March 26, 2012

Student Organization Teaches Cornellians About Chocolate

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Founded in 2010 with five members, the Chocolate and Confections Technology Club was formed to apply technical and scientific knowledge to chocolate production and processing. Now boasting 20 active members, the club hopes to further foster its members love for chocolate through tasting opportunities, hands-on chocolate making workshops, guest speakers’ lectures and field trips to events such as the annual New York Chocolate Show.

During the club’s chocolate tasting events, members discuss what makes each chocolate taste a certain way, the different flavors of chocolate and the antioxidants found in chocolate.

On Valentine’s Day, the club held an annual chocolate fest at the Big Red Barn to present 12 different chocolate brands. It presented the origins, production process and unique characteristics of each chocolate.

Abby Harrison ’14, the club’s vice president, explained the significance of making distinctions between chocolate production processes in order to understand the different tastes of each chocolate.

“For example, the Lindt chocolates have a smoother texture while the Hersheys’ have a somewhat pasty texture, because Lindt ‘s cocoa beans get grinded for a longer time in a chocolate conch to create smaller particles,” Harrison said.

After holding previous events in which club members learned the scientific background and detailed production skills behind chocolate-making, the club plans to hold its own chocolate-making event in April.

Harrison said that her passion for chocolate-making led her to join the club.

“Personally, I adore chocolate and it is basically an artistic medium for which some one can express their soul and speak though their heart,” she said.

She said that making chocolate brought her back to her youth.

“I recently watched a movie called Chocolat,” she said. “It was very inspiring in that it showed how you can put your personality into what you are making. If you are making your own chocolate, you can add a part of yourself into it.”

The club’s president, Evonne Lau ’12, also noted the widespread appeal of chocolate and its ability to lift one’s mood.

“Chocolates have become so universal …  you are running low on gift ideas, you can give them chocolate and they will be happy,” Lau said. “It is a perfect way of making people know that you care about them.”

Recently, members of the club attended the New York Chocolate Show, an event featuring chocolate cooking demonstrations and chocolate vendors. The club collaborated with the Food Science Club to accommodate its members on the trip.

Meghan Collins ’15, a member of the Food Science Club who attended the New York Chocolate Show with the Chocolate Club, said she learned a lot about chocolate-making at the show.

“It was really interesting to talk to the different vendors and learn about the technology behind producing chocolate products,” Collins said. “I love how passionate everyone at the show was about chocolate. The free samples didn’t hurt either.”

In addition to informing members about chocolate production, the club provides valuable opportunities for people interested in the food industry. With the guest speakers from Hershey’s and Mars, students can participate in on-campus recruiting. With the help of graduate students in the club who have worked with people in the chocolate industry, many undergraduate students find ways to further their career aspirations.

Lau and Harrison said that they will continue to expand the club.

“We want to provide a solid foundation of people’s knowledge of chocolate,” Harrison said.

Original Author: Nicole Haejoo Chang