Chocolate that is hand made by a small maker, rather than machine mass produced.
Bittersweet chocolate is chocolate that contains a minimum of 35% cocoa solids. It has less sugar and more liquor than semisweet chocolate, but the two are used interchangeably in baking. Bittersweet chocolate is dark and rich in flavor and appeals to dark chocolate lovers.
A term used for the cacao tree, Theobroma Cacao. The same term is also used for the unprocessed product (pods or cocoa bean) of the cacao plant.
Solid chocolate pieces, usually topped with raisins and nuts.
Chocolate liquor, also referred to as cocoa liquor, is finely ground processed cocoa bean nibs in their liquid state. This is unsweetened chocolate in its purest form and, in spite of what the name suggests, does not contain any alcohol.
Cocoa bean is derived from the fruit of the cocoa tree. The beans are processed and cocoa solids and butter are extracted, which form the fundamental basis for chocolate.
Cocoa butter is an edible fat extracted from the cocoa bean and is a primary ingredient of chocolate. It is firm at room temperature with a melting point close to the human body temperature: a characteristic that is responsible for that unique melt-in-your-mouth experience of real chocolate.
The cocoa pod is the fruit of the cocoa tree. Each pod contains cocoa beans, from which solids and butter are extracted to produce chocolate.
Cocoa powder is cocoa paste (ground coco beans) minus cocoa butter. So essentially, it is the low fat component of the cocoa bean. It is commonly used in baked cookies, tarts, chocolate drinks and as a sprinkling on truffles.
Compound chocolate is a less expensive variant of real chocolate, the difference being that compound contains vegetable oils instead of the more expensive cocoa butter as its source of fat.
Conching is a mechanical process of plowing chocolate back and forth in a mixer /agitator to evenly distribute the cocoa butter content within the chocolate. This step is essential for proper flavor, texture and quality development of the chocolate.
Couverture means coating in French. It is used to describe professional high quality chocolate with a significant percentage of cocoa butter, at least 32%, and as high as 39% for premium quality. The extra cocoa butter gives the coverture more sheen and snap, and allows the chocolate to form a thin coating, hence the name.
The best quality cocoa bean, but low yielding and more difficult to grow. Less than 10% of the world chocolate production is from this rare bean type. Criollo chocolate has a distinctly reddish color and a complex taste with many subtle layers of flavors.
Dark chocolate is characterized by a high percentage of cocoa content, usually a minimum of 35%. Dark chocolate does not contain any milk and therefore has a more pronounced bitter taste.
Enrobing is the process of covering a confectionery center filling with an outer layer of chocolate either by hand-dipping in liquid chocolate or by using an enrobing machine.
Fondant means “melting” in French. It is a kind of creamy icing-like confection used as a filling in sweets and candies or as a coating/frosting to decorate or sculpt cakes and pastries. It is made from a cooked mixture of sugar, water and cream of tartar.
Fudge is a soft, flavored and and extremely rich confectionery made by boiling sugar in milk to the soft-ball stage, and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency.
Ganache is a rich velvety mixture of chocolate and cream, used as center filling for confections such as truffles and candies. The proportion of chocolate to cream varies depending on the recipe and consistency required. In French, the word colloquially refers to a “foolish” person. Chocolate folklore has it that ganache was invented by accident when a chocolatier’s foolish apprentice spilled hot cream over melting chocolate. Needless to mention, the result of his mistake was a fantastic new mixture that we use extensively to this day!
An originally Italian specialty, gianduja is a sweet chocolate made from a mixture of emulsified hazelnuts, sometimes even almonds, cocoa, and sugar.
Soy lecithin is a by-product of soybean oil production and is used as an emulsifier in chocolate to bind the cocoa and cocoa butter together. It reduces viscosity, controls sugar crystallization and the flow properties of chocolate, helps in the homogeneous mixing of ingredients, and also improves shelf life.
Maltitol is a sugar-substitute used as a sweetner in sugar-free chocolates. It has about 75-90% of the sweetness of sugar, implying that a slightly higher quantity of maltitol must be added for the same level of sweetness as sugar. Maltitol (powder:36-syrup:52) has a lower glycemic index than cane sugar (60).
Marzipan is a thick paste of almond powder and sugar or honey. Addtional ingredients such as egg whites, corn syrup, and water may also be added as wetting agents to give it a soft doughy consistency. Marzipan can be used as a center filling as well as a decorative icing for chocolates.
In addition to chocolate liquor and cocoa butter, as the name suggests, milk chocolate also contains milk (condensed or solids). Milk chocolate contains less chocolate liquor than dark chocolate, and therefore has a sweeter and milder chocolate flavor compared to the latter.
Nougat is a dense and chewy candy filling used in chocolates (Nougatine) and is made from crushed caramelized nuts or dried fruit.
Cocoa pod is the fruit of the cocoa tree containing the cocoa beans used for chocolate production. An interesting characteristic of the cocoa pod is that, unlike most fruits, it grows directly on the trunk of the tree rather than from the end of a branch.
Sugar-coated nuts are called pralin in French, and any chocolate incorporating this as an ingredient, whether powdered or as a paste, is called Praliné chocolate. Some recipes call for a smooth paste of cocoa blended with finely ground nuts inside a chocolate outer shell, while others have a crunchy nutty powder dusted over the chocolate.
Semi-sweet contains between more than 35% chocolate liquor and less than half as much sugar as cocoa. It is considered to have a good balance of chocolate and sweetness that making it versatile for many recipes, as compared to milk chocolate which can be too sweet and dark chocolate which can be too bitter.
Sweet chocolate contains between 15%-35% chocolate liquor and usually has more than half as much sugar as cocoa.
Tempering is the process of bringing chocolate to a specific temperature to encourage its cocoa butter content to harden into a fine crystalline pattern resulting in uniform gloss and crisp snap. Chocolate that has not been tempered often appears mottled and matte, and crumbles rather than snap when broken.
A traditional chocolate truffle is a confection made of ganache rolled into balls, enrobed in chocolate couverture and dusted with cocoa powder. Although many variants are possible both with respect to the filling (caramel, berries, marshmallows, fudge, etc.) as well as the outer layer (icing sugar, nuts, etc.). The truffle is thought to have been invented in France, and derives its name from the Latin word “tuber” meaning lump.
White chocolate contains cocoa butter, milk solids, sugar and vanilla (or other flavorings). It does not contain cocoa solids, a vital ingredient of chocolate, and therefore some people do not even consider it to be real chocolate. White chocolate is rich and creamy, and is characterized by a pale yellow or ivory appearance.