There’s nothing more satisfying than savoring the velvety smoothness of delectable French chocolate. During your time in Paris, indulging in some French chocolate is something that is a must-do experience.
Chocolate didn’t catch on in France until the 6th century. It originated in Mexico and first arrived in Europe through Spain when Christopher Columbus carried back cacao beans from his voyages in America. It remained an exclusive treat for the Spaniards for a decade until it was discovered by the English, Germans, Dutch and French.
It was an expensive and exotic product at that time. Only the nobility and the upper class consumed it. It was considered a recreational drug due to its soothing taste and mild stimulatory kick, and many used it as an aphrodisiac.
Chocolate was primarily consumed in liquid form and was so popular amongst the kings and queens of France that they appointed confectioners to make them their daily cup of chocolate. The confectioners would blend the cacao beans with milk or water and add additional ingredients like coffee, vanilla, and cloves. Highly trained confectioners were greatly esteemed by the nobility for their art of making a sumptuous hot chocolate.
When chocolate was first introduced to France in 1615, it was a wedding gift to the 14-year-old King Louis XIII from his betrothed, Anne of Austria, believed to be the ‘originator’ of French chocolate.
King Louis XIV was a great lover of chocolate. He introduced chocolate to the court of Versailles. When he married Marie Antoinette, she brought along her personal chocolate maker from Austria. Marie Antoinette began each day with a cup of thick creamy hot chocolate topped with cream. She was the first to start consuming chocolate with some sugar to calm down the bitterness.
Factories began making chocolate in the 15th century, as the desire for chocolate grew in France. The first chocolate-making factory in Paris opened in 1659. In 1732, Debuisson innovated the chocolate-making process by creating a machine to grind cocoa beans, making the preparation of chocolate easier.
In the 19th century, chocolate became more accessible to the masses, and chocolate shops began opening as commercial production increased. The first large-scale commercial chocolate factory was set up in the Pyrenees in 1814.
In 1884, the first breakfast with chocolate and vanilla cream was invented in France. In the early twentieth century, chocolate shops were typical in towns and cities, and it became customary for people to give chocolate as a gift. Today, chocolate is still the perfect gift on special occasions the world over.
How to taste French chocolate
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your chocolate tasting experience and help you when shopping for quality chocolate.
• – Check the ingredients and choose carefully. Pure chocolate only has a few key ingredients: cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and sugar for dark chocolate, plus milk solids (for milk chocolate).
• Look for this on the label: “International Chocolate Award Winner.”
• Use all of your senses when tasting.
• Make sure that there is no thin white layer on top.
• Make sure it is free of holes and silky to touch.
• Learn about the different fillings and textures before you try.
• When you taste, take don’t rush. Take small bites and take your time to savor it.
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