A Sweet Gift For Any Time of the Year
Many different types of chocolate are available for consumption, but what is the real difference between dark, milk and white chocolates? Chocolates are classified by the percentage of cocoa in the mix and the other ingredients that are included. The exact percentages are outlined in the Nodeworks online encyclopedia and are summarized here:
Unsweetened Chocolate (also known as “Baking” or “Bitter” Chocolate) – Chocolate liquor is purely made from roasted chocolate beans and unsweetened chocolate is simply the solid form of this chocolate liquor. The center of the cocoa bean is literally ground into liquor. Nothing is added yielding a rich, deep and strong straight-from-the-bean chocolate flavor. Unsweetened chocolate is primarily used in recipes and in baking desserts such as brownies and cakes. Since it has no sugar, it isn’t normally eaten.
Bittersweet Chocolate – Take unsweetened chocolate (chocolate liquor) and mix in some sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin, and vanilla and you’ll have delicious bittersweet chocolate. To be defined as bittersweet, the mix must contain at least 50% chocolate liquor.
Semi-Sweet Chocolate – Like bittersweet chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate has sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin and vanilla mixed in. The difference is that semi-sweet has more sugar and less pure chocolate liquor (minimum of 35%) than its bittersweet counterpart.
Dark Chocolate (also known as “Plain” or “Sweet” chocolate) – The rules regarding classification of chocolate in this category vary throughout the world. However, the one constant is that this type of chocolate contains no milk solids, but has sweeteners and cocoa butter added to the mix. In Europe, dark chocolate must consist of at least 35% cocoa solids while in the U.S., it must have a 15% concentration of chocolate liquor.
Milk Chocolate – Like you’d guess from the name, milk chocolate is made with condensed or powdered milk. In Europe, milk chocolate must consist of at least 25% cocoa solids, while in the US, it must have a 10% concentration of chocolate liquor and a minimum of 12% milk solids. Milk chocolate is primarily used for eating and is the most popular form of chocolate in the U.S.
Couverture Chocolate – Chocolates under this classification are true gourmet chocolates that are rich in cocoa butter (upwards of 35%) which creates an extremely high fat content. Cocoa butter is the fat extracted from chocolate liquor. These chocolates contain a very high percentage of cocoa which is the solid powder left after the cocoa butter is extracted from the chocolate liquor. Most of the world’s finest gourmet chocolatiers such as Lindt, Scharfenberger and Guittard fall into this category.
White Chocolate – The name given to white chocolate is a misnomer because it isn’t really chocolate at all. Strictly speaking, chocolate is defined as any product 100% based on cocoa solid. White “chocolate” doesn’t contain any cocoa solids and is made from cocoa butter, milk solids and sugar.
Which version is your favorite? There are so many different variations and brands of chocolate, it would be hard to try them all.
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