Valentine’s day is one of the sweetest holidays. It’s filled with love, flowers, and of course, candy! Lollipops, gummies, chocolate, and conversation hearts are some of the many variations. The two most popular candy types are by far chocolates and conversation hearts. Have you ever thought about how these sweet treats are made?
Chocolate is derived from a cacao tree. This tree grows best near the equator with plenty of heat and rain. Cacao beans grow from the tree in pods that each have around 30-50 beans. An interesting fact is that these beans aren’t referred to as cocoa until after they’re dried and roasted! Once the beans are removed from their pods in harvest, they’re fermented. This means they’re cleaned by hand, making them a purplish color, and then covered with banana leaves to give them that delicious chocolate flavor! The beans are carefully dried, blended, and roasted. Once ground into cocoa powder or cocoa mass, there are only a few more steps to make them into chocolate! To make dark chocolate, cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and sugar are the only necessary ingredients. Milk chocolate requires the same ingredients but also needs milk powder. White chocolate is a controversial treat as it doesn’t require any cocoa mass, causing some people to believe it isn’t really a chocolate. Once the ingredients are mixed, the soon-to-be chocolate goes through a process called conching where it is kneaded, rolled, and heated. This process gives the chocolate the rich, gourmet taste everyone loves. The final step before the chocolate is off for sale is tempering and molding. This is simply shaping and packaging the chocolates. This delicacy may be a lengthy process to create, but the rich treats make it worth it, satisfying sweet tooths all over.
Conversation hearts are a classic, simple treat that has been around since the 1800s. They’re made with six simple ingredients: sugar, corn syrup, cornstarch, flavoring, and colors. Corn syrup and sugar are the first ingredients due to the large quantities needed. These two are mixed through large silos and machines. The corn starch, colors, and flavoring are added by hand. Eventually, the ingredients make a dough-like consistency. The dough is flattened, cut into shapes, and printed with messages. After the hearts have taken their shapes, they’re heated, mixed, and packaged. While this recipe may seem complex, you can make these candies at home! Although Valentine’s Day is only one day a year, around 8 billion conversation hearts are sold during this time! They’re the #1 non-chocolate selling Valentine’s Day sweet.
This is just how some of the best-selling Valentine’s day sweets are made! If you would like to learn more about these processes, you can go to these links: How Conversation Hearts Are Made or How Chocolate is Made. We hope you have a great Valentine’s Day and make sure you indulge in these sweet treats!