(Indian); called also cacoa, amygdalus si-milus Guatimalensis, cacava,cacari, quahoitl, caravata, chocolata,avellana Mexicana, cacavera, cacavata cacao America; the pear bearing wholesome almond tree, cacao, and chocolate. It is the theobroma cacao of Lin. Sp. Pi. 1100. Nat. order malvacae. The nut is the only part of the tree used; its shape is nearly that of an almond, but of a much larger size. The shell is dark coloured, brittle, and thin; the kernel throughout is of a brown colour. It is produced by a small American tree, which bears a large red fruit like a cucumber; in this fruit is contained from thirty to a hundred of these nuts. A good tree produces a crop in June, and another in December. The principal distinctions among these nuts arc the size, and place from whence they are brought: the larger kind from the province of Nicaragua, in Mexico, are most esteemed. The chief of those brought to England are from Virginia and Jamaica.
Cacao nuts have a light agreeable smell, and an unctuous, bitterish, but not ungrateful, taste. Those from Nicaragua and Caracco arc the most agreeable; those from the French Antilles, and our American islands, are the most unctuous. They invigorate the stomach, and arc supposed to recruit rapidly the exhausted strength. In diseases of the lungs they are commended in their native soil. In this country they require so much heat that they scarcely ever bear any seed.
The principal use of this nut is for making the liquor known by the name of chocolate; which is a mild, unctuous, demulcent, and nutritious fluid. In hectic, scorbutic, and catarrhal disorders; in atrophy, malignant itch, and hooping cough; chocolate, made in the usual way, is said to relieve.
Cacao nuts afford by pressure an oil of the same kind as those that are obtained the same way from other kernels and seeds. This oil is anodyne, used in correcting the effects of corrosive poisons, and in relieving haemorrhoids. It does not contract any smell, dries readily, and is considered as a good cosmetic. It is said to preserve the flexibility of the joints, and prevent rheumatic affections.
Oleum seu butyrum e nucleis. The oil or butter of the chocolate nut. Roast the nuts slightly in an iron pan. When cleared from the rind and levigated on a hot stone, dilute them with a proper quantity of hot water, and keep them in a water bath till the oil rises to the top; which, when concreted, is of a brown colour, and, by repeated liquefactions in hot weather, becomes white. Cacao nuts thus managed, afford sometimes more than half their quantity of this vegetable sebaceous matter. As it is not liable to turn rancid by long keeping, it is a proper basis for odoriferous unguents: but its indigestible property renders it unfit for internal use. The mucilaginous pulp contained in the husks, if pressed, yields a cream grateful to the taste; and an emollient for external application of some efficacy. As we owe our knowledge of the tea plant to China, so we are indebted to the Mexicans for chocolate, but they were unacquainted with the sugar cane, which was only brought to St. Domingo in 1 506.
To prepare the kernels of the chocolate nuts for use, they bruised them after having separated their husks, then placed them before a clear fire, by which they are so dissolved as to be fit for making into cakes or rolls. These cakes were rendered more solid by adding the meal of maize, and were flavoured with pimento. Such are still brought from New Spain, but the union of the oil with the mucilaginous parts is not complete, and this chocolate often occasions complaints of the stomach.
The Mexicans now mix with these nuts a portion of Indian corn, a few seeds of rocou, and a little vermilion. The French mix with theirs a little cinnamon, vanilloe seeds, and fine sugar. In Paris they make their chocolate for sale as follows: Take of chocolate nuts, freed from their husks, and fine sugar, of each a pound; of cinnamon, finely powdered, two drachms; and of va-nilloes half a drachm; beat them well together, and form them into cakes or rolls. "The chocolate of health" contains, however, only canella; and the chocolate of one, two, or three vanilloes, is denominated from the proportion of this condiment. In Spain six pounds of the cacao nut are mixed with three pounds and a half of sugar, seven vanilloe pods, a pound and a half of maize, half a pound of cinnamon, and six cloves, with a drachm of capsicum. The whole is scented with musk, and coloured with the rocou. The choice of the nut is of importance: that from the Caraccos is too dark and dry; the cacao of the islands too unctuous. The best proportion is three parts of the former to one of the latter.
Chocolate is often adulterated in a variety of ways; sometimes common flour, the farina of rice, of lentils, and of pease, or the starch of potatoes, are added to increase its bulk. If ever any additions become necessary, the gluten of the seeds should be wholly excluded, and the fecula only employed.
Some manufacturers are said,by Parmentier, to pur-chase at a low price the residuum of the cacao nut.
(From which the oil has been expressed, and to supply the latter by animal fats, and the yolks of eggs. Others add roasted almonds and gum arabic.. It is not an uncommon practice to purchase the unripe nut, and lower its sharp bitter taste with a large proportion of sugar, which is the cheapest ingredient. Chocolate, without any bad intention, is sometimes injured in the preparation. If the nut is not sufficiently roasted, the taste is disagreeif burnt, bitter; and the chocolate is black, without the soft unctuous taste natural to it. If the germ is not separated from the two lobes of the seed, it is found in the chocolate, since it resists the weight of the grinding stone.
Good chocolate should in its fracture present no granulated appearance. It should melt in the mouth, leaving a kind of freshness; and when boiled in water or in milk, the consistence should be moderate. Those who cannot bear milk in any other way, find no inconvenience from it in chocolate.
When chocolate tastes in the mouth like paste, when 0:1 the first boiling it exhales the smell of glue, or in cooling becomes a jelly, it has been adulterated with farinaceous matters. If little grains are deposited, it is probable that the nut has not been sifted, that it has been badly cleaned, or the coarsest sugar employed. The smell of cheese shows that animal fats have been added; rancidity discovers mucilaginous seeds; and a bitter or musty taste, that the nut is unripe, or too much roasted. We shall add the receipt for making chocolate from Baume's Elements of Pharmacy: Take of Caracco cacao nuts five pounds, of the islands nut one pound, sugar five pounds, fine canella an ounce and half, cloves twelve in number.
After drinking of chocolate, if it is uneasy in the stomach, relief will be found from drinking a tea cupful of cold water.
An artificial chocolate is made of sweet and bitter almonds of each an ounce, roasted in an iron pan until they are brown, then wiped clean, and bruised in a mortar, gradually mixing four measures of warm milk, two eggs that have been well mixed with a little cold milk, and as much cloves, cinnamon, and sugar, as may be agreeable to the palate.