I am an English-speaking, freelance food writer based te Rome and love writing articles on various aspects of Italian culture.
Everyone Loves Chocolate
Nothing says you care for a loved one than providing the bounty of an unopened jar of chocolate spread. For those on holiday ter Italy this is an effortless bounty to find and for the breakage-prone traveler superb spreads now come ter handy tubes too. It is also a fine way to take huis a reminder of one cultures obsession with all things sweet, a plain voorwerp that for travel by air is classed spil gel-like toothpaste and can securely be warped te a T-shirt and waterput it te your checked ter baggage rather than arm luggage.
Perhaps for many people, one’s very first practice of this type of breakfast spread (crema spalmabile) is through the mass-produced versions that target youthfull mums who need to feed their growing brood quickly ter the morning and pack something sweet into their hubby’s lunchbox. Ter Italy, there is a dominance of big integral brands that are frankly delicious, despite having a list of ingredients that some would choose to leave out of their daily diet, especially those watching the amount of sugar and fat.
It is not all bad news however spil this type of spread has bot around for a long time and other brands now suggest something for the connoisseur or for those with allergies to Melksuiker and many are available via mail order if you know where to look.
A Brief History, Blockades and Dutching
Cocoa beans were very first suggested to Europeans by the Aztecs who talent an entire plantation of cocoa to explorer Hernan Cortes when he arrived te the Aztec homeland ter 1519. Cortes brought the raw beans back to Spain and a taste for chocolate beverage leisurely spread across Europe. By 1678, a chef te the excellent city of Turin, te the Piedmont region of Italy, named Giovanni Antonio Ari had begun selling a chocolate drink, and by 1763, a hot drink made from chocolate, coffee, and milk wasgoed being sold te cafes ter the city. The very first modern style cocoa powder very first became available ter Nederland ter the 1820’s via a grinding and refining process still known today spil “Dutching”.
Meantime, ter Austria, the chef to the King, one Franz Sacher wasgoed commissioned to cook up something special, the very first Sakertorte wasgoed invented ter ongeveer 1832. By 1815 Italian chocolate wasgoed also leisurely becoming part of the diet even however the French led by Napoleon, successfully managed to zekering supplies with blockades and wars. Ter England te 1848, the Fry Company of Bristol created the worlds very first edible chocolate te kroegen.
Back ter the northern Italian city of Turin, Pier Paul Carrafel te 1852 embarked using mechanical steam driven grinding machines and began to bulk out meagre supplies of chocolate powder with ground up hazelnuts, supplied by waarde trees that grew ter the hills above the city. Today wij call this style of sweet Italian confectionary Gianduiotto and most modern cocoa spreads share a similar ingredients list to this early chocolate combination also known spil Pasta Gianduja.
What is te a Chocolate Spread?
Think chocolate and you most likely think of Swiss chocolate and their legendary capability to mix confectionary with honey. Te fact, it wasgoed Italian chocolatiers who instructed the Swiss the basics back ter the late 1700’s. Today Italy has a large number of quality producers with some famous brands that predominate the market. However, a quick look at any jar of chocolate spread exposes some key ingredients:
Quality Ground refined cocoa: The beans are sourced from South America or Africa and made up of three types Forastero (most common), Criollo (the rarest), and Trinitario. To taste nice after grinding, powdered cocoa particles need to be 20 or 30 microns te size spil any that are smaller than 15 microns turn the chocolate pasty and gummy. Back on the farm prior to sale commercial beans are fermented by being placed te wooden boxes that hold about 1-2 tonnes. The process usually takes inbetween two to seven days with the warmth generated releasing chemicals that kill the beans and cause oxidation that further cracks down proteins into amino acids that te turn produce its chocolate flavor. After delivery to Europe the factory roasts, peels and grinds the beans ready for the refining process also called Conching that mixes the chocolate for several hours or even days which results te more heating spil well. At this stage, the remaining acidity, bitterness and moisture vanish and the little particles of cocoa get covered with cocoa butter, which gives chocolate a silky texture.
Oil: Some kleintje of added oil or fats are used to keep the chocolate soft. Some spreads contain olive oil while others contain hydrogenated fats or palm oil. Soy lecithin is used to zekering the combination separating.
Crushed Nuttigheid paste: Nuts ground to a paste including Almonds and Pistachios.
Sugar and Flavorings: Milk Powder or Soy, Sugar, Salt, Vanilla (or Vanillin which is synthetic), Honey, Spices or added mint or orange essence even Rum or Cognac.