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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Gourmet Chocolate Gifts

Rich, sinful chocolate that simply melts in the mouth—is there a more heavenly experience? Admittedly, most chocoholics can think of more imaginative phrases to describe this wicked indulgence that has its origin in Central America.

Popular in Mayan and Aztec civilizations, the New World used it in bitter spicy xocoatl. Introduced by the Spanish to Europe, it gradually gained popularity, especially among the aristocrats. The nineteenth century saw the emergence of the modern-day chocolate. The Dutch, the Swiss, the English, the French, and others experimented and helped perfect the process.

There are no better gifts than gourmet chocolates to add to the festive punch of any holiday season, to sweeten the memories of a loved one, to put a smile on a face, or to simply to overwhelm the senses with pleasure. No special occasion is required to enjoy chocolate. There are different types of chocolate —unsweetened chocolate liquor used for baking, dark chocolate without addition of milk, couverture that is rich in cocoa butter, milk chocolate, semi-sweet cooking chocolate, bittersweet chocolate, and cocoa powder. Mint, orange, strawberry, caramel, liqueur, dry fruits, cream, nuts of all kinds, and rice crispies are common additives to further enhance these sumptuous chocolates.

Criollo, Trinitario, and Forastero are the three varieties of cacao beans used. From harvesting beans to blending, conching and tempering, all these process determine the character of the chocolate.

Can one imagine a chocolate-free dessert world? Be it a simple comforting cocoa drink or chocolate chip cookies to rich chocolate gateaux, chocolate is delightful. Chocolates could be inexpensive candy bars or expensive truffles. In demand are genuine, completely conched Swiss chocolates, famous Belgian specialties like ballotins de pralines and manons, divine French creations like bonbons, truffles, Turkish delights, chocolate-covered fruits, and many more. Appreciating the work of premier chocolate-makers is almost like the fine art of wine tasting. Movies like Chocolat and Charlie and the Chocolate factory further prove the popularity of this supposed aphrodisiac.

For the passionate chocophile there is no better gift than irresistible gourmet chocolates, with their attractive shapes, colors, flavors, aromas, and packaging. So take a stroll or go online for flawlessly sculpted tasty treats before it is too late!

By Ross Bainbridge

Check Out the Related Article : A Brief History of Chocolate

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