Few of us can resist the appeal of chocolate, and here at The Hamper Lounge we incorporate plenty of delicious chocolatey treats into our hampers and gifts! But what many people don’t know is exactly how chocolate goes from bean to bar…so for anyone who has ever wondered how chocolate is made, here’s our quick guide!\nChocolate’s Enduring Popularity \nIt’s not just modern civilisations which love chocolate – all over the world, chocolate has been enjoyed for millennia. The Mayan and Aztec cultures were both partial to taking cacao seeds and turning them into a chocolate beverage, and throughout the last five-hundred years, chocolate has begun to take on more popularity throughout Europe, thanks to increased trading links – first in liquid form, and later sold in bars and as a tasty ingredient in other dishes.\nConverting Cacao Beans to Chocolate\nThe seeds of the cacao tree are far too bitter to enjoy as they are, but the process of converting them into chocolate helps to soften this taste and transform it into the modern and delicious chocolate we enjoy today. First, the Cacao beans are fermented to develop the flavour. They are then cleaned, dried and roasted. The shells are removed, and the remaining seeds are ground to create a cocoa mass – unadulterated by any subsequent production techniques. This mass is heated until it liquifies, which creates chocolate liquor. This liquor can be made into either cocoa solids or cocoa butter, and chocolate products such as baking chocolate use both these elements to create their distinctive, bitter taste before the addition of sugar.\nMaking Commercial Chocolate \nMost of the chocolate we consume today is heavily sweetened with ingredients like cocoa solids, cocoa butter, vegetable oils, milk, vanilla and sugar. Milk chocolate also contains milk powder or condensed milk, whereas white chocolate contains cocoa butter, but doesn’t have cocoa solids in the mix. You can today buy chocolate as a liquid, powder or solid – and the sheer variety of chocolate products out there is astonishing – chocolate truly is one of the world’s most popular foodstuffs, from the humble chocolate bar right up to elaborate desserts, cakes and biscuits. Many of our favourite sweet snacks contain a chocolate element. The levels of cacao and sweeteners differ in all chocolate products, so manufacturers must be careful they measure and weigh accurately to ensure a consistent flavour.\nLooking for a chocolatey hamper or gift? Browse the range at Hamper Lounge to find your perfect chocolate treat!