Of all the days to be celebrated, this one gets my top vote. National Chocolate Day is observed annually on October 28. While there are many specific chocolate related holidays throughout the year, National Chocolate Day celebrates all things chocolate. (Source: National Day Calendar)
In France, especially in Paris and the larger cities, it seems there’s a pâtisserie (pastry shop) on every block. Many of them also make their own chocolates and the selections are just as beautiful as the petite tartes and other dreamy confections. Their window displays always make you stop and inspect, if not actually drool a little. And how do you pick just one?? The French take their pastries very seriously.
The oldest pâtisserie in Paris is Stohrer, founded in 1730. The tiny shop occupies the same place at 51 rue Montorgueil today and is so snug that it can accommodate three customers at a time, maybe four at a squeeze. Why not expand? “Our focus is on longevity,” explains Pierre Lienard, head of the maison. “The recipes are treated with great respect to make sure the the quality and taste remain constant through the generations.”
From the Stohrer website:
In the year of grace 1725, Louis XV married Marie Leszczynska,
daughter of King Stanislas of Poland.
His pastry chef Stohrer follows her in Versailles.
Five years later, in 1730, NICOLAS STOHRER opened his bakery
at 51 rue Montorgueil in the second arrondissement of Paris.
In its kitchen, where desserts were invented for the Great Court,
king’s delights are still prepared.
How is chocolate made?
Chocolate comes from the seed of the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. Cacao, which has been cultivated for at least three millennia, is grown in Mexico, Central America and Northern South America. The earliest known documentation of using cacao seeds is from around 1100 BC. The cacao tree seeds have a very intense, bitter taste that must be fermented to develop the flavor.
Once the seeds have been fermented, the beans are dried, cleaned and roasted. After roasting, the shell is removed to produce cacao nibs. The cacao nibs are then ground into cocoa mass, which is pure chocolate in rough form. The cocoa mass is usually liquefied then molded with or without other ingredients. At this point in the process, it is called chocolate liquor. (Now I know why “chocolate liquor is commonly listed as an ingredient on the chocolate I like to snack on.).
The chocolate liquor may then be processed into two components: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.
• Unsweetened baking chocolate – cocoa solids and cocoa butter in varying proportions.
• Sweet chocolate – cocoa solids, cocoa butter or other fat and sugar.
• Milk chocolate – sweet chocolate with milk powder or condensed milk.
• White chocolate – cocoa butter, sugar and milk but no cocoa solids.
Research has found that chocolate, when eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure. Now we know that chocolate contains antioxidants, especially dark chocolate, so chocolate is good for you! Yeah, like I needed another reason.