Happy Chocolate Day!

By Mary Nicholson 

What holiday will be celebrated this month that revolves around the wonderful world of chocolate?  If you said Halloween, I’d have to give you the buzzer and say, “No!”  Even though October 31 includes plenty of chocolate in my trick-or-treating goodies, October 28 is actually National Chocolate Day.  So you can start celebrating early!

Chocolate is created from cocoa, thought to have originated in the Amazon at least 4,000 years ago.  Many archeological sites find evidence of cacao beverages from the residue found in ceramic vessels.  Since sugar was not yet created, but bitterness of the cocoa was mixed with different spices to make it palatable.   Seeds from the cocoa tree were even used as currency at one time.

Today, chocolate is readily available in many varieties and forms.  From mini- chocolate chips to elegant chocolate candies, there is something for just about every chocolate lover’s palate.  Having had the opportunity years ago to attend the National Restaurant Association’s Food Show, I was dumbstruck at the intricate sculptures on display there that were made out of chocolate. Who knew that something so tasty could be used as an art form?  Well, perhaps you did, but that was a long time ago when I was pretty naïve!

Now that the weather is cooling off a bit, I believe I will celebrate National Chocolate Day with a nice cup of cocoa.  Here’s a recipe from the good folks at Hershey that’s simple enough for kids to make: http://www.hersheys.com/recipes.aspx.  If you’ve got a little more time, here are some interesting cocoa recipes from the Food Network’s Alton Brown: http://www.foodnetwork.com/good-eats/art-of-darkness-ii-cocoa/index.html.   I don’t plan on keeping my celebrating to just one day, especially when there are 364 others in which to enjoy chocolate’s yumminess.  But on National Chocolate Day, I believe I will raise my glass (of chocolate milk, of course!) to the wonders of chocolate!

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