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Chocolate Glossary and Terms


First, the pods, containing cacao beans, are harvested. The beans, together with their surrounding pulp, are removed from the pod and left in piles or bins to ferment for three to seven days. The beans must then be quickly dried to prevent mould growth; weather permitting, this is done by spreading the beans out in the sun.

The cocoa beans are then roasted, developing the flavours and aromas and enriching the colour. The beans are then roasted, graded and ground. Cocoa butter is removed from the either by being pressed or by the Broma process. The residue is what is known as cocoa powder.

The beans pass through a machine, which cracks them open and separates the husks from the ‘nibs’ (the centre of the bean).

Grinding & Mixing
The winnowed beans are ground, which refines the cocoa particles, releasing the cocoa butter and the cocoa mass resulting chocolate liquor. Both these, plus other basic ingredients such as sugar and milk powder, are mixed and kneaded. Further grinding between steel rollers reduces the particle size even more.

chocolate_conchingA conche is a container filled with metal beads, which act as grinders. This refining process removes ‘volatile’ components (unwanted flavours and aromas). The liquid chocolate is constantly agitated and heat-treated, and flavours are added. By the end of this process the chocolate has developed it’s full flavour and characteristic velvety smoothness. The more expensive chocolates tend to be processed longer and thus have a smoother texture and “feel” on the tongue, regardless of whether emulsifying agents are added

Liquid chocolate is cooled from 45*C to approximately 28*C, then heated again to 30*C. This is a critical stage which, when done correctly, delivers the perfect structure of cocoa butter crystals, resulting in chocolate having a high gloss finish and a sharp ‘snap’ when broken.

Blended Chocolate
Chocolate made with cocoa mass taken from a blend of different types of beans, ensuring consistency of flavour. The majority of chocolate is made in this way. Chocolate manufacturers’ blends are valuable, closely guarded secrets.

Dark chocolate (also called plain chocolate)
A blend of cocoa butter, sugar, cocoa powder and sometimes vanilla. The percentage of cocoa solids used in good quality dark chocolate can range from 60% to 75% but should be a minimum of 70%. U.S. chocolates have a lower percentage requirement of cocoa liquor for dark chocolate, so some dark chocolate has sugar as the top ingredient.

chocolate_ganacheA chocolate centre made from blending chocolate and cream, often with added alcohol, nuts, vanilla and other distinctive flavours.

A chocolate centre made by blending roasted nuts, sugar and chocolate.

Milk Chocolate
A blend of cocoa powder, cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla flavouring and milk or milk powder. The Cocoa content should be a minimum of 50%

Origin Chocolate
Chocolate made with cocoa mass taken from cocoa beans of one region or plantation, rather than a blend of beans from more than one source. The time of harvest, the type of soil and the regional and climactic conditions all contribute to each type of cocoa bean’s unique character and flavour.

A chocolate centre recipe refining roasted nuts and sugar to a smooth paste, often with added chopped nuts, chocolate or cocoa powder

A chocolate centre recipe blending ganache with added butter, fondant and sometimes fruit pieces

White chocolate
A blend of cocoa powder (33% or less), milk, sugar and vanilla flavouring. White chocolate does not contain any cocoa solids.

Cocoa Powder
There are two types of unsweetened baking cocoa available: natural cocoa (like the sort produced by Hershey’s and Nestlé) and Dutch-process cocoa (such as the Hershey’s European Style Cocoa and the Droste brand). Both are made by pulverising partially defatted chocolate liquor and removing nearly all the cocoa butter. Natural cocoa is light in colour and somewhat acidic with a strong chocolate flavour. Natural cocoa is commonly used in recipes which call for baking soda. Because baking soda is an alkali, combining it with natural cocoa creates a leavening action that allows the batter to rise during baking. Dutch-process cocoa is processed with alkali to neutralise its natural acidity. Dutch cocoa is slightly milder in taste, with a deeper and warmer colour than natural cocoa. Dutch-process cocoa is frequently used for chocolate drinks such as hot chocolate due to its ease in blending with liquids. Unfortunately, Dutch processing destroys most of the flavonols present in cocoa.

Compound chocolate
This is the technical term for a confection combining cocoa with vegetable fat, usually tropical fats and/or hydrogenated fats, as a replacement for cocoa butter. It is primarily used for candy bar coatings, but because it does not contain cocoa butter, in the US it is not allowed to be called “chocolate.” Popular in Britain, the European Union for a time required that it be called “vegelate”, but it can now be called “family chocolate”. Unfortunately in America, to the untrained observer the adjective used for this substance appears to merely be the adjectival form of chocolate: “chocolatey”. The candy bars sold in America often no longer have true chocolate as a major component. This is especially true for much candy passed as “white chocolate”, which need not contain anything from the cacao bush at all. This can translate to poor taste, texture and possibly health concerns, particularly when partially hydrogenated oils are used to replace cacao butter. Flavours such as mint, orange, or strawberry are sometimes added to chocolate. Chocolate bars frequently contain added ingredients such as peanuts, nuts, fruit, caramel, or even crisped rice.

This is a term used for chocolates rich in cocoa butter. Popular brands of couverture used by professional pastry chefs and often sold in gourmet and specialty food stores include: Valrhona, Felchlin, Lindt & Sprüngli, Scharffen Berger, Barry Callebaut, and Guittard. These chocolates contain a high percentage of cocoa (sometimes 70% or more) and have a total fat content of 30-40%.

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