No other food stirs the passions and soothes the soul as does chocolate. Indeed, research suggests a scientific basis for chocolate's pleasure inducing properties in its high levels of antioxidants and its ability to stimulate endorphins and serotonin. Chocolate lovers may revel in the recent proliferation of gourmet chocolatiers, who offer an array of handmade confections, baking products, high cacao content bars, and other delights.
But before you stockpile chocolate as a panacea or splurge on expensive varieties, peruse this concise guide to all things chocolate. There's information about cultivating and harvesting cacao; chocolate manufacturing processes and labor issues; major types of chocolate; chocolate's traditional uses and history; chocolate and health; and tips on judging, storing, and serving chocolate. These 48 cards will make you a true connoisseur of chocolate.