizzled a bit more maple syrup in. Once I’d made the fudge, I thought, hmm, how would this be rolled into a ball with peanut butter inside? Okay, I was in a peanut butter mood from the other recipe I made today, but this was OUTSTANDING with the PB inside. Creamy and delicious.
I made this with coconut oil and that does make it melty when you touch it . . . but who cares? (UPDATE: These must be refrigerated. They also start to melt at room temperature and make a mess – but a delicious mess.) I think next time I’ll leave out the pecans and roll the candy in something that coordinates with whatever I chose to put inside – crushed peanuts for peanut butter, almonds for almond butter, maybe coconut or powdered sugar for sunbutter.
Then I made these. Twice.
The first time I used coconut sugar (Coconut Secret), and it came out with an odd texture. (I discovered hours later that they were good after they’d cooled.) I made them again with regular brown sugar, and they taste great (per my husband who loooooooves sweets). Both batches stayed close to their original shape, not spreading, and I believe that’s due to the natural peanut butter I used. The chocolate chips are Enjoy Life Mini Chips. There are many versions of this cookie out there, some with another egg or other slight variations. These are definitely tasty.
Enjoy these chocolate sweets too.
Of course, all of these recipes are gluten-free (if you choose gluten-free ingredients) but some are also: DF=Dairy-Free, SF=Refined Sugar Free, V=Vegan and/or GrF=Grain-Free (possibly Paleo) which is noted on the type of recipes that often have grain.
Raw Chocolate Macaroons- Hail Merry Knock-Off, GrF, DF, SF, V
No-Bake Paleo and Gluten-Free Cookies, GrF, DF, SF
Chocolate Buckwheat Heart Cookies, GrF, DF, SF
Honeybear Brownies, DF, SF (vegan options)
Chocolate Bread, possibly DF
Grain Free Peppermint Chocolate Cake, GrF, DF, SF
Homemade Chocolate Chunks, GrF, DF, SF
Dark Chocolate Banana Bites, GrF, DF, SF
Gluten Free Guilt Free Chocolate Banana Pie, GrF, DF, SF, V
Chocolate photo courtesy PublicDomainPictures.net.