Thursday, February 7, 2013

Weekly MUSE: Chocolate

Theo's Chocolate (Seattle)
Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and I can’t help but think about CHOCOLATE! I love love love CHOCOLATE, and I bet many of YOU do, too! But where does this velvety goodness come from, and why does it taste SO good?

Cupid, we’ve found our MUSE!

Chocolate can be found in many places: candy bars, cookies, cakes, truffles and pies. You can drink chocolate. You can dip your favorite food in chocolate (I like chocolate covered pretzels). Some people eat chocolate covered insects. YUM!

No matter how you eat your chocolate, the journey it takes from its origins to your mouth is quite AMAZING!

Chocolate comes from the Cacao (Ka-Kow)Tree. This tree grows in tropical regions along the Equator. Costa Rica (South America), Ghana (West Africa), and Indonesia (Asia) are some of the largest cacao growers.

The cacao tree grows large fruit, and inside these fruit are cacao beans and pulp. The fruit is chopped open with a machete, and the beans and pulp are taken out. The rest of the fruit is left on the jungle floor to rot, which helps the soil stay rich. Take a look at this man harvesting cacao fruit.

The cacao beans and pulp will now be fermented. Fermentation will change the sugar in the pulp into acids which changes the taste of the beans. This is how the chocolate taste forms. In the video below, you will see men dumping cacao beans and pulp into crates. They will then place banana leaves over the beans to capture heat. As the fermentation begins, the temperature will raise up to 125 degrees Fahrenheit.

This farmer is drying the fermented cacao bean in the sun.
Once the beans are finished fermenting (about 5 days), the farmers will the dry the beans in the sun. Once they are completely dry, the beans are ready to be processed. They are shipped in 200 pound bags to CHOCOLATE FACTORIES around the world.

Once the cacao beans arrive to the factory, they are roasted. When this is finished, they are put in a “winnowing” machine. This takes off the outer shell, leaving the good part behind. We call the good part “nibs”.

These are cacao "nibs" from Theo's Chocolate
The nibs are put into a milling machine. This machine grinds the nibs into thick liquid called “chocolate liquor”. Chocolate liquor has two parts: cocoa solids and cocoa butter.

Now it is time to make CHOCOLATE as we know it! To make dark chocolate, chocolate liquor is mixed with sugar and other minor ingredients such as vanilla. To make milk chocolate, chocolate liquor is blended with milk and sugar.

From this point, the chocolate is refined, mixed, and then tempered. That means that the chocolate is heated, then cooled, then re-heated. This makes the chocolate ready to be poured into molds.

Once the chocolate is poured into molds, it is placed into a cooling chamber. After it has cooled, it is ready to be packaged, packed and shipped! And better yet, this chocolate is ready to EAT!

My favorite chocolate comes from Theo’s Chocolate Factory right here in Seattle. Not only do they make the best chocolate, but they make organic and fair-traded chocolate. That means that the chocolate is grown without harmful chemicals, and the farmers are paid a fair price for the work. Their children are also able to go to school.

Sadly, many other cacao famers are not treated in the same way. And instead of going to school, their children have to work long hours farming the cacao, which becomes most of the world’s chocolate. As much as I can, I like to support Theo’s Chocolate factory. Click here for their website.

Speaking of AWESOME chocolate factories, I cannot forget my FAVORITE fictional chocolate factory. This factory is found in Roald Dahl’s story, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This book has been made into a movie not once, but twice. Take a look at the movie trailer below.

 With this new knowledge, what kind of story could you write? Maybe these WHAT IF questions will help you get started.

WHAT IF your main character was a chocolate dragon?

WHAT IF your main character built a chocolate castle?

WHAT IF your main character opened their own chocolate factory?

The possibilities are endless, and please leave your own what if questions in the comment section below. I’d love to see what you come up with.

So, grab a cup of hot COCOA, a pencil and a piece of paper, and let’s begin. With your imagination, we can go anywhere. I look forward to seeing where you take us.

With Imagination,

Professor Watermelon

The word of the day is “pulp”. Here is the definition: the soft juicy edible part of a fruit.


  1. What if chocolate turns into a chocolate monster?
    What if chocolate is healthy for you?
    What if chocolate doesn't taste good?
    What if chocolate is not brown but pink in color?
    What if chocolate not edible?
    What if chocolate was never existed and discovers by people?

    By Celeste B

  2. What a tasty muse we have this week! Maybe I will have to cook up a chocolate surprise this week for your Creative Writers!

  3. • What if everything was made of chocolate – when you didn’t need stuff anymore, you could just eat it, instead of throwing things away.
    • What if chocolate was not brown but multi-colored
    • What if chocolate tasted like broccoli
    • What if chocolate tasted like chicken
    • What if a chocolate eating contest was an Olympic sport – I could win a gold medal!
    • What if the cacao bean started to go extinct
    • What if chocolates just grew on trees – the making process is sooo complicated
    • What if we got a piece of Theo’s chocolate every minute in every creative writing class
    • What if Mommies let their kids eat as much chocolate as they wanted – like for breakfast, lunch and dinner
    • Reading this made me really want some chocolate but we don’t have any right now
    • What if eating chocolate gave you super-powers

    - Amar

  4. This is the chocolate version of the 3 Little Pigs:
    Once upon a time there were three little pigs. One pig built a house of milk chocolate while the second pig built his house with dark chocolate. They built their houses very quickly because chocolate was easy to buy. They sang and danced all day because they were lazy. The third little pig went to work in an organic and fair-traded chocolate factory and modified the making process to add bricks so he got a really hard chocolate. He worked for a whole week and built his house out of this hard chocolate.
    A big bad wolf saw the two little pigs while they danced and played and thought, “What juicy tender meals they will make!” He chased the two pigs and they ran and hid in their houses. The big bad wolf went to the first house and just ate the milk chocolate house. The frightened little pig ran to the second pig’s house that was made of dark chocolate. The big bad wolf now came to this house, smacked his lips and ate the dark chocolate house. Now, the two little pigs were terrified and ran to the third pig’s house that was made of hard chocolate.
    The big bad wolf tried to eat the house but broke his teeth in the process because the chocolate was really hard. He ran away. The two little pigs now felt sorry for having been so lazy. They too built their houses with hardened chocolate and lived happily ever after.

    - Amar