This week, our class took a trip to the Musee de Chocolat (Chocolate Museum). It did not take me long, however, to realize that our trip to Musee de Chocolat was not going to be any ordinary museum visit. Upon entering the building, we were greeted by one of the head chocolatiers. He was wearing a thick, white coat that ran to just above his ankles, and his white shoes, well, let’s just say they had seen better days. He instructed us to wash our hands, and, as the cold water trickled down my fingers… I had my EUREKA moment. We had not come here to simply learn about the history of chocolate. We were actually going to be making it!
On the way downstairs, I was absolutely floored by the French architecture that the chocolatiers had brought to life with chocolate. I was most impressed by the Chocolate Eiffel Tower. It stood roughly 6 feet tall and its silky coat of brown was glistening in the light that shined from above. I asked the head chocolatier how much time it had taken to construct, and he promptly responded to me with “3 months”. Safe to say, that was just the beginning of an hour full of surprises.
Once inside the chocolate making room, we were instructed to put on our aprons and choose a table mat to work on. Next to me were three massive, chocolate churning machines that were dripping milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate. Our instructor conducted a few demos on how to use the chocolate to decorate our marshmallows, orange peels, and fudge blocks. He made it look incredibly easy. We strengthened our chocolate decorating skills for roughly 45 minutes then headed back upstairs to learn about the history of chocolate making and its roots stemming from Mexico.
Through this museum and my personal research, I have learned much about chocolate. In particular, I found it fascinating how brain studies have shown that dark chocolate is associated with increased verbal memory performance for two hours post consumption (Lamport et al., 2020). This is most likely due to the effects of dark chocolate having increased flavanol-rich cocoa which increases cerebral blood flow during the first 2-4 hours after first intake (Sorond et al., 2008). I was able to gather so much information from this trip with the added bonus of strengthening my chocolate making skills. Even better, I found a reason to continue indulging in this creamy treat, within reason, of course!
Lamport, Daniel J., et al. “Beneficial Effects of Dark Chocolate for Episodic Memory in Healthy Young Adults: A Parallel-Groups Acute Intervention with a White Chocolate Control.” Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 2, Feb. 2020, p. 483. PubMed Central, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12020483.
Sorond, Farzaneh A., et al. “Cerebral Blood Flow Response to Flavanol-Rich Cocoa in Healthy Elderly Humans.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, vol. 4, no. 2, Apr. 2008, pp. 433–40. PubMed Central, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2518374/.