Chocolate Glossary

Chocolate Glossary

Below you will find some commonly used chocolate terms along with their definitions:

Antioxidants are nutrients and enzymes which slow down or prevent cells in tissue from oxidizing.

Bittersweet Chocolate:
Dark chocolate that contains a minimum of 35% chocolate liquor. Bittersweet and semi-sweet fall under this definition; however, bittersweet is traditionally the term reserved for chocolate with a minimum of 50% chocolate liquor.

Also known as cocoa. Cocoa Beans: Seeds from the pod of a Theobroma tree. Native to the tropical Amazon forests. Commercially grown worldwide in tropical rainforests within 20″ latitude of the equator.

Cocoa Nibs:
The center (meat) of the cocoa bean. When ground, the nib becomes chocolate liquor. Chocolates: When people speak of “chocolates” in plural, they are typically referring to chocolate candies, like truffles, chocolate creams, chocolate-covered nuts, and that sort of thing. “Chocolates” are candies made from the actual chocolate.

Chocolate Liquor:
The ground up center (nib) of the cocoa bean (otherwise known as unsweetened chocolate). Cocoa liquor is extremely bitter and contains no alcohol.

Cocoa Butter:
The fat which is extracted from the cacao bean or from the cocoa liquor itself. Cocoa Powder: The cocoa solids resulting from pressing cocoa butter out of chocolate liquor. Available in different fat levels. May be natural or dutched/alkalized. Natural cocoa is the light brown powder which results from the pressing process. Dutched or Alkalized cocoa powder is what results when cocoa nibs are treated with alkalizing solutions to higher their pH.

Couverture chocolate is a distinction given to chocolate that contains a very high percentage (at least 30%) of cocoa butter. The high ratio of cocoa butter produces a smooth chocolate that melts and tempers easily, and is silky and mellow on the tongue. Because of these properties, couverture chocolate is the preferred chocolate for tempering and enrobing candies. Couverture comes in dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate varieties.

Known as confectionery coating. A blend of sugar, vegetable oil, cocoa powder and other products. Vegetable oil is substituted for cocoa butter to reduce the product cost and to develop special melting profiles.

A machine in which the chocolate is kept under constant agitation. This assists in achieving desirable flavors and liquefying the refined chocolate mass.

Dark Chocolate:
Dark chocolate is made from cocoa liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, lecithin and vanilla. Optional is to add-in cocoa powder.

Dutch Process:
A treatment used during the making of cocoa powder in which cocoa solids are treated with an alkaline solution to neutralize acidity. This process darkens the cocoa and develops a milder chocolate flavor.

Fat Bloom:
The result of inadequate tempering or temperature abuse of a properly tempered chocolate. Visible as a dull white film on the surface of the chocolate with the possibility of a soft or crumbling texture on the interior. A visual and textural defect only. The product is still safe to eat. Fineness: The measured particle size of the coating solids. Expressed in ten thousandths of an inch or in microns.

Naturally occurring elements which can be found in chocolate (as well as elsewhere). Flavonoids act as anti-oxidants helping to protect the body from the aging process and the damage which occurs from free radicals as we age.

Ganache is made by heating heavy cream and once heated it is poured over chopped dark chocolate at a ratio of 2:1 – meaning two parts cream to one part dark chocolate. As chocolate melts under the heated cream the mixture is stirred to combine the ingredients and create the ganache.

Grand Cru Chocolate:
Also known as single origin chocolate; is created with beans from a particular area or region. It can be a blend (e.g. Criollo and Forasterro) or a single variety of beans, as long as the beans come from the one origin.

A natural emulsifier used in chocolate to improve its flow properties. Milk Chocolate: Chocolate with at least 10% chocolate liquor and 12% milk solids, combined with sugar, cocoa butter, lecithin and vanilla. Optional is to add-in cocoa powder.

A French term that refers to a filling made of ground caramelized almonds or hazelnuts.

Semi-Sweet Chocolate:
Also known as bittersweet chocolate. Contains a minimum of 35% chocolate liquor. However, it is sweeter than the actual bittersweet chocolate.

Sugar Bloom:
Visible as a dull white film on the surface of the chocolate. Dry and hard to the touch, sugar bloom is the result of surface moisture dissolving sugar in the chocolate and subsequent recrystallization of the sugar on the chocolate surface. Typically caused by cold chocolate being exposed to a warm humid environment with resultant condensation forming on the product. This is a visual and textural defect.

Sweet Chocolate:
Chocolate that contains a minimum of 15% chocolate liquor with varying amounts of sweeteners and cocoa butter.

A process of preparing chocolate that involves heating and cooling so that it will solidify with a stable cocoa butter crystal form. Proper tempering, followed by good cooling, is required for good surface gloss and to prevent “fat” bloom.

In Belgian, it refers to an irregularly shaped, often oval confection of ganache, coated with chocolate, and usually finished with a cocoa powder exterior. Its shape mimics the black truffle.

Unsweetened Chocolate:

Same as “chocolate liquor.”

Vanilla bean is split open and steeped in liquid. Tiny black grains that fill the inside of the bean contain the potent vanilla flavor. Natural vanilla is a good indicator of high quality chocolates.

Vanilli :
A compound extracted naturally from vanilla beans or manufactured in labs to add a vanilla flavor to chocolate.

The measure of the flow characteristics of a melted chocolate.

White Chocolate:
White chocolate is made from cocoa butter and sugar and absolutely no cocoa liquor at all.

Traditionally used to mean the process of separating grain from chaff, in the chocolate industry it refers to the separation of the dry shells (husks) of the cacao bean from the cocoa nibs, which are then ground to make chocolate.