Niederegger

Category: pastries

Chocolate, the new Caviar

Britain is a nation of chocolate lovers – we love to indulge in this scrumptious treat. Britons consume an average of 11kh per person per year, that’s around 3 bars a week – this equates to 660,900 tonnes a year in total!

Since 2007 chocolate consumption has doubled, the biggest increase was seen to be in the consumption of dark chocolate, milk chocolate is the first choice for two thirds of all Brits, only 1% don’t like it!

The demand for chocolate will increase by roughly 5 million metric tonnes by 2012 according to food companies and commodity traders – this year’s supply is already expected to fall short, with demand being too high.

Chocolate is not just important to business in the UK; according to the World Cocoa Foundation some 50 million people around the world depend on cocoa as a source of livelihood. Chocolate’s popularity means it has been a powerful tool for changing trade patters, as on of the first and most successful fairly traded products.

On a negative note, it has been said that in 20 years it could be a possibility that chocolate production will decrease to the point where it will be as valuable as caviar. Farmers in Africa are currently illegally using land on national reserves, as they are so desperate for fertile land to produce this sought after crop. John Mason, executive director and founder of the Ghana-based Nature Conservation Research Council, has forecast that shortages in bulk production in Africa will have a devastating effect: ‘In 20 years chocolate will be like caviar. It will become so rare and so expensive that the average Joe just won’t be able to afford it.’

The aforementioned can already be seen as cocoa prices increased by 10% in 2011, this is the largest increase since the 1970s.

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Marzipan Around The World

Marzipan has been used in Europe and most of the world since the Middle Ages. It was brought back from the Crusaders when they traveled to what is now the Middle East. No one is entirely sure where marzipan originated; some historians say China, others say the Middle East and even Italy. However, Marzipan has been incorporated into deserts all over the world. Marzipan was already very popular in the 16th century, it was mentioned in a dictionary from the year 1521. Marzipan is an artisan sweet that will never be forgotten.

In Italy, marzipan (marzapane) is often shaped and painted with food colouring to resemble fruit (Frutta martorana) especially during Christmas and on All Souls’ Day.

The depiction of fruit using marzipan is traditionally Sicilian due to its initial use at the Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio, a monastery near Palermo which used the marzipan to decorate the bare trees of the convent when important guest were visiting. The Marzipan was traditionally eaten on the occasion of All Saints Day (where the marzipan fruits are traditionally put by children’s beds)  and All Souls’ Day.

In Greece and Cyprus, marzipan is used in different ways, but is almost always left white. On the islands of the Aegean in particular, white marzipan is used at weddings, and is served to the guests.

The best marzipan in Greece can be found at the 11th-century Santo Domingo el Antiguo. The nuns working there have kept the recipe for their marzipan secret since the 13th century. Often in the window of this pastry shop, one may see either a replica of part of Toledo’s cathedral, or of the Sinagoga del Tránsito, made of marzipan.

In Latin American, marzipan is known by the Castillian word of mazapán and is also traditionally eaten at Christmas. Marzipan is generally made with peanuts instead of almonds. In Mexico, it is often hand made as an artisan treat with either peanuts, pistachios or pine nuts.

Peanut marzipan has an entirely different texture to Almond Marzipan. Almond Marzipan has been described as soft, sweet, moist and perfumey while on the other hand Peanut Marzipan in comparison to Almond Marzipan has been described as sandier, crumblier and it has a very strong peanut flavor. This style of marzipan has more of an acquired taste compared to Almond Marzipan.

Almonds – The key ingredient of Marzipan

“Historians generally agree that almonds, mentioned in the Old Testament of the Bible, were among the earliest cultivated foods.”

The Almond tree is a small deciduous tree growing 4-10 meters in height, native to mineral rich West-Asian mountain ranges that provide optimum environment for their growth. In recent years it has become a very popular crop and is cultivated across the world. During the spring the tree bears whitish-pink flowers which ultimately turn into fruit in the autumn.

Almonds have always been revered as a symbol of fullness and wealth. The nuts contain many health-benefiting nutrients that are required to keep healthy!

Research has showed that Almonds can prevent cancer.  Almonds contain a high concentration of phytochemicals on their dark brown skin. Studies show that this powerful natural compound, which plants use to protect themselves against pests, have been seen to fight off cancer cells. In various laboratory experiments, the phytochemicals found in almonds actually aid in keeping brain tumors from multiplying. There are even accounts of the tumors decreasing significantly.

Almonds have been seen to contain a high dose of Vitamin E – 30 grams of almonds will give you 35% of daily requirement! Some studies have pointed that consistent consumption of almonds has significantly decreased chances for breast cancer and prostate cancer. That’s because vitamin E in almonds came in the form of alpha-tocopherol – a known agent that prevents the multiplication of cancer cells. To top all of that off – Almonds are also naturally cholesterol free.

However, almonds have other benefits.  As far ask the skin is concerned, almond can be used in several ways. Almond oil makes the skin smooth and soft, which is why it is often favored for massages. Almond oil can also be used for the hair. 

Almond milk is also available, and is good for the skin, besides being a nourishing and useful substitute for people who are allergic to milk. In addition, almonds themselves can also be used in many home treatments for the skin.

 

Marzipan

Lay it on the table, the King did say with desperate admiration.

Adorn with fruit and sugar coat to gloat my satisfaction.

What is this quenching taste? Queen Elizabeth announced.

What kind of wicked trickery is going on that dares be unpronounced.

No trickery comes from Persia. The sweetness speaks its case.

Only almonds and sugar are found here. The only craft is in the taste.

Does it have a name, this delicious poison to which I must subscribe?

Massa or Marzipan suits best what only the senses can describe.

The King clapped in confirmation and the Queen chortled in delight

The jester adorned his pointy hat and cart wheeled through the night.

Fast forward four hundred years or so when this scene is long done

1806, Niederegger stands for marzipan of the world renown!