Cacahuatl Identity Card
What is cacahuatl? The basic ingredient of a food we all really like. Sometimes we eat it even too much. Did you guess? Exactly, we are talking about cocoa, from which we obtain chocolate!
Let’s discover some fun facts about it…
The first to grow the cocoa tree, from which we obtain chocolate, were pre-Colombian populations of Central America, Mayas and Aztecs.
In their language they used to call it cacahuatl, from which comes the name cocoa. According to them, the drink they got from it was sacred: they used to drink it during their religious ceremonies, mixed with hot water. The name of this drink was xocoatl, and from this comes the name we use today, chocolate.
In 1600, it spreads out all around Europe, becoming a beloved and appreciated food.
In 1735 naturalist Linnaeus gives the tree the name of Theobroma cacao, that means “Gods’ food”.
- An evergreen tree, with a height between 5 and 10 metres
- Oval and shiny leaves
- Small flowers in different colours: white, green or pink
- Its fruit is called cocoa pod: its peel is very hard and it has the shape of a long lemon, with a lot of vertical grooves. It has a colour between brown and purple
- Every cocoa pod contains at maximum 40 seeds, protected by a soft and very sweet substance, that looks like a gel
The cocoa tree grows in warm, humid climates, in the tropical belt, between 20° Northern parallel and 20° Southern parallel.
Cocoa is cultivated in extended fields.
- America: Brazil, Ecuador
- Africa: Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria
- Asia: Indonesia, Sri Lanka
The most refined type of cocoa is creole, produced in South America: its tree is not very resistant.
The most common type is forastero, that grows mainly in Africa and whose tree is more resistant and produces more: 90% of cocoa-based products we eat derives from this type.
How is chocolate produced?
- They pick the seeds from cocoa pod
- First, the seeds are left for fermentation, then they are dried
- They toast the seeds to get their flavour
- Then the seeds are squashed to become cocoa powder
- They work the powder to create a dough
- If necessary, they add ingredients and flavours to the dough: milk powder, sugar, hazelnuts…
- The dough is then poured in bar-shaped moulds
A 100 grams bar contains:
- Calories: 306
- Fats: 15,9 g
- Proteins: 20,4 g
- Fibres: 28,9 g
- Vitamins: A, B1, B2, B3, and folic acid
- Mineral salts: sodium, potassium, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc
Dark chocolate with no added sugar is healthier; it releases antioxidants in our body, which help our immune system. It stimulates our brain and improves our mood.
Chocolate and kitchen: the brownies: here is a simple quick recipe to prepare with your parents
What you need to prepare brownies:
A manual or electric whisk
A glass or plastic container
A pot to bain-marie melt chocolate
A baking tray
200 grams of chocolate (an idea: use Easter eggs…)
120 grams of butter
30 grams of cocoa
180 grams of sugar
90 grams of 00 flour
Bain-marie the chocolate bars with butter and mix well.
Beat flour, cocoa powder, eggs and sugar with the whisk
Mix melted chocolate and butter once cooled down.
Pour in a baking tray and bake with convection oven at 110° for ten minutes.
Pull it out, let it cool down and cut it into small squares.
Brownies are ready for your snack time!
Activities: after reading the article, complete the sentences with the missing words!
The first populations to grow cocoa tree, from which we obtain c _ o _ o _ a _ _, were M _ _ a_ and Aztecs.
In their language they called it C _ _ a _ u _ _ l, from which comes the name cocoa.
The tree where cocoa grows is an e _ e _ _ r _ _ n, with a height between 5 and 10 metres.
The fruit of the tree is called c _ _ o _ p _ d, its peel is very hard and it contains at maximum 40 seeds. Cocoa tree grows in t _ o _ _ _ a _ climates.
The most common cocoa type is F _ _ _ s _ e _ o.