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10/13/2013

~ Let's Talk Chocolate: All about Baker's Chocolate ~

IMG_4274Baker's chocolate per se is an unsweetened dark chocolate intended for baking, not eating.  On its own, it does not have a pleasant taste (truthfully, it tastes awful), but, when you combine it with ingredients like eggs, sugar, flour and milk, it adds lots of deep, rich chocolaty flavor to all sorts of sweet treats.   That being said, when a recipe specifically calls for "Baker's Chocolate", with the "B" being capitalized, the recipe is telling you to use a brand of chocolate that has been used in our kitchens for over 200 years and was invented right here in America.

300px-BakersCocoaA bit of Baker's chocolate history:

In 1764, in Dorchester, Massachusetts, John Hannon and an American physician, Dr. James Baker, started importing cocoa beans and producing chocolate.  In 1780, Hannon's widow sold the company to Baker, who renamed the company The Baker Chocolate Company.  His first product was a 'cake' (a square) of chocolate intended for making sweetened chocolate beverages.  Dr. Baker's son, Edmund, inherited the business in 1804 and industrialized it with a state-of-the-art facility. By 1849, under Walter Baker (Edmond's son), the business was doing great and the brand name was known all the way to CA.  Baker's chocolate was becoming a staple in kitchen pantries everywhere. 

(Baker's Cocoa Advertisement appearing in Overland Monthy, January 1919, via Wikipedia.)

German chocolate cake isn't German!  It's American!!!

IMG_4180Production was limited to unsweetened chocolate until 1852, when employee Samuel German created a sweet chocolate that had a higher sugar content than yet-to-be invented modern-day semi-sweet chocolate.  This chocolate was given his name: German's Sweet Chocolate.  

GermanOn June 3, 1957, the Dallas Morning Star misprinted a recipe for the first 'German's Chocolate Cake', under the name 'German Chocolate Cake' -- a name that has stuck with this beloved recipe all of these years. Their "Recipe of the Day" was the creation of a Dallas, TX, homeker:  Mrs. George Clay.

A bit about German chocolate cake:  For those of you who've never tasted it, it is a moist, three-layer chocolate cake, sandwiched with sweet, caramel-like frosting containing coconut and pecans.  Traditionally, the sides of the cake do not get frosted, leaving the layers of cake and frosting visible to the beholder of this lovely creation.

IMG_4177Production increased steadily throughout the century.  The trademark logo "La Belle Chocolatiere" was adopted in 1883 by fourth-generation owner, the step-nephew of Walter Baker, William Henry Pierce.  Pierce advertised heavily in newspapers to increase sales.  When he died in 1896, the Forbes Syndicate bought the company.  The company got sold again to the Postum Cereal Company, which later became General Foods, which was acquired by Kraft foods in 1980.

IMG_4168Cook's Note:  Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate and Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate can be used interchangeably in recipes.  Baker's Chocolate, which is unsweetened, cannot be used interchangeably with those two.  Have a sweet day!!!

IMG_4303"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013) 

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