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Ingredient of the Month: Chocolate

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Chocolate is a typically sweet, usually brown food preparation of Theobroma cacao seeds, roasted and ground, and often flavored with vanilla. It is made in the form of a liquid, paste, or in a block, or used as a flavoring ingredient in other foods. Cacao has been cultivated by many cultures for at least three millennia in Mesoamerica.

 

How Is Chocolate Made?

The beans are cleaned, roasted at low temperatures to develop the rich  flavor. Shells are separated from the nibs (the “meat” of the bean) by a process called winnowing. Nibs are finely ground into cocoa mass (a.k.a. cocoa liquor), which is solid at room temperature.

 

 

What Are the Different Types of Chocolate?

Now that we know how chocolate is made, let’s tackle the different types that are out there.

 

- Unsweetened Baking Chocolate (bitter chocolate):

100% cacao that is 50-58% cocoa butter. Bitter with no sweetness since there is no added sugar. Not an eating chocolate but a cooking chocolate.

 

- Milk Chocolate:

At least 10% cacao, but usually, around 35-45% cacao, sugar, vanilla, sometimes lecithin, dried or condensed milk or cream (must have at least 12% milk solids). Sweet, mild taste with less bitterness than semisweet or bittersweet chocolates. Tastes of fresh milk or caramel.

 

- Semisweet Chocolate:

At least 35% cacao (but usually around 55% cacao), sugar, vanilla, sometimes lecithin. Semi-sweet chocolate doesn’t contain any milk, it has a less creamy taste. It has a balance of chocolate and sweet flavors but not much bitterness or acidity.

 

- Bittersweet Chocolate:

At least 35% cacao (but usually around 70% cacao), sugar, vanilla, sometimes lecithin. It is less sweet than semisweet chocolate. Bittersweet chocolate is intense, more bitter, and can taste more acidic.

 

- White Chocolate:

At least 20% cocoa butter (make sure it is listed as an ingredient), sugar, at least 14% milk solids, at least 3.5% milk fat, lecithin, and vanilla. It is creamy, very melt-in-the-mouth texture, and distinctly does not taste like the other kinds of chocolate since it doesn’t contain any of the dry cocoa solids.

 

Storing Chocolates

Instead of the fridge, store it in a cool, dry place. When chocolate is kept at a consistent temperature below 21°C and at a humidity of less than 55%, the emulsion of cocoa solids and cocoa butter will stay stable for months.

 

 

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