What Is Cacao?
Cacao refers to the Theobroma cacao tree, and the fruits it produces, as well as their seeds. The fermented and dried cacao seeds are also often referred to as “cocoa” beans. Real chocolate contains cocoa butter, which is extracted from the cocoa or cacao bean.
What Is Tempering?
Cocoa butter is the fat in the cacao bean that gives chocolate its unique mouth-feel and stable properties. Tempering is a process of melting and cooling chocolate to allow for a controlled crystallization of the cocoa butter to occur, thus allowing the cooled chocolate to have a good “snap,” glossy sheen, and a smooth satisfying taste.
Below is the Wikipedia.com chart showing the six different crystal forms and their different properties:
Crystal Melting Temperature Notes
I 17°C (63°F) Soft, crumbly, melts too easily.
II 21°C (70°F) Soft, crumbly, melts too easily.
III 26°C (78°F) Firm, poor snap, melts too easily.
IV 28°C (82°F) Firm, good snap, melts too easily.
V 34°C (94°F) Glossy, firm, best snap, melts near body temperature (37°C).
VI 36°C (97°F) Hard, takes weeks to form.
The chocolate is first heated to melt all six forms of crystals. Then the chocolate is cooled to allow crystal types IV and V to form. The chocolate is then heated to eliminate any type IV crystals, leaving just the type V. After this point, any excessive heating of the chocolate will destroy the temper.
What Is Couverture?
Couverture is a term for professional-quality coating chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa butter – at least 32 %. Couverture must be tempered properly before it’s used to make chocolates or it won’t set properly.
What Determines The Quality Of Chocolate?
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.
Regular chocolate is sweetened with sugar, is generally made from moderate quality cocoa beans.
Compound chocolate contains vegetable oil instead of cocoa butter.
Couverture chocolate refers to the finest professional quality chocolate. It is produced with a high percentage of cocoa butter and uses premium cacao beans that have been fermented and roasted to bring out the best of their flavour profiles, relying on the flavour of the chocolate to prevail.
The finest quality chocolate has the simplest ingredients: there should be no more than “cocoa mass” or “cocoa liquor”, cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla and soy lecithin in a quality bar of dark chocolate.
What Is Compound Chocolate?
Compound chocolate is a blend of sugar, vegetable oil and other products, which may or may not include cocoa powder and/or chocolate liquor. Since they do not contain cocoa butter, compound chocolate does not require tempering.
What Is Cocoa Content?
Cocoa content is the percentage of cacao in a particular chocolate. Generally, a higher cocoa content means a more intense chocolate flavour and lower sugar content. However, a high cocoa content does not necessarily mean a delicious chocolate. While many excellent chocolates have high percentages of cocoa so do many inferior chocolates.
The percentage of chocolate is not an indicator of the quality of the cacao beans or the ingredients used to make the chocolate, so it is not fair to assume that high-percentage chocolate is necessarily good chocolate.
What is White Chocolate?
White chocolate is a combination of cocoa butter, sugar, butterfat, milk solids, lecithin and optional flavourings. White chocolate is basically milk chocolate without any chocolate liquor.
Why Is Dark Chocolate Considered Healthy?
The next time you eat a piece of dark chocolate, you may not have to feel overly guilty about it.
Good quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 60% or more is beneficial to your health. Just 20g per day provides essential vitamins and trace nutrients such as iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins A, B1, C, D and E.
Today, chocolate is lauded for its tremendous antioxidant potential. However, not all chocolate is created equal. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of chocolate is thought to come from a class of plant nutrients found in cocoa beans called flavonoids. Dark chocolate has more of these than milk chocolate, and white chocolate — which does not actually contain chocolate — is not a good source of flavonoids.
Milk bonds to antioxidants during digestion, therefore milk chocolate is not considered a source of antioxidants.
Recent research shows chocolate flavonoids encourage vascular wall improvement and blood vessel function.
Chocolate contains both stearic and oleic acids, one a saturated fat which will not raise bad cholesterol and the other which may raise good cholesterol.
Research, published in The BMJ, suggests that consuming chocolate could help lower the risk of developing heart disease by one-third.
In a further study, published in the journal Heart in 2015, the findings suggested that eating up to 100 grams of chocolate each day may be linked to a lower risk of heart disease and stroke.
In a large analysis of more than 150,000 men and women in the United States, Europe and Australia, who reported eating up to 100g of chocolate a day, chocolate consumption was associated with a 21% lower risk of stroke, 29% lower risk of developing heart disease and 45% lower risk of dying of heart disease.
Scientists at Harvard Medical School suggest that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day could help keep the brain healthy and reduce memory decline in older people.(Source: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/270272.php)
Small amounts of natural stimulants are found in dark chocolate. Caffeine and theobromine are both present, but not in amounts large enough for a strong physical effect.
Chocolate releases calming endorphins that reduce anxiety. Plus, it’s high in magnesium, which lifts mood.
Just don’t go overboard – overindulging in sugar, salt and caffeine can backfire, causing tooth decay, bloating and fluid retention, not to mention weight gain! As ever, moderation is key.
What Is Chocolate Bloom?
There are two forms of bloom common to chocolate: fat bloom and sugar bloom.
Fat bloom results from inadequate tempering or excessive temperature variation of well-tempered chocolate, producing a visible dull white film surface to severe whitening of the surface, with soft or crumbling textures on the interior.
Sugar bloom is a hard white surface film resulting from exposure to moisture.
While fat bloom and sugar bloom do not look very appetising, the product remains safe to eat.