Wow, Madeline and I have been learning a lot about chocolate lately!
In addition to all we are discovering in our chocolatier class, we are getting ready to make a big announcement on Sunday about our upcoming fudge line. We're also gearing up to participate in the upcoming Long Island Chocolate Festival
! There’s a lot to learn and since we are a company based on the study of chocolate, this is a good thing!
We’re so excited about the knowledge we’ve acquired and naturally we love passing all of this new information on to you.
So, this week we decided to create a chocolate glossary, for all you chocolate lovers out there! Did you ever wonder what the difference was between a cocoa nib and a cocoa bean? Or maybe you thought that a cacao bean and a cocoa bean were the same thing. Have you ever been at the grocery store trying to decide between semi-sweet, bittersweet or milk chocolate chips but didn’t really understand the difference? What about tempering? What exactly is that and how is it done? Well, read on. You’re about to find answers to many of the questions you’ve always had about chocolate.
Chocology Chocolate Glossary
Bittersweet Chocolate –Contains at least 35% chocolate liquor for bittersweet. Other ingredients include extra cocoa butter (in some cases), sugar, lecithin and spices.
Cacao Bean – The seeds of the fruit, called Pod or Cabosse, produced by the Theobroma cacao tree, pronounced kah KOW.
Chocolate Liquor – The ground cacao nibs, which contain their inherent cocoa solids and cocoa butter (approximately 50%). The term “liquor” comes from the Latin term liquor meaning “liquid” which is what happens to roasted cocoa beans when they are ground into a paste. Correctly pronounced as “licker”.The heat of the friction in the grinding process melts the cocoa butter making the mass “liquid” until it cools and hardens. Sold in the consumer market as “unsweetened” chocolate (also referred to as Cocoa Liquor, Liquid, Solid, Mass, Masse, Pate de Cacao). The liquor can be compressed to release the cocoa butter and separate it from the cocoa solids – the result is called cocoa cake or presscake. Liquor can be made from a blend (or “cuvee”) of different cocoa beans. “Varietal”, “Single Origin”, or “Vintage” are all labels for blends or single bean formulations that come from a specific region and are often named by the area or tree species from which they are grown.
Cocoa Bean – In the industry, once cacao beans (or seeds) have gone through the fermentation process, they are then called “cocoa beans.”
Cocoa Butter – The pale yellow vegetable fat in the cocoa bean with a melting point of 84 – 95 degrees F. (32 – 35 C) Its crystallization properties demand that chocolate containing cocoa butter be tempered in the final process before cooling.
Cocoa Nib – Cocoa beans break into smaller particles/sections called nibs after they are dried and roasted. These natural breaks are caused because the inside of the cocoa bean is not a solid mass but consist of the tiny stem and unfurled leaves. Also called grue.
Cocoa Powder – Ground cocoa cake. Cocoa powders can have different percentages of cocoa butter.
Milk Chocolate – Contains at least 10% of chocolate liquor. Other ingredients include sugar, lecithin, milk or cream powder and spices such as vanilla.
Semisweet Chocolate – Contains at least 15% chocolate liquor. Other ingredients include extra cocoa butter (in some cases), sugar, lecithin and spices.
Tempering – The heating-cooling-heating of the chocolate in order to stabilize the cocoa butter fatty acids. Referred to as temperage in France.
White Chocolate – Contains at least 20% cocoa butter. Other ingredients include sugar, milk and vanilla. Since it does not contain any chocolate paste, white chocolate is not considered a chocolate product.
We hope this glossary gives you a little bit better understanding of chocolate, one of the world’s favorite delights. It sure has helped us to understand our business better and our appreciation of all that goes into making chocolate has expanded tremendously!
Would you like to learn more about chocolate? Did we answer all of your questions in the glossary or do you have more? Let us know in the comment section. Or send us a Tweet
or comment on Facebook
. We may use your questions as a basis for another chocolate covered blog post!
We have a great week planned! To celebrate the days leading up to our first chocolate festival on Sunday, we will be giving away sweet treats to our loyal followers. Share our message through your favorite social media and to show our gratitude, your name will go into a daily drawing. We're excited. SHARE AND WIN!
