When it comes to chocolate, people are often confused or misled by some of the terms out there, especially in relation to baking recipes. And, (think potato-potato tomato-tomato) there is often a variation in the way Europeans, North Americans and the rest of the world use these terms.
Let’s talk about percentage in regards to chocolate. It's a well known buzzword in the craft industry and refers to the amount of cacao in the chocolate, including the cocoa butter and cocoa bean, excluding any other ingredient. Here at Belize Chocolate Company we make chocolate with a variety of percentages -- 100%, 89%, 70%, 60% in dark chocolate, 45% in milk chocolate and 40% in white chocolate
Chocolate liquor is 100% chocolate with nothing added. It’s a thick, dark paste consisting of ground up roasted cacao nibs. And no, it's not alcohol; that’s liqueur. Chocolate liquor has an extremely strong taste, which can be bitter and astringent. It's totally vegan: Eat for pleasure: use in baking: good for diabetics. If you see this in the list of ingredients on a chocolate bar label, it often means that the bar maker didn’t make the chocolate from the bean, but is using another chocolate maker's liquor. Here at Belize Chocolate Company, we make all our own liquor from Belizean cacao beans that we have roasted, winnowed and ground.
Cocoa mass is the same as chocolate liquor, it's just the European description for it. As above, if this is listed as an ingredient on a chocolate bar, the bar maker is not bean to bar; in other words they have not roasted, winnowed or ground the beans. Instead they buy the mass from another company, add their own ingredients to personalize it and then mold the bar.
Baking chocolate is usually sold in blocks, has zero sugar, and is meant to be used in recipes with added sugar because of its bitterness. It is essentially the same as the two above the main difference being that, it tends to be of lower quality, using bulk grown cacao beans rather than fine flavor cacao. Some manufacturers also replace some, or all of the cocoa butter with other oils as these are cheaper. I remember tasting baking chocolate as a child and being disgusted by its waxy texture and lack of chocolate flavor. When a recipe calls for baking chocolate, we would recommend our 100%, which can be pre-ordered by the one pound block.
Couverture is chocolate used by chocolatiers and chefs to make bonbons and desserts. It can be any percentage of chocolate solids and can be dark, milk or white. It has a thinner consistency due to the added cocoa butter which makes it easier to work with. Chefs often request couverture to their own specifications.
Any chefs out there? Contact us if this is something you are interested in! We can make it to your specs. I'll explain more confusing chocolate terms in Part II.