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Wednesday, June 29th
Chocolate is a popular sweet treat and an ingredient used in desserts around the world. It is derived from the fruit or bean of the cacao tree. As early as 3,500 years ago, the beans were used to make a fermented drink. Until relatively recently, the beans were associated with beverages rather than used to prepare foods. Notably, the Aztecs used cacao beans as a form of currency. Both the Aztecs and the Mayans held strong beliefs about the powers of cacao beans. Because of these beliefs, cacao beans played a role in rituals that ranged from funerals and marriages to birthday celebrations, sacrifices and more.
Today, beverages like hot chocolate, mocha coffee and chocolate milk are popular. However, cocoa beans are now most commonly used as an ingredient in a wide range of foods. In fact, chocolate ranks among the top favorite foods in cultures around the world. Chocolate is generally regarded as a sweet food with a medium-brown color, but the reality is that there are numerous types of chocolate that have different colors, textures and other properties. Whether you are preparing desserts and treats for your family or you are shopping for the perfect gift for someone special, it is important to understand the different types of chocolate available. What should you know about chocolate before you make your next purchase?
If you want to enjoy the highest quality of chocolate available, you should look for couverture chocolate. Like many other forms of brown chocolate, couverture chocolate is made with cocoa butter and cocoa solids as well as dairy products and sugar. Uniquely, it often contains vanilla and a higher concentration of cocoa butter than other forms of chocolate have. In fact, many couverture chocolates are comprised of between 31 to 39 percent cocoa butter. Often, this chocolate is used for dipping fruits as well as for making chocolate bars, barks, clusters and truffles. Its high cocoa butter content makes it unsuitable for baking.
Milk chocolate is among the most popular and common types of chocolate available today. It is comprised of at least 10 percent chocolate liquor. Notably, it also has at least 12 percent milk in its composition, and this is what makes milk chocolate so creamy and delightful. Milk chocolate also may have more sugar in it, and this generally makes it sweeter than dark chocolate. Many people enjoy milk chocolate on its own, such as in a chocolate candy bar. However, it may also be used for baking purposes, over berries and for a variety of other tasty purposes.
White chocolate is unique because it is not made using brown cocoa beans. Instead, its primary ingredient is cocoa butter. In fact, it is at least 20 percent cocoa butter and at least 14 percent cream or milk. Because it lacks cocoa beans, it does not have the same bitterness as other types of chocolate. Instead, it is decadently rich and creamy. It is often enjoyed on its own in a candy form or covering tart berries.
Caramelized White Chocolate
Carmelized white chocolate has the same ingredients and composition as white chocolate, but it has been roasted and caramelized. Because of this, it may also be referred to as blond chocolate or toasted white chocolate. The caramelization process strips the chocolate of some of its saccharine, but it is still as rich and as creamy as white chocolate. It is most easily found through some of the high-end candy makers, but you could also make it at home by roasting white chocolate.
To be classified as dark chocolate, it must be comprised of at least 35 percent chocolate liquor, which is a substance that is made from both cocoa beans and cocoa butter. The specific combination of these ingredients mixed with other ingredients differentiates the various flavors of dark chocolate that you may sample. Dark chocolate may be enjoyed on its own, covering fruits or as an ingredient in various recipes.
Semi-sweet chocolate is a form of dark chocolate. It is closely related to bittersweet chocolate, which may contain slightly less sugar than semi-sweet chocolate. When you are buying semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, understand that these labels are used loosely. It is best to look at the percentage of cocoa in the substance. For example, a candy bar may be labeled as being 75 or 80 percent cocoa. Generally, a bar that is less than 75 percent cocoa may be sweet enough to enjoy by itself. Bars that have a higher cocoa content should be used as an ingredient with other sweeter ingredients.
Unsweetened chocolate is sometimes called baker's chocolate. This is because it is a bitter, hard substance that is often used as an ingredient in baking recipes. These recipes usually contain sugar, butter or cream to balance out the bitterness of the unsweetened chocolate. This type of chocolate is comprised of cocoa butter and cocoa solids, which may also be referred to as cocoa liquor.
Chocolate is well-known for having antioxidants and a host of other nutrients. If you are interested in enjoying the health benefits of chocolate, raw chocolate should be considered. While many types of chocolate are derived from roasted cocoa beans, raw chocolate is made using unroasted beans. While research is not yet conclusive on the matter, many people believe that the roasting process strips some of the health benefits from chocolate. When searching for raw chocolate, pay attention to the chocolate's quality to understand more about its nutrient content.
Sweet German Chocolate
Sweet German chocolate gets its name from Samuel German, the substance's creator. It is also known as sweet baking chocolate. The chocolate stands apart from semi-sweet chocolate because of its higher sugar content. Essentially, using sweet German chocolate can save a baker the extra step of adding sugar to the mixture. It is a relatively brittle substance because of its low dairy content. The sugar content makes it suitable for consumption on its own, but it is most commonly used for baking because of its texture and composition.
One of the newest forms of chocolate is ruby chocolate, which is made using ruby cocoa beans and has a pink hue. It has both sweet and sour flavors, so you may compare it to the flavor of chocolate-covered berries. Because it was only introduced in 2017 by the Barry Callebaut chocolate company, it is a relatively rare type that may be difficult for some people to find. Ruby chocolate is most commonly used in its pure form as a chocolate bar or as an ingredient in candies and cookies.
Cocoa powder is exclusively used as an ingredient in recipes rather than as a stand-alone food, and it is an ingredient used to make other forms of chocolate. It is comprised of finely-ground cocoa beans. These are beans that have been fermented and dried. After drying, the hulls are removed, and the pulp is extracted. After the cocoa butterfat has been removed, the substance is ground into pure cocoa powder. This substance is bitter and is generally not consumed on its own.
The unique qualities of the different types of chocolate affect their texture taste and suitability for various purposes. Because there is some variation in the composition of ingredients for specific types of chocolate, you may notice that different brands of milk chocolate, dark chocolate and other types have their own taste and composition. With this in mind, many people enjoy a wide range of chocolate candies as well as foods made with chocolate as an ingredient.
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