The Many Faces of Chocolate

The Many Faces of Chocolate

No matter how you fix it, chicken is still chicken, fish is still fish, and broccoli is still broccoli. You cook them using various methods, or eat your vegetables and fruits raw, or cooked, but they are always just part of a meal. Chocolate, on the other had, has a myriad of way to be used, hot or cold, used as a drink or part of your main course, as a dessert, as a snack, or as a special treat when you need a pick-me-up. So let us explore the many faces of chocolate.

Start with the lingo. You all know that there is unsweetened and bittersweet chocolate, which is usually used for cooking, or for hat chocolate if you add milk and sugar. Semisweet is usually found in those chocolate chips we love so dearly, though they also come in both milk chocolate and white chocolate (which technically isn’t really chocolate at all, since it has no cocoa solids in cocoa butter).

Cacao and cocoa are both used to mean the same thing, though the plant, and the bean itself (before any processing is called cacao). It refers simply to the either raw or roasted bean, without its shell, and with nothing added. If they are chopped up they are nibs, and when ground up they become powder.

Chocolate liquor is formed when you keep grinding the nibs until they become a paste (caused by releasing the cocoa butter from the powder). There is no alcohol in it. All the other forms of chocolate are made from this form of the cocoa bean.

The stuff you use for cooking or baking goes by several different names: unsweetened, pure, bitter, or baking chocolate. It is usually purchased in hard blocks, and is good for when you want to use artificial sugar or make things less sweet. You can, however, purchase a semisweet baking chocolate, which adds the sugar but still does not contain the cocoa butter.

Semisweet (also called dark or bittersweet chocolate) adds sugar and cocoa butter to it to and becomes a less sweet chocolate found in candy bars, chocolate chips, in fondues, and as the chocolate coating on ice cream bars and frozen bananas.

Milk chocolate and sweet chocolate are similar. Sweeter than semisweet, but with no milk solids added, sweet chocolate is not as rich and creamy as milk chocolate, but has a stronger cocoa flavor. And white chocolate has more cocoa butter, milk and sugar, and none of the chocolate liquor, so it really isn’t chocolate at all!

The many faces of chocolate are amazing to explore. The beverage you drink is often made from cocoa powder, either sweetened or unsweetened, made with milk or without. It contains very little cocoa butter. Dutch chocolate is cocoa that was washed with potassium carbonate, giving it a darker color and a richer chocolate flavor.