- cocoa, cocoa liquor (the essence of the cocoa bean)
- added cocoa butter (optional but usually present)
- spices such as vanilla
Dark chocolate can come in a variety of flavors which are categorized
by the industry as unsweetened chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and
Unsweetened chocolate or brute chocolate
Unsweetened chocolate is mainly used for cooking purposes as
it usually has a cocoa liquor component of 99%.
(FDA requires the chocolate contain 35% or more cocoa liquor)
Unfortunately, there's a big difference in flavor between
chocolate with 35% cocoa liquor and that with 84%. The higher the cocoa
liquor the less the percentage of sugar. Your own palate should
determine the percent of cocoa liquor that you prefer. Please
note that percentage of cocoa liquor does not determine quality.
You can make a 70% chocolate with badly processed beans that
don't taste very good.
Semisweet chocolate or sweet chocolate
( FDA requires the chocolate contain 15% or more cocoa liquor)
Again, there's a wide range of chocolate liquor percentages
in this category. What's interesting to note is that to be considered
semisweet or sweet chocolate, all the bar has to contain is
15% cocoa liquor.
(FDA requires the chocolate to be 10% or more cocoa liquor)
Milk chocolate flavor ingredients:
cocoa, cocoa liquor (the essence of the cocoa
bean - FDA requires the chocolate contain 10% or more cocoa
milk or cream powder
Milk chocolate flavor has a lot to do with the type of milk
or cream product that's used in its manufacturer as well as the
strength and taste of the cocoa liquor. Because the added milk
or cream softens or masks the flavor of the chocolate liquor, most
manufacturers rely on a bitter chocolate flavor bean such as forastero
to deliver flavor.
Dark milk chocolate: There's a trend by artisan chocolatiers
to use a "dark" milk chocolate which contains a higher
percentage of cocoa liquor. This gives the creamy milk chocolate
a more pronounced flavor.
White chocolate flavor ingredients:
- cocoa, cocoa liquor (the essence of the cocoa
bean – FDA requires the chocolate contain 20% or more cocoa
- milk or cream powder
Because there's so little "chocolate" in white chocolate,
the different products available, they all seem to taste the same. The
flavor is mainly one of milk, vanilla and sugar.
Single origin, vintage or grand cru chocolates
These are chocolates whose origins are specific to a region
or plantation. Quality is not a given and can depend upon the
agriculture and processing practices, so make sure to taste before
buying. These chocolates can come in a variety of flavors such as semisweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate,
milk chocolate and white chocolate.
What does cocoa percentage mean?
Sometimes chocolate manufacturers indicate the percentage of cocoa on the label. This basically tells you the percentage of cocoa liquor (i.e. the essence of the bean). The rest of the product is made up of sugar or a combination of sugar and dry milk powder in the case of milk or white chocolate.
Important note: This percentage does not indicate quality as you can have lower quality beans made into a high cocoa percentage bar. Use the percentage only as an indication of sweetness.
Understanding special chocolate such as organic chocolate
In our curriculum at Ecole Chocolat, we address the important issues of sourcing organic chocolate,supporting fair trade chocolate and promoting sustainable cocoa and chocolate practices. Click here to learn more about organic chocolate and other issues.
Sourcing good quality chocolate
We have put together a compilation of companies that offer pure chocolate for purchase online or through mail order to use in your chocolate making at home. Gourmet Chocolate Suppliers