From its early origins in South America to today, the cocoa bean Theobroma cacao has been enriching the life of people throughout the world. It is used across the world in the form of cocoa powder, cocoa butter and is used in making chocolates, chocolate powder etc.
After harvesting, the cocoa fruits are opened and the seeds are extracted and fermented. The fermented beans are then dried and roasted which increases their color, flavour and aroma. The roasted beans are then broken down by winnowing and coca nibs are produced which are further processed and ground into coca mass or cocoa liquor which contains 53-58% cocoa butter. The cocoa butter is then pressed to finally produce cocoa powder and cocoa butter.
Cocoa powder is the most commonly used powder in beverages like hot chocolate, cold coffee etc. Beyond beverages, it is used as an ideal flavouring agent in products such as ice cream, bread spreads, dairy products, biscuits, cakes and sweets. It adds color as well as flavour.
Cocoa butter is a pale yellow fat composed of particular fatty acids (around 36% monounsaturated). It is one of the most stable fats because it contains natural antioxidants (eg vitamin E) that reduce rancidity and allow for a storage life of 2 – 5 years. Furthermore, it has a mild chocolaty flavour and aroma, so it is an important ingredient in chocolate. Outside the food sector cocoa butter is used in cosmetic products, such as lotions, lip balms, shampoos, soaps, as well as pharmaceuticals.
Health benefits of cocoa:
Alexander von Humboldt once stated about cocoa: “nowhere else has nature compressed such a store of the most valuable nutrients into such a small space as it has with the cocoa bean.”
Cocoa powder is a good source of Minerals like magnesium, phosphorus, fibre polyphenols and flavonoids.
Minerals in cocoa like Magnesium play an important role in nerve and muscle function and in releasing energy while Phosphorus is important together with calcium for bones and teeth.
Flavonoids have been shown to have lots of benefits like anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, anti-microbial and anti-allergic along with being antioxidants. Cocoa is particularly rich in flavanols a subclass of flavonoids (epicatechin and catechin). Some research has shown protective heart health benefits of cocoa like lowering of blood pressure increase in good cholesterol or HDL cholesterol etc.
Fibre: The average amount of fibre in cocoa beans is comparable to that in whole wheat bread. Together with cocoa butter, fibre accounts for the slow absorption of blood sugar glucose and thereby reduces fluctuations in blood glucose levels.
Hot cocoa or hot chocolate?
Some people use the terms hot chocolate and hot cocoa synonymously but, more accurately, they are two different beverages. Hot cocoa is made from a mix of cocoa powder (sometimes in instant form), sugar and milk or water. By contrast, hot chocolate is made directly from chocolate bars (dark, semisweet or bittersweet chocolate), which already contain cocoa, sugar and cocoa butter. Thus the major difference between the two is the cocoa butter, which makes hot cocoa lower in fat than hot chocolate.
It is germinated cereal (barley or other grains) that have been dried in a process known as "malting". The grains are made to germinate by soaking in water, and are then dried. Malting grains modifies the starches in the grains into sugars breaks down the proteins in the grain that can be used by yeast.
These malted cereals are then use to manufacture a whole range of things like as malted milk drinks like MILO, breakfast cereals, cereal bars, etc.