Oh, and if you're in the area, come see us this Sunday at the Long Island Chocolate Festival
! We'll be announcing our new fudge line, so you won't want to miss it. It's sure to be a fun chocolate filled day!
In the western world, chocolate is everywhere - the local corner store, the big box chains, on the Internet and of course in small boutique chocolate shops. We eat chocolate to be happy
, to be healthy
and to celebrate our lives. Our demand for chocolate is evident, but have you ever wondered how a small hard bean turns into a silky smooth chocolate bar?
Collaborative efforts of many people and many countries are imperative when transforming bean to bar. From third world growers to western manufacturers, every step impacts the quality of the chocolate we eat. Chocolate means different things to different people. Artful attention to detail and a commitment to craftsmanship are vitally important every step of the way.
Cacao is valued worldwide as a trade commodity, local food and manufacturing product. For the next two weeks, let's explore, from the ground up, how chocolate is made - from bean to bar. It might inspire you to appreciate your chocolate just a little bit more.
Growing the Cacao Tree
Chocolate begins in the field, not the factory. Growing a healthy, vibrant tree is the first step in making quality chocolate.
The cacao tree originated in Central America but now grows in many areas of West Africa, Asia, Malaysia and Indonesia. There are about 2 to 2.5 million producers worldwide, 90% being small-scale farmers with 12 acres or less. Cacao trees thrive in these areas because of their humid tropical climates with regular rains and short dry seasons.
The trees can produce pods year round for 25 to 30 years. Thousands of flowers grow from the tree’s trunk each year but only about 1% will bear fruit called pods. The pod is of similar size and shape to a football and grows from the trunk or limbs of the tree. It takes five to six months for the fruit to ripen. Pods can grow in a range of colors: brown, orange, red, green and yellow.
Many modern day chocolatiers are working diligently to empower the farmers of the cacao tree by trading fairly, paying above market value and assisting with better working conditions. This helps both the farmer and the manufacturer to produce higher quality chocolate while encouraging more humane and fair practices.
Harvesting the Pods
Once the pods are ripe, they are harvested by cutting the stalk with a machete or long sharp pruning loppers. This is done with great care, as the stalk must be preserved for further pod production. If the stalk is damaged, that area of the tree becomes infertile and will no longer produce the flower or the pod. Pods can be harvested year round but are usually harvested every six months, coinciding with the rainy seasons.
Removing the Cacao Beans
Once on the ground, the pods are sorted by quality and placed in piles. In many areas this is a social affair, where stories, news and jokes are shared as everyone works. Skilled craftsmen will open the pods with a machete, with just enough pressure to open the pod but not damage the beans inside. The beans are heaped upon large leaves, usually banana leaves. The group socializes as they watch the fruits of their labor pile up.
The empty hulls are gathered and placed in the sun to rot. This will later be used as compost for nourishing the next crop.
Some farmers take their crop to fermenting houses, selling their beans by weight. For these farmers, it’s the end of the road. Others choose to ferment the beans themselves. Whether the fermentation happens on the farm or at the fermenting house, the harvesting has now ended and the beans move forward for further processing.
Many of the farmers who produce the cacao have never tasted a chocolate bar. The cacao trees are a source of community, spirit and livelihood among the farmers and their commitment to growing a quality product touches the world. Without the farmer, there would be no chocolate.
Join us next week as we follow the next phases of the chocolate journey.
It’s so much fun to learn about new and exciting things! We at Chocology love learning, especially when it comes to learning more about chocolate.
What have you learned about chocolate?
To celebrate all that we’ve learned so far, we’d like to invite you to test your knowledge. Hint: check out past blog posts to confirm your answers.
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE -with our self grading test
|What are three of the health benefits of eating chocolate?
Fill in the blank: Scientific research has shown that the higher the ___________percentage, the healthier the chocolate.
|How does mindfully tasting chocolate expand our appreciation of it?
|Based on the poll Chocology did two weeks ago, what types of chocolate were most desirable? Suggestion: check our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Chocology?fref=nf
|Where do we get our knowledge about how cacao was first used?
|How did the chocolate press revolutionize the way we use cacao?
We would love to know how you did! Leave us a comment or head on over to Facebook and share what you know. Maybe you know something that we don’t. Give us a tip and it could be a featured topic on one of our upcoming Chocology blog posts.