All About Chocolate
Everyone loves chocolate. We love to eat it, to give it as a gift and we especially love cooking and baking with chocolate. However, many people have questions about what is the best type of chocolate to use in their recipes.
Not All Chocolate is Created Equal
Today, chocolate comes in many forms. From the basic Hersey bar to the purest dark chocolate. You may have questions about which chocolate to use in your recipes. Is dark chocolate or milk chocolate best for baking? What does bittersweet mean? What exactly is white chocolate?
Mast Brothers’ Director of Chocolate, Vesa Parviainen explains some common terms and ingredients in chocolate. Let us help you with this concise guide to chocolate.
The cacao* (cocoa) tree produces beans that are the base of chocolate. Cacao trees are grown in tropical areas, like Mexico, South America, West Africa and the Philippines. Each bean contains a rich nib and a thin shell called a husk. The cacao beans are transformed by a fermentation process and dried before processing.
*Cacao and cocoa can be used interchangeably, but generally cocoa is used to describe processed cacao products.
Cocoa nibs are basically crushed, roasted cocoa beans. Cocoa nibs are a good source of antioxidants, vitamins, as well as, caffeine.
Best uses: Cocoa nibs make a great dessert garnish use them in your homemade trail mix. They add a rich chocolate crunch to shortbread and other cookies.
Cocoa Powder/ Dutch Cocoa
Natural cocoa powder has an intense flavor, but is light in color. Dutch-process cocoa powder has been alkalized, mellowing the flavor and darkening the color. It contains approximately 10-12% cocoa butter. It is what’s left of the nibs after they’ve been ground and pressed. Unless a recipe specifies, you can use either type.
Best uses: Cocoa powder and Dutch cocoa are often mixed with milk to make hot beverages. They can also be used in baking and candy making.
Dark chocolate is a generic term for chocolate with no added milk solids (sugar can however be added). Dark chocolate can contain anywhere from 35 to 80% cacao. It comes in semisweet, bittersweet, and unsweetened varieties.
Best uses: Dark chocolate can be used in almost any of your recipes, including cakes, brownies, cookies, frosting and enrobing truffles.
This is the sweet, mellow chocolate most Americans grew up on (Hershey bars). Milk solids are used to tweak both the flavor profile and mouthfeel.
Best uses: Common ingredient in most commercial candy bars. Milk chocolate chips can be used in cookies, brownies and other baking.
While, not technically chocolate because it doesn’t contain any cocoa particles, this ivory-colored confection is made with cocoa butter, sugar, and mild solids. Many people prefer the delicate taste of white chocolate.
Best uses: Creme brûlée and other custards, as well as cookies, cakes and frosting.
Always Use Pure Chocolate
Weather you’re a professional chef, chocolate connoisseur or a talented home cook, you want to use pure chocolate in your recipes. With the high quality chocolate products available on OliveNation, you can feel confident that your recipes will taste great.
Our cocoa powders and unsweetened baking chocolates are among the finest on the market. Whether you are looking for bittersweet, extra dark, milk chocolate, or dutch – OliveNation has the perfect chocolate for you.
A Brief History of Chocolate
Chocolate originated in Meso-America with the Mayans and Aztecs. They used cacao beans as currency. They also believed cacao had magical properties and used the beans to make a hot drink for their sacred rituals.
The Spanish conquers took the chocolate drink back to Europe, where they sweeten the chocolate with sugar. By the 17th century, this exotic drink became fashionable all over Europe for the rich upper class.
In 1828, a Dutchman discovered how to make a powdered form of chocolate, known as Dutch cocoa. The first molded chocolate bar was created in 1847 and twenty years later, the Cadbury company began selling chocolate candies in England.
Today chocolate is one of the most popular flavors. The UK has the seventh highest consumption of chocolate in the world. The average Brit eats 17.49 pounds of chocolate per year (Source: The World Atlas of Chocolate). While the average American consumes approximately 11 pounds of chocolate per year.