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A Reference Dictionary to Chocolate Terminology, Definitions, and Lexicons used by Chocolatiers and the Chocolate Industry

Alkalinisation In the early 19th century the Dutchman Coenraad Johannes van Houten discovered that the acid taste of cocoa was neutralized if he added alkali-potash to the nibs before they were roasted. Ever since the end of the 19th century all industrial chocolate makers have practiced this alkalization process to modify the flavor and the color of the final product. Another technical term for alkalization still used today is the ‘Dutch process’ or ‘Dutching’.

Artisanal Chocolate produced by a small maker (an artisan), usually from a unique blend of beans or a rare single type.

Bittersweet Bittersweet chocolate, not to be confused with unsweetened or semisweet chocolate, is primarily used for baking. A slightly sweetened dark chocolate, it has many uses such as making shiny chocolate curls as garnishes or rich, dense chocolate cakes. Both it and semisweet chocolate are required by the U.S. FDA to contain at least 35% chocolate liquor.

Brut (Bitter) In the U.S. the FDA describes this as chocolate that does not contain any sugar, though it may contain natural or artificial flavoring. This pure chocolate is intended for cooking as only real fanatics will enjoy this very bitter chocolate substance with a solid cocoa content in excess of 85%.

Cacao A term used for a cacao plant but also for the unprocessed product (pods) of the cacao plant.

Carraque Solid milk or dark chocolate pieces, which are sometimes topped with raisins, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts.

Chocolate Liquor Chocolate liquor is made up of the finely ground nib of the cocoa bean. This is technically not yet chocolate. This type of chocolate is also known as unsweetened chocolate and is also referred to cocoa mass or cocoa liquor.

Chocolate Lover One who appreciates the unique qualities of a truly fine piece of chocolate and feels that life would not be the same without gourmet chocolate.

Cocoa Beans Source of all chocolate and cocoa, cocoa beans are found in the pods (fruit) of the cocoa tree, an evergreen cultivated mainly within twenty degrees north or south of the equator.

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Cocoa Butter Cocoa butter is a complex, hard fat made up mostly of triglycerides, it remains firm at room temperature, then it contracts as it cools and solidifies. It is ideal for molding.

Cocoa Mass Same as Chocolate Liquor.

Cocoa Pods Between the blossoms of the permanently flowering cocoa tree we can see fruit at various stages of development. The egg-shaped cocoa pods measure between 15 and 30 centimeters (between 6 and 12 inches) and hang from the trunk and the largest branches. Each fruit contains between 30 and 40 beans of about 1 cm (about 0.5 inch) in length.

Cocoa Powder The result of extracting cocoa butter from cocoa paste. Cocoa powder is used to prepare chocolate drinks or to sprinkle truffles and chocolate tarts.

Compound Coatings In chocolate flavored coatings and compounds, part of the cocoa butter may be replaced by vegetable fat. Also a whole range of whey powders, whey derivatives and dairy blends are permitted where milk powder is prescribed in milk chocolate. However, there is hardly any difference between the production processes of ‘genuine’ chocolate on the one hand and ‘chocolate flavored’ coatings and compounds on the other. Some ingredients not used in chocolate may require adjustments of the production processes. For chocolate flavored products containing sorbitol or xylitol the mixing, refining and conching temperature settings need to be adjusted.

Conching The processing step called ‘conching’ reduces the moistness of the cocoa mass and removes the volatile acids. At the same time, this step allows for specific aromas and smoothness to be associated with chocolate. Conching is the process where the chocolate is "plowed" back and forth through the liquid chocolate which smoothes the chocolate and rounds out the flavor, essential for the flavor, the texture and the overall quality of the chocolate.

Couverture Couverture is a term used to describe professional-quality coating chocolate with a high percentage of cocoa butter, at least 32%, and as high as 39% for good quality couverture. The extra cocoa butter allows the chocolate to form a thinner coating shell than non-couverture chocolate.

Criollo The best quality cocoa bean, but rare and harder to grow than others, with a lower yield per tree.

Dark Chocolate Dark chocolate must contain a minimum of 43% cocoa to be called "dark" according to European norms. A "70% cocoa chocolate" is considered quite dark while 85% and even 88% cocoa dark chocolates have become quite popular for dark chocolate lovers.

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Devil's Food A chocolate flavored product that derives most of its flavor from cocoa butter rather than chocolate.

Dutching In the early 19th century the Dutchman Coenraad Johannes van Houten discovered that the acid taste of cocoa was neutralized if he added alkali-potash to the nibs before they were roasted. Ever since the end of the 19th century all industrial chocolate makers have practiced this alkalization process to modify the flavor and the color of the final product. Another technical term for alkalization still used today is the ‘Dutch process’ or ‘Dutching’.

Enrobing One of two chocolates-making techniques by taking the center of a certain chocolate or praline and covering it with a layer of outer chocolate by pouring liquid chocolate over it or by dipping the chocolate center by hand in liquid chocolate. (Contrasts with "molded" chocolates)

Fondant Fondant is the French word for dark or "Pure" chocolate. (Contrasts with milk chocolate or "Lait")

Fudge Fudge is a type of confectionery, usually extremely rich and often flavored with chocolate. It is made by boiling sugar in milk to the soft-ball stage, and then beating the mixture while it cools so that it acquires a smooth, creamy consistency.

Ganache A Ganache is a rich, silky chocolate mixture made by combining chopped semisweet chocolate and boiling cream and stirring until smooth. (Sometimes butter can also be added) The proportions of chocolate to cream vary, depending on the use of the ganache and can be flavored with fruits spices and different liquors. The result is a harmonious balance between the smoothness of the flavor and the intensity of the chocolate.

