This Cocoa is Solid.
Everyone’s a lot more aware of chocolate these days. Not just in the geo-political sense, but in the cocoa-density sense. There are those among us that are sure the word Chocolate should be reserved for bricks with at least 70% cocoa solids. What does that mean, anyway? For those of us with attention spans that fall off after the mention of chocolate – here’s a primer on the good stuff:
The Good Stuff
During chocolate making – after the cocoa beans are roasted – the outer layer is taken off and the bits that are left are called nibs. The nibs are milled into a liquor that is pressed to separate out the fatty cocoa butter and the solids that are ground into cocoa powder. Add some of the cocoa butter back into the original chocolate liquor and you’ve got yourself chocolate – usually around 70% cocoa and 30% cocoa butter. Different combinations and ratios of cocoa and cocoa butter give us different kinds of chocolates.
The higher the percent of cocoa the richer and more bitter the chocolate taste is.
What to do with different grades of chocolate
Unsweetened: 100% Cocoa. Pure, bitter chocolate. Most often seen in baking where it can be combined with butter and sugar.
Dark: 70% Cocoa ideally. Eat it, bake it, melt it. YUM. Most dark chocolate you purchase has added sugar to sweeten it and sometimes soy lecithin to make it smooth.
Bittersweet: Like its dark chocolate counterpart, it contains 60% to 70% chocolate liquor. The higher the content of chocolate liquor, the more rich and flavorful the chocolate, but with less of the additive sugar of dark chocolate
Semi-Sweet: 40% to 60% chocolate liquor, but the percentages are highly unregulated. What one manufacturer might call semi-sweet another might call bittersweet. Semi-sweet and bittersweet chocolate will keep several years if it’s stored in an air-tight and dry place. Melts smoothly.
Milk – As the name suggests, dairy milk is added to make the chocolate smoother and creamy. Generally contains only 10% to 20% cocoa solids.
All chocolate is ideally stored at 65 degrees or otherwise the butter and cocoa start to separate. If you keep your house that temperature, you’re set.
What is white chocolate anyway?
A scam. Well, not entirely, it’s still tasty. White chocolate is a candy made from milk, cocoa butter, sugar and often vanilla. It doesn’t contain any cocoa solids. It’s not regulated so sometimes the cocoa butter is replaced with less expansive animal fats. It can be a great confection.
Food, we love you.