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Decadent and sweet, it can be easy to forget that chocolate is actually made with very bitter cocoa nibs. It’s even easier to forget that a small handful can contain so much calories that it can single-handedly ruin your low-calorie diet.
You can find chocolate everywhere. They are made into various kinds of beverages, sweets, and are even used in cooking.
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What are the different types of chocolate?
If you’ve ever gone down the chocolate or baking aisle in the supermarket, you may have noticed that there is an almost overwhelming number of the different types of chocolate. It can seem confusing at first, but these types of chocolates are actually just differentiated by the ingredients that were used when making them.
Each type of chocolate has a unique mix of the chocolate liquor, which is the pure cocoa butter and cocoa solids made by liquefying the cacao nibs, and the other ingredients in making chocolates like milk, sugar, and other flavorings.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for setting the minimum percentages of each ingredient that a certain type of chocolate should contain. For instance, milk chocolate should contain at least 12% milk and at least 10% chocolate liquor. Other ingredients like sugar, vanilla, or emulsifiers would make up the rest.
White chocolate doesn’t have any cocoa solids, only containing at least 20% cocoa butter and 14% milk, cream, or milk solids. This is why some people don’t consider white chocolate as actual chocolate. Vanilla may also be added to enhance the flavor.
Dark chocolate is made with at least 35% chocolate liquor, with very dark ones containing as much as 80% chocolate liquor. These are categorized as either bittersweet or semisweet chocolate.
In theory, semisweet chocolate should have more sugar than bittersweet chocolate but the FDA doesn’t really regulate how much sugar bittersweet or semisweet chocolates should have, manufacturers may use the labels interchangeably.
Unsweetened chocolate is the purest form of chocolate, which is just chocolate liquid without any added sugar.
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Chocolate recommendation: which type of chocolate should you use?
The different types of chocolate aren’t just because of the ingredients they have. In fact, the various ingredients that are present or not present in a type of chocolate can make its taste and texture different.
For instance, you might notice that a lot of the chocolate products that are supposed to be consumed immediately are made with milk chocolate. This is because the milk and sugar that are added to the milk chocolate make it softer and sweeter than dark chocolate.
While the softer milk chocolate is also easier to melt, they aren’t very suitable for baking because they can make baked desserts overly sweet. Instead, the slightly bitter dark chocolate is more well-suited for baking. This is because they can lend their rich flavors to baked desserts without being too sweet.
However, dark chocolates aren’t very bitter. They can actually have fruity notes to their slightly bitter taste. This is why they are also quite good for immediate consumption.
One type of chocolate that can’t really be used for anything other than cooking or baking is the unsweetened chocolate. They are very bitter but they are very good for recipes that already call for a lot of sugar.
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The benefits of eating chocolate
Chocolates are the sworn enemy of anyone who’s doing a low-calorie diet; but even for non-dieters, its high calorie, high fat, and high sugar content can be too overwhelming that even its richness would not be able to win those doubtful hearts over.
Aside from that, chocolate consumption has been linked to all sorts of health problems like acne, obesity, high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and diabetes.
But that’s not all there is to chocolates. According to a 2013 study from The Netherlands Journal of Medicine, explained that there is a recent discovery that cocoa actually has antioxidant properties.
In fact, the researchers reported that cocoa has even more flavonoids that tea and wine. All these antioxidants are believed to have numerous benefits to an individual’s health, including positive effects on cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis and high blood pressure.
While it’s not a new finding, the researchers also explained that chocolate has antistress properties because it promotes the production of serotonin in the body.
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Giving chocolate gifts
Even if you’re not exactly the romantic type, you’ve probably given or received some chocolates on special occasions like Valentine’s Day, birthdays, or even anniversaries.
Sure, giving chocolates can seem very cliche to some, but according to the Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California, it’s actually a good idea to give chocolate gifts. This is because of the many health benefits associated with eating chocolates, like chocolate’s effect on cognitive function, heart health, brain health, and healthier skin.
It’s also no coincidence why you might feel a certain craving for chocolates when you’re having a particularly bad day. This is because of the phenylethylamine (PEA) in chocolates, which are feel-good endorphins that your brain also produces when you feel like you’re falling in love.
If you’re worried that you’ll get acne when you eat chocolates, you’ll be relieved to know that this is actually not true. The flavonoids and the anti-stress properties of chocolate might even make your skin better.
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Giving chocolate as a travel souvenir from Guam
Aside from giving chocolate gifts during special occasions, there is another good reason to start giving out chocolates: as souvenirs from your trip.
Each country has its own special delicacy and unique items that can be brought back as souvenirs, but there are some destinations that can justify buying chocolates as souvenirs, especially if the local chocolates are known for being good.
While Swiss and Belgian chocolates are very popular, you also cannot miss the locally-made chocolates from Guam. Buying and giving out chocolate as a travel souvenir from Guam is definitely worth it. The locally-made chocolate in Guam has a reportedly more robust flavor compared to mass-produced chocolates.
And with unique offerings like milk-chocolate covered asparagus biscuits, which aren’t made from nor taste like asparagus in case you were wondering, they are also going to be very interesting.
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Trying out a chocolate spa
If you’re a very dedicated chocolate lover, there are also other ways of celebrating your love for these decadent treats. How about covering yourself with chocolate in a chocolate spa?
You can get chocolate massages, body wraps, facials, manicures, pedicures, scrubs, polishes, and all sorts of chocolate therapies.
Even better, you can also enjoy chocolate desserts, snacks, and beverages. This is definitely heaven for chocolate lovers.