Gianduja Gianduja is a delicious mixture of emulsified hazelnuts and cocoa mass, cocoa butter and sugar. Originally this was an Italian specialty.

Lecithin A natural product extracted from the soy bean that is used as a thinner in chocolate. During the manufacturing of chocolate, lecithin controls flow properties through the reduction of viscocity.

Low Fat Cocoa Cocoa powder containing less than ten percent cocoa butter.

Malitol Maltitol is a natural sugar-substitute based on a Malt-extract, which allows chocolate to keep a sweet taste without containing sugar. Maltitol has become a popular sugar substitute in many chocolate couvertures, especially Belgian chocolate sugar-free products.

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Marzipan Marzipan is a thick paste achieved by skillfully mixing melted sugar with finely chopped ground almonds. The outer shell of a marzipan is an envelope of milk, white or dark chocolate. The Lubecker method (known to be the world's best Marzipan) means that only pure almond and sugar are used, thereby delivering the fullest almond taste.

Medium Fat Cocoa Cocoa powder containing between ten and twenty-two percent cocoa butter.

Milk Chocolate The best known kind of eating chocolate. Milk chocolate is made by combining the chocolate liquid, extra cocoa butter, milk or cream, sweetening, and flavorings.

Moulding Another technique for making chocolate consists of placing chocolate in molds to obtain a molded chocolate "shell" that is then filled with one or several unique fillings before being seals with another layer of chocolate. The typical Belgian Praline is produced by pouring a hazelnut praline filling in molded shapes.

Nibs The kernels of coca beans are usually called ‘nibs’ and are the basic ingredient of which chocolate is made, Sometimes, the original dark and rich nibs are used to add texture to chocolate bars or chocolate deserts.

Nougatine Nougatine is achieved by heating sugar until it caramelizes and mixing finely crushed roasted hazelnuts or almonds . Once this paste is achieved, it is put on a caramel roller and crushed into little pieces. Nougatine pieces are used as filling in certain chocolates and chocolate bars.

Organic The word ‘organic’ refers to how these food products are produced. Organic production is based on a system of farming that maintains and replenishes the fertility of the soil. Organic foods are produced without the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. They are processed without artificial ingredients, preservatives or irradiation. Organic chocolate contains a minimum of 95% naturally grown and certified raw materials.

Pâte de Fruits Pates de fruits are composed of sugar pulps and apple pectin. The fruit percentage is more than 50% of the total component.

Pods Between the blossoms of the permanently flowering cocoa tree we can see fruit (pods) at various stages of development. The egg-shaped cocoa pods measure between 15 and 30 centimeters (between 6 and 12 inches) and hang from the trunk and the largest branches. Each fruit contains between 30 and 40 beans of about 1 cm (about 0.5 inch) in length.

Praliné Praliné is composed of richly flavored chocolate to which caramelized sugar (hot caramel), well-roasted, finely-ground hazelnuts (or almonds) and vanilla have been added. The praliné flavor is typical in many Belgian chocolates or "pralines."

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Semisweet Chocolate Semi-sweet chocolate is created by blending chocolate liquid with varying amounts of sweetening and extra cocoa butter. Flavorings may be included. Semi-sweet chocolate is available in bar form, but is usually sold in pieces or chips. Semi-sweet contains between 15% and 35% chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, sugar, lecithin, and vanilla. It may be used in recipes that call for bittersweet or sweet chocolate, but is not interchangeable with milk chocolate. Also Known As: Semi-sweet blocs, squares, bits, chocolate chips, morsels.

Sheen The pleasant shine on couverture and eating chocolate. High-quality chocolate usually has a bright sheen. A chalky face may be an indication of poor quality. But it may also mean the chocolate has been exposed to extreme temperatures - from hot to cold to hot - which causes cocoa butter to separate and rise to the surface. This does not affect the taste.

Sweet Chocolate This is similar to semisweet, but has more sweeteners and only has to have at least 15% chocolate liquor. It can often be interchanged with semisweet or bittersweet chocolate.

Tempering Tempering is the process of bringing the chocolate to a certain temperature whereby the cocoa butter reaches its most stable crystal form. There are several forms in which the butter can crystallize, only one of which ensures the hardness, shrinking force and gloss of the finished product after it has cooled. If the chocolate is melted in the normal way (between 40 and 45°C) and then left to cool to working temperature, the finished product will not be gloss. Proper tempering, followed by proper cooling produces a nice shine and good eating properties.

Theobroma The botanical description for cocoa. The name "Theobroma," comes from the ancient Greek words for "god" (Theo) and "food" (Broma).

Truffle A confection made of chocolate (ganache), butter, sugar, and sometimes liqueur shaped into balls and often coated with cocoa. Truffles are made by heating a rich blend of butter, cream, chocolate, and often a flavoring, delicately shaping it, and enrobing it with chocolate couverture.(milk, dark or white) Different truffle textures can be created by rolling the center ganache in cocoa powder, powdered sugar, or finely chopped nuts. Truffles, originally named after the exotic French mushroom because of its visual resemblance, are either hand-rolled chocolate or domed with a piped center.

Varietal Describes the type of bean, such as criollo, forestero or trinitario, used in the chocolate. Varietal chocolates are those made from a single type of bean.

Viscosity The measure of the flow characteristics of a melted chocolate.

White Chocolate White chocolate is not considered real chocolate, because although it has cocoa butter (at least 32% to be considered of good quality), it does not have chocolate liquor. White chocolate is made from cocoa butter, milk, sugar and vanilla.

Xocoatl Xocoatl is the original name the Aztecs, Toltecs, Mayas and Incas gave to a stimulating drink they brewed from cocoa beans. It was a mixture of cocoa, maize (Indian corn) and water.

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