The ancient Mayans learned how to make a chocolate beverage, which later became popular in Europe. People today might not enjoy it, since it was bitter, not sweet. The Mayans never thought of using two key ingredients in modern hot cocoa: milk and sugar. We have invented chocolate candy, too. It was a difficult process. Considering how many things can go wrong making and working with chocolate candy, it's amazing that anyone kept believing it could be done.

We would probably find the first chocolate candy too grainy for our tastes. Those who prefer milk chocolate would not consider it sweet enough, either. Chocolate is also chemically temperamental when melted. It burns easily, so getting it too hot ruins it; but it it's not warm enough, it becomes too thick to pour or otherwise work with it. The difference between those two temperatures can be maddeningly small.

Perhaps you may have noticed that when you accidentally chocolate in a hot car or in sunlight in the house, it melts. When the candy hardens again it has taken on a grayish color. It tastes bad and does not have a nice mouth feel, because it has become riddled with little holes or empty spaces. The cocoa butter (the gray color) has separated from the rest, leaving all those little voids, a process often called blooming.

To make any kind of chocolate (milk, white, or dark), the basic ingredients have to be mixed without stopping for days on end at the proper temperature in order for it to have the smooth texture we love. (Don't try this at home!) Then the chocolate must harden quickly. If anyone wants to use chocolate for dipping anything else, it must be tempered. That is, it must be melted to a suitably warm temperature then cooled in order for the dipped candy not to bloom. Some people who make chocolate candy as a hobby, especially those who make molded chocolates, put paraffin in the chocolate to prevent that from happening. Of course, it destroys both the taste and the texture.

Professional chocolatiers know how to temper chocolate, of course, but many people who want to make chocolates as a hobby often learn the hard way. Once they do, friends and family get to enjoy truly wonderful candy. My family has made candy as a hobby now for four generations!