Chocolate is a food made from the seeds of a tropical tree called the cacao. These trees flourish in warm, moist climates. Most of the world's cacao beans come from West Africa, where Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Nigeria are the largest producers. Because of a spelling error, probably by English traders long ago, these beans became known as cocoa beans.
Depending on what is added to (or removed from) the chocolate different flavors and varieties of chocolate are produced. Each has a different chemical make-up, the differences are not solely in the taste.
Be sure, therefore, to use the kind the recipe calls for, as different varieties will react differently to heat and moisture.
Unsweetened or Baking chocolate is simply cooled, hardened chocolate. It is used primarily as an ingredient in recipes, or as a garnish.
Semi-sweet chocolate is also used primarily in recipes. It has extra cocoa butter and sugar added. Sweet cooking chocolate is basically the same, with more sugar for taste.
Milk chocolate is chocolate with extra cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla added. This is the most popular form for chocolate. It is primarily an eating chocolate.
Cocoa is chocolate with much of the cocoa butter removed, creating a fine powder. It can pick up moisture and odors from other products, so you should keep cocoa in a cool, dry place, tightly covered.
There are several kinds of cocoa:
Low-fat cocoa has the most fat removed. It typically has less than ten percent cocoa butter remaining.
Medium-fat cocoa has anywhere from ten to twenty-two percent cocoa butter in it.
Drinking or Breakfast cocoa has over twenty-two percent left in it. This is the cocoa used in chocolate milk powders
Dutch process cocoa is cocoa which has been specially processed to neutralize the natural acids in the chocolate. It is slightly darker and has a much different taste than regular cocoa.
Real white chocolate is primarily cocoa butter, sugar, milk and vanilla. There are some products on the market that call themselves white chocolate, but are made with vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter. Check the label to avoid these cheap imitations. White chocolate is the most fragile form of chocolate; pay close attention to it while heating or melting it.
Decorator's chocolate or confectioner's chocolate isn't really chocolate at all, but a sort of chocolate flavored candy used for things such as covering strawberries. It was created to melt easily and harden quickly, but it isn't chocolate. If you want quick and easy, use decorator's chocolate. If you want the real thing, use real chocolate and patience.
Truffles and chocolate like it cool and dry with temperatures of 14-18 °C (57-64 °F) with a humidity lower than 40%. Keep them in the fridge. Please note chocolate will absorb strong aromas, so not next to the garlic please. A cool dry basement, pantry or if you’re lucky to have one, a wine cellar does quite nicely. Chocolate is best eaten at room temperature.
Our products do not contain any preservatives but if stored with care will give you a good shelf life Use the following as a rule of thumb:
The process begins with good cocoa beans harvested upon maturity. The beans must be properly fermented, dried, roasted, crushed, and conched. Care and attention to detail to each process controls the quality of the finished product. High quality chocolate breaks cleanly and melts uniformly. Chocolate should feel satiny and melt into a lingering velvety finish.
Cocoa is categorized into the four major species: Criollo, Forester, Trinitarian and Nacional. Found mainly in Central and South America, Criollo has many different sub-varieties and can produce some of the finest beans. With comparatively small yields, the beans are delicately nuanced with nut, spice and fruit overtones. With high cocoa yields, rapid growth and durability, Forester’s many varieties contribute 80% of the world's cocoa production. Grown in Asia, Africa, the West Indies and Central and South America, the beans have a robust flavor with fewer nuances than the Criollo varieties. Trinitarian are a crossbreed between Criollo and Forester trees. Primarily cultivated in Central and South America, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, Trinitarios are more resistant to disease than the delicate Criollo and produce fine cocoa beans with intense aroma and high fat content. Nacional is grown mainly in Ecuador and Peru and the beans are delicate and fruity. A predilection to disease prohibits the cocoa varieties of this species from taking a larger role on the world cocoa stage.
All our chocolate may contain traces of nuts, tree nuts, peanuts, dairy, flour, and soy. If you have a severe allergy to any one of these ingredients we must sadly advise that you do not partake. For any allergy concerns contact us and we can guide you through the ingredient details of our chocolate.
Chocolate is a very tricky food to cook with. Temperatures that are too high can scorch it, temperatures too low can cause it to harden unevenly. It must be watched very carefully. But if you can master the art, you can create some breathtaking desserts.
In order for chocolate to cool into a hard candy and not a mushy goo, it must be tempered. This is a process where the chocolate is slowly heated, then slowly cooled, allowing the cocoa butter molecules to solidify in an orderly fashion.
Coverture is a special kind of chocolate that has more cocoa butter than regular chocolate, anywhere from 33% to 38% for a really good brand. This type of chocolate is used as a coating for things like truffles ("coverture" is French for "covering") There are two ways of coating candies, either by hand dipping into melted chocolate or enrobing, gently pouring chocolate over the treat.
The percentage on a chocolate bar label represents the amount of cocoa content. For example a 70% bar is 70 part cocoa beans and cocoa butter and 30% sugar.
A milk chocolate bar also contains a proportion of milk ingredients.