With its delicious, sweet and powdery aromas, chocolate gets almost everybody to agree. If it delights the taste buds, this ingredient has also recently tickled the nostrils. Since the 90’s, the chocolate perfume has conquered many fragrance creators thanks to its gourmand smell and its comforting notes. From the cocoa bean to your bottles, we take you on a journey that will make your mouth water!
Chocolate, the history of brown gold
From discovery to success
Native to South America, the first cocoa farmers were the Mayans of Yucatan, Mexico. They used the beans as currency for trade, but also to prepare a widely appreciated drink: Xocoatl. Quite bitter, this mixture made of crushed cocoa beans with pepper and chili pepper, has little to do with the hot chocolate that we like to enjoy by the fireplace! Christopher Columbus was the first European to discover the precious bean in the early 16th century. Unconvinced by the potential of the thick and spicy beverage he had just tasted, he nevertheless accepted the bag of beans offered by the Amerindians… thinking they were goat droppings!
A few years later, Hernan Cortes also landed on the South American coasts. The emperor Moctezuma offered him the famous Xocoatl as a welcome gift. Once again, it was not a great success. But the explorer decided to replace the chili pepper with vanilla and to add sugar and milk. Much less bitter, the drink seems to him immediately much more attractive! The first cocoa plants were sent to Spain where the new recipe was quickly adopted. Over there, it was even said to have euphoric and aphrodisiac properties! This culture is then exported to Italy, then to France in Versailles, where people of the court tastes without moderation this sweet and thick drink. The first bar was marketed in 1847 in a London chocolate factory. Thanks to the industrialization and the technical progress, this product will become the flagship delicacy of all the cupboards of the world, or almost.
The cocoa tree, the tree of the gods
Before becoming the bar that we gobble up in an evening (yes we admit it, we will no longer hide), chocolate comes from the cocoa tree. After four long years, the tree reveals small pinkish flowers that grow directly on the trunk and branches. The most robust of them, only 1% out of thousands, will produce a fruit in the shape of a large pod. Opening it with a knife reveals a viscous and sweet pulp called mucilage, which is used to make delicious jams. This pulp contains between 25 and 50 seeds, the cocoa beans (and not goat droppings, you understood). At present, the culture of the cocoa tree is mainly in Africa, in particular in Ghana and in Ivory Coast, even if there is always an important production in Brazil and in Ecuador.
From bean to chocolate
To obtain the delicate chocolate, the farmers first proceed to the shelling: a man can break more than 1500 pods per day! The recovered beans ferment for a week and are then dried in the sun. During this process, the mucilage melts and impregnates the beans with its soft and sweet notes. The small seeds are then roasted at 140° for about twenty minutes. They are grinded to obtain a cocoa nibs, which is itself crushed. During this process, the fats melt, allowing the separation of the cocoa butter and a thick and viscous liquid: the cocoa liquor. Then, the mixtures and the recipes differ according to the desired result, between dark chocolate, white, milk… All the delicacies are possible!
Perfume and chocolate: a not so guilty pleasure
The chocolate touch of the nineties
If chocolate has seduced all taste buds for centuries, noses have long been slow to venture into this very special ingredient. It wasn’t until the early 1990s and the creativity of perfumer Olivier Cresp for Thierry Mugler, that this sweet material gets its start in perfumery. The famous Angel, unveiled in 1992, is indeed the first bottle to feature chocolate in a very sweet base alongside caramel, vanilla and patchouli. This creation will introduce a new genre: the gourmand perfume. From novelty to overdose, chocolate fascinates as much as it made noses nauseous. But for several years now, the perfume of chocolate has been inspiring noses to use it sparingly and subtly, in unexpected and often daring compositions.
The scent of chocolate: natural or synthetic?
This olfactory and gustatory cuddly toy reveals sweet and powdery notes with balsamic aspects and a little bitter edge. To add this chocolate touch to compositions, perfumers have multiple options. They can work with synthetic or natural raw materials. The creators have the possibility of using molecules manufactured in laboratories like chocovan or pyrazines which evoke the scent of dark chocolate, quite raw while remaining delicate. White musks can sometimes be added to give a white chocolate appearance. However, some natural ingredients such as patchouli can also recreate a chocolate note. We also think of the tonka bean which diffuses an almond and cocoa facet.
Chocolate, a good ingredient to marry?
If the chocolate note is powerful, it also reveals many facets that can be combined with a whole range of ingredients. The star of gourmand fragrances, it is also perfectly at home in the oriental family. It reveals itself there all in warmth and sensuality. The scent of chocolate is also a perfect match for fruity notes or floral fragrances to bring them a lot of richness and depth. Despite appearances, this velvety note also invites itself in more masculine juices to coat fern accords or to contrast aromatic scents.
Did you know the history of chocolate? Do you like to smell a chocolate perfume in your fragrances?
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