Chocolate (Aztec, chocolatl), an alimentary preparation, usually a beverage, introduced into Europe by the Spaniards in 1520, and by them kept for a long time a secret. It is prepared from the fruit of the theobroma cacao, a name given by Linnaeus, who was so fond of it as to call it the food of the gods. (See Cacao.) The ancient Aztecs are said to have been very skilful in its fabrication, producing a froth which on cooling was solid enough to be eaten. Their favorite flavoring was vanilla, but they also used other spices. In the West Indies, the beans on being gathered are immediately dried and packed for market. They thus possess, however, a slightly acrid bitter taste, which in Caracas is removed by a slight fermentation which is produced by covering them with stones or earth, after which they are dried in the sun. In manufacturing chocolate the beans are gently roasted in an iron cylinder similar to that used for roasting coffee. The development of a peculiar aroma indicates the completion of the process, when the beans are turned out, cooled, freed by sifting and fanning from their husks, and by trituration at a temperature of 130° F. in a mortar or a mill reduced to a paste, which is then mixed with from one half to equal parts of sugar and a small quantity of vanilla bean for flavoring, and, the proper temperature having been preserved, turned into moulds.
Chocolate is easy of adulteration, and it is often diluted with farinaceous substances, as arrowroot, sago, or wheat flour, and with animal fats.