The Mystery of Chocolate: Introduction
You could think that there’s nothing more simple in the world than chocolate. Although once you take a closer look at the world of chocolate, you start to realise how diverse it is. Each type of chocolate requires a slightly different kind of attention and should be used for different purposes.
If cacao mass or couverture chocolate sound kinda familiar to you but you can’t really picture what it actually is, this article is for you. Let’s reveal the mysteries of chocolate!
What Is Chocolate Made of?
Most answers would probably be cocoa, fat, and sugar. And this answer would be quite right if we were explaining what chocolate is to a child eating the sweet snack for the first time. What would be more accurate to say, then? The answer should start with Oh, that depends on the kind of chocolate.
Let’s explain it with the example of a classic milk chocolate bar.
- Fat (cacao butter only, in the best-case scenario)
- Less than 50% of cocoa solids (or cocoa mass, also called chocolate liquor)
- Milk (powdered, liquid or condensed)
The cocoa solids content can vary from country to country. E.g., according to the European Union’s requirements, the minimum content of cocoa solids is 25%, while, i.a., UK and Ireland provide a maximum of 20% cocoa solids.
Cocoa mass is a cocoa paste obtained by grounding fermented cacao beans — very often you can also stumble upon cocoa powder used instead. Cocoa solids and fat are added separately and that’s where the basic division of chocolate comes from — we’re going to take a closer look at the kinds of chocolate in the further parts of the article.
Cocoa or Cacao — Is It One Thing?
So cocoa mass is made of fermented cacao beans. At first glance, it does look a bit like a tautology, doesn’t it? However, there is a distinctive difference.
Primarily, we use the term cacao beans for the very original, unprocessed form of harvested and peeled beans of the cacao tree — Theobroma Cacao.
To make the beans ready for consumption they have to be fermented first, and then roasted. Roasted cacao beans are then called cocoa beans. Chocolate producers are allowed to use the term raw regarding their products if they used fermented only cacao beans to make raw chocolate. Fermentation is not high-heat treatment of the beans. Although there is no such thing as raw cocoa beans! The word cocoa already informs you of a high-temperature treatment — the roasting.
Types of Chocolate
The traditional distinction of chocolate kinds is based on the percentage of cocoa. A slightly younger classification, on the other hand, is based on the colour of chocolate.
The percentage of cocoa dominates not only the taste of a given chocolate bar but also its culinary purpose. Below we’re presenting this distinction in a generalised form:
Don’t be surprised if you’ll see sugar in the first place on the ingredients list, that’s what makes milk chocolate so addictively sweet and brings out its creaminess. Its taste isn’t distinct enough for baking or cooking.
Semisweet and bittersweet chocolate
These terms are used in the US. The main difference between semisweet and bittersweet chocolate, though, is not the amount of cocoa but sugar!
With this percentage of cocoa solids, you can start with using chocolate for something more as a snack! The cocoa taste and bitterness are noticeable enough to use it for baking and garnishing.
Chocolate of pure, bitter, and creamy taste of cocoa. Perfect both for baking and cooking, and as a healthy snack!
When it comes to the colour of chocolate, it’s more simple. We can distinguish the following:
- Milk chocolate
- Dark chocolate
- White chocolate
- Ruby chocolate
The last two kinds we’re going to describe in the next paragraphs.
Is It Still Chocolate?
In some cases, we call a product wrongly from a technical point of view, because it gives us an idea of what to expect. E.g., soy milk is an incorrect term of a plant-based beverage. However, calling it milk suggests that it can be used for the same purposes as cow milk.
The same acceptable range of inaccuracy occurs in the chocolate industry.
- Couverture chocolate
Couverture is mostly used by chocolatiers for dipping, e.g., truffles, pralines, candy bars, fruits, etc., and making extra crispy and thin chocolate decorations or for cake glazings.
Because of the highest percentage of cocoa butter among all the kinds of chocolate, couverture is very often excluded from the chocolate world in a technical understanding. Usually, it depends on the country’s chocolate terminology requirements
- Compound chocolate
It’s a chocolate bar that instead of cocoa butter contains cheaper vegetable fat, e.g., palm oil or colza oil. It can also be known as a chocolate-like product or chocolatey coating.
- White chocolate
Technically speaking, white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all. Ingredients of the white chocolate bar are cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar. But you won’t find any cocoa mass!
- Pink chocolate
Coloured white chocolate is still not real chocolate! Unless you got the opportunity to try actual ruby chocolate. What’s real ruby chocolate, though? Let’s find out!
Naturally Pink Chocolate — It Happened!
Two years ago (in 2017), after 13 years of experimenting, naturally pink chocolate was patented. The already world-wide famous ruby chocolate. The chocolate is produced from ruby cacao beans — an actual cacao tree species. The man behind the confectionery revolution is Barry Callebaut. Besides a different colour, the taste is also different — you can sense distinctive fruity flavours in the chocolate. The exact origin of the colour remains Callebaut’s secret. Although there are assumptions that it’s thanks to a unique processing method. We may never find out!
The world of chocolate obviously is much wider and hides much more mysteries than what we’ve presented to you. However, we hope that we gave you a clearer idea of what chocolate actually is. May the chocolate power always be with